War of the Seasons: The Human

War of the Seasons: The Human

Sad and lonely after the deaths of her father and younger siblings, Story finds herself visiting one of her childhood romps, a cave she used to visit with her family. In a headstrong moment, she forgets the cardinal rules of spelunking and falls down into a deep chasm. Finding a way out, she finds herself in Ailionara, a world in which elves, gnomes, faeries, and dryads are real…and humans are myth.

Janine K. Spendlove’s War of the Seasons: The Human brings a lovely blend of Celtic lore and YA fantasy while full of beautiful Celtic names. The reluctant heroine provides a nice change to traditional masculine leads in the genre, with a romance that is only a tertiary line, as opposed to love struck girl mooning over a mythological man. While a bit flat at first, Story’s character grows as the book gains momentum, driving the reader to the finish. If you like books such as Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance) and Progeny: The Children of the White Lions, you won’t want to miss checking out this up-and-coming author who only promises to be better with the next book in the series.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the author.

For more information about War of the Seasons or the author, check out Ailionara.

Catch and Release

Catch and Release

Polly Furnas had a plan. Graduate highschool. Marry her sweetheart. Go to college, and have children. MSRA was not in the plan. Neither was spending weeks in the hospital and loosing her eye. Somehow, out of everyone in her hometown who survived the infection, she survived, along with a fellow highschooler, Odd. Now she has a choice. She can lie around wallowing in self-pity or take Odd’s offer for a fishing trip. She can choose to fight to live or slowly die inside her new body. Plans change.

Blythe Woolston’s Catch & Release is interesting, a bit disturbing, and just perfect for analyzing our views and anger. With writing and a story line that gets under your skin, Woolston wraps it up with Odd’s letters to his grandmother, effectively putting a balm on the infected story. A new book with merit for discussing what we make of life and those around us, Catch & Release is certain to find its own among teens looking for something out of the ordinary.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Pure

Pure

Julianna Baggott’snew  young adult dystopian novel, Pure,promises to deliver. Touted as the new The Hunger Games Trilogy and with movie rights already sold for the first novel, the hype is indicative of a best selling book.

Baggot’s descriptive writing pulls the reader in, and the premise behind the book is horrifying. Atomic bombs, set by those wanting to purify the Earth, have drastically changed the world. Secret agendas abound and the main character, a strong female lead, starts out strong. However, after the initial chapters, the book seems to be carried by remaining momentum rather than driving to a capitulating climax.

My main complaint, and one that I can’t let go of, is that the science in the book moves is so far removed to make the book fantasy rather than science fiction. With all of its promises and good points, for me the book failed to deliver.

The book comes out today, so yu can pick up your own copy and see what you think of it.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.

2012 Reading Challenges for Children and Young Adults

Reading is a very important part of our lives. We are well known at our library, review books for various authors and publishers, and then pick up some more books in our spare time. I’d like to share with you some great reading challenges for children and young adults coming up in 2012.

 An Illustrated Year: 2012 Picture Book Reading Challenge, hosted by An Abundance of Books, is a wonderful challenge for any family with young children or anyone else who loves a beautiful picture book.

All you have to do is sign up, put the badge in your blog sidebar, and write a post about your participation to link back to the challenge. Then you are all ready to read and review some of your favorite books.

There are three levels of participation, but the top level is only 24 books. We check out more picture books than that in one trip to the library. I have no doubt that we can find 24 picture books to review during the year.

The Award Winning Reads Challenge co-hosted at Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing and The Reading Housewives is one of my favorites. Whenever I’ve been at a loss as to which book I should read with my children, I’ve never gone wrong by picking up an award winner. You don’t have to have a blog to participate in this challenge, and you get to set your own goal. Anyone can do this. If you aren’t certain, I personally challenge you to read one of these wonderful books with your children and let me know how you liked it. Both award winners and honoree books from the Newberrry and Printz lists from any year count.

If you are at a loss to what books you might enjoy reading with your children in the upcoming year, check out the Excellence is Reading: 2012 Challenge hosted by the Super Readers Book Club. There you will find a list of books for the challenge, including many of our favorite books.

Erica at The Book Cellar is hosting the YA/MG Fantasy Chalenge 2012, challenging readers to dive into 10 YA/MG books published in 2012. She has even provided a list of some of the new books coming out. I loved last year’s YA challenge and am looking forward to reading more great new books again this year.

