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In the small English village, Sorry-in-the-Vale, Kami Glass has dreams of becoming an intrepid reporter. When the aristocratic Lynburn family return to their mansion on the hill and strange events begin to occur, Kami is on the job investigating. Complicating things are the two beautiful Lynburn cousins, golden Ash and brooding Jared, who both show an interest in Kami. Also, one of them sound suspiciously like Kami's "imaginary" friend - a friend that she's been talking to in her head since she was a child. I completely devoured this book. Brennan has crafted a delightful story with laugh out loud dialogue and endearing characters. I can't wait until book 2, especially with the way the story ended.

-- Reviewed by Connie, Books Inc. Opera Plaza

I met this amazing man just a couple of months back, and I was just elated. Doctorow's new techno-geek novel is set in London, where Trent McCauley has just gotten in trouble with the Man. His crime? Downloading films illegally in order to make his own films by splicing scenes from different movies together. Trent's world, set slightly farther in the future, is a world where we may be living, and everything requires the Internet in order to live. With the Internet shut down, his father can no longer work, his mother can't receive her benefits, and his sister will have a tough time passing high school. Guilty and beyond upset, he runs away and meets his destiny in the form of a dapper gentlemanly beggar named Jem. Time passes and Trent learns the ways of living off the street with Jem and the Jammie Dodgers. Eventually, with this ragtag group of homeless folk, Trent realizes the only way to get his life back is to make the government give it back -- for good. Recommended for the clever people who like figuring out backdoors for computer programs and the like. Recommended for ages 13+

Reviewed by Robbin, Compass Books SFO

 

This ferociously inventive and satirical novel is set in a 21st Century Britain divided into dozens of squabbling principalities called the Ununited Kingdoms. Magic openly exists in this world, once it was the driving force of civilization but over the centuries it has dwindled. Long ago the greatest wizard ever forced the powerful and terrifying dragons to live on special reservations bounded by force fields that disintegrate any human interlopers. The Dragonlands are pristine natural areas kept free of farms, freeways, and factories, and in return people can go about their routines without being gobbled up by giant flying reptiles. All thanks to the mighty wizard Shandar, the like of whom we shan't see again.

Nowadays the greatest magic practitioners of the age have to hustle odd jobs like finding lost keys, enchanting moles out of a garden, or rewiring a house without having to cut into the walls. Kazam Magical Arts Management is an agency that arranges these jobs and handles all the paperwork for the notoriously disorganized wizards. Forms have to be filled out for even the smallest spell. The punishments for ignoring this modern bureaucracy are very old-fashioned-- burning at the stake. Kazam is currently run by Jennifer Strange, two months away from her sixteenth birthday but extremely bright and competent. She is a foundling; there is a whole industry that contracts orphans in indentured servitude until their eighteenth birthday. Jennifer could have done worse than being in charge of a bunch of highly temper mental magic-users who all live with her in a big converted hotel filled with all sorts of quirks and enchantments. It certainly never gets boring.

Things get a lot less boring when some of her precognitive clients and other soothsayers in the Kingdom of Hereford predict the coming death of the very last dragon. With the demise of the fearsome and unseen dragon Maltcassion the hundreds of square miles of Dragonland will be up for grabs. More tantalizing still, there are predictions of a coming Big Magic, which no one can explain but has all the kingdoms in a tizzy. Jennifer and her friends at Kazam are swept up in the greedy plots of politicians, corporations, and the media. She will meet all sorts of weird characters, benign and menacing, and uncover her own destiny.

Jasper Fforde has amazed us with his brilliant Thursday Next novels and the Nursery Crimes. He loads his pages with astounding imagination and gleefully lampoons the status quo. Jennifer Strange's world comes alive with lots of odd details. The Last Dragonslayer is the first in a series for younger readers. It came out in the UK two years ago and I am looking forward to reading the further brainy and funny Chronicles of Kazam.

Reviewed by Chris, Compass Books SFO

It rhymes, so you know it's rad.

 

 

 

This new author is young - not as young as Paolini of Eragon fame, but she's barely in her second year of college, and this book has been brewing in her head since she was twelve. What's Left of Me is the beginning of another young adult series called the Hybrid Chronicles, taking place in an alternate version of present-day Earth. The people in this universe are all born with two souls housed in the same body. Essentially, by the time a person is past their toddler years, a "dominant soul" is expected to take over the body, while the "recessive soul" fades away entirely. Children who don't completely merge are seen as hybrids, and are dangerous for reasons that aren't fully explained in this breakout novel; the main characters are actually two souls, Addie and Eva, both conscious in the shared body. Once again you've got teens on the run from the government, but as readers uncover the horrible medical and political secrets kept from the public, things get more intense than expected. Addie and Eva communicate through a form of thought/speak reminiscent of the familiars from Pullman's Dark Materials series and Applegate's Animorph series. Because it's two people in one body, it's like reading about a person with multiple personalities, except it's happening at the same time and while a girl is going through the tough teenage years. Seriously, characters in young adult novels have it beyond rough. Ages 13+

Reviewd by Robbin from Compass Books (Our Airport Store)

I had the great pleasure of meeting Veronica Wolff at one of many N.Y.M.B.C fantastic Author events, and I gotta say this woman is pretty darn spectacular. I had not read her young adult series before I met her, but after meeting her I bought the first two books and pre-ordered the third. I was awed and amazed by how much I loved the story! I finished the first two books in 3 days, and was aching for the third! These books are not only fast paced, but something is always happening! I was never bored at any moment, and I loved loved loved the main character, Annelise! She is a snarky and sarcastic girl with a potty mouth and tends to, on more than one occasion, put her foot in her mouth. She isn't played off as this average girl, in fact she is a genius. Finding herself boarding a plane and being taken to a mysterious island with an even more mysterious hunk of a Scottish guy. She soon finds out she will be attending a school where not only vampires are the headmasters but she is training to be a deadly assassin. All the girls at this school are competing against eachother to the death to climb up the ladder of becoming an honorable Watcher. But all she wants to do is to get out of this dark and dreary rock, and in order to do so, she must become a watcher so that she may escape. Easier said than done, this series is brilliant! Not at all your typical vampire novel, these books have something for everyone! They not only had me laughing out loud multiple times, but they had me hanging onto every word on every page! The cliffhangers are killer, literally, so make sure to have the next available book in the series next to you! Bravo Veronica Wolff! Bravo! For Ages 14+

Reviewed by Courtney from Books Inc. Burlingame

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