Archive for Young Adult Fantasy Books

The Percy Jackson Book Series.jpgRick Riordan knows a thing or two about writing a winning young adult fantasy series. His Percy Jackson series is not only a popular book series but has also spawned a very popular film based on the first book of the series, The Lightening Thief. The film was not only a hit, but a second film based on the second book, The Sea of Monsters, has been completed and is scheduled for an August 2013 release.

The books are a great series of adventures that would appeal to anyone in their preteens, both boys and girls. Percy Jackson is a young boy who finds out that in fact he is the son of Poseidon and this means he is a demi-god or half-god. But life is not that easy, even with this discovery. He is chased by unknown assailants and constantly finds himself off on a new quest. His adventures always include a girl his age (early teens) and they are usually on a quest to find something important. The stories are based loosely on the old Greek and Roman myths, which isn’t surprising when you consider that Riordan was a middle school teacher who specialized in teaching mythology. Here is a brief look at each of the books in the series:

The Lightning Thief

The first book of the series

The Lightning Thief

This is the story that starts it all. Percy discovers some strange secrets about some of his teachers at school; that they are not exactly what they appear to be. Luckily that can be a good thing as well as a bad one. Then, he begins to notice strange things around him, such as three elderly women measuring and cutting a magical ball of yarn. When he tells his Mother about this, she decides that they need to get away.  But even when they are in a secluded cabin on the beach, they find themselves quickly in danger from a host of magical creatures. With the revelations from his Mother that his real father is actually Poseidon, god of the oceans Percy begins to understand the strange happenings.

Their only hope is to make it to Camp Half-Blood, where Percy can be safe and learn more about who he really is. However even in Camp Half-Blood things are not always easy and Percy finds there are enemies here as well as friends. He will not only find out about his true past, but be given a quest to prove his honesty. Best of all, along the way he will make friends with the daughter of a goddess. Together they make a journey of discovery and find out how they can prove Percy is no thief.

You can read the paperback, enjoy the comic book graphics of the graphic novel or get the hardcover book with some extra cool painted illustrations today. Or if you like, check out the trailer for the movie below and then click the link to watch it instantly or order the DVD today.

 

 

The Sea of Monsters

The second book of the series.

The Sea of Monsters

Camp Half-Blood is protected by Thalia, Zeus’s daughter who was turned into a tree for protection. When Thalia is found to be poisoned, Percy discovers in a dream where the Golden Fleece is being held that can cure her. He has seen in this same dream that his closest ally and protector Grover has been kidnapped. But Grover and Percy can share thoughts when they dream, so Grover sends him a message of where he is kidnapped, and that the Golden Fleece is here with him.

When Ares daughter Clarisse is sent to find it, Percy decides to follow and Annabelle, the daughter of Athena and Percy’s good friend, decides to come with him. Together they fight off a monster, borrow the god of war’s Civil War era boat to find the Sea of Monsters and rescue their friend Grover. For Percy knows from his dream that wherever Grover has been kidnapped to is where the Golden Fleece can be found. But can they find it and return in one piece?

I was pleased to see there is a Kindle version of book two of this series, along with a great Audiobook version read by the wonderful Jesse Bernstein you can order. It also comes, of course, in paperback and hardcover editions.

 

The Titan's Curse

The third book in the Percy series.

The Titan’s Curse

Percy takes along Annabel and Thalia when he decides to rescue two other half-bloods named Bianca and Nico. A battle then ensues that begins in the middle of New York City and takes them half-way across the country to New Mexico and Northern California. Here they meet with the Hunters of Artemis who rescue them from monsters and even the Titans. However, in the midst of the battle they discover that Artemis has been captured by the Titans. Percy and his friends head out to rescue the goddess and restore balance.

But even if Percy can rescue her, can he prevent the gods from killing him? For a prophecy says that the next demigod child of Zeus, Poseidon or Hades will either end the gods reign or save it. It will happen when the child reaches 16, which Percy, Annabel and Thalia will reach this year. Even if he does rescue Artemis, the gods must vote on whether to end his life or not. Can he convince them he and the others should be spared?

Once again we have the luck to have several editions available including a Kindle version of The Titan’s Curse, as well as a paperback, hardcover and Audiobook version to choose from.

 

The Battle of the Labyrinth

It’s the penultimate book of the series!

