Now all I have to do is link these books I've read in the last few years with my reviews.
This page is for fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror books I've liked enough to write about.
Abel, Jessica. Life Sucks
OK. So I am not the biggest fan of Graphic Novels. I usually prefer to read text. It goes so much faster. It is like a big data dump and my brain instantly conjures up the images. With Graphic Novels I have to take it slowly. Each frame tells part of the story so must be carefully considered and can’t just be poured into the old brain. Part of this may be because I majored in Art as an undergraduate. That said there are some graphic novels that I love. My favorite of all time is The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryon Talbot so I don’t dislike Graphic Novels. After having two different teens tell me about Life Sucks and how great it was I just had to try it and they were right. It is terrific. I’m a little tired of vampires but this was a fresh story and the art really worked for me. I liked Dave who looks like a ordinary convenience store clerk but is actually a vegetarian vampire who must obey his master and turn the hot dogs, rotate the stock, and do whatever his master tells him. He has a crush on Rosa, a goth girl customer who would like to meet a real vampire, one of those sexy mysterious beings. Dave also has a friend, Jerome, he hangs out with who is a vamp who works in a neighboring store which really brings the movie Clerks to mind. Dave’s nemesis is a surfer vamp who goes after Rosa.
When Alison awakes in a mental hospital she discovers she has lost more than two weeks of time and memories of what really happened when she had an altercation with the town's golden girl after school one day. Anderson brings together so many themes that have been popular in YA fiction, mental institutions, missing teens, synesthesia, and more but makes them fresh and different with a science fiction twist.
Alison has always felt like a freak because her mother flipped out when as a young child, Alison exclaimed over the gold stars that appeared when cutlery clanked together in the dishwater. Because of her mother's reaction Alison has hid the fact that she has synesthesia, even though she doesn't know that it has a name and that there are others who also experience senses in a similar way. Because she refuses to admit to her synesthesia and open up she makes little progress in the hospital until a researcher from South Africa who is studying synesthesia appears on the scene. As Alison discovers her perception is not an illness she realizes that she can also taste lies and smell fears.
It is very difficult to synopsize this extraordinary story but if you like out of the ordinary books you will want to read it. An interesting book to pair with it is Cecil Castellucci's First Day on Earth.
Putnam Juvenile 9780399252815
In a dystopian near future, sixteen-year-old Molly is sent from the Canadian island farm where she lives a secure life with her family to Portland when they receive a message that her grandmother has suffered a stroke. Molly's mom, dealing with a high risk pregnancy, is afraid her mother has died and that her estranged father will be unable to take care of himself so Molly is sent on an epic journey to bring her grandfather back. When she arrives in the once affluent suburb where the grandparents she has never met live, she discovers they are both still alive but close to starving. Her trip that was to have lasted a couple weeks stretches into months as she pitches in to help with a neighbor's garden and his orphaned nephew and niece while she tries to convince her grandparents to go to Canada with her. A boy she met on the train on her trip down has access to things most people don't and seems to have ties to organized crime.
Through Her Eyes
Tansy, a fifteen-year-old photographer, is not happy to move to a small Texas town with her mother, a popular horror writer, and her beloved grandfather who is gradually slippy away. Her mother likes to be on location to write her books and after finding a photo of a strange looking house in the grandfather's stuff they move into that house; a house where decades ago a teenage boy lived who had committed suicide in a plunge of the bridge over the canyon. Strange things happen when Tansy finds a wooden box under a step in a cellar that holds a pendant, a watch, and a journal full of poetry. When she looks through the viewfinder on her camera she seems to be seeing into a different time; a time when her grandfather was a teen and a friend to Henry, the boy of the suicide legend. Not fitting in at school, Tansy is befriended by the precocious Bethyl who has skipped a couple of grades and finds herself curiously drawn to Tate, the quarterback who bears a startling resemblance to Henry. Is she really seeing into the past, seeing ghosts, or going mad?
Flight into Darkness
This complex fantasy is confusing, intricate, and not an easy read but ultimately rewarding.
Asher, Jay and Carolyn Mackler
The Future of Us
Two beloved authors collaborate in an entertaining and thought provoking look at some of the complications of knowing snippets of information from the future and seeing what huge differences minute changes in the now can have fifteen years down the road. When Emma receives a new computer from her far-away dad, her one time best friend Josh brings over an AOL disk. Signing in she discovers something on the computer called Facebook and puts in her AOL user name and password. Suddenly she is looking at the profile of some woman who must be in her 30s whose first name and middle name are the same as Emma's own first and last names. Then she realizes the woman has her same birthday and graduated from her same high school. Could she be seeing the future? If so, it sure isn't anything to look forward to. But Josh, his future is bright. Meanwhile life in the mid 1990s continues with all the excitement of relationship angst.
