Ever wonder what your toys get up to when you go to sleep? Take that premise and blur the lines between reality and hazy dream world and you'll get the Land of Neverendings.
When Emily's sister Holly dies, Emily is struck by the little things that she misses, particularly Holly's toy bear, Bluey.
Emily would spend countless hours making up stories about Bluey and his adventures in the magical world of Smockeroom to make Holly happy.
Now, it's all gone, as is the magic that Holly seemed to bring with her.
Emily's only companion is her neighbour Ruth, who lost her son when he was a teenager. Together they share the grief that only those who have lost a close family member can understand.
Then, one night, Emily experiences a vivid dream in which toys visit her in the night and tell her that not only is Smockeroom real, that Bluey is there and happy. Initially, Emily shakes it off as a simple but weird dream. But when Ruth confesses to her that she's been having the same kind of dreams, things start to get really weird.
Emily & Ruth are soon thrust into a world of magic and make-believe, adventure and danger. The Land of Neverendings reads like something you catch out of the corner of your eye when you're young and sick in bed with a high fever. I mean that as a compliment, it's dreamy, odd and sad yet Emily is a feisty character that any young teen will look up to. Highly recommend this great novel!
The Call is my worst nightmare.
In a good way.
I devoured this novel in a few hours while waiting for a plane. I loved it.
It's a world where the adolescences of Ireland can be "Called" at any moment by the Sídhe, a race of fairies that live in a parallel universe that resides "underground."
The Sídhe aren't your run of the mill fairies that sprinkle dust around and attend tiny balls and sit on toadstools all day.
They are truly terrifying monsters, and when they "Call" a youth to their land, they rarely let them live. in fact, they ensure that they are hideously tortured and maimed. When a child is "Called", they simply vanish from thin air, leaving nothing but their clothes behind. They stay away for three minutes and four seconds, but in Sídhe it's much, much longer.
The land of the Sídhe is Dante's Inferno combined with something from Joe Hill's Locke & Key series. Twisted, depraved and sadistic, the Sídhe love to torture anyone they "Call". The creatures that don't adhere to the Sídhe's rule are usually ravenous and simply want to eat the children.
Those that survive the Sídhe are never the same, they are either disfigured or suffering from PTSD so severe they can't properly function.
Luckily, Ness and her classmates have been training for years, gleaning any information they can from the survivors so they can endure a "Call" and outlive the Sídhe's hideous land.
The Call is a pedal to the metal gore-fest that pits students against each other as they try to train rigidly enough to survive a horrible ordeal. All of them know that at any moment they can be "Called" and that they most likely won't survive. The anxiety and fear the students face are palpable in this novel and the horrors the Sídhe dish out are truly disturbing.
With a large group of students who love horror, I know that The Call is going to be one of our most popular books in the coming year!
Zoe needs a change, and a change she is going to get.
She's seventeen & had a very rough year. Her father died while exploring a cave and her neighbours have vanished from their home.
When the mother of all blizzards hits her hometown and her mother is trapped in a grocery store, she sets off on her own to find her brother Jonah and their two dogs who've gotten lost in the woods.
After finding Jonah, things somehow get worse when a creep called Stan the Man appears, attacks Zoe & Jonah and attempts to kill their dogs.
They are saved by what Zoe thinks is an angel. A shirtless teenage boy who appears out of the blue and with a click of his fingers sends a river of fear flowing through Stand and in turn changes the colour of the snow around them.
The boy is called X. Well, that's what Zoe calls him at least, and he's no angel. In fact, he's from Hell. Except it's not called Hell, it's called the Lowlands and it turns out X is a bounty hunter, sent to capture evil souls that roam above ground. The rules of the Lowlands are strict, and although Zoe finds herself falling for X, she knows it's not meant to be.
Soon, she's swept up in X's world and the dangers that inhabit it. And it's not just her that's in danger, it's her entire family. The Edge of Everything is a great modern-fantasy romance with a twist that will be gobbled up with glee by both boys and girls and the high school I work at, and that's a great thing!
