Top Ten All-Time Favorite Young Adult Fantasy & Sci-fi

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and today will be the first time I’ve participated. This weeks theme is Top Ten All-time Favorite book in a genre. I chose Young Adult, though technically, not all of these fall under the umbrella of YA. But since I also write YA, I find that all of these still fit nicely into the category. So let’s get to it. These are my favorite Top Ten Fantasy & Sci-fi


1) Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

 Because Sanderson gives us an amazing form of magic never seen before in a fantasy. Characters drink different metals that they “burn” to give them super-human abilities. An epic book series that I could talk about for hours. Oh—and did I mention that one of the main characters, Vin, is a girl that can kick some serious butt.

2) The Giver – Lois Lowry

Because in a world where everything seems perfect, it’s anything but. This is dystopian at its finest.

3) The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien

Because if you can’t quite handle the full Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit will give you a taste without tying you down to the three book fantasy.

4) Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Because Ray Bradbury was the genius that gave us our first glance into a world without books.


5) The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Because this is the first time we’ve seen a dystopian world of mazes, monsters, zombies, and a world on the brink of distinction that ends with one saying “Good that.”

6) Wool – Hugh Howey

Because a society living in a silo because the outside world is uninhabitable is an irresistible setting.

7) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Because completely ridiculous, slapstick sci-fi that makes you laugh, is worth the read alone. And also, because a pessimistic robot with a dry sense of humor is funnier than you think.

8) The Host – Stephanie Myer

Because an alien invasion is even cooler when an alien-inhabited human is captured by real humans that live in caves, and a love triangle ensues.

9) Pathfinder – Orson Scott Card

Because a seemingly medieval world where a boy sees the paths (think traces of light) of every living thing that ever walked the face of planet Garden, has a strange connection to a ship carrying sleeping colonists headed for a new planet. Get ready for time manipulation that challenges all the time travel basics in the wrapper of a medieval sci-fi fantasy.

10) Theft of Swords – Michael J. Sullivan

Because two, dark and handsome mercenaries that take you with them into a world of kingdoms, wizards, and dragons, is everything you want in a great fantasy.

I’d love to see your favorites in the comments BECAUSE…there might be a book I need to read! (seriously though, leave a comment)

New Book Release! The Gladiator & The Guard

I am happy to be hosting Annie Douglass Lima on my blog to celebrate the release of her second book in the Krillonian series – The Gladiator & The Guard. (There’s a giveaway at the end, so be sure to check it out!) I’m including my review for both of the books in the series so you can get a good idea of what her books are about. Enjoy!

Book 1 – The Collar & The Cavvarach

Finding a book that is original is refreshing these days. Too often we see the popular books “reinvented” over and over again. So I was happy to see that The Collar & The Cavvarach provided something new for the imagination.

The story takes place in a time where slavery is legal. The year is 154. Jarreon is part of the Krillonian Empire. The setting would be best described as an alternate universe that’s more modern day. So, right away, the unique setting grabs your attention.

The main character, Bensin, is a fourteen-year-old slave who promised his mother on her deathbed that he would make sure that his younger sister would be free someday. His schemes and plans for freeing his sister ultimately land him in trouble. This is where we’re introduced to a free, thirty-something, down-on-his-luck, athletic instructor whose specialty is teaching Cavvarach Shil. I’m impressed that the author made up a new sport for the story. The best way I can describe it is part kickboxing, part dueling. The main weapon, the Cavvarach is unique—a sword with a hook. The instructor, Steene, ends up training Bensin in the hopes of getting him to the Grand Imperial tournament. During the process, Bensin never forgets about his sister and his promise to free her. His personal struggles often seem to mimic the battles he faces in the ring.

Even though this is a young adult book, I think middle school boys would love it. Especially those who like martial arts of any kind. It has that “Karate Kid” type of feel, and there’s plenty of action and adventure which makes it perfect for advanced young readers.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!


Book 2 – The Gladiator & The Guard

I was glad to see such a great follow-up to the The Collar & The Cavvarach. It’s been four years since the end of the first book. Bensin is now 18. He’s still a slave, though his younger sister has been adopted by his Cavvarach Shil, instructor, Steene. When Bensin is accused of assault, his future hangs in the balance. Slaves have very little rights and his outlook is grim. But Bensin is a good fighter, and is much more useful than the average slave. He becomes a gladiator in the imperial arena where fighting is entertainment and the battles are often bloody and deadly. But there’s nothing overly graphic here, and the author does a good job of drawing you into the fight sequences and the whole life of a gladiator inside the arena.

