The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

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In attempt to escape the respective drama ensnaring their lives, Amy and her mother, Alexis, retreat to their ancestral home in Scotland. Once there, Amy learns that she is a book jumper — someone who can literally jump into the world of stories. As a book jumper, Amy has a responsibility to protect the book world and the characters who live within it. As amazed and elated as Amy is with her newly discovered powers, a thief is pillaging the book world, stealing ideas and causing stories to implode. Amy must somehow find the thief and fix the stories, even as dark secrets from her own past begin to emerge.

If you liked the Inkheart series, this is a solid bet for you. Interestingly, this book was also translated from German (just like Funke’s series). If you’ve ever read classic stories, you’ll love how the author gives them new life through her work, and even the modern-day characters are strong and entertaining. At times, the plot can move a little slowly, but the ending is a good one, so stick with it. Mostly, this book is so good because it gives readers a world in which the characters can do what all of us have probably wanted to do — live within our favorite stories.

Rating: 4/5

 

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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In a world where knowledge is controlled by the Great Library, and it is forbidden to own original books, Jess Brightwell is a book smuggler. His risky work entails stealing the rarest copies of books and delivering them to the highest bidder. If he’s caught, he will be killed. But, in a ploy for inside information, Jess’ father enrolls him in the Library’s school, where, if he survives, Jess will work for the very institution he steals from. Jess must pass the library’s test while somehow keeping his past hidden. If he fails, he will lose his family (and probably his life) forever.

This is definitely a good pick is you like Harry Potter. There’s a ton of action, plot twists, secrets, and an ending that will leave you ready for the next book. I especially liked how the author mixed a fanasy-esque world with sci-fi, all set in a time that might actually exist. It was so interesting to read how the Library took over the collection of knowledge with the best intentions, but then grew so power hungry that it began deciding which knowledge citizens could read. It’s a story that could lead to a great discussion and comparison to our own time. In all, though, this book has great characters, an interesting story, and is definitely for you if you’re looking for your next binge-read series.

*Lonestar, 2016

Rating: 4.5/5

Blood of Wonderland by Colleen Oakes

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Framed for the murder of her younger brother, Dinah, once the heir apparent in Wonderland, must flee for her life. As her insane, rage-fueled father combs the country searching for her, Dinah remains hidden, determined never to set foot in her kingdom again. But walking away from a crown is not so easy. Secrets about Dinah’s and Wonderland’s past begin to emerge, raising questions about the fate of Wonderland in Dinah’s absence. Though she was never trained for battle, Dinah must choose: live her life constantly hiding from her father, or fight for her right to rule.

Though this one wasn’t quite as good as the first (Queen of Hearts), it’s still a solid read. If I haven’t already, I also highly recommend the audiobook, as the reader is excellent — the perfect voice for Dinah. While this installment lacks the level of court intrigue and drama of the first book, there’s much more action, and some incredible plot twists; even I was surprised. I especially liked the non-traditional love story (no spoilers!) — it’s not your typical fairy tale. I’m super excited to see what happens next with the series! Don’t miss this is you loved the first book.

Rating: 4/5

The Reader by Traci Chee

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In Sefia’s world, no one can read. After her parents suffer a violent death, Sefia finds what she learns is a book in the wreckage of their home. Travelling with her aunt Nin, Sefia is forbidden to even look at the book; it’s too dangerous. But, when Nin is kidnapped by the same people Sefia believes killed her family, Sefia somehow knows she must use the book to rescue her aunt. With the help of the book, a mute boy named Archer, and a ship full of pirates, Sefia sets out of a quest to save Nin and learn the truth about her past.

This one is a brilliant start to a new series! If you like The Girl from Everywhere, you’ll love this one. It’s full of adventure, secrets, plot twists, and (of course) romance. Some parts of the story can be confusing, especially when Sefia’s story mixes with the one in her book, but everything comes together toward the end. The characters are AMAZING as well — I would read a book about any one of them. I’ll definitely be reaching for the sequel, and you probably will too! Pro-tip: pay attention to the words by the page numbers and the large lettering throughout the book.

Rating: 4/5

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot

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Though Jessamy’s mother is of “common” birth, Jessamy and her sisters are raised as ladies. Ladies are expected to remain pleasant and demure until they marry. Jessamy hates the life of a lady. Instead, she wants to run the Fives — and obstacle course on which both high-born patrons and commoners can win glory through victory. But, as a lady, Jessamy is not allowed to run the Fives and must do so in secret. When the hierarchy of the court shifts and Jessamy’s family finds itself in a precarious position, her father must make an impossible choice. The fallout from his choice changes Jessamy’s life forever, and she must use the Fives to save her family at any cost.

While the world-building in this book is truly remarkable, the plot itself is kind of boring. I think the problem is that the author tries to incorporate too much into this one story. There are two major plot-lines, both of which are exciting, good plots. But including both in this book gave me a bit too much to keep up with. The ending is great, though, and gives an excellent set-up for the second book. There are also very relevant undertones of racial/class/gender discrimination that could be tied to events of today.

*Lonestar, 2017 

Rating: 2.5/5

 

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

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Elli is selected to be the next Valatia, the queen of her land who holds an extraordinary amount of power. She must use this power to defend her people against enemy threats. Elli cannot become Valatia, however, until the reigning queen is consumed by her magic and is destroyed. When the queen does die, her magic does not enter Elli. A powerless and therefore useless Valatia, Elli flees the kingdom and hides in the outlands. Here, the lawless barbarians she believes reside in the mountains turn out to be more than the criminals she imagined. Elli must gain their trust in order to find out why the Valatia’s magic did not enter her and save her kingdom from ruin.

File this book under “good, not great”. Based on its premise, I was really excited about it, but the plot can be slow, especially in the beginning. When it does pick up, there’s plenty of action and adventure — even some twists I didn’t expect. I also liked the inclusion of an LGBT love interest. If you’re looking for a new fantasy series with a strong female lead, definitely try this one. Just be ready to hang in for the slow parts.

Rating: 3/5

 

 

 

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

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Will’s family rockets from poverty to first class when his father is promoted in the rail business. But Will’s new wealth isn’t all he dreamed it would be. He misses the adventure of his old life, and feels trapped in his family’s new expectations. When will reunites with a circus performer, Maren, he becomes wrapped up in a mystery related to a valuable key. The key unlocks a car on the new Goliath train, The Boundless, and may lead to untold riches. Will and Maren must solve the mystery, or they may lose their lives on the train.

This one is definitely a great read! The plot is a little predictable, but it’s packed with action, adventure, and intrigue, so it moves very quickly. I also like that this is technically a historical fiction piece, but it is NOT boring at all. All the characters are very well done, and I especially enjoyed reading about the circus performers. If you are looking for your next mystery/thriller with a touch of history, Boundless is it!

*Texas Lonestar List, 2016

Rating: 4/5