Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

Here is my list of the top ten books and series that I read in 2011.  I hope you find time in 2012 to enjoy these as much as I have!

1. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
2. Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
3. The Vampire Academy and Bloodlines Books by Richelle Mead
4. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
5. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
6. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
7. Enclave by Ann Aguirre
8. The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong
9. Love You More by Lisa Gardner
10. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead ★

Bloodlines (Book 1)
by Richelle Mead
August 2011

The drama is only just beginning . . . 

Okay, so I know that I literally just complained about having read too many series lately, but I am SOO EXCITED that Richelle Mead is writing this new series, which is a spin off series based on her Vampire Academy Series. (Seriously too many series in that last sentence.)  While readers may not necessarily have to have read the original series in order to follow this one, I highly encourage it as it lends a depth and understanding to the characters and their actions that you might not otherwise get.

For those who have already read Rose's story in Vampire Academy, know that while her story has ended, her friends' stories have not.  Adrian, the party boy vampire and Sydney, the prudish vampire-hating alchemist are back for even more romance, mystery, and action!  I honestly don't want to give away any more than that, so just go and read these books about paranormal, magical young adults that literally kick butt.

Bloodlines Novels
The Golden Lily
The Indigo Spell (TBR February 2013)

Vampire Academy Novels
Vampire Academy
Shadow Kiss
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound
Last Sacrifice
Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road (Dustlands Book 1)
by Moira Young (no site)
June 2011
Margaret K. McElderry Books

Lugh got born first.  On Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky.  Then me.  Two hours later.  That pretty much says it all.  Lugh goes first, always first, an I follow on behind.  An that's fine.  That's right.  That's how it's meant to be.

One of these days I really need to find a standalone book to read.  Keeping up with all of these young adult series is getting exhausting.  In any case, this is one that I've been looking forward to reading for quite some time now as it has gotten a lot of hype over the last few months.

Eighteen year old Saba has lived her entire life on the dusty dried up shores of Silverlake.  Growing up with stories about the ancient "wrecker" days when people packed into skyscrapers and drove chariots through the streets, Saba is content to be with her Pa, older brother Lugh and younger sister Emmi.  Everything changes, however, the day that robed and cloaked men ride in during a dust storm and snatch Lugh away from Saba.  Now, little sister in tow, Saba must face a completely unknown world outside Silverlake in order to find the light to her shadow, the strong to her scrawny, her beloved twin, Lugh.

Add to this plot a description from the publisher which claims that Blood Red Road "has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, relentless action, and an epic love story" and I was all but drooling all over the lovely dystopian desert cover before starting the book.  So now that I've managed to find some time to read it, let's address a few of these issues.

Searing Pace - If by searing, they mean a fire that you start in the rain then yes, I suppose the pace was searing.  In my opinion, out of 459 pages, this book crawled and sputtered for about 150 of them.  But once it picked up, it burned like a wildfire.  What you should learn from this - Steady on, but when you get close to page 150 put the book down if it's past midnight and you have to be showered and dressed at any point the next day.

Poetically Minimal Writing Style - This was neat.  Not only does the author make no use of quotations to show when characters are speaking, but the language is very "old west" and somewhat uneducated as the story is told entirely from Saba's point of view.  While this was initially distracting and difficult to adjust to, it soon seemed poetic and I appreciated Saba's strong, unedited voice.

Relentless Action - Again, this is only true once you get past the first bit.  But yes, the action is relentless and at times even reminded me of The Hunger Games.

Epic Love Story - I don't know about "epic," but yes, there was a love story that I found myself emotionally invested in.  For me, however, the greatest "love story" in this book is the development of the relationship between Saba and her nine year old sister Emmi, whom she clearly despises.  Learning to love and appreciate her sister when all she cares about is her older brother Lugh is where all the epic comes in, in my opinion.

Overall, a great addition to dystopian and post-apocalyptic young adult literature.  I look forward to reading more about this fascinating desert world that for unknown reasons swallowed our modern civilization.

Dustlands Series
Blood Red Road
Rebel Heart (TBR 2012)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Liar's Moon (Thief Errant Book 2)
by Elizabeth C. Bunce
November 2011
Arthur A. Levine Books

As a pickpocket, Digger isn't surprised when she finally lands in jail.  But she doesn't expect to be thrown in a cell with Lord Durrel Decath - or to hear he'll soon be executed for killing his wife.

Elizabeth C. Bunce picks up right where she left off in StarCrossed, book one in this series about a young thief named Digger.  The war between the magic users and those who fear magic's influence is in full swing.  Rather than run around on the battlefield, however, Digger chooses to go home and quietly help those in need within the city's walls.  But she soon finds herself hurled into the middle of a mystery which she secretly hopes will never be solved as she discovers that this time, the truth won't set them free.  A few things you should know about this book:
  • You really should re-read book one before starting book two.  I have a fantastic memory for plots and characters and was completely lost for a large portion of this book.  There is a brief lexicon in the back that goes through some of the vocabulary, place names, and main characters, but if it's been more than a year, read book one again!
  • Despite being a fantasy, this book reads much more like a mystery.  Going beyond the intrigue and conspiratorial whisperings of book one, this one truly is a "whodunit."  
  • She messed up the love interest!!!  I'm just going to throw this out there, but things were set up very nicely in book one for a certain princely someone to take center stage as Mr. Right . . . pout, pout, whine . . . ah well.  There's always time for Bunce to kill the current love interest off in the next book.
Thief Errant Series
Liar's Moon
Book Three To Be Announced

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Enclave by Ann Aguirre ★

Enclave (Book 1)
by Ann Aguirre
April 2011
Feiwel and Friends

In Deuce's world, an enclave deep underground, people earn their right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years.

Finally!  A post apocalyptic, dystopian young adult book crawling with zombies that I could get into!  You wouldn't think that with all my options this would be difficult, but fact of the matter is, it's hard to make a book about rotting flesh appealing.  Granted, no one is trying to kiss said zombies, which always helps.  "Erm . . . here.  Your lips kinda sorta just fell off."  Ooh la la.

In the distant future, the sewers of New York City have become a haven for people trying to escape from the war and plague that has overrun the "topside."  Small separate cities and societies called Enclaves have sprung up underground with the sole purpose of simply surviving.  It's difficult to live, however, with the threat of Freaks (zombies!) and the lack of food and other resources.  As a fifteen-year-old who was born and raised in one of these Enclaves, Deuce is now eligible to take on her role as a Huntress for the clan.  Paired with Fade, a strange boy who claims he once lived topside, her perspective on the life she's lived under the Enclave's rule is challenged and ultimately overthrown when she is banished to a life above ground.  Filled with vivid imagery, strange new creatures, and refreshing characters, Enclave is the zombie book you don't want to miss!

Books in the Series
Outpost (TBR Fall 2012)

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

Queen of the Dead (Ghost and the Goth Book 2)
by Stacey Kade
June 2011
Disney Hyperion

Okay, I admit it.  I'm not perfect, no matter what you've heard.  First off, I'm dead.  Second, I got sent back from the Great Beyond.  I mean, seriously, who is running things up there?

Alona Dare, homecoming queen and cheerleader extraordinaire is back in book two of the Ghost and the Goth series.  Alona continues to be Will Killian's (local ghost talker and super hot goth boy) spirit guide and assistant as he helps ghosts with unfinished business.  Things get a little Harry Potter, however, when an unheard of paranormal society with wands that evaporate ghosts start recruiting Will.  Are ghosts just "echoes" with no personality that are meant to be disposed of?  Or are spirits here on earth to get help and perhaps even help in return?  These are the questions that both Will and Alona struggle with in this fantastic sequel to the first book.

Ghost and the Goth Novels
The Ghost and the Goth
Queen of the Dead
Body and Soul (TBR May 2012)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

A Tale of Two Castles
by Gail Carson Levine
May 2011
Harper Collins

Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.

I kind of feel like whimpering pathetically right now.  It's so hard when an author debuts with something that changes your entire world (Ella Enchanted, anyone?) and then follows it with somewhat interesting, just barely entertaining book after book after book.  Gail Carson Levine, I just want you to know that I will always read every book you publish . . . but I'd be a lot happier if I actually enjoyed them.

Okay, okay so it wasn't all that bad.  In fact, all things considered (such as the fact that this is the only book I've finished in the last month), it was pretty good.  Elodie is traveling to the town of Two Castles to apprentice herself to a mansioner - or theater troupe.  Nothing, however, goes as planned and she soon finds herself apprenticed to a brilliant dragon, "deducing" the mysterious happenings surrounding the local ogre's castle.  One part mystery, one part fantasy and two parts coming of age, Elodie must sift through a parade of characters in order to determine where true friendship lies.  Younger fantasy readers will most likely find this book quite charming.

If you liked A Tale of Two Castles, try:
Tales from the Five Kingdoms by Vivian French
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

Friday, August 19, 2011

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Princess for Hire
by Lindsey Leavitt
March 2010
Hyperion Book CH

I was vapor.  Can you get any more invisible than that?  It floats around, dispersing everywhere and nowhere.  It's not a solid.  It makes no impact.

Desi Bascomb feels like she's stagnating in her small town, Idaho life.  The boy she likes is hanging out with her ex-best friend, her parents are obsessed with turning her little sister into a beauty queen and her job consists of donning a groundhog costume and handing out coupons at the mall pet store.  Basically, life sucks until the day her agent steps out of an iridescent bubble, tells Desi that she has the ability to use magic and asks if she'd like to act as a substitute for princesses who need a vacation.  With an emphatic yes, Desi begins her glamorous new lifestyle only to find that life as a princess isn't all the magazines chalked it up to be.  Instead of dreaming about Prince Charming, Desi soon finds herself trying her hardest to help these princesses improve their lives and make an impact.

I honestly have no idea why I read this book.  It's very nearly 100% not my style, and yet once I'd started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  There were some complexities in the book that kept my adult brain entertained even among the silly, thirteen year old drama.  Little girls (or boys) who loved The Princess Diaries will enjoy Lindsey Leavitt's winning debut about one girl's transformation from vapor to solid.

Princess for Hire Novels
Princess for Hire
The Royal Treatment
Book Three (TBA)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin ★

The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin
June 1978
E.P. Dutton

I, Samuel W. Westing, hereby swear that I did not die of natural causes.  My life was taken from me - by one of you! 

You don't say no when someone who hates reading tells you that this is the only book that ever brought them any pleasure in life.  Which is how I found myself reading this 1979 Newbery Medal winner by Ellen Raskin.  And while I'm not quite ready to proclaim this the best book I've ever read, it definitely kept me entertained and left me wondering how anyone can enjoy a literary classic such as this and yet find the majority of reading to be pointless.  But I digress . . .

When Sam Westing dies, he gathers his sixteen potential (and somewhat eccentric) heirs together to play a game; a game to determine who murdered him.  The heirs are all quite comical as they are paired off to play the game, each wondering if their partner is the killer.  The actual mystery in the book is interesting in that it is in places almost overly simple but in others extremely complex, making this a good read for all ages.  The "great reveal" at the end certainly surprised me!

Even more than the mystery, however, I very much enjoyed the human aspect of this book.  I had expected to dislike some of the characters at the beginning, but by the end I was rooting for all of them as each person had endeared themselves to me in some way.  This book should have enough intrigue, character and humor to keep most reluctant readers occupied; however, I'm not sure it's a cure-all (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, anyone?).  For those of you who have read this book, however, and declared that never shall you read again I say this:

If you liked The Westing Game, try these (somewhat) similar books:
Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison (A brilliant young girl who investigates mysteries.)
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (For the intrigue and intelligent clues.)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Another Newbery winning mystery with young protagonists.)
Holes by Louis Sachar (For the eccentric characters and unusual mystery.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

by Raina Telgemeier
February 2010
I'm beginning to notice an inverse correlation between the number of books I read in a month and how badly school is stressing me out.  Considering the only book I've finished so far this month was a graphic novel, I can only assume that school has been slaughtering me.  Regardless, this book was not only a fun distraction, but also a good reminder that I need to wear my retainer more often as I absolutely never ever want to go through the experience of having braces again.  And I especially don't ever want to go through middle school ever again.  Which is what poor Raina is going through when we meet her in Smile.

After a bout of clumsiness knocks out her two front teeth, Raina goes not only through the worst kind of periodontal hell (from surgeries to dentures to headgear), but she does it all during the very awkward, often traumatizing middle school years.  As she goes through these experiences, however, she not only learns who her true friends are (how about the ones that don't call you metal mouth?), but she also discovers who she is and comes to the amazing realization that she actually likes herself, just the way she is.  In many ways Raina's road to self discovery mirrors my own.  A well-written memoir, I recommend Smile for kids of all ages who find themselves trapped in middle school.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White ★

Belle Prater's Boy
by Ruth White
January 1998

"Think of all the millions of dawns this old world has seen, " Woodrow said.  "But it will never be this same one again . . . or that same one when she left."

Never have I read a book that made me want so badly to return to my own childhood.  I think this was due in part to Ruth White's wonderful descriptions of small town life in West Virginia in 1953, and partly the fact that the feelings that we possess and the friendships that we make as children are in so many ways stronger and truer than those we have as adults.  This is the story of two cousins, Woodrow, a cross-eyed, but very clever boy and Gypsy, the local beauty.  Through their close friendship, both cousins learn to deal with tragic losses and move on with their lives.  I know I say this every time I read an award winning book, but this one truly deserved the Newbery!  I highly recommend this as a fantastic discussion book for young children and their parents.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich ★

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum Book 1)
by Janet Evanovich
August 1994

Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie's bail bonding company.  She's got no experience.  But that doesn't matter.  Neither does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli.  From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants, to the time Steph hit him with her father's Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e.  And now the hot guy is in hot water - wanted for murder.

This is another one of those series that I've watched go up in numbers since I first started working in libraries ten years ago and always thought to myself "I really should read those one of these days."  Well I guess the stars finally aligned because I've read a few of them now and am absolutely in love!  Now before anyone gets too excited, I need to set one thing straight.  These books are fluff.  And I mean that in the best possible way. If you're looking for intellectual stimulation, you're in the wroooong place.  If, on the other hand, you want a gutsy bounty hunter with spunk, wit and charm who is constantly finding herself in hilarious situations then Stephanie Plum is your girl!  My highest recommendations for this series go to those who 1. enjoy a good mystery but can't really handle "scary" 2. miss advanced technology from the nineties and 3. to those who read solely for the immense pleasure of escaping from real life for a few hours.  To everyone else I say wait for the movie which is set to be released in January 2012!

The Stephanie Plum Books
One for the Money
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
High Five
Hot Six
Seven Up
Hard Eight
To the Nines
Visions of Sugar Plums
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Twelve Sharp
Plum Lovin'
Lean Mean Thirteen
Plum Lucky
Fearless Fourteen
Plum Spooky
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin' Seventeen

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset
by Kady Cross
June 2011
Harlequin Teen

There is a darkness within me, something I can't always control.  If you like a girl with a secret side, you're gonna love me . . . 

Yeah, except I didn't . . . and neither did your so-called boyfriend.  This book was so frustrating!!!  There are so few steampunk young adult novels that I was just that much more excited to read this one and even begged my boss to pre-order it for the library.  Kady Cross's own description for this book is "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men."  How can you not be super excited to read a book like that?!  This book has excellent reviews on so you probably shouldn't exclusively take my word for it, but here are my issues:

1. It was too easy.  Rather than creating a true steampunk world composed of Victorian ideals and styles meshed with occasional non-era technologies, the author has instead thrown us into the future with teen superpowers such as the ability to speak to robots and silly inventions like a steel corset that is fashionably thin and comfy but also completely bullet proof.  I propose, however, that we simply must have limitations or we lose room for growth.  When the characters run into huge obstacles that are suddenly solved by the evolution of someone's superpower e.g. "Hey, we need to be able to see in the dark . . . guess what?!  I just leveled up and can now see in the dark!"  I call it bad writing - not character development.

2. UGH I hated the love interest!  So the girl has some serious Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type issues which is totally fine.  HOWEVER, if you're going to be the girl's boyfriend then don't say you only love her sweet, kind side and desperately try to get rid of her kick-a awesome side!  Especially since I personally thought that her Mr. Hyde side made much better girlfriend material.

3. And another thing!  Please don't introduce totally awesome, super roguish, drool-worthy characters if you don't intend to use them.  I mean come on, quit dangling this potential love interest in our faces if we never get to learn more about him.  Hopefully he'll show up more in book two . . . ?

So there you have it.  Depsite my grumblings, I was not completely bored while reading this book so if you're huge into steampunk and looking for a new cosplay costume idea then go ahead and read this.  But I suggest getting it from the library.

The Steampunk Chronicles
The Girl in the Steel Corset
Book 2 (TBR)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love You More by Lisa Gardner ★

Love You More
by Lisa Gardner
March 2011

Who do you love?  It's a question anyone should be able to answer.  A question that defines a life, creates a future, guides most minutes of one's days.  Simple, elegant, encompassing.  Who do you love?

Hooray for another Detective D.D. Warren book~!  If you recall, I read The Neighbor, also by Lisa Gardner a few months ago and absolutely loved it!  Since it wasn't too scary and didn't leave me shaking under the covers for months or even minutes after, I decided to try another one.  And I was not the least bit disappointed!  We can possibly call this naivete on my part (being so new to the genre and all) but I do so love her stuff.  In this novel, Detective Warren is tackling a very sensitive case, as it appears that a fellow officer may have murdered her own husband and daughter.  Appearances can be deceiving, however, and the truth runs even deeper than the questions "Who do you love?" and "How far would you go to keep them safe?"

Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Outside In
by Maria V. Snyder
February 2011
Harlequin Teen

Something from Outside wants in.

Even though I enjoyed this book I'm left wishing that Maria V. Snyder had chosen to begin a new project rather than revisit the world of Inside Out.  That said, I think it was admirable of her to tackle the very challenging question of "What happens after the revolution?" that so many similar young adult novels never address.  Seeing how difficult it is to hold people together and to prevent similar revolutions once one has been successful made for an enlightening read.  This book is all about Trella's growth as she comes to realize that her life has changed in irreversible ways and that she must own up to responsibilities and duties that she'd never dreamed would be hers.  If you enjoyed Inside Out, then this is a must read.  Otherwise, let's look forward to something completely fresh and new from Maria V. Snyder soon.

Inside Out Novels
Inside Out
Outside In

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society
by Ally Carter
February 2010
Hyperion Books

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the Louvre . . . to case it.

I think I'm going to chalk it up to all the White Collar I've been watching lately, but I wanted to watch this book so bad!  Normally I would never ever say this, but I honestly think this book would make a better movie.  I can't even say for sure what it was, but something about the action and suspense just seemed better suited for a script than a novel.  One thing that I did very much like about this book compared to other Ally Carter reads was the minimal amount of silly go-go-gadget type spyware.  In any case, this book is about Katarina Bishop, a young girl from a family with a long history of professional thieving.  Fed up with a life of lies and stealing, Katarina runs away from home to live a "normal" life.  Her past soon catches up with her, however, and she's forced to choose between the life she ran from and the life she thinks she's always wanted.  Overall, a cute little spy read, though I have to say I could have done without all the morality lessons regarding stealing.  But hey - Disney is the publisher so at least it wasn't entirely unexpected.

Heist Society Novels
Heist Society
Uncommon Criminals
Book 3 (TBR 2013)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Need by Carrie Jones

Need (Book 1)
by Carrie Jones
December 2009

I text Nick.  Gone running.  See you ON ROAD.  There, my bases are covered and I'm going pixie hunting.

In vain I have struggled, but I simply cannot finish this series!  Which is really sad considering how much I enjoyed the first book.  In Need, we're introduced to a world where pixies are more prevalent than vampires, and werewolves and other shape changers make for common classmates and family members.  Into this we throw Zara, a tree hugging, Amnesty International letter-writing hippie who also happens to be afraid of very nearly everything.  While I can absolutely see the "Twilight" in these books, I also loved the fresh feel of the heroine.  Sure she's a little odd (um . . . she collects phobias . . . ?), but she does it fashionably (hippie skirts and messenger bags, yay!) in the name of freeing criminals and animals from cruelty.  I'll take a girl who chains herself to construction equipment over a ditz who trips over her own shoelaces any day.  So there you have it.  Need =   Captivate and Entice = L

Need Novels
Book Four (TBR 2012)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Banished by Sophie Littlefield ★

by Sophie Littlefield
October 2010

I'd done the thing that must never be done, the thing Prairie and my mother had been warned about since childhood. I'd done the unforgivable.  And I couldn't help wondering how many ways I would suffer for it.

This book was not at all what I'd expected.  It tells the story of Hailey, a young girl growing up in Trashtown with her abusive, drug-dealing grandmother and foster brother Chub.  Growing up an outcast, Hailey assumes it's her cheap haircut and used clothing that have labeled her a misfit.  What she doesn't know, however, is that she is the last in her family's line of healers and necromancers and some people in town will stop at nothing to make sure she stays in their hands.  Reading like a high speed action film, this book is an incredible addition to paranormal young adult literature.

Banished Novels

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani ★

Dick and Jane and Vampires
by Laura Marchesani (no website)
August 2010
Grossett & Dunlap

See Dick play.  See Jane play.  See Dick and Jane play with a vampire!

Keeping with the current literary trend in mashups (see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Dick and Jane and Vampires does not disappoint!  I was absolutely delighted to see this classic book (somewhat revised) on the library's shelf.  I'm a little too young to have grown up learning to read completely off of Dick and Jane, but I'm very familiar with its story and art, and this book stays so true to the originals, it's amazing!  Although the material may be a little too frightening for very young readers, adults will laugh out loud from the clever ways Marchesani has Dick and Jane interact with the vampire.  This scene, for example, takes place in the store when Dick, Jane and Sally go shopping with Mother.

Mother wants something.
The man can help.
That is not a man.
That is something else!

Ahh, I love it.  And there's a lovely event at the end which causes Dick and Jane to exclaim "Vampire is happy!  Happy, happy, happy!" As I'm happily sure that these hilarious mashups will continue to be published, I'd like to offer a few suggestions:

Little Women and Werewolves
Gulliver's Travels to Transylvania
As I Lay Dying . . . from a Vampire Bite

The possibilities are truly endless!  Anyone else have a good idea for a mashup?

Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls Book 1)
by Ally Carter
March 2007
Hyperion Book CH

The Gallagher Academy for Excetional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school - that is, it would be if every school taught advanced marital arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class.

I really wanted to label this one as a children's book*, but that's a very difficult thing to do when the main character is fifteen years old.  While the premise of this book is very young adult, the silly spy paraphernalia (think Inspector Gadget) and lack of any real suspense or plot outside the squeaky clean romance made this more a book for tweens than teens in my opinion.  That said, I did enjoy the read and may even read other books in the series.  It is more likely, however, that I will try one of Ally Carter's other books instead, such as Heist Society, which was a YALSA Teens' Top Ten in 2010.  I would still recommend this book, however, to younger girls who are in between Nancy Drew and true young adult books such as The Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

The Gallagher Girls Series
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Only the Good Spy Young

*Reclassified as Tween

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Book 1)
by Ally Condie
November 2010
Dutton Juvenille

In the society, officials decide.  Who you love.  Where you work.  When you die.

Like most dystopian fiction, Matched begins by introducing us to the perfect society.  Officials micromanage every aspect of your life.  From how much you eat and when to the exact day that you'll die (on your eightieth birthday) to who you'll love and be married to before then.  Cassia has always allowed the Officials to do what's best for her and trusts her society implicitly.  Especially when she is matched with Xander, her best friend from childhood for lifelong love and companonship.  Cassia has some very difficult decisions to make, however, when her perfect world cracks and then shatters.  Why has her grandfather given her illegal and dangerous poetry (such as Dylan Thomas' Do not go gentle into that good night)?  What does the red pill do that she has been forced to carry for years?  And perhaps most importantly, why did she see Ky's face instead of Xander's on her match data?  Tamer than some dystopian novels (such as the Hunger Games), Matched is a good introduction to humanity's pursuit for the perfect society, or an enjoyable read for fans of Lois Lowry's classic The Giver.

Matched Books
Reached (TBR November 2012)

If you like Matched, try some of these other Dystopian novels.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic

Utopia Now!
Sinclair Lewis put it best in Main Street when he simply stated, "We want our utopia now."  And we must.  How else do you explain all these books written about dystopian societies created in the pursuit of perfection?  This is a genre that has seen a huge boom in the publishing (especially in the young adult) industry lately and with it, brings a few questions.

What the heck is a dystopia?  Sounds like a disease.
In a way it is a cure that mutated into a disease so you're definitely on the right track!  Dystopia is a play on the word Utopia which is a concept for an imagined state of perfection within a community or society.  In dystopian fiction, an organization or government has taken a diseased society (such as the one we currently live in) and tried to fix it, usually through complete control over every aspect of an individual's life.  The end result is a seemingly perfect society . . . or is it?  Thus, a dystopia is born.

What about post-apocalyptic?  Is that the same thing?
In post-apocalyptic literature, the focus is generally on surviving a catastrophic event of some kind that nearly destroys humanity.  From the ashes of such events, dystopian fiction is often built.  In other words, they are very different, but not mutually exclusive.  In fact, combining the two has become increasingly popular over the years, which is why many of the books on this list may have post-apocalyptic elements.

So why should I read such weird sounding books?
Although some of the concepts in these books may sometimes seem a bit ridiculous (um yeah, like I totally want to look like everyone else and be a Barbie doll!), their underlying message to be ever vigilant in our care and awareness of ourselves and our communities is important for all people.

Pure by Julianna Baggott
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Young Adult
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Eve by Anna Carey
Crossed by Ally Condie
Matched by Ally Condie
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Dark Life by Kat Falls
Incarceron/Sapphquie by Catherine Fisher
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
The Giver/Gathering Blue/Messenger by Lois Lowry
Legend by Marie Lu
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Maximum Ride by James Patterson
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Inside Out/Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
Blood Red Road by Moira Young

The Atherton Series by Patrick Carman

To learn more about reading lists, browse the about page.

Monday, April 11, 2011

StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce ★

by Elizabeth C. Bunce
October 2010
Arthur A. Levine Books

Celyn Contrare serves as a lady-in-waiting to shy young Merista Nemair.  Her days are spent dressing in velvet and brocade, attending Lady Merista, navigating court gossip, and charming noblemen over lavish feasts.  And at night she picks locks, steals jewels, forges documents, and collects secrets.

This book was wonderful!  After reading Bunce's debut novel A Curse Dark as Gold a few years ago, I was thrilled to see she had a new book out with a very exciting premise.  As Celyn is running from the king's inquisition she takes refuge as a lady-in-waiting to Lady Merista.  Little does she know, however, that her current position will place her in more danger and dig up more secrets than she ever wanted to find.  This book had all the intrigue, magic and adventure that I craved when I picked it up.  A few things you should know before reading it, however:

1. I was totally lost for the first few chapters.  Things were happening very quickly and in a way that didn't follow traditional storytelling.  This wasn't necessarily a bad thing although it contributed to number two.
2. It takes forever to get into this book!  All the really awesome stuff doesn't start happening until much later.
3. This is going to be a trilogy and even though everything is more or less wrapped up at the end, I WANT MORE NOW!!!  I'm not a very patient person . . .

So you've been warned, but don't let that stop you from enjoying this wonderful young adult fantasy!

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

by Kelley Armstrong
June 2010 (Reprint from 2001)

I have to.  I've been fighting it all night.  I'm going to lose . . . Nature wins out.  It always does.

It's always fun to take my interest in paranormal romance and read something intended for adults rather than teens.  After enjoying Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers trilogy, I decided to give Bitten, the first book in her Women of the Otherworld series a try.

Elena Michaels is a beautiful woman with a successful career.  She has a nice apartment and a kind and thoughtful boyfriend.  She has lunch with coworkers and watches movies on the weekend.  She also turns into a wolf once a week or so when the urge can no longer be ignored.  Turned against her will, Elena has done everything in her power to stay away from her pack and fellow werewolves.  She wants a normal life, with a normal job, and a normal family.  When her pack goes to war, however, Elena must decide whether to risk normalcy to save a way of life she never wanted.  A fun (if steamy) read, I was not disappointed in Armstrong's debut novel.

Fat Chance by Deborah Blumenthal

Fat Chance
by Deborah Blumenthal
March 2005
Red Dress Ink

A love story of food and fantasy.

Maggie O'Leary loves food.  She loves it so much, in fact, that she writes a column that justifies and in fact gives you reasons not to diet.  Her message about being overweight is "Live with it and love it."  When her column soars into popularity, however, she receives a call from Hollywood's super hot, rising star Mike Taylor, requesting advice on the way fat people think for a movie he's filming.  Going against everything Maggie has told her readers about loving your fat, she goes on a secret diet to prepare for her meeting with Taylor.

This wasn't a terrible read, however, there are many chick lit books out there that handle diet issues better.  Honestly I didn't even agree with Maggie's dieting advice as much of it seemed pretty unhealthy.  If you're looking for a book about a girl who's uncomfortable in her own skin who tries to change for a guy and learns some really good lessons in the end try Jemima J by Jane Green.  It's fabulous.

Friday, April 8, 2011

House of Night by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Marked (House of Night Book 1)
by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
September 2009
St. Martin's Press

Just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.

Seems like the only way to get your vampire novel noticed these days is to be certain that you've added some very different twists or elements, and House of Night certainly has a few of those.  Think Arthurian priestesses combined with pagan rituals mixed with native american mysticism all taking place at a Gothic boarding school.  In Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres and humans coexist peacefully.  Occasionally, a vampyre will "mark" a human, beginning the transformation process.  Marked humans are sent to the House of Night school where they learn about vampyre religion, habits and sexuality, apparently.  Marked, the first book in this series was a fast, fun read, however, the lines between YA and adult are definitely blurred whenever sex is involved.  This series may be a little too "hot" for most young adults so proceed with caution.

