Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

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The video is simply for Steampunk fans and is based on the Finishing School series, but is not specifically from Waistcoats & Weaponry.

This book begins with Sophronia and her friends in finishing school, continuing their espionage training. Of course Sophronia excels. In this Harry Potter meets Steampunk series, there is always an adventure that only our heroine is capable of solving. Sophronia and a few of her friends attend her brother’s engagement ball where they witness the mechanicals go crazy. Sophronia (and gang) fly away in an airship and then steal a train with the hopes of solving the mechanical mystery as well as delivering Sidghead to Scotland to deal with a family werewolf issue. Sophronia is caught in a love triangle between the handsome yet spoiled Lord Mercy and the sootie, Soap. It’s a lot of fun!

This series is recommended for fans of Steampunk adventure and is appropriate for upper middle school and up.

In the End by Demitria Lunetta

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In the End is the conclusion to In the After. Warning, SPOILER ALERT if you have not read In the After

In book one, everyone thought that the world had been invaded by aliens — little green men killing (and eating) the few survivors on earth. Now Amy knows the truth…the “aliens” are really humans who have been infected with a bacteria that changes them into monsters. The bacteria, she learns, was created by her own mother! In book one, Amy is rescued by some friends in New Hope and released back into the Florae infested world.

After learning that Baby was captured in New Hope and is being tested and tortured for a cure, Amy seeks help in a former prison that is “protection” against the Floraes. Fortunately Amy meets Jacks who helps her survive the grim environment mostly filled with former prisoners, and she is able to return to New Hope where she plans to rescue Baby and hopefully find a vaccine.

I thoroughly enjoyed these books. They are exciting and fast-paced — great for fans of zombie apocalypse novels. Recommended for 8th grade and up.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

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Mortal Heart is the third book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. [Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph are books one and two.] I really enjoyed Grave Mercy, and Dark Triumph was simply okay, BUT neither of them hold a candle to Mortal Heart, the story of Annith! I could barely put this book down, and when I was forced to, it was all I could think about!

Annith was the novitiate waiting at the convent as she watched her friends Ismae and Sybella sent out to do Mortain’s (Death) work. Annith mastered every assassin’s tool and was still not chosen for an assignment until one day the Abbess selects her to be the next Seeress — a job that would confine Annith to a room of isolation never to leave the convent. Annith does not feel suited to this position and is insulted that her superior assassin skills will not be used as a Handmaiden of Death. In order to find answers, she runs away from the convent only to immediately encounter Mortain’s Hellequin army and fall under the protection of the head Hellequin, Balthazaar.

Once Annith reaches the palace, she is able to serve the Duchess as she has long desired. The Duchess must make some difficult decisions to save her beloved country, but never fear…true love prevails!

This fantasy assassin series is highly recommended for 9th grade and up. Other books that you many enjoy in this genre: Rift by Andrea Cremer, The Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and The Young Elites by Marie Lu.

Michael Vey: Hunt for Jade Dragon

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Michael Vey Hunt for Jade Dragon is book 4 in this exciting series. In this Michael Vey adventure, the Electroclan is prepped to rescue Jade Dragon, a young Chinese girl who is autistic, deaf, and can not speak. However, she is brilliant and knows the formula to create electric children — exactly what Hatch and the Elgen have been seeking. The Elgen kidnapped Jade and are holding her captive in Taiwan; the Electroclan work to create a plan to rescue the child from a heavily secured facility.

Like the other books in this series, the problem is resolved in the way the reader would like, BUT there is always a cliffhanger that keeps us anxiously awaiting the next book. This series is great, especially for middle school boys, but is certainly an enjoyable read for all.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

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The Infinite Sea is the second book in The 5th Wave series. This book picks up where the first left off. Warning, SPOILER ALERT if you have not read The 5th Wave

Cassie, Ben, and Zombie are rescued from the explosion by Ringer, but what about Evan – Cassie’s “alien” boyfriend who helped save her brother?

In order to save Teacup, Ringer allows them to be captured by Vosch who then experiments on Ringer, testing the limits of his “alien” technology. Ringer plays a large role in this novel.

Like The 5th Wave, The Infinite Sea is filled with exciting twists and turns. I highly recommend this series.