The Battle of the Labyrinth

Everything begins to come together in the final battle as Percy and his friends discover the secret of the labyrinth. Created by Daedalus for King Minos it has been the secret entrance to Camp Half-Blood for centuries. Now Percy discovers that Luke, who has vowed to destroy Camp Half-Blood and everyone in it, knows about it. Percy and the others must find a way to prevent Luke from finding the magic tool that will guide him through the labyrinth and into Camp Half-Blood.

As they search for Daedalus to prevent him from giving the tool to Luke, they must fight monsters, overcome sea demons and even survive the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Annabelle discovers her true feelings for Percy and they both rescue a human who will prove instrumental in the survival of the gods themselves. Even the ultimate sacrifice may not prove to be sufficient. Will the great god Pan’s life force be enough to save the camp from final destruction?

They don’t seem to have an ebook of this one out that I can see. However, there are paperback, hardcover and Audiobook versions to choose from for The Battle of the Labyrinth.

 

The Last Olympian

The final adventure of the series.

The Last Olympian

The last great battle begins. Kronos, the titan that would destroy the gods, has amassed an army and is ready to take on Olympus. Percy prepares himself for war by bathing in the River Styx, as Achilles did before the Trojan War. Like Achilles, he has left one place on his body that is not touched by the river. It is that one place that leaves him vulnerable. Soon he is leading a battalion of satyrs, naiads and tree nymphs along with centaurs and hell-hounds.

Kronos brings in more monsters while the citizens of New York are put into a deep sleep by Morpheus and the battle rages around New York City. Soon Kronos finds a way into the camp and faces Percy face to face. Can Percy save the gods from annihilation, or is he the one who will fulfill the prophecy and bring about their destruction? Will he be the last Olympian left standing?

Yay! I am so glad to see that The Last Olympian has a Kindle version as well as the paperback and hardcover versions here. It looks like Jesse Bernstein is also doing this Audiobook, which is great since he does such a great job here.

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Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone thrills.

In Days of Blood and Starlight by Lainie Taylor we have a thrilling sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It starts up not long after the ending of Daughter, as Karou begins the work of building an army. It will be an instrument of vengeance in the war between chimera and angels. But as events build, memories of Akiva start to torment her and the consequences to her current actions become more evident.

With star-crossed lovers and epic battles to control not one world but many, this sweeping story covers many paths to redemption. It soon looks like total annihilation cannot be averted, as both Akiva and Karou struggle to stop the overwhelming ambitions of their ruthless leaders. This kind of relentless drama would be too much to bear if it weren’t for the humorous antics of Zusana and Mik. Humans caught in the middle of a fantastic battle, they bring the needed down to earth commentary that saves what would be otherwise an over-the-top concept. But Laini Taylor knows how to bring all of this, from the unreciprocated romance to the do-or-die battles to a fever pitch and then lets us all take a breath.

Through it all, there is quiet magic that moves in the background. The uniting of two sides to fight an even greater evil and the rising crescendo that will complete in the next and final chapter all contribute to a great escape. If you are looking for a way to completely leave this plane of existence, even briefly, then Days of Blood and Starlight may be just the ticket.

You can grab your own copy of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor in either Kindle, paperback or hardcover formats.

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Apr
08

Book Review of Moonset by Scott Tracey

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book reviews, Moonset by Scott Tracey

The first book in Scott Tracey’s new series.

In Moonset by Scott Tracey we find four teenagers surrounded by danger. They are threatened by the very adults who should be protecting them. To make matters even more difficult, they have a giant mystery to unravel as they try to survive.

Were their parents the traitors everyone paints them to be, or were they simply rebels whose cause was never truly understood? Being witches who are the children of some of the most dangerous witches ever born only adds to the danger and confusion.

The storyteller of the group is Justin. He and Jenna are generally referred to as “the twins” although they have different mothers and are very different personalities. Sharing the genetics of a father who is seen as the most dangerous and powerful witch is a burden they take on in two very different ways. Jenna is a rebel, viewing everyone with suspicion. Sometimes her distrust is for a good reason. Justin sees his role differently, as the one who needs to keep everyone safe. That isn’t always easy.

