I first became acquainted with Cornelia Funke’s writing when I read Inkheart. I quickly fell in love with her rich descriptions and quirky characters. I was disappointed when that trilogy came to an end because I had so enjoyed living in that fantasy world with Meggie and Farid… So how is it, then, that I managed not to read this book until nearly SIX years after it was published? Let’s just say that I have a terrible habit of ordering books that are sure to be popular, based on book reviews and the reading tastes of my library’s patrons, and then not getting to them when I select my own reading materials. I mean… I *know* that I ordered Reckless and Fearless when I was still a full-time librarian, but I just didn’t manage to read them myself. For the record — there are just WAY too many amazing authors out there for me to juggle these things in a way that won’t cause me distress! #LibrarianProblems
Fantasy readers who enjoy a blending of magic and the “real” world will definitely want to read this book. Jacob Reckless has a magical mirror through which he can access another world. He has always loved to go there to have adventures and to gather treasures he could bring back home, but his love for the Mirrorworld is tested when his brother, Will, sneaks through as well. Will is cursed and begins transforming into a Goyl (a creature with skin made of stone). With the help of his friend Fox — who can shapeshift between her human and fox forms, Jacob sets out to find a way to break the curse before it’s too late.
Liv didn’t just hate the end of the final Starveil movie… It ruined her life. As far as Liv was concerned, Starveil *was* life, and the death of her favorite character (Spartan) might as well have been the death of a family member. Her mom and her best friend, Xander, didn’t really understand, but at least the rest of the fandom got it. For a while, Liv simply moped about and grieved. But then she had some take-out Chinese food and was inspired by a fortune cookie — It’s up to you to make your happy ending. All of the sudden, she knew what she had to do. Armed with a new (anonymous) Twitter account and some awesome , Liv set out to inspire the fandom and to seek out “evidence” that #SpartanSurvived!
Since my husband is one of the biggest Star Wars fanboys around and had a majorly difficult time accepting what happened in Episode VII, I read the description and just *knew* I had to read this book. Whether you are a fangirl/fanboy or simply know someone else who is, this geeky romance is sure to give you #AllTheFeels.
Long-time readers of my blog have suffered through my constant lamentations that everything is a freaking series … I sometimes read a book not realizing that it is the first in a series (ahem, Cinder) and just about die waiting for the rest of the series to be published. Back when this book first came out, I knew it was part of a planned series and made the conscious decision to wait until after all of the books were out before I read it. I had heard it was good and all, but I didn’t hear enough to lure me into actually cheating. The final book of this series came out in November, so I decided I was ready to binge-read the series (well, binge-listen to the audiobooks) this winter. Part of me is glad I didn’t have any major gaps of time in between the stories, but part of me is so mad at myself that I didn’t just suck it up and read these from the start. Such is life, right?!? Darned if you do, and darned if you don’t!
The Finishing School series is just so amazing that it’s hard to explain, but I will do my best to point out the various things I loved. The cast of characters, both normal and nefarious, was fabulous. I think I may have clicked with this series so quickly because Sophronia has a very Georgia Nicholson feel to her — awkward but lovable; smart but bumbling. She’s awesome enough that readers might want to be like her and not so perfect as to be annoying, you know? And although it’s a mystery and a fantasy that takes place in a finishing school, it is a lot sillier than Libba Bray’s [Gothic mystery] Gemma Doyle series. It still had plenty of mystery, and there were conflicts with supernatural creatures aplenty, but there was a much lighter feel to it overall. Readers who enjoyed the steampunk airships of Oppel’s Airborn series and Westerfeld’s Leviathan series will appreciate the fact that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is held aboard a dirigible. Not to mention the proliferation of gadgets, like exploding wicker chickens and mechanical wiener dogs! If you like steampunk, supernatural mysteries, and/or tales of girls who don’t quite fit in with their high society families, I recommend you check this series out.
