Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

August is Realistically Fantastic?
What does that mean? Well, I am a big fantasy fan, but many people struggle with the idea of a story taking place in a completely invented world. It can be difficult to relate to, and can turn off readers that would otherwise enjoy the story. These are fantasies that primarily take place in our world. There are quirks and tricks and trips into the past, faeries, cyborgs, angels and more!

Gwen is a pretty typical British teen, goes to school, has a best friend. Her family, on the other hand, is a little less typical. The time travelling gene has been passed down through her family for who knows how long. Luckily, it's her cousin Charlotte who has the gene. That is, until she randomly travels through time! At first, Gwen hopes it was just a fluke. She can't possibly be a time traveler, but it happens again. It turns out everyone was wrong. All the preparation Charlotte has gone through, all the languages learned and history studied, is wasted. Her mother is afraid for her safety, and rushes her to The Temple, also known as the Lodge of Count Saint-Germain.

Gwen is suddenly caught up in an ancient secret society, and her reception is far from friendly. Her claims are met with skepticism and secrecy. The loudest outcry comes from her Aunt Glenda, Charlotte's mother, who insists that Gwen cannot be telling the truth: her birthday is on the wrong day! Long ago, the birthdays of all the twelve time travellers was foretold. It seems her mother intentionally forged her birth date to give Gwen a normal life - and besides, there was no guarantee that she would indeed inherit the gene.

Those at the Lodge are hesitant to accept Gwen's story because of some betrayal of her mother's long ago. She isn't clear at all on what happened, but no one seems to be willing to enlighten her. Finally, they decide that it is more important for her to be safe in the case of sudden time travel. They call Gideon, the other time traveler, to accompany her. They decide she should take a short trip to visit Count Saint-Germain, the founder of the Temple, and one of the time travelers from the past. Her mother seems very unwilling to acquiesce to this idea, without telling her exactly why, only that it's said that the Count has influence your thoughts if you let him.

She learns a little of the story of Lucy and Paul: they were responsible for stealing the chronograph, the device created by Saint-Germain to unlock the Secret of the Twelve. When the blood from each of the time travelers is read into the machine, the secret will be revealed. As to what that secret is, no one is talking. Apparently, Lucy and Paul feared the outcome, and stole away through time to escape.

This is a little much for Gwen to take feels like her head might explode from the sudden influx of information. How can she be expected to behave as Charlotte's equal without any of the training? She isn't the only one who is skeptical either. Almost to spite them, she travels with Gideon to visit Saint-Germain. There is indeed something sinister about him.

Will Gwen be able to fill this new role? Can she hope to live up to the legacy of the twelve? What is the Secret of the Twelve...and who was that boy she was kissing when she traveled back in time? This is a whirlwind of a time travel adventure. The story pulls you into another world, and readers can't wait to learn the secrets. Highly recommended! (I can hardly wait for the second one!)
"The first pair Opal and Amber are,
Agate sings in B flat, the wolf avatar,
A duet-solutio!-with Aquamarine.
Mighty Emerald next, with the lovely Citrine.
The Carnelian twins of the Scorpio sign,
Number Eight is digestio, her stone is Jade fine.
E major's the key of the Black Tourmaline,
Sapphire sings in F major, and bright is her sheen.
Then almost at once comes Diamond alone,
Whose sign of the lion as Leo is known.
Projectio! Time flows on, both present and past.
Ruby red is the first and is also the last," (Gier pg. 95, 2011).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (Ruby Red, Book 2)
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

Gier, Kerstin & Bell, Anthea. (2011). Ruby Red. New York: Henry Holt.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Karou with the blue hair, the carefree art student, the collector of languages, and ever mysterious. Little do her friends know the truth about her life: she is an orphan, raised by monsters or chimera. The little doorway between their two worlds, the passage into Elsewhere, is her secret. It links her two lives. There is no way to get to Elsewhere unless the door is opened to her from the inside, but there is always someone waiting to answer her knock. There is Issa, the snake woman; Kishmish, the messenger and pet; Twiga, giraffe necked; and Brimstone, the Wishmonger...her stand-in father.

He is even more mysterious than Karou: collecting teeth in exchange for wishes. He sends her on errands to pick them up from all over the world, never telling her the purpose of her bounty. There is a distance between them. There are secrets he will not share with her, places he will not allow her to go.

