Ash

It is no secret that I love fairy tales.  I especially like retellings of these tales, particularly when they have a twist.  My latest read, Ash by Malinda Lo, is a retelling of Cinderella, and it definitely has a twist (many twists, in fact).  I’ll get to the changes soon, but I must say that this story is beautifully written, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tales.  Malinda Lo has crafted a timely version of the Cinderella story that is so haunting, so rich, and so vibrant that readers who take the time to truly appreciate the story will not be disappointed.

Ash seems to lose everything in the blink of an eye.  First, her mother dies.  A short time later, after remarrying suddenly, Ash’s father becomes sick and leaves Ash all alone.  Her cruel stepmother forces Ash to become a servant in her own home, and Ash grieves for the life she once knew.  Her only solace is in reading the fairy tales her mother passed on to her.  Ash wonders if the fairies are real, and, if they are, will they take her away from her current life and the pain that comes with it?

Her answer comes in the form of Sidhean, a fairy who seems to have a strange connection to Ash.  Ash wants Sidhean to take her with him to the realm of the fairies, but he resists and insists that she is not ready.  Ready for what?  Ash does not know, but she can feel Sidhean’s presence with her, and she knows that the time will come when he will claim her forever.

Everything changes, though, when Ash encounters Kaisa, the king’s huntress.  The more time Ash spends with Kaisa, the less she focuses on Sidhean.  She grows closer to the huntress and does whatever she can, including making wishes of fairies (which are never simple and always come with a price), to spend more time with Kaisa.  Ash and Kaisa develop a friendship, which soon evolves into something that neither young woman was expecting.

When Ash realizes that her time with Sidhean grows closer–and her time with Kaisa comes to an end–she knows that she has a choice to make.  Will she go with the fairy who has given her all that she has asked, or will she risk everything for the love she has always wanted?  Read Ash to discover what happens when one young woman must decide between the fairy tale and true love.

Although I kind of knew what to expect when I began reading Ash, I was not prepared for the absolute beauty of the story.  I was utterly captivated.  It did not (and does not) matter to me that the Cinderella in this story did not want the handsome prince.  She just wanted love.  I think that’s all that anyone wants, and I applaud Malinda Lo for telling a story that will resonate with gay and straight readers alike.  I look forward to reading Huntress, the prequel to Ash, and I know that it will be just as beautiful.

For more information on author Malinda Lo and her writing, visit http://www.malindalo.com/.

Born at Midnight

I’m back!  After thinking I was going to be stranded in Indianapolis thanks to four inches of snow (which would practically cripple us here in South Carolina), I am finally home and ready to get back to normal.  I did finish one YA novel on my trip, an ARC of C.C. Hunter’s new book, Born at Midnight.  This book isn’t scheduled to be released until March 29th, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an advance proof of this first book in what is sure to be a wonderful new supernatural series for teen (and adult) readers.

In Born at Midnight, readers are introduced to Kylie Galen.  Kylie is going through some tough stuff.  Her parents are getting divorced, she and her boyfriend just broke up, and she gets caught at a party where drugs and alcohol are prevalent.  (She was innocent, of course.)  After the party incident, Kylie’s cold, distant mother decides to ship her off to Shadow Falls Camp for the summer.  This camp deals with troubled teens…but neither Kylie nor her mom truly realize how troubled these teens may actually be.

Kylie soon learns that Shadow Falls Camp is a refuge for troubled supernatural teens–witches, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shapeshifters.  At first, Kylie denies she is anything like these “freaks” and does everything she can to make that point clear with anyone who will listen.  Gradually, however, she comes to accept that she may not be all that normal.  She becomes best friends with a witch and a vampire, and she has not one but two love interests.  Derek is a seemingly safe fairy, and Lucas is an anything-but-safe werewolf that Kylie has encountered previously.  While Kylie is dealing with new friendships and love interests, she’s also coming to terms with her own abilities and what this might mean for her future.

Strange things are afoot at Shadow Falls Camp.  Will Kylie embrace who she is and be a part of this new world, or will she do everything she can to return to her so-called “normal” life?  Read Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter to find out!

In this post, I just hit the basics of this awesome book.  Since I’m one of the first to review it, I didn’t want to give too much away.  I will say that the book left a lot of room for sequels, and I hope to see several of them.  There is so much the author can do with the characters at Shadow Falls Camp.  It should be a fun ride!

For more information on C.C. Hunter, Born at Midnight, and the Shadow Falls series, visit http://www.cchunterbooks.com/news.html.

Paranormalcy

So, it’s Tuesday, my absolute least favorite day of the week.  Work stunk today, I have a pile of laundry to do, I haven’t gone grocery shopping in nearly two weeks, there are three more days until the weekend, and I have to spend my Saturday dressed up at my uncle’s wedding.  But there is a bright spot, boys and girls!  I just finished reading an awesome book about some wonderfully weird creatures.  Now, I know that describes nearly every book I read lately, but this one is a little different.  This bleeping super book is Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

Evie is a sixteen-year-old girl who works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency.  She’s the only person in the world (or so we think) that can see through the glamours of paranormal creatures, so it’s her job to bag and tag them so that the IPCA can keep track of them.  Quite the job for a teenager, no?  (Personally, I think it has to be better than working the drive-thru at McDonald’s…which I did for all of three days.)

Anyway, you could say that life is not quite normal, or paranormal if you will, for Evie, but it’s all she’s ever known.  She’s been at the IPCA since she was discovered wandering the streets alone when she was three years old, and she knows her “gift” is helping both humans and paranormal creatures alike.  Or is it?  (That question kind of gave the answer away, didn’t it?)

When paranormal creatures begin dying, the horrible events are traced back to a prophecy that somehow relates to Evie.  Could she possibly be the cause of these attacks?  Is there anything she can do to stop them?  Are her abilities and past somehow connected to what is happening?  Join Evie as she discovers just how paranormal she really is in Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy.

I really enjoyed this book.  It is one of the rare pieces of supernatural fiction that I think really doesn’t need a sequel.  (I wouldn’t complain if there was one, but the story wraps up nicely in this book.)  There’s the typical teenage snarkiness, a longing to fit in and belong somewhere, and a bit of romance thrown into this great story.  At the core, Paranormalcy is about a girl, human or paranormal, who is just trying to find her place in the world.

For more information on Kiersten White, Paranormalcy, and future books, visit http://www.kierstenwhite.com/.  I just went to the site myself and discovered there will be two sequels to Paranormalcy, so there you go!  Happy reading!

Bones of Faerie

In Janni Lee Simner’s debut young adult novel, Bones of Faerie, the world has been virtually destroyed in a war between humans and faeries.  Liza, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives in this world with her abusive father.  She has been taught from birth that magic destroys everything.  Plants are feared as killers, and any children born with magic are taken to the woods to die, including Liza’s sister.  Following this tragic event, Liza’s mother disappears, and her father has no intention of going to look for her.

Liza knows she must do something, especially when she discovers her own magic and realizes that most of the children in her town have some magical abilities and have kept them hidden.  Along with her friend Matthew (who is a shapeshifter), Liza goes looking for her mother.  On the way, she encounters people who have their own magic and can control it.  She realizes that magic has the power to heal as well as destroy.

Liza must go on an arduous journey to find her mother and bring her back to the human world.  Will she succeed?  You tell me.

As many know, I’m a fan of fantasy.  That being said, this book was not one of my favorites.  It just didn’t feel fully developed to me.  Maybe that will come with further books (if there are any).  I think if you want some great fantasy with an intricate plot and fully-realized characters, you’ll get more bang for your buck with Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy.