Tag Archives: supernatural

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. March 28 2017. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 533 p. ISBN: 978031641684.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep

Part of Series: Strange the Dreamer (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes; Mention of rape

 

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Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. By now, fans of Laini Taylor know what to expect: beautiful prose, strange and whimsical fantasy worlds, sympathetic monsters, and wrenching, star-crossed romance. Her latest, first in a two-book set, certainly delivers on that, and there’s something quietly magical at play here. Lazlo Strange, an orphaned infant who grew up to be a librarian, has had a quiet first two decades of life. But Lazlo, reader of fairy tales, longs to learn more about a distant, nearly mythical city, called Weep after its true name was stolen. When a group of warriors from that very place come seeking help, Lazlo, never before a man of action, may actually see his dream fulfilled. Weep, though, is a city still reeling from the aftermath of a brutal war, and hidden there is a girl named Sarai and her four companions, all of whom have singular talents and devastating secrets. What follows is the careful unfolding of a plot crafted with origamilike precision. This has distinct echoes of Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), though ultimately it’s a cut above even that: characters are carefully, exquisitely crafted; the writing is achingly lovely; and the world is utterly real. While a cliff-hanger ending will certainly have readers itching for book two, make no mistake—this is a thing to be savored.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
Lazlo Strange is a lowly librarian with a keen and singular interest in the mysterious city of Weep, which lost contact with the rest of the world over two hundred years ago. When an envoy from that fabled city suddenly appears at the Great Library in the kingdom of Zosma, recruiting the best minds for a formidable but undefined problem, Lazlo manages to finagle a spot on the delegation. Meanwhile, we are introduced to teenage Sarai, who is “godspawn”—half-human, half-god—and who for the past fifteen years has lived in an impregnable metal citadel that hovers in the sky over Weep, ever since the gods were slaughtered in retribution for their brutal acts of sexual violence. Sarai has the power to fragment her consciousness into a hundred moth-shaped pieces and send them down to torment the citizens of Weep with nightmares. Much to her surprise, Sarai finds that, unlike others, Lazlo can actually see her when she enters his dreams, and what starts as an uneasy alliance between enemies blossoms into an improbable romance that will have tragic consequences as the plot draws to its cliffhanging conclusion. Taylor’s work (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, rev. 11/11, and sequels) sits at the nexus of the fantasy, horror, and romance genres. Here she has spun another mesmerizing tale with captivating twists and turns, an array of intriguing characters, strange and beautiful language, and baroque flourishes of the imagination; and, once again, she has set her readers up for an epic finale in the concluding volume of the duology. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Laini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author and a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

Her website is www.lainitaylor.com.

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Bone Jack by Sara Crowe

Bone Jack by Sara Crowe. February 7, 2017. Philomel Books, 256 p. ISBN: 9780399176517.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.2; Lexile: 620.

A haunting story of magic and myth, of one boy caught between worlds, and of the lengths he will travel to save those he loves.

Times have been tough for Ash lately, and all he wants is for everything to go back to the way it used to be. Back before drought ruined the land and disease killed off the livestock. Before Ash’s father went off to war and returned carrying psychological scars. Before his best friend, Mark, started acting strangely.

As Ash trains for his town’s annual Stag Chase—a race rooted in violent, ancient lore—he’s certain that if he can win and make his father proud, life will return to normal. But the line between reality and illusion is rapidly blurring, and the past has a way of threatening the present.

When a run in the mountains brings Ash face-to-face with Bone Jack—a figure that guards the boundary between the living world and the dead—everything changes once more. As dark energies take root and the world as he knows it is upended, it’s up to Ash to restore things to their proper order and literally run for his life.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Bullying; Killing of animals; Suicide of a parent

 

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Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 7-10. Ash has been training for months for his village’s annual Stag Chase, the modern iteration of an ancient ritual to usher in a prosperous season. This year, Ash will be the revered Stag Boy, leading a pack of Hound Boys on a chase around the mountains. He should be elated, but he’s struggling with both the return of his PTSD-afflicted father and his ex–best friend Mark’s eerie descent into a violent, weird obsession with both the pagan roots of the Stag Chase and a mythical being, Bone Jack, who monitors the gateway between life and death. Crowe cultivates an unsettling atmosphere with ghostly apparitions, threats of violence, and descriptions of grotesqueries, such as a rotting stag head and a cape of crow carcasses. Amid the looming danger, Crowe leaves plenty of room for meaningful conversations about family, loyalty, and mental illness, particularly pertaining to Ash’s father. Though this might seem like just another ghost story, there’s subtle depth here, too, and teen fans of both horror and literary fiction will find lots to like.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
In a grim season, one rural tradition seems less like a boys’ romp and more like a gateway for the old powers.This ought to be a banner year for 13-year-old Ash, finally selected as the stag boy. As the lead runner in his British town’s annual Stag Chase, Ash should be preparing to race his best friend, Mark, and the other boys their age, hounds to his stag. If only the whole town weren’t shattered with grief. A foot-and-mouth outbreak has devastated the area, with tragic consequences; Mark’s dad hanged himself in the barn. Ash’s own father, an army captain, has returned from the war—afflicted with PTSD, haunted by visions and rising alcoholism. Even the Stag Chase itself seems corrupted. Ash sees creepy crows in the woods, skulls draped in the trees, ghost stag boys, and (most uncanny) Mark living in the woods, dressed in rags and daubed with clay. The old ways are rising, Mark insists, and the stag boy’s destiny will not be a happy one. In haunting, lyrical prose, Ash tries to protect himself from Bone Jack the soul-taker while learning to be a better son and friend. With a deft hand, Crowe twines the ancient folk motifs around her evocation of modern Britain—with one exception: characters’ races go unspecified, leaching it of its multicultural vigor. A lovely, eerie adventure that balances the ancient magic with its protagonist’s very real character growth. (Fantasy. 11-13)

About the Author

Sara Crowe was born in Cornwall and raised all over England by her restless parents. She taught cinema and photography studies until 2012 when she and her partner bought a van and spent the next 18 months travelling around the British Isles. She currently lives in a tumbledown cottage in Lincolnshire. Bone Jack is her first novel.