I recommend it to ages 14 and up!
When Tess & Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with their aunt Evie, the last thing they expect to find is a magical castle tucked away behind a series of hedges.
But that's exactly what happens.
There are truly wonderful things to see at the castle, mazes, fish under the drawbridge, swans, a magical carousel and of course William, a boy that is about the same age as Tess.
William acts as a friend and guide as he unveils the magic behind the castle.
Throughout their adventures, William provides a constant warning: don't go near the hawthorn trees. When Max forget to heeds this advice, Tess finds herself on a mission that could have disastrous consequences.
The Castle in the MIst is fun, exciting read tailor made for fans of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. I can't wait ot get this into the hands of our Year 7s at the school library I manage, they are going to devour it!
Denizen Hardwick's having a tough week.
First, he's stuck in Crosscaper orphanage. That's not a huge deal because he's been there his whole life. He has no memory of his father. His only memory of his mother is that she smelled like strawberries and used to sing to her.
Then, on his thirteenth birthday, everything changes. Denizen gets a visitor, a mysterious man that tells him he's going to take him to see his long lost aunt.
On the way to see his aunt, something weird happens. The air becomes electric and his stomach feels queasy. The driver pulls the car over and steps out.
From the darkness emerges a creature, the stuff of Denizen's nightmares. The driver, known as Grey, kills the creature with a few barely audible words, driving it back into the dark with a blast of light.
From here, Denizen learns that his family belongs to an ancient band of Knights sworn to protect the earth from these creatures who live in another fold of reality. A dark, dark, fold that is getting stronger by the hour.
Denizen must learn ancient fighting techniques if he's going to join the Knights and help save the day.
A fast-paced electric series that is going to be super popular with the teens I work with!
I recommend this book to ages 11 and up!
Queen Kelsea's about to take a walk on the wild side.
If you haven't read the first instalment of this series, "The Queen of the Tearling," this review might include spoilers or make absolutely no sense.
Kelsea's in charge of the Tearling, a society on the verge of collapse as the dreaded Red Queen and her army of Mort soldiers prepare their attack.
To make matters worse, Kelsea has been going into fugue states (did we know about fugue states before Breaking Bad?) that take her to a time before an event known as The Crossing. In this time she follows a woman named Lily, who is abused by her husband and living in a world of strict government surveillance, 1984, essentially.
Kelsea's also being visited by a terrifying creature that materializes out of fire. This "dark thing" promises to give her the secret behind the Red Queen's demise if she hands over her necklace, a powerful blue sapphire that appears to grant Kelsea magical powers.
On top of this, she's still gotta run the kingdom as best as she can.
I enjoyed this book, for me it took a darker turn than the first and for me that's always a good thing. There were a lot of passages that I feel were influence by Stephen King, people finding tears in their reality and influencing people in other dimensions or times, it was really well done.
I can also sympathise with some of the criticism, the sapphire necklace appears to work as a deus ex machina, solving all of Kelsea's problems whenever they arise. Also, there are horrifying rape and self harm passages written in explicit detail that might act as a trigger. In the first book, Kelsea is obsessed with how "plain" and "un-pretty" she is but in the second book her magical sapphire necklace solve that problem by making her beautiful. The fact that becoming "beautiful" for Kelsea involves losing a lot of weight is also problematic.
All of those criticisms aside, what I enjoyed the most is the feeling of family and camaraderie that is created within the Tear base. You genuinely feel for their plight and root for them the entire way along, which in my mind is the sign of a well written novel. I will be reading the third one in this series because I couldn't stand not knowing what happens.
I recommend this novel to ages 17 and up!
, Prince Alfie can't complain, but sometimes he still does.
As the son of a king, he's got everything at his fingertips. The problem is he can't escape the title of Prince - there's paparazzi, bullies and his ever present and overly protective bodyguard, Brian.
