Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger

I took part in the Summer Reading program at the library this summer and one of the choices to be made was because we liked a book cover and I picked this book up.  This was a really pleasant surprise to me as I’m fairly new to YA books.  It was cool to me that there were illustrations interspersed through the book adding to the enjoyment.  The main character is a genius and a full 2 years younger than most of his classmates, making his days somewhat challenging.  However, he’s a great rugby player and gains the respect of the boys on his team for the prowess he shows on the field.  it follows him through school and sports and his budding relationship with a girl he really likes.  He also becomes friends with a boy on his team who is gay and gains quite a bit of insight into what his days are like as well.  I wasn’t thrilled with the ending but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to the YA crowd as well as Adults.

Crap Kingdom by DC Pierson

Crap KIngdom

Tom always wished that he was special enough to be a Chosen One who would get whisked off to an alternate reality in which he was the only one who could save the day.  The way he saw it, though, he just wasn’t “unspecial” enough… Until the night someone named Gark showed up and told him he WAS foretold in a prophecy and that he needed to enter a portal to another world to help save a kingdom!  Although it initially seemed like a dream come true, it soon became apparent that the unnamed kingdom [which Tom dubbed “Crap Kingdom”] was full of pessimistic people who couldn’t really care less about whether or not Tom saved them.  And Gark, who was the only one actually excited about Tom’s arrival, kept calling him “Tim.”  Yeah.  Being the chosen one wasn’t necessarily so great after all.

Despite the fact that this is a fantasy book, a great deal of it takes place on Earth and could easily be mistaken for contemporary fiction.  Original, funny, and well-written.  What’s not to like?!?  I would highly recommend this book to fantasy readers who want a break from books that require a glossary and pronunciation guide and/or fans of humorous books who wouldn’t mind a little reality bending.  People who enjoyed The True Meaning of Smekday should probably pick this one up, too!

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2

NOS4A2 tells the story of  Vic, a girl who has a special ability to find lost things using her red bicycle and a covered bridge that leads her to whatever’s lost.  Her gift works great until she encounters a man with a similar ability, Charles Manx, who uses his “gift” to kidnap children.

Vic was the only child ever to escape from Manx and his Wraith, the car he uses to travel to his own special realm, an awful place called Christmasland.  As an adult, she puts aside the whole awful memory of what happened with Manx until her own son is in danger.

I loved this book.  I thought it was very well written.  Not only was there great character development, but the plot reeled me in from the very beginning.  What an amazing concept, that these characters are able to travel to a realm beyond our own.  Hill creates quite the villain with Charles Manx.  Whenever I see one of those classic cars that Manx drives, I get a little bit of a chill.  Vic is a spunky, loveable and at times stubborn protagonist.  I also have to note that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son.  I think he definitely inherited his father’s talent.

 

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Dracula

Dracula:  The audiobook!  Recommended by reviewers for its cast (every audiobook should probably be read by a man and a woman together).  Susan Adams and Alexander Spencer bring this old story to life.  If you have seen the newer movies and tv shows of Dracula, you will not recognize the story, so much has been changed from the original tale (1897).

Jonathan Harker’s travels and experiences in Transylvania and at the castle create a growing horror as you tiptoe down dark hallways with him and see specks of light moving and growing into mysterious figures.  When Jonathan finally realizes the danger he is in, the listener will root for his seemingly impossible escape.  Our heroes are a likeable group of characters and the evil Count is suitably terrifying.

The book is a famous classic and the audiobook is just that much more thrilling in audio.  The story loses none of its edge and is superior to many of its modern incarnations.  Highly recommended!

 

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Once a Witch

When Tamsin was born, her grandmother predicted that she would be one of the most Talented witches in their family.  Now that she is 17 years old, it seems pretty clear that Tamsin has no Talent and her grandmother must have been mistaken.  She is really embarrassed by her lack of Talent and frequently wishes to be more like her older, more beautiful, and extremely Talented sister, Rowena.  While working for her family’s bookstore/magic shop, Tamsin is approached by a handsome young professor who would like help locating a family heirloom cuckoo clock.  Unfortunately, Tamsin has no idea that locating this clock could upset the balance of good and evil.  So, when he mistakenly calls her Rowena [who is fairly well known for her ability to locate lost items], she chooses not to correct him and, instead, tries to use this as an opportunity to prove herself.