Truly Bookish and One Page at a Time are co-hosting the 2012 Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. Can you read and review one YA book a month? Join in! This is such a fun way to explore new cultures on your own or with your children. Reading multi-cultural fiction has heigthened my children’s curiosity about many different cultures, begging us to explore facts about the cultures in depth.

Don’t forget the 2012 Just Contemporary Reading Challenge hosted by Basically Amazing Books. Young adult books are often overlooked by adults. However, there are a lot of really great stories just waiting for someone. Not all of the details are available for this challenge yet, so I can’t wait to hear more.

The Sleepwalkers

The Sleepwalkers

Caleb’s life is all set. He has his plans laid out for after high school graduation until the arrival of a letter from an old childhood friend. Shortly after, he sets out on a road trip with his best friend, Bean, to find out what is going on. Arriving at his old hometown, he finds that secrets have been kept there for years.

J. Gabriel Gates’ The Sleepwalkers brings a new scene for teen horror. Reminiscent of Stephen King and John Saul, the story is artfully written and skillfully suspenseful. While I found I had many questions about some of the story’s end, it merely added to the disquieting feeling of the book.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Cinder and Ella

Cinder and Ella

Cinder and Ella are two of four sisters. Both their older and younger sisters are selfish, their father quit doing anything to help the family before disappearing altogether, and their mother spins all day at her spinning wheel, effectively ignoring her daughters to the point that she has forgotten that Cinder and Ella are two individuals. Ella, tired of being forgotten and taken advantage of, sets out on her own, leaving Cinder to take care of the family.

Melissa Lemon’s telling of the Cinderella story, Cinder and Ella, is only marginally related to the original fairytale. With an evil prince on the horizon, and a story of living trees, the book’s closest tie with the original tale is the name of the book. While the book is a decent read, the characters, with few exceptions, just aren’t very likeable.

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was provided by the publisher.

Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade (Paranormal Scene Investigations #3)

Mystery, paranormal talents, and romance – Laura Anne Gilman’s book, Tricks of the Trade, has it all. The third in a series, not all of the characters are as well developed as one might like, but they may very well have been addressed in previous books.. Luckily, we do see some growth with the main character and some insightful thoughts into human nature. The book’s emphasis is on the ongoing investigations rather than on romance, providing more story line than straight romance novels. However, the multiple story lines jump around and are not as fully developed as they could have been. Overall, it was an enjoyable read.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel, by debut author Jenny Wringfield, is a heart felt book about the Moses family. With well-developed characters and descriptive prose, Wringfiled embraces the reader amidst a Southern family in which everyone has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. Where many books pit right against wrong, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake not only recognizes shades of grey but also recognizes all of the other colours pertaining to our decisions and beliefs concerning humanity and family.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Seers

Seers

Since surviving her brush with death in the car accident which killed her parents, Kate Bennet has been able to see auras. Her attempts at normality with the start of a new school year are thwarted by the new student who doesn’t have a typical aura and a man that no one else seems to see. It isn’t long before she learns that guardians and demons are real and that she is a seer.

Heather Frosts new book Seers, available this October, follows the typical YA romance plot – girl falls in love with incredibly handsome supernatural guy and has to fight for not only the right to be with him but also for her life. Patrick’s sexy accent is about the only redeeming quiality for me.

The concept of guardians, demons, and seers seemed underdeveloped. While the idea (demons versus angels) skirts a religious theme, no purpose was ever given for the existence of demons or angel,s and the only purpose of seers seems to be for the detection of the first two. The plot, while having the side supernatural theme, seemed to flounder around how difficult life is for Kate, who strings along her old boyfriend while pursuing her attraction to Patrick.

While the book is primarily written from the perspective of Kate, two single chapters are written from Patrick’s point of view, and the epilogue is written from the point of view of a demon. I can’t say how annoying this was to me.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

The Third

The Third

As the world’s temperatures continue to increase, certain areas have taken drastic measures to curb global warming. With high taxes for environmental impact, government sanctioned limits on reproduction, and punishments for those who violate population laws, citizens are indoctrinated into this view of lawful citizenship. When Ransom and his wife are faced with their own violation, the world suddenly doesn’t look quite so black and white.

Abel Keogh’s The Third is a fantastic dystopian novel brushing serious topics such as human rights, reproductive rights, government control, and institutionalized indoctrination. The opening scene was a bit much for me, and I almost put the book down. However, I am very glad I didn’t. It’s a must read for the genre and a must read for anyone looking for a recreational read touching on broader topics.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.