The Legend of Greg by Chris Rylander

I ignored people telling me to read this for WAY too long! So don’t make the same mistake I did! Pick this up immediately! In Greg’s Chicago, there is an underground world filled with Dwarfs and Elves! But Greg doesn’t know that. All he knows is that he has one best friend and a dad who is always off looking for weird natural remedies and teas. But all of that changes when his dad is abducted by a… troll?! This book is a crazy fun adventure filled with a fully thought out magical world set under my very own feet. As well as being fun and entertaining, it’s also a great story of acceptance of all people, regardless of race (even if those races are magical in this book). Greg is a powerful underdog and I wish that I had him around as a role model when I was growing up.

5-stars

Genesis by Brendan Reichs

Nemesis left me hanging and so I inhaled Genesis.  And this book is so much more intense than I ever imagined it could be.  I love this series.  Set in our real world, Reichs messes with the reality around us and speculates a way in which the world could survive a horrible disaster.  If you haven’t read the first one yet, go out and get it as well as Genesis because you will need to read it immediately after.

The characters change and grow in this book more than they did in the first one.  Morals are questioned, status is commented on, and everyone is tested.  I breezed though this long book because I needed answers.  And now I need the next one!  What more could possibly happen to these characters?!?

4-stars

Noir by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the king of weird.  This book started out so normal, following the format of a typical noir.  I was concerned that it wasn’t going to be his normal weird but I soon found that to not be the case.  Moore plays beautifully with the style and manner of storytelling that comes with a noir.  He takes real, historical events and weaves them into a tale involving aliens and government cover up.  The perfect fun read when life is getting you down.  Because no matter how bad you might have it, you won’t have it as bad as these characters.

4-stars

Wizardmatch by Lauren Magaziner

This book is SO MUCH FUN!  Magical children, a wizard competition, lots of references to goats.  What more could you ask for?  This is a true underdog story as well as a great girl power tale.  Magaziner’s writing is hilarious and filled with adventure and whimsy.  She has created a fully formed world that I never wanted to read.  A must read for children and adults alike.

5-stars

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

Shout-out to Pam Parker for telling me to read this one!  This book completely blew me away.  The cover blurb made me nervous.  Magic and science in one book?  That probably isn’t a book I would enjoy.  But boy was I wrong.

Miller has created a fascinating story placed in the midst of the very real history of WWI.  He calls out the gender issues that were in place by turning the tables.  Sure, women weren’t allowed to do things at the time but that is because they were women and it was the turn of the century!  Instead of going with this view, he flips it, following a male character who isn’t allowed to help out with the war efforts due to the fact that women are the only one with the magical abilities to do so.  And this isn’t just a book that sets out to prove a point.  It is a well-written, fascinating story that I didn’t want to leave.  I was actually shocked to find myself at the end of the novel.  I didn’t want to let these characters go.

5-stars

The Infinite Future by Tim Wirkus

Half of this book worked for me and the other half just really didn’t.  Formatted like my favorite novel, The Princess Bride, the first half of the book is a fictionalized retelling of how the book came to be while the second half is the book itself.  I very much enjoyed the sections talking about finding the lost Salgado-MacKenzie manuscript as well as the adventure to discover his identity was a joy to read.  Wirkus created a fun cast of characters that came together over a shared love even though they never should have met.  The second half, Salgado-MacKenzie’s lost novel, was less entertaining.  Leading up to it, many characters describe it as being a bad book, which already didn’t make me excited about it.  The story was weirdly complicated seeing that very little actually happened.  And it’s trying too hard, in my opinion, the mirror the meta-ness of the first half.  I would have very much enjoyed this book if it was just the first half but instead it didn’t end there and I found myself slogging through to get to the end.

3-stars

The Devil In Silver by Victor LaValle

Since I read The Changeling last year (and had it immediately become one of my favorite books of all time) and now I find myself buying any book of Victor LaValle’s that comes through the store.  (Well, I made my parents buy this one from the bookstore I work at as a Christmas present for me when they came to visit.)  LaValle is the master of magical realism.  Each of his books that I have read so far start out as a completely normal novel of realistic fiction until it suddenly isn’t.  And this book was no exception.

The Devil in Silver follows Pepper, a man who ends up in the mental ward of a hospital one night because the police don’t feel like doing paperwork.  From there, LaValle shows a crossroads of America, showing us all different kinds of people who call this hospital their home. From the quite old to the quite young, he gives lives and full backstories to characters who, in other literature, tend to just become flat characters.  Added to all that is the man with a bison head who climbs through the ceiling and attacks people.

LaValle questions what it means to be “sane” as well as looking at the good and bad sides of mental illness treatment.  On top of that, he has created a crazy mystery plot that never stops moving (even when the characters themselves are having a hard time moving due to being drugged and/or tied down).  Out of the three LaValle books I have read, this is my number two.

4-stars

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

I have had friends telling me to read Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series for years and just haven’t gotten around to it so I jumped at the chance to listen to the audiobook of her newest book.

Renegades questions what it means to be good or bad.  In a world where those lines are very defined, Meyer brings us two protagonists, one from each side, that really mess with your brain.  From Nova’s point of view, the Renegades let her down and let her family get killed and the Anarchists took her in, gave her a place to live.  To Adrian, the Renegades are the only family he has ever know and he, as a Renegade, is made to feel like a hero on a regular basis.  So what happens when their paths cross?  Who is on the right side of history?  Is there a right side?

Meyer not only manages to deal with these difficult questions but also creates a great adventure.  The plot never stops moving (which is super impressive because this is a super long book) and she takes the reader through endless twists and turns.  She has thought up a really interesting world filled with superpowers that, at least to me, seemed incredibly unique.  Even when I started to get worried about the book slipping into YA trope world, she managed to pull it out and put a fun spin on things.  Nova and Adrian both don’t fall into the stereotypical gender roles that YA books tend to.  This book was a commitment (especially when listening to it) but it was worth it.

4-stars

The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari

I absolutely loved The Best Kind of Magic and have been gazing longly at The Sweetest Kind of Fate on my bookshelf for months, saving it for a time when I really needed it.  And that time finally came.

I absolutely love Amber Sand and the fun world that Cestari has created.  When I met her for the launch of the first book, I said to her, “Everyone has been describing it as Buffy meets Gilmore Girls but it is really more Buffy meets Veronica Mars” to which she very much agreed with me.  This book had both Veronica Mars and Buffy references and my heart was so incredibly happy.

This book is filled with some much humor while also dealing with heavier topics.  She looks into the complexity of what makes a person, not allowing any character to fall into a terrible stereotype.  (She made me like Ivy, which I didn’t think was possible after the first book.)  I love living in Chicago but reading these books makes me wish that I could live in Amber’s magical Chicago.

These books are so great.  I love them so much and need more of them in my life.

5-stars

I have been lucky enough to host both of Crystal’s launch parties and she is just the greatest.  Really, read these books.  And, if you are in Chicago, come see her and many other awesome YA authors at the Chicago Young Adult Book Festival on April 14th!

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I love these books and absolutely adore the author.  She is the sweetest human alive.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

This book is magical and awesome!  From the magical changing hotel to traveling by umbrella to a giant butler cat, I loved every part of this book and am so glad that it is finally available to recommend to kids.

I have recently discovered (by accident) that I enjoy books with cursed children (I know, I know, dark) and this book was no exception.  There is something incredibly powerful about seeing kids overcome the universe.  And not only does Morrigan have overcome the universe, she has to pass a series of tests in hopes of entering a very special society of people.  Townsend has created a fully rendered world filled that, while magical, is still very relatable.  This book is so much fun.

4-stars

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

I was too old (and not cool enough to realize that middle grade books are awesome at any age) to read the How to Train Your Dragon books when they came out but I am glad that I have finally gotten to experience Cressida Cowell’s wonderful writing.

The Wizards of Once is both beautifully written and filled with tons of fun illustrations that take the story to the next level.  Her main characters are royal underdogs (which seems like an oxymoron but actually made for an awesome reading experience) and I was immediately invested in their lives.

This is a perfect book for boys and girls alike, seeing as there is one of each as a main character.  It teaches acceptance of those different from you as well as the need to question authority when it seems to be leading you astray (which I believe to be important in this day and age).  I can’t wait for the next installment in the series.

4-stars

Warcross by Marie Lu

I have to admit, this is a book I judged by its cover and I said, “No thank you!” But I had heard such good things about it so when the audiobook was an ALC on Libro.FM, I decided to give it a chance.

This book was great. Lu has created a fascinating world that isn’t very different from our own, making it easy to connect to the action of the characters. She has assembled an incredibly diverse cast of characters to tell a story that I think is very important to to the world today, namely privacy in a world of technology. (I am drawn to this kind of book, like The Circle by Dave Eggars and so I was glad to see one geared at teens.) Emika is an incredibly powerful female protagonist who shows everyone that girls can be just as good at things such as science and technology as boys. The plot is filled with twists and turns (even though I did see one of the big ones coming) and it made me want to go places and do things just so I could listen to the audiobook. Definitely worth checking out.

4-stars