Teenagers and Magic – Deadly Mix

Malcolm is the muscle of the group. More likely to be playing quarterback for the local high school then to blow it up (Jenna’s favorite trick), Malcolm is the one who most likely would prefer to walk away from all that being a child of an infamous witch means. Especially if it means he gets a normal life, which he knows is impossible. Bailey and Cole are the youngest of the group and the most fragile at times. They all were born under a curse that controls their lives and also protects them. It also means that together they constitute the biggest threat to the witch community.

Teen Book Review

For a teenage fantasy the books is surprising. Instead of the usual “if they only knew how powerful I actually am” kind of thinking, we have kids fighting the fact everyone sees them as powerful. In fact, the biggest struggle they have is to make the adults see that they aren’t a threat to everyone. But, like many books for young people often show, they have power they don’t even know they have.

Although I would have liked to see more development of the characters, this is not a bad effort for a relative newcomer to the genre. The concept of the world and the politics within it are interesting. Justin is a likable character but I never really knew what the others were about. Still, promising as the first book of a series and worth looking into. If you are looking for books for teens that aren’t just vamps, this is a bit of a change of pace for fans of paranormal adventure.

You can download your own copy of Moonset for your Kindle and be checking out this new teenage fantasy series tonight.

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Mar
12

A Wrinkle In Time Is a Classic YA Fantasy

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young adult fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’EngleI was having dinner with a group of writers the other night and the topic of young adult fantasy novels that influenced us came up. Almost universally I heard one book mentioned I never read as a teen, a young adult fantasy book called A Wrinkle in Time.

Chatter about it intrigued me, so of course I had to investigate further once I got near a computer again. I really begin to see why a smart phone might come in handy! But I digress. It turns out that this is quite an interesting story, a twist on the usual coming of age tale with some fantasy and sci-fi elements. It all begins with a strange visitor to the kitchen of a young Meg, her baby brother Charles and their mother.

A Young Adult Fantasy for All Ages

The story truly takes shape when Meg and Charles, along with Calvin O’Keefe from Meg’s school decide to use new information to try and find Meg and Charles father. He has been missing ever since he completed an experiment that reassembled space and time. They are helped by a trio of witches, discover a dark being whose evil is destroying planets one by one and at the end discover some important truths.

The search takes all of them on a journey of discovery of their own. Meg, the eternal outsider, seems to be the girl so many identified with when discovering this book. There are boys, particularly the geeks who also felt like outsiders, who loved A Wrinkle in Time. But it was the girls who really called this book their own. It is a book that embraces the concepts of family and what love truly means. It is worth reading again, no matter what your age.

A New Interpretation

young adult fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’EngleOf course, with a book that has become such a classic it was inevitable someone would make a graphic novel of it. Hope Larson, a talented storyteller in her own right, has adapted it for this new format. When I saw who had decided to tackle the story I was encouraged. Hope has plenty of creds.

She was part of the legendary Flight graphic novel, brought into the industry by Scott McCloud and won several awards including the Ignatz and Eisner. The girl is just plain talented. Her soft spot seems to be stories about young teen girls in that awkward stage. This makes her the perfect person to reinterpret a book like A Wrinkle in Time to become a graphic novel

What a perfect time to reread an old classic to visit some favorite characters. Or perhaps you have someone you know who will make this their treasured memory. Either way, A Wrinkle in Time is a book worth getting again. The graphic novel is the perfect gift for someone who has resisted those books you gave; opening up this story to even the most challenged reader.

If you are more of an eBook reader, you can download it to your Kindle right now. The printed versions have a paperback and even a library binding for those who want this book to last. It is the ideal book to hand off to a daughter or son at that perfect age where you know they will enjoy it.

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Dec
13

Fantasy Romance Tale for Believers

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Red by Kait Nolan

Red by Kait Nolan, fantasy romanceFrom the first page a sense of mystery is introduced in this fantasy romance that is a little bit fairytale and a little bit of an adventure story. The title is enough of an allusion to the fairy tale Red Riding Hood that when the connection is hinted at later in the story it is not a surprise.

But what was a surprise for me was how much I came to care about all the characters in this coming of age werewolf tale. It starts from inside the head, and diary, of Elodie, a young girl whose family has had to deal with a curse for centuries. We read her diary of tortured questions and quickly find ourselves understanding just how alone she feels, and afraid.

