Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Call number: Y Taylor
Book released September, 2011

“Wishes are not for foolery, child.”
“Well, what do you use them for?”
“Nothing,” he said. “I do not wish.”
What?” It had astonished her. “Never?” All that magic at his fingertips! “But you could have anything you wanted—“
“Not anything. There are things bigger than any wish.”
“Like what?”
“Most things that matter.”

Summary: Karou has always been aware of the power of wishes, growing up as she did in the Wishmonger Brimstone’s shop, learning his trade: the bartering of teeth – all kinds of teeth, from all manner of creatures – for wishes. Brimstone is a chimaera, what humans would call a monster, a devil, but to Karou he and his associates — Issa, Yasri, Twiga, and Kishmish — are her only family; he raised her after finding her abandoned as a baby. Now a talented art student in Prague and living in her own apartment, Karou’s had a ready supply of small wishes at her disposal since childhood, wishes she’s used to give herself blue hair and tattoos, erase pimples, and take small but hilarious revenge on a cheating ex-boyfriend. To earn her wishes, Karou runs errands for Brimstone, using the door in his shop, which exists Elsewhere and can open all around the world, to visit tooth traders: poachers, grave robbers, murderers, and worse. No one knows better than she the terrible, desperate things people will do for their heart’s desire. Even though Brimstone is always trying to impress upon Karou the importance of using her wishes for good, not on petty or frivolous matters, she finds his concerns unfounded, since the people he trades with are the dregs of humanity. Of course she is better than them. What she doesn’t know is what the teeth are for, and how they power the wishes she takes for granted. Still, she’s been raised to this mysterious, magical life, and she’ll fight to protect it when mysterious black hand-prints begin appearing on the human side of all of Brimstone’s doors, left there by creatures even Brimstone seems to fear: angels. Her first meeting with the angel Akiva doesn’t go well – he tries to kill her, and she reciprocates, with swords – but they eventually acknowledge their mutual intense curiosity about each other and begin to perceive each other as something other than Enemy.

My thoughts under the cut

Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand

Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Pages: 435 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Call number: Y Hand
Read in March 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Read my thoughts here

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride

Author: Lish McBride
Genre: YA Paranormal (Horror-Comedy)
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Call number: Y McBride

Summary (from Goodreads): Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

My thoughts: This is a hysterical, scary, offbeat story about a slacker discovering his necromancer powers. It contains: a talking head, a (benign) zombie panda, a talking cat (who is actually a mini-dragon), homicidal lawn ornaments, sassy ghosts who love waffles, witches, weres, and an evil necromancer who makes his revenants do calisthenics just to prove a point. The book could have been a disaster, with too many quirky elements to succeed, but it has such heart that it works. It’s so good it was a finalist for the Morris Award in 2010.

I know this is terrible, but I often think of books in relation to television and movies. Probably because the only thing I do more than read is watch stuff. I think this is a mix of other witty but frightening and surprisingly touching horror-comedies, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Reaper, and Dead Like Me. I’m sure I could come up with more, but you get the point.

One minute Sam is deep-frying inappropriate things at Plumpy’s, the fast food joint where he works, and playing potato hockey with his co-workers and friends Ramon, Brooke, and Frank; the next, he’s being called out by a necromancer (Douglas, who Sam calls a “madman in pressed jeans”) and forced to deal with the fact that his mother has lied to him for years about his powers as a “death wrangler”.

Right from the outset, Sam was my kind of guy, when he wondered at how humankind spent thousands of years developing complex language systems only to create a cash register with pictures on it, “just in case the cashier didn’t finish second grade”. My feelings of love were cemented when he meets Douglas at the zoo to discuss necromancy, when Sam mentions that he never watches the news because “they just don’t make very good episodes of it anymore”. His deadpan, wise guy humor and pop culture references is what makes him so fun to read, but his underlying sweetness – his love for his friends and family – and his “why me?” plaintiveness is what makes him relatable. The other characters — Sam’s friends, his mother and sister, and a were-hybrid named Brid — are all equally developed and interesting.

The ending makes it clear that there will be (or at least, should be) sequels, which fills my heart with glee. This is a highly recommended book for lovers of paranormal thrillers and who are looking from something different from the standard formula.

White Cat, by Holly Black

Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Paranormal Thriller
Pages: 310
Rating: 5 stars
Call number: Y Black

First line: “I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down.”

Summary (ganked from Goodreads): Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

What I thought: I’ve never read one of Holly Black’s novels before, but I’ve read her graphic novel series, The Good Neighbors, and a lot of her short stories, and one thing that’s always impressed me about her is that she’s not afraid to take risks. To do the unexpected and uncomfortable. To create a sympathetic character, one you can identify with, and have him or her do something terrible. To take readers to a truly dark place.

This is not a book for everyone, because it’s not a happy story or a fast-paced one. It’s dark and subtle and you get the wool pulled over your eyes several times. You’re kept distant from most of the characters because Cassel is distant (though I think that Cassel is likable, but I don’t think everyone would agree with me.) There’s not a ton of action until the end; in fact, the plot develops slowly and you have to have patience that it’s all going to come together. The meticulous pacing allows the faint, nagging sense that something is wrong to develop, until the foreboding gets so thick that it makes up for the lack of action. In this kind of book, just when you have an emotional payoff and you’re letting out your breath in relief, something happens to stop it entirely. It’s a horror story and a heist story rolled up into one, and one of the more impressive books I’ve read this year. I have no idea where the next one in the series will go but I can’t wait.

October 2010 Programs

The Programs tab has been updated with more information on our October programs. Here’s the scoop.

Our next teen gaming program will be Thursday, October 14, at 4 p.m. (Sometimes if I can set up early, I’m ready to go at 3:45.) We have a ton of multiplayer games for the Wii and the PS2 right now — everything from music games like Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero to fighting and racing games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart.

Then, on Thursday, October 21, we’ll have a program on ghost hunting for all you paranormal enthusiasts, called Things that Go Bump in the Night. Come learn what it takes to be a real paranormal investigator with Kevin Sampron and Spirit Paranormal Investigations, a ghost hunting group based out of Littleton. See and hear evidence SPI has collected of ghost activity in Colorado (including photos and recordings of spirit voices) and learn about the real tools used in ghost hunting. The program will start at 7 p.m. and you do need to register, so call 303-762-2555 or stop by the reference desk to sign up. Space is limited!

Other, by Karen Kincy

Author: Karen Kincy
Publisher: Flux
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery/Romance
Call number: YPB Kincy (this book will be published in July, so look out for it soon!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (really liked it)

The appealing characters and genre blending won me over in this debut teen novel. Other takes place in a slightly different modern world, in which Others (supernatural creatures) have come out of the closet, so to speak, and are living publicly among normals. Gwen, the protagonist, lives in a Washington backwater where the locals view Others with suspicion and fear, so she hides her identity as half-pooka (a Welsh shapeshifting spirit – Gwen can become a horse, cat, owl, and other animals), even from her uber-Christian boyfriend Zach. Then Others around town and in surrounding areas like Seattle start being murdered, including a close friend of Gwen’s, so this coming-of-age novel turns into a serial killer mystery. Romance develops between Gwen and a cute boy named Tavian, who happens to be a kitsune (Japanese fox spirit), after Zach flips out when Gwen tells him the truth about her being half-pooka.

Very minor spoilers

Book News: Cassandra Clare’s new series

Here at EW’s Shelf Life, they have the first look at the cover for Clockwork Angel, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new series, Infernal Devices. This is the companion series to her Mortal Instruments series, a hugely popular urban fantasy series about a group of demon hunters, called Shadowhunters, living secretly in New York City. (If you haven’t read this action-packed, romantic series, starting with City of Bones, give it a try. A fourth book in the series, City of Fallen Angels, will be out next spring.)

Here’s what EW has to say about the new series:

“In the new series, Clare brings us back to this Shadowhunter-Downworlder universe—and back in time to Victorian-era England. Infernal Devices revolves around Tessa Gray, an orphan who heads to London in search of her disappeared brother and, like Clary, falls deeper and deeper into an alternate magical reality. Along the way she finds two good friends in Jem and Will (who graces the new cover), and also crosses paths with some familiar names and faces from the Mortal Instruments saga.”