Thursday, October 23, 2014

by Christine Allen-Riley

Published October 20, 2014

5/5 Stars

Devon Greer’s world is shattered when a tragic car accident takes her best friend, Rachael. Miserable with grief, Devon attempts to adjust to this new, hostile reality, in which the kids at school (and most of Rachael’s family) blame Devon for Rachael’s death, since Devon was driving the car that fateful night. Not long after the accident, Devon has reason to question her own sanity when she sees Rachael running through the woods next to the road near the accident site. Upon investigating, Devon finds there are more creatures living in the woods than just wildlife, and she begins to believe there’s a chance to rescue Rachael from them and bring her back. Will Devon and Jonah – Rachael’s cousin who has discovered the secret in the woods as well, and who is developing tender feelings for Devon – be able to rescue Rachael before it’s too late?

Allen-Riley has taken the wild and beautiful forests and waters of Michigan’s upper peninsula, and planted them in the pages of her book, adding her own magic to the mix, including a society of dangerous fae who will do anything to gain the power they desperately need. The characters are intricately wrought and easy to care about from beginning to end. This suspenseful, imaginative story kept me turning pages waaaayy past my bedtime! It’s wonderful.

About the Author

Lover of books, nature, cats and shiny things. Active disliker of cooking, cleaning and stress. Mom, freelance editor & YA author - also a bit of a nerd.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Snow Child

A fantastic winter folktale, bleak and beautiful


The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books

The Snow Child is a beautifully written story inspired by a Russian fairy tale. In a rare moment of playfulness, a childless couple named Jack and Mabel lovingly create a little girl made of snow. The next day, the snow person is gone but Jack and Mabel begin seeing glimpses and finding evidence of a young girl in the woods near their homesteading cabin. Jack and Mabel have come to Alaska in the 1920s with hopes of a new start. They’re barely surviving on the return from their crops, farmed exclusively by Jack, while Mabel makes baked goods for a little extra money. They’re considering admitting defeat and leaving Alaska behind when new connections with others in the area, including the mysterious snow child, give them new hope.

The atmospheric differences in the writing between the spare, exhausting, isolated despair of Jack and Mabel at the beginning of the story, the fairy tale quality and magic-around-the edges storyline involving the child, and the later connections the stoic couple makes – in their own relationship and with other hardy frontier families in the area – are really striking and give the story depth. I enjoyed reading this very much, beginning to end. Ms. Ivey’s created a wonderful, quality story. I predict it’ll be one of my top reads for the year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gods of Gotham

Atmospheric suspense featuring one of NYs first "copper starred" policemen

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

Published March 2012 by Putnam

Set in 1845 in New York City, The Gods of Gotham weaves the first-person account of Timothy Wilde, an astute bartender saving his hard-earned dollars so he can ask the woman he loves to share a life of promise with him. After a raging fire and an explosion that reduces much of Manhattan to cinders and disfigures him, Tim reluctantly takes on a job as a "copper star" -- a member of the first government funded police force in NYC. His first big case involves multiple child murders, and as Tim gets involved, his skills of observation and his moral compass become important factors in uncovering the truth.
The Gods of Gotham is an exquisitely written and deeply researched historical mystery novel that turns mid-1800s NYC into a character as vibrant as Tim, his mentally unstable brother Val, Tim's unrequited love Miss Underwood, the irascible little orphan named Bird, and many, many other remarkable characters. It reads as if the author read meticulously through the dusty history tomes, picked out some interesting threads of stories and characters of the times, and breathed life and plausible imagination into them. I look forward to reading more works by Lyndsay Faye.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Raven Boys

Spunky, magic amplifying teen girl meets boarding school bad boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Published September 2012 by Scholastic Press

This is the first I've read by Stiefvater, upon recommendation by a trusted friend, and the trust was warranted! The Raven Boys is a young adult fantasy novel with a new and fresh premise that involves Celtic mythology, psychics, spellcasting, the spirit world, and other paranormal aspects that perhaps haven't been fully fleshed out yet (it's a series). The main characters are Blue, a 16 year old girl who has the gift of amplifying the paranormal gifts of others and paranormal energy in general, and The Raven Boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, all very different and with their own developed backstories. It's been prophesied that if Blue kisses her first true love, he will die. Gansey's on a quest to find a mythical king whose legend says the one who wakes him from his very long slumber will get a wish granted. The others are all interested in the quest for their own reasons. The Raven Boys gets the tale laid out and peaks with some real world changing events, but doesn't answer every question and even adds new ones to be unraveled in the next book, which is called The Dream Thieves. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of The Raven Cycle series.