The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
 When five of the king's men are brutally slaughtered, in a way that no one can explain, the townsfolk do what they normally do: they blame it on the wolves. Just before this, Fiona Eira comes to town with her stepfather and stepmother. Rowan  immediately makes a connection to this girl, even before knowing of their blood bond (she learns later they are cousins). For her best friend Tom, it is love at first sight. When he sees Fiona, he wants nothing more than to meet her. Rowan's father, however, has forbidden her from spending time with Fiona. Defiantly, she arranges for them to meet.

It is Tom who witnesses...what? He isn't sure he can even explain it. Something engulfed Fiona, and hollowed her out. A monster? A demon? What could have done that kind of damage? He isn't himself after the incident.

The villagers again turn a blind eye saying she brought it on herself venturing into the woods. Then the killings begin again. Rowan has always been raised to believe in knowledge and science...but these sinister dealings are reminiscent of the beasts of tales meant to keep children from wandering too far from home at night. Have they unleashed some great and terrible magic?

A great dark fairy tale for those who like being a little bit scared before they go to bed. Well-written and not too cookie cutter, it doesn't follow the Rose Red/Snow White myth too closely. I enjoyed the strong female protagonist, the unpredictable dynamic characters, the realistic emotions exhibited by the characters. I enjoyed the author's use of mob mentality and the way faith/tradition play into our actions. Very though provoking, and I always love a good scary book! Recommended for high school.

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Grisha Trilogy, Book 1)
Splintered by A.G. Howard

Templeman, McCormick. (2014). The Glass Casket. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Mackenzie is a Keeper. She is a Keeper of one of the keys to the Archive. The Archive is where our histories (our vessels) are stored after we die. Sometimes our histories wake up, and someone needs to keep watch. Watch to keep the living - and the dead - safe from each other. Histories aren't like people, they're more like angry ghosts. The longer they are awake, the more confused they get. If they escape, it's usually into the Narrows, a place in between the real world and the Archive...and that is where Mackenzie is hunting.

She got her key from Da, and no one else knows about her life on the side. Not mom and dad, not her best friend. After her brother died, they all moved to this new place. Mom thinks they can start over, but it feels like running away to Mackenzie.

Something happens in the Narrows one day...there is someone else there, and it isn't a history. Who is this goth-punk kid on her turf? She's never met another Keeper. It feels so good not to have to lie. Maybe she can trust him...but there's something he's hiding too.

There's something else going on that's more important. Someone is killing histories. It has to be one of them: a Keeper or even Crew. No one else has access to them. Who could it be? Who hates the Archive so much as to destroy it? Can Mackenzie figure it out before they destroys her too?
“Lying is easy. But it's lonely."
"What do you mean?"
"When you lie to everyone about everything, what's left? What's true?"
"Nothing," I say.
"Exactly,”(Schwab, 2013).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (Archived, Book 2)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle, Book 1)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (5th Wave, Book 1)

Schwab, V. (2013). The Archived. New York: Hyperion.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
Alex Woods has always been different. When he was 11, he was hit in the head with a meteorite. It went right through the roof of his house, and bashed him in the head. Obviously he survived, but he did begin to suffer seizures as a result. As you can imagine, having seizures does not make you popular.

His mother (he doesn't even know who his father is) runs a local shop that carries charms, talismans, ingredients for spells, books on wicca, candles for covens, sage for get the idea. This, also, does not make you popular.

When he meets Mr. Peterson, through a series of unfortunate events, and is introduced to the wonderful author Kurt Vonnegut, and prefers reading on the bus to other types of social activities...well you get the picture. Mr. Peterson is a widower in his 60s, and soon becomes Alex's best friend.

All this is well and good until Mr. Peterson contracts a fatal illness. It's clear that the end will not be pleasant, and he will die trapped in his own body. The two hatch a scheme that takes them through Germany, into Switzerland, and may involve hydroponics. What do you do when the universe is against you? You make your own rules. That is exactly what Alex intends to do.

