Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Top XIII First Quarter Reads

Out of the 41 books I feasted on during the first 3 wintery months of 2014, here are my top of the heap favorites.  If you want a book to take you through spring vacation week, these are just a few choice reads I would hand you. Stop by the library and visit with me if you would like other recommendations. (Descriptions following the book titles are from the Library's online catalog.)  

FANTASY    Our Children's Librarian suggested Revenge of the Witch, to me. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the rest of the Last Apprentice 13 book series for the teen collection. Delaney's books fit in the fantasy genre but could also be placed in the horror genre due to scary events and dire creatures that appear during the many struggles between good and evil. The most recent book, Fury of the Seventh Son, was just published this month.  Seventh Son, a movie based on the Last Apprentice series, is planned for release February 2015.
Half Bad is urban fantasy, set in England in the present day, and is the first book in a planned trilogy. Besides telling a story about people with magical powers this story is about prejudice.  It is also, at heart, about a boy seeking his father and his place in the world.
It was exciting to finally hold the much anticipated prequel to Throne of Glass in my hands. It did not disappoint.  If you read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, you have to read Assassin's Blade.

Revenge of the Witch, by Joseph Delaney, 2005.  Young Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son, starts work as an apprentice for the village spook, whose job is to protect ordinary folk from "ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties."  Book 1 in Last Apprentice series.

Half Bad, by Sally Green, 2014.  In modern-day England, where witches live alongside humans, Nathan, son of a White witch and the most powerful Black witch, must escape captivity before his 17th birthday and receive the gifts that will determine his future.  First book in planned trilogy.

Assassin's Blade: The Throne of Glass novellas, by Sarah Maas, 2014.  In these five prequel novellas to Throne of Glass, feared assassin Celaena embarks on daring missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and avenge tyranny.

HISTORICAL FICTION   These two books are very different in tone.  Northern Light is the darker of the two with a murder mystery at its core.  A Mad, Wicked Folly, you can just tell from the title, is a lighter, frothier historical tale. Both books concern themselves with balancing independent work aspirations with romance and their heroines expected role in society.

Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly, 2003.  In 1906, sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest.  Based on a true story.
A Mad, Wicked Folly, by Sharon Biggs Waller, 2014.  In 1909 London, as the world of debutante balls and high society obligations closes in around her, 17-year-old Victoria must figure out just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

REALISTIC FICTION   Panic is a modern day Hunger Games sort of story about facing fears and taking risks. You may ask yourself as I did, "Where are the people who might be concerned about safety, i.e. parents, teachers, police, etc.?!".  Sex & Violence is a psychologically gripping story that although it has a brutal beginning is sure to keep you turning the page.  Winger, set in a boarding school, is by turns funny and serious.  Violence in various forms is a theme in all three of these stories.

Sex & Violence, by Carrie Mesrobian, 2013.  Sex has always come without consequences for 17-year-old Evan. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. After an assault that leaves Evan scarred inside and out, he and his father retreat to the family cabin in rural Minnesota—which, ironically, turns out to be the one place where Evan can't escape other people. Including himself.

Panic, by Lauren Oliver, 2014.  A high-stakes competition marks a summer in a small isolated community and compels graduating seniors Heather and Dodge to tap inner strengths while hiding dangerous secrets and forging unexpected alliances.

Winger, by Andrew Smith, 2013.  Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, 14-year-old Ryan grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates.

SCIENCE FICTION   Aliens, cyborgs, and video game characters people these futuristic stories in strong feminine roles.

Tin Star, by Cecil Castellucci, 2014. Beaten and left for dead, 14-year-old Tula Bane finds herself abandoned on a space station called Yertina Feray after traveling with the colonist group, Children of the Earth. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

Earth Girl, by Janet Edwards, 2013.  Abandoned on Earth because of her inability to survive on other planets, Jarra crafts a fake background for herself to join a class of norms who are excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities.  First book in a planned trilogy.

Game Slaves, by Gard Skinner, 2014.  A highly intelligent group of video game enemy non-player characters (NPC) begins to doubt they are merely codes in a machine. Their search for answers leads them to a gruesome discovery.
Cress, by Marissa Meyer, 2014.  Working to overthrow Queen Levana, a fugitive Cinder and her companions search for Rapunzel-like hacker Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood and who has received orders from Levana to foil Cinder's efforts. This is the third book in the Lunar Chronicle series.

NON-FICTION   If you have ever thought you might like to pursue a career in graphic design, or that you would like to improve your skill with creating signs or posters, then this book is the place to start. There are 10 design project exercises included at the end of this informative book, such as creating your personal logo, redesigning a familiar object, and making your own font specimen sheet.

Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design, by Chip Kidd, 2013.  Go, by the award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd, is an introduction to the ways in which designers communicate their ideas to the world, whether through images, color, text, or placement.