House of Night

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano ★

Wither (Book 1)
by Lauren DeStefano
March 2011
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

First off, I just have to say how extremely proud I am of myself for reading a book AND blogging about it in the same week it was published.  It isn't often that my reviews are very current, but I've been looking forward to this book's release for a few weeks now.  This is where things start to get a little strange, so bear with me while I try to describe the premise for DeStefano's fantastic debut novel for young adults.

In the not so distant future, a dystopian society has replaced the world as we know it today.  Through scientific advancements, humans have gained immunity to all diseases such as Cancer, AIDS, and to some extent, aging.  They paid for it, however, when their children were born as ticking time bombs.  All females die at age 20 and all males die at age 25.  No exceptions.  To cope with the threat of humanity's extinction, men who can afford it take many wives to ensure the survival of their families.  Many of these girls are kidnapped off the streets as soon as they are able to bear children and sold to the highest bidder.  They then spend the few remaining years of their lives in false marriages as baby factories with other women they call sister-wives.  Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is one of these girls, captured by the Gatherers and paid for in an auction by her new husband.  Rhine knows she only has four years left to live.  But she's decided she's not going to spend it in a cage.

There is a lot of science in this book that makes no sense whatsoever, as well as a little history that isn't quite true.  For example, Rhine talks about the fact that Christopher Columbus proved the earth was round, which is only marginally accurate.  But I digress . . . despite a few misses with science and history, DeStefano has written a completely captivating account of a world that is rapidly falling apart.  The characters are very well written, and I found myself caring deeply for them and the situation they had found themselves in.  Wither is book one in what will be The Chemical Garden Trilogy.  There is currently no release date or information about future books, but I assure you I will be following up on Rhine's story in the future.

One last thing - kudos for the awesome cover!  Don't know why, but I loved it!

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal ★

The False Princess
by Eilis O'Neal
January 2011
Egmont USA

We hid the princess away so she would be safe until after her sixteenth birthday.  And we replaced her with another baby, a false princess.  You.

Imagine being told that everything you knew about your life had never been real.  Imagine having to accept that you were a stand in for someone more important than you -- fodder if their life had ever been in danger.  Imagine that, laughably, the man who was once beneath your station is now so high above you that you can no longer even be friends.  This is the challenge that Sinda, formerly known as Princess Nalia, heir to the throne of Thorvaldor is faced with as she is thrown out of the palace with practically nothing but the clothes on her back.  Where do you go?  What do you do?  How do you feel good about yourself when you were raised to be queen, and now must learn to live as a peasant?  Well Sinda finds plenty to do in this very satisfying novel that brings magic, adventure, political intrigue, romance and a classic fairy tale to life in a very surprising way.  For the first time in a very long time, I can say that I desperately wish this had been an adult book with a thousand pages.  I highly recommend Eilis O'Neal's debut novel for fans of high fantasy or simply well written, entertaining young adult literature with a twist.

If you enjoy The False Princess, you may want to try these books for adults:
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Study Series and the Glass Series by Maria V. Snyder

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray ★

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Book 1)
by Libba Bray
December 2003
Delacorte Books

Gemma Doyle isn't like the other girls.

When I picked up these books the only thing I knew about them was "Victorian boarding school meets otherworldly fantasy."  But these books are so much more.  Yes, there is a boarding school full of petty girls, an old mystery to solve, a romance with a mysterious young man from India, and adventures in a magical yet dangerous world with otherworldly creatures from the realms.  The thing that really spoke to me, however, was the message throughout these books about the liberating carelessness of youth.  Gemma, our heroine, is constantly complaining about her stifling corset and the suffocating rules that guide her life as a young girl about to make her debut into Victorian society.  But when Gemma and her friends step into the Realms, magic makes anything possible.  The girls can do anything or be anyone they want to be -- and it empowers them beyond their wildest dreams.  The themes and issues that this trilogy deals with have not remained in the Victorian past, but are relevant in society today as lessons for girls of all ages.  And by all ages, I actually mean sixteen and up, as there is some sensuality and thematic material that may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy
A Great and Terrible Beauty
Rebel Angels
The Sweet Far Thing

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Boxer and the Spy by Robert B. Parker

The Boxer and the Spy
by Robert B. Parker
May 2008

His name was Jason Green and he was dead.

Robert B. Parker, known as the dean of American crime fiction, wrote a few books for young adults before he passed away in January 2010.  The Boxer and the Spy is one of those and would be an engaging read for young fans of the genre.  When fourteen-year-old Jason Green's body is washed ashore, his classmates go to great lengths to prove that Jason's death was not a suicide.  Terry, who is learning how to box, and his very close "friend" Abby, are especially certain that Jason's death was no accident, and that someone has something they'd kill to hide.

As an adult, I found that there wasn't much mystery behind the whodunit, but I was surprisingly hooked on the sections that covered boxing.  Not being a fan of any sport, it was fun to find myself interested in some of the technical aspects of boxing as well as the exciting fight scenes.  The action was definitely superior to the romance and the mystery in this novel.  Young adults looking for something in between the Boxcar Children and an adult suspense thriller won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

The Hunchback Assignments (Book 1)
by Arthur Slade
September 2009
Wendy Lamb Books

A true wretch of a creature crouched in the cage . . . On the bottom of the cage a plaque read L'ENFANT DU MONSTRE.

I haven't read much literature for younger audiences lately, but the Victorian-steampunk, James Bond cover and description for this book drew me in.  As an infant, Modo, a hunchback, is "rescued" from his life in a traveling freak show by the mysterious Mr. Socrates.  From the age of one, Socrates trains Modo in history, weaponry, languages, society, acting and more to prepare him for life as the ultimate spy.  But these are not Modo's only skills - as a "shifter" he can change his appearance and become anyone he's ever seen or imagined.  From the handsomest prince to the humblest peasant and then back to his misshapen form- it's no surprise that Modo has learned to hide his true self from all.

Modo's face isn't the only versatile aspect of this series.  In addition to covering the Victorian era, and the steampunk and spy genres; it also covers Hunchback of Notre Dame, Oliver Twist, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and a few other classics that I can't quite put my finger on.  Overall, this is an excellent read for younger teens, perhaps in middle school, but it may not quite hold the interest of adult readers.

The Hunchback Assignments
The Hunchback Assignments
The Dark Deeps
Empire of Ruins (TBR September 2011)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead ★

Vampire Academy (Book 1)
by Richelle Mead
August 2007

Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough . . . 

So don't you just hate it when your incredibly hot, stud muffin of a Russian boyfriend gets turned into an evil, soulless un-dead vampire and then no matter how many times you kill him he just keeps coming back?  Yeah, me too . . .

I absolutely loved this series!  Rose, who is a half-human/half-vampire bodyguard to Lissa, a mortal royal vampire, is one of the most entertaining and endearing characters I've run into in teen fiction in a while.  Not only does she kick some serious behind, but she's also very real and often stumbles and falls in her quest to simply live her life to the best of her ability.  Her loyalty, strength and unbelievably drool-worthy boyfriend (this review interrupted for a brief fangirl moment . . . SQUEE!) make this a must read for fans (ages sixteen and up) of vampires, sexy men (not necessarily mutually exclusive) and stake yielding heroines everywhere.

The Vampire Academy Novels
Vampire Academy
Shadow Kiss
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound
Last Sacrifice
Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel (TBR August 2011)

Me, Myself and Why? by MaryJanice Davidson

Me, Myself and Why?
by MaryJanice Davidson
September 2010
St. Martin's Press

A modern threesome . . . 

I've been feeling a little bogged down by the teen paranormal quagmire so I decided to read something a little different.  Well, this book certainly exceeded my expectation for something "a little different."  Cadence Jones works for the FBI.  So do her sisters, Shiro and Adrienne.  Cadence Jones is falling in love with her best friend's brother.  So are her sisters, Shiro and Adrienne.  Cadence Jones has multiple personality disorder.  As do her "sisters", Shiro and Adrienne.  And I thought I had problems . . . I very much enjoyed this totally unique take on the detective love story genre.  While both the romance and the "mystery" were pretty weak and sometimes just plain uncouth, the fresh perspective of a gun-toting FBI agent with serious mental health issues was amusing and charming.  Watch for more, as Davidson claims this may be a trilogy on her website.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade (Book 1)
by Andrea Cremer
October 2010

She can control her pack, but not her heart.

I decided to live a little and put all my vampire books away for Calla Tor's "werewolf" pack in Nightshade.  While the romance was, for me, somewhat lacking (how is it that all these teens keep falling in love at first sight of abs?), I very much enjoyed learning about life with the pack and all that entailed.  Ideas about what it means to be a female alpha mated to a male alpha and the differences in power and authority were especially intriguing and will be a challenge for Calla to overcome (perhaps in book two?).  Being comprised almost entirely of forbidden kisses, banned books and a censored history, Nightshade is a satisfying distraction if you're looking for something a little different but you're not quite ready to walk away from the paranormal teen spectacle.

The Nightshade Novels
Wolfsbane (TBR July 2011)

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen (Book 1)
September 2010
Delacorte Books

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

If anyone is a fan of super hot guys hooking up with somewhat average girls, it's me.  But it gets to a point where it's either completely unbelievable or completely shallow.  Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, for example, I would put in the completely shallow category since Edward is only keeping Bella around for her scent (ahh . . . heroin).  Completely unbelievable would be more along the lines of a hot vampire prince falling for a soon-to-be spinster in Insatiable (he knew her for what, like a day?!).  Fallen crosses both lines in my opinion.

Luce and Daniel have known each other for thousands of years, but every time they fall in love, a curse kills Luce and keeps Daniel from finding her for seventeen years.  Sounds kind of interesting, right?  Well it would be a lot more fun if there was ANYTHING remarkable about Luce or Daniel that wasn't related to her gorgeous black curls or his fetching grayish purple eyes.  In short, Luce's ability to catch a guy like Daniel without doing anything heroic, courageous, brave or anything actually in a remotely non-annoying manner, annoyed me. Because I believe in second chances, however, I do plan to read the next books in the series at some point.  But not right now . . . I have too many other bad-a chicks to read about on my nightstand to bother with this one right now.  

The Fallen Novels
Passion (TBR June 2011)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Glass Series by Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass (Book 1)
by Maria V. Snyder
April 2009

Opal understands trial by fire.  Now it's time to test her mettle.

Maria Snyder's Glass Series picks up a few years after the Study Series, giving Opal a chance to grow from a frightened, self-conscience girl into a powerful, determined woman . . . who has no idea what to do with not one, not two, but THREE handsome young men all vying for her attention.  After much deliberation she handles this the way I'm sure we all would in such a terrible situation - she simpers and smirks and makes love to them all!  (To quote Mr. Bennett who has no connection to this series apart from his witty insights on love.)  My only consolation after reading three books about a young woman who is all fire and storm when it comes to glass and magic, and all wuss and whine when it comes to men is that in my opinion, she chose correctly.  On page 414 of 424 in book three . . .ah well . . . such is often the nature of happily ever afters.

The best thing about this book is getting to know some of the other old characters better.  Valek, Leif, Janco and Ari all play significant roles in this series - and not as any of Opal's lovers.  Yelena puts in an appearance from time to time as well, but for the most part this is Opal's story.  The plot is intriguing as Opal learns to handle enormous and dangerous amounts of power, both within herself and from within the Council.  If you choose to read this series, do it because you loved some of the old characters or because Opal leaning how to fight dirty and spy is fun to read.  But don't expect the epic, star crossed romance of  Yelena and Valek that we got in the first series.  In a way, I suppose it's nice to see that Snyder can branch out.  Opal's romance is definitely something that falls very far from any trees.  

The Study Series
Poison Study
Magic Study
Fire Study

The Glass Series
Storm Glass
Sea Glass
Spy Glass

Friday, February 18, 2011

FaiRE-Tells (as in fairy tales, retold)

You've probably heard that the three most powerful words in the English language are I love you.  If, however, happily ever after does more for you, then this list is for you.   Books here have been sorted by the fairy tale that they resemble most closely.  Note that many books fall into multiple categories because they cover more than one traditional fairy tale; however, I've made an effort to concentrate on the tales that come out strongest.  Princesses, dragons, fairies, shining armor, noble steeds, romance, duels . . . you name it, these books have got it!  To learn more about reading lists, browse the about pages.

Adult (A): Ages 16+
Young Adult (YA): High School Reading (and Maturity) Level
Tween (TW): Between Elementary and High School
Children (C): Elementary and Middle School Reading Levels

Arabian Nights ~ Aladdin, djinn , original stories every night for three years - middle eastern folktales have classic exotic appeal.  Arabian tales, "like Arabian days, more often than not, are hotter than hot, in a lot of good ways." 
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy (YA)
Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher (YA)

Asian Folklore ~ Generally includes the appearance of children in strange places.  Like in peaches floating down rivers or in shining stalks of bamboo.
Fortune's Fool by Mercedes Lackey (A)

Beauty and the Beast ~ One of the most popular FaiRE-Tells of all time.  Some authors love it so much they do it twice (or more)!  
Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey (YA)
Belle by Cameron Dokey (YA)
Beastly by Alex Flinn (YA)
The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison (YA)
Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey (A)
The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey (A)
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier (A)
Beauty by Robin McKinley (YA)
Chalice by Robin McKinley (YA)
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (YA)
East by Edith Pattou (YA)

Cinderella ~ Ah yes, the poor cinder girl who sweeps away the ashes and can't keep track of her shoes.  You know who I'm talking about.
Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey (YA)
Bewitching by Alex Flinn (YA)
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix (YA)
The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey (A)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (YA)

Donkeyskin ~ A less known French folktale told by Charles Perrault about a donkey with golden poo and a father in love with his daughter.  What could be finer?
Deerskin by Robin McKinley (YA)

"Fairy" Tales ~ That is to say, simply a book which puts the spotlight on creatures known as "faeries" but which may or may not have any ties to princesses, dragons or knights in shining armor astride white stallions with the fading rays of sunset in their eyes.
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (YA)
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (YA)
The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning (A)
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (YA)

Fairy Tale Mashups ~ Like on MTV, but with fairy tale characters and settings.
The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley (TW)
The Sisters Grimm: The Council of Mirrors by Michael Buckley (TW)
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (YA)
Bewitching by Alex Flinn (YA)
Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (A)

The Frog Prince ~ In which an amphibian occasionally gets a hankering for steak and banana splits.
The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien (A)
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (YA)

The Goose Girl ~ Tales that feature princesses who through unhappy and cruel twists of fate are demoted to tending livestock. May or may not end with a naked villain being drug through the streets in a nail-lined barrel until dead.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (YA)

Greek and Roman Folklore ~ Or in other words, gods who are more fascinated by humans than the humans are by them.
Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner (YA)
Ever by Gail Carson Levine (YA)
The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan (C)

Hansel and Gretel ~ After a long hike through the woods, nothing refreshes better than eating someone else's house.  
Bewitching by Alex Flinn (YA)
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (YA)

King Arthur ~ Because let's face it - the man's more legend than history.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (A)
Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit by Mercedes Lackey (A)
Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve (YA)
Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell (YA)
The Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart (A)

The Little Mermaid ~ Here's hoping she doesn't turn into sea foam at the end.  Versions that end that way are a real downer.
Fortune's Fool by Mercedes Lackey (A)

Little Red Riding Hood ~ She's everything that a big bad wolf could want.  When there's no bacon to be had, that is.
Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey (A)
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (YA)

Mythological Fairy Tale Creatures ~ Flying horses and dragon tails . . . okay so you don't have to laugh.  But you do have to acknowledge that these books feature non paranormal, mythological creatures as main characters.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini (YA)
One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey (A)
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley (YA)
Pegasus by Robin McKinley (YA)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (YA)
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede (YA)

Norwegian Folklore ~ Usually includes some aspect of the fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon."  And a polar bear.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George (YA)
East by Edith Pattou (YA)

Peter Pan ~ Spoiled brats who don't want to grow up and the evil adults who dared to do just that.  
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (TW)

The Prince and the Pauper ~ In which there is at least one member of royalty and/or a commoner who just loves to play "dress up".
The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry (C)
The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal (YA)

Rapunzel ~ More traditional than the beauties who live in dwarf huts or simply sleep away their captivity - we're talking locked in a tower and bored out of her mind.  May also have a fantastic head of hair.
Golden by Cameron Dokey (YA)
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (YA)
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale (YA)

Robin Hood ~ Who could forget one of the merriest men in historical fiction?  Done best by those who elaborate on the fictional bits and have a blatant disregard for historical accuracy.
The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (YA)
Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson (A)

Rumpelstiltskin ~ Strange little men, alchemy, name guessing, and staking one's most valuable possessions are all usually involved in these dark tales.
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (YA)

The Six Swans ~ Originally a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm.  For its loose connections to Swan Lake, I've included other similar "swan literature" here as well.
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (A)
The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey (A)

Slavic Folklore ~ As in slightly or heavily spiced with Russian.  And no, I'm not talking about Borshch.  I'm talking about firebirds, Baba Yaga, houses made of human bones that walk on chicken legs . . . that sort of thing.
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (A)
Firebird by Mercedes Lackey (A)

The Snow Queen ~ Tales that follow the "woman with a heart of ice kidnaps a lover or friend who must then be rescued by a lover or friend by surviving harrowing trials" plot.
The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey (A)
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (C)
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (YA)

Snow White ~ Skin white as snow, lips red as blood, hair black as ebony, possessed mirrors, dwarves, inept assassins in the woods, a prince, and a glass coffin all make for one of the most famous fairy tales of all time.
Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison (YA)
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (YA)

Sleeping Beauty ~ Tales with lovely ladies whose bodies are ravaged while they're blissfully unaware . . . sounds remarkably like Rohypnol to me.  Nevertheless, one of my favorites.
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (A)
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (YA)
The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye (C)
The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey (A)
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley (YA)

The Twelve Dancing Princesses ~ Worn out slippers and the late night escapades of juvenile delinquents are the trademarks of these tales.
Entwined by Heather Dixon (YA)
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (YA)
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (YA)

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