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Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Winterling

Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Raised by her grandmother, Jennifer (Fer) has never felt like she belonged, preferring the outdoors and the forest. While out exploring, Fer saves the life of what looks like a strange boy. But the boy is a puck, from another land, brought through the Way unknowingly by Fer. Fer desides to follow the puck back through the Way to discover what happened to her missing parents. But the other land is led by a powerful, dark Lady who wants Fer for her own purposes.

Fer is a likeable girl, both brave and trusting. Thrust into a mythical fantasy land of legend, Fer not only wants to find her parents but help the land and the sick creatures she encounters. Fer learns quickly not to trust the evil Lady, as she and the puck never want to answer any of her questions. This gets a bit annoying at times, since the reader wants answers as well. Prineas’ magical world of myth also has unique, fun rules. I enjoyed every bit of her creative characters and fantasy world. Full of adventure, mystery, and magic – Winterling is a highly enjoyable story for all ages.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet

Maya and her family have moved to Paris for a year, because of her father’s job. Maya and her younger brother James are soon introduced to a variety of unusual characters. But most peculiar of all is the old house with a salamander on the door that seems to move. Maya discovers that she has relatives in town with many secrets. And one is the Keeper of the Cabinet of Earths, but the cabinet seems to want Maya for its new Keeper.

I really wanted to enjoy this one. But the Cabinet itself and the plot line were hard to grasp and not explained well enough. The saving grace for me was the characters. Maya and her cousin who is almost invisible, her friend Valko, and the mysterious rich elite who don’t seem to age – these engaging characters kept me involved in the story. This bizarre tale of magic and immortality may appeal to its target audience of middle grade readers, but it the strange plot fell short for me.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: The Pledge

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie) has a gift that she must hide. In her country, the different classes have different languages. And lower classes are not allowed to know or speak the upper classes languages. Any sort of rebellion could mean death. So, Charlie’s ability to comprehend any language, written or spoken, is incredibly dangerous. One night, Charlie meets an intriguing young man at a club who speaks a strange language and has a mysterious air about him. Meanwhile, the queen is dying and looking for a predecessor. But the vicious queen has a secret agenda.

Derting has created a unique world with the feel of the other popular science fiction dystopias, where countries must be led by queens in order to survive, but with a twist of fantasy and magic. The characters are mysterious and completely engaging. And the mystery and intrigue make the book impossible to put down. With plenty of plot twists and surprises, the story came to a dramatic conclusion. Readers of all ages should enjoy this fantastic coming-of-age story with fast-paced adventure, drama, romance, and suspense.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Temptation of Angels

Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

Sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright’s family has been keeping a big secret from her. When they are attacked suddenly, Helen’s mother sends her through a secret passage with instructions to find two brothers who will keep her safe. Helen and brothers Griffin and Darius are the only remaining descendants of lesser angels charged with protecting the world’s entire history archive with incredible power. In searching for her parents’ killer, Helen discovers that she knows the killer. A traitor has been working with a mysterious benefactor to hunt down the Keepers and kill them all.

Helen is an innocent girl with a kind and forgiving heart. She has fantastic chemistry with two young men, creating a unique love triangle. Though, her attraction to bad boy Raum is more than far-fetched. Set in an alternate past in London, Zink’s fantasy world involves angels and demons. Though the history of the angelic factions is only briefly mentioned, the abilities are explored as Helen and the brothers become avenging angels.

The mood of this remarkable upcoming release is eerie and mysterious. The characters were the highlight of the story, with building suspense that made enthralling reading. Events lead to a grand and satisfying conclusion, but the feel of the book felt like the start of a series. I would like to see the angels and demons factions and their purposes fleshed out more in any future installments. With plenty of teenage angst, romance, suspense, and magic – young fantasy fans will enjoy this fascinating and captivating novel.

Temptation of Angels will release from Dial on March 20, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Article 5

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Ember Miller lives in a post-war America where devastation has left behind a fascist, military dictatorship. The Bill of Rights is no more; instead, the Moral Statutes are upheld as law by the military. Ember lives in constant fear of the military and her mother’s flighty and irresponsible behavior that could get them in trouble. When suddenly Ember’s mother is arrested in violation of Article 5, Ember is also taken and sent to a reformatory for “rehabilitation.” Ember wants nothing more than to break out and find her mother. But what hurts most is that it seems her former boyfriend may be the one who betrayed them.

