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

 

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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

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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Unaware that she is gifted with magic, Tea raises her brother from the dead during his funeral. Tea discovers that she is a bone witch, one who controls the dark magic. Though they use their abilities to banish monsters, bone witches are often reviled by the kingdoms they protect. Under her new tutor, Tea must learn how to harness and hone her power while playing the political games that come with it. She must learn quickly, though, because dark forces are culminating which will require all the strength she can gather.

This book starts slowly, but really, really picks up. All characters are entertaining and strong, especially the cranky old woman who runs Tea’s boardinghouse. Fox, Tea’s zombie brother, also brings a lot of humor to the story. The structure of the novel is unique; Tea’s story relating to her training is told in flashback form, with a present-tense story-line hinting at what’s to come — and it’s big. The end of the book leaves a TON of questions that I’m desperate to know, so you’ll definitely be reaching for the sequel. Add this to your TBR for an awesome new fantasy/supernatural series.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oaks

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In this twist on the classic Alice in Wonderland, Oaks examines the origins of Wonderland’s villain, the Queen of Hearts. Dinah, just a princess, is caught in the web of court life. Her father, the reigning King of Hearts, is volatile and often swayed by his wavering favor and the opinion of his venomous advisers. Her brother, considered mad and obsessed with hat making, is confined to his rooms. Though Dinah is expected to ascend to the throne and rule beside her father, the king treats her as though she is worthless. When the king brings in a long-lost, illegitimate daughter, Dinah knows she has a rival. As the situation continues to escalate, Dinah must figure out who she can trust in the court, as well as a way to keep her head.

I recently read and loved Heartless by Marissa Meyer. As great as that book is, Queen of Hearts is better. It’s a darker read, which is maybe why I like it more, and it takes a unique spin on the Wonderland characters. The mad hatter, for example is Dinah’s brother, a young boy with a mental illness (maybe autism) who loves to make hats. Cheshire, instead of being a disappearing cat, is a conniving adviser with a sly smile. Aside from these creative twists, the plot is also riveting, and I love that Dinah is not a beautiful young princess who needs to be rescued. I’m definitely reaching for the sequel! If you like fractured fairy tales or retellings, don’t miss this one!

Rating: 5/5 

 

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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At twenty-third in line to the throne, Freya may technically be part of the court, but doesn’t feel it worthwhile to invest much energy into her court life. Instead, Freya prefers to conduct science experiments aimed at inventing a device that will make her independently wealthy. When she is invited to the King’s birthday party, Freya reluctantly attends, but ends up sneaking out in order to finish and experiment. In her absence, someone poisons the king’s cake and nearly everyone at the party is killed. So many, in fact, that Freya is next in line to be queen. Completely unprepared to rule, Freya finds herself the center of a decimated court, surrounded by those who suspect her of the murder. Freya must find the true murderer before she loses her new throne and her life.

Wow! This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. The premise itself is fascinating — basically an entire court dies leaving one obscure relation as queen? Yes, please. I also loved how much Freya was obsessed with science and finding her own way in the world. So many female heroines (even when they’re strong!) stand around waiting for a prince, convinced they’re not worth anything. Not Freya! The story also features excellent female friendships and a healthy romantic relationship. If you’re looking for a fantasy standalone (rare, I know), don’t miss this!

Rating: 5/5