A Girl and Her Crow

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes

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First Look:

Very cute.  I like the way it looks like Keara and Caw are in the middle of doing something.

Jacket  Copy:

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors? Continue reading

Dark and Lovely

The Experiment in Terror Series, 1-6, inclusive, by Karina Halle

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First Look:

Ooooo, pretty.  Ominous.  I likey.  (Note: Halle deserves mad props for this cover, because this is self-published, guys.  Most self-published books look like someone who has just learned the basics of Photoshop that day cut & pasted ALL THE CLIP ARTS, then used five of their favorite effects on the result.)

Jacket Copy:

With all the vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, it’s easy to become numb to all things supernatural. The antidote? Darkhouse introduces two real and unforgettable characters, Perry Palomino & Dex Foray, amateur ghost hunters who are “attractive, relatable and oddly heroic,” “flawed but loveable,” “slightly crazy” and just the most endearing pair to ever tackle the paranormal…just don’t call them normal. Darkhouse is a thrilling and sexy new take on concepts like Supernatural and The X-Files, bringing a breath of fresh air to a genre that has been inundated with the dead. ***Darkhouse and the Experiment in Terror series is a horror/romance for mature audiences only. Readers who are easily offended by harsh language should think twice about reading it.*** Continue reading

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far in 2013

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Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

There have been a lot of books this year that I’ve enjoyed, but these are the ones that stood out the most.  I cheated a bit by putting a few series in there, but only if I’ve actually read all of the books of the series this year.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

There is nothing more that I can say about this book which I did not already say in my review.  I’m pretty sure this is in my top ten of the whole year, maybe of the whole 5 years.

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The Curse Workers Series by Holly Black

I think that the fact it’s trilogy that tells three separate stories is a lot to celebrate right off the bat!  Then add the fact that it’s a beautiful, creepy, sad dark fantasy with a forbidden romance, and it’s written in a great immediate, engrossing style?  It’s so worth your time.

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The October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire

I haven’t done a full review of these yet.  Seanan McGuire is one of my two go-to gal authors for great urban fantasy…I can’t believe I only discovered her recently!  She writes adventure, fantasy, emotion, humor, and romance well.  The best part is, there’s more to come!  I’ve read all the novels that are out, but she’s working on more!

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The Diviners by Libba Bray

I love Libba Bray.  She’s funny, talented, and writes in a variety of styles and settings.  This is set in 1920s New York, and it’s spooky, mysterious, and entertaining.  Can’t wait for the next one!

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Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

There are two main reasons why I love this series.  One is that it’s high fantasy for teens, which doesn’t happen a lot now.  There’s lots of middle grade, and tons of teen paranormal romance, but not so much teen high fantasy.  The other reason is the unusual, relatable heroine, who truly grows and changes a lot over the course of the series.  Also, Hector.

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K Jemisin

I had heard wonderful things about Jemisin, and I was not disappointed.  Her writing is beautiful, the story is court intrigue/romance/mythology, and she just nails it.  Held my breath during several passages.  No wonder we hardly get her books in my (used) bookstore–people are holding on to their copies!

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

I haven’t officially reviewed this one yet, either.  Yovanoff has a delicate, dreamy narrative style that I simply love.  I’ve loved all three of her published novels so far, and expect to love more!  This one is a mystery/thriller/ghost story, taking on the intense topic of serial young girl murders.  The ending is very satisfying, which, when you’re talking about serial murders, is saying something.

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Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Carriger is my other favorite urban fantasy author.  I like her for the same reasons as I like McGuire–adventure, emotion, humor, romance, all handled in just the right balance.  And she has excellent fashion sense.

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The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Excitement, Mystery, Danger, Secret Societies, the Voynich Manuscript!  What’s not to love?

That’s it.  I know that’s nine on the list, but with the series, I’m going to call it good enough.

Breaking My Heart

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

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First Look:

Newbery Honor Medal!  The illustration is cute, and if it weren’t for the somewhat ominous title, I’d think that this was going to be a cheerful book.

Jacket Copy:

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.

A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry…

[Edited for Spoilers.]
…This moving story of a ten-year-old boy’s world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility. Continue reading

Ask Me; I’ll Listen

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

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First Look:

I love the lens flare, and the pose is thematic and intriguing.

Jacket Copy:

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love. Continue reading

My Ocean Fits in a Pail

The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

oceanlane

First Look:

It’s pretty, although it looks more like “generic middle-aged ladies’ book club book” or “depressing teen novel about anorexia/death” than “Neil Gaiman book” to me.  The British edition seems more Gaimanesque to me, and includes more story elements.

Jacket Copy:

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang. Continue reading

Columbian Magic

The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede

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First Look:

It’s fairly inoffensive, as these things go.  At least she’s dressed for pioneer camping in the cold, and not in some evening gown.

Jacket Copy:

When the government forms an expedition to map the Far West, Eff has the opportunity to travel farther than anyone in the world. With twin Lan, William, Professor Torgeson, Wash, and Professor Ochiba, she finds that nothing on the wild frontier is as they expected. There are strange findings in their research, a long prairie winter spent in too-close quarters, and more new species, magical and otherwise, dangerous and benign, than they ever expected to find.

When spring comes, the explorers realize how tenuous life near the Great Barrier Spell must stop a magical flood in a hurry. Eff’s unique way of viewing magic has saved the settlers time and again, now all of Columbia is at risk. Continue reading

Melt My Cold, Cold Heart

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

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First Look:

It’s a little cheesy, but a pretty painting, and it hints at the story.  The Tamora Pierce endorsement doesn’t hurt, either!

Jacket Copy:

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie’s own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice. Continue reading

Clockwork Is a Disease?

The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper

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First Look:

Light urban steampunk it is!  Oh, and it’s Click the clockwork cat!

Jacket Copy:

In a clockwork Brittania, Alice’s prospects are slim. At 21, her age and her unladylike interest in automatons have sealed her fate as an undesirable marriage prospect. But a devastating plague sends Alice off in a direction beyond the pale-towards a clandestine organization, mad inventors, life-altering secrets, and into the arms of an intrepid fiddle-playing airship pilot. Continue reading

Monstrously Cute!

Martin Monsterman by Manny Trembley

[Note: I have closer ties than usual to this book, so please note the disclosure at the bottom.]

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First Look:

A plethora of cute, colorful monsters!  I love it.

Jacket Copy:

Martin Monsterman is under a curse that turns him into a random monster for a predetermined amount of time. Moonlit nights for were-creatures, vampires on other nights, yetis and squid monsters during the day. Will Martin be able to overcome his curse? Continue reading