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Book Reviews

By popular request, here's a list of all the book reviews I've posted so far, arranged by author. And to help those of you just looking for recommended reads, I've starred some my absolute favorites. (All links lead to my reviews.)

Happy reading!

* Enclave, Outpost, & Horde, by Ann Aguirre

Bitten, by Kelly Armstrong

* Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card 

Soulless, by Gail Carriger

Graceling & Fire by Kristin Cashore 

Ready Player One, by Ernie Cline
 
Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins

* The Hollow Kingdom by Clare Dunkle


The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde

* Eon & Eona by Alison Goodman

* The Stepsister Scheme, by Jim C. Hines

Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

The Iron Thorn, by Caitlin Kittredge


Return of the Dapper Men, by Jim McCann & Janet Lee

The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley


Off To Be The Wizard, By Scott Meyer

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

* The Squire's Tale, by Gerald Morris

* Sabriel, by Garth Nix
  
* Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson

* Terrier, by Tamora Pierce

* Trickster's Choice, by Tamora Pierce

The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Across The Universe, by Beth Revis

* Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

* The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordin

The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan

Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach

* Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Henry Franks, by Peter Salomon

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

Everlost, by Neal Shusterman


The Raven Boys, by Maggie Steifvater

* So This is How it Ends, by Tui T. Sutherland 


* The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld

* Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede
  

  |  74 comments

74 comments:

  1. This is great - thanks. I'm looking forward to trying several of these!

    ~Jeccaess

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  2. I am delurking to recommend a book titled "The Grimm Legacy" by Polly Shulman. It has two of my favorite things in it, a library, and fairy tales. It was a quick, fun, interesting read that left me wondering when (or if) a sequel is coming out.

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    1. I must say that Grimm Legacy is a very good, creative piece of work.

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  3. Thank you thank you! I have found some awesome books through your recommendations as well as through the comment section. This will make it much easier to navigate.

    Do you really read all of the books people recommend?

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    1. I'm certainly going to try! :D

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  4. I have to recommend that you read Graceling, Fire & Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. YA, but chunky, these books were awesome! :) Each one had their good and bad points, in Graceling you get a strong but tormented heroine who doesn't want to marry (and doesn't!) but still has an adult.... um, never mind. Let's not spoil it!
    Fire is yet another heroine that is completely believable even though she is much, much different than the heroine from Graceling. Gorgeous storytelling and SHE gets to save the prince!
    Bitterblue has a special place in my heart. One of those books where the main character is confused (and so are you) by what's happening around her. A continuation of Graceling, although Fire is also tied neatly into the plot. I couldn't tell if I loved it or hated it at first... decided on love finally!

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  5. Thanks Jen and please keep the book reviews coming!

    You really should put The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente on your list. In fact you should put it at the TOP of your list! It's another one of those YA books that's just simply amazing.

    Along the lines of Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz, it's keeping with the "child in a strange land" plot without seeming trite or overdone. There are a ton of allusions to other works which I appreciated and the prose is charming and witty.

    I actually listened to the audio book which is read by the author and was fell so much in love with it that I started it over as soon as I had finished. Based on your reviews I can't imagine that you wouldn't enjoy it.

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  6. I was going to recommend the Graceling series but someone else already did, so I will instead suggest A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Currently, 2/3 books of the trilogy are out and I can't wait for the third. Without spoiling anything, they are romance with a lot of magic and history thrown in. Or maybe they are magic with romance thrown in. Either way, I really enjoy them and think you might too.

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  7. One of my favorite authors is Christopher Moore. 'A Dirty Job' and 'Lamb' are probably my favorites. Not YA, but outrageously hilarious and well-written to boot. I highly recommend him!

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    1. Oh my gosh, I -love- 'Lamb'! I read it all the time. I also really enjoyed 'Fool'. Christopher Moore definitely makes me giggle!

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    2. Just wanted to pass on my thanks, I came here looking for recommendations and have really been enjoying reading through Christopher Moore's works.

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  8. *SQUEE* Just pure joy. I love handy dandy book lists.

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  9. This isn't really a recommendation for one book in particular, but my uncle is about to be published by this new company and from what I know of his book, I think y'all might dig their style.

    http://strangechemistrybooks.com/2012/08/21/extracts-from-strange-chemistrys-first-four-titles/

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  10. Sorry for another comment, but here's my uncle's page-- I think the rest of the books the company is publishing look great as well, but you know, gotta promote my family :) http://strangechemistrybooks.com/books/zenn-scarlett-christian-schoon/

    Talk about a strong female heroine!!