In the After Light by Alexandra Bracken

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I have to admit that I’m glad to see The Darkest Minds trilogy concluded. It was more drudgery than enjoyment for book 3 (In the After Light), but I persevered. What I didn’t like about this book was Ruby turns from kind and naïve knowing little about her mind powers to being one of the top two people in charge of running a rebellion just a few months after her camp escape. She and Liam butt heads due to this sudden rise to power as well as her close relationship with his brother, Cole. In the end she must return to the camp that she called “home” for six years of her life. (That part was great!)

If you like book 1 and 2 then you must read book 3…I just did not like it as well as the others. This series is recommended for high school and up due to extreme language (mostly from Vida).

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

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Never Fade (2013) is book 2 in The Darkest Minds trilogy, and it is an exciting continuation of Ruby’s story in this dystopian adventure with a dash of romance.

Warning! Spoiler alert for The Darkest Minds…Ruby has erased Liam’s memories of her to protect him from the Children’s League and give him an opportunity to reunite with his parents without worrying about her…or so she thinks. With her power to read people’s minds, she becomes one of the League’s greatest weapons for interrogation and operations. Liam’s older brother, Cole, is rescued by the League, and then sends Ruby on a private mission to locate Liam and retrieve a flash drive that was sewn into a coat he is wearing. From this op, old friends are reunited, and new alliances are formed. Also, previous villains resurface to aid in this novel’s nail-biting suspense. The end definitely leaves the reader ready to pick up book three, In the Afterlight (2014).

Great book! (But do be forewarned…lots of language…recommended for high school and up.)

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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Ruby survives the strange virus that kills so many of the children in the U.S. and those children who did survive develop strange powers that the government categorizes into colors: Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red. Ruby is one of the dangerous ones – she’s an Orange. She has the power to erase memories as well as control thoughts, and though she has not mastered her abilities, she seeks the one whom she thinks can help her.

The government is afraid of the children with powers so these children are imprisoned in “camps” where they live in fear and gloom. The Children’s League is interested in Ruby because of her Orange abilities and they help her escape, but do they have her best interest at heart? She eventually teams up with a threesome looking for the “Slip Kid” – someone who can help children reunite with their parents as well as protect them.

My favorite quote in the book also explains the title: “The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

This dystopian adventure is the first in a trilogy. I’m really not sure how this book bypassed me (published in 2012) because it is great! I cannot wait to read Never Fade (2013) and In the After Light (2014). Though this novel does integrate some “used” plot lines – virus that targets children, children with superpowers, children/teens that partner and develop familial relationships, manipulative villain with superpowers, children/teens on the run – it is still unique and worth the read!

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

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As a huge fan of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, I was very excited about her new series beginning with The Young Elites. Switching from dystopian to fantasy, this book set in the middle ages follows the lives of young adults who caught a virus and those who survived developed super-human powers, known as the Young Elites.

Fifteen-year-old Adelina Amouteru just recently learns that she has illusionist powers and flees from her abusive father who is about to sell her to a married man as his mistress. She accidentally kills her father who chases after her, and just before her execution, a band of Young Elites rescue her. They then train her how to use her powers, but unfortunately, Adelina’s power is fueled by fear which feeds her dark side. Some of the Dagger Society want her killed before she can learn how powerful she really is, but the prince (and leader of the Society) desires for her to be a part of their group.

When reading this book, I felt like I was reading a backstory of a soon-to-be villain…for instance, villains are often “misunderstood” because of their childhood, and the ending leads me to believe that my initial thoughts are true.

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

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Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay is a wonderful romantic adventure with fairy tales interwoven. Upon her death, Sleeping Beauty gave her daughter, Princess Aurora, fairy blessings of strength in battle and mercy, but the blessings come with a curse that if a boy kisses her he will lose his freewill and become a mindless puppet who follows her blindly. Now Aurora fights for her life as the evil ogre queen seeks to capture her. Prince Niklaas has been cursed by his immortal father to become a swan on his 18th birthday so that he will not be eligible to inherit the kingdom. Niklaas learns that if he marries a princess who is heir to another realm then the curse will be broken; therefore, he madly seeks to locate the missing Princess Aurora. Disguised as a boy, Princess Aurora teams up with Niklaas and a strong bond of friendship ensues. Eventually truths of identity and curses are revealed, but never fear, there is a fairy tale ending, and it is great!

This book is set to be released in December 2014.