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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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Diagnosed with the rare SKID disease at a young age, Maddy, allergic to the world, must stay inside her sterile, air-locked house or risk a deadly reaction. Maddy is happy in her little, if isolated, world, but dreams of what life is like on the Outside. When a mysterious, tortured boy, Ollie, moves in next door, Maddy’s life changes forever. She is no longer content to spend her life breathing pristine air and playing it safe — she wants to be part of something bigger. Hopefully Ollie can help her get there.

Wow! Usually I don’t like books that have received a lot of hype — they tend to be overrated. But Yoon’s novel is excellent. Though there’s little action, the plot moves at a fast pace, and the illustrations breaking up the text are great. Maddy has a strong voice, is independent even though she spends her life in a “bubble”, and her relationship with Ollie is exactly what you’d want — super cute. My favorite part of the book is the twist at the end that I never saw coming — so good!! If you liked John Green or Rainbow Rowell, this one is for you! The movie just came out, so read the book first!

*Rating: 5/5

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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Finch and Violet have a common goal when the meet on the edge of the bell tower at their school. Though everyone believes Violet saves Finch from a suicide attempt, she’s not so sure that’s the truth. At first an incongruous pair, the two are slung together for a class project in which they must explore their home state. During the course of their adventures, Violet and Finch draw closer together, but their relationship may not be enough to save them from the dark pull of tragedy.

A brilliant new addition to the realm of realistic fiction. Niven gives readers a little bit of romance, hilarious adventure antics and, of course, Kleenex-worthy sadness. This is also a poignant, unflinching look at mental illness in teens — a subject that is often danced carefully around. I think it’s important to read novels like this, where truths are discussed without shame. I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but pick this one up if you’re looking for your next heavy read.

Rating: 4/5

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Devastated by the loss of her mother, Juliet spends much of time at the cemetery, writing letters to her mom. Declan, an angry teen doing  community service at the cemetery, finds Juliet’s letter and responds to it. At first enraged at the intrusion, Juliet begins to see how cathartic it can be to write to an anonymous stranger, and she and Declan begin a secret correspondence. When the harrowing truth in their letters begins to bleed into real life, however, Declan and Juliet must decide how to deal with the exposed secrets.

If you like Perks of Being a Wallflower and Love Letters to the Dead, this one is for you! Unlike the other two books, Kemmerer’s narrative varies between letters and prose from the character’s point of view. It’s a great read if you like books with feels, high school dramas, or underdog stories. I especially like the way the author forces you to look the way we see other people, and how we often peg someone into a stereotype when there’s always more to their story.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

 

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

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