Review: Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac

Joseph Bruchac retells a tale from the Mohawk Indians about a man who was so hungry he ate his own flesh, leaving nothing but a skeleton, and then ate the rest of his family with the exception of a young niece. In Bruchac’s story, Molly’s parents mysteriously disappear one evening without a trace. Molly is convinced that they will come back and maintains the illusion of going through her school day until social services finds her living at home alone and takes her into protective custody. Molly is then introduced to a long lost uncle that she has never met or heard of, who is supposed to take care of her.

Her “uncle’ acts strangely and locks Molly in her room every night…. could this long lost uncle be the skeleton man? Skeleton Man is a great book for younger teens. Bruchac does a fantastic job of building suspense through out the book and teasing the reader with the idea that Molly’s “uncle” is really the skeleton man out of Mohawk tradition. Recommended for school libraries for upper elementary and junior high school level reading and public libraries. Contains: descritpion of cannibalism.

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Review: Clay by David Almond

In Clay, David Almond introduces us to David, an altar boy who occasionally drinks a little extra communion wine and smokes stolen cigarettes with his friend Geordie.  David’s life changes when he befriends Stephen Rose,  a new arrival in town, at the request of the local priest. Stephen turns out to be a gifted sculptor.  As his friendship with Stephen grows, David learns that Stephen has the ability to mesmerize people and that he had been kicked out of his school for playing with the dark arts. Stephen shows David that together they have the ability to animate some of Stephen’s clay sculptures.

David and Stephen build a huge clay figure, and bring it to life, but David becomes afraid and runs off.  David finds out the next morning that the neighborhood bully, who has given David a hard time,  has been found dead.  The rest of the day clay creature follows David around waiting for his command.  When David tries to put the clay automaton down he sparks a confrontation with Stephen, resulting in Stephen escaping and the end of their creation.  The story is character driven, and Almond does a great job of developing David into a sympathetic and tormented character.  Some of the dialogue, however, may be difficult to read or understand.

Potential readers should be aware that , although the title and cover art suggest otherwise, the clay creature appears only toward the last half of the story and isn’t really the focus or even the source of the terror in the book for David.  Stephen Rose who goes from being an awkward new kid to a manipulative destructive evildoer, is the true monster.  An interesting take on the creation of a golem, Clay ends up being a solid story.  Recommended addition. to YA collections.

Contains:  some kissing and a description of a murder.

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Review: Ghosts of Albion: Initiation, by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden

Ghosts of Albion: Initiation introduces us to the Victorian world of William and Tamara Swift. The siblings have abruptly discovered they have inherited their grandfather’s responsibilities as magical protectors of Albion, the soul of England, when he is killed in front of them by were-beasts. Aided by the ghosts of Bodicea, Lord Byron, and Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, William and Tamara must defeat supernatural enemies and protect the people they care about. 

Ghosts of Albion was developed by Benson and Golden as an online animated show created for the BBC. Initiation consists of the scripts for the first episode, “Legacy,” the third episode, “Embers,” and a short piece, “Illusions,” that provides some backstory on Nigel Townsend, a crucial character in both episodes. On paper the dialogue seems a little over the top, but it works in the context of the show. The brother/sister relationship, witty banter, ghostly characters, and a creative take on horror and fantasy conventions (zombie monkeys?) make Initiationan engaging and entertaining stand-alone read and an intriguing introduction to the show. Contains: violence, murder, demonic possession.
The episodes of the show may be watched at:

Entry by Francesca the Librarian

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Review: Devil’s Footsteps by E.E. Richardson

When Bryan was ten, his older brother, Adam, disappeared, taken by the Dark Man. At fifteen, Bryan meets Stephen, who has seen the Dark Man, and Jake, who has had his best friend taken by the Dark Man. The three boys go on a quest to uncover the secret of the Dark Man and find a way to stop him. Devil’s Footsteps is plain old fashioned creepy supernatural horror. Richardson writes a brilliantly crafted tale that invokes a shudder when you read it. The Dark Man in the story is able to use the children’s fears against them which leads to some truly twisted scenes. This is a book is for those looking for something truly unnerving and scary to read. There is no romance subplot, and it really isn’t a buddy book. It goes for the creepy factor and it delivers.