When I read Fangirl last year, I fell hard for Simon, Baz, and the Watford School of Magicks. I was desperate to read more than was revealed in Cath’s posts. Fortunately, I happened upon an article about the impending publication of Carry On and knew it was only a matter of time before my wish would come true! The only problem was that my requests for other books and audiobooks from the library kept showing up, so I kept putting this story off. (It probably wouldn’t have been such a problem if I had gotten Carry On from the library and had a time limit, but I downloaded it from Audible and knew I had as long as I wanted. #firstworldproblems)
I think what I love most about Rowell’s writing is that it really nails all the nitty gritty, true-to-life details of adolescent friendships and romances. Carry On was extra awesome because it had all that PLUS magic, mystery, and monsters! The only things I found disappointing were that (a) I waited so long to actually listen to this audiobook, and (b) there was only one book! 😉 As a die-hard Potterhead, I really enjoyed comparing and contrasting the stories of Simon Snow and Harry Potter. Some people have argued that this story is too derivative of Harry Potter, but I fully recognize that there are a great many “Chosen One” stories and that having similarities doesn’t make it a rip-off. After all, some people say that Harry Potter is basically Star Wars! And though I am not big on re-reading anything, since there are far too many books out there waiting to be read, I have a feeling I will listen to this audiobook (or maybe even read the book) at least one more time…
Jeremy Johnson Johnson was rather unlucky. Not only did his mom leave him and his dad, but his father became so crippled by depression that he became a total recluse. Jeremy became, in essence, the adult of the household and started taking care of things to the best of his abilities. After Jeremy was involved in a prank gone awry, though, he was ostracized by the townspeople who had previously given him enough work to get by. With the final “balloon payment” of the mortgage on his father’s bookstore [aka his home] coming due very soon, Jeremy began to panic. Fortunately, he had a friend, Ginger, who had a crazy plan and a guardian angel of sorts, Jacob, looking after him. Whether he was actually an angel is debatable, but there was no doubt that Jeremy could definitely communicate with the ghost of Jacob Grimm — one of the famous Brothers Grimm. Jacob was pretty sure he had not yet passed on completely because he still had a purpose on earth, and he was certain that his purpose was to keep Jeremy safe. Readers who are familiar with Grimm fairy tales will surely guess that something “grim” is in the cards, but they’re not likely to guess exactly what until it’s already too late. This clever combination of old-fashioned fairy tales and modern storytelling has plenty of suspense and plot twists to keep readers on the edge of their seats, and I’m glad I can finally settle back in mine again.
I can’t even begin to explain how happy my son and I were when we found out that Rick Riordan was going to have a new series based on Norse mythology! When we read Loki’s Wolves, we actually lamented the fact that Riordan didn’t have a Norse mythology series yet and just prayed that one was coming. We’ve really grown to love Riordan’s ability to weave snarky and silly humor into books that actually teach readers quite a bit about mythology. As a mom and librarian, I have loved seeing kids flock to the non-fiction section to find out more about the characters of Greek and Roman mythology they encountered in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. As a reader, though, I have simply enjoyed the way that the stories of characters in the different series were so artfully woven together and worked so well with the existing myths.
In this book, we are introduced to a character named Magnus Chase — a homeless kid from Boston who has been on the run ever since his mom died. Though she was actually killed by supernatural wolves, Magnus was fairly certain no one would believe him and decided that running from the law was easier than trying to convince people he didn’t murder her. When his cousin, Annabeth — Yes! *That* Annabeth! — and her dad come to Boston to look for Magnus, he ended up running into another uncle, Randolph. His mom was always adamant that Magnus should stay away from him, but it was too tempting to find out what Uncle Randolph knew. Randolph tried to convince Magnus that he was a demigod and that his father was a Norse god, but that didn’t really make sense. Only after he was killed by a demonic villain and woke up in Valhalla did Magnus begin to believe this could all be true.
Especially with the in-story pronunciation help (via other characters helping Magnus correctly pronounce the names of legendary places and characters), I think this series makes Norse mythology a lot more approachable and is likely to create a huge surge in interest. (I can only hope they do a better job if and when they turn this series into a movie!)
This book was an interesting blend of historical fiction, mystery, and science fiction. I can certainly see why it won the Newbery Award, since it was well written, pays homage to a “classic” children’s book, and has a nostalgia factor for the teachers and librarians who grew up in the 70s and 80s — especially with all the references to Miranda’s mom practicing for her appearance on the game show $20,000 Pyramid. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that a lot of tweens and teens would find it difficult to really get hooked on this story. I was curious about how things would play out in the end and all, but the story didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat.
One day, as Miranda walked home with her best friend, Sal, he got punched in the stomach. The kid who punched him was new to the neighborhood and didn’t even know Miranda or Sal, so there didn’t seem to be any reason for the attack. Even worse? Right after that incident, Sal began to get distant. Miranda felt lost without Sal, since the two of them had been constant companions since their early childhood. And then, when the hidden/”emergency” key to her apartment went missing and she found a strange note hidden in a library book, Miranda got understandably freaked out. Especially since the author of the note seemed to know things about her — even things that hadn’t happened yet. Fans of A Wrinkle in Time are sure to enjoy the way Miranda’s life experiences drew parallels to that book and made her question the real possibilities of time travel. I think there are enough details, nevertheless, that the story will still make sense to readers who aren’t familiar with L’Engle’s work.