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  11. i have a recommendation for you, it's a series of books by Kristine Kathryn Rusch called the Fey. it comprises the most amazing, imaginative story lines, with fleshed out characters you root for and ultimately become conflicted about. Great YA reads.

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  12. I recommend "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

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  13. for a quick read, try the cat royal series by julia golding. pretty strong girl protagonist set in victorian london (but she does travel a bit). i think there's six books in the series. the only tricky part is having to hunt them down on amazon. my library only had the first book, and by book four, i couldn't wait for the american version to be put on the market. hence, royal air mail delivery! great book list btw.

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  14. More recommendations! :D

    Seconding the recommendation of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente.

    Also, anything by Seanan McGuire, either under her name (more urban fantasy) or her more horror-oriented pen name, Mira Grant. The NewsFlesh books under the Grant name are really good - a mix of sci-fi/horror/political thriller.

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  15. I highly recommend Lynn Flewelling's books. Her nightrunner series is a fun read (Intrigue, hijinks, necromancy and more!), while her Tamir Triad is possibly my favourite series ever. It's about a girl who grows up believing she's a boy (because of Prophesy!), and in the end has to fight to take her rightful place as queen. What makes the story special is how well Flewelling shows Tobin/Tamir dealing with suddenly finding out he's actually a girl. Plus the supporting cast are great!

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  16. A series I've particularly enjoyed was the Mortal Instruments and its companion series The Infernal Devices which is decidedly steampunk in its leanings. Both are by Cassandra Clare. Start with City of Bones and read them in order of publishing date. The two Infernal intertwine within the Mortals so getting the order right is extremely helpful.

    Another is Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. These aren't your Disney faeries.

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  17. Re: Redshirts. :) Personally, I enjoyed the codas, although as Scalzi himself points out, it's not something that will work for everyone. My personal favorite out of all his books has to be Old Man's War, which... I picked it up at the bookstore, started reading, and was so thoroughly hooked in the first five pages I forgot I'd gone to the store with a four year old in tow (who I then had to chase down). It's philosophically meaty, the way good Sci-Fi always is. Highly recommended.

    Have you read Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes? I just finished it and have handed it over to my preteen to read. It's an excellent YA fantasy book. Also, The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge is an awesome steampunk/Cthulhu mashup. A little difficult to bite into, at first, but by the end it had its teeth in me, instead.

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  18. here's a list of suggestions:

    http://www.manhattan.lib.ks.us/littleapple/?cat=23

    I've read about a third of these and liked them so I figure I'll probably like the others too.

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  19. There's a new book out of a tiny publishing house called "Mary of the Aether." I don't like misrepresenting myself, so I'll be up front that the best man at my wedding wrote it. That said, I also don't like shameless promotion of crap. I genuinely enjoyed the book, as did several people I've recommended it to who have never met the author. Plus, it's super cheap for Kindle! I'd classify it as maybe about 3/4 as good as Hunger Games but about 7-10 times better than Eragon.

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  20. Our reading lists look the same. That's awesome.
    May I suggest Janine Spendlove? Last book I read that I couldn't put down was hers. She's got a couple novels and a couple long stories out.

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  21. I would like to suggest Melanie Rawn's "Exiles" stories. There are only two ("The Ruins of Ambrai" and "The Mageborn Traitor" - in that order) and they are not available electronically. They are such an intricate story with lots of magic, love, and twists. The characters get confusing, but don't let that stop you!! The third book in the trilogy doesn't look like it will ever come to fruition, which is a shame. They are still worth reading even without a solid/satisfying ending.

    I'm still plowing through your list...with 3 kids, I don't find much time for reading anymore. I do love your suggestions, so keep it up. I am always trying to find a new author! - Ruth

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  22. Have you read any of the Harry Dresden novels by Jim Butcher. A modern day wizard in Chicago with everyday issues like paying rent and broken down cars. Very entertaining.

    Also good is The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Ryan.

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  23. The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper, you will love it!

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  24. I just finished a book called The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Based on your list, I think you might like it. Also, I don't remember if I've seen them mentioned already, but have you read the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke? I love good book recommendations!

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  25. I highly recommend "Thirteenth Child" and "Across the Great Barrier" by Patricia Wrede.
    I gobbled up these two books. You won't be able to put down the first book once you start. Called young adult fiction, it is just amazing.
    I can't wait until the third book comes out in paperback.

