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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater July 21, 2012

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I enjoyed this book. Blue is a great strong female character. She has much more personality than any of Stiefvater’s other female leads. While this is still a pretty dark book, it has hope, which sets it apart from Stiefvater’s other books.

There are some pretty severe curveballs thrown at the reader in this book. You really never see them coming and I gasped out loud at some parts.

The plot summary: Blue is in a family of female fortune tellers. while she doesn’t possess the “seeing” gift, she does have a gift for making their talents stronger. This is most evident on St. Mark’s Eve, when Blue and her mother have always watched the souls of the people who will die in the next year come into the graveyard of an abandoned church. Every year, Blue misses out because she cannot see the souls. But this year, Blue’s aunt comes instead and for the first time, Blue sees a soul. Her aunt can’t get the name, so she sends Blue to get it. Blue finally gets it after asking several times. Gansey, that’s all.
Gansey is a student at the local boarding school. The locals know to avoid the Raven Boys, as they are called. Gansey and his three best friends are an interesting group. Adam is a scholarship day-student who is trying to make a better life for him while avoiding talking about money and avoiding Gansey’s help. Gansey himself is the son of a senator and has money coming out of his ears. While he sounds pompous and conceited, his heart is true and he genuinely cares about people. Noah is Gansey’s roommate and keeps to himself, never saying much, but when he does, it’s profound. Ronan is hotheaded and bitter.
The boys and Blue cross paths and everything changes.

I will recommend this book to students who like paranormal books and thrillers.

The White Oak by Kim White June 14, 2012

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This book is about a girl, Cora, and her twin brother, Lucas.  Their mother ran off or was killed by their father years ago.  The story opens at the funeral of their father, a mean, abusive man.  Neither of the twins mourn the death, but they put on a funeral anyway.  The funeral took place at the white oak in their yard.  The tree had been there for generations.  The family’s land sits on top of numerous tunnels and underground caves that Lucas and Cora spent their entire childhood exploring.  When their father’s casket is put into the grave, the tree sinks and opens a hole that pulls in Lucas, Cora, and their mean grandmother.  Lucas and their grandmother are both killed, but Cora is not.  She wakes to find herself in the Underworld.  Alive.

I can’t decide if I really like the book or not.  I had a hard time connecting with Cora.  I can’t pinpoint one reason why, though.

But…

The concept of this book is extraordinary.  I have high hopes for the rest of the series.  I was surprised the book ended so quickly.  I think the galley I received is not the entire book because on goodreads.com, it is listed as 326 pages.  My galley is only 131 pages.

I loved how vivid the descriptions were.  I could almost smell the river and see the town rotating in the middle of it.  I absolutely fell in love with Lucas.  He is such a great brother, even in death.  He waited for her for God knows how long so she would be safe getting across the river.  He’s quick on his feet and smart as a whip.  I hope he has a very strong presence in the rest of the series.

I will recommend this book to students who like darker beyond death books.

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins May 29, 2012

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Temptation is a story about a girl named Rose whose family moves to a small town in Amish country with her dad and two brothers.  Their first day in their new house, the neighbors stop by.  Mr. Miller is Amish and his son Noah is gorgeous.  And Amish.  Rose is instantly smitten, though she is still grieving her mother’s death ten months ago, so she isn’t entirely sure what the feelings are that Noah stirs in her.

The story is told from Rose’s and Noah’s points of view.  Noah is just as smitten with Rose as she is with him.  And this goes against not only his religion, but his family as well.

Noah and Rose risk everything to see each other for their forbidden romance.  This book had me in tears in several scenes, not because of the love story, but because of the touching relationship between Rose and her brothers.

This book is the first in a trilogy.  I can’t wait for the second one.  Look for this book in the library Fall semester 2012.

Burn Mark by Laura Powell May 27, 2012

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Burn Mark by Laura Powell

What if?  What if the witch trials never ended?  What if there really are witches among us?  What if some of them use their power for good and some use their power for bad?  What if there were public witch trials and burnings?

Burn Mark answers all those questions.  Glory is from a family of powerful, legendary witches and is not so patiently waiting for the day her “fae” develops.  Lucas is from a family of powerful, legendary Witchtrial prosecutors.  They both receive “fae” the same day and the fallout is monumental.

I had to keep reminding myself these characters were only 15.  Their actions and speech were much more mature than most 15 year olds.  Plus, Glory is already being pushed to marry someone who is 21.  That’s just a little creepy even though the 21 year old is not.

I’m not sure if this books is meant to be a trilogy, but judging by all the loose ends, I assume so.  I was really rooting for Glory to finally have full knowledge about her Aunt Angeline, so I was really happy with the scene where she confronted her about everything.

I would recommend this book to students who enjoy paranormal books, mysteries, and even those who enjoy dystopians.  I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Redemption by Veronique Launier April 29, 2012

Posted by echslibrary in Not held at East.
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This is an ARC and will be published in September 2012.

Redemption combines Native American and French Canadian cultures in a paranormal way.  Guillaume (no idea how to pronounce this name) is a gargoyle, but not in the sense that we know gargoyles.  Apparently hundreds of years ago a tradition began where witches “made” gargoyles to protect them.  In exchange for their protection, the witches kept the gargoyles alive by providing them with an “essence”.

Guillaume and his “dad” and two “brothers” were awakened by Odd.  Her real name is Aude, pronounced Ode.  Guillaume follows her to get to know her and find out how she awakened him.  They become close friends and through a Native American water drumming class are able to find a Shaman who is able to answer lots of their questions.

There are some great twists and turns in this book.  I’m not sure if it’s a stand alone or the first in a trilogy.  The book ended in a way that left it open for either one.  I liked how Odd accepted her role in the book with an amazing amount of grace.  It was like all her questions about herself were finally answered.  She almost seemed relieved.  Once she was able to let go of herself, she really opened up to her heritage.  I liked Guillaume, but would have liked to learn more about him as a person/gargoyle throughout history instead of one instance they kept focusing on, but if it’s a trilogy maybe we’ll get more of him.

Some technical criticism: I know this is an ARC, but it didn’t say uncorrected proof.  I found tons of grammatical errors in this book.  At one point, Kateri’s name is spelled wrong.  “Alright” is not academically accepted and it is used in this book hundreds of times.  The uses of “I” vs “me” need to be evaluated throughout the book as well.  There were several times they were used incorrectly.  I think with a couple of good grammar edits, the book will be much better.  Because I am a self proclaimed grammar witch, grammatical mistakes jump out at me and I have a hard time enjoying the story.

I would recommend this book to students who enjoy paranormal and Native American history.  It took several chapters to connect with the characters, so I will have to encourage students to keep reading through that because the book gets much better midway through and until the end.

Skylark by Meagan Spooner April 26, 2012

Posted by echslibrary in Not held at East.
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I will start by saying I will definitely recommend this books to students who enjoy dystopian and/or fantasy and/or paranormal books.  This book touches on all three.  I enjoyed the book immensely.

However, I felt like something was missing.  I don’t know exactly what was missing, but some sort or prologue that introduced a bit more of why that society is like it is would probably fill in that hole.  Lark’s knowledge of her society is certainly lacking, but I realize that’s partly because no one is really told what is going on behind the magic.  But as a reader, I expect to know a little more than the characters do.

As far as plot, I enjoyed the unique twist about Oren.  The magic Lark has reminds me of a couple of other characters in YA books I have read, but her type is just different enough to make her stand out among magic-users.  The fact that she really doesn’t have much to keep her in the City is the biggest driving force to her journey and while a bit sad to think about, I am excited for what will happen in her future journeys.  I only hope that she does find Basil and there is a happy reunion for her.