If you’re a fan of the “Gladiator” movie, then you’ll enjoy the battles, the training, and the jail like atmosphere of the arena. A good series for middle school boys or anyone who likes martial arts.

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon


Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!

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Twilight Reimagined Enters the Twilight Zone

Life and Death: Twilight ReimaginedLife and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m not going to even bother with a synopsis. Everyone knows this is a gender reversal of twilight. When I first heard the idea, I thought it was a horrible one, but then I reconsidered and thought maybe it could work if it was done right. It only took a few chapters for me to realize the rewrite was a disaster. But I soldiered on and read it until the bitter end – cringing all the way.

There were two major problems with this rewrite. First, Beau was not rewritten to act more male. Like another reviewer mentioned, it seemed like Meyers did a find and replace “Bella” with “Beau.” You now have a male character that acts like a female. Ugh. He’s clumsy, un-athletic, not even portrayed as remotely good-looking. Even if I could get past the fact that he acts like he’s in middle school, then you have the portrayal of Edythe to deal with. Frankly, she’s creepy. She treats Beau like a child. She’s worried that he’s cold, she’s worried that he’s not being safe, she’s worried that he might be hungry. At one point, she even buckles him into the harness seatbelt in Eleanor’s Jeep. Um…I’m pretty sure any 17-yr old boy can figure out how to buckle himself in a harness. Then she leans over and kisses him on the cheek? I was waiting for Beau to say, “Thanks, mom.” What’s worse, she undoes his harness for him when they arrive at their destination. At one point she says “Now, be a good boy.” Argh. I could go on from there with her hand to his forehead, to Beau grabbing a pullover before he leaves the house so that Edythe won’t worry about him getting cold. And I’m supposed to believe there is this inexplicable attraction going on here?

There is an alternate ending which does nothing to make up for the problems with the rest of the story. Trust me, by the ending you don’t care because you just can’t accept that there’s a romance between these two people. It doesn’t feel the same as Twilight, not even close. It’s a shame that Bella and Edward couldn’t just stay Bella and Edward. This version is too weird and too much like a ninety-year-old (Edythe’s real age) is in love with a twelve-year-old.

Revel in the fact that I’ve saved you from hours of reading and watching one of your favorite books be ruined forever with the reimagined Twilight. Not only that, but also the hours you would no doubt spend asking “Whyyyyyyyy?”

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The Geography of You and Me – Book Review

The Geography of You and MeThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so excited to read this after enjoying “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight”. It just didn’t have the same punch and because of that I was slightly disappointed.

The Geography of You and Me is a contemporary love story of two teens Lucy and Owen. They have a chance meeting one night in a stalled elevator during a blackout in New York City. They make a quick connection, but soon after, end up in different places with completely different lives. The rest of the book follows their separate journeys with both of them struggling to forget about the other. This gives the story a kind of melancholy feel. You experience their attempts to move on with other people, their continuous moves to new cities, Owen and his father grieving for the loss of Owen’s mother, and Lucy’s life which mainly centers on hands-off parents who jet set around the world without her. The classic rich girl, poor boy.

The premise is cute, but the characters didn’t pull me in. I found I didn’t love them or hate them. I think the reason I couldn’t fall in love with these characters was twofold. One, it felt like their connection was more like a friendship of kindred spirits. And two, they were pretty much miserable the whole book. That made it hard to want to turn the next page. The fact that they were apart for most of the book also made it difficult to make the romance believable because there was nothing there for them to build upon except for that one night.

I did appreciate one literary tactic used near the end of the book where chapters got shorter and shorter in order to convey emotion. That was rather brilliant.

I also love the fact that Jennifer E Smith writes clean teen fiction. She’s found a wonderful niche for young, hopeless romantics that are waiting for their own great love story.

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Jackaby Book Review

JackabyJackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Move over Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and say hello to R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook. Instead of London and Scotland Yard, this eccentric detective and his sidekick are in Fiddleham, New England with one annoyed Inspector Marlowe.

The story begins with Abigail Rook, a young girl with a heart for adventure and discovery. When her misguided decision to abscond her university tuition and join a sketchy expedition for dinosaur fossils fails, she decides it’s easier to go to America than return to her disappointed parents in England.