Enter the Hero

But the story quickly finds another brave soul to follow, Sawyer. The way they come to meet, the almost sniffing of the air around each other is a great description of how two young werewolves might indeed meet each other. The sniffing might not be literal, but it sure is easy to understand that these two are going to have to admit their attraction and sooner rather than later. For Sawyer is the typical rough around the edges hero we have all come to love. He is smart, but not much into school. Not quite the rebel without a cause, but definitely someone who doesn’t back off from trouble. He understands who he is, and accepts it. As he comes to know Elodie, he can see that she is afraid of who she is, or about to become. It stirs something in him, and in a strange way he can see that she completes him.

Fantasy Romance with a Dangerous Edge

I have not read a tale about werewolves with quite this take on it before, although the idea of werewolves needing to hide their nature is nothing new. Nor is the idea to connect modern day werewolves with the old tale of Red Riding Hood. It is more the way it is done that makes this a story worth checking out.

The two teens tend to circle the question of what they are through much of the story, but the clash of danger doesn’t come from that so much as how they deal with it. For Elodie it is a horrible dark secret that has doomed the women of her line for centuries. To Sawyer it is simply the way his family is, their heritage as a people. It is this coming together of two different approaches to the same gift that makes the story so bold.

Danger in the Dark

If the whole question of revealing her curse isn’t enough, Elodie soon finds she is being hunted. It is part of her family’s curse, and she runs from it as fiercely as Sawyer is ready to stand and face it. That is the touch throughout the book that I loved. There are no easy answers here. Both teens have to grow in order to be able to come together and in the end overcome their fears. The fact that they find each other against all odds, and together become a stronger person than either could have been alone, is another sweet spot in the story.

Although this is a fantasy romance, it is not a simple boy meets girl kind of story. There are plenty of dark dealings, some revelations that may have been easy to see coming but still didn’t detract from the enjoyment and a romance that is rooted more in real emotion than some teen angst. All in all, there was more here than I expected and if you love fantasy romances with werewolves and mystery, this is just the ticket!

You can get your own copy of Red in either paperback or Kindle formats.

Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumier, epic fantasyLord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumier

In true epic fantasy fashion, Lord of the Changing Winds follows the transformation of a band of characters as they encounter magical creatures. It is this encounter that will require them to grow beyond who they think they are to become their true selves. Kes is a simple girl, perhaps too simple to many of the folks in the village of Minas Ford where she lives on her sister’s farm. But it is true that she would rather spend a day walking the hills looking for the herbs she uses to heal than at the pub drinking beer and talking to boys.

As her sister points out, that is not typical behavior for a young girl, even in a small Feierabiand town like hers. But on this day even the herbs are forgotten as Kes watches in awe the arrival of the most magical of beings – griffins. Creatures of gold and danger, creatures that don’t generally leave their desert land. But they are here, and she is enthralled by their beauty and power. But it is the arrival of a stranger, a dark man who Kes knows cannot possibly be what he appears, that will change everything for Kes, even her own humanity.

“The desert was as cleanly and elegantly beautiful as any airy palace or many-towered citadel built by men, Bertaud thought. But it was not a place meant for men, or for any creature of earth. Its starkness invited meditations on mortality and on the silence that lay behind life: the voice of the wind that sang across its twisted sharp-angled spires offered a suggestion of that greater music that lay behind the ordinary melodies of men.”

This was an amazing story, one that follows the lives of not only the girl Kes but also of Bertaud, a lord and friend to the King who is sent to find out why the griffins have arrived at Minas Ford. For the griffins bring with them the desert, and destruction. But the further you read, the more you come to understand that the griffins are beyond the simple decisions of mortal men. They are awesome creatures of fire and air – they think and act in ways that are as alien to a human as our actions are to a mountain.

The story takes place on many levels. We watch Kes as she struggles with her shyness and feelings of powerlessness. We see Bertraud as he questions the assumptions he has made about his life. We follow the lives of kings and the ego of conquest. I loved that there are no true bad guys in this epic fantasy tale, just decisions that affect each other’s lives as they each strive to understand what they are capable of being.

A Tale of Epic Adventure and More

Kes is the innocent, even as she comes to understand the power within her that the griffins reveal. And the griffins – my gosh I have never read an interpretation of them quite like this one. It is a world that centers on them, and yet denies this in the same breath. They are beyond regal, beyond alien, beyond any human understanding. But even with all of that, you see them as individuals and come to perhaps glimpse the divine creatures that they are.