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  26. I recommend Marissa Meyer's Cinder. I just read the whole thing in one sitting and then pre-ordered the sequel. It's a retelling of Cinderella, and a good one. She's a cyborg mechanic and she's awesome.

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  27. Awesome. Can't wait to read some of these. I really encourage you to check out Wildwood. It's written by the lead vocalist of the Decemberist's, Colin Meloy and includes some amazing illustrations by Carson Ellis. And the best part is...it's about a fantastical adventure in my own hometown, Portland, Oregon.

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  28. I don't think anyone's suggested it yet, but I have a feeling you would enjoy the

    Monster Blood Tattoo Trilogy
    by D.M. Cornish.

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  29. i second the monster blood trilogy reccomendation; and would also like to suggest you read

    The Night Circus
    by Erin Morganstern

    one of the best books of magic I have ever read.

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  30. I think you should try Stephen Lawhead's Robin Hood series (Hood, Scarlet, and Tuck). They're not YA, but they're fun enough that I was totally picturing the characters as foxes, lions, etc (circa Disney's version). I also think you might like his Bright Empires series. There's a lot of travel between times and places, with some fun historical elements. They are long, because he tends to go into a lot of detail, but some of his books would be hard to keep up with if he didn't.

    -Jackie B

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  31. Here's more non YA for you, but it's steampunk, so that should make up for it. "The Constantine Affliction" by T. Aaron Peyton. It's a new book, and as far as I can tell, the author's first. It's set in steampunk Victorian London with lots of literary references that I enjoyed. Hope you like it!

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  32. Not sure if it's on the list already but try "The Dark is Rising" series by Susan Cooper. I loved them when I was younger and still do. Just ignore the movie version, it's a hot mess that has almost nothing to do with the book.

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  33. Oh, also "Redwall" series by Brian Jacques is super fun. There are around 20 of them, but I recommend reading them in the order they were written. They are at the younger end of YA lit, but I still enjoy reading them. Smiler to "Watership Down" but mostly less depressing and violent. And hey cute woodland animals! They made an animated series of three of the books that is super close to the books and so cute. I recommend reading the books first.

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  34. This is a really good list, I've read so many of the books on here already! An amazing one I'd really recommend, in terms of traditional fantasy, is called 'The Name of the Wind', and it's sequel 'The Wise Man's Fear' from the Kingkiller trilogy written by Patrick Rothfuss. There's a large emphasis on story telling and the idea of a story within a story, and they don't include anything graphic or disturbing. Honestly, they are some of the most beautiful books I have ever read, and I can't recommend them highly enough.

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  35. I'd like to second Dealing With Dragons. It's a fantastic book, totally subverts the 'damsel in distress' trope. You'd love it.

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  36. I would recommend the Discworld series. It's a giant series, but each book can more or less stand on its own. It ends up being completely bizarre and also hilarious. Some of the books are a bit more in the teen range, but there's nothing too incriminating.

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  37. I highly recommend "Ruins," by Orson Scott Card. It is book two of the Pathfinder Series -- I actually haven't read the first one yet! Oddly enough, in this case, I'm going to recommend that you *start* with the second book, not the first. It provided enough information that I wasn't totally in the dark (and it stood well enough on its own,) while at the same time making me want to rush to the first book as fast as I could. A great read!

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  38. Cold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy, #1) by Kate Elliott: magic and the industrial revolution- what else is needed?

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  39. I would suggest "A great and terrible beauty." There are three books, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray if you haven't read them. There are some of my favourites. Magic, romance, boarding schools, a whole lot that I love. It has a lot of elements similar to Harry Potter that I never understood why AGATB never took off as much. i love both series, and AGATB is a bit more mature. I would highly suggest them. :D

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  40. I just finished "The Friday Society" by Adrienne Kress. It was a fun read. Girls + swords + steampunk = awesome.

    I also can't say enough about "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" by Rae Carson. I'm telling everyone I know to read it. Elisa starts the book off as a weak pawn but manages to come into her own by the end of book 1. It is very well written and I had a VERY hard time putting it down!

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    1. I second the Rae Carson recommendation. Elisa is one of my favorite female characters now. She wins over Katniss and Tris Prior, for sure (although that's just my opinion). Her transformation is what really impresses me. I've been told the second book "Crown of Embers" is even HARDER to put down!

