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HarperTeen – June 1, 2009

What comes to mind when you think of unicorns? Flowing, curling, pastel manes?  A single, glittery horn?  A kind and magical creature?  Well, you’d be wrong.  Unicorns are vicious, man-eating creatures.  Their teeth are razor sharp, they are faster than a sports car, and their ability to track prey is eerie.  To make matters worse, unicorns can only be killed by female warriors that are direct descendants of Alexander the Great – and oh yeah – the female warriors must be virgins.  

Astrid has grown up with her mother’s stories of evil unicorns and how her ancestors were some of the fiercest unicorn hunters in history.  When Astrid’s friends enjoyed the fairy tale versions of these creatures, she was always a little creeped out by them.  Astrid also had to come to terms with the fact that her mother might be crazy since all she talked about and researched was man-eating unicorns.

Astrid loses control of her life after witnessing a unicorn attack.  It, coupled with reports of  mysterious “wild animal” attacks around the world, leads Astrid’s mother to believe that this is proof of the beginning of a reemergence of the unicorns.  Astrid is immediately shipped off to Rome to begin training to be a warrior – against her will.

Astrid experiences a lot during her time in Rome.  She learns about her family’s history and their role in unicorn hunting.  She experiences some of the local culture and meets a handsome young man.   Most importantly, she comes face-to-face with unicorns and is forced to see if she has what it takes to be a warrior.

RAMPANT is a unique story.  Never before have I read or even heard of killer unicorns.  Astrid is a strong, female character and extremely likable and her strong relationship with her cousin, Phil, adds a lot to the story.  Rome’s romantic atmosphere provides an interesting backdrop for bloody unicorn battles and adds to the mysterious feeling of the book.  Romance is scattered throughout the tale, but it doesn’t dominate or take away from the action.  The way the story ends, it seems possible that Astrid’s story could continue, but the ending is satisfying enough as it is that it definitely works as a stand-alone.


Rampant


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Last week a friend of mine loaned me the Maggie Quinn: Girl v. Evil series.  Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.  They are funny and interesting.

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Delacorte Books for Young Readers – March 13, 2007

Maggie Quinn is a high school senior who spends her time taking photos for the yearbook and writing stories for the school’s newspaper.  She is completely content with staying under the radar in order to avoid coming into contact with the Jocks and the Jessicas (the girls that seem to run the school).  Everything is working out just fine until she snaps some incriminating pictures of the Jocks bullying one of the bigger geeks of the school. 

Soon, after her creative photo rescue, Maggie starts having disturbing dreams.  She has ignored her dreams for a long time and has tried to forget the fact that she has psychic abilities.  But with someone or something picking off the Jocks and the Jessicas one-by-one, she is going to have to start tapping into her mojo.  With the help of her Grandmother and a new friend named Justin, Maggie starts to put her powers to work to solve the mystery.

Maggie Quinn is a delightful main character.  She is quick witted, sarcastic, and cynical and her one-liners will have you rolling.  Check out a couple of entries back for my “Say It Again” Saturday post where I listed a few of my favorite lines from PROM DATES FROM HELL.  You’ll want to pick up the sequel as soon as you finish.  Also, there is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer connection –  The Prom where Buffy saves the prom from the devil dogs has a similar feel.

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Delacorte Books for Young People – August 26, 2008

Maggie made it out of high school alive so what does she decide to take on next?  Sororities!  Maggie decides to go through Rush, undercover, in order to get her foot in the door at the college newspaper.

With the hectic schedule of a new college freshman, participating in Rush, and trying to figure out what is going on with her sort-of boyfriend Justin, Maggie is burning the candle at both ends.  But it isn’t until she realizes that she is losing time that she starts to worry that something of an evil nature is at work. 

Maggie was lucky enough to survive high school and the prom, but can she survive a sorority? 

HELL WEEK is an interesting story, but it lacks some of the humor that was so enjoyable in PROM DATES FROM HELL.  If you watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and liked the episode, Reptile Boy, where Buffy goes to a frat party with Cordelia and gets chained in the basement to be sacraficed to the lizard demon, then you’ll like HELL WEEK.

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Delacorte Press – March 10, 2009

Maggie and her best friend, Lisa, decide to head to South Padre Island for a normal Spring Break.  Just because they battle demons and save the world on a regular basis doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to have some normal teenager time, right?  Wrong!

On the way, on a dark and lonely highway, they run over a dead cow that is laying in the middle of the road.  The fuel tank on Maggie’s Jeep is ripped open which leaves her and Lisa stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Luckily, a nice cowboy drives by and gives them a lift to the nearest town to get some sleep and find a mechanic to tow her Jeep in the next day.

Once settled in Dulcina, TX, Maggie realizes that the cow she ran over isn’t the only animal that has been killed lately.  Dogs, goats, calves, and now cows are being torn apart by unknown predators.  Some people say its because of the drought and the coyotes getting more bold, but others say it is the el chupacabra – a creature with blood red eyes, scales on its back, and razor-sharp teeth.

As long as they are stuck there anyway, Maggie and Lisa decide they may as well see if they can figure out what is going on in the sleepy town.  As they research the history of the town and meet some of its founding members, it becomes clear that the big “E” is at work again and this time Maggie needs the help of the “big gun” if they are going to make it out alive. 

HIGHWAY TO HELL is just as good as the others in the series, but like HELL WEEK, it doesn’t have the same amount of humor as PROM DATES FROM HELL.  Rosemary Clement-Moore did a great job of creating the side characters in Dulcina.  She makes it so easy to picture the locals in your mind. 

For up-to-date information, visit Rosemary’s website.


Prom Dates from Hell
(Maggie Quinn:
Girl vs Evil, Book 1)


Hell Week
(Maggie Quinn:
Girl vs Evil, Book 2)


Highway to Hell
(Maggie Quinn:
Girl Vs Evil)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Point – June 1, 2009

Miranda didn’t plan on spending the summer on Selkie Island helping her mother sort out her grandmother’s estate.  She’d planned on living her dream by interning at the Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Instead, she’ll be up to her elbows in dust and debutantes.

Miranda doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives at the house known as The Mariner – the home on Selkie Island her mother visited every summer as a child.  What she finds is a beautiful beach house filled with family history.  A history Miranda knows nothing about because her mother and grandmother were on the outs for years.

Miranda’s mother immediately gets swept up in old summer ways, attending parties with old friends – dragging Miranda along with her and expecting her to fall into step with the customs of the Island’s summer inhabitants.  Miranda doesn’t feel like she belongs with this upper crust crowd and when she meets a local boy named Leo at The Selkie Island Center for Marine Discovery, she knows exactly where she wants to be – with him.  But, spending time with a local isn’t looked kindly upon by her mother or her mother’s circle of friends.

Mysteries surround the island and Leo.  Mirandra struggles with her feelings of wanting to know more and afraid to find answers.

Aimee Friedman has written a beautiful novel.  You’ll be able to feel the sand beneath your toes and taste the sea salt on your lips.  Your heart will pound with each electrifying scene between Miranda and Leo and you’ll want to explore Selkie Island hoping to catch a glimpse of mermaids in the water.


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Speak – May 14, 2009

Every young citizen of the Alliance between the ages of sixteen and seventeen is given the Academy Entrance Exam.  The results of the test determines which Academy the student will attend. Academy 7 is the most prestigious school in all of the Alliance and only the students with the top 50 scores are invited to attend each year.

Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin both receive invitations to Academy 7 and both decide to accept for their own, very different, reasons.  Aerin has some deep, dark secrets that could ruin her chances at the Academy and guards herself against exposure by isolating herself from others.  She spends her time studying about the politics and history of the Alliance in order to excel in her classes so she can secure a return invitation the next year.

Dane is the son of a very powerful man.  Not only is his father a successful General, but he is also on the Council, the small group of people who governs the Alliance.  Attending Academy 7 isn’t Dane’s dream, but in order to spite his father, he decides to make the most of his time there.  Dane soon excels in his studies and holds the number one position in every class except one – Personal Combat.  There is one person that bests him in Combat on a daily basis – Aerin.

After a disciplinary action forces Aerin and Dane to work together, he tries to break through the wall that she has created. Slowly, as they learn more about each other, their secrets come out and, together, they come to terms with their problems.  

Anne Osterlund has created an interesting science fiction world for ACADEMY 7.  Both Aerin and Dane change and grow throughout the course of the story and witnessing their failures and triumphs is interesting.  The story has a satisfying ending and could easily be a stand alone novel, but on the other hand, there are story lines that could definitely continue.  We’ll have to wait and see what the author has in mind.  Click here to visit her website.

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Hyperion – December 2008

Camelia lives a very normal life. She has loving parents, two best friends, a good job, and decent grades. Everything changes for her when she is almost killed in the parking lot at school on the last day of her sophomore year. A mysterious stranger saved her by pushing her out of the way. His touch is electric and Camelia can’t get his face and the feel of his touch out of her mind. The problem is, he disappeared after he saved her.

Three months later, at the beginning of junior year, strange things start to happen. Camelia receives photos of herself in her mailbox with notes attached. Notes that say she is being watched at all times. Notes that tell her to be a good girl. Notes that say her time is coming soon. She also receives phone calls from someone with a whispery, male voice. Camelia is being stalked and, coincidently, her mysterious savior enrolls at her school at the same time.

