La Belle Savauge by Phillip Pullman

Over a decade and a half after the release of The Amber Spyglass, the last book in his groundbreaking  His Dark Materials trilogy, Phillip Pullman returns to the world of Lyra Belacqua. In this debut novel La Belle Savauge, first, of a new trilogy titled The Book of Dust, Pullman introduces new characters, while at the same time giving us a closer look at the pasts of some old ones. Set in a time when the church has nearly every scrap of power, Pullman manages to perfectly demonstrate both the good and bad sides of religion.

Nearly a decade before the events of The Golden Compass, a boy named Malcolm roams the streets and canals of Oxford with his daemon Asta at his side. As the son of an innkeeper and the holder of a dozen odd jobs, Malcolm is the kind of boy who hears a little too much for his own good. When he finds a message meant for an agent of an organization known as Oakley Street, dedicated to fighting the church’s chokehold on politics and science, he is drawn into a world of secrets and spies. However, when he meets Lyra, the baby girl the nuns in the local priory are taking care of, his entire world is flipped upside down. Since Malcolm has no siblings, he begins to think of Lyra as his little sister, one he would do anything to protect. And Lyra needs protection.

Malcolm finds himself caught between the opposing sides of the Magisterium and Oakley Street. In a web of secrets and conspiracies Malcolm and Asta struggle to keep themselves and Lyra safe, but as the forces of the church close in, together with mysterious strangers and dark rumors, that is not an easy task. With the help of a peculiar and unlikely cast of characters, Malcolm and Asta navigate their way through this surprising and wonderful tale.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf is a harsh and beautiful book, vivid and brutal and haunting from the from the first page.  Wolf by Wolf is set in 1956 Germany, with one twist– the Nazi’s won the war, and Adolf Hitler rules most of the world. The protagonist, Yael, is a girl with the ability to alter her appearance at will, due to experiments conducted on her in the prison camp before she escaped. Now Yael is an agent of the resistance, an agent with the most important mission of all upon her shoulders—assassinate Hitler.  Yael is one of the strongest female characters I have ever encountered in YA literature, strong and smart and fearless. Wolf by Wolf provides a hauntingly plausible look into an alternate past that is powerful and engaging.  The book is brutal and beautiful at the same time, making for an amazing story as Ryan Graudin blends historical fiction with science fiction, and adventure in this brilliant YA novel.

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashmore

In a tale as delightfully confusing as the mismatched halls of Tu Reviens, Kristin Cashore brings to life a world of art and mystery. The story winds through five alternate universes that take place if Jane had made a different choice in the first half of the book. Each retelling solves a separate mystery that takes place at the same time and place but is never really revealed in the others. Each choice spins the tale into a new direction and genre, be it sci-fi, mystery, adventure, fantasy or romance. With its colorful setting, dark secrets, and unique and quirky characters Jane, Unlimited more than lives up to Cashore’s previous books.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints is a heartwarming tale of family and friendship. The whole book is filled with magic and miracles, darkness and redemption, Saints and Pilgrims, romance and friendship- and of course the odd illegal radio station. As you read you will find complex and unique characters, Beatriz (The Girl with No Feelings), Daniel (The Saint), Joaquin (The rogue radio DJ Diablo Diablo), Peter (the boy with a hole in his heart), Marisita (the girl who blames herself) and a whole bevy of others. In this amazing novel, Steifvater explores the complicated relationship between science and religion in some of the most beautiful and profound words possible: “By relegating the things we fear and don’t understand to religion, and the things we do understand and control to science, we rob science of its artistry and religion of its mutability.” It is a powerful and timely novel for young adults at the moment, and many teens could benefit from reading it.

Maggie Stiefvater is coming to bookshop Thursday, Oct. 12 at 7 pm.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Words in Deep Blue, by Cath Crowley, is written from two people’s points of view; Rachel and Henry. These Australian teen, best friends tell the ups and downs of their loves and losses, with books playing a big part in their lives.

Henry’s family owns a second-hand bookstore, with a unique ‘Letter Library’. This is what their bookstore, Howling Books, is best known for. Anyone can write or mark anything in any of the books in the Letter Library. A letter to a loved one, a dedication, underlining a few words they liked. They’re all so unique, which makes it interesting. The rest is for everyone else to see and imagine different things from these little notations. This was a touching and vital part of the story, as many love stories are explained through this library. Including Rachel and Henry’s. One thing I disliked was how Henry kept going back to his girlfriend, Amy, who he started dating after Rachel left her childhood home to live by the ocean with her family. Rachel and Henry are destined to be together, and Cath Crowley makes you wait for it. Her intense writing keeps you on the edge of the seat, as Rachel comes back to Henry’s town after three years. Only this time, she’s got a secret. Her brother, Cal, drowned in the ocean, and she isn’t taking it well at all. Her moods change, she’s skinnier, she bleached her hair, and she decides to not tell anyone about her loss. Rachel took a job at a coffee shop near her aunt’s house, where she stays because of the move. But the job miraculously falls through, and her aunt found her work at Howling Books, cataloging the Letter Library. Rachel and Henry see each other for the first time in three years, and it’s not pretty. Even though Rachel is supposedly ‘over’ Henry, she still wants nothing to do with him. She tries to avoid him the best he can, until one night, their friend is playing at a club, and Henry decides to drink a little more than he should have. Amy broke up with him earlier, and said that she was in love with someone else. That someone else was Greg Smith, a good looking guy with lots of money. Amy says it’s got nothing to do with Henry, but he’s convinced it’s because he doesn’t make much money, working at a second hand bookshop. Although she doesn’t want to admit it, they both know Henry is a little bit right. Rachel and Henry run into each other at the club after he falls down from drunkenly accusing Greg Smith when he sees him with Amy. After that, Rachel and Henry get closer, not knowing they both want each other until it’s too late. Meanwhile, Henry’s family is falling apart, because some people want to sell the bookstore and the others don’t. Seeing if the long lost friends can save the bookstore and their love is a crazy, intense story.

