Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Tag

New Books Highlight: A Wrap-up List for 2013

This will be the last New Books Highlight post for 2013!

Instead of the usual showcase of three new books on one subject or theme, I thought I’d put together a few different themes that have been popular recently and a few books from each.


Pantomime by Laura Lam

The First Dragon by James Owen – book 7 in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica

Historical Mystery:

Little Red Lies by Julie Johnston

Palace of Spies: Being a True, Accurate and Complete Account of the Scandalous and Wholly Remarkable Adventures of Margaret Preston Fitzroy, Counterfeit Lady, Accused Thief, and Confidential Agent at the Court of His Majesty, King George I by Sarah Zettel

Dark Dystopian (with less romance than your average dystopian.):

The Living by Matt de la Pena

The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch


Find Me by Romily Bernard

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Torn by David Massey



New Books Highlight: Sequels

Every so often I have to highlight series books. Why? Because there are more series than stand-alone books, or so it seems! This fall, there have been and will be a lot of sequels out. It’s a great time to be a fan!

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Ffordesong

Sequel to The Last Dragonslayer. Jennifer Strange and all of the magicians are back in this sequel that shares the funny, quirky style of the first book. When the King chooses a rival magician from the firm iMagic to be his court magician, Jennifer and the wizards at Kazam are thrown into a magic duel. They know that the King is up to no good, attempting to control magic for his own personal gain. Kazam has a problem though: some of its strongest wizards are under a spell, and the King has decided to lock up the others as criminals.  The quarkbeast might just save the day.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Weinrose

This is not so much a sequel as a companion novel to last year’s Code Name Verity. Set during the same time period as Code Name Verity, this is the story of a young American girl who, like Queenie and Maddie, finds a way to be involved in the war efforts. As a pilot, Rose’s job is to move planes, not to fight. But then Rose is captured during a routine mission and sent to a notorious concentration camps with other prisoners of war.

Smoke by Ellen Hopkinssmoke

This is a long-awaited sequel to 2006’s Burned, written in Hopkins’ signature novel-in-verse style. As in Burned, we are following the story of Pattyn. The story begins abruptly, and somewhat violently, but readers of Hopkins’ books know to expect the troubled situations she portrays. Pattyn finds her father beating her sister Jackie, and presumably kills him. But only the girls know the truth of what happened. Although Pattyn and Jackie have not had it easy, they are easy characters to root for and see ourselves in.


Other sequels out now:

United We Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #6)

Monsters by Ilsa Bick (Ashes trilogy finale)

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns trilogy finale)

New Books Highlight: Upcoming Releases

Earlier this summer I highlighted the blockbuster fall that is upon us: so many big-time movies-from-books and so many big-time books are coming out this fall, it’s really hard to keep track. This week, I’m too excited to stay quiet about some of the upcoming sequels, finales, and stand-alone books that will be hitting the shelves in September and early October.

To make things even more fun: you can already request these books even though they either have yet to be published or have yet to be cataloged by any Milwaukee County libraries. Get your name on the list for these books ASAP if you’re anywhere near as excited as I am!

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (August 27)love in the time

If you’re a fan of Block from her great magical-realism YA books like the Weetzie Bat series, The Frenzy, Wasteland and others, you will not be disappointed in her newest book. Tackling the post-apocalyptic genre that has swept through YA lit recently, Block puts her own spin on death and destruction. An apocalyptic earthquake and tidal wave that seems to sweep most of the USA off the map leaves Penelope alone in her pink house, without the family and friends she dearly loved. There is something sinister behind the destructive quake, though, something that it seems Penelope – who quickly renames herself Pen – must track down. She meets friends and finds love, and quickly realizes her journey parallels that of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. The magic and mythology of that story are beautifully intertwined with science and technology of the 21st century in a way only Block could pull off.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (September 3)coldest

This is a novelization of a short story originally published in Black’s The Poison Eaters. Everyone knows that escape from Coldtown, effectively a prison for vampires and other demons, is impossible. So when Tana, with the help of a red-eyed stranger named Gavriel, realizes that entering (and then escaping) Coldown is probably the only way to save her town from a plague of vampire attacks, she must steel herself to the task. Tana is a typically brave and bold Black heroine and her thrilling foray into the freaky Coldtown is not to be missed.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (September 17)dream thieves