Excellently written, thoughtful, insightful, and of course - who doesn't love the Vonnegut references!! I recommend this for older teens, or 11 year-olds who are older than their years.
“When I read these books, I no longer felt like I was confined to a very tiny world. I no longer felt housebound or bedbound. Really, I told myself, I was just brainbound, and this was not such a sorry state of affairs. My brain, with a little help from other peoples brains, could take me to some pretty interesting places, and create all kinds of wonderful things. Despite its faults, my brain, I decided, was not the worst place in the world to be,” (Extence, 2013).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Winger by Andrew Smith
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Extence, Gavin. (2013). The Universe Versus Alex Woods. New York, NY: Redhook.

Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Viv is at her wit's end. She knows any day could be the day her stepmother poisons her, or Henley turns on her and becomes the Huntsman. Her Snow White curse is inevitable, and she isn't sure if she will survive. How could things between she and Henley have gotten so out of control? They love each other...don't they? He has always been her best friend, since they were kids, and when they were old enough he was more. This stupid curse ruined everything! She can't trust him anymore.

Henley is going crazy. Viv is treating him like a yo-yo, and he doesn't know how much more he can take. Doesn't she remember that he promised to always protect her? Doesn't she believe that he would defy anything and anyone to keep that promise? Doesn't she know that he would do anything for her? Why does she keep pushing him away?

When Viv's prince invites her to the Underworld, she accepts without hesitation. When he invites her to stay, she isn't as quick, but after an attack from her stepmother and the entrance of another Huntsman...what choice does she have? Once she's there, it's more like unhappily ever after. Her future father-in-law is a monster. She has to defeat his curse to ever have a chance of escaping or seeing her friends again. Will she find the key to her own prison before it's locked forever?

This is the second novel that takes place in Beau Rivage, and I think I like this one better. The world building is exciting, and the Underworld is a lot of fun. I enjoyed the play with fairy tales once again, but this time it wasn't being shoved down my throat. Viv wasn't my favorite character, and at times really got on my nerves...her treatment of Henley is pretty reprehensible at times. I thought Cross captured the multitude of feelings that can occur simultaneously very well, especially in the stepmother. This book is intense. There were several times I couldn't put it down. If you have a fan of fairy tales, this should do the trick.

I got this as an ARC from Net Galley, but you can look forward to its' release January 2015.

*Library Link*
"That was the Huntsman's role: One day Regina would order Henley to kill Viv. And he could do it - kill her, carve the heart from her chest, and bring it to Regina as proof - or he could spare her life, and lose her forever.
Viv didn't know what Henley would choose. She didn't know which loss he'd rather live with.
I would never hurt you, he'd said, never - but was it true? Every promise became something she had to doubt," (Cross, 2015). 
If you liked this, check out:

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Cross, Sarah. (2015). Tear You Apart. New York: Egmont USA.

A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani (The School for Good and Evil, Book 2)

***SPOILER ALERT: This is the second book in a series!***

After they had their Happy Ever After, and returned to their village, everything was great...for a while. Eventually, people lost interest in their tale, and (unable to stop thinking about him) Sophie secretly wishes she had chosen a different ending.

Both girls are taken back to the land of the Storian. When they arrive, however, they find things have changed dramatically! Agatha and Sophie so inspired the rest of the girls to be their own heroes, they no longer need princes. The once evenly split school is now integrated: evil and good attend classes together. The Evil School now houses all the boys, who - it must be said - are without supervision, and taking atrocious care of themselves.

Can Agatha ever hope to find her happy ending with her prince now? He hates her for what she has done to him, and all the rest of the princes. It seems there is no answer but another battle. As both sides prepare for all-out war, there is one person in particular that seems to be at the heart of the conflict. A new teacher has appeared, and Sophie and Agatha aren't sure if she's really on their side.

Can they break through all the chaos and reunite everyone? Can they find a way for everyone to coexist again? Is it really so bad for kids to choose their own destinies?

Another success from Chainani, he again explores the fairy tale genre in a refreshing way. It is so nice to see strong, female characters not limited by gender roles (feminine or masculine), but choosing their own paths, saving themselves, and inspiring others. It also introduces the idea of chaos as a force that can be used for manipulation: using our ideals against us. Getting what we want is not always in our best interest, and I know some children (and teens, and adults) that could stand to hear that sentiment. Well-written and paced, can't wait for the next installment!