I recommend this book as a fine addition to any teen horror section. Contains: some gore and horror situations.

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Review: The Hollow: Mischief by Christopher Golden and Ford Lytle Gilmore

hollowmischieThird in the series, the continuing saga of siblings Aimee and Shane Lancaster, descendants of Ichabod Crane, who is responsible for the many demons, spirits, and creatures that haunt Sleepy Hollow.  Aimee and Shane feel a duty to track down and stop these critters that their ancestor has unleashed upon the town.  In this installment, vandalism has run rampant, causing a great amount of damage and a few fatalities.  The blame for these events has been laid at the feet of Mark Hyde, one of Shane and Aimee’s friends and it is up to them to uncover what is causing the mayhem and stop it.

This book is as focused on Mark Hyde as it is on the mischief going on in Sleepy Hollow and the attempts to stop it.  There also is the continuing development of the relationship between Shane and his sister’s friend Stasia.  This book turns into one part horror book and one part teen romance.  For this series you really need to read the books in order to understand the relationships between the characters.  A complaint that I have about this book in particular is that Golden and Gilmore throw in characters just to kill them off: if the authors had fleshed the characters out enough so the reader could care about them, it would have made a much more engaging story.

The book that follows this is The Hollow: Enemies.   

Contains: murder by supernatural creatures.

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Review: The Hollow: Drowned by Christopher Golden and Ford Lytle Gilmore

drowned Shane Lancaster and his sister Aimee are descendants of Ichabod Crane, the fellow in the Sleepy Hollow story who had a run in with the headless horseman.  When they move to Sleepy Hollow from Boston their presence unleashes supernatural forces dormant in Sleepy Hollow.  It is up to Shane, Aimee, and her best friend Stasia to uncover the cause of mysterious drownings that are occurring as well as what attacked a group of teens having a party in a cornfield.   The Hollow has the feel of a Scooby Doo mystery, with a bunch of normal teens doing detective work to solve a case- but at the end, instead of a man in a rubber mask, they face a true supernatural creature. The unresolved romantic tension between Shane and Stasia also gives the book a touch of Buffy.  This is a well-written book that moves along quickly.

The second in a series, it follows The Hollow: Horseman and precedes The Hollow: Mischief. Recommended as a good fit for reluctant readers looking for horror stories and for creature-loving readers. 

Contains murders by supernatural creatures.

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Review: The Hollow: Horseman by Christopher Golden and Ford Lytle Gilmore

hollowhorseShane and Aimee Lancaster have moved to the town of Sleepy Hollow with their father.  When they arrive strange events start to occur. To make matters worse, there is the headless horseman who is taking the heads of the residents of Sleepy Hollow.    It is up to Shane, Aimee, and their new friend Stasia to find out why the horseman has risen and what he wants.   The first in the series, The Hollow: Horseman lays the ground work for the rest of the books, it introduces us to Jeckle and Hyde, two friends of Shane’s who don’t play a role in this book but are fleshed out in following books.  The book and the series is well written and has many different story lines running underneath such as the constant conflict between the introverted Shane and his extroverted sister Aimee. It also hints at a romantic story line that continues through the series.  The book has a little something for everyone:  action, romance, mystery, and, of course, murderous creatures of the night.

The series is continued in The Hollow: Drowned and The Hollow: Mischief. Recommended read.

Contains: murders by supernatural creatures, mentions of teen drinking and drug use.

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February 2015 YA releases

22328546The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.


The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead 8709528

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

22535481A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining ofSleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salsbury
Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?


91QYIiEDo9L._SL1500_Bind the Soul (Steel & Stone book 2) by Annette Marie

The most important rule for an Apprentice Consul is simple: Don’t get involved with daemons. Well, Piper is planning to break that rule — big time.

