To Kill A Kingdom

Alexandra Christo

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

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The Smoke Thieves

Sally Green

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

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Beastly

Alex Flinn

Kyle Kingsbury’s good looks and father’s riches got him far in life. He was just named as one of the prince nominees for the spring dance court when his classmate, Kendra Hilferty, brings attention to how disgusting it is that these competitions are based on a person’s attractiveness rather than more important qualities such as intelligence or bravery. Wanting to put her in her place, Kyle decides to humiliate her at the school dance. In return, she reveals to him her true identity as a witch and transforms Kyle into a creature with claws, fangs, and an excessive amount of hair. As a beast, Kyle must find true love in two years or remain this way forever.

Kyle is portrayed to be an unlikeable character at the beginning of the novel. Alex Flinn exaggerates the bad qualities associated with him to have this impact on the reader. His manipulative nature, conceitedness, and insensitivity are made clear through his actions and interactions with other characters in the story. After he is put under Kendra’s spell, we see a new side to him causing our perceptions of him to shift. For instance, Kyle becomes compassionate and sensitive to the issues of others. This teaches readers that everyone has the potential to change. This and the many other morals in this book, that mainly relate to love, make this a worthwhile read.

I associate a very nostalgic mood with parts of this book due to the many fairy tale references it includes. Often in the novel, there would be text threads between Kyle and other creatures that were considering transformations or were transformed. The screen name, SilentMaid, represented the Little Mermaid. This was done in a mature way that didn’t make you feel like you were reading a book targeted at a younger audience. These text threads also added a more interesting element to the book because it told the story in a creative way.

The short two years the beast was given to reverse the curse was a strategic way of implementing suspense into Alex Flinn’s novel. It gradually increases in intensity as Kyle’s deadline approaches. It makes you obsessively continue reading to anxiously see if Kyle can manage to change back to his former self. The ending of the novel relieves the readers stress and leaves them very satisfied because it doesn’t just resolve the problems of the main characters, but updates us on the supporting characters like Kyle’s blind tutor, Will. For these reasons, I found Beastly to be a stunning read. – Julia K.

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Shadowsong

S. Jae-Jones

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King―who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws finally? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world―or the ones Liesl loves―is in her hands?

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The Warnings 

Margaret Buffie

Original title, The Guardian Circle

Rachel’s single father sends her off to live with a strange great aunt she has never met before while he travels across Canada for work. When she arrives in Toronto, Rachel’s strange visions and feelings become stronger and more ominous than ever before. They feel like warnings. Luckily, she meets a new friend who doesn’t think she is crazy and they set off to find out what they are, and what is happening? Is it ghosts? Magic? Or are the old people who live with her aunt playing tricks on Rachel?

The Warnings (original title, The Guardian Circle) is a great book for older children and teens. I would recommend it for grades 4-10. The Warnings is a wonderful ghost story with intrigue and a little bit of history in it. The story takes places in Toronto and Western Canada. This book was not predictable, I had no idea what was going to happen until the very end and there is a large cast of supporting characters who had a lot of involvement in the plot. This book is not part of a series. – Heather M.

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The Hazel Wood

Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. When Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. Now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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Tempests and Slaughter

Tamora Pierce

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions.

Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. As Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day–soon–he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

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The Defiant

Lesley Livingston

Be brave, gladiatrix… And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you will earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon has been warned. Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters, find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for the Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors. The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.

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Iron Gold

Pierce Brown

A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. The Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk all he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever.  A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp, and achieves a new life for herself, one that she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life. Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the Sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

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The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede, no pamphlets distributed, no sight of a train filled with equipment. It is simply there when yesterday it was not, but instead of one tent, there are many. Black and white striped tents of all shapes and sizes create a maze of draped unknown wonders. Not far away from a very peculiar clock stand the gates with a sign on the top reading Le Cirque des Rêves. The Circus of Dreams. Gates open after sunset and close after sunrise.

However, there is more going on behind the scenes. The circus has become a venue for a bet. Two unwilling magicians have been trained their entire life for a duel in which only one magician will walk out. The circus has become an inspiration for a dreamer who lives in a too small town with his too-large imagination. The circus has become a home for fortune telling tarot reader who ran away from an arranged marriage. The circus has become a responsibility for the twins born in the circus. The circus has become a distraction for a contortionist with a mysterious past. The circus has become an obsession, a myth, a masterpiece.

The Night Circus is a very interesting and sophisticated read. The sense of mystery that comes with the writing really compliments the theme of the novel, and though sometimes the book may seem confusing because of the time jumps it is all comes together in the end. This novel will leave readers entrapped in the magical 19th century anticipating and on edge. – Janki V.

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