Friday, October 10, 2014

Series Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead | #1 Series I'd Recommend to a Reluctant Teenage Reader

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance > Vampires
Setting: Montana, Washington, Pennyslvania
Copyright: 2007 (Book 1), 2008 (Book 2), 2008 (Book 3)
Publisher: Razorbill
Paperback: 332 pages (Book 1), 327 pages (Book 2), 443 pages (Book 3)

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5)Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6)
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance > Vampires
Setting: Montana, Pennsylvania, Siberia
Copyright: 2009 (Book 4), 2010 (Book 5), 2010 (Book 6)
Publisher: Razorbill
Paperback: 503 pages (Book 4), 489 pages (Book 5), 588 pages (Book 6)

Cover Envy: The reprinted versions of the covers are much better to stomach than the originals. Although, some of the original covers I do like, specifically Shadow Kiss and Blood Promise. I don't like it when there are two people with faces on the cover (Frostbite & Spirit Bound)... I just get confused, especially when there are so many characters in the series. Also, they for sure used a different model on all the covers...and yet she's supposed to be Rose in all of them...I think? Let me re-iterate: I IS CONFUSION.

Read this series if you like:
**Paranormal Romance. It's a standard Paranormal Romance series, but like....the best of its genre. It's like the vampire equivalent of Harry Potter (epic storyline with lots of highs and lows, memorable cast of characters).
**A Badass Heroine who is also hilarious. Rose is a warrior. She's training to be a Guardian, which is pretty much a badass fighting machine. She makes a ton of jokes.
**Fantastic Cast of Characters. Every character is memorable, even the ones with smaller roles.
**School Setting. I really like books that take place in and/or around a school...which is weird, cause It's not like I loved school. There's just something comfortably familiar about a school setting. This one has an added twist in that school hours take place at night (because they're vampires!), the school itself is an elite boarding school, and classes include martial arts & Guardian training (training to be a badass).
**Age-Gap Romance. The heroine is 17/18. The love interest is 23/24 (6 years older than her). He's also her instructor/teacher/mentor. So it has a forbidden romance angle... I see him more of a "instructor/mentor" than a "teacher". It's not like he teaches any classes, like Biology...
**Magic. There's magic!
**Unique Worldbuilding using Vampire myth & culture. Moroi, Dhampirs, Strigoi....there are all types of vampires!
**Tons of Character Growth & Themes of Friendship, Love, and Redemption. I'll elucidate later, but the sometimes subtle/not so subtle themes in this book are just mind-blowing b/c they're packaged in this superficial veneer of "Vampire Book LA DI DA". It's like, "HA! Tricked you! Thought you were reading a vampire book with ugly covers, but NO, you're reading a vampire book with ugly covers as well as SUPER DEEP AND MEANINGFUL THEMES".

Okay, God... Get me out of this and I'll stop my half-assed churchgoing ways. You got me past a pack of Strigoi tonight. I mean, trapping that one between the doors really shouldn't have worked, so clearly you're on board. Let me get out of here, and I'll...I don't know. Donate Adrian's money to the poor. Get baptized. Join a convent. Well, no. Not that last one. - Rose in Blood Promise
Main Character: I #girlcrush Rose hardcore. I'm more of a Sydney (from Bloodlines) than a Rose in personality, but I admire Rose, her faults and her strengths. She's a fighter, she protects those she loves and goes after what she wants with a vengeance. I've read reviews that criticize some of her actions, but I love that she grows throughout the series and learns from her mistakes. And always at the core of everything she does is an undeniable passion and a steady, committed heart. 
What was love, really? Flowers, chocolate, and poetry? Or was it something else? Was it being able to finish someone's jokes? Was it having absolute faith that someone was there at your back? Was it knowing someone so well that they instantly understood why you did the things you did--and shared those same beliefs? -Rose in Last Sacrifice
Love Interest: Dimitri. This is one of the few series where I'm not like "I want the love interest for myself cause he's hottt". Dimitri & Rose are perfection. They complete one another!!!
"Dreams, dreams. I walk them; I live them. I delude myself with them. It's a wonder I can spot reality anymore." Adrian in Spirit Bound
Favorite Secondary Character: Adrian, but I won't go too much into my love of Adrian b/c he gets his own series (Check out Bloodlines by Richelle Mead). Let's just say I love boys with broken souls... Eddie is also a favorite character (but again, he gets to play a huge part in Bloodlines). Which leads me to...Christian! I feel like Christian is the male version of Rose, and since I #girlcrush Rose, I #boycrush Christian. I also really like Sydney as a side character in the Vampire Academy series...Thank God Richelle Mead wrote the Bloodlines series.
Villain: There's no big baddie of the series. The villains are both physical (the threat of Strigoi) and mental.
World Building: It's modern day USA, but vampires exist! Vampires themselves are classified into three categories: Moroi (pure blood vampires that drink blood for sustenance, but age like humans & have the same moral compasses as humans), Dhampir (half vampire/half human), and Strigoi (immortal, evil, drink your blood until you die vampires).
Writing: It's all first person past tense following Rose, so you get a fast-paced style book with great dialogue and a no-nonsense, straight to the point narration.
Recommendations: For a funny & fierce heroine in a setting w/ paranormal elements (angels, in the case of this particular book), check out Angelfall by Susan Ee. For the adult version of this series, w/ a badass/hilarious heroine in a paranormal setting, check out Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series.

