The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Dark December
Something about winter always makes me want to hibernate. This month's titles, highly dictated by the holds that just happened to come in, are pretty dark. If you are faint of heart, squemish, not a fan of serious books, or are concerned about questionable content, these are not for you. Most of these books are recommended for older teens.

Mary has a rough life. Her father was taken by the Unconsecrated, and her mother pines for him daily. Her best friend Cass is engaged to her crush Travis, and her other best friend Harry wants to marry her. That was until everything got worse. One day her mother is bitten. In a few days she will turn, turn into one of the Unconsecrated: one of the walking dead who Return after natural death to haunt the Forest of Hands and Teeth outside the protective fences of her village.

After her mother is gone, she goes to live with the Sisters. It is the Sisterhood who protects the village, guides their traditions, keeps their history, or so she thought. Once she is taken there, she learns that she was wrong. It is a prison for her, and her friends and family have abandoned her. The Sisters have been lying to everyone.

One day, Travis is brought to the Cathedral with a horrendous wound. She is charged with tending to him, and this is her only solace. Until the breach. Suddenly everything is chaos, and the only way out is to follow the fences. Where will it take them?

It's a dark post-apocalyptic zombie tale, with thoughful attention to detail. The intensity of teenage emotions is well captured, and the questions it asks could lead to an interesting discussion. What would the world become if we lost our ability to communicate with each other through technology?

"My mother used to tell me about the ocean. she said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing toward you and then away. She once showed me a picture that she said was my great-great-great-grandmother standing in the ocean as a child. It has been years since, and the picture was lost to fire long ago, but I remember it, faded and worn. A little girl surrounded by nothingness," (Ryan pg. 1, 2009).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Monster Island: A Zombie Novel by David Wellington

Ryan, Carrie. (2009). The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Delacorte Press: New York, NY.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

You hear horror stories about children being kidnapped on the news. Unimaginable stories that hold your attention, and make you feel lucky that nothing like that has ever happened to you. "Alice" was one of those girls, she was a selfish little girl who took her life for granted. She never knew that someone like Ray was out there, waiting for her.

"Alice" is not her real name. In fact, she doesn't even refer to herself by her real name, because she is no longer that girl. He came for her while she was on a school field trip, threatening her with the harm of her family if she ever tries to escape. He tells her of the old "Alice", the one who came before her. All she can do is dream of the day when he will no longer want her. Old "Alice" was replaced when she was 15.

Ray tries to keep her looking as young as possible. She is always hungry, always wears little girl clothes. More than anything else, she has learned that no one notices. People see her, know she is not quite right, know that there is something horrible about her, but no one ever asks. Even the neighbors never say anything. Her only hope is for Ray to tire of her, and find someone else. One day, he decides that she will help him find a new girl. "Alice" will find her replacement. Can she do it? Will she ever find a way to escape him?

The book deals with bleak subject matter, the psychology of kidnappers and victims, the construction of personal identity, and what we take for granted in our lives. "Alice" may not be the brave we wish to be, but she represents what we are capable of handling. Graphic in parts, and deals with rape, kidnapping, child abuse. Recommended for older teens.

"The thing is, you can have that kind of power, and everyone in those audiences knows it. That's why they yell. That's why the say YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING. They have power too. I'd like to see them with it taken away. I'd like to see What They'd Do then," (Scott pg. 41, 2008).

If you liked this, check out:

Scott, Elizabeth. (2008). Living Dead Girl. Simon Pulse: New York, NY

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy

Will Henry is an assistant apprentice. He works under Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, one of the foremost Monstrumologists in the world. What's a Monstrumologist? Someone who studies monsters, of course. In fact, Will Henry's father was his assistant previous to his untimely death. Dr. Warthrop has taken Will in, and while he is hardly fatherly, still takes care of him. Perhaps one of the most heard phrases in this book is, "Snap to, Will Henry!"

Will knows more than he ever wanted about mysterious creatures, and one night, becomes entangled in a monster hunt. Anthropophagi, frightening man-eaters, have invaded his hometown-more specifically the cemetery-and a corpse is brought to the doctor.

The hunt is on, as the Doctor and Will begin to unravel the mystery. It seems Dr. Warthrop's father may have been involved. A trip to an insane asylum, a visit from a mysterious monster hunter, and a tale of a doomed ship's voyage, and the stand-off between the monsters will keep you up late. Hopefully it won't give you bad dreams, but the graphic imagery and occasionally gruesome accounts are both repulsive and intriguing.

This is an especially great read for boys who enjoy a little more gore. Not for the faint of heart. Great elements of steampunk and horror.
"He is what he hunts, Malachi had said. I did not believe that but understood how Malachi might judge him, and the rest of the town as well, once it learned of the Anthropophagi onslaught," (Yancey pg. 262, 2009).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Extrordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Yancey, Rick. (2009). The Monstrumologist. Simon and Schuster: New York, NY.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia's life is on track. She's got a great family, a loving boyfriend, a no-nonsense best friend, and a real shot at getting accepted into Juilliard's School of Music with her cello playing. Her parents are the hip, aging rockers that you wish were your parents, and her little brother is almost like her own son. It started out as a good day. School was cancelled because of the slight dusting of snow, and even Mom took the day off to spend with the family. On their drive to visit Grandma and Grandpa something happens. The car is suddenly ripped apart, and so is Mia's world. Her parents are dead on impact, and she is floating above the scene.

It gives a new meaning to 'out of body experience'. She follows herself to the hospital, and begins to understand that her life is changed forever. She must make a decision. Will she stay? One by one her family arrives, first her grandparents, then her aunts and uncles. Her best friend, Kim, comes with her mother. Finally, Adam, her boyfriend rides over with his bandmates.

Mia reflects on her life to this point, where it was going, what is most important to her. She thinks about what life will be like moving forward. It is decidedly a sad book, but very well written. There are many reminiscences of happier times which temper the mood, and moments that made me laugh out loud. I highly recommend this on audio book, as well.
"'Just listen,' Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. 'Stay,' he says," (Forman, 2009).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Forman, Gayle. (2009). If I Stay. Dutton Books: New York, NY.

The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia

Discovering November
This month's titles all have an element of discovery. The characters are finding new places, lost items, recovering memories, learning who you really are inside, and the road traveled to get there. Some are sad, some are action-packed, some are wacky...but all of us makes discoveries every day.

In the style of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, this book holds a secret. Things seem to be lacking color in Galina's life. She is stagnating at her job, but she has one. She lives with her sister, who is pregnant. Some part of her resents her sister for choosing a normal life, and a family. Until the day when her sister becomes a bird before her eyes. Can this be happening? Galina knows what she saw, but she also knows that no one will believe her...until she meets Yakov.

Yakov is a police officer in Moscow, he's been dealing with more and more missing persons cases lately. At first, he thought it was the gangs. Then he sees someone turn into a bird. Sound familiar? With each other to prove their sanity, the two begin to look for what could be causing people to transform. They meet Fyodor, a common street bum, and together they find their way into the Underground. It seems that things that disappear, or fall out of favor, or were thought to only exist in myth actually DO exist in the Underground. Yakov's grandfather, Peter, believed to be dead is the proprietor of a pub. Several Russian deities, names of legend, even a soldier from the time of Ghengis Khan all live peacefully, for the most part, in the Underground. The other strange part? Everyone lives forever, exactly in the state they arrived. Yakov's grandfather is around his age.

When news of the disappearing people reaches the Underground, the word gets out to Zemun, creator of the Milky Way (who, it turns out, is a cow). Along with several other creatures of myth and history, they form a party to figure out who or what may be responsible. Soon, practically everyone is involved. A group is sent back to the surface when they realize that someone from the Underground must be collaborating with someone from the real world. The climax moves quickly, and the characters are well-written.

The colorful cast of characters from Russian folklore bring an element of interest, although without a background knowledge of them myself, I fear I missed out on some of the references. This would be a great text to use in tandem with exploring Russian history and myths. As it is technically an adult book, and not written exclusively for a teen audience, it may be a little dense at times. I recommend it for an older teen, or an experienced reader.
"He was still wide awake when the morning came - the light changed imperceptibly underground, with the glowtrees flaring up brightly, and the shimmer of golden dust that remained suspended in the musty air, as if millions of butterflies had shed the scales of their wings in midair." (Sedia, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Sedia, Ekaterina. (2007). The Secret History of Moscow. Prime: Rockville, MD.

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg

Amadeo Kaplan moves from New York City, the land of skyscrapers and public transportation, to St. Malo, Florida, the land of sweltering, lazy days. There is very little that the two places have in common. At first Amadeo is convinced that he will hate it, then he meets Mrs. Zender, his next door neighbor. She is an aging socialite, a former opera singer, and a mysterious woman with a fantastic sound system. Unfortunately, almost as soon as he meets her, he learns that Mrs. Zender will be moving to a retirement community. In fact, his classmate William Wilcox and his mother have been hired to help her get her estate in order. Luckily for Amadeo, they enlist his help as well.

Soon, he and William, along with Mrs. Wilcox, are digging through Mrs. Zender's past. She is happy to provide context and commentary. It is very clear that Mrs. Zender is unhappy about moving. One day, she takes Amadeo along to purchase phones for her new townhome. It is there that he sees her spoiled nature, her need to create drama, and finally understands what she means when she says, "the world as it ought to be has come to an end," (Konisgburg pg. 46, 2007). She is from an age where other people took care of the rich.

Amadeo's godfather, Peter Vanderwaal, is an art director for the Sheboygan Art Center. His new exhibit is focused on pieces outlawed by the Nazi Regime, called "Degenerate Art". Shortly before his exhibit is scheduled to open, his father passes away. His mother gives him a box with some of his father's writings for safe keeping. He begins to read his father's memoirs, and a story about a boy during World War II.

Meanwhile, as the cataloguing of Mrs. Zender's house continues, they uncover a drawing signed by Modigliani. It seems this piece of art is something special, with deeper history and meaning than they realize. Soon the two stories are intertwined, and Amadeo has made the discovery that he always wanted.
"You could say that it wasn't lost because no one was looking for it, but you could also say that all those drawings were lost from sight...Those
kids discovered something. Something special, and they knew it,"
(Konigsburg pg. 49, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Konigsburg, E.L. (2007). The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon and Schuster): New York, NY.

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

In the second Percy Jackson book, the whole gang is back. Annabeth and Percy are reunited as she rescues him from a gang of monsters at his new school. She was on her way to let him know that Camp Half-Blood is in need of their help. Someone has poisoned the magical borders that keep the campers safe, and if they can't find a cure, it may be the end of the safe haven for half-bloods. Not to mention that Chiron has been exiled from camp, and replaced with a sadistic grouch who delights in Percy's misfortune, Kronos is still up to his old tricks, and Clarisse still has it in for him.

They bring along Tyson, a friend from Percy's latest school. It seems that he is more than he appears. Annabeth immediately notices that he is a cyclops. To add more complications, at night, Percy is having dreams of Grover. He seems to be trapped, and wearing a wedding dress.

Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson somehow end up on a quest to search for the one thing that might restore order to Camp Half-Blood, and save Grover. They will have to discover something that was lost for a reason. The Sea of Monsters, the legendary journey taken by Odysseus, holds the Sirens, Scylla's cliffs, C.C.'s Resort and Spa, and the sheep of doom.

Riordan does a masterful job of blending modern action-fantasy with ancient Greek mythology into a seamless story I can't wait to continue reading. Percy is learning valuable life lessons all over the place, and he starts to realize how complicated life can be.
"When you think 'monster island,' you think craggy rocks and bones scattered on the beach like the island of the Sirens. The Cyclops's island was nothing like that. I mean, okay, it had a rope bridge across a chasm, which was not a good sign. You might as well put up a billboard that said, SOMETHING EVIL LIVES HERE," (Riordan pg. 202, 2006).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson, Book 3)
Magyk by Angie Sage (Septimus Heap, Book 1)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter, Book 3)

Riordan, Rick. (2006). the Sea of Monsters. Miramax Books-Hyperion Books for Children: New York, NY.

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale

Montmorency, named for the brand of clothes he was wearing when they found him, is also known as prisoner 491. He was a common thief who had a spot of very bad luck when he fell through a skylight trying to elude capture by the police. Dr. Farcett, a doctor who decided to stake his career on saving his life, spent many long hours performing dangerous surgery to save his life. Little did he know that his efforts at saving Montmorency, and his trips to the National Scientific Society, would give rise to a new criminal instinct in Montmorency. Upon his release, he has a plan: he will use the newly installed sewer system as his escape route after his upscale burglaries. His thievery will fund his new life as a gentleman.

He creates an alter ego to do his dirty work, and calls him Scarper. It is Scarper who will traverse the sewers, and carry out the burglaries. He begins his crime spree, to the dismay of the London police force, who cannot figure out who or how these crimes are being committed. After he has amassed a great enough fortune, he draws on his study with Dr. Farcett to create Montmorency, the gentleman. He even goes so far as to steal the Doctor's clothing, down to his cufflinks and top hat. He needs everyone else to think that he truly IS a gentleman, especially the staff at the Marimion Hotel. The one last thing he steals from Dr. Farcett is stationary, so he can write himself a letter of recommendation to the manager.

It is only when his exploits as Scarper are pinned on one of his former prison roommates that he decides to take a break from his life of crime. He begins to explore the opportunities afforded only to the rich--fashion, opera, and fancy food. But he must always be on his guard, and has a moment at the hatter's which leaves him apprehensive. The hatter identifies the hat he stole from Dr. Farcett, and offers to return it to him. At a loss, Montmorency tells the hatter that he will return it himself, claiming that they must have been switched at some point.

Updale weaves a delightful tale of a double life, keeping the reader on their toes, and interjecting unforgettable characters along the way. Cissie Longman, the Marimion Hotel manager's daughter, is one particular favorite. As the first in a series, Montmorency promises action, intrigue, and suspense, and even a little bit of morality along the way.

"The more Montmorency mixed with Doctor Farcett and observed the members of the Scientific Society, the more convinced he was that he would never return to his old place at the bottom end of London's lowlife. He knew what he was aiming at and was conviced that with the sewer plan he had found the ideal method for making his fortune..." (Updale pg. 30, 2003).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer? by Eleanor Updale
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Updale, Eleanor. (2003). Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? Orchard Books (Scholastic): New York, NY.

Reality Check by Peter Abrams

Searching for September
The selections for this month are centered around searching: for who you really are, for a solution to a problem, for a friend who disappeared, for a way to the next level. Each offers a unique perspective illustrating that life (and sometimes the afterlife) is not a destination, but a journey.
It was Very difficult to pick a favorite for this month, so I went with the title that most embodied the theme.

Cody's world revolves around two things: football and his girlfriend, Clea. But she just happens to be the daughter of the richest man in town, and he has plans for his daughter. When Clea gets sent away to boarding school, he decides it's best (for her) for them to break up, but she is never far from his mind. He plans to get a football scholarship to a good school, maybe one near her. He throws himself wholeheartedly into football. Junior year is the most important for scouts, after all. Then a cheap injury causes an ACL tear, and he's out for the season. Academics was never his strong suit, and now that there's no reason to keep his grades up, he doesn't. Finally, he drops out and starts working full time. It seems he's doomed to repeat the patterns of working class society just like his dad, until he sees a headline: "Local Girl Missing".

Clea is missing! How can she be missing? He just got a letter in the mail from her. Suddenly, all he can think about is saving her. He quits his job, packs a bag, and starts driving. He shows up and blends in with other local teens in a search party. Something tells him to keep quiet about his relationship to Clea. People begin to tell him things, confiding in him about the circumstances of her disappearance, but he isn't buying their story. An experienced horse rider like Clea wouldn't have fallen off her horse, or gotten lost in woods. Something else is going on.

The police chief isn't buying his act. He runs his plates, makes a few calls, and calls him out. His punishment: he enlists Cody's help as a man inside. Cody takes a job at the stable, and is able to keep a close eye on what goes on around the school. The more he learns about the town, the more suspicious he is of everyone. Will he find Clea before something happens to her? Or before something happens to him?

It's an easy read, with a twist you don't see coming at the end. It will probably appeal more to male readers, although girls will enjoy it as well. There is something about trying to piece together the parts of a mystery that will always entertain me.
"He found he was shaking; the letter was like a message from the... But no: He pushed that thought away, refused to allow his mind to even think it, not once. He reread the letter, kept coming back to those two lines: One or two I don't like at all. It's hard to know who to
trust sometimes.
Could they now be considered some kind of...evidence?" (Abrams pg. 91-92, 2009).

If you liked this, check out:
Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrams

Abrams, Peter. (2009). Reality Check. New York, NY: Laura Geringer Books, HarperTeen.

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte often feels like no one can see her. She is tired of hearing, "sorry I didn't see you...". She has a plan. All summer she has been working out, dieting, honing in on fashion and beauty tips, and practicing for cheerleading tryouts. Charlotte knows this is her year, her last year at Hawthorne High, to get Damen to notice her.