It’s not long after Abigail lands in Fiddleham that she has her first encounter with Jackaby. Dressed in a long, brown coat with overstuffed pockets and equally long wool scarf, the man with the unruly, dark hair, shows up next to her at a tavern. He quickly relays specific details of Abigail’s trip to her. It doesn’t take Abigail long to realize that he is a detective of the unusual sort. Like that oh so famous Scotland Yard detective. Jackaby disappears into the night, and Abigail thinks nothing more of the strange encounter.

Desperate for work, Abigail scours the town but is unable to find a position. That’s when she finds an advertisement in the post office for an assistant for investigative services. When she shows up at the given address, she discovers none other than R.F. Jackaby. And that is when the game begans. She stumbles after him down the streets of Fiddleham as he rushes to the scene of a murder. Jackaby now has his Watson.

Here’s the fun part – Jackaby is not your average detective — he’s a seer. He has a special sight that allows him to see things that others can’t. Supernatural things, like ghosts, domovyk’s, goblins. Things that seem like legends and fairytales to others are very much alive to Jackaby. Now, there’s been a brutal murder in the city and Jackaby suspects the unnatural is involved. The inspector finds Jackaby an annoyance and his theories ridiculous. Even so, Jackaby relentlessly pursues the killer and Abigail finds herself in an adventure she never expected.

The spin on this book involving the supernatural is simply fantastic. If you take James Dashner’s flair for the curiously gruesome, and Madeleine L’Engle’s for the mystical, then add a dash of humor, you have William Ritter. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I’m thrilled that Ritter has found a way to give us a new detective to love. I simply cannot wait for more Jackaby adventures. If you are a Sherlock fan, like mysteries with a supernatural-fantasy element, you’ll love this book.

I’m also happy to report that it’s clean teen fiction. Outside of a few mild swear words that seem appropriate for the setting, the book contains nothing inappropriate for teen readers.

Favorite line from the book: “DO NOT STARE AT THE FROG”

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Book Review – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here’s the irresistible hook of this book – Teenage girl meets handsome British bloke while waiting for an airplane to London. (That’s probably why I finished it in one day.)

17-year-old Hadley faces one of the longest days of her life as she prepares to board a plane from New York to London for her father’s wedding to a woman she has avoided meeting for the past year and a half. She seems quite intent on hating the wedding, the woman, and her father. As if an omen of things to come, she fights with her mother before leaving, misses her flight, and now must spend another three hours alone in an airport waiting for the next flight with nothing but her bitterness and anger to keep her company. Then she meets him — Oliver. The handsome boy with a British accent also on his way to London. They end up sitting next to each other for the long flight. Hadley quickly realizes that Oliver is a welcome distraction. He’s not only witty, he’s quite charming. There’s just the right amount of teasing between these two characters that makes the chemistry between them endearing.

Once in London, Hadley is thrown into wedding mode. The author takes you through the emotional difficulties that come with watching a parent remarry. The book is about these complicated feelings as much as it is about anything else, and Smith captures it in such a way that gives validation to Hadley’s feelings while providing hope.

What becomes of Oliver will keep you reading until the end, and only then will you see what the statistical probability of love at first sight is.

I look forward to the movie version coming out in July which will feature Dianna Agron as Hadley, and Alex Pettyfer as Oliver. Here’s the link to the movie trailer.…

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Ender’s Game Review

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thing you need to know about Orson Scott Card is that you cannot understand the mind of Orson Scott Card. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. You’ll know what I mean if you read the book.

Ender’s Game is about Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. Earth has been through two world wars with an alien race called the “buggers”. They are now preparing for the war to end all wars. Take out the “buggers” before they take care of Earth. In order to prepare for this final battle, an international fleet (I.F.) battle school has been created to train young children to command their fleet of space war ships. These children must have super intelligence, with some aggressive tendencies. The children are chosen by making them wear monitors on the back of their necks in order to determine if they exhibit the leadership qualities needed for battle school. Ender has had a monitor since he was three. Continue reading

Dystopia Mania – Three Reasons Why It’s So Popular

If you haven’t noticed, dystopian fiction has become the latest mania in young adult fiction. Works such as Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner have helped fuel the current trend. Fans can’t seem to get enough of the futuristic societies gone bad. Continue reading