*Library Link*

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 1)
Half Upon a Time by James Riley (Half Upon a Time, Book 1)
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (Hero's Guide, Book 1)
Storybound by Marissa Burt (Storybound, Book 1)

Chainani, S., & Bruno, I. (2014). A World Without Princes. New York, NY : Harper.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Book 2)

*SPOILER ALERT: This is the second book in a series!*

When we last left our peculiar friends, they were in quite the predicament: their home had burned down, their protector was stuck in bird form, and the hollows were hot on their trail. Luckily, Jacob has agreed to accompany them into the past. His particular peculiarity is especially helpful, as he can track the hollows and see them. Without him, they would have been dead in the water - or just dead - long before now!

Their plan involves finding another loop and another ymbryne to heal Miss Peregrine. Without all of them, the hollows cannot complete their heinous task. Along the way, they encounter other peculiars including peculiar animals! (Some can even talk!) Even a peculiar Gypsy child, but will they ever be able to save Miss Peregrine?

With the wights and hollows tracking them at every turn, and seemingly able to now get into the loops, they are running out of time and options. Things are finally looking up when they hear news of another ymbryne who has not been captured, and may be headed to London to help her sisters. The peculiar children have their work cut out for them, and Jacob fears he may never see his family again. If they cannot change Miss Peregrine back into her human form, she will be stuck as a bird forever!

The haunting images, painstakingly collected by Mr. Riggs, truly complete the story. The second installment keeps you reading, and doesn't make the all to common mistake of wrapping things up in a nice, neat package. There are moments where their escapes are too convenient, but in the end I was satisfied with how it played out. The eerie tone of the first book remains, but I admit I got really into the story right before it ended. I wanted to hear more about the wights and the other side they are facing. Hopefully, that will come in the third installment.
“There was romance in the unknown, but once a place had been discovered and cataloged and mapped, it was diminished, just another dusty fact in a book, sapped of mystery. So maybe it was better to leave a few spots on the map blank. To let the world keep a little of its magic, rather than forcing it to divulge every last secret. Maybe it was better, now and then, to wonder," (Riggs, Hollow City).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan and Jonathan Farmer

Riggs, R. (2014). Hollow City. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

So I'm finally writing a review about this book...I know, I know. I'm at least two years behind everyone else, but it bears repeating. This kid is a wonder after all.

Auggie was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis...and a bunch of other very unfortunate genetic mutations which result in some serious facial abnormalities. As he puts it, "Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse," (Palacio pg. 3). He's endured countless surgeries to overcome the very real possibility of never living to see tomorrow, and now, at 10 years old he's finally going to go to a real school.

Let's be clear, he doesn't want to go. Well, mostly. He knows the kids are going to stare and make fun of him. They won't be able to see past his face and treat him like the really cool, funny, mostly normal kid who rides his bike, eats ice cream, loves his dog, and plays XBox.

His sister Via has lived in the shadow of Auggie and been his biggest protector her whole life, but this year she's starting high school. She's ashamed to admit that it's a relief to be somewhere she isn't known as "the freak's sister." She's cast in the school play, and she hasn't told her family about it...what kind of a sister is she...what kind of a person does that make her?

Jack hasn't told August this, but the principal asked him to hang out with Auggie and help him out. I mean, that's how it started out, but he really likes Auggie now. He would pretty much consider him his best friend. He just feels pressured by everyone else. They ask him why he would be friends with a freak. And that horrible game everyone is playing, The Plague...he doesn't know what comes over him that day.

All of these reactions and emotions all over a sweet 10-year old boy with a birth defect. Can this boy really enact some change in this school? Or will he decide it's all too much, and retreat from the bullying and whispers. This is a story of bravery in the face of cowardice, and it will break your heart before it puts it back together again.
"'It was bad how we did that,' she said. 'Just getting up like that, like we'd just seen the devil. I was scared for what Jamie was going to say, you know? I didn't want him to say anything that would hurt that little boy's feelings. But it was very bad, us leaving like that. The momma knew what was going on.'
'But we didn't mean it,' I answered.
'Jack, sometimes you don't have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone. You understand?'" (Palacio pg. 137, 2012).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts by R.J. Palacio
Firegirl by Tony Abbott
Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Palacio, R. J. (2012). Wonder. New York : Alfred A. Knopf.