The second book in Stiefvater’s utterly perfect series about magic, mythology, psychics and private school. If you have not read the first one (The Raven Boys), go get it right this second. That is, if you love great stories about teens doing cool things with magic and ley lines and awakening ancient dead Welsh kings. In The Dream Thieves, the boys Adam, Gansey and Ronan are still working with energy-amplifying spikey-haired Blue Sargent, but this time their efforts are diverted somewhat from the search for Glendower. Secretive Ronan may not be able to keep his secrets much longer (the last line from The Raven Boys certainly hints at that development!). Blue may not be able to stop herself from kissing someone thereby fulfilling the awful prophecy that has plagued her life so far. Unlike some “bridge” books – the second in a trilogy – this promises to be an astonishing story that truly furthers the action and the characters’ development.

October releases include such eagerly anticipated books as Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa and a little thing called ALLEGIANT BY VERONICA ROTH (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Get reading!

New Books Highlight: Secrets Hidden in the Depths

If that seems like an intriguing and magical title, it’s because all three new books I want to share are just that: intriguing and magical. There’s lots of fantasy written for young adults, but lately it seems there has been more magical realism or supernatural realism than before. These books are somewhat fantastical – in that there are sometimes other worlds, creatures other than humans, with magic and mythology abounding – but they take place in world that we recognize as our own. Think of books by Maggie Stiefvater or Margo Lanagan that re-tell and re-imagine mythological and fairy stories. If you like those writers, you will definitely like these three new books.

Tides by Betsy CornwellCover image for Tides by Betsy Cornwell

When Noah and his sister Lo make their way to the island where their grandmother lives for the summer, they don’t plan for mystery or adventure. Noah is headed to an important internship with a noted marine biologist, and Lo is just along for the change of scenery which she hopes will inspire her art and help her heal from an eating disorder. Soon, however, both notice strange things are afoot on the isolated island. Noah meets Mara when he tries to rescue her from drowning. She is unlike any girl Noah or Lo has known, but something holds her back from getting close to them. What is her secret? And will finding it out put Noah and Lo in harm’s way?

Sneak Peek! “‘No one is happy in the inbetween,’ said Gemm. ‘Not even selkies.'” (Text copyright © 2013 by Betsy Cornwell)

September Girls by Bennett Madisoncover image for September Girls by Bennett Madison

Another novel with a mystery from the sea at its heart – this time it’s mermaids, not selkies, although the two are closely related. Sam and his father and brother are still reeling from the sudden loss of their mother. She up and left months ago, and now that summer has arrived Sam’s dad takes them all to a sleepy seaside town for a chance to recover. Sam and his brother see this as a real chance to let go, and soon find themselves in the midst of friends and parties and the fun of summer in a beach town. But they also notice that all the girls are blonde and bewitching – which wouldn’t be a problem except that they are all a little strange, too. Sam falls for DeeDee – although all the girls chase him – and soon comes to learn who these strange, ephemeral looking girls are. And that he may hold the secret to unlocking the curse they are under. Bonus: Sam’s voice is completely approachable by anyone. Don’t be put off by the kissing cover!

 Sneak Peek! “The summer following the winter that my mother took off into something called Women’s Land for waht I could only guess would be all eternity, my father decided that there was no choice but for him to quit his despised job and take me and my brother to the beach for at least the entire summer and possibly longer.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Bennett Madison)

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knoxcover image for Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox

Canny Mochrie has always been able to see something Extra – bits of magic on the edges of things, a feeling that pervades. She has always felt different, not only because of the Extra but because she seems too distant from people, too brown compared to others on her Pacific island, Southland, and a little strange. When she accompanies her step-brother on a research trip to the Zarene Valley – site of a coal mining disaster that her brother is researching – she instantly knows there is some connection between herself and the Zarenes. The Valley abounds with magic, she can see the Extra everywhere. She is drawn to Ghislain Zarene, one of the children of the Valley who can perform magic, but is trapped there by the magic, too. Canny finds connection in the Valley – although she is torn between it and her island home – for reasons she will come to understand run deep within her.

Sneak Peek! “Canny and her teammates stood on platform nine of Castlereagh Station and watched everything they’d seen the night before in Founderston play again in reverse. ” (Text copyright 2013 © by Elizabeth Knox)

New Books Highlight: Creepy Fantasy & Fairy Tales

Creepy books! They are not for everyone, that’s for sure. But if you like your fantasy or re-told, re-imagined fairy tales with a little bit of a creep factor – think Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, Kenneth Oppel, etc. – then check these new books out!