Adults will think it a stretch to call this historical fiction but most teens who will read this weren't alive at the time it takes place. Asher and Mackler have done a fantastic job of capturing the era with mentions of beepers, quarters for pay phones, and calling cards not to mention hairdos. A fun read.
All Good Children
Orca Book Publishers 9781554698240
This dystopian novel is set not too awfully far in the future. The Connor family lives in Middletown, a safe gated town with good schools and health care. They had lived in a large upscale house until death of the dad moved them down the economic ladder to a small apartment. Fifteen-year-old Max, a prankster and artist, begins to see something is wrong when he walks his six-year-old sister to school and realized that many of the children are too neatly lined up and too well behaved. Max, his friends, and the other kids at his school are individuals but when a new behavioral program is instituted in his school he realized that it will turn the high school kids into what he and his friend Dallas call zombies. This chilling plausible story told in a low key way that makes it even more realistic. The vision of schools is scarily reminiscent of Isamu Fukui's Truancy series, Francine Prose's After, Rae Mariz's The Unidentified, and Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives.
de Alcantara, Pedro
Delacorte Books for Young Readers 9780385734196
Tommy Latrella, always living in the shadow of his brother who died a hero in 9/11 is swept back in time where he experiences New York in WWI and works on building the subway system, the Great Depression where he ends up working for the Mafia, and WWII where he becomes a paratrooper. I've had one teen reader who really liked it because the historical time periods came alive for her.
The Drowned Cities
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 9780316056243
Set in the same world as Ship Breaker but not a sequel, rather a stand alone is about survival in the US southeast after the waters have risen wreaking havoc. Mahalia and Mouse meet Tool who is a half-man, a genetically engineered monster designed to kill.
science-fiction, speculative-fiction, teen, BFYA
The Windup Girl
Night Shade Books 9781597801577
Terrific craftsmanship in a grim literary novel set in a horribly hungry future Very scary. would recommend to folks who like China Meiville and other very literary SF.
Little Brown 9780316056212
I'm quoting myself here. This annotation is from my book, Teen Genreflecting 3. Libraries Unlimited. 2011.
Nailer, a teen living with his abusive father in a shack on the Gulf coast is part of a crew that lives off salvage redeemed from wrecked tankers. Climate change has increased the frequency of hurricanes and tornadoes. Nailer's job is to crawl through the ductwork of wrecks salvaging cooper wire and anything else that can be sold for food. He stakes each claim with a crew mark that matches the tattoo on his face. People who betray their crews are stripped of their crew tattoos leaving them scarred and outcast. After a hurricane he finds a wrecked clipper, a pleasure craft belonging to people of inconceivable wealth but aboard is one survivor still clinging to life. If she were dead, salvaging the ship would make his fortune.
Henry Holt and Co. 9780805094596
Alina and Mal were orphans together growing up in ducal orphanage. As teenagers they went into the army together and together they set out in an armada heading across the Unsea. Attacked by volcra in the pitch dark of the Fold (called the Unsea on map) Alina summons a force she did not know she possessed, saving Mal. Back in the Russian inspired country, Alina is found to be a Grisha, a class of people with special abilities and sent to a palace for training. Her talent is unique and may hold the key to end the war that has beleaguered their country for a century and eliminate the Fold. The twisty twining plot goes to unexpected places in this beautifully crafted world.
Losers in Space
I love SF/ Science Fiction/ Speculative Fiction. Even though space opera is my favorite sub genre, I also love hard SF and many other sub genres. I started off reading all the infodumps in the early part of the book and then, even though I usually like the scientific stuff I learn when reading hard SF, I gave up on them. The tone was just too condescending.I did think the characters did some boneheaded things when dealing with Derlock but if they hadn't there wouldn't have been so many disasters for them to overcome. The stuff with Fwuffy was brilliant and fun but his speech impediment was a little too much. All in all I can recommend this to readers who like hard SF but I don't think it is going to bring any new fans to the genre.
Wendy Lamb Books 9780385739900
One morning fourteen-year-old Alex Gray wakes up to a stranger exhorting him to get out of bed and discovers he is in the home, life, and body of Philip Garamond, an athletic popular fourteen-year-old living in a different part of Britain and that six months have totally disappeared from his memory. As he tries to puzzle out what has happened he discovers a web community of people who have experienced psychic evacuation. This fast paced page-turner has so much going for it -- a compelling premise, mystery, romance, and well developed characters it will snag both avid and reluctant teen readers.