After a near-deadly scandal with the Sahar Stone, she has the chance to return to the only life she’s ever wanted. All she has to do to keep her Apprenticeship is forget about Ash and Lyre. Ash might be enigmatic and notoriously lethal, and Lyre might be as sinfully irresistible as he is irritating, but they’re not bad for a couple of daemons.

There’s just one problem: Ash is missing.

Really, she shouldn’t risk her future for him. He lied. He betrayed her. But he also saved her life, damn it. Wherever he is, he’s in trouble, and if she doesn’t save his sorry butt, who will? But with every dangerous secret she unravels, each one darker than the last, she slips deeper into Ash’s world — a world with no escape for either of them.

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons 15750874

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.


A Darker Shade final for IreneA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan 22535452

Unleashed, the romantic, high-stakes sequel to New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s Uninvited, is perfect for fans of James Patterson’s Confessions of a Murder Suspect.

Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her . . . but then she killed a man.

Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she’ll be ruled by the kill gene or if she’ll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn’t even know if she can trust herself.

81N4KD0o5gL._SL1500_Dead of Winter (Arcana Chronicles book 3) by Kresley Cole

Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her–until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts . . . and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on The Lovers. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana–or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first . . .?

22428828Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

After living as a Mundane and a Vampire, Simon never thought he would become a Shadowhunter, but today he begins his training at Shadowhunter Academy.


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Review: Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge by David Lubar, illustrated by Jim Kay

extremities Don’t make the mistake of thinking these stories are for children. They’re not (just in case the impressive cover art didn’t give it away). With this collection of short stories, children’s writer David Lubar has crossed into the world of YA fiction with thirteen tales that are vicious, creepy, and will give you the chills. While the stories themselves are pretty over the top, the feelings they inspire are genuine.  The first story, “Running out of Air” will stick with anyone who has ever suffered a sadistic gym teacher or felt guilt about being a bystander. Other stories, like “Apparent Motives” and “Whoodoo” telegraph their endings, but knowing where the story is going doesn’t keep it from being pleasurable reading.  There’s a grisly poetic justice to many of the stories. Smug, unpleasant, and malicious characters, such as Jake in “Every Drop”, Collin in “Patterns of Fear”, and Turk in “A Cart Full of Junk”, often meet violent ends, while underdogs frequently prevail. “Feelings” and “The Ex-Box” are gems in this collection, and deliver unexpected endings that will leave readers cheering.

      Stylistically, the collection reminded me a bit of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Like Schwartz, Lubar tells his stories in spare language, and doesn’t waste words— they are sketched-in outlines that leave the reader to fill in the blanks with her imagination. Each story is preceded by black and white interior artwork, giving the book an extra punch.

 It took a long time for Lubar to sell an editor on the idea of publishing a collection of horror stories for teens, as there was a general belief that short story collections don’t sell. Now that Extremities is out on the shelves, I hope we’ll see that change, and that Lubar has the opportunity to come out with a second collection as compelling as this one,

Contains:  murder, suicide.


Reviewed by Kirsten Kowalewski

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Review: Bloody Horowitz by Anthony Horowitz


 Bloody Horowitz is a collection of short, scary stories by Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider books.  It is a little dark and, at times, a little gory.  But it also had me cracking up. From the forward (“Why Horror Has No Place in Children’s Books”) to the editor’s note at the end detailing all of the cuts they planned to make in the manuscript (before suspecting Anthony of being a serial killer), it’s pure dark humor.  The first story in particular is a must-read for every Cirque Du Freak fan.  It’s entitled, “The Man Who Killed Darren Shan.” There are also killer mp3 players, a GPS you should never listen to, and a game show you’d give anything to win. Not to mention that I’m NEVER going to ride the subway in New York.

I highly recommend this book for every library. It is the perfect book to give to every teenage boy who loves horror or the Alex Rider series.

Contains:  Blood, violence, some themes that may be disturbing for children under the age of 13.

Reviewed by: Cherylynne W. Bago

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