It seems her dreams are coming true when Damen is not only paired up with her in Physics, but even asks her to tutor him! That's when things start to go downhill. She's so excited she chokes! Charlotte chokes to death on a gummy bear.

It turns out death is not the end of high school. Before she knows it, Charlotte is the newest member of the Dead Ed class. She is surrounded by teens who--even though they're dead--still have to graduate. She is issued a Deadiquette handbook, given a room at Hawthorne Manor, learns that she must give up her past, and learn from her mistakes in order to move onto whatever comes next. But Charlotte just can't let go.

Since she is now officially invisible, she decides to spy on Damen and his girfriend, Petula. Surprisingly, only Petula's sister, Scarlet, can see and hear Charlotte. The two strike up a friendship, but Charlotte has ulterior motives. She wants to possess Scarlet's body so Damen will take her to the Fall Ball.

Will her selfishness and unwillingness to let go put all of Dead Ed in jeopardy? Will Scarlet finally say enough is enough, and refuse to help her? Sometimes the search for popularity can leave you feeling empty. Hurley's book is not only entertaining, but visually stimulating. The illustrations throughout will entice reluctant readers, and delight those with a slightly goth sensibility.
"Perception vs. reality. In high school, they are pretty much the same thing. We put on makeup and football helmets, buy nose jobs and fast cars, all to reinforce perception and keep reality at bay. There might, in fact, be much more to someone than meets the eye, but in order to make such a discovery, you have to be willing to dig beneath the surface. Most people aren't, because it would upset the social order; but a few, very few, are,"(Hurley pg. 212, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Ghostgirl: Homecoming by Tonya Hurley
Eighth Grade Bites: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer
Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

Hurley, Tonya. (2008). Ghostgirl. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Zanna is starting to get suspicious. Strange things keep happening around her--even her best friend Deeba is beginning to notice. One day they see a cloud that is alarmingly similar to Zanna's face, people keep calling her "Schwazzy", and lots of animals seem to be recognizing her! Things take a dangerous turn when smoke comes out of nowhere and attacks them. That night Zanna and Deeba follow what seems to be a moving umbrella into a sewer. Zanna turns a spigot, and they are suddenly somewhere very unlike London.

In fact, they are in UnLondon where strange creatures abound. It seems Zanna's the Schwazzy, or the chosen one, sent to save UnLondon from the Smog. The Smog is like smoke with a brain, and all it wants to do is burn everything up. Along with its followers: the Hex, the Smombies, the Stink-Junkies, and many more, it wants nothing more than to stop the Schwazzy. In an adventure to remember across UnLondon, the girls meet a colorful cast of characters that deliver them safely to the Propheseers. It seems the story of the Schwazzy, or Zanna, has been prophesied for a long time. They have been waiting for her arrival. In her first battle, however, Zanna is defeated. Sick with worry, Deeba gets her back to London with the Propheseers help, but leaves a very confused group of UnLondoners behind.

When Zanna wakes up, she doesn't remember anything about their trip. Deeba is alone in her knowledge. She tries to go back to her normal life, but something isn't right. After some investigating, she discovers that one of the leaders against the Smog may not be who he says he is. Determined not to leave UnLondon defenseless, she finds her way back. This time things don't go as smoothly. No one believes her story! She finds unlikely help from a half-ghost, Hemi, and the Book of prophesies (who no longer believes he is worth anything). They begin to find an alternative way of saving the city, but will they make it in time?

For anyone who loves alternative realities, this is a great story. Deeba has to search for the key to saving UnLondon, and also to find her place as the UnSchwazzy. She learns that you have to stand up for what you know is right.
"Where did you come from?" Margarita said. "Lost Angeles? Baghdidn't?"
"I'm not from an abcity," Deeba said. "I climbed in from London."
"London?" The woman narrowed her eyes. "A young thing like you? You expect me to believe you climbed all that way? Straight up? Did you have any trouble from wordcrows? None of the warrior booktribes of the Middle Shelves?"(Mieville pg. 154, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Looking for Jake: Stories by China Mieville
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Mieville, China. (2007). Un Lun Dun. Ballentine Books: New York, NY.

Paper Towns by John Green

The author of the Prinz Award-winning novel Looking for Alaska has done it again. Masterfully written, intriguing and hard to put down, Paper Towns is already on several "Best" lists.

Quentin is nobody special. He tries to stay under the radar. He follows the rules, makes good grades, has psychiatrists for parents who are so proud of his being well-adjusted. Maybe the most exciting thing about him is his next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. She is a force of change, a spot of brilliance in his life. She is beautiful, popular, independent, spontaneous, known for her escapades--everything he is not. They shared an unforgettable moment with Q when they were children--together they found a dead body in their sub-division.

That was about the end of Q and Margo's friendship. Now they are in high school, and she kidnaps him for a great adventure. They get revenge on Margo's ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend for hooking up behind her back. They sneak into SeaWorld just because. The next day Q expects everything to have changed, and strangely many things do. But suddenly, Margo is gone.

She leaves him clues as to where she has gone. The search for her becomes an obsession. The more they search, the more they learn that Margo isn't who they thought she was. Her secret self doesn't fit into her public persona. Why all the secrets? Quentin starts to learn some things about himself through searching for her, including what it takes to be a good friend. Pick this up, you won't be disappointed.
"I stand in this parking lot, realizing that I've never been this far from home, and here is this girl that I love and cannot follow. I hope this is the hero's errand, because not following her is the hardest thing I've ever done," (Green pg. 304, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Green, John. (2008). Paper Towns. Dutton Books: New York, NY.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie, or Bunny as her mom calls her, has never been one that stands out. She's always been the one that follows the rules, does what she's told, and is a good girl. Over the summer, she "blossoms" into the hot girl with curves in all the right places. Suddenly, the most popular boy on campus at her upscale boarding school is taking notice.

Matthew is the boy of her dreams, and his group of friends are the friends of her dreams. Sophomore year couldn't be going better, until Matthew begins to put his friends before her, over and over. She starts to suspect that it's more than just "hanging with the guys".

One night, when he blows of a date, she follows him. Frankie witnesses a meeting of the Loyal Order of Basset Hounds. She happens to know a former member, her dad. Apparently, the Basset Hounds is a secret-male only-society, known for its pranks on campus. She overhears their plans for the annual Halloween prank, and immediately has an idea. Why should the boys get to have all the fun?

In her own way Frankie is rebelling against the hierarchy that, until this year, has always kept her in the shadows. She is tired of being left out, labeled, and lied to. She is searching for her place in a world that has already decided where she should fit in, and she is ready to create herself a new place. Lockhart avoids the dangers of falling into a boring 'school' or romance novel through her ingenuity and intelligence. It is truly a brains over brawl tale, and one you won't be able to put down.

"I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order–including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellions, and the abduction of the Guppy," (Lockhart pg. 1, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Lockhart, E. (2008). The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Hyperion: New York.

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

August is "Up to Date"
The titles for August represent a few different things: my new job at a library, the end of summer classes, and the desire to be 'up-to-date' on my favorite series. I obviously have a fantasy leaning, but then again, fantasy easily lends itself to series. The selections are more varied in their reading level. Artemis and Charlie Bone are written for a middle school/early teen reader, while Inkdeath (at nearly 700 pgs) and Brisingr (at nearly 800 pgs) are for teens or seriously devoted readers.

**WARNING: these contains spoilers for those new to the series, so be forewarned of that.**

The Inheritance series began as the novel of an 18 year old, was self-published by his parents, and then picked up by a major publisher, only to become a NY Times Bestseller. What a cool story. An even cooler story? Eragon and Saphira's discovery of each other--Rider and Dragon, the only ones not under the King's control--and their quest to overthrow King Galbatorix with the help of the Varden, the elves, the dwarfs, and even Urgals! Written in the classic fantasy style of Tolkien, Paolini captures the adventure, the emotion, and the magic of a boy and his dragon.

Brisingr (as any following this series know) is the ancient word for fire. Eragon has met and faced many trials before this book begins. He has lost many people who were dear to him, and has been transformed into a half-human/half-elf. With his increased abilities, and the teachings of his elf master Oromis, he walks a dangerous and frequently difficult path, trying to act in the best interest of all of Alagaesia. His cousin Roran has joined up with the Varden, and together they are learning that strategy is often more important than ability.

Politics factor heavily into this book, as Eragon learns an adult lesson. He must deal with the promises he made to so many people and groups, many with differing opinions on what he should do. Nasuada has taken over the Varden, and must deal with her own issues of loyalty and leadership. His ultimate fealty to the Varden is sometimes at odds with his devotion to the elves, and his brotherhood with the dwarfs. He frequently feels the need to be in three places at once, and learns the peril of trying to prioritize other people's lives. While he prepares to again face his brother Murtagh, and his new dragon, Thorn, he must also increase his spell casting abilities. Since Murtagh stole Zar'roc, he is also in search of a new weapon that will be worthy.

Galbatorix has new, horrifying tricks of magic up his sleeve, not for the faint of heart. Oromis has the key to the secret of his parentage. Running out of time before a key battle, Eragon must visit once more with the elves in the hopes of learning the secret to Galbatorix's vast supply of magic, and perhaps the answer to his defeat. Will he make it?

"He smiled. You're right, though. I should have discussed my plan with you. I'm sorry. From now on, I promise I will consult with you before I do anything you don't expect. Is that acceptable?
Only if it involves weapons, magic, kings, or family members, she said.
Or flowers.
Or flowers, she agreed. I don't need to know if you decide to eat some bread and cheese in the middle of the night," (Paolini pg. 220, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Fellowship of the Ring (LOTR series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron

Paolini, Christopher. (2008). Brisingr. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY.

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

The Inkheart trilogy captured me from the first page. The writing is superb, the story is fascinating. The intertwining of reality and a world brought to life through reading is the dream of every reader. But for Mo and Meggie, it is far from ideal. Characters from the story come to life, while people from their world disappear into the book, most notably Resa, Meggie's mother.

In the concluding book Inkdeath, we begin in Ombra. The character of the Bluejay has begun to resemble Mo more and more. Finally reunited with Resa, Meggie and her mother begin to form a bond. The Black Prince and the strolling players mourn the loss of Dustfinger, but strive to find a way to keep the people from being persecuted. Mo knows that eventually he will have to find a way to kill the Adderhead.

Orpheus, meanwhile, is busy making himself rich by reading into existence all sorts of mythical creatures-even for the Inkworld! Fenolio is frustrated, unable to write, and watches helplessly as more and more tragedies befall his two favorite characters (the Black Prince and the Bluejay). Farid spends more and more of his time with Orpheus in the hopes that he will bring Dustfinger back from the dead. Everyone believes his hope is ill founded.

The Piper crosses a line when he kidnaps many of the village's children, and demands the Bluejay surrender himself or he will send the children to work in the silver mines. Faced with no alternative, and the safety of the children at stake, what will Mo do?
"Blue as the evening sky, blue as cranesbill flowers, blue as the lips of drowned men and the heart of a blaze burning with too hot a flame. Yes, sometimes it was hot in this world, too. Hot and cold, light and dark, terrible and beautiful, it was everything all at once. It wasn't true that you felt nothing in the land of Death. You felt and heard and smelled and saw, but your heart remained strangely calm, as if it were resting before the dance began again.

Peace. Was that the word?" (Funke, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Funke, Cornelia. (2008). Inkdeath. Chicken House/Scholastic: New York, NY.

Charlie Bone and the Beast by Jenny Nimmo

The Children of the Red King (or Charlie Bone) series has the familiarity of school fiction, the intrigue of a magical fantasy, the constant pull of a mystery, evil villains that you love to hate, and the rich back story of the Red King. The King's Children even have magical powers. What's not to like?

As you may have suspected, trouble follows Charlie Bone wherever he goes. His Grandma Bone, and his great-aunts are always up to no good. The evil children of the Red King are always out to get him, and even some of his teachers are on their side. He has a bad habit of 'traveling' through pictures, and sometimes meeting strange people while he's there. But things have started to look up. His dad is back, and he has some great friends to back him up. Then he gets stuck with the new kid.

The latest installment Charlie Bone and the Beast begins to deal with the ability for people to change. People are very rarely all good, or all bad. They can change based on the influences around them. At the end of book five, Charlie Bone and the Shadow, Charlie and his friends get some help from a very unexpected source. This time around, it is their job to help him. Manfred's anger is even more potent than before, and he blames Charlie for all his misfortune. The new addition to Bloor's Academy is Dagbert Endless. He smells of fish and matter-of-factly tells his dorm mates that he drowns people. As one of the endowed, he quickly seems to side with Manfred. He begins to turn Charlie's friends against him. Even Cook is dismayed by his arrival, and the delicate balance of good and evil is threatened.

With Charlie's parents on a second honeymoon, who is he to turn to for help against the dark forces at work? Even his great-aunt Venetia has bewitched a man into marrying her so she can use his son's endowment. Many of the adults he has relied on in the past seem unable to give him the support he wants, and he begins to rely more on his intuition.

There is the mysterious kettle shop, and the other old magical shops on Piminy Street. The Red Knight is seen wearing the King's Cloak. The so-called Wilderness Wolf is being hunted, and creatures not-quite-human seem to be following Charlie. He knows it all points back to Ezekiel and the Bloors, but how? Events begin to converge, and Charlie must risk himself to maintain the balance.
"All at once Dagbert straightened up. He fixed Bragger with his aquamarine eyes and said, 'My name is as endless as the ocean and I drown people.' Bragger's feet slipped off the rain and he landed on his back on the floor. Nobody laughed," (Nimmo pg. 56, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo (Children of the Red King, Book 1)
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Nimmo, Jenny. (2007). Charlie Bone and the Beast. Orchard Books (Scholastic): New York, NY.

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer

 The Artemis Fowl series incorporates action, adventure, fantasy, cool fight scenes, using your brain to overcome brawn, and the importance of forming lasting friendships with people. Even interracial or interspecies ones! Master Fowl doesn't always do the right thing, but he learns from his mistakes. His wit keeps me coming back. Pick up this series (if you haven't) if any of that sounds up your alley.

The newest installment of the Artemis Fowl series doesn't disappoint. Artemis is back, with Butler and Holly in tow. This time around, they are trying to save Artemis's mother from a mysterious disease, Spelltropy. The fairy folk thought they had wiped out this disease long ago, but Artemis fears he contracted in while in the time continuum, and passed it onto her while trying to heal her. Unfortunately, the cure for the disease has also been wiped out.

The team has to go back in time to find the key to Mrs. Fowl's antidote. With the help of No. 1, Artemis and Holly travel back to before they have even met! A much more devious 10-year old Artemis has plans to wipe out his future mother's only hope of survival! Artemis vs. Artemis, anything could happen--and it does.

Colfer does a good job of keeping familiar characters a part of the story, Mulch Diggums makes an appearance, as does Foley. One other character appears, but I won't give that away. He does a fantastic job of explaining some unanswered questions, and setting up for even greater adventures. We see a much more mature Artemis this time around, one that thinks about others before himself. Quite a change from Book 1, but a welcome one.
"If I had done nothing then nothing would have needed to be done," (Colfer, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Artemis Fowl (Book 1) by Eoin Colfer
Magyk (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Colfer, Eoin. (2008). Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox. Hyperion Books for Children: New York, NY.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

July is DARK
Dark can be many things. It can be physically dark, emotionally dark, dark colored, about dark topics, scary dark, dark in a way that is realistic and not ficticious. These titles were chosen to show the range of books that may be recommended for a YA reader with a desire for something with more depth. None of these books are especially light-hearted, although they each have moments that are. Some are about ghosts, some are about war, some are about death, some are about rape--but all of them are about growing up and finding your place in the world.

There was once a man Jack. Well, maybe that is a bad way to start...there was once a boy named Nobody. He was adopted by a graveyard, has ghosts for parents, a mysterious guardian named Silas who lives in the graveyard as well, and has strange abilities that allow him to pass through walls and disappear from view. While his life is fairly stable, the man Jack--who killed his family--is still out there.

Neil Gaiman's newest novel is the latest recipient of the Newbery Medal, and a can't miss tale of finding your place in the world. Nobody Owens, or Bod as he is called, was so young when his family was killed that his life in the graveyard is nothing out of the ordinary to him. He gets lessons from Mr. Pennyworth on the ways of the dead, learns about Dreamwalking, Haunting, and Fading. Miss Lupescu (a Hound of God, or werewolf as humans call them) teaches him how to call for help in Night Gaunt, which proves useful. Silas, his ever solemn guardian, gives him support and unfailing honesty.

This is an adventure that takes the reader through the ghoul gate, down to face the SLEER, into the heart of a young girl, inside the nightmare of a bully, to the dance Macabre, and embraces the idea that you are in charge of your own destiny. Gaiman's tale is about overcoming fears, understanding where you belong in the world, overlooking arbitrary boundaries created out of prejudice or ignorance, recognizing the dangers that exist, and finding your own path to freedom. The touching friendships and connections that Bod makes throughout the book give him the strength to stand on his own. Also, it's really fun to read.

"Face your life
Its pain, its pleasure,

Leave no path untaken"

(Gaiman pg. 306, 2008).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, you might like:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Gaiman, Neil. (2008). The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, NY.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

This collection of short stories doesn't disappoint. My favorite story ("Magic for Beginners"), not surprisingly, features a TV show called "The Library". A group of friends, somewhat tied together because of the show, feature as main characters. Jeremy is our protagonist. His mother is a librarian. His father writes horror stories about gigantic spiders, is a compulsive shoplifter, and reupholsters furniture as a hobby. The friendship between the group of teenagers is magical, woven together as Link brings us into the story.

Jeremy's mother's great-aunt has passed away leaving them a Vegas wedding chapel and a phone booth. It begins as a whim, but becomes a compulsion for him to call the phone booth. Once a breathy female voice, sounding remarkably like the main character of his favorite show, Fox, answers.

The other stories run the gamut of sci-fi/fantasy with such imagination and ingenuity that everyone will find a story that they enjoy. Link's prose is magical, with moments that begin to feel familiar only to take you in a direction you never expected. The characters are relate-able and intriguing. The stories leave you wanting more. Some are set in the present, some in the past, some in the not-too-distant future, some in a parallel universe to ours.

This collection by Link is well worth picking up. There is something for everyone, from soccer players to aliens, from ghosts to a fighting statue, from monsters to wizards, from grave robbing poets to a magical boy named Onion, from villages that exist inside purses to love interests who are not what they seem. I will be on the lookout for any other Kelly Link I can find.
"On Jeremy's desk is a scrap of paper with a phone number on it. If he wanted to, he could call his phone booth. When he dials the number, it rings for a long time. Jeremy sits on his bed in the dark and listens to it ringing and ringing. When someone picks it up, he almost hangs up.

Someone doesn't say anything, so Jeremy says, 'Hello? Hello?'
Someone breathes into the phone on the other end of the line. Someone says in a soft, musical, squeaky voice, 'Can't talk now, kid. Call back later.' Then someone hangs up," (Link pg. 105, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link and Shelley Jackson
A Foot in the Grave by Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski
Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
3 a.m.: a collection of short stories by Dallas Woodburn

Link, Kelly and Tan, Shaun, Ill. (2008). Pretty Monsters. Viking: New York, NY.

Thirsty by M.T. Anderson

Chris is a normal teenager. His best friends, Tom and Jerk, may not be the friends of his dreams, but at least he has some. Rebecca, the girl of his dreams, may not be in his league, but at least he can still admire her from afar. His parents have informed he and his brother, Paul, that they are getting divorced when Chris goes off to college, but at least they are still together for now. His life is far from ideal, but it is pretty standard fare for a teenager in America.

That's when things start to get a little weird. He's always hungry, can't seem to eat enough. At night, he just lies awake, unable to fall asleep. He's thirsty, but water feels too thin. One day, while traipsing through the forest, he gets into a fight with Tom. Someone across the river draws his attention to his reflection in the water--or lack thereof--it has to be a trick, right?

Vampires are nothing new in Chris's world. There are bodies found around town more frequently lately. His brother drags him to a vampire lynching, and the girl being killed seems to recognize him. It doesn't really start to hit home until he meets Chet. Okay, that's not really his name, but who can pronounce a pattern of thought? Chet the Celestial Being offers Chris a way out. He just needs a favor in return. All Chris has to do is thwart the vampires' plan to resurrect their Vampire Lord, and in exchange, Chet will remove the curse of vampirism. Easy...easier perhaps if it didn't involve meeting the vampires at a pot luck dinner.

Anderson weaves together the angst of adolescence and becoming a vampire together until you almost forget that humans don't naturally morph into vampires at a certain age. Chris's struggles may be unique in some ways, but are certainly not in others. We all face situations in which we want to believe that someone will save us. The thirst grows with every day, and soon he fears for those around him. All the vampire fans out there will enjoy this, as well as anyone who is looking for a good adolescent tale of the pain that is necessary to grow.

"'In the midst of life, we are in death. Of whom may we seek for succor, sucker?' He smiles at me. Then he vanishes and leaves me appalled; for I know, and realize, that all he has said is true," (Anderson pg. 226, 1997).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan
Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber

Anderson, M.T. (1997). Thirsty. Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Fanboy is not a fan of many things. He is not a fan of high school, Jerk Jocks, his Step-Fascist (Step-Father), his soon to be born half-sister, his social status, or gym. He IS a fan of comics, his only friend Cal, Senior Goddess Dina Jurgens, Michael Bendis (a famous comic book writer/artist), education, and getting the hell out of his hick town. He has a plan. He's secretly been working on a graphic novel of his own, so secretly that he hasn't even told his best friend about it.

His friend Cal is the only thing that makes high school bearable. Cal is just as big of a comic book geek as he is, he's smart, funny. But there's a catch: he is also on the Lacrosse team. Cal isn't like those other Jerk Jocks.

Enter Goth Girl, aka Kyra, who befriends him after witnessing an especially humiliation moment in gym. She wears all black, and hides the scars on her wrists. She tells him that her mother died of lung cancer while she lights up a cigarette. She always picks him up in a different car, but being with her gives him confidence. He shows her his graphic novel Schemata, which he hasn't even shown to Cal.

The three have adventures that take them to a comic convention, through many fights, down into a basement, on treacherous driving sprees, to a party, and of course, on a bus.

Barry Lyga captures the essence of teen angst so well. The outcast with a basement full of comics may be the icon of geek, but that is only a background for Fanboy's other problems. His family situation makes it hard for him to make friends, and his ability to hold a grudge keeps him at a distance from a lot of people. Undoubtedly, Fanboy's life is far from ideal, but through this novel he learns that he might not be as different from all those people he thought he hated. Sometimes learning forgiveness, to forgive yourself and those who wronged you, is the path to growing up.

"But this isn't a movie or a book. And worst of all, I'm not a hero. So I just kneel next to her on the ground as her body shakes and jerks, as the tears run down her cheeks. I don't know what to say or do. I just want to touch her, to feel her, to know that she's real, that I'm real. To find the exact, precise right things to say that will make it all stop and make it all go forward," (Lyga 2006, pg 304).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga (sequel to be released Oct. 19th)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Black Mirror by Nancy Werlin

Lyga, Barry. (2006). The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, MA.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda is beginning her freshman year of high school. For some reason, that we as readers don't yet know, she is being ostracized by all her former friends. She is even alienated by the rest of the school. Even her first lunch period ends with food all down the front of her. Her only friend is a transfer student, Heather, who's incessantly positive attitude leaves a bitter taste in Melinda's mouth at times.

Why is she so bitter? Why is she so full of words, but can't find the strength to speak up? Her only solace comes in art class. Her teacher assigns each student one subject matter to work on for the entire year. She draws, scrapes, molds, paints: a tree. One day she stumbles into an old janitor's closet, and decides to make it into her own special place. A place where no one can hurt her, a place of freedom and safety.

Slowly we learn about IT. The incident. The reason for her silence, the reason for her shame and public humiliation. The thing she can't talk about to anyone, not even herself. She called the cops on a party at the end of the summer. Lots of kids got in trouble, even more were pissed off. She just ran away, not able to find her voice--to speak. There is a reason for her silence.

Melinda's inner world is so full, yet so desperately lonely. Through a series of choices and learning to stand up for herself, she is able to face the past. She doesn't stay silent forever. Everyone should read this book. If you have ever felt lonely, like you couldn't share the most important thing in your life with anyone, this book is for you. If you ever struggled with your parents, your friends, yourself, this book is for you. If you have ever found comfort in writing, in art, in creativity, this book is for you. Melinda's story shows us the importance of discovering who WE are inside.

"I know my head isn't screwed on straight. I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy. I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs. Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me," (Anderson pg. 51, 1999).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Who Am I Without Him? by Sharon Flake

Anderson, Laurie Halse. (1999). Speak. Farrar Strauss Giroux: New York, NY.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Okay, I can't lie. Keep the tissues handy for this one. The prologue introduces us to our narrator, Death. Right off the bat, we know that this isn't going to be a really happy book. Liesel loses her brother to Death in the first chapter, and her mother leaves her in the care of foster parents. However bleak it begins, and however grave the subject matter (Nazi Germany), this is not a tale of sorrow. Rather it is a tale of how powerful words can be.

The book thief's first theft turns out to be "The Grave Digger's Handbook", and the first book she ever reads. She stays up every night with her new Papa, learning her alphabet and slowly beginning to understand the words. After that she steals from a Nazi book burning. As a member of the Hitler Youth, this is both daring and dangerous. Her thievery doesn't stop with just books. With her best friend Rudy they steal apples, potatoes, even a ham once, to sooth their hungry bellies.

Her heart is stretched once more to include a wayward Jew, Max, who is hidden in their basement for months. In addition to becoming her friend, he gives her the gift of handwritten stories. When the time comes for Max to move on, she is torn between his safety, and that of her foster family's. Written from a different perspective than the usual Holocaust novels, this book is also full of beautiful prose. Zusak weaves words expertly.

This book will touch your heart. Somehow it makes you almost sympathize with the Germans who could see the harm their country was doing, but were powerless to stop it. Even the Germans who followed the rules became prisoners, in their own way. Liesel's story, as narrated by Death, tells us the tale of a young girl who finds her place among all the despair around her. She finds a way to grow and live.
"Usually it was like spillage--cold and heavy, slippery and grey--but once in a while some stars had the nerve to rise and float, if only for a few minutes. On those nights, she would stay a little longer and wait....till the stars were dragged down again, into the waters of the German sky," (Zusak pg. 45, 2005).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Maus by Art Speigleman
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Number the Stars by Lois Lowery
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

Zusak, Markus. (2005). The Book Thief. Alfred A. Knopf: New York.

MuZz Volume One by FSc

From the beginning, this story has you off balance. The author, Foo Swee Chin or FSc, has swept you into an afterlife of sorts, and nothing is familiar. Meet Farllee: a girl who doesn't remember her past, or how she got there, only that she is on a train to MuZz with other little creatures. These folks claim to be creatures of imagination, but Farllee clings to the idea that she is human.

On their journey into MuZz, Farllee is almost killed, and finds she can create, destroy, and change the space around her. This causes a good amount of chaos, illustrated by the emotive drawings making up this graphic novel. I admit, parts were hard to follow, and it made more sense the second time around. But the dark, gothic, Japanese-style art is entrancing.

The second half of the story introduces us to Edward, a former Dreamlord, Olive, a girl he found and planted, Savllomon, a companion and traveller into the dreams with Edward, Fealu, an adopted dreasmstress from the SOD (State of Dreams), Modorrellin and Gabriyer, the human twins who get mixed up in MuZzian affairs, among other strange and bewitching creatures.

The story is full of adventure, fantasy, emotion, confusion, and beautiful artwork that makes it hard to put down. Read it twice--once to get an appreciation of the drawing style, twice to make sense of the sometimes convoluted plot--but read it.

Be sure to visit the website for additional chapters that have yet to be published, and other fun things from the author.

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Nightmares and Fairy Tales by Serena Valentino and FSc
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
Sparks: An Urban Fairytale by Lawrence Marvit
The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman, et al

FSc. (2008). MuZz Volume One. SLG Publishing: San Jose, CA.