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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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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In a time when young women are expected to act like proper ladies and aspire only to an advantageous marriage, Faith wants to be a scientist. Fascinated by the natural world, Faith takes pleasure in accompanying her father to fossil digs, even though she is not taken seriously because of her gender. When a scandal breaks in the scientific world involving Faith’s father, her family flees to a remote island. There, secrets about her father’s past begin to come to light, and Faith discovers that he may have brought an even bigger, more dangerous secret with him to the island. Using her deductive reasoning skills, Faith must uncover the truth of what’s happening on the island — before she gets sucked into its mysteries.

I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed this book. It’s historical fiction, but it’s completely accessible and a super fast paced read. I especially love how this book tackles women’s rights, women in STEM, and fake news — all wrapped up in a murder mystery! You will definitely be eager to find out how the story ends. Characters are entertaining and well-rounded, and I liked that the author gave particular depth to the character of Faith’s mother. If you like historical fiction, mysteries, STEM, or are just looking for a good read, give this one a try. Worth it!

*Costa Book of the Year, 2015

Rating: 4.5/5

 

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

 

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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Nix and her father are sailors.But not typical sailors. Nix’s father is gifted with the ability to Navigate. Using a map, he can sail his ship across time , and that’s exactly what he and his crew do. But Nix’s father isn’t just sailing through time for fun. He’s looking for a way to save Nix’s mom, who died in 1886. Nix is torn between wanting to help her father and preventing a reality in which she might not even exist. In their quest, a series of adventures ensues, including pirating, waking an army of stone soldiers, and picking up new, fanciful crew members along the way.

Wow! I LOVED this book! The plot is a unique one; I was fascinated with the idea that Nix’ dad could sail off the edge of one map and into another. I also appreciated the way the author mixed elements of reality and magic into the story. The characters are funny, well thought out, and nearly every one is lovable in their own way. I’m sad that I can’t go and join this crew myself! Definitely give this one a try if you’re looking for a new fantasy/supernatural/time travel read.

*YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2017

Rating: 5/5

 

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

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In the days of the deadly Blitz on London, Kat and her younger siblings are sent to a country boarding school to escape the danger. Housed in an ancient and mysterious castle, the school is unconventional to say the least, and the children immediately begin to notice inexplicable happenings. Strange noises haunt the nights, and the children are locked in their rooms at night to keep them “safe”. What’s more, Kat finds evidence that the school may be housing a German spy. Though completely unconvinced of the ghost story theories put forth by the other children, Kat has trouble explaining much of what happens at Rookskill. Working together, the children will have to solve the complex mystery of the castle, before it’s too late.

This one is a mix of historical fiction, supernatural fiction, and sci-fi, and it’s amazing! I’ll take a story about a haunted castle any day, so I was more than excited to read of the children’s adventures in the spooky hidden rooms. The book also does a nice job with the historical fiction aspect. It isn’t difficult to understand what is going on with the history, and it certainly isn’t boring. I can’t say too much without spoiling the plot, but suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a ghost story with a bit of unexpected sci-fi mixed in, look no further. My one complaint about the book was that the author arguably had too many plot twists going on, but that also made for an exciting read!

Rating: 4.5/5

 

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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In the woods surrounding Fairfold, a horned boy sleeps encased in a glass coffin. The townspeople believe he is a fake — a statue; certainly not a sleeping boy. But Hazel and Ben, siblings who have experience in the world of Fae, know differently. So they aren’t surprised when, one day, the horned boy wakes. His disappearance occurs at almost exactly the same time as when a violent, evil force descends on the town, sending its citizens into a panic. Hazel and Ben must find the horned boy, figure out what he wants, and stop the evil before it’s too late.

Amazing. This is the best book I’ve read in a while. I liked the unique incorporation of fairy tales (Snow White’s coffin housing a sleeping boy) mixed in with the Fae. The plot moves fast enough to keep things interesting, and the author does an excellent job of world-building. There’s also plenty of surprises and twists — just when you think you have things figured out, something new is revealed. The inclusion of LGBT relationships was also a huge plus. If you’re looking for a new fantasy read, this is it!

*YALSA, Teen’s Top Ten, 2016

Rating: 5/5

 

Doll Bones by Holly Black

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Instead of playing video games or hanging out at the mall, Zach, Poppy, and Alice immerse themselves in an intricate fantasy adventure game that they play using dolls. As Zach gets older, though, his father believes that he should be focusing more on sports and friends than on imaginary games. When Zach finds the entire cast of his game is thrown away, he is distraught, but can’t bring himself to tell his friends the truth. Instead, he tells them that he’s “too old” to play. But, just as Zach believes he is leaving the game behind forever, mysterious messages from the game’s queen, a china doll locked in a glass cabinet, begin to emerge. Suddenly, the trio finds themselves wrapped up in a mystery/adventure that haunted by supernatural forces.

This one has some serious creep-factor when it comes to that doll. Very spooky. It’s also an excellent story of how friendships change as you get older, as well as the pain of growing out of your childhood activities. Though this may sound like a weird book about kids who play with dolls (and it is), it’s also an entertaining adventure read with a surprising twist at the end. Is the doll even real? It’s up to you to decide.

*Newbery Honor, 2014

Rating: 3.5/5