Nameless: A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St. Crowcover image for nameless by lili st.crow

This is a new and creeptastic take on the story of Snow White. Camille is an orphan, found abandoned in the snow, who has been raised in the lap of luxury as the ward of the godfather of the Seven. The Seven are the powerful families that rule their magic-infused world of New Haven. Only Camille is not magical – she is mortal, with a past that remains a mystery until she meets Tor. Part fairy tale, part paranormal steampunk.

Sneak Peek! “Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Enrico Vultusino’s long black limousine. The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Lili St. Crow)

Faerie After by Janni Lee Simnercover image for faerie after

This is the third book in the Bones of Faerie trilogy, and of course promises much of the same fantastical faerie magic as you saw in the first two books. It’s part postapocalytpic mayhem and all dark fantasy. Liza’s world in Faerie is suddenly disintegrating, seemingly struck by a sickness that is causing living creatures to turn to dust. Liza realizes the fate of her world is linked to that of the human world, and she must risk bridging the two to save both.

Sneak Peek! “He came to me in the rain, as the first maple leaves were surrendering their green. Beyond the path where I waited, their veins burned orange and red beneath a steel-gray sky, and their branches hissed restlessly as they reached for falling water.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Janni Lee Simner)

The Archived by Victoria Schwabcover image for the archived by victoria schwab

Mackenzie is a Keeper with the heavy job of ensuring Histories – like ghosts, only more…complex – return to the Archive where Librarians store their knowledge and stories. As  Keeper, Mackenzie must ensure that wayward Histories don’t escape into the real world to cause havoc. Soon after her family relocates to a creepy new home in an old hotel, Mac meets a fellow Keeper and their previously quiet world begins to fall apart. Histories are on a rampage – and they may be getting help from inside the Archive. Not to be read in the dark if you’re easily scared!

Sneak Peek! “There is nothing fresh about this start. I lean back against the car and stare up at the Coronado, the hotel-turned-apartment building that my mother and father find ‘so charming.’ It stares back, wide-eyed, gaunt.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Victoria Schwab)


New Books Highlight: Fireworks and Fanfare

Happy 4th of July! Yes, it was yesterday, but it’s a sort of a long weekend and I’m sure many of you are still celebrating with family and friends. So you can carry your holiday fun right into your reading, here are some brand new books that feel Fourth-of-July-ish (lightning, fire, light…all somehow reminiscent of fireworks and barbecues)!

Arclight by Josin L. McQueenarclight

Marina is the first person to cross the Arclight boundary – the wall of light surrounding and protecting people from the Fade. For the people within the Arclight, the Fades are frightening beings. The world there is dark. Everyone from the Arclight who has come in contact with the Fade has died, everyone but Marina. While she has no memory of it, she has a deep connection to the Fade and she must cross boundaries to discover what it is. Dystopia fans, check this one out!

Sneak Peek! “Someone’s attention shouldn’t have physical weight, but it does. Hate’s a heavy burden; hope is worse.” (Text copyright 2013 by Josin L. McQueen)

Furious by Jill Wolfsonfurious

A retelling of the Greek mythology of the Furies. When their anger at being outcasts, misunderstood nobodies in their clique-filled California high school becomes too big for them to bear, three girls find themselves with the powers of these great Greek mythological goddesses. Their anger transforms them and allows them to transform the world around them. The power is amazing at first, but they begin to realize it causes harm, so the girls must learn to temper their tempers or live with the consequences. Fans of Rick Riordan’s mythology-based series the Lightning Thief will enjoy this!

Sneak Peek! “When you’ve got an overbit and only one real friend and you’re what grown-ups euphemistically call ‘a late bloomer’ (meaning I’m short and skinny where I shouldn’t be skinny and I just got my period), you pretty much accept that every day is bound to be a series of humiliations, large and small.” (Text copyright 2013 by Jill Wolfson)

Firebrand by Gillian Philipfirebrand

Member of the immortal Sithe (fairy-esque) world, Seth, is not wanted by either his courtly mother or his angry father. His half-brother Conal is the only one willing to enter his life and make something of it. Conal begins training Seth as a warrior, just in time, too, for the two boys get tangled in a misunderstanding that gets them both exiled to the mortal world. In 16th century Scotland, the Sithe are feared and Conal and Seth must hide their true identities amid the tumult of religious wars and witch hunts. Pick this up if you couldn’t put down Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. Published in the UK several years ago, but new to the US.

