Book Recs – The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Book: The Rithmatist
By: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: YA

What it’s about: The main character, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatist’s are this worlds magic users. They use chalk to draw lines and creatures which can protect and attack other people by moving along floors, walls, and ceilings. Joel lives on the campus of the prestigious Armedius Academy where he watches as other students who have passed the test learn to become Rithmatists.

Why I read it, and why you should too: I had heard of Brandon Sanderson before, but I had never read anything by him. I think it was mostly a case of I read a lot of YA and he usually writes adult books. My husband is a big fan of his and recommended this book to me after he finished it. Since my husband is usually right when he says I will love a book I gave it a shot.

I loved this book! The magic system (I know, I know Brandon Sanderson writes amazing magic systems, but this was my first book by him) was interesting and a lot of fun. I enjoyed the characters and their development. The story also wrapped up well, but left me with plenty of questions for the next book in the set.

After reading this book I also started going through the Write about Dragons lectures. I have learned so much from watching those videos and I am still only about halfway through them. I can’t wait to see what else I learn as they continue forward.

Book Recs – Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Book: Shade
By: Jeri Smith-Ready
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: YA

What it’s about: Aura’s boyfriend, Logan, dies after playing a gig with his band. The twist? Aura can still see and hear him. Aura, like everyone born after the Shift, can see and talk to ghosts.

Why I read it, and why you should too: I picked it up because it was a recommended read on Amazon when I was on a big YA kick a few years ago. I kept reading it because of the world building. The how and why of the shift kept my interest from the first few pages. The idea that an entire generation can see and talk to ghosts fascinated me. Plus I read a lot of books with love triangles around that time and the fact one of the boys in this one was a ghost made it far more interesting.

All three books in the trilogy are quick, fun reads. I particularly love that while everything is tied up at the end of book three it isn’t one of those endings that is so perfect it makes your head spin. It was a wonderfully realistic happy ending even for a fantasy book. It felt like the kind of happy ending you could expect in real life, not just in a fairy tale.

What books have you read lately? Do you enjoy a  good love triangle or do you think they are overdone?

Book Recs – Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Book: Leviathan
By: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Steampunk
Audience: YA

What it’s about: Prince Aleksander is on the run from his own countrymen. He crosses paths with Deryn Sharp (a commoner) who disguises herself as a boy in the British Air Service. This book is the first in a trilogy that covers this pairs round the world adventures.

Why I read it, and why you should too: I read this book because I was desperate for something to read and it was sitting in my study. I had read and loved The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld many years ago. It made sense to give this title a go.

It took me a little while to get into this book. Once I got over that initial bump though I was on the hunt for the second and third books so I wouldn’t have to pause between them. The action is fairly constant without a lot of repetition. The differences in technology for the two sides of the war (the British and the Germans) are interesting and well thought out.

Perhaps my favourite part of all the books was the mini history lessons at the end. The author talks about the ways he has changed the world for this series beyond the obvious machine and animal technologies he has invented. Once you get into this book you won’t stop until you have read the entire trilogy.

Have you read Leviathan? Did you read it all in one sitting or over a few days?

Book Recs – Shadowland by Meg Cabot

Book: Shadowland
By: Meg Cabot
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: YA

What it’s about: This is the first book in Meg Cabot’s Mediator series. The main character is Suze, a teenage mediator. Suze’s mother has just remarried, so Suze has moved to a new house, new blended family, and new school. Because she can see ghosts she hates old buildings (this is where ghosts hang out).

Why I read it, and why you should too: I think I read this book because it was a recommendation in an article for those who liked the Roswell books by Melinda Metz. Lets just say I read these long enough ago that they were still under Meg Cabot’s pen name at the time.

The books are short and quick to read. I love the story between Suze and Jesse, the ghost who lives in her house. Suze is also a kick butt heroine. She doesn’t always go with the flow, and is even known to embarrass herself socially (not on purpose). As a somewhat socially awkward person her ability to do the wrong thing and keep her head held high appeals to me. If you are looking for a light YA supernatural story with a romance, this book is for you.

As an added bonus a new adult release for this series is set to come out in February of next year.

Have you read any of Meg Cabots’ books? What was the last book you read and loved?

Book Recs – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Book: The Raven Boys
By: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: YA

What it’s about: Blue Sargent, while not a psychic, comes from a family of psychics. Her mother, and all the other psychics in her life, have told her that one day she will find her true love. Unfortunately it is also foretold that if she kisses her true love, he will die.

Why I read it, and why you should too: I read this book because I am a fan of other titles by the author. This one caught my attention because the premise is both simple and gloriously complex. It kept my attention because of the characters. Blue lives in a smaller town that happens to be the home of an elite boarding school for boys. At the beginning of the novel she befriends four boys who go to that school. The rest of the book follows the five friends as they work to complete a quest. As expected there is a romantic side to this tale, but there is also a fun mystery and several good plot twists to keep things interesting.

Have you read The Rayen Boys? Did you enjoy it, or do you have another book you would recommend in its place?

Changes to the Blog

As you may have already noticed, I am trying something a little different with my blog. Instead of writing on a weekly schedule, I have switched to a monthly one. This means I’ll be posting a little more often (every three days, instead of twice week). My hope is the new schedule will give me a bit more structure, while still allowing me to post on any topic that catches my fancy. I am aiming to balance out my need for prompts with the desire for flexibility. Below you’ll find a few notes on some of the new post types.