Skylark is a standout when it comes to a strong female heroine and her innate desire to do right, even though doing right means she must fight the system, both literally and metaphorically.  Meagan Spooner has certainly crafted a tale that morphs past, present, and future societies into one beautiful, horrible time.  It is all three rolled into one, with glimpses of all three tenses in every scene.  The attention to detail is amazing and Spooner leaves nothing lacking in her description of each scene, down to the shimmer of magic.

I give this book 4.25 stars out of 5 and like I said before, I will definitely recommend this to my students.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater April 19, 2012

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I read this book only after a couple of students told me they enjoyed it.  I was worried it would be too dark, kind of like Scorpio Races, which is by the same author.

It’s not *as* dark, but it’s still a pretty dark book.  There were one, maybe two, laugh out loud moments, but for the most part I was grimacing at the disturbing scenes and then trying hard not to cry at the end.  I lost that battle.

So the book is about a girl, Grace, who was attacked by wolves when she was young. The wolves live in the woods right behind her house.   Since then, she has grown attached to one wolf in particular.  He sits at the edge of the woods and watches her.  She knows his eyes and only sees him when it’s cold.  Once the weather warms up, she doesn’t see him anymore.

This goes on the six years.  Then one day he is on her back porch.  As a human.  With those same eyes.

This book is the first in a trilogy.  We have the second, Linger, but not the third.  I hope to spend next year’s book money on finishing the trilogies and series that I am missing, so maybe I will be able to get it then.  In the meantime, if you just can’t wait for the third book, the Carteret Public Library does have it in circulation.

**Edited 4-29-12** We now have the third book, Forever!  It will be available to be checked out after May 7, 2012.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater April 16, 2012

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I was so excited to read this book.  It was a new release and there is already talk of a movie in the works.  Cool!

I am not a fan of really dark books and this is a really dark book.  The premise is pretty cool.  It’s based on a Celtic myth of water horses coming out of the sea (and living in the sea) that eat humans, other horses, and pretty much will attack anything that moves.

This book is about an island off Scotland (so read it with accents for full effect) where the water-horses come out of the sea beginning mid October each year.  Racers snare the horses and try to train them without dying.  Literally.  One racer in particular has quite a way with his water horse.  He’s had him for several years and they have a true bond.

I don’t want to give the book away, so I’m not even going to mention character names.  You’re on your own there.  The book starts off pretty slow for me.  I didn’t really connect with the characters until about 1/3-1/2 of the way through.  Once I did though, the book was much more interesting and it finished strong.

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough April 16, 2012

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Tamsin is supposed to be a witch.  Her mom is a witch.  Her sister is a witch.  Everybody she is related to is a witch.  What happened to Tamsin?

Then someone walks into her family’s shop.  He’s gorgeous.  And he thinks Tamsin is her older sister, Rowena.  *sigh*  Nothing goes Tamsin’s way.  So she pretends to be Rowena and the chaos ensues.

Turns out Tamsin is a witch.  She just has a different kind of power.  She’s so powerful the family turns out to be a little bit scared of her.  Luckily Gabriel isn’t scared of her.  They were friends when they were both little, but his family moved away.  Now they’re back and sparks fly whenever Gabriel is near.

Lucky for you, I also have the sequel, “Always A Witch” also on the shelf, so once you’re done with this book, go on and check out the other one.  Heck, go on and check them out at the same time so you don’t have to wait to come back to school to keep reading.  That’s what I do with sequels. 🙂

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White April 16, 2012

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I don’t want to say this is a girly book, but Evie, the main character, is as girly as they come.  Well, for vampire-killing, werewolf-snaring, faerie-avoiding paranormal superheroes, anyway.  She has an amazing ability to “see” creatures for what they truly are, regardless of the glamour they use.

Nothing about Evie is normal.  She was taken in at age eight by the Paranormal Containment Agency because even then she could see vampires.  She was raised in the sterile walls and told she was doing great work, that the world was better because of her ability to track down and capture creatures.

But is it really?

That’s what she has to decide once she meets Lend and her whole world is turned upside down…in more ways than one.

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