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  41. "the night circus" is the best book i have read in a long time and certainly the best i've ever read about magic. the imagery in it is simply stunning. for an amazing steampunk book i highly recommend "boneshaker." it is a steampunk alternate history of seattle. with lots of airships. and zombies. <3

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  42. I've read many of the books from your list. Gotta love steampunk! Did you know that Ender's Game is coming out in a film version this year?!??!! And also one based on Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son (a book I highly recommend to you considering your preferences that come through from your list). I think it's great that Hollywood seems to finally be recognizing OSC's talent. They have so much wonderful material to choose from! I also think they could get a lot of mileage out of Stephen R. Lawhead's novels.

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  43. Another favorite of mine that I think you would enjoy is Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.

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  44. Professor WormwoodMay 17, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    Regarding Ender's Game movie- Harrison Ford is playing Col. Graff, and Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham.


    While not really a YA fan, I have a few books to recommend as well:

    --------------

    Steampunk:

    The Difference Engine - William Gibson (the guy who coined the term cyberspace and practically invented the genre) takes a good stab at steampunk.

    Boneshaker - Cherie Priest. Not as much a fan of the others in the series, the first one is a perfect example of western (not Victorian) steampunk. Not too blatant about hitting the popular conventions, though not really that subtle either. Has a definite horror undertone, and absolutely NOT campy or cutesy. She's got a quite a following now, but IMO this one is the best by far. Plus, as a Floridian, I'm happy to see Seattle turned into a fetid zombie pit.

    -----------

    Fantasy- I'm not a fan of happy elf/dwarf stuff thats totally ripped off from Tolkien over and over. Nor am I a fan of the neverending series fluff filled junk like Terry Goodkind, or Margaret Weiss. Here's a few that are NOT derivative and well worth the time:

    The Dying Earth - Jack Vance (my fave author ever). The original of its genre- this has been ripped off, err inspired, so many other authors it will feel almost familiar.

    Lyonesse - Jack Vance (trilogy) - clever mix of classic western fairy tales set in a just-pre Arthurian setting. Many many characters that are all interwoven over the 3 volumes.

    Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe - tough read, not for kids. Rewarding as a reader once you start to figure out the author's real references. I think people get PHD's analyzing this book.

    ....and for a fun, modern one!

    The Lies of Locke Lamora - Stephen Lynch. Probably the most clever recent fantasy I've read. Almost an "Oceans Eleven" in fantasy setting. Lots of rewarding twists and turns.



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  45. Naomi Novik's Temeraire series- talking dragons, alternate timelines
    Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series- time travel love epics
    Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series

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    1. Seconding the recommendation for Temeraire. Some of my favourite books.

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  46. Which one was the one your friend wrote about the young man who found the source code to life? I can't figure it out and I've been wanting to read it.

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    1. That's Off To Be The Wizard, by Scott Meyer. (I actually just added it to my list up there, since I forgot before!)

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  47. I would like to recommend "Sing the Four Quarters" by Tanya Huff for a very strong female lead character. (Or anything by her, she's my favorite author)
    Also good is "Storm Front" by Jim Butcher. It's the first in the Dresden Files series. He's also got some strong female characters in his books.

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  48. I felt I had to comment when I saw that The Night Circus was missing. I see several others have also recommended it. I loved it. I end up listening to a great many the books I get to "read" and The Night Circus was read by the great, Jim Dale, who read the US version of the Harry Potter books. Hard to believe someone else read the British version, but that is the way it is. Anyway, Jim Dale does a great job with The Night Circus.
    I have read and liked a couple of your recommendations, I hope you can find the time to enjoy mine.

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  49. try the Mercedes Thomas Series by Patricia Briggs for the Werewolf Vampire Crowd. Then anyof her other books are great reads of fantasy.

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  50. Dunno if it has ever been mentioned to you, but Diana Peterfreund's Killer Unicorn series (beginning with Rampant) is phenomenal. It sounds weird, and I suppose it kind of is, but it works surprisingly well. Bloodthirsty unicorns are killing people and livestock, and the only people who can kill them are the virgin female descendants of Alexander the Great. It's also my favorite kind of book, in that its issues are applicable to the real world. As a feminist, I loved the way it dealt with female sexuality: honestly, never trashy, and justifiably confused about double standards. And as an environmentalist, I loved its handling of animal rights. Unicorns aren't EVIL; they're endangered predators with no natural habitat and need protection. So a lot of what this book deals with is a woman's right to make her own decisions about her body, and the choice between saving human lives and wiping an entire species into extinction to do it. It's very good, and I recommend it highly.

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  51. Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson. Action & adventure and set in/around WDW. I'm actually surprised that they are not already on this list as big a Dizgeek as you are. There are 5 books - so far - that I read in about a week and half (but I'm home nursing a new born, so have lots of enforced still time right now). My aunt recommend them to me and said "You will never look at It's a Small World the same" my reply was "No that's always been in the back of my mind."