Don't Miss This: A short story titled Homecoming is featured in the anthology Foretold, in which Dimitri and Rose travel to Sibera.
"Life's like that," he said. "As we grow and change, sometimes things we've experienced before take on new meaning. It'll happen for the rest of your life." - Dimitri in Blood Promise 
#1 Series I'd Recommend to a Reluctant Teenage Reader: I used to TA for a high school class when I was in college, and I remember spending an inordinate amount of time looking at my classroom teacher's bookshelf. Kids would have to "check out" books with me, and the popular books included: anything in verse (Ellen Hopkins), The Hunger Games series, Twilight series, Divergent series, anything by Walter Dean Myers, and any classics on the shelves (these were mostly read by the kids who didn't want to read, but needed to hold a book in their hands during 'reading time'). Which leads me to this: I would definitely have these books on my classroom bookshelf & readily recommend them to teen readers. These and the Bloodlines series. They combine readable entertainment with relatable, necessary themes of love, friendship & redemption. The characters are all young people existing as people, their trials and tribulations given depth and nuance. Teenagers are teenagers in these books, but their actions and thoughts are given weight. I feel like every teenager can read these books and relate to at least one of the characters. These books don't shy away from real teen relationships/experiences (they address sex, girl friendships, self-worth, self-hurt, mental illness). I legitimately think these books (and the Bloodline series) are legitimately more "real" & genuine than a lot of contemporaries out there. [Tangent on Contemporary novels in general]. Contemporaries, in my opinion, sometimes have the feeling that they're specific to these two characters only--they don't give themselves to readers. While I feel like speculative fiction has the power to give itself to readers, that the pain/triumphs these characters are going through are pain/triumphs readers face and can relate to as well. [End tangent].

Thoughts on the Vampire Academy movie: I have no thoughts. I haven't seen it. If you've seen it, tell me if it's worth watching. Just from the trailers, I feel like the tone of the movie is vastly different from the books. Since I really do love the books, I might not be able to divorce myself from them while watching the movie (seeing it in a whole different platform). Still, one of these days...

Overall Series Rating: 5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall [Release Date: January 13, 2015]

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that features upcoming novel releases.

The Conspiracy of Us
Author: Maggie Hall
Genre: YA Thriller > International, Mystery > Secret Societies
Characters: Avery West, Stellan, Jack
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Hardcover: 336 pages
Release Date: January 13th 2015
Cover Envy: I like how the model on the cover looks athletic & healthy, but is also wearing a gorgeous blue, sparkly dress. I believe she could be an heir to a dangerous secret society.
To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. 

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead. 

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.
This book just recently came on my radar. It's a debut! It's a "romantic thriller" in the "vein of a YA DaVinci Code". How awesome is that? I hope it's smart, fast-paced, and just mind-blowing. Love that it features a secret society and an international setting. And tell me if I'm wrong, but "volatile Stellan" and "mysterious, magnetic Jack" sound like intriguing characters. Gimme!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 2014 TBR Pile

1. The Young Elites by Marie Lu | YA Fantasy > Magic, Dystopia
2. The Enemy by Charlie Higson | YA Sci-Fi > Post-Apocalyptic, Horror > Zombies
3. Clariel by Garth Nix | YA High Fantasy, Necromancers
4. The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud | MG Paranormal > Ghosts
5. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski | YA Fantasy, Dystopia
6. The One by Kiera Cass | YA Dystopian, Harem Romance
7. Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken | YA Dystopian, Paranormal
8. The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter | YA Paranormal Romance, Horror > Zombies
9. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey | YA Science Fiction, Apocalyptic, Aliens
10. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black | YA Paranormal, Horror > Vampires
Bonus: Talon by Julie Kagawa | YA Fantasy, Dragons
Bonus: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch | YA Fantasy, Dystopia

I'm super excited to read all these books! Some of them, like The Coldest Girl in Coldtown  and The Enemy are for my Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) challenge. Others are just for funsies. Snow Like Ashes isn't pictured above because I don't have it yet, but I'm planning on getting it SIGNED at the Vegas Valley Book Festival in Las Vegas (Oct. 16-18). Check back here for a giveaway sometime that week for a signed copy of a book of your choice (from the festival. US only, unfortunately. I have no monies). 

