Title: The Reader
Author: Traci Chee
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 13, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Summary from Goodreads:
Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.
One hope for my reading list this year: find new stories (ones that don't sound familiar). The Reader fulfilled this hope when it provided a unique idea with fun characters and a suspenseful plot. While the plot moved more slowly than I anticipated, this was a rich journey full of mystery, and characters that you’d hope to befriend on your own adventure.
Title: Walk On Earth A Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: September 22, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Western, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.
Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.
She also has a secret.
Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.
When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.
The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.
When I started this book, I remembered that I’ve already read a series by Rae Carson. I enjoyed her Fire and Thorns trilogy a few years ago and recommend it for everyone 12 and older. I like that Carson develops realistic relationships between her characters, both in friendship and romance. Her romantic developments might be a little too slow moving for some, but I find the simmering approach charming, delighting in every small, secret smile.
Walk on Earth a Stranger is a fantastical western based in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The story follows a young girl forced to trek across young America on her own, hoping to reunite with her best friend, Jefferson. It’s the Oregon Trail (Oh no, you died of Cholera! You've killed an offensive amount of bison and cannot carry all that meat, leave it behind for scavengers. Ford the river! Talulla suffered a snakebite [lose 3 days]) featuring a magical girl who can sense gold—Leah (Lee).
Author: Melissa Landers
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: February 2, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Adventure
Summary from Goodreads:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
I was ready for a space odyssey. I’m a girl who grew up watching Star Trek and Star Wars with my family. When a book is released exploring a new frontier, I’m there. Starflight takes us from Earth to the outer realms of our planet. Some realms are for farmers, some for explorers, and some for vacations of the wealthy. That’s how Solara’s life gets intertwined with Doran’s. She’s desperate to get somewhere and he decides he can take on a servant (yes, the book begins with her being his servant…but she gets some payback). Solara and Doran end up traveling with some quirky characters and get themselves in a few pickles. The book was a little predictable, but still a fun, quick-read adventure.
Title: Reign of Shadows
Author: Sophie Jordan
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: February 9, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
A trek across an eternally dark landscape, not a lot happens in Reign of Shadows. Mostly world building and character development, the story follows Luna and Fowler and their growing affection for one another. But that character development didn’t always feel consistent, and details in the world building were abrupt at times (tree wolves – Digger! What happened to you? And why were you there at all?? Gigantor bats, plain old rabbits, oh and a mutated octopus eels were also in the story, but there could’ve been more background to these large, strange animals).
I loved Luna when we first meet her, then I loved her even more when her disability is illuminated. A soldier has trained her, so she’s capable, and she has these super sensitive senses that give her an advantage to everyone. She’s also compassionate. However, despite being more than capable, I was disappointed as the book went on when she became more of a damsel in distress. I wanted to see her kick butt, and defend herself; instead Fowler almost continually jumps in to save her. Granted, he is very protective, but all I’m saying is the girl has skillz and I wanted to see her use them.
“Luna was like that flower: innocent on the outside, but dangerous to anyone who got too close. Even me.” – Fowler
Title: Dorthy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Published by: HarperCollins; Reprint edition
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Retelling
Summary from Goodreads:
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission.
I usually finish books. Even if I don't love where the story is going, or the characters annoy me, I tend to see it through. I started Danielle Paige's Dorthy Must Die knowing it was going to be a different kind of story. That Oz would be different, the wicked would be good, and a new power-hungry Dorthy would need to be put in her place, or, you know....die. Sadly, this is my first DNF (did not finish) in a long time.
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.