There are some stories we fancy we know so well that we don't bother to pick up the book—and for a long time, for me, that was The Pilgrim's Progress. It wasn't until a recent book thrifting excursion, when I found a stunning cloth-bound edition, that I finally set out to follow Christian on his pilgrimage to the Celestial City from beginning to end, once and for all! I'd been putting it off for years, and having experienced different versions of it (from storybook renditions
On the planet of Laterre, the oppressed Third Estate lives to provide for the privileged higher classes beneath a sky that never clears. Unrest is kept in check by the ruling Second Estate and their propaganda: "honest work for an honest chance." All Chatine wants is a ticket off this planet to a better life somewhere in the galaxy. Her opportunity arrives in the form of Marcellus Bonnefaçon—a young officer who is beginning to question everything the Second Estate stands for.
Fifth grade is a challenge for any normal kid, but ask Auggie Pullman and he would tell you that he is far from normal. Born with a facial anomaly that has subjected him to a cycle of surgeries for as long as he can remember, he's been homeschooled all his life and is almost accustomed to life with an extraordinary face. It isn't until Beecher Prep middle school that Auggie begins to understand the massive potential of his fellow fifth-graders for cruelty. It takes time, brav
Last night, somewhere around midnight, I finished a YA fantasy duology that proved disappointing. Despite engaging writing, a unique concept, and really solid characters, I was unbalanced by the overarching message of moral relativity that seemed to come out of left field. Essentially, at the end of the first book, the reader is told that life and its choices are not black and white, but a spectrum of all the shades of grey in between. And while it's true that every choice ca
Ex-princess Anastasia "Nastya" Romanov is the last hope for her family. As the Russian Revolution drives the royals into Siberian exile, Nastya hides magical spells from the Bolsheviks that guard them, hoping they will be enough to deliver her family. But one Bolshevik knows her secret. And he is closing in. As the noose tightens around around the Romanovs, Nastya's only allies are her family, faith, and new, dangerous feelings for the Bolshevik guard who seems less Bolshevik
Fifteen-year-old Wren Natsworthy has grown up in Anchorage, the Traction City-turned-static on the dead North American continent. Her parents, Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw, may be content with a quiet life after their years of adventure, but Wren is starving for an adventure of her own . . . and she doesn't think twice when one is offered. It seems so simple. A charming pirate. A task to steal a relic that no one is likely to miss. A simple transaction that could be Wren's
Parvin Blackwater's Clock gives her little more than eighteen years to live, and at the last year mark, she knows she's wasted them. Desperate to do something meaningful before her Clock zeroes out, she dedicates herself to exposing the government's terrible treatment of Clockless citizens known as Radicals. But when Parvin herself is denounced as a Radical and given a death sentence—exile —her last six months are suddenly inflamed with purpose. Survive. Save lives. Make her
Bilbo Baggins is a very respectable hobbit: he lives in a fine, cozy hobbit-hole and never does anything unexpected. So when the wizard Gandalf and a party of 13 dwarves select him for an adventure, Mr. Baggins steps quite suddenly and jarringly into a quest to reclaim a hoard of gold from the clutches of the wicked dragon Smaug. A journey of perils lies ahead, but there is more to Bilbo Baggins than anyone expects, and one should never underestimate the cleverness—or courage
London is on the hunt—one of the great Traction Cities that prowls the desolate Hunting Grounds in search of towns to devour. To young historian Tom Natsworthy, the mighty city is home . . . until his childhood hero, famed adventurer Valentine, pushes him down a waste chute to die in the wilderness. There, alongside scarred and vengeance-seeking Hester Shaw, Tom discovers a darker plot beneath the facade of London: a deadly new weapon with the power to destroy cities and rewr
"In merry England in the time of old, when good King Henry the Second ruled the land, there lived within the green glades of Sherwood Forest, near Nottingham Town, a famous outlaw whose name was Robin Hood. No archer ever lived that could speed a grey goose shaft with such skill and cunning as his, nor were there ever such yeomen as the sevenscore merry men that roamed with him through the greenwood shades. . . . Not only Robin but all the band were outlaws and dwelt apart fr
Okay, I know I recently posted a review on Sharon Cameron's exceptionally masterful work of YA fiction, but since I was only able to scratch the surface, here's a breakdown of some of the noteworthy qualities I most admire in this novel. 1. Cameron leaps into the middle of the action, plot, and character arcs. What makes the characters so incredible is that they are already built. They have real lives and personalities that have developed over backstory we don't see, lives th
Oliver Twist is born with no name between the walls of a government-funded shelter for the poor, and in minutes, he is an orphan. Named by authorities and wholly alone in the world, Oliver is subjected to all the cruelties and misfortunes faced by poor orphans with love from no one, and reproach from everyone. Running away to London seems the answer to his desperate prayers, for there is a place for homeless orphans in the city—especially in the business of crime. But Oliver'
Dorian Gray is an exceptional young man who enamours everyone he meets with the air of innocence and purity belied by his beauty. And indeed, until he meets Lord Henry Wotton, he is boyishly innocent, the perfect subject for a perfect portrait that his artist friend, Basil, creates in his honour. But when Lord Henry informs him that his beauty will not last—that he is destined for inevitable age and ugliness—Dorian cannot bear the thought of the beautiful painting outlasting
When Bayern sends an ambassador into the land of Tira, Razo feels under-qualified to be chosen as part of the escort. After all, he's nowhere near the strongest of Bayern's warriors, and his inability to take anything seriously makes him anything but formidable. So from the moment the escort reaches Tira, Razo is plagued by one question: why is he here? The answer becomes clear when the first dead bodies begin to appear around the palace. Suddenly Razo has a crucial role to p