500 Words
I recently took a writing course, and while the course itself was too basic the assignments gave me a lot to think about. Each assignment was 500 words. It was an interesting exercise and one I found I enjoyed. Twice a month I will post 500 word stories or story segments. They might be complete tales, or I might continue one story for several months. At this point I will let the ideas take me where they want to go.

Goals/Updates
I’ve posted my monthly goals twice now. I like the accountability of it. I guess you could say this one is my guilty pleasure. I admit I’m posting them for me, so I have a record of how things are going for my writing.

Recommendations
For a short time I thought about doing book reviews, but then I realized I only wanted to share the stuff I really loved. I’m also not necessarily looking to pick books apart. So instead of reviews it will be recommendations. Mostly I’ll be talking about YA books, but I’m sure other book types, movies, and TV shows will sneak in.

Do you plan out your blog posts? Or are you a post whatever/whenever kind of person?

Books for 6-9 Year old Boys

My son doesn’t have the reading level to read books to himself yet. He is still in the early reader phase, but he loves when we read him chapter books. Below are four of my favourite book series for young boys. I chose to focus on books that are part of a series for this post because once you find a series the kid likes it is easy to find more books to read.

1.) Jack Stalwart Series by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
Jack is a nine year old boy, who also happens to be a secret agent for the Global Protection Force (GPF). These books take the reader on adventures all over the world. Jack always uses the neatest gadgets to meet his goals. There are fourteen books in this series and we just finished the last one. A great series for a kid who likes gadgets and who wants to travel.

2.) Hardy Boys Secret Case Files by Franklin W. Dixon
I picked up the first book in this series because I was a big fan of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew when I was younger. I wanted to share that with my son, but he isn’t old enough for them yet. These books follow Frank and Joe Hardy when they are in elementary. They solve mysteries around their neighbour hood and at school. We have also read him books from the Nancy Drew Clue Crew series.

3.) Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
No list for early chapter books would be complete without talking about the Magic Tree House books. Everyone I talk to recommends these as a great introduction to chapter books. Jack and Annie find a tree house filled with books. The tree house is magic and allows them to travel through time and space. My son loves going on adventures with Annie and Jack.

4.) The Bailey School Kids Jr by Marcia Thornton Jones and Debbie Dadey
We tried the regular Bailey School Kids books with my son, but he found them scary. I don’t think most kids his age would have a problem, but he tends to be more sensitive than most. The Jr ones are perfect for him though. They follow kids in the second grade and are silly instead of scary. I also love the big text and number of pictures. We plan to use these as his first chapter books when he is ready to start reading them on his own.

Reading Again

The other thing I enjoy that I have been struggling with is reading. In the last two years I have read far fewer books than in previous years. I used to read more than the average person, but in comparison to most of my friends I’m a light weight. In an average year I hit 60 books. Over the last two years I have probably only read 20-30 books per year. Another sign I wasn’t feeling it is that I stopped tracking what I’d read. Something I am regretting now.

A few weeks ago I read “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater. I read her book “The Scorpio Races” several years ago and loved it. I grabbed the “The Raven Boys” because I happen to walk by it on a shelf at the library. I read through the first three in the series in a little over a week (one advantage of finding a series a little late!). I think the second might have actually been my favourite. It felt good to be reading again.

Once I’d finished them I floundered again. It has been so long that I’ve forgotten how to find books. What sites did I visit to find books I might enjoy? Who did I ask for recommendations from? Luckily my husband reads at least three times as much as I do and knows what I like. He found me “The Rithmatist” by Brandon Sanderson when we returned the last of the Stiefvater books. I enjoyed it as well.

After I finished “The Rithmatist” I walked into our study to see if I had anything waiting to be read in there. I don’t usually buy a book until I have read it through the first time and decided I simply can’t live without it. (I have a few exceptions to that rule including anything by Kelley Armstrong). As luck would have it though a copy of “Leviathan” by Scott Westerfeld was waiting for me.

I am only about a third of the way through, and while it isn’t my usual style, I am really enjoying it. It feels good to be reading again. Maybe all the reading will help get me writing more. At the very least it is cutting in my TV time for which I am grateful. Somehow I just have to keep up the momentum and find my next book to read before I have finished this one.

Sharing my Love of Books

Last night I read one of my favourite early readers to my son. “World Famous Muriel” by Sue Alexander. It is a simple detective story about a tightrope walking girl (Muriel) who solves the mystery of some missing paper lanterns while eating peanut butter cookies. I’m not sure if I love it because of the cookies (also my favourite), because of the mystery aspect, or the silliness of the mystery.

Here is a short list of other books I can’t wait to share with him as he gets older.

1. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
This book was read to me when I was about eight. My reading level at the time wasn’t anywhere near where I could read it myself. I did go back and read it myself in University. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around, but admitted defeat on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

2. The Mister Monday Series by Garth Nix
I loved Garth Nix’s book Sabriel and have read many of his other books. This series would make a great introduction to one of my favourite authors. It is also a series he can read at an earlier age than most of the books on my must read list.

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I discovered the Harry Potter books after a friend of mine took a children’s reading course in university. Since that time Harry Potter has become a house hold name with good reason. I can’t imagine a kid who wouldn’t love them.

4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
A great Greek mythology adventure series with a modern twist. I love the characters development in this series. Even as an adult I remember anxiously awaiting each new book.

5. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
This was one of the first book series I discovered on my own. Usually I read books because I got them as a gift or because a friend recommended it. This one I found on my own after searching through book reviews.

6.  Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul
I know these books can be a bit cheesie, but the first of the teenage ones was a lifeline for me at times.

Even better than sharing some of my favourite books with him will be the first time he reads a book and recommends it to me.

What were your favourite books growing up?