The Smoke Thieves
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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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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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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Tempests and Slaughter
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 Night Circus
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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The Cruel Prince
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. However, many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. As civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
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Blood Rose Rebellion
In an alternate Victorian England where social prestige stems from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, sixteen-year old Anna Arden is barred from the society she yearns for by a defect of blood. Anna would do anything to belong, but after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spells, Anna finds herself exiled with her aging grandmother to her grandmother’s native Hungary.
Her life might as well be over. However in Hungary, Anna finds that nothing about her world or her own lack of magic is quite as it seems. Fissures in the Binding that holds her world’s magic are expanding, and the ancient creatures bound by that spell beg Anna to release them. As rebellion sweeps across Hungary, Anna’s unique ability to break spells becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she has always wanted—or embrace her ability, destroy the Binding, spark a revolution, and change the face of magic itself.
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Katie is more than devoted to her boyfriend of three years, Isaac. She attends all his basketball games, plans their future together, and doesn’t ask for much in return. The one time Katie requires his attendance and support, he misses her performance as the lead role in the musical. Her disappointment and a minor alcohol influence cause her to cheat on Isaac with their childhood friend, Mitch. She regrets her mistake as fast as it happens and would do anything for a second chance. When she discovers her grandmother’s locket, it gives her the opportunity to go back in time! As Katie finds herself back at the night she cheated on Isaac, she learns quickly that there are serious consequences for changing the past and that perhaps the locket does more damage than good.
Stacey Jay’s vivid writing style keeps readers engaged without a hint of boredom creeping in. Suspense is successfully applied throughout since the world suffers a variety of changes every time Katie utilizes the locket and goes back in time. This causes the reader to be on edge, continuously flipping pages in order to see the aftermath of Katie’s repetitive interference with fate. This teaches readers that all actions have consequences.
Most characters are strong, dynamic, and do not simply just revolve around the main character. For instance, Mitch is not implemented for the convenience of a love triangle. He has goals and ambitions that have no correlation with Katie. There is the exception of a few characters that seem stereotypical and lack any originality such as Rachel Pruitt. She plays the distinct role of the mean girl and doesn’t have much more complexity. A more elaborate and interesting element could have been established if all the changes that occurred in Katie’s do-over life were directly linked to her going back in time. Some of the changes such as the homecoming week theme being different the second time seem totally unrelated to the part of the past she deliberately changed. The Locket has an intricate plot and makes use of a number of literary devices making it a great book to invest time in reading. – Julia K.
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All the Crooked Saints
Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: What it takes to get one.
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.
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Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
No one has ever seen what Stephan looks like, and that includes himself. Stephan has been invisible his whole life because of a curse he knows nothing about. He was invisible when he was born, and he is still invisible now at the age of 16. His mother took care of him when his father left them when Stephan was just an infant. It wasn’t until Stephan’s mother died from the toll of taking care of Stephan, that he felt totally lost and helpless. The topic of why he was invisible was never brought up and he now has even more questions than before, with no one to answer them. No one knew he was there. No one could know he was there. He got used to living this life, with everyone totally oblivious that he existed.
As Stephan was sneaking in the elevator to go up to his apartment as he does every day, somebody new to the building notices him. Her name is Elizabeth, and she has no idea that he is visible only to her. Both of their worlds are flipped upside down as they find out more about this other world. A world that involves cursecasters, spellcasters, and spellseekers. Terrifying truths are revealed as these two award-winning authors keep readers guessing and developing theories after every page they turn.
This book takes you on a journey involving many questions that include misfortunes and lifelong grudges. I would recommend ‘Invisibility’ to anyone interested in fantasy and action books, along with some romance. . – Juliana M.
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