In Prague where she attends art school, she has finally found a place to call home. She has friends, and even previously a boyfriend (scum), and her monster family to visit. Everything seems to be coming together...until she starts seeing the burned handprints on the doorways to Elsewhere. She means to tell Brimstone about it...

One night she returns to Brimstone's shop, after her first encounter with the Angel: their fight is rather one sided, and she barely manages to escape back through the portal. Arriving there, she is desperate for answers. Where is Brimstone? But he is through the forbidden door...and so she does the unthinkable, and she opens it. There she finds another world, completely unlike her own. There are bodies of chimera everywhere, all dead...or are they? When one grabs her wrist, she knows for certain. Brimstone rescues her, but at what cost? He handles her roughly, and shoves her back through the portal, back into her world...alone. She knocks, but the door doesn't open.

Battered and broken, she doesn't think things can get much worse. She hobbles home, barefoot. She avoids everyone for the weekend, and tries to heal. Who can she possibly go to for help? Zuzana comes to check on her, and there is no choice: she has to tell her the truth. Suddenly, Kishmish is flying towards her, on fire! He's carrying Brimstone's wishbone, the one he always wore around his neck, and a scroll burned beyond recognition. Rushing to the portal, she finds the doorway has been turned into an otherworldly inferno. She knows then, her chance at returning to Elsewhere has been stolen away.

Karou is hardly going to accept a fate that prevents her from ever seeing the only family she has ever known. She begins to investigate Brimstone's old contacts looking for a clue, any clue. She sees the Angel again, but this time he is different: softer, kinder, unwilling to fight her. Why the sudden change? The energy between them is changed too. There is something familiar about him as well, but how is that possible?

Who is this Angel in front of her, and how will she manage to reunite with her family? Taylor weaves a compelling story entertwining two worlds, and creating interesting characters you want to get to know. Readers will be drawn in to the evolving story. I must admit, I had hoped it wouldn't end with romance, but I'm a cynic.
"Home. The word always had air quotes around it in her mind. She'd done what she could to make her flat cozy, filling it with art, books, ornate lanterns, and a Persian carpet as soft as lynx fur, and of course there were her angel wings taking up one whole wall. But there was no help for its real emptiness; its close air was stirred by no breath but her own. When she was alone, the empty place within her, the missingness as she thought of it, seemed to swell," (Taylor pg 53, 2011).

If you liked this, check out:

Taylor, Laini. (2011). Daughter of Smoke & Bone. New York: Little, Brown.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder isn't your typical teen. In fact, she's not even fully human. She's a cyborg. After a terrible injury as a small child, much of her body was fitted with mechanized parts. Not long after, her adoptive father fell to the plague, leaving her with her adoptive stepmother and two stepsisters.

To earn her keep, Cinder works as a mechanic in the market, doing odd jobs here and there. She's gotten quite the reputation, but she is still shocked to see Prince Kai at her stall one day. It seems he is looking for someone to fix his droid.

There is a scare in the market when one of the vendors comes down with the plague. Cinder manages to stay far enough away, and she makes it home safe. She can't wait to tell her sister about meeting the prince! They run an errand together, to find a part for their hover, and Cinder is devastated when her sister comes down with the plague. Having to call for the emergency transport to take her away, she doesn't think things can get any worse until she gets home. Her stepmother has volunteered for her for the cyborg antidote testing. It's all over. No one survives the plague...

Meeting Dr. Erland is far from pleasant. He treats her like a lab rat, wasting no time injecting her with the latest plague antidote. Cinder may be the most surprised of all to find that she is still alive after. She is miraculously immune. How can this be? After another visit with Dr. Erland, she at least feels that a cure for her sister is possible. Could she be the key to saving everyone?

Returning home shocks her stepmother, but Cinder has bigger problems. She needs to find a way out of here, and quick, or her stepmother may hatch another crazy plan to sell her off for she did with her bot. Things start to get more complicated as she hatches a plan to escape from New Bejing entirely. Erland has her blood, he doesn't need her to create a cure. Then she runs into Prince Kai again, and he invites her to the ball. The ball she secretly wants to attend, even if she has nothing to wear, even if her stepmother would never really let her go, even if...but why wish for something that will never happen? She decides that will be the night she escapes, and that is the end of it, right?