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  52. R.T. Kaelin has written two AMAZING books for YA, Progeny and Prophecy. He is self-published and while waiting for book 3 to come out, he's published little backstories called the Terrene Chronicles about some of the other characters in his books. Fantastic! The books are nods to some of the great high fantasy books out there (Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson) but at a level I could handle. I have even used them as read-alouds in my classroom! :)

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  53. I have only just come across your awesome blog, but after a quick search I can't find a mention of the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss... If you haven't already, you must have a read - the first book is called The Name of the Wind, and I loved it! Thanks for all the reviews also, I love YA fiction and am always looking for something new!

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  54. After reading your review of Ready Player One, I remembered how much I enjoyed it. And how it reminded me of Reamde by Neal Stephenson which totally blew me out the door. If you haven't read this (as well as Snow Crash) drop everything, get it and read it. It's really long and by page 3 you could not pry me away from it. Totally enjoyable.
    The exact opposite of his Anathem which is easily the most boring book in the world. I read that one to the end because I just could not believe that Stephenson could write a book that was boring to the very last page. But he could. Reamde is the exact opposite - hugely entertaining to the last page.

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  55. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is about a young, musical girl in an alternative-medieval world; includes mathimatical dragons, a "locked door" type mystery, young love, a feisty heroine. Fun read.

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    1. VERY ENTHUSIASTICALLY SECONDED for this recommendation. Seraphina is terrific.

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  56. If your looking for a strong female lead, than anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley is a good bet. She takes a "well known" story, like the Athurian legend and tells it from the perspective of Guinevere and Morgaine; or the Trojan War from Cassandra's point of view, and really goes behind the scenes to the heart of the stories. For more of a fantasy leaning, Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry is a great start into his richly colorful "first of all the worlds".

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  57. I highly recommend "Unspoken" by Sarah Rees Brennan. Humor, adventure, creepy gothic manors, spooky woods, and an awesome female character. Best of all, you can read the first couple chapters here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/87872073/Unspoken-by-Sarah-Rees-Brennan

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  58. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud. It's the fantasy, alt-history type, centering in an alternate London, where the government is run by magicians who harness djinn for their powers. It's extremely well-written with great characters and a fantastic ending.

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  59. Hollow City is available as a preorder, the sequel to Miss Peregrine. http://www.amazon.com/Hollow-City-Second-Peregrines-Children/dp/1594746125/ref=reg_hu-rd_add_1_dp

    Just added it to the wish list myself!

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  60. You should definitely check out a book called Tethers by Jack Croxall. It's the first of a trilogy, so you might have to wait a bit for the next one, but it's steampunk and magic and the characters are instantly lovable. It's a pretty quick YA read, but I found it really enjoyable.

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  61. Check out Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. They're YA fairytale re-tellings, with an SF twist. The first book is Cinder (Cinderella), set some 200 years after WW4. Cinder's a cyborg 16 YO. The cover didn't inspire a lot of interest, so it took me a bit to pick it up, but once I'd read the first few pages, I was thoroughly hooked.

    I just finished book two, Scarlett (Red Riding Hood), which also continues Cinder's story. Book three is due out in a month, Cress (Rapunzel; her tower is a space satellite), and Winter will be out next year. Strong female characters, realistic characters and consequences, and an interesting variation on earth's future.

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  62. If you'd like a fun, steampunk-y series, try Gail Carriger's Finishing School series. Right now there are two out: Etiquette & Espionage, and Curtsies & Conspiracies. They were both light, fun reads,

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  63. How about the Dreamhunter duet by Elizabeth Knox? I think it's of the same ilk as some of your fantasy titles here (about a third of which I've read).

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  64. Hi, Jen
    Have you read The Light Princess by George MacDonald? (He died in 1905!) It's a fairytale about a princess who was deprived of GRAVITY by her jealous aunt. This is a delightful, sweet, and funny story. Do give it a go. ��
    Cathy M.

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  65. Have you read the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews? Okay, I didn't really like the first one and only continued the second one after I read those imortal word "Undead necromatic mermaids," But all of the others are awesome!
    It's an urban fantasy that takes place in technology/magic shifting Atlanta.

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  66. Hey Jen,

    Just realized that noone has yet mentioned the Kiki Strike trillogy. Butt kicking teen heroine(s), set in a somewhat realistic New York - one of those adventures you will be able to remember reading years later, because it really stands out.

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