“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is a loose retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but with a much darker twist. When Feyre slays a wolf in the forest she believes she has merely procured the means to help her family survive the harsh winter; until a faerie shows up demanding retribution from Feyre for the death of the wolf which was actually a faerie in disguise. The people of Feyre’s land have long held an uneasy alliance with the High Fae, but now Feyre is given a choice; die or live out the rest of her life with the faerie Tamlin.

Feyre soon learns that although at first glance the faerie realms seem prosperous and beautiful, the various courts are at war with each other and all are threatened by various dangerous creatures controlled by a psychopathic High Fae. As her connection and attraction to Tamlin grows, Feyre’s life is increasingly placed at risk.

Maas’s story clearly owes a lot of inspiration to myth and fairy tales, but influences from recent YA series such as the Hunger Games are also clear. Feyre is a skilled hunter who provides, and sacrifices, for her family. She is a strong protagonist who is willing to go to great lengths to protect those she loves.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first time I have encountered the genre classification of New Adult. New Adult books are targeted slightly older than traditional YA, more for 18-21 year olds. A Court of Thorns and Roses is slightly more graphic and violent than many YA books, but it should still be suitable for older high school students. Overall, A Court of Thorns and Roses is an action-packed and romantic fantasy adventure.

-Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caitlin C.

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“Crimson Bound” by Rosamund Hodge

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Cruel Beauty was one of my favorite YA books of 2014 and I have been eagerly awaiting Crimson Bound since I read Rosamund Hodge’s first book almost a year ago. In Crimson Bound, Hodge twists and retells the story of Red Riding Hood. Rachelle was training to be her aunt’s apprentice until she wandered off the path in the forest and was marked as a Bloodbound by a Forestborn.  This left her with a choice: kill someone in three days or die herself. Rachelle chooses to live but it is a choice that still haunts her three years later. As her version of penance, Rachelle joins the King’s Bloodbound guard and fights to protect the people from the creatures of the Great Forest, until she is assigned to protect the King’s son, Armand. As she guards Armand, Rachelle is also trying to find two ancient swords that could help her prevent the Forestborn from causing an endless night to fall.

To me, the novel started a little slowly. Additionally, I was disappointed to see that a lot of the plot was taken up by a rather traditional love triangle. Rachelle is such a strong heroine it seemed out of character that she cannot make up her mind between two men. Hodge’s writing, however, makes the story worth it. The story really picked up in the last third of the book and I did not see some of the twists that led to the climax. One of my favorite aspects of Cruel Beauty was Hodge’s descriptions, and she still excels at this in Crimson Bound. The Great Forest is suitably atmospheric and terrifying and it is clear that Hodge got much of her inspiration for the court Rachelle must navigate from pre-Revolutionary France.

All in all, Crimson Bound is a well plotted fairy tale retelling with plenty of twists and a strong heroine, though Rachelle’s indecisiveness between Armand and Erec did take away from the story for me a bit. I would recommend this novel and I hope that Hodge continues with her retellings.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caitlin Connelly

“This Dark Endeavour” by Kenneth Oppel

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This Dark Endeavour is the first book in Oppel’s The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series. Taking place when Victor Frankenstein was just a teenager, This Dark Endeavour charts Victor’s quest to find the elixir of life after his twin brother, Konrad, falls seriously ill. Accompanied by Konrad, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth, Viktor begins to study ancient alchemical texts after finding a secret library in his family’s chateau. Yet, once Konrad gets sick, Victor’s interest in alchemy becomes an obsession, often putting his and Elizabeth’s lives in danger as they try to gather the ingredients necessary for the elixir of life. The story is suspenseful and atmospheric, and I often could not put it down.

Fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of the gothic horror genre are sure to enjoy this gripping read. Oppel stays true to the feel of Shelley’s original work, while creating a whole new back story and bringing new life to the characters of Frankenstein in this prequel. He also expertly writes his characters, creating a plausible explanation for the adult Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with overcoming death. This Dark Endeavour is followed up by an excellent sequel, Such Wicked Intent, and I am eagerly awaiting Oppel announcing the third book in the series.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly

“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer

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Cinder is a re-imagined Cinderella set in a futuristic China. Cinder, our heroine, is a mechanic cyborg working hard to earn a living to help her stepmother and sisters. While Cinder is at her job, Prince Kai brings her a malfunctioning android to fix. The two develop a relationship which blossoms into a forbidden attraction. Unfortunately the kingdom is not living in an easy time. There is a sickness killing off members of the population, and there is no known cure. Along with this is the looming possibility of war if Prince Kai does not marry Levana, Queen of the Lunars.

Why I picked it up: I’m a sucker for a remake of a fairy tale story. Also I loved the front cover design.

Why I finished it: This book pulled me in from the beginning. I had to know what was going to happen to all of the characters. Meyers even made the stepmother sympathetic.

I’d give it to: Anyone who likes fairy tales, cyborgs, or strong female main characters.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Natalie Martinez

“The Looking Glass Wars” by Frank Beddor

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It seems that Beddor has uncovered the truth. Children all over the world have been told only the “nice historical version” of Alice’s adventures as written by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland — and what a fantastical tale it was! But as we all know, there comes a time when adults must push the happy children’s tales aside and reveal to their maturing children the truth of the matter. Unless, of course, they’d prefer that their children learn the truth on the streets! Children will not be duped forever. Now, for the first time, the whole truth of Alice’s adventures comes to light.

First of all, Alice’s name is really Alyss Heart. It seems that someone went to great lengths to conceal Alyss’s identity — for her own good, I’m sure. Now, you finally get to read the full scope of Alyss’s adventures from her forbidden childhood romance, her willful nature, her struggle and loss of control of Wonderland, her escape to our world, her troubled childhood as an orphan in both worlds, her struggle with her destiny as Wonderland’s rightful queen and her eventual return and fight to reclaim her rightful place as the new Queen of Hearts.

So, you think I told you too much? You think I spoiled the ending? Ah, but that’s the beauty of this book. You can’t know the outcome of this tale until you get there. This story is even more fantastical in its telling than the well-known children’s version we all grew up with.

Happy reading!

Check this book out or put it on hold.

Also check out Book 2, “Seeing Redd” and Book 3, “ArchEnemy.”

– Kimberly Bower