Best of all is the language of this book. In this first in a trilogy of epic fantasy tales that each have their own pace and destiny the language is poetic without being pretentious. It is the language that reveals the desert in all its power and glory, the beauty of the mountains and the simplicity of Kes’s belief in the griffin’s authority. The language is poetic like something out of an old epic but never just for the sake of the language.

The sun poured down with ruthless clarity upon the rocks, which were red, all in twisted and broken shapes, nothing like the everyday rounded gray stone of the mountain. Griffins lounged all around them, inscrutable as cats, brazen as summer. They turned their heads to look at Kes out of fierce, inhuman eyes. Their feathers, ruffled by the wind that came down the mountain, looked like they had been poured out of light, their lion haunches like they had been fashioned out of gold. A white griffin, close at hand, looked like it had been made of alabaster and white marble and then lit from within by white fire. Its eyes were the pitiless blue white of the desert sky.

I was swept into this epic fantasy tale of poetry and majestic beings and soon found myself hungry for more. This is good because there are two more books in this trilogy. The next book Land of the Burning Sands and the final book Law of the Broken Earth can both be downloaded just as soon as you close that last page on The Lord of the Changing Winds. So just don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing exactly that because this magnificent land and its epic fantasy series of man and griffins can be very addictive.

You can get Lord of the Changing Winds in either Kindle downloadable format or order it as a paperback book.

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Sep
10

New Fantasy Book Series: Talisman of El

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Talisman of El by Alecia Stone, fantasy book seriesTalisman of El by Alecia Stone

We begin this fantasy book series with a father and son’s argument – over what we can’t tell. Angry words are spoken, hidden secrets are revealed, then suddenly a scream of terror. Fighting an invisible enemy, the young man watches in disbelief as his father vanishes before his eyes…

Across an ocean and more, Charlie bolts up in bed. The dream was so real – and worst yet it reminds him of the last time he had this dream. That time it was of a tornado that came and took his father. That dream came true.

Charlie is an orphan and it seems to him in this fantasy book series that he is constantly in trouble. His caseworker had big hopes for him with Jacob, the latest guardian for the 15 year old boy. But those hopes that life might have some happiness, a quality sadly missing in Charlie’s life since his father died, are soon dashed. Instead Charlie is forced to participate in his guardians nightly robberies of the home of the recently deceased. It turns out there is a good reason Jacob likes his job as a funeral director.

But the robberies serve another purpose in Charlie’s life, because through them he meets Richmond and together with his friend Alex from school they embark on a journey.

For Charlie’s dreams are just a small step on the way to discovering just who Charlie is and what. The journey takes them into a hidden world, one where creatures of mythical power guide them. They discover truths about themselves, and about the world they live in. They also discover Charlie’s destiny, the one that has lain hidden from him for all this time. For when it is revealed the world may well stand forever changed. But can a mere 15 year old boy take on this kind of responsibility?

A Promising Start for a New Author

This fantasy book series starts slow. At first it feels like any other YA book about coming of age or dealing with change. Well, the prologue actually introduces the fantasy element right off the bat. It is just that you aren’t sure if that is what it is when you read it. But once you did into the story she pulls you along with great characters that deal with their problems pretty much the way most kids would. They aren’t perfect, and that makes them all the more likeable.

While it is obvious this is Alecia Stone’s first fantasy book series, she does a wonderful job with it. This is one author you might want to keep an eye out for, as I can see that with a bit of a stronger hand on the editing side she could turn into a great storyteller. The journey hits a few snags now and again, but always I kept turning on my Kindle and reading a bit further whenever I had some time. The story that introduces us to this fantasy book series and how Charlie and his friends would deal with the hand they were given, kept me intrigued.

The Journey Continues

She has plans for more stories from the way it ended. It is no cliff-hanger and I like that since there are way too many young writers who seem to think that a cliff-hanger is a necessary part of a series.  It always seems to me those kinds of author watch too much TV and don’t read enough books. Alecia hits just the right notes here. She introduces us to her stalwart band of heroes. She then sets them up with a really important task. Finally, once they get through what seems like the hardest part she reveals the true breadth of their quest and sets them up for more adventures to come. The Talisman of El is a great beginning to what promises to be a fun fantasy book series.

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