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 9780547196206
Grieving for her father who died from cancer, Kelsa is at odds with her mother who would not allow Kelsa's father to die at home. Kelsa and her father shared a love of the outdoors and wild areas so she sneaks out one night to bury her father's purloined ashes in a wooded area and meets Raven, a gorgeous but strange young man who starts turning up wherever she goes. He has unusual abilities including walking down a school corridor and unlocking every locker he passes. Is Raven a crazy stalker or is he the trickster of Native myth? Shapeshifters, ley lines, evil bikers, and the possible devastation of the world blend together in a magical North American wilderness quest set in a not too far off future. Bell's novels always take a strong stance on important issues and this compelling combination of myth, fantasy, and science fiction has a powerful but not didactic message.
Fox and Phoenix
This uniquely original tale inspired by Chinese myth won't be out until October but it is well worth the wait. A terrific blend of magic and technology, adventure and romance, science fiction and fantasy. When his mother goes missing, Kai goes to investigate and ends up on a quest, at the behest of a ghost dragon, to find the princess who is studying in Phoenix City and let her know the king is dying. Yun, his fellow apprentice, best friend, and the girl upon whom he is crushing, follows and together they fight off assassins, make a perilous journey, lose their spirit companions, find an earnest young medical student, locate the princess, and uncover a dastardly plot
fantasy, romance, science-fiction, teen,
Walker 9780802797452 5
I did love Exodus. My teens are always begging for good science fiction and this post-apocalyptic tale of resourcefulness, bravery, and dogged determination will blow them away. The world building is first class from the storm scoured island of Wing to the floating refugee camp to the horrendous underworld of the new city. Mara is a fully developed character with depths and doubts. This is truly an extraordinary novel for teens or for that matter any reader who loves challenging, thought provoking science fiction.
Bick, Ilsa J.
Egmont USA 9781606841754
This grim post-apocalyptic tale is for mature non-squeamish readers. In any other publishing era it would have been one of those adult books that teens flocked to. Today it is published as YA and adults, by the droves, will read it. Seventeen-year-old Alexandra has decided to stop the non-effective cancer treatments for the tennis-ball size tumor in her brain and take her parents' ashes to a remote shore of Lake Superior accessed by hiking for days through a wilderness area. She has just met a man, his young granddaughter, and the girl's dog when a sudden horrible noise sounds, striking them all to the ground as birds fall from the sky. The world as we know it ends. An electromagnetic pulse has wiped out all electronics as well a a majority of the population and some of the survivors have turned into ravening monsters. Readers of post-apocalyptic fiction like Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It trilogy, James Van Pelt's Summer of the Apocalypse, Jeff Hirsch's The Eleventh Plague, and countless others will find this compelling and unforgettable. Readers of Mira Grant's Feed will also enjoy it.
romance, science-fiction, teen,
Airs Beneath the Moon
I would recommend this enjoyable read to those who like "school stories" like the Harry Potter series or Diana Wynne Jones' Year of the Griffin or human/animal bonding stories like Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, or Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. It features Larkyn Hamley, a humble farm girl who finds herself bonded to Tup, a fabulous flying horse. Sent off to the Academy to be trained as a horsemistress alongside other girls who were selected for the honor by virtue of their illustrious families, Lark who rescued Tup's pregnant mother is quite out of place. Tup's very existence is a mystery since the breeding of the flying horses is strictly controlled and he doesn't seem to fit in anywhere either. The kindly Duke who rules the Duchy of Oc is in a decline and his heir most definitely has something up his sleeve. I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in this series and glad that I won't have to wait since Airs and Graces and Airs of Night and Sea are already out. A great choice for middle school readers and up.
Black, Holly, ed
Welcome to Bordertown
Random House Books for Young Readers 9780375867057
I was afraid to read Welcome to Bordertown. All too often I have jumped into a book I had eagerly anticipated and had it disappoint. I think, sometimes, because I have so looked forward to a book and have made it the best book ever in my mind, I don't appreciate the perfectly good book it is. I loved NeverNever, ElseWhere, Finder, The Essential Bordertown and all the rest in this shared world that defined urban fantasy. I am happy to say that Welcome to Bordertown did not disappoint. It was even better than I hoped. Like all anthologies it had some stories that suited me better than others but all were excellent. Even though vampires are so yesterday and I usually don't equate them with urban fantasy (I know, I'm old school here) Annette Curtis Klause, author of my favorite vampire book, The Silver Kiss contributed "Elf Blood" a story that I really liked. Other stories that stood out for me included Charles de Lint's "A Tangle of Green Men" and "The Rowan Gentleman" by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. I found something enjoyable in all the stories of people lost and found, of dreams and nightmares, of all the interesting people with stories to tell who converged on Bordertown. This was a procrastiread for me, a book I stretched out over 3 days because I couldn't bear for it to be done. diversity, fantasy, mixed-format, poetry, procrastireads,