Sneak Peek! “You deal with him. This was the first and last communication my mother ever had with my father about me.” (Text copyright 2010 by Gillian Philip)

TAB Book Review: Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marrwicked lovely

A riveting, romantic adventure. I read it all at once, I couldn’t put it down. It’s about faeries, not Tinker Bell. Faeries are closer to the Gaelic faeries, they are monsters. Of the four courts: Winter, Summer, Dark and High, two are after Aislinn, one of the rare mortals that can see faeries. I recommend it to anyone who likes Holly Black or the Carnival of Souls.

It is the first book in the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.

Reviewed by Simone K.

New Books Highlight: Continuing Series

For whatever reason, it seems like a lot of new books in series have come out this spring. With summer just around the corner (okay, so the weather doesn’t really reflect that…but it is almost June!), and school winding up to wind down (exams! final projects! yikes!) treat yourself to a simple and satisfying series conclusion or continuance and be taken away to another world. Here are three new ones I am super excited about:

Quintana of Charyn by Melina MarchettaCover image for Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

This is the riveting final book in the Lumatere Chronicles (Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles) series begun three years ago. Froi and his companions must trek through Charyn to save his love Quintana and raise an army to defend her unborn heir. Meanwhile we learn more about Lumatere as the story alternates between Froi’s journey and events in Lumatere. The amazing fantasy world that Marchetta has built does not disappoint in this final installment – our questions are answered, our love for characters (even unlovable Quintana) deepens, and we all want to go back to the beginning of the trilogy to relive the magic.

Sneak Peek! (from the Prologue) “There’s a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road. And I travel for days on the back of a cart with the lice and the filth and the swill of the swine.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Melina Marchetta)

Finale by Becca FitzpatrickCover image for Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

Aptly named, this is the final book in the otherwordly Hush, Hush saga (Hush, Hush, Crescendo, Silence). War between the Nephilim and the fallen angels is on the horizon. Complications arise when Nora, now the leader of the Nephilim, is expected to lead her clan in the war against her boyfriend Patch’s people. Full of secrets, lies, surprises, and, of course, love.

Sneak Peek! “Scott didn’t believe in ghosts. Dead men stayed in the grave. But the tunnels crisscrossing under Delphic Amusement Park, echoing with rustling, whispered sounds, made him rethink.” (Text copyright 2012 © by Rebecca Fitzpatrick)

Glass Heart by Amy GarveyCover image for Glass Heart by Amy Garvey

This is the sequel to Cold Kiss. Wren Darby is exploring her supernatural abilities, still getting used to what it means to have the kind of power she feels cursed with. Although he also has power, boyfriend Gabriel does not like what Wren can do, which causes her to seek understanding through the dangerous company of Bay and Fiona. As they draw Wren deep into something she may not be ready for – and as she deals with her younger sister’s burgeoning abilities – she faces the realization that she is not defined by her magic.

Sneak Peek! “I’m flying, soaring, swooping, dizzy with power and the sharp bite of the December air on my cheeks. The world is wide-open sky, cloudless and clear, and I can go anywhere.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Amy Garvey)

New Books Highlight: Books You’ll Like if…

This week I want to show you three brand new books that share some traits with books you may have already read. We all know how it feels to hunt for a book that is kinda like the last great book you read. Sometimes it is hard to pin down exactly what you liked about that last book, but sometimes you know just what you’re looking for. Here are three you might like if…

If you like the pace and subjects of books by Ellen Hopkins like Identical and Tilt, or you liked the style and setting of Looking for Alaska by John Green you should try…

Escape Theory by Margaux Froley (A Keaton School Novel)cover image for Escape Theory by Margaux Froley

Devon has never really fit in at her prestigious California boarding school. Because she plans to study psychology at an even more prestigious college -Stanford University – she decides to use her lack of social life and her misfit status to her advantage by becoming a peer counselor. It seems fairly straightforward until the stunning suicide of a classmate, Jason Hutchins aka Hutch, rocks the school. Devon is called upon to hear her peers’ struggle with accepting the death, all the while struggling herself to understand how and why it happened. To make things trickier for Devon, she might have loved Hutch. And she might know more about his death than what the school wants students to  know.