I really like the colors in the photo above. Like how white the hand on The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is compared to all the black of the other covers. The One is also so bright, comparatively. 

What books are you planning on reading this month??

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mid-Series Review: Angelfall & World After by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)
Title: Angelfall
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Fantasy > Angels
Setting: Northern California; San Francisco
Characters: Penryn, Raffe, Paige, Beliel, Uriel, Laylah, Penryn's Mom, Dee & Dum, Obi
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Self-pub (2011), Amazon Children's Publishing (2012)
Paperback: 283 pages
Axie's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
Reasons WHY you should read this book:
**Angels of the Apocalypse! The world has been destroyed. The enemies are the angels.
**A heroine who's a badass & is also hilarious. She'll do anything to save her little sister; failure is not an option. Also, why not make some sweet jokes?
**Great chemistry between the leads! Raffe & Penryn really grow together throughout the book, learning from one another. The dialogue is fast & fun.
**A complicated family dynamic. Penryn & Paige's mother is insane. Literally. But also kind of awesome.
**Takes place in Northern California! Who wouldn't want to know what San Francisco is like during the apocalypse? Especially when it's overrun by angels.
**Legit horror. These books are actually pretty terrifying. There are some really creepy images and the characters go through some heavy stuff.
**Fast-Paced plot, Journey plot. Raffe & Penryn are traveling to San Francisco in order to rescue Penryn's sister. They run into rebels, monsters, murderous angels, and gangs of marauding humans.
**Raffe! Did I mention Raffe? Boy is FIIIINE.

Cover Envy: Love. Love. Love. Especially paired with the bat wings [see below]. It has an apocalyptic feel, with the bronze, metallic coloring, but portraying bird-like Angel wings. 
Plot: It's been six weeks since the archangel Gabriel came to earth with his host of heavenly beings...bringing death, doom and destruction. While fleeing their home one night, Penryn + Family witness an angel coup d'etat (in which Raffe, an angel, gets his wings torn off). In the aftermath, Penryn's sister, Paige, is kidnapped, and Penryn's mother flees into the night. In order to save her sister, Penryn must ally with the now wingless angel Raffe and journey through a Northern California wasteland to the angels' stronghold in San Francisco.
Concept: This book was originally self-published by Susan Ee back in 2011. It was so awesome that it was picked up by Amazon Publishing and is now part of their YA imprint, Skyscape. It makes so much sense why these books are so popular. They have familiar YA genre elements like a Post-Apocalyptic setting as well as a Paranormal Romance aspect in the fact that it features Angels. The books themselves are super well-done; they're written well and have compelling characters.
Main Character: Penryn is an awesome heroine. She's more on the side of Katniss/Allie on the YA heroine spectrum than the Bella/Tris side. That is, she's an all-around badass with a very low level of insecurities/vulnerabilities. Her main vulnerability is that she's human in a world with supernatural beings, but she holds her own. The plot has her trying to save her sister, so she's goal-oriented. [In Vampire Academy terms, she's more of a Rose than a Sydney]. I just used a ton of YA references. Sorry.
Love Interest: Yay for a hot hero who may be somewhat brooding but still knows how to make a ton of bad jokes.
Favorite Secondary Characters: Dee & Dum. It's Fred & George during the apocalypse. 
Diversity: According to the fan casting of these novels, Penryn may be Asian. I'm totally down with that (Susan Ee is Asian). I don't think there are any specific comments on Penryn's race....which is totally fine. I just pictured her as a dark-haired fierce-looking person. I don't think race is even mentioned at all in this book...but like in a good way, like in a...who-cares-what-race-you-are-during-the-apocalypse way. 
Villain: There's the main villain, Beliel (a bad, bad angel). But there's also side-character villains with bad intentions.
World Building: The world now, but like infinitely worse...After all, it's the Apocalypse.
Writing: Super fast-paced with short chapters. The writing is spot on. Super readable with some moments of real beauty.
Review: So I've seen this book around the Internets for awhile, and I was putting off reading it because I KNEW I would love it and didn't want to read it because then it would be OVER. What put me over the edge was when the awesome Christina @ Crappy Book Blog praised it to the heavens [pun intended]. Actually, was that a pun? I don't think so. Anyway...this book has everything I love in a YA novel...fantastic characters, great writing, a fast-paced plot, and a swoon-romance that I can fangirl over hardcore. Honestly, I think anyone/everyone would enjoy these books, unless you have a squeamish stomach, then maybe not, because these books can get violent. But yeah, STAMP OF APPROVAL! 