Her website is http://theforest.me.

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Bone Jack on Amazon

Bone Jack on Goodreads

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Bone Jack Publisher Page

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. February 9, 2016. HarperTeen, 444 p. ISBN: 0765383756.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Sequel to: Red Queen

Part of Series: Red Queen

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Violence

 

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Booklist (December 1, 2015 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Anyone can betray anyone. It’s a lesson that thief-turned-revolutionary Mare Barrow learned the hard way in Red Queen (2015). After she learns the truth about Maven, now the king of the powerful Silver court, Mare and the displaced Silver prince, Cal, flee the city, tenuously joining up with a resistance group. But Mare has learned that she is not the only Red with magical Silver-like abilities, and soon finds herself on a journey to find and recruit the others, determined to form a powerful army, if only she can find them before Maven does. But to do so, she must become a leader willing to make sacrifices, and the cost may be higher than she ever anticipated. While the story of a powerful young woman facing her own darkness is done a bit more effectively in Marie Lu’s Young Elites series, high-stakes excitement and sharp plot twists, nevertheless, make this a fast-paced, exciting read and a thrilling sequel.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2015)
Reborn as the infamous “lightning girl,” Mare struggles to build an army of newbloods to face the murderous new king. After narrowly escaping the burning city of Naercey, Mare and her friends make their way to a secluded island where her family and the Scarlet Guard lie low. Bruised and beaten, Mare quickly realizes she can’t trust anyone, not even her closest friends–maybe not even family. But Mare has a plan: she’s going to track down the rest of the newbloods–Reds with unknown powers that rival the strongest Silvers’–and build an army. She sets out with those closest to her, including Cal, the now disgraced prince. Feeling incredibly alone, she can’t help but gravitate toward him; they share an ache for the person they both believed Maven to be before he became a treacherous king. As her conviction rises, so does the body count, and it isn’t long before Mare becomes eerily like the killer she’s trying so hard to destroy. Though her friends are disturbed by what she’s become, not even they can stop her now. Her quest is fraught with trials and bloodshed, but the action lags; the traps begin to feel too familiar, and the first-person, present-tense narration spares no detail. Tragedy seems to be a certainty before the end, but the spectacle still packs a surprising punch. This too-long heroine’s journey requires that the next volume provide sufficient fireworks to keep readers invested in the planned four-book series. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

About the Author

Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – “if people are dying, I’m buying”.

Her website is www.victoriaaveyard.com.

 

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The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu. October 11, 2016. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 336p. ISBN: 9780399167850.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina’s story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series.

Sequel to: The Rose Society

Part of Series: The Young Elites (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Discrimination; War; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Alcohol

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. Lu brings her Young Elites trilogy to a thunderous close with this final installment. Illusion-weaver Adelina Amouteru has gained more power—and a crueler reputation—than she’d ever dreamed. Now a conqueror queen, she unleashes her brutal justice on a society that once debased people like her: those who bear the scars (and, occasionally, mystical powers) left by a deadly disease. Adelina’s beloved sister, Violetta, has fled to the Elites, who once sheltered and trained Adelina before she betrayed them, and Adelina wants her back. But Adelina’s powers are faltering; her illusions cause her to weaken, she hears terrible voices in her head, and she’s plagued with vicious nightmares. The powers of the Elites are failing, too, and when Violetta falls mysteriously ill, Adelina must once again join forces with them to save both her sister and the world she’s hated. Lu puts the final pieces of this world into place here; the scope only grows as her beautifully developed characters prepare to take on the gods themselves. The Rose Society (2015) remains the strongest volume of this trilogy—some readers might find Adelina too easily forgiven as her dark heart thaws and her redemption arc begins—but this is a worthy, bittersweet end. More than ever, it is the bond between sisters and the struggle to be human that take center stage in this heartrending finale.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2016)
The affecting conclusion to the Young Elites trilogy relishes ardent emotion but is never mawkish. Adelina Amouteru, once a hated malfetto, is now fast becoming the queen of the known world. Her Kenettran army has conquered Domacca, northern Tamoura, and finally Dumor. Inquisitors enforce her harsh rule, and the tables have been turned: survivors of the blood fever who were tortured and burned as malfettos under the old powers are known as those marked by the gods and have free rein to maltreat their former tormentors. Even Adelina’s beloved, Magiano, thinks she’s become too cruel, but invisible voices plague Adelina, whispering that her closest allies are plotting with her enemies. The superpowered Young Elites are all struggling with powers gone awry; invulnerable Teren has wounds that will not heal, and storm-bringer Sergio is endlessly thirsty. There is an imbalance in the world, and it can only be fixed if the Young Elites work together. The multinational characters are primarily olive- or brown-skinned, with a few pale Beldish redheads scattered throughout; Adelina seems to see brown-skinned Magiano as exotic, with his “mess of long braids” and “smile full of white teeth.” The primary romantic pairing is between Adelina and Magiano, but among the background liasons, one potential same-sex relationship ends in tragedy and another in happiness. Like many a classic antihero’s, Adelina’s trajectory is both sobering and satisfying. (Fantasy. 13 & up))

About the Author

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, Prodigy, and Champion, as well as The Young Elites. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Her website is www.marielu.org.

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The Midnight Star on Amazon

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