Sneak Peek! “Devon’s eye caught the harsh glare of the setting sun. She blinked and looked down, realizing she was rubbing her right palm where Hutch had kissed her before.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Margaux Froley)

If you like books by Meg Cabot and Lisi Harrison you should try…

Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth EulbergCover image for Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Lexi is popular, has lots of great friends and a nice family…oh, except for their obsession with her younger sister’s beauty pageants, as though beauty was all that mattered. Lexi has always been the girl with a “great personality,” but what does that even mean? One day she decides she’s sick of being ignored by the guys she likes, by her family, by everyone. She wrangles her confidence – luckily it’s abundant -to step up and take the world on with her great personality, letting her inner beauty outshine everyone around her.

Sneak Peek! “Applying butt glue to my sister’s backside is, without question, not the first way I’d choose to spend a weekend.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Eulberg)

If you liked The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty, the quirky fantasy of books like A Wrinkle in Time and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente you should try…

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (The Colors of Madeleine Book One)Cover image for A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Madeleine Tully lives in rainy Cambridge, England, with her kooky mother. Meanwhile in the Kingdom of Cello – which may or may not be Fairyland – Elliot is desperately searching for his father who went missing a year ago on the same night his uncle was found dead. Things are amiss in Cello, it seems, where Dangerous Colors are raining destruction. When Elliot and Madeleine both discover a gap between their parallel worlds they begin to communicate and events in their lives begin to intertwine.

Sneak Peek! ” Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything. Oh, wait. She turned a page.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Jaclyn Moriarty)

New Books Highlight: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

After looking at three dystopian books last week – that genre that seems to be taking over the world – let’s look at three brand new books in other genres.

Midwinterblood by Marcus SedgwickMidwinterblood

With its creepy title, this book sounds like a horror story. It’s really a little fantasy, a little paranormal, a little mythology, a little dystopia, and, yes, a little horror. There’s not just one story here, but there is one story. It’s made up of seven different vignettes – seven interwoven tales set on the same creepy Scandinavian island called Blessed. There are funny things afoot on Blessed, and it appears there have been since the beginning of time. Each piece of the puzzle takes place in a different era, starting in 2073, going back through the 10th century, and ending in time unknown. Fantasy, mythology, and paranormal fiction lovers should pick this up.

Sneak Peek! “The sun does no go down. This is the first thing that Eric Seven notices about Blessed Island. There will be many other strange things that he will notice, before the forgetting takes hold of him, but that will come later.” (Text copyright © 2013 Marcus Sedgwick)

Shadowlands by Kate Brianshadowlands

Rory Miller’s life changes forever when she is nearly the victim of a serial killer. She escapes, but she knows who he is and what he almost did to her. She and her family enter Witness Protection, which means starting over in a new place, with a brand new life. Until one of Rory’s new friends goes missing. Has the killer she ran from found her? As teens continue to go missing in Rory’s new home of Juniper Landing, other seem unconcerned, but Rory is determined to track down the truth. If you like a little mystery with your stories, and a little supernatural with your mysteries, check this one out.

Sneak Peek! “His hands felt like ice. He rubbed them together, the dry scratching an even tempo in the otherwise quiet woods.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Alloy Entertainment and Kieran Viola)

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheedcinders and sapphires

And now for some romance! This is positively Downton Abbey from the perspective of two teens, one a rich young woman, and the other, her ladies’ maid. Lady Ada Averley has just returned from India to her family home at Somerton. A new ladies’ maid is found for her, Rose Cliffe, who is the same age as Ada. The two become close, despite their very different upbringings. Ada finds herself inexplicably involved in a less-than-expected romance with Ravi, an intelligent young Indian man in England to attend Oxford. Forbidden romance, upstairs-downstairs relationships a la Downton, and riveting writing make this a keeper.

Sneak Peek! (from the Prologue) ” Lady Ada Averley leaned on the rail of the steamboat Moldavia, feeling the hum of the ship’s huge engines through the steel, a rhythmic shudder like a giant’s breathing. The black sea glittered with the reflection of the stars above her, and the wind tugged at her had and loosened the dark curls that framed her pale face.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Disney Publishing Worldwide)