Tuesday, June 19, 2012

YA Sub Genre Rec Tag! 13-15

So I'm back for more recommendations, and this time it's all about pirates, sci-fi,and steampunk. Let's get started!
13. Pirates: This first pick is sort of pushing it, since it's considered a middle grade book (not YA), but I say, who cares? A good pirates book is Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper.

(I love this cover art for the book by Jon Foster. It reminds me a lot of the Peter and the Starcatchers series' cover art...also great books.)

Description (book 1): "Well, if pirates are bad, And vampires are worse, Then I pray that as long as I be That though I sing of Vampirates I never one shall see. Twins, Connor and Grace, never dreamed that there was any truth to the Vampirate shanty their father sang to them before he died, but that was before the two were shipwrecked and separated from each other. For Connor, who is taken aboard a pirate ship, there's the chance to learn to swordfight, but for Grace, aboard a mysterious ship of vampire pirates, the danger is great. The twins want more than anything to find each other, but their time is limited and they're an ocean apart."

Recommendation: This book is a fun adventure for "kids" of all ages. It's not only geared for boys; girls will enjoy it too.
Before reading this book, I had never heard of a vampirate. It's such a unique combination, that the title alone held my interest (actually it was the cover first). Then there's the main protagonists. The twins are easily likeable, and it's compelling to see them try to find their way back to one another. There's a bit of mystery, lots of action, a hint of romance, and treasure galore. I'm interested to see what happens next, so long as I get the books with the amazing cover art.

Sidenote: I've already recommended Lisa Mantchev's Théâtre Illuminata: Act 1, 2, & 3, but this series also has pirates in it, so I'll recommend it again.
(here's the cover art for the first book, Eyes Like Stars)

Want to read: I have The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King on my TBR list. 

14. Sci-fi: For this genre I have to pick The Host by Stephanie Meyer.
So I've already recommended this book under the apocalyptic genre, but I'm starting think it fits just as well in the sci-fi genre. Go check out what I had to say about it there. It's number two in this crazy long list of sub genres.

Since I've already recommended The Host, I must fill in this gap with another choice, and the only thing coming to mind is a book my uncle lent to me a couple of years back. It's The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey. Granted, Barnes & Noble puts this book in the age range of 18 years old, so this is more of an adult book than it is YA.
(This is the jacket cover for the edition I read. I get an 80's vibe anytime I look at it.)

(Here's the cover for the most recent edition. Much more "now", Don't you think?)

Description (book 1): "The Rowan was destined to become the greatest Prime Talent in human history, facing a lonely existence of servitude. Until she receives a telepathic plea from across the stars from a Prime named Jeff Raven-and falls in love with him."

Recommendation: When I first picked up this book, albeit through my uncle's assurances that it was a great series, I thought I'd give it a go; if not to expand my book horizons, then to appease my uncle (just kidding! almost). I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book, mostly because it was an entirely different genre, something I was not used to. So I just sucked it up and kept reading, getting more and more intrigued with each page I read. Then came the science. Quite honestly, a good majority of the book involved technology that made absolutely no sense to me (nothing beyond my capability of understanding, just information I had no prior knowledge of, and therefore...new). So here and there I tried my best to let my imagination soar and guess at what purpose these futuristic machines were meant for and how they opperated.
It's been a while since I read the book, but I do remember McCaffrey having a good ability to plunge deep within her characters emotions, then pouring them out on the page so that they became realistic (less fictionalized and more historical). There is romance here and there, which gives a nice balance to the narrative, but it doesn't overwhelm. It's definitely not the main focus, though it is there. I will say, I enjoyed reading The Rowan despite the difficulties I had with understanding the world. The language in it is fuller (not sure if that makes sense), but I guess that is because it's geared for an adult audience.
Want to read: Across the Universe by Beth Revis has been staring at me from my TBR pile. I'm gonna get to it!  I also have the next three books in The Tower and Hive series by Anne McCaffrey that my uncle lent me. They are also staring at me from my TBR pile. *it's yelling at me!* 

15. Steampunk: First of all: Yay! I love some good steampunk, especially Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series. 
 (I love these covers. So much.)

Description (book 1): "Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all."

Recommendation: Yes. I only wish that were enough, but here's some good highlights. This series is gripping. If you liked The Mortal Instruments series by Clare, then you'll really enjoy this side series, about the Shadowhunters who came before Jace, Clary, Alec, and Isabelle. Tessa, James (also known as Jem), and Will are all loveable. They share some similar qualities with Jace, Clary and Alec, so it helps to tie the two series together, but not too heavily. They all have their own personalities that clearly define them as unique characters. The mystery surrounding Tessa's ability to transform or shapeshift into other people is still leaving me with questions, which is a good thing. I love stories that keep me guessing. When I don't know what will happen next, I'm all the more intrigued. And this series really does that for me. There is some romance, action, interesting plot twists, and good character development arching throughout the two books I've read so far. I want to know more and more about each character's inner thoughts and reasons for the things they do, and Clare knows just how to pull on each string at the right moment. A fun, thrilling read.

Want to read: I really want to read Clockwork Princess, the third book in this series. I also have Leviathan by Scott Westerfield in my TBR pile.     

Yay! I made it to the end of this recommendation pile. Next on the list is Tigers, Time-travel, and Vampires. That will surely be a fun post. Until then...

-Hope your day is bright
Olive Juice

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

YA Sub Genre Rec Tag! 10-12

10. Gothic: There are two series I must mention here. Firstly, is the Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber.
(This is the cover of the eighth book in the series...my personal favorite.)

