Hiding in the Shadows

Shadows by Robin McKinley

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First Look:

How much do I love the lack of a begowned, beheaded, teen girl?  A lot.  That said, I was sure this was supposed to be the bayou, with the suggestion of water at the bottom of the picture, which is not the setting.

Jacket Copy:

A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles BeautyChaliceSpindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive. 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

Alouette

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

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First Look:

It’s way overdesigned, and the only thing that has anything to do with anything is the forest. Actually, the cheap-looking cover kind of turned me off, only my friend Sara (with whom I agree on many taste issues) told me I would like it.

Jacket Copy:

Vis in magia, in vita vi.

In magic there is power, and in power, life.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.

Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known…or face a fate more unimaginable than death.

[From the author’s website.  The jacket copy on Goodreads makes it sound like a completely different book.]

Continue reading

Black Is the Color of My True Love(?)’s Hair

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Raven

First Look:

So pretty.  I love the painting and that the brushstrokes are visible.  The swirling strokes hint at magic, and the lack of a visible eye adds a strangeness that is perfect for the story.

Jacket Copy:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before. Continue reading

Quick Takes #2

Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Deadly Pink, Past Perfect, Corbenic, City of Bones & City of Ashes, The Freedom Maze, Cinder, Thumped, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I’m going to write some quicker-than-normal reviews regarding several books.  Some of these are shorter than my normal book, some of these I might just not have as much to say about, and…I might just have way too many books in my read-but-not-yet-reviewed queue. Continue reading

Her Mom’s Family Issues (Are Bigger Than Yours)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

First Look:

Whoa!  This cover is Dramatic with a capital D.  But it is really pretty, and intriguing.  Don’t you want to know what is up with the spire city and the scary-haired person?

Jacket Copy:

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together. Continue reading

Victorian Gothic Less-Than Thriller

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

First Look:

Love it!  Puppets are basically the theme of the book, and the giant hand and lighting (not to mention the kids’ faces) add a great creep factor.

Jacket Copy:

The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.

Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.

As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz’s Victorian gothic is a rich banquet of dark comedy, scorching magic, and the brilliant and bewitching storytelling that is her trademark. Continue reading

African Magic for Beginners

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

First Look:

Beautiful!  It’s unique in today’s world of fancy ball gowns and big faces on novel covers.  Best of all, it looks like the book describes!  Sunny looks right, she’s wielding her juju knife…there are even some Nsibidi words along the top.

Jacket Copy:

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too? Continue reading