[Bare with me, I am going to add content as I can]
I read quite a few children’s books/Young Adult fiction/fantasy/adventure, etc. I am going to start keeping track of the latest and the greatest. Feel free to chime in if you feel the need! If this page does get enough exposure I might make it into another blog.
- The Hunger Games Series. Suzanne Collins. Dear Twilight series – You have been shown wanting. The Hunger Games books are AMAZING. Complex, unique, thrilling, and with some love triangle-action too. A TRUE strong female lead, and with more imagination than most of the books out for teens today. Basically – it’s about post-apocalyptic states, where “states” no longer exist but in the form of districts – and yearly, each district has to send TWO CHILDREN into a “thunderdom” arena where they have to kill the others in order to leave the dome. Brutal? Yes. But one of the most compelling scenarios – and where it could be horrific in writing, it has so much heart and grace, that you can’t help but swallow these tales up super fast. MUST READ.
- The Monster Blood Tattoo Series. DM Cornish. DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY THE TITLE OF THIS SERIES. One of the most complex writers (old english meets fantasty meets nautical appriecation – and unique word choices – smaaaaart reading). The first book is called “Foundling”. I adore this series as well, and the art that accompanies it? Brilliant. Starts off about an orphan who is given a job being a “Lamplighter” and gets lost on his way to his job – thus starting a very gruesome, heart-rending, fantastical adventure that leads to him unexpected places, meet unexpected people, and ultimately discover the truth about his “orginality” and why he was given the feminine name “Russamund”.
- The Princess Bride. William Goldman. If you haven’t seen the movie – I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Basically – do not be disparaged if you fear the book will not live up to the movie – it’s just MORE of what you love and more of what you want – a story about the story you love with more story to boot. How can you beat that? Essential reading of all time. Period.
- Graceling. Krisitin Cashmore. Here’s a fantasy about a STRONG female character who raised to be an assasine without any question of her horrific strength – until she meets a man who makes her call everything into question, ultimately throwing her into an epic adventure. This isn’t your average girly “strong girl romance” – this is tough, but well written. The follow up Fire is just as fantastic. I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoyed “The Hunger Games” and want MORE from a teen book than sappy vampires and silly cliches. Great read!
- Incarceron. Catherine Fisher. I liked this book. Not as “die hard” as some of the others I’ve recommended – but it’s still imaginative and epic. Worth reading, if you’re struggling finding something new on the shelf. It’s about a prison that has basically created its own inhabitants and made a world of its own from prisoners of past – the story follows a young man found within the prison and his attempts to escape, and the story of the Prison warden’s daughter and her attempts to rescue the boy from the magical prison no one can find… The follow up Sapphique is now out – but I haven’t read it yet… stay tuned.
- Bone. Jeff Smith. I don’t usually read graphic novels – but I purchased Volume One and really enjoyed reading it. The story follows the three Bone cousins as they escape their town into the wilds of another world nearby – there’s a dash of love, humor, epic adventure, fantasy, thrill, horror, etc. Very enjoyable!
- Haroun and a Sea of Stories. Salmam Rushdie. Okay. This book holds a special place in my heart. This is in the vein of Harry Potter, without actually being Harry Potter – and it came out BEFORE Harry Potter. It’s not as complex, but just as adorable and fantastical, and inspiring. When I was 18 and hating “reading” – this was the book that not ONLY brought be back, but made me start writing again (Part one of my life change during college). The follow up just came out – I’ll update once I finish 🙂
- Muddle Earth. Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. CP & PS are my two FAVORITE authors (along with JKR and R. Dahl). Looking for a Harry Potter that isn’t a Harry Potter knock-off? Does your child love the epic adventure of Lord of the Rings – but do better reading something lighter and more fun? This is the book. It’s silly, fantastical, and endearing – with a bit of sass and snark. I mean… Dr. Cuddles is the bad guy… he lives in the Giggle Glade… he’s evil and angry… and so much more (must read to find out the twist). Loves it!
- The Edge Chronicles. Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. This is a very “tween boy” series – horrific at times, endearing at times – legendary fantasy and absolutely colorful. This is probably one of the most ORIGINAL series I’ve ever read it – and there are like 12 books about 3 main characters at this point. I definitely recommend. One of my favorite series.
- The Graveyard Book. Neil Gaiman. This is a FANTASTIC READ! After his family is tragically and mysteriously murdered, a baby boy finds himself growing up in a Graveyard of ghostly characters who raise him as one of their own. Dark, yet enchanting, this is a great book for people of all ages who just enjoy a good YA book that’s well developed and masterfully written!
- The Search for WondLa. Tony DiTerlizzi. Enjoyable read about a girl growing up underground with a robot “muthr”, only to be forced into the world she’s always dreamed of… though, no longer recognizable as “Earth” she travels the lands in search of signs of people like her in a world of complex characters. From the writer of the “Spiderwick” series, this is a great read. Smells of sequel too 😉
- Arabat Series. Cliver Barker. There are only 2 teen books in print now, third on it’s way– and I’ve read rumors of a 5/6 book series in total (not to mention a movie?). I love these books. I do. They’re imaginative and unique, freaky and exciting, and completely out of the ordinary. Clive’s style reminds me of Lewis Carrol, Roahl Dahl, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell, and Salvador Dali (if he were a writer) all blended together and then blown up. The best part is– whenever I see a field on a bright day, with the wheat waving in the breeze, like the rolls of an ocean: I wonder how Candy Quackenbush is doing… and I tumble head first in the gorgeous images Mr. Barker painted that accompany his novel so brilliantly.
