Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

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Originally published in: 2015

What’s it about: Brooklyn teen Sierra Santiago’s summer vacation is interrupted by weeping street murals, family secrets, and a kind of magic that links the world of the living with that of the dead.

What made me pick it up: I remember seeing good buzz about this when it came out a couple of years ago, so I checked it out when I saw that the audiobook was available.

My favorite things: Once I started this book I didn’t want to stop. The story is engaging and moves quickly with a sense of urgency that will make it hard to put down after “one more chapter.” Woven throughout the story are critiques of a sort of neocolonialist anthropology, gentrification, and erasure of cultural traditions – all of which come together to create a complex portrait of a changing Brooklyn.

Who it’s great for:  Teens interested in urban fantasy.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

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Originally published in: 2003

What it’s about: A teen boy and his two-year-old sister fall down an air vent in the laundry room of their NYC apartment building and land in a new world where they have to end a war and rescue their father to get back to the surface.

What made me pick it up: Abby told me to read it because it was good.

My favorite things: This book was so much fun! It’s full of action and adventure and authentic emotion. It has well-depicted family ties and fully fleshed out characters. It had me tearing up in parts and the action was so well paced that I was willing to overlook the minor predictability. In addition to the pace, I really enjoyed Gregor’s process of learning just how strong and capable he is. I can’t wait to read the rest in this series!

Who it’s great for: Young Harry Potter readers searching for a similar title. Readers of all ages looking for a little adventure.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Find this book on Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A young boy trains to become protector of his best friend, the prince, but on the verge of doing so he breaks an oath he did not know about and his world is shattered until he goes on a journey to uncover the truth.

What made me pick it up: I was ordering books for the library years and years ago and saw this and planned to purchase it and read it. Purchase, yes. Read? Not for ages because I changed jobs and my new library did not have a copy. We do now. And the sequel which I am very excited to begin.

My favorite things: This is some top notch YA fantasy. Once you get through the initial world building and character introductions the tale sprints along to the conclusion. Equal parts action and mystery, you will be fully immersed following Raim as he tries to clear his name and discovers the truth about his world and powers in the meantime.

Who it’s great for: Teens and adults looking for some great fantasy writing.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or at a library near you.


 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Luna is stolen from her mother before she can walk and is rescued and lovingly raised raised by a witch who unintentionally grants her magic. She helps to unravel truth from the lies that mirror it in a battle that pits love and compassion against sorrow and violence.

What made me pick it up: This is the winner of the most recent Newbery Medal – I added it to my TBR list as soon as the award was announced.

My favorite things: The family Luna knows and loves is charming in their absurdity; an ancient witch who is feared and loved and, above all else, misunderstood; a perfectly tiny dragon with the capacity to become simply enormous if only he were ready to grow up; and a bog monster older than time who speaks almost exclusively in poetry. I love Barnhill’s whimsical style and it is sure to help young readers expand their vocabularies.

Who it’s great for: Middle grade and younger readers who like fantasy and can handle a bit of darkness. Those looking for strong female characters will find many here to inspire.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A badass librarian has to stop her evil nemesis before he destroys the library.

What made me pick it up: I’m a huge fan of this fantasy series. It is extremely entertaining and has a great set of characters. I’ve read every book in the series and I look forward to more in the future.

My favorite things: This is was as fun as the first two! I enjoy the author’s imagination within the world she has built. I also am endlessly entertained by the characters as well as engaged by the relationships unfolding between them. And let’s be honest, I am jazzed about a book with an empowered female librarian for a main character.

Who it’s great for: Fantasy fans. Librarians. Steampunk enthusiasts. Library lovers. Admirers of strong female leads.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Librarian Irene must travel to an alternate universe and retrieve a priceless book before someone else does. Oh, and she has to do it while supervising her possibly not-quite-human librarian trainee.

What made me pick it up: It was about a librarian, duh. Also, it was steampunk and that’s one of my favorite fantasy fiction variants.

My favorite things: This book is so much fun! I’ve already read the second in the series and am eagerly awaiting the third. Why is it fun? The main character is a total badass female superhero librarian. And it involves all manner of supernatural – dragons, magic, fairies, alternate worlds. Oh, it’s so good. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out something else will happen. Plus it’s a super quick read. You’ll turn the pages right to the end.

Who it’s great for: Teens. Adults. Anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel. Those who like a strong female heroine. People interested in fun. If you read any of the Soulless books (and if you haven’t, you should) and want something equally entertaining. Fans of steampunk looking for more.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells