Posted in about us, book review

Four Fun Fantasy Novels

books-6How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, set in Salem, Massachusetts, brings the old Salem Witch Trials to life. Fifteen-year-old Samantha Mather has moved to Salem, into her father’s childhood home with her stepmother because her father is in a coma. It’s been 300 years after the Salem witch trials, but Samantha soon realizes that time doesn’t matter to the descendants of the original Salem witches. From the first day of school, she finds herself the target of eerie happenings, not to mention all too real glares and snubs from the kids in school known as “The Descendants,” who really, really resent her for being a descendant of Cotton Mather–you know, the one who almost single-handedly burnt their ancestors at the stake. Apparently, the sins of the fathers are taken very seriously in Salem, as is witchcraft. The only ally Samantha can count on is her new next door neighbor and his mother, which is good, because life at home also is getting creepy and Samantha starts to realize that ghosts and witches, complete with evil intentions, may be all too real. Can she trust the cute next door neighbor or is he part of the conspiracy?

Written with both humor and creepiness, How to Hang a Witch capably combines suspense, magic and horror. Samantha’s character is a likable blend of brains, awkwardness, grit and smarts. It appears to be a stand alone, but I certainly would love to see a sequel.

Watch the Trailer!

books-1In The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, Irene is a professional spy for a shadowy organization that exists in multiple realities. That’s right, there is more than one world out there and when Irene gets sent on a mission, she never knows what reality she’ll end up in–or what type of enemy she’ll face. Some enemies are real monsters, others could be the person you trust most. Now, she and her new enigmatic but cute (not that she’s noticed…) assistant, Kai, have been sent to an alternate London reality. Their mission: retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: by the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that in this world supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something–secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option–because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself.

This book is so much fun. The characters are real, the world-building fantastic. Can’t wait for the sequel!

booksPaper and Fire by Rachel Caine, continues The Great Library dystopian/fantasy series (I love the trend of fantasy libraries!) with non-stop action and suspense. Jess Brightwell, demoted to a soldier in the Library’s army at the end of Ink and Bone, is determined to rescue his friend Thomas. He’s up against almost insurmountable odds though. He doesn’t know who to trust, the deadly automata seemed to be programmed to kill him, and the leaders of the Library definitely want him dead. Can he navigate his way through the maze of real danger and, if he succeeds, will he be saving his friend or bringing about the fall of civilization?

An excellent sequel to Ink and Bone, this is a great read for those who like action and suspense, perfect for fans of The Maze Runner series.

books-2Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, finally released four years after the The Rook, is well worth the wait. (Well, not really–four years? Seriously? I had to pull out The Rook to remember the storyline. Anyway… ) Myfanwy Thomas, the hero in The Rook, plays a smaller role in this story as she tries to negotiate a tricky merger between the Grafters and the Brotherhood of the Checquy. The merger is tricky because the two groups hate each other, based on the fact that they tried to exterminate each other a hundred or so years ago. Not surprising that only a small section of each group realizes that the merger is the only way they will survive. As Myfanway tries to keep the merger moving, two new characters, Felicity Clements of the Brotherhood and Odette Leliefeld of the Grafters take over the main roles. Their jobs: 1) spy on each other and 2) save the world from really bad things.

Just as he did with The Rook, O’Malley combines suspense with humor and an assortment of odd and somewhat scary happenings in Stiletto. The book is a bit long but lots of fun; you definitely should read The Rook first so you’ll know what’s going on.

Watch the Trailer for The Rook Files!

There you have it, four fun fantasies for fall.

Submitted by Ms. Bing

 

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Posted in book review

Fantasy Picks … What the Book Club Read Last Month

So many excellent books in the fantasy genre lately! Here are some of the top fantasy picks the BEHS Library Book Club read last month. Curiously, several have characters who are thieves. Perhaps not so curiously, none involve football players so football fans who were lured in by the Fantasy Picks title, sorry about that … but stick around to learn about some fun books to read!

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A few of the fantasy novels the Book Club read in December. See short reviews of four of the titles below.

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab – Four separate but coexisting Londons, four different levels of magic. Two people left who can travel between the worlds and one street thief who accidentally gets caught up in the political intrigue between the worlds. When Kell, one of the few who can travel between the different versions of the city, is tricked into bringing a dangerous artifact across the border, a chain reaction of disasters embroils him and street thief Lila Bard in what could be the end of all four worlds. A fast-moving fun read that reveals secrets and character twists as the plot unfolds.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Set in the gritty underworld of Ketterdam, where both magic and thieves prosper, Six of Crows is the somewhat dark story of a dangerous, definitely illegal, and virtually impossible quest to kidnap a chemist from an unassailable fortress. This is not a noble quest, the prize is a huge pot of money. Kaz, a mysterious young con artist, assembles his ragtag band of brilliant loners into a Ocean’s Eleven-ish type band of anti-heroes who have what it takes to survive on their own and, hopefully, beat impossible odds. Fully realized characters who play against each other, plenty of action, and detailed world building make this a good read.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand – What’s not to like when you mashup steampunk, fantasy and dystopia with a twist on The Nutcracker? Clara Stole, the genteel daughter of the mayor, leads a prim and proper life while secretly being trained in self-defense. On one fateful Christmas Eve she finds out why she’s been training all these years after her home is brutally attacked, her father kidnapped, a statue comes alive and a doorway to another world is revealed. Follow Clara and Nicholas on their wild adventure to save her family and the kingdom.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – A fantasy/dystopian crossover with a lot of action and plot twists. In a world where people with silver blood and magical abilities rule, life is brutally hard for the ungifted red-blooded humans. While trying to survive in this dystopian world, 17-year old pickpocket Mare inadvertently finds herself embroiled in deception, rebellion, the queen’s court, and possible love interests with two different guys. So many twists and turns, trials and trust issues make Red Queen a fun read.

Posted in book review

Dystopian Fiction – What the BEHS Book Club Read Last Month

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Every month, the BEHS Library Book Club picks a different genre to read then we share the ones we like best. November was all about dystopian novels. Here are some of the favorites:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, a fantasy/dystopian novel that gets rave reviews here. After her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover at the empire’s military academy in exchange for help from rebel Scholars. There she meets a soldier named Elias, and they soon realize that their fates not only are intertwined but could affect the future of the Empire itself.

402057_mBoneshaker by Cherie Priest, a steampunk zombie-infested dystopian novel with airships. Do I really need to say more? I’m checking this one out today!

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan mixes science fiction with dystopia. Stranded in Honolulu after a worldwide electronics failure, Leilani and her father must make their way home to Hilo amid escalating perils, including her severe epilepsy.

The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn, a gripping post-apocalyptic novel reviewed here earlier. After a nuclear bomb explodes, teens separated from their parents set off on a road trip to find help, books-2learning quite a bit along the way.

The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey is an unusual zombie dystopian novel, well worth the read. Melanie–smart, caring, curious, “alive”–has spent her life in a cage, only allowed out while strapped to a wheel chair. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Melanie, the facility she’s in and life in a post-zombie America where the good guys aren’t necessarily good and the zombies just might have something to teach us all.

So many dystopians to choose from–post apocalyptic, science fiction, paranormal, mash-ups of all sorts, or straight up dictatorships… What’s your favorite dystopian novel?

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The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

booksThe Fire Sermon is a great dystopian novel about what happens after all technology burns up in a nuclear apocalypse. It takes place years after the earth has been all but destroyed and the human gene pool has gone a bit wacky. For some reason, only twins are born — one twin is perfect (the Alpha) while the other twin is “deformed” in some way (the Omega). The connection between the twins (if one dies so does the other) is really cool and kind of freaky. You could just be walking around one day and drop dead because your twin got kicked in the head by a horse.

When Zach, an Alpha with a lot of ambition and power, turns on his twin Cass, an Omega whose “deformity” is a psychic ability, she finds herself on the run with an unexpected stranger. And she never expected to end up where she does. The twist that came at the end was unexpected and a little shocking. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Submitted by Cathy D.

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 4 stars star_yellowstar_yellowstar_yellowstar_yellow

 


Check Out The Fire Sermon in the BEHS Catalog!


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The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

The Sky so Heavy by Clare Zorn

Ahhh, a realistic young adult dystopian novel–no super powers and the kids don’t save the day. Ordinarily I would say, “what a refreshing change,” but since we’re talking nuclear winter here, that doesn’t really work. What does work is this novel–a hauntingly, realistic look at what might happen after a large-scale nuclear incident.

Set near Sydney, Australia, The Sky so Heavy follows an every day kind of teenager, Fin, and his younger brother Max as they learn how to survive in the days and months following a nuclear bomb. Fin and Mac unexpectedly find themselves without parents when the catastrophe happens. At first they’re coping well and are pretty sure their parents will return but, as time passes, they realize that they’ll have to make some drastic changes in their thinking, from who will take care of them to how they’ll stay warm to how they’ll interact with their neighbors in an increasingly hostile community.

When they realize that they need to go in search of their parents, their story becomes increasingly dangerous and, oddly enough, more heartwarming. You will grow attached to Fin as he unexpectedly reunites with some high school friends, including the very cool Lucy Tenningworth, and makes new friends along the way. The question is, on the way to what?

Rating: 4 stars!

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

Get the Book in the BEHS Library

Reviewed by Ms. Bing

Posted in book review

Slated by Teri Terry

slatedKyla is different. She doesn’t know how or why, but she knows enough to keep it secret. She must act like the other slated kids who have been given a second chance at life. Because this isn’t just her second chance–it’s her last chance.

In the world Kyla lives in, children who have committed crimes are given a clean slate instead of being sent to prison. But their new life comes at a price–all their memories are wiped and their emotions are monitored so they stay on an even keel all the time. Kyla, just starting out on her new life, should be happy and content like the other slated kids at her school. But Kyla is different. If she only knew why.

Slated is an excellent read, unfolding quickly as mystery upon mystery is revealed. A bit of suspense, a lot of questions, quite a few twists and turns and a likable cast of characters (Including a romantic interest but no love triangle, thank goodness!) will keep you guessing until the unexpected end. If you like suspense, dystopian novels or running, you’ll love Slated.

Bottom Line: Read it!

Find Slated by Teri Terry in the BEHS Library.

Submitted by: Ms. Bing

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Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia’s life is all planned out, and it’s looking pretty good. The Society has matched her with Xander, who not only is her friend, but is good-looking, smart and fun, so, whew — thank you Society! And, nFlora-1ow that school is ending it looks like she’s headed for a good job too, thanks to her mad sorting skills. Her family is great, she has good friends, life is good.

So, why does Cassia have this uneasy feeling that The Society does not have her best interests at heart? Why does her grandfather have to die and what is he trying to tell her? And, most importantly, why does she keep thinking about Ky when she should be thinking about Xander?

Despite the unfortunate character names, Matched is a fun, fast read that will leave you waiting to read the next two books in the trilogy. Pick it up in the BEHS Library today!

Bottom Line: You’ve heard it before… if you liked Hunger Games, you’ll like this … This time it’s true — check it out!

 

Find Matched by Ally Condie in the BEHS Library.

Watch the Trailer!

Submitted by: Ms. Bing