Ember is a brave, emotional girl who puts her mother above everything. At seventeen, she will be old enough to leave the reformatory in less than a year, but she doesn’t want to waste the time when her mother’s life may be in danger. Unfortunately, her emotions and fear for her mother outweigh her common sense at times. Ember and Chase (the former boyfriend) are fantastic characters that pull the reader into the story. Their relationship develops throughout the novel, and was the highlight for me.

Simmons’s not-too-distant dystopian world is dark and horrific. The intensity and suspense made it impossible to put down. Ember’s journey is full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and heart-wrenching drama. Though, the major plot twist at the end was obvious, the exciting conclusion was more than satisfying. Fans of the dystopian subgenre should enjoy this fast-paced, poignant thriller.

Article 5 releases from Tor Teen on January 31, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Between Their Worlds

Between Their Worlds by Barb & JC Hendee

As Magiere, Leesil, and Chap arrive at the Guild of Sagecraft to greet Wynn, she is suddenly apprehended and held for questioning with no explanation. As Magiere, Leesil, and Chap leave the guild, they are attacked by elven assassins. Meanwhile, Shade and Chane plan Wynn’s rescue and try their best to keep away from Magiere’s party. But before Wynn can leave, she needs the locations of the last two Orbs, which can only be found in the guild archives. Wynn and the others must locate the remaining Orbs before the evil Ancient Enemy, or anyone else, discovers them.

Between Their Worlds begins Series 3 (the tenth novel) in the epic Noble Dead saga. The Hendee’s rich and vast world of vampires set in a high fantasy world is only surpassed by its vivid characters. The entire ensemble of beloved main characters returns for another pulse-pounding adventure in this latest release.

This is one of the few high fantasy series that I’ve followed since the beginning and continue to love. At each new release, I’ve looked forward to their new adventures and watching the character development and drama unfold. This latest installment mainly revolves around Wynn’s rescue from the guild. But with plenty of suspense, intrigue, and drama, there is never a dull moment. The surprising return of several former characters and unpredictable plot twists made this novel impossible to put down. And with a mild cliffhanger ending, I am once again left eagerly awaiting next year’s release.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: The Crowfield Demon

The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh

In the mid 1300’s, young orphan Will is a servant for monks at Crowfield Abbey in England. Something is awakening underneath the abbey, causing a devastating collapse of the tower. While the monks rush to repair the abbey, Will searches for a way to rid them of a monstrous creature that haunts the abbey and their dreams.

Following the events in The Crowfield Curse, Will has learned that he has the gift of magical sight, able to see the magical world when normal humans cannot. The exiled fay Shadlok is now bound to Will as his sworn protector. And Brother Snail and the hobgoblin Brother Walter are Will’s only other friends and confidants.

Just as dark and mysterious as its predecessor, The Crowfield Demon is fast-paced and full of adventure. With vivid characters, a compelling story, and plenty of magic, this sequel is completely enchanting. Fantasy fans of all ages will enjoy this highly entertaining story.

The Crowfield Demon releases from The Chicken House (Scholastic) on February 1, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Clone Codes #3: The Visitors

The Clone Codes #3: The Visitors by The McKissacks

Carlos Pace is a 10-year-old boy genius. His best friend is RUBy, the entity that everyone thinks is the ship’s computer. But when the O visits Carlos, he is told that RUBy is not just a rock but something much, much more. Meanwhile, the World Federation is about to attack, and Leanna and Houston are still wanted fugitives. And the O have said that humanity must prove that they are capable of freedom and equality for all sentient beings if they want to explore the galaxy. But with the Clone and Cyborg regulations, that seems impossible.

In this conclusion to the Clone Codes trilogy, the story is narrated by young Carlos. The only “Wholer” (first class citizen) among his group of friends, Carlos has an understanding of Clones and Cyborgs that few do. He is sympathetic, loyal, and brave for someone so young.

This short, fast-paced science fiction trilogy for young readers is creative and inspiring. Each novel in the trilogy is told from a different character’s point of view, giving distinctive insight into their perspective and situation in the unfolding drama. As events unfold, the anticipation builds to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. Full of mystery, futuristic science and technology, aliens, blended with historic significance, young science fiction fans will surely enjoy.

The Clone Codes #3: The Visitors releases from Scholastic Press on February 1, 2012.