Meanwhile, the King has contracted the plague, and the Moon Queen is demanding a very rare visit to Earth. She wants to marry the Prince, claiming it's a strategic move for Lunar-Earth politics...but there is something far more sinister lurking beneath her beautiful exterior.

Cinderella is one of the most prolific and far reaching of our fairy tales. Versions of it have shown up in myriad cultures. This one brings in some sci-fi, and jumps on the futuristic trend. It lacked some depth, and at times was a little too cliche Cinderella, but overall was a worthwhile read.
"Kai clered his throat. Stood straighter. 'I assume you are going to the ball?'
'I-I don't know. I mean, no. No, I'm sorry, I'm not going to the ball.'
Kai drew back, confused. 'Oh. Well...but...maybe you would change your mind? Because I am, you know.'
'The prince.'
'Not bragging,' he said quickly. 'Just a fact.'
'I know.' She gulped. The ball. Prince Kai was asking her to the ball. But that was the night she and Iko would be running away, if the car was fixed in time. The night she would escape. Besides, he didn't know who, what, he was asking. If he knew the mortified would he be if anyone found out?" (Meyer pg. 164, 2012).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) Feb. 2013
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Book 1)

Meyer, Marissa. (2012). Cinder. New York: Feiwel and Friends.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie isn't a normal kid. He's one of the unmentionable things about Gentry, the town where strange things happen. The town where babies are kidnapped and something else takes their place. Mackie is a replacement. He can't touch iron or steel, he can't walk onto consecrated ground, he's sickly in our modern world. No one really talks about it, not even his family. They just replaced the iron utensils with aluminum ones, and his preacher father created a daycare near the church outside the consecrated area. They tell him he must be careful to blend in, never stand out, never reveal that he's different...or he could end up like Kellan Caury: pulled out of his home and killed because people needed someone to blame.

Mackie's having a rough day, it's Blood Drive Day at school and the iron from the blood is nauseating. His classmate Tate is back in school after the death of her sister, and she keeps following him around trying to ask him questions he isn't allowed to answer. She wants to know what happened to her real sister, the one that was taken and replaced with the one who just died.

His condition is getting worse, not that he's ever been very healthy. Some guy approaches him, and tells him he knows how to help. He whispers the one phrase Mackie can't get over: "you're dying." What's he supposed to do? His sister Emma, the one who has always been there for him, brings home a friend from college. Instantly he knows that Janice is like him. When Emma brings home something Janice has mixed up for him, he drinks it, desperate to feel better...and he does! It's like a miracle! He doesn't remember ever feeling this good. He goes to a party and sees Tate, and again she tries to talk to him about her sister. There is something that draws him to her, he wants to open up and just talk about it with someone.

The drink Emma brought him wasn't free. The House of Mayhem wants a return on their investment. They will supply him with the analeptic if he will play with their band. They need the adoration, it's like a booster shot for them. The attention sustains them. If the Morrigan is to be believed, so do the blood sacrifices of the kidnapped children. In return, they protect the town, help the crops grow, and in general help the town prosper.

Tate is beside herself when she learns that her sister may still be alive. Mackie wants to help, but after meeting the Lady at the House of Mystery, he doesn't know what he can do. Can they stop her from completing her bloody task? Dark and creepy, this one draws you in. It's got plenty of plot, and even a little romance. Yovanoff knows how to spin a yarn.
"'We love the town as best we can, and they love us back, although they don't always know they're doing it. But it isn't enough for my sister. She needs sacrifice.'
She played with the flower behind her ear and said in a low, singsong voice, 'She takes their pretty babies, and in exchange, she leave them our own diseased flesh. Those are the ones who die, of course - almost always. It's nearly impossible to live outside the hill. So you see, we sacrifice our own too. But it's a small cost to give up the sick ones, the ones who are only going to die anyway. Except...'
'Except what?'
Her hand was small and hot when she reached for mine. She turned and smiled up at me, showing her jagged teeth. 'Except you didn't. Isn't that the most wonderful thing?'" (Yovanoff pg. 119-120, 2010).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey, Book 1)
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Yovanoff, Brenna. (2010). The Replacement. New York: Razorbill.