Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

strangeStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – YA F TAY (Fantasy)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Lazlo Strange is a librarian and a dreamer; Sarai is blue-skinned godspawn; Thyon is a charlatan, and Eril-Fane is the Godslayer.  The city of Weep, shrouded in mystery, brings them all together.  Long buried secrets will be revealed, love will be discovered, and lives will be lost.

ROBEN SAYS: Laini Taylor is one of my favorite YA authors.  I loved her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and so I was thrilled when Strange the Dreamer won a Printz Honor Award this year. Laini’s world-building abilities are truly amazing. She invents strange yet somehow familiar worlds and introduces characters that quickly earn your admiration or love or loathing. And – she has pink hair. I must warn you that the ending of this book will quite literally take your breath away – but don’t worry.  There will be a sequel- Muse of Nightmares – in October!


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Renegades by Marissa Meyers

renegadesRenegades by Marissa Meyers

About: The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies–humans with extraordinary abilities–who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone–except the villains they once overthrew. Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice. (taken from catalog)

Andrea’s Thoughts: As a fan of Marissa Meyer and her popular Lunar Chronicles series, I jumped at the chance to read this book.  Renegades takes place after the Age of Anarchy, a time in which prodigies (those with super powers) destroyed the existing government, leaving society to be ruled by prodigy gangs of villains.  The Renegades began as a group of prodigies who used their powers to help humans and ultimately take down the villains and restore order.  Now the villains just want to live in peace and freedom without the constant interference and suspicion of the Renegades.  Nova is on a mission to make this happen.  Along the way she meets Adrian, who makes her question her motivations for revenge and whether the world needs prodigies at all, good or bad.  I think Meyer did such a great job in developing the characters and the story for this book, and it just plain fun to read.  I enjoyed reading about the Renegades, the villains, and their society and I can’t wait to find out what happens next in the sequel.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

geekerellaGeekerella by Ashley Poston

About: Geek girl Ellie hopes to go to ExcelsiCon Cosplay to meet the actor (closet nerd Darien) scheduled to play Federation Prince Carmindor in a reboot of the movie Starfield. (Taken from catalog description)

What I Liked: This was a classic Cinderella story with some awesome geeky twists. Elle is a Starfield super fan and knows everything there is to know about it. Her step-mother and step-sisters hate it, until Darien Freeman comes into the picture. He gets cast to play Cormindor, the protagonist in the Starfield movie and Elle is not happy about it. She thinks he’s just a pretty face who will destroy the true essence of Starfield. Turns out she’s not one hundred percent right about that, but she doesn’t know that. She wants to win the cosplay contest so she can put Darien in his place. This is really important to her and her best friend Sage makes the costume a reality. Her step-sisters make this somewhat difficult, but Elle is determined. And throughout all of this, there’s a phone conversation happening. It was a huge twist for both of them to find out who was at the end of the other line. There is an awesome cast of characters that all contribute to a great story. This was a very cute book that I really enjoyed!

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The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller


The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

About: A bullied gay teen boy with an eating disorder believes he’s developed super powers via starvation. (taken from SPL catalog)

 Ofilia’s Thoughts: The premise of this book is absolutely intriguing. The main character, Matt, believes that by starving himself, he gains superhero-like powers such as reading minds and influencing others thoughts. Matt’s beloved older sister has run away and he is absolutely convinced that something horrible happened to her to make her leave. He thinks he can figure out what happened to her with his newly formed skills. He suspects a group of popular jocks at school hurt his sister in some way and despite his certainty, he ends up falling for one of them. This sends him on a journey of self-destruction and self-discovery that forces him to deal with certain realities in his life that he has always managed to ignore like his mother’s alcoholism. Matt knows he is seriously endangering himself and his inner dialogue. When he is trying to resist eating is heartbreaking. Despite the magical realism and unique point of anorexia, many of the issues addressed are universal: first love, bullying and family drama. The story sometimes gets lost in all of the issues, but when it gets back on track it is captivating.

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone

dear martinDear Martin by Nic Stone

About: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. (Goodreads)

Stephanie Says: This is one of the only books I read this year that truly gave me a physical reaction. The more I read the less I feel that I am surprised or moved by stories, even gripping ones or ones I really enjoy, but this book gave me goosebumps!  Dear Martin is a sensational debut for Nic Stone. She tells a remarkable story and couples it with a cast of characters who are sometimes infuriating and at other times will compel you to compassion.

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The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz


The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenzinexplicable

About: A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn’t mean about who he is.

Ofilia’s Thoughts: This is definitely an “issues” book meaning so many things happen to these poor teens that it is a bit overwhelming. Saenz excels at creating interesting and genuine characters that go through true life situations. In this way, this novel is much like his previous book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. But where that title was quiet almost stealthy in style, this book is more all-encompassing. The protagonist, Sal, is struggling to find answers to big questions. He is dealing with thoughts of his adoption, his ailing grandmother and his grieving best friend. He also befriends a teen who is essentially homeless thanks to his mother’s drug addiction. Oh and did I mention Sal’s adopted dad is gay? See what I mean about “issues.” Despite all of this, the pacing is slow, so while there are a lot of problems, there isn’t a lot of action. Still, it is a beautifully written book with lovely moments of connection and meaning. Sal is surrounded by loving adults, particularly his dad who reminds me a lot of Atticus Finch, which is refreshing. This book is all about the journey and trying to make sense of the world especially during hard times. I think people who like quieter more introspective fiction, would enjoy this one.

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The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (#1) by Philip Pullman

book of dustThe Book of Dust #1 – La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman – YA FIC PUL (Fantasy)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. His parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a Gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a baby girl named Lyra. Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm. (taken from catalog)

ROBEN SAYS: Lyra is back!  (Even if she is only a baby.)  I loved this first installment in what Pullman has promised will be a trilogy.  La Belle Sauvage is a prequel set ten years before Golden Compass. Readers will recognize a few familiar names – Lord Asriel; Mrs. Coulter and the dreaded Magisterium; and the Gyptians – but they only make brief appearances.  The majority of the book is devoted to the magnificently brave Malcolm Polstead, (who does appear in Lyra’s Oxford), Alice Parslow (Lyra’s friend Roger was also a Parslow – Alice’s cousin, according to Pullman) and Dr. Hannah Relf, who befriends Malcolm and introduces him to alethiometers – and Oakley Street.  There are, of course, many truly evil, villainous characters – Gerard Bonneville being the main one.  The book begins a bit slowly, introducing characters and reintroducing us to Lyra’s version of Great Britain but it soon becomes a thrilling ride with lots of unexpected twists and turns, danger lurking around every corner. If you loved exploring Lyra’s world of Oxford and are fascinated by the idea of daemons, dust, and alethiometers, I highly recommend this book. Pullman has promised two more books in the series – though they will be set in a different time when Lyra is much older.

What age is it for? Well, Malcolm is twelve; Alice is fifteen – and while the book starts out as something that you might share with middle schoolers, it takes a dark turn fairly quickly. Because of language and violence (both sexual and physical) – I would recommend it for older teens.

Can you read the alethiometer?


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