Hey guys! I write so many reviews for the San Francisco Book Review and since the word count rule hovers around the mini review and I don’t like to write the same review twice I haven’t shared them with you! So I will do this now and again, let me know if you like it.
Faerie Winter is a fantastic sequel to the dystopian Bones of Faerie. Liza saved her mother from the dying land of Faerie and is comfortable in her daily grind as she learns to wield her newly found powers as a summoner. Everyone left in Liza’s world has to come to grips with the fact that all children born after the devastating world war with the Fey will be born with magic. Their greatest fear is alive in their own children. Everything is settling into a comfortable rhythm until Liza finds a burned boy just outside of her town’s border. He is a Firestarter, dangerous and too injured to tell townsfolk why he is there. Matthew goes to fetch a healer from another village and doesn’t return. Liza sets out to find him but what she finds is the Lady of all Faerie and she is determined to wipe out the rest of the human race. Faerie Winter is chilling, smartly written, and full of magic and lore. While it still borrows heavily on the dystopian tones of Bones of Faerie, it reads more like an epic high fantasy. Janni Lee Simner uses masterful storytelling to paint this post apocalyptic world.
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace is one of the best pieces of contemporary teen writing I have read this year. Amanda Grace is a pseudonym for the powerhouse YA author Mandy Hubbard whose works include the popular Prada and Prejudice.But I Love Him focuses on Ann who is extremely confident, gets amazing grades, and has her life all planned out; until she meets Connor and her dreams go down the drain. The story is told in reverse, starting with Ann listless on the floor after being beaten by Connor. The story plays in flashbacks, their first meeting, when he starts using words to abuse her, and then the hitting.||We learn how Ann loses her friends, and why she makes the decision to stay with Connor even when he begins to hit her. To Ann, she is the only one who can heal Connor and she is the only one who loves him completely. Unconditional love like hers requires some sacrifice for the final payoff, and Ann dreams her payoff will be Connor completely healed of his emotional scars. Then they can finally begin their life together.But I Love Him is haunting, heartbreaking, and full of wondrous hope.
All the elements of Malinda Lo’s writing that I loved in her debut Ash are present in the prequel Huntress. Filled with Chinese flair and lore inspired by the I Ching Huntress is fantastical and beautifully written Imagine a world where everything is failing. The crops are not growing, the sun hasn’t shone in years and to make matters worse, nasty creatures are popping up everywhere. There seems to be no hope for the people that anything will survive this blight. Incredibly hard decisions must be made and oracle stones are cast, the fate of the people lies in the hands of two seventeen-year-old girls. Kaede and Taisin are sent off to the magical city of Tanlili, the home of the Fairy Queen. There they hope to plead their case with high hopes of saving the world.Tasin and Kaede are set upon by mythical beasts, played with by fairy tricks but refuse to abandon hope. Tasin has skills that seem almost otherworldly and, after all, it only takes one Huntress to save the Kingdom. Which Huntress will be able to save her people?||Imaginative, thought provoking and incredibly steeped in lore Huntress is the perfect book for fantasy or adventure seekers.
Cindy Pon delights with her debut young adult fiction title. Ai Ling is a willful girl born to a not so traditional family. She is betrothed to be married but due to an altercation at the palace and her father being released from service by the Emperor Ai Ling, she is shamed by her fiancé. An unmarried woman cannot live alone, so her father sets off to the palace to restore his family’s good name and leaves Ai Ling alone in the house with her mother. Ai Ling’s father is missing for months and debts begin to pile up. They let staff go but the merchants come for final payment. One merchant known for his penchant for young women offers to take Ai Ling to settle the debt. He tells Ai Ling her father is dead and she should be a good daughter and settle the debts for her mother. Ai Ling runs away to find her father. By not accepting her fate she is sent on a fantastical journey enhanced by Asian influences and myth, she finds love in the eyes of Chen Young, a young man searching for his family as well. Chen Young and Ai Ling meet many friend and foe along the way. Pon creates a beautiful fairy tale for a new generation.
The Iron Thorn is many things. Creepy, incredibly imaginative and full of plot.
Aoife lives in Lovecraft. A gorgeous town in the midst of an industrial phase with steampunk stylings, the only problem is a necrovirus is plaguing the citizens of Lovecraft and Aoife’s family seems to be effected in a very unusual way. At the age of sixteen everyone in Aoife’s family goes mad, as if the virus is living dormant in their blood and awakens on their birthday. The usual way to contract a necrovirus is to meet one of the carriers who only come out after dark and usually in the poorer neighborhoods as the government of the town keeps the city proper clear of the riff raff.
Aoife is on the verge of turning sixteen, one of the few female students of the academy of engineers and incredibly nervous that she too will go mad when she receives a mysterious letter from her older brother who is supposedly mad but on the run that he needs her help and only she can save him. Aoife’s friends think she is going mad early when she sets off to solve the mystery of the necrovirus and maybe she is.
The Iron Thorn is one of the best books I have read this year.
Set in the harsh badlands of Wyoming, Hubbard paints scenery of familial values gone awry and teenage mutiny born out of necessity. Grace is quiet and keeps to herself. Her town is extremely small and she just wants to stay under the radar. She secretly wishes she could be friends with Mandarin who is a few years older and is the most talked about person in the whole town. Mandarin’s father runs the bar and her mother is gone or presumed dead. Grace would do anything to be like Mandarin. Luck seems to shine on Grace when the teacher asks her to tutor Mandarin. Mandarin slowly begins to bring Grace into her circle and Grace likens herself to Mandarin by dressing more provocatively and using her language. Grace revels in the attention her usually indifferent classmates lavish on her now that she is like Mandarin. When the girls decide to leave home and run away to start a new life in California, Grace learns just how far Mandarin is willing to go to leave the Badlands behind and escape from her poor situation. Like Mandarin is a beautiful and heart wrenching tale of strength, hope, and what family really means.