Jan. 7th, 2015 07:36 pm
olmue: (me sketch)
[personal profile] olmue
Oh, it's cold! We had a very warm December, with little snow. January is trying to catch up. My teenagers are all off sledding at the park tonight. Yes, it's -5 with a refreshing breeze. Yes, we have another blizzard warning on for tomorrow. We're busy plugging holes and trying to keep the cold out of the house, but when your house is 135 years old and not restored, well... Let's just say we all got furry blankets for Christmas, and are using those gifts wisely.

So because we just had that large book-gift-giving holiday, I've read a few things this year already. Yay! I'm a paper book girl, definitely, but there are a few things that are only available in e-book format, so I am now also the owner of a Kindle (Paperwhite--which is easy on the eyes, but sort of awkwardly designed in other ways. I can borrow kindle books from the library, but I have to have a separate computer to check them out with, for example--I can't just check them out directly on my device. Which is a large flaw, IMO. But whatever, once they're on there, it's fine.) Anyway, it turns out that Overdrive gives you access to a larger pool of books, outside just your particular library. Which is nice, because every library has their own purchasing biases, and this way you can expand out a bit.

ANYWAY. Here's what I've read so far this year, between Christmas books and Overdrive. Not every book is for every person, and that's okay. But it's always nice to hear of new and interesting books, and who knows, maybe this will help the right person find the right book. Oh, and all of these are YA fiction.

Stravaganza: City of Swords, by Mary Hoffman. I like this series. It's got time travel and an alternate world Italy. Modern teens travel to Talia (Italy at the time of the di Medicis, only in this alternate version, they're di Chimici, instead) by way of talismans. These travelers are called Stravagantes. There is intrigue and mystery and romance and history. Each book stars a different character, although they all interact with the main characters of other books. The first is my favorite, though--I like Lucien and Ariana and have a hard time changing loyalties! Anyway, this is the last of the series. It's been enjoyable.

Fox and Phoenix, by Beth Bernobich. I couldn't help feeling like there was a book prior to it that I missed, but all I could find was that it was the first youth book by this author. So... I don't know. I could follow it just fine, so that wasn't a problem, but a lot of things were referenced, and it would be nice to go back and read about them in more detail. Anyway, it's sort of steampunk, and sort of fantasy, only set in a place inspired by China. There's technology and magic both. I liked this (and my 9YO REALLY liked it)--the Chinese aspect was refreshing, and it had a lovely sense of place to it, especially in the mountains. Story: Kai and his friend Yun and their spirit animals travel out of the mountains to the Phoenix empire to get their princess back because her father is dying under mysterious and suspicious circumstances.

Starry Nights, by Daisy Whitney. I wouldn't say this smacks of realism, but sometimes you just need something light and entertaining, which this is. It's about a French guy named Julien whose mom is an art curator. He loves art, too--and he can see when the paintings in the museum come alive at night. Then a family donates their own painting to the musuem--a previously unknown Renoir--and the girl in it is very interesting indeed. At the same time, all the other paintings start to have things go wrong with them--things that other people, and not just Julien, are able to see, too. So they have to stop what's going on. It's fun.

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides, by Ben Tripp. I think the author usually writes adult books. This has some of that flavor, I think--a tall tale for the young'uns. It's told in old fashioned (like Robert Louis Stevenson) language, a swashbuckling story of a boy named Kit Bristol whose highwayman master gets killed, leaving him to take over the job of rescuing a fairy princess. I couldn't help thinking while reading that this is the sort of story that begs to be told. It has adventure and magic and a plucky young hero and plenty of action--for the right reader, this will hit the spot.

Ondine, by Ebony McKenna. Okay, this book is candy. Sometimes you need something very silly and entertaining. (Really. Sometimes you do--if you are going through something major, you need something light to give your brain a bit of a breather.) It's about a girl, Ondine, who lives in a fictional European country called Brugel. It's modern day (they watch Eurovision, although they've never won it), but they do magic, too. There is a talking ferret (who used to be a man), and there is a plot against the duke. And much admiration of boys. (Actually, Ondine is a *little* young in that she's more influenced by a boy's appearance than what he's actually like. But--she has a bit of growth there, too.) It's a good book to give a reluctant reader because things happen without having to wade through a lof of irrelevant stuff.

No Life But This, Anna Sheehan. This is the sequel to A Long, Long Sleep that came out a couple years ago (although from different publishers--I got this via, which takes a looooooong time to ship, but OTOH, has free shipping all over the English speaking world.) The series is clearly sci fi (not dystopian), set in the future, and the first book is a futuristic, thriller setting of Sleeping Beauty. Rose's parents ran the UniCorps company that now runs the solar system--very wealthy and important, but they also had the nasty habit of putting their daughter in stasis whenever they didn't want to deal with her. The last time, they forgot about her, and died--and sixty years later, she wakes up. That was book 1. This book is about her friend Otto, who looks human (aside from being blue), but who has DNA from the native one-celled organisms from Jupiter's moon Europa. Otto can't talk like a normal person--but he can touch someone and communicate directly with their mind. Many of his "siblings" (created like him) did not survive, and now his body is breaking down, not to mention what all the thought sharing is doing to his mind. So to save his life, they take him to Europa and see if someone there can help him. One of the things that Sheehan does so well is to allow for real consequences. She doesn't try to save her characters from their own actions, or the actions of others. It gives the story a lot of weight, and makes the reader curiously attached to the characters. I reeeeeeeally hope there is a sequel to this one. It's set up for one. If you like books by Jackie Dolamore or RJ Anderson, and you like sci fi, give these a whirl. They have a fresh feel to them that is very welcome!

What have you read this year so far?

Date: 2015-01-08 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't even heard of these...nice to hear some new titles :) I've read quite a few (while on vacation), but I also re-read some too. I'll make my list tomorrow (perhaps) to start off the year.

Date: 2015-01-08 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hadn't heard of some of these before, either. Jackie (Dolamore) actually blurbed A Long, Long Sleep, so that's why I picked that one up in the first place. Some of the others were also author recommendations, or on blogs about YA fantasy.

Another couple that I read recently and really enjoyed (but in 2014, so they are on last year's list) are Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse (book 2 comes out in March), and Sherry Thomas's The Perilous Sea (that's a book 2 in the series). I feel a little starved for engrossing YA these days, so I'm glad to have found these.


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