Description (books 1, 2 and 3)
"A new guy in town.
Rumors of vampires.
Dangerous first love.
This is where it all begins. . . .
The mansion on top of Benson Hill has stood empty for years. But one day it seems to be occupied, and its mysterious, handsome inhabitant Alexander Sterling becomes the source of much talk around town. Raven, a vampire-obsessed Goth-girl who has always considered herself an outsider in "Dullsville," is determined to uncover the truth surrounding the secretive Alexander. As she gets to know him, and their spark intensifies, Raven finds herself in some unanticipated situations. Can Alexander make her lifelong dream come true? But love always has its complications—especially when it can only be awakened at nightfall."

Recommendation: This series was really fun to read. It's lighthearted in the way of dark storytelling and a good series when you're looking for a paranormal quick read. The first book The Beginning is three books in one: Vampire Kisses, Kissing Coffins, and Vampireville. Raven, the main protagonist is gutsy and quirky, in the sense that she has a fascination for all things dead. She likes to hang out in her town's cemetery (at night no less), dreams of becoming a vampire, and wears black 24/7 among other things. Overall, it's a fun read, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the last book.

Secondly, I must tell you about The Nevermore Trilogy by Kelly Creagh (pronounced Cray).
(Love the cover. The title and script are raised and glossy which makes it even more aesthetically pleasing. I think my inner goth wants to marry the model.)

Description (book 1)
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
— from "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
"At once an homage to one of America's greatest writers and a page-turning psychological mystery that is equal parts horror, humor, and romance, NEVERMORE is the story of Varen — a Poe-fan and goth — and Isobel — a cheerleader and unlikely heroine. When a Lit. project pairs the two together, Isobel finds herself steadily swept into Varen's world, one that he has created in his notebook and in his mind, one where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel slowly learns that dreams can be much more powerful than she'd ever expected, and that pain and despair come in all shades. As labels of "goth" and "cheerleader" fade away, she sees more in Varen than a tall, pale outcast, and a consuming romance is braced against the ever-clearer horror that the most terrifying realities are those within our own minds.
When Isobel has a single chance to rescue Varen from the shadows of his own nightmares, will she be able to save him — and herself?"
Recommendation: Once I started reading Nevermore, I was hooked. I believe my inner goth was born that day (thanks Kelly). Anyone who enjoys reading YA novels and is a fan of Edgar Allen Poe will really enjoy this series. I thought all the characters were very believable, especially Varen. I loved delving deeper into his mind as Isobel slowly unraveled his secrets. Despite their opposite personalities and friends, it was really compelling to watch them connect. 

Want to read: I'm super excited to read Enshadowed book two in the Nevermore trilogy. 
11. Historical Romance: I probably should have put The Luxe series here. Please refer to those for this section too. I haven't read any other YA historical romance, but I can suggest Ransom My Heart by Princess of Genovia Mia Thermopolis with help from Meg Cabot.
"Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia and star of Meg Cabot's insanely popular #1 New York Times bestselling Princess Diaries books, has "penned" her first historical romance novel . . . with help from Meg Cabot
He's a tall, handsome knight with a secret. She's an adventurous beauty with more than a few secrets of her own. Finnula needs money for her sister's dowry, and fast. Hugo Fitzstephen, returning home to England from the Crusades with saddlebags of jewels, has money, and lots of it. What could be simpler than to kidnap him and hold him for ransom?
Well, for starters, Finnula could make the terrible mistake of falling in love with her hostage.
Princess Mia Thermopolis, Meg Cabot's most beloved character, has always been an outspoken animal-rights activist and committed environmentalist. In keeping with Mia's true spirit, Meg will be donating her advance to Greenpeace."

Recommendation: Granted, this is definitely an adult book, but if you want to take a leap from YA to adult fiction in the historical romance department, this is a pretty good book. The main protagonist, Finnula is as fiery as her red hair. She prefers wearing men breeches (aka pants) rather than dresses. I mean, who can ride a horse the way a man does without hiking up one's dress for all to see what's underneath? Although wearing pants doesn't keep anyone's eyes off of Finnula either.
Anyway! Finnula is a leader, and takes charge where no one else will. She won't take crap from any man, until she meets Hugo. Cue a mix of frustration and passion (coming from both parties). Set in England, way back when, this historical romance is definitely a steamy read, with equal parts action and murder mystery. Also, buying this book will help a good cause. Just beware you younger readers. I will admit I found myself blushing every so often while reading this book.

Want to read: I honestly don't know. Haven't really perused this section of the bookstore. I don't know....is it just me, or does everyone else feel really embarrassed even walking past the romance section of the bookstore? Got any YA suggestions for me?    

12. Mythology: Yay! I love mythology. Sadly though I haven't read much in this sub-genre. *sigh. But! I will recommend Meg Cabot's Abandon.
(isn't this cover exciting?! click to view full size)

Description: "Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.
But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.
Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld."

Recommendation: I've always had a fascination with mythology, so this book was a fun read. For most stories, I think I have a feel for where they are going...more like, I'm not surprised by the choices a lot of characters make. But this book had lots of surprise. It's a good "making choices" book...about analyzing what's most important in life (or death), figuring out what your heart wants, and whether or not you should follow it. I enjoyed Pierce's journey, and her struggle to escape or accept the hand and the heart of death.

Little extra:
(I love this picture of Hades and Persephone by *sandara)

Want to read: Well, I definitely have Underworld (the sequel to Abandon) on my list of books to read. I also want to read The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter and Everneath by Brodi Ashton.

So that's all for now. Next on the list is...Pirates, Sci-fi, and Steampunk. That sounds like fun!

-Hope your day is bright
Olive juice