Words in Deep Blue is a quick read, though enough time passes to make you feel like you’re in the story yourself. Even with its many heart wrenching sad points, this is a book I could not put down. Constant shockers and amazing writing makes it a true must-read. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be sucked into a story about love, books, and friendships. Anticipation crawls on your skin as you read about Henry and Rachel, hoping they find their true feelings for each other. Crowley’s beautiful and realistic writing makes everyone want to spread the Letter Library in their own bookstores. Cadie P.

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The Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

The Sea of Shadows is a story shrouded in mystery and darkness. With a beginning filled with monsters and magic in a forest of death, the plot calms after the first few chapters. While still an adventure full of mishaps and dark magic; this allows for a wider range of readers. Well suited for people who are into the whole zombie apocalypse, and people who aren’t. The diversity of the cast of characters paired with the dark and compelling story line will draw in all types of readers and keep them engaged and eager for book two.- Claire C.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

In the first book of the Prisoners of Peace duology, Erin Bow introduces us to a new type of future dystopia. A dark sci-fi set in a terrifyingly plausible future, The Scorpion Rules is a true masterpiece. Complete with a captivating storyline, sprinkled with wry humor and gems of wisdom, The Scorpion Rules is one of those rare books that demands your attention and is impossible to put down. In The Scorpion Rules, Bow demonstrates a unique writing style that defies every cliché and expectation. With complex characters who think and act like real people, and plot twists you won’t see coming, as Bow explores the very meaning of friendship- and love. The Scorpion Rules, in conclusion, is a true gem in the world of Young Adult literature.-Claire C

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin

In this fast-paced time-travel novel, Ryan Graudin blends everything from sci-fi and fantasy to historical fiction, romance, and humor. With a compelling and action-packed storyline, and a vibrant and unique cast of characters; Invictus is perfect for a wide range of readers. Graudin brings a new take to the idea of time-travel, weaving in themes of friendship, romance, mystery- and the odd red panda. Whether or not time-travel or sci-fi is your usual genre, Invictus is a book that will grab you from the first chapter and not let go until you reach the last page. In the space of five minutes you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. And you will definitely fall in love with Imogen’s rainbow hair, Priya’s patience, Farway’s ego, Gram’s cluelessness, and Eliot’s mysterious mission. Hop aboard the Invictus, and sit back to enjoy this wonderful, quirky, mysterious, beautiful book.-Claire C

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Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth’s “Carve The Mark” was an amazingly well written and creatively thought out story. All of the characters were extraordinarily enticing, and very realistic with all of their decisions and actions. I found myself at many different points through the book, wanting to dive even deeper into each and every person’s personal story. Although the very beginning was a bit confusing, due to the large magnitude of information about this new universe, eventually everything tied together and became much easier to understand. The storyline was easy to follow and had a great balance between the themes of friendship, love, and always followed by a thrilling action scene. I enjoyed this book very much, and would definitely recommend this novel to just about anyone. Once I started reading it, the hardest part was putting it down due to its captivating plot.-Will L

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A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

Face like Glass by Frances Hardinge is completely original and imaginative to the point of near insanity. It’s the kind of fantasy that forces the brain to stretch and contort and stretch into brand new outlooks. It forces the consideration of brand new perspectives and possibilities.

When Master Grandible, a reclusive cheese artisan, discovers a lost child in Caverna’s highly secluded tunnels, he realizes immediately that the girl is different. Seeing an opportunity but also wishing to protect her, he takes her in, hides her strange expressive face behind a black velvet mask, and raises her as his apprentice. Weary of Caverna’s society, he barricades them in, dealing only with a select few through his well-defended door. Seven years later the girl, called Neverfell, follows a small white rabbit to a crack in her master’s domain and wanders out into the world of Caverna. Caverna’s inner city is beautifully detailed and immersive. The passages and caves are so convoluted that anyone who tries to map them goes mad. The elite families are at constant war with each other for control of the city, and for the favor of the Grand Steward. The Grand Steward is so obsessed with staying in control that he has artificially extended his life and cleaved himself into two beings so that one part of him will always be awake. The members of the elite class are trained in a wide array of facial expressions, each carefully donned for the greatest manipulative effect, while the commoners are not allowed to have visible emotion and must wear only five approved faces. In contrast, Neverfell wears her thoughts and feelings on her face and that is the most dangerous thing of all. But there are people that definitely finds such a thing to be useful and that is how Neverfull ends up becoming a pawn in a dangerous game of power.

The progression of this story follows Neverfell in a character arc that shows realistic, slow growth. For the first part of A Face Like Glass, Neverfell is nothing but a pawn being moved from side to side and things happen to her. But as she starts to interact with people and learn about the true facade of life in Caverna, the more she grows, changes and becomes an active participant not only of her story but of everybody else’s in Caverna. Her resolve, goodwill, and resilient nature make her an engaging heroine, not an irritating one. All the characters of A Face like Glass are three-dimensional. In many ways, the elite are just as trapped as the commoners or even more so. The Grand Steward may be the most imprisoned of all. Frances Hardinge draws him so subtly and with so much nuance; it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him. Overall, A Face Like Glass is a multi-faceted tale, forcing the reader, to not only join in on a world full of lies, but also to question the lies in their everyday life. Even more than that, though, it is a tale of revolution and of resisting control in terms of social class.-Nika G

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