A cloud of rumors swirl around Ben’s arrival. Apparently he was accused of killing his girlfriend and the people at Camelia’s school aren’t happy he is there. Camelia is drawn to Ben because of the connection she feels after he saved her, but Ben doesn’t make it easy to get to know him. As she spends more time with Ben and the stalking escalates, Camelia doesn’t know who to trust.

Laurie Faria Stolarz has written a creepy mystery. The story is packed with red herrings. As you are reading, you’ll be asking yourself, “Could it be him?” “Could it be her?” Interspersed throughout the chapters, the reader gets a glimpse into the mind of the stalker by seeing his handwritten journal entries where he obsesses about Camelia. This just adds to the creep factor of the story.

If you are easily frightened, I would recommend you read this book during the daytime. You might even make sure that other people are in the house with you. Be prepared to become obsessed yourself. Once you start DEADLY LITTLE SECRET you won’t want to stop. DEADLY LITTLE SECRET is the first in the Touch series. Be looking for the sequel, DEADLY LITTLE LIES, sometime in 2009.


Deadly Little Secret
(A Touch Novel)

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Coming March 2009

The third and final installment in the Mortal Instruments trilogy definitely lives up to the reputation of the first two – CITY OF BONES and CITY OF ASHES.  CITY OF GLASS picks up a short time after CITY OF ASHES ends.  Clary has a mission.  Madeleine, her mother’s friend, is possibly the only person who knows how to wake her mother from a coma.  Clary will have to travel to Alicante in Idris to get what she needs.

Alicante is the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters.  It is known as the City of Glass because of the beautifully tall glass towers that guard the city from harm.  The only way to get to Idris is through a portal and Magnus, the warlock, has arranged one.  Clary is planning to go through the portal with Jace and the Lightwoods.  The only problem is, Jace doesn’t want Clary to go so he lies to her about when he and the Lightwoods are leaving.  He thinks it is too dangerous for Clary. 

After being left behind, Clary eventually finds her way to Alicante.  She uses her ability to create runes and makes a portal for herself.  Being new to the Shadowhunter world, Clary doesn’t know that using a portal and entering the city without permission is against the law. If she is found she could be put to death. 

Once in the City of Glass, Clary is thrown in the middle of the largest battle the Shadowhunters have ever had to face.  Valentine’s evil plans are in the final stages and everyone is on full alert, not knowing what he will do next.  Jace and Clary’s complicated relationship keeps them just as confused as ever, but provides great excitement for the reader. 

Cassandra Clare works magic with this novel.  The excitement begins on the first page and doesn’t stop until the final sentence.  She brings everything full circle for a completely satisfying ending – even though fans would be more than happy to read about these beloved characters forever.  One thing Cassandra Clare fans need to keep an eye out for is the release of THE CLOCKWORK PRINCESS: VOLUME 1 of THE INFERNAL DEVICES.  THE INFERNAL DEVICES is a trilogy of prequels set one hundred and forty years ago in Victorian England.  Tessa, a warlock, is the main character.  The first prequel to the Mortal Instruments trilogy is scheduled to be released Fall 2010.

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The long awaited sequel to WICKED LOVELY is here.  Melissa Marr was kind enough to give us INK EXCHANGE, a companion to WICKED LOVELY, where we met other characters from this wildly inventive and tantalizing world, but a true sequel is what we really wanted and now we have it.

 

Aislinn (Ash) is dealing with what being the Summer Queen means.  She has both physical changes and emotional adjustments to come to terms with.  She is spending more and more time with Keenan because of Summer Court business and monthly celebrations with the Summer faeries.  Ash feels a pull toward Keenan, even though she knows she doesn’t love him, and feels guilty for the time she spends away from Seth – her true love.

 

Ash’s transformation isn’t just an adjustment for her; it is taking its toll on Seth too.  Being with Ash is what he wants more than anything, but the jealousy he feels when she is with Keenan monopolizes his thoughts when he’s alone.  Physically, his time with Ash is difficult too.  Ash’s strength has drastically increased since she has taken her role as the Summer Queen.  Sunlight flows from her skin, especially after Summer’s monthly celebrations, and the heat that radiates from her leaves burns on Seth’s skin.  Seth is willing to take the pain as long as he has Ash in his life, but he doesn’t know how long he will be able to keep her.  Between Ash’s increased responsibilities to the Summer Court and Seth’s human mortality there doesn’t seem to be much hope.

 

FRAGILE ETERNITY takes us back to the world we fell in love with in WICKED LOVELY.  Alliances that were strong in the first book start to shift as needs and circumstances change.  The Summer Court, the Winter Court, and the Dark Court all have their own agendas.  Will Ash and Seth get caught in the middle?