The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

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Britain has a ghost problem. Beset by spirits once the sun goes down, the people of England employ teenage ghost hunters in order to be free of their nightly visitors. Lucy Carlyle is one such hunter. Having lost her position at a high-ranking ghost-extermination firm, Lucy finds herself working for the eccentric and reckless Anthony Lockwood. Unfortunately, after accidentally burning a client’s house down, the firm finds itself in financial (and legal) trouble. Lockwood and Co. needs a case, and a big one, in order to save their reputation and continue hunting ghosts. Luckily, one such case comes along. Unluckily, everyone who has attempted to solve the case has died in the process.  

I loved this one! Think British Ghostbusters with teenagers. It’s got great ghost stories, plenty of scares, an excellent mystery, and is just all-around awesome. What really impressed me was that this book managed to pull off being so entertaining without having a love story. So, if you’re not a fan of “mushy” books, give this one a read for sure. Though the storyline can occasionally lose focus, the mystery is interesting enough that it makes up for the meandering. The ending is a total cliff-hanger as well, so, if you love it, make sure you reach for the next in the series. I definitely will!

*Lonestar List, 2014

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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In Mare’s world, those with red blood serve the silver-blooded elite. Born with supernatural powers, the silver-bloods rule the world and the “reds” are powerless to stop them. In an unexpected twist of fate, Mare finds herself working in the Silver palace, surrounded by the silvers and their finery. Once inside the palace, Mare finds that she is not simply a common red after all. But the truth of her identity is dangerous to both Mare and her family. She must find a way to break free of the silvers’ control to save herself, her family, and her people.

Think Throne of Glass meets Shadow and Bone meets Hunger Games. It’s an interesting idea, but I just wasn’t super impressed by this book. The inclusion of technology into the fantasy/supernatural world was just weird to me. Also, I didn’t care much about the characters. I felt like the story just kind of plodded along with the characters just kind of doing things — all very meh. I did enjoy the character of the queen though — super intense. While this wasn’t an awful read, it pales next to other similar books. If you are a fan of fantasy or sci-fi, give it a read, though. You may love it!

*YALSA Teen’s Top Ten Nominee, 2015 

Rating: 3/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.