Then, without warning, Alife is made king. At fourteen, he doesn't think he's ready. When he finds out that being king is actually turning into a superhero clad in magic armour that rides an equally magic flying horse and has to do battle with the ancient and evil Black Dragon, he knows he's not ready.
With the help of his brother Richard and his friend Hayley, Alfie might survive his battle against evil. Let's put the emphasis on might.
Defender of the Realm is a fast paced action romp with lots of laughs and sharp dialogue. It's brimming with English historical nuggets that are snuck in effortlessly so students won't realising their learning as they devour this fun read.
Even better, it's got a few great twists that will keep you guessing to the very last page, literally!
I can't keep the copies of this book on the shelves long enough, I recommend it to Ages 10 and up!
Kelsea can't catch a break.
At 19, she's heir to the throne, leader of her very own kingdom. Awesome, right? Wrong, it couldn't be further from awesome.
Her mother is dead, her father, well, he's not even in the picture and the kingdom she's inheriting is essentially District 12 and the Dreadfort from Game Thrones thrown into a blender.
Still, she's the chosen one and she's got a job to do. The problem is, nobody expects her to survive a day on the throne. Her uncle is still technically in power, there's a sorcerer / Queen / complete nutcase over the hills making everyone's life miserable through means that I won't spoil but I assure you it will never leave your brains ever.
Yes, things are stacked up against Kelsea. Yet, the one thing she does have is loyal gaurds. Guards that would die for her if need be. And they just might have to.
I loved this book. I know I'm late to the game and that absolutely everyone compares this thing to Hunger Games and Game of Thrones but I simply couldn't help it either, maybe I'm a hack reviewer.
That said, once this books sinks its teeth into you it will be hard to turn away. You will really become invested in these characters and the seemingly insurmountable odds they have to face. I will certainly be getting the second book in the series soon!
I recommend this to ages 16 and up!
The King Slayer is the sequel to The Witch Hunter, which was one of my favourite YA fantasy novels from last year.
In this second instalment, we find former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey hiding in the village of Harrow. She's on the run from Lord Blackwell, who's put a bounty on her fair head.
Blackwell is still smarting from his last encounter with Elizabeth and well, he's pretty ticked off. So much so that he's declared outright war with the wizards and witches that Elizabeth used to hunt but know calls her friends.
To make things worse, Elizabeth has lost her stigma, the magical power that essentially makes her invincible. To make things even worser (not a word) Elizabeth's friend John, a healer and all around solid dude, has been acting strange of late. He's moody, he's angry, and he seems bitter about something. Whatever his deal is, he's not acting like a healer at all. Yes, there's something strange going on with John for sure - don't worry, I won't spoil it! Either way, Elizabeth must face off against Blackwell and his men once and for all, no matter what the consequences may be.
I really enjoyed how human Elizabeth is in this novel, she makes rash decisions, she's stubborn, she screws up and pays for her mistakes. In short, she's young and she's human. It's a good addition to the Witch Hunter and I think that fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard will really enjoy this series.
I recommend The King Slayer to Years 9 and up!
I loved Fantasy Sports, I'd never heard of it before in my life and decided to buy it for the library based solely on the cover.
I'm glad I did. It's like Big Trouble in Little China if Kurt Russell had to play a game of basketball to defeat Lo Pan.
Wiz and Mug are an unlikely pair. Wiz is a small, snarky, intelligent wizard with a lot to prove. She's working for Mug, a Zangief-esque brute who thinks with his fists before his head.
As treasure hunters, they're always looking for a good haul. One fateful afternoon they stumble across a tomb containing an ancient puzzle, breaking through it, they enter an ancient arena ruled by a demon with the greatest basketball skills anyone has ever seen.
If Mug and Wiz are going to leave the arena with their skin still attached to their bones, they're gonna have to beat the demon in the greatest basketball rivalry since the 1984 Lakers & Celtics.
This book's the most fun you'll have in the library all day long, I can't wait to get it into the hands of the students.
I'd recommend it for Years 8 and up.