- Fablehaven. Brandon Mull. Wow. I’m truly impressed with Mr. Mull’s ability to NAIL the personalities of the kids in this book (especially annoying/adventurous Seth who made my camp counselor-blood boil every time he decided to break the rules). It was honest… very VERY honest to how kids view the world. The story’s mystery, excitement, and real-world honesty (in a faux-fairytale world) were all collectively amazing (Grandpa’s constant lies were dead on for worried parents who say “don’t go by the pond, the snapping turtles will eat you” as my parents did for fear of me drowning). There is a sequel on the market, which I shall be purchasing shortly. There is a website that accompanies the series (www.fablehaven.com) but unfortunately I cannot get it to work (after two days it’s still “loading”). Brandon Mull makes an appearance on myspace, which is fine considering Mr. Charles Ogden (E&E) is on it too. As long as it’s not a “Fablehaven” site for kids on myspace I am appeased. ANY TEACHER looking for a GREAT read– I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
- I, Coriander. Sally Gardner. I surprisingly loved this book. Even though I’m a sucker for fairytale romances, I have tried to steer clear and go for adventure YA. I’ve had this book for a few years and finally read it this past winter. With undertones of a Cinderella story, Gardner managed to make a fantastic fairy tale– weaving together plague-ridden London & a fairy world. Sweet, endearing, and a fresh perspective… I would recommend this to any girl loving a good adventure romance (kid or tween).
- Princess Academy, The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets. Shannon Hale. Shannon Hale’s first book, Princess Academy, was a great read. Strong female character, with elemental magic and friendship. Shortly after, Shannon published the three following books– starting with a Cinderella fairytale, a tale of inner strength & struggle, and finally a tale of personality and honesty. All three had the same style as Princess Academy. The Goose Girl and Princess Academy were my favorite. In Enna Burning it was clear that Shannon’s voice was growing, but so were the opinions of her characters. She had them reigned in for River Secrets. The books reference death, as well as some other tough subjects (wicked mother or not?), but I really enjoyed these books. Had to read all of them in one big gulp. In fact, I’d love to see Enna and Finn again in a fourth book for that particular series (perhaps reference the ladies of the Princess Academy since they seem to come from a similar world).
- Pure Dead Series. Debi Gliori. A really goofy series I picked up in the UK about 5 years ago. Has humor and heart and a fun spin on magic & technology (not like Artemis Fowl). Basically, the novels follow the exploits of a family with a witch-in-training mother, a more-than-she-seems nanny, a dad just trying to hold down the fort, a few mystical pets, a run down castle in Scotland, and the world constantly knocking on their door. It’s like taking a clever, fun family and sticking them into an Addam’s Family senario. There are 5 or 6 books in the series. I’ve lost track since I’ve been away from the UK. I’ve seen the first 3 books here stateside. For any kid loving modern-casual magic and funny stories… this is a great series.
- Sabriel, Libreal, The Abhoreson. Garth Nix. Intense trilogy (although there is a 4th book of stories by Mr. Nix that includes a mini-tale connecting to the third book). Necromancers, bells-as-weapons, the world between life and death, and magic. I actually really enjoyed the series. I don’t usually get into teen fantasy very often, but this was a great storyline. I really appreciated the way Mr. Nix used unorthodox measures to save his heroes (not all sword and gun). Had an undertone that reminded me of Europe post-WWII. There are several things I hope Mr. Nix writes further about– storylines he dropped off (The Abhoreson’s house, for example). Good for both girls and boys– however, it does have a written-by-a-man tone, I feel like it would appeal more to girls. That’s just a personal theory.
- The Secret History of Tom Trueheart. Ian Beck. Another book based on fairytale play. Tom Trueheart’s brothers are the heroes of all fairytales, and when they go missing, Tom steps up to bat. It was a cute story with fun twists on old favorites. Light and fun, this is a great book for any pre-tween/tween.
- Wildwood Dancing. Juliet Martillier. I loved this book. It reminded me slightly of The Frog Prince– but more, expanded, and smarter. Based in Transylvania, this complex fairytale made me wish people took more stalk in traditional tales– even if this wasn’t true folklore, it did have that feeling. Not for anyone under 14 (unless you feel comfortable reading aloud the one particular moment when one of the girls is groped), this tale is for any girl who loves romance and enjoys stories that balance light and dark. And I– not being one for the “darker” teen books, appreciated Juliet Martillier’s use of “Night People” to replace the horror-favorite “Vampires.” It was a great way of avoiding the stereotypical route for anything associated with Transylvania.
Some other books I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve read that are maybe worth taking a look at to see if you’re interested in:
The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Crispin, Artemis Fowl Series (now knows as the AF Series), Peter Pan in Scarlet, The Robin McKinley books (Beauty, Spindle’s End, The Door in the Hedge, etc), Bella at Midnight, Level Thumps Series, Fly by Night, Here Be Monsters!, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, The Inheritance Series, Ever, The Princess and the Hound, The Amaranth Enchantment, Princess of the Midnight Ball