Tag Archives: YA

Steampunk, Airships and Etheric Energy: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

2 Oct

A rollicking steampunk yarn replete with quirky characters kicks off this new series by Jim Butcher. As I was reading, I could see this playing on the big screen, albeit with the feel of an old time serial. Swashbuckling airship captains, talking cats, bold women, enormous bugs, crystal powered flight and so much more. As the first book in a series, this book sets up the world, the conflict and the main characters, and left me eager to read the next…
The “naval” battles in the sky are quite well done. I initially started skimming through those sections but then quickly realized that I could follow along and understand the action.
Fun, fast read. Good YA action for both boys & girls, with several strong female characters.



Coming of Age Story: The Hired Girl

3 Sep

A beautifully written coming of age story by the ever talented Laura Amy Schlitz, with the plucky and determined Joan/Janet determined to educate herself. As we peer into her diary which she aspires to “write in it with truth and refinement,” we experience her struggles as the sole female in her family after her mother’s death, overworked and unappreciated by her father and brothers. Her escape to Baltimore and her experiences with the Jewish family that hires her gently raise important issues about identity, faith, confidence and perseverance. I enjoyed every minute of the book, loved the historical details (1911) and thought this was a fantastic YA alternative to the more typical dystopian action adventure or magical powers stories that populate the shelves. A gem for not only younger readers but everyone. Big thumbs up!

The Scorpion Rules: Fantastic Futuristic Non-Formulaic YA Novel

7 Aug

I loved this book!
The world itself is so real – set some 400 years in our future, after climate change and access to water resulted in non-stop war. In a HAL like manner, artificial intelligence (and now controlling overlord) puts a stop to it all.
To keep the peace, Talis (one of the best antagonist characters I’ve come across in a long time!) requires every world leader to contribute their child as a hostage – to be killed in the event their country goes to war. Well, first he bombs a few cities (“by city number seven – Fresno, because no one’s gonna miss that – I had everyone’s attention.”) and then he develops the “first rule of stopping wars: make it personal.”
The geopolitical cynicism/real politics are so clearly rooted in the world we live in today makes this futuristic sci fi novel feel very possible.
The characters are complex and quirky, surviving in this unique environment. The children trained to face their fate with equanimity, banded together. The AI robots that teach/imprison them. Talis him/itself, with a tone reminiscent of a Douglas Adams character.
The writing is magical and compelling. I have so many highlighted sections of the book. Here are a few:
“There was a space inside me, cupped and still. It was as small as cupped hands; it was as large as the sky. It was untouched and it was touch itself. It was empty and it was full. I held love there, like a treasure. I held my own name.”
“The fire sank to coals. I could feel the night pass in the spin of the Earth. Hours, and hours. Dawn sidled near; the sky lightened over the loop of the river.”

I was excited to read that the author, a former physicist and poet, is “putting the finishing touches on a companion novel” as this is a world and a writer that I can’t wait to re-visit.
I highly recommend this book for adults and YA readers. In fact, going back over my notes makes me want to read it again RIGHT NOW!


The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

25 Jan

The latest in a series starring 11 year old sleuth and chemist Flavia de Luce, this book is brilliantly written. Quirky and self-assured, both Flavia and the author follow their own path. While clearly one in a series, that I haven’t read, the author’s deft hand whisked me into this world and now I need to go back and read all the other books. Charming, interesting, recommend.

Blood Orange Soda – True Blood for Teens

25 Jan

True Blood meets the OC.  High school is tough, what with bullies and cute girls, but it all gets better when Darius speeds up his transition to adult vampire by consuming daily bottles of Blood Orange Soda. Set against the backdrop of St. Cloud, Minnesota – no idea why that slice of “god’s country” was chosen other than to contrast the normalcy of ice fishing with vampires…but I digress.  Although, I guess that is really the point of the whole book – we connect with the paranormal characters recognizing that the agonies of small town life apply to us all.  Good YA read.

The Mark of the Dragonfly

25 Jan

A nice combination of steam punk meets Elysium – interesting and new characters.  I thought the characters were the best part of this novel – fleshed out, novel individuals, good dialogue.  The back story to the world, and the motivations of the “bad guys” were not clearly expressed, sketched out here potentially to be expanded upon in future stories?  The magical mechanical creatures, ala Hugo, and the heroine’s talents seem to demand more of a story arc, so I’m thinking there will be more. Fun YA read.

YA Fiction: Dare You To

25 Jan

YA writer, Katie McGarry, deftly brings us into her characters’ challenging world and delivers another compelling and contemporary romance. The characters feel authentic and the story delivers.