World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)
Title: World After
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Fantasy > Angels
Setting: Northern California; San Francisco
Characters: Penryn, Raffe, Paige, Beliel, Uriel, Laylah, Penryn's Mom, Dee & Dum, Obi
Copyright: 2013
Publisher: Skyscape (Amazon Children's Publishing)
Paperback: 314 pages
Axie's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?
Cover Envy: Bat wings! 
Plot: Raffe believes Penryn is dead. The rebels believe Paige is a monster. Penryn believes Raffe's Angel sword (which she re-names Pooky Bear) is sentient. ANYWAY, after the events of book 1, Penryn, her mother, and Paige are taking shelter with the rebel humans; however, when a massacre occurs at the compound, Paige disappears. Penryn leaves the compound in order to search for Paige...and ends up in a human lab prison on Alcatraz Island.
Main Character: More Penryn. More fun times. The first book featured Raffe & Penryn on a journey, but the majority of this novel was Penryn on her own. Which was cool because Penryn is cool, but it did fan the flames of longing for Raffe...
Love Interest: Now we already know, from the end of Angelfall, that Raffe has conflicted feelings towards Penryn (he finally sympathizes with his fallen brethren who fell in love with human women, back in the day). The chemistry between Penryn & Raffe, when they're finally reunited, is crackling. The scene in the abandoned house by the sea....:::Swooooon:::
Favorite Secondary Character: Penryn's mom. I've never seen the horror movie MAMA, but I imagine her being something like the malevolent presence in that movie (at least from the trailers). Extremely terrifying, but not to her children (at least...not too much to her children). Just kidding, she's just straight up scary.
Review: This book is not as plot-oriented as the first book. It delves more into both Raffe and Penryn's characters, which I really loved. I'm always more about character than plot. Penryn doesn't meet up with Raffe until the end of the book, which was only upsetting because I love their dynamic when they're together, but the book itself was still super fun and fast-paced. When Penryn and Raffe do finally meet up, it's so good! I can't wait for Book 3!!! 

Fangirling + Movie News:

A film adaptation of Angelfall IS coming to a theater near you....eventually. Producer Sam Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess) has acquired rights to the film, and author Susan Ee has met with his team to discuss the movie's future...FINGERS CROSSED that it goes down, sooner rather than later.

There are some really cool edits [link to Tumblr: angelfalledits] of these novels that I've seen around the blogosphere. They're REALLY well-done. It kind of makes dream casting redundant [I've seen Tyler Posey, Francisco Lachowski & Drew Roy as Raffe. Krystal Jung, Yoona Im & Crystal Reed as Penryn].

Recommendations: For a apocalyptic wasteland setting w/ supernatural elements as well as a badass heroine, check out Julie Kagawa's Blood of Eden series. For an angel book with great characters, check out Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

Looking Forward to: End of Days, last novel in the Penryn & the End of Days series, TBR: May 14, 2015. If the first book has angel wings and the second book has bat wings, what kind of wings will be on the cover of the third book??? Or will it have wings at all? The suspense is killing me. Also, I LOVE the red rusty wallpaper of book 3.
Untitled (Penryn & the End of Days, #3)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New October 2014 YA Releases [Release Dates: October 7, 14, 21, 28]

Release Date: October 7, 2014

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Genre: YA Fantasy, Dystopia
Publisher: Putnam
Noteworthy: 1st in a new series, The Young Elites

Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1)
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Genre: YA Fantasy > Magic > Genies
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Noteworthy: 1st in a new series, The Dark Caravan Cycle

Whatever Life Throws at You

Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
Genre: YA Contemporary > Sports, Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Black Ice

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
Genre: YA Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Genre: YA Fantasy, Dystopia
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Noteworthy: 1st book in a new series, Snow Likes Ashes

Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)
Clariel by Garth Nix
Genre: YA Fantasy, Necromancers
Publisher: Harpercollins
Noteworthy: Prequel to the Abhorsen series

Genre: YA Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher: Tor Teen 

Chasing Power
Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: YA Fantasy, Supernatural
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Stitching Snow
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Genre: YA Fantasy, Fairy Tale Re-telling > Snow White
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: October 21, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Noteworthy: 3rd in The Raven Cycle

Release Date: October 28, 2014

AtlantiaAtlantia by Ally Condie
Genre: YA Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Publisher: Dutton Children's

Talon (Talon, #1)
In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds, #3)
Talon by Julie Kagawa
Genre: YA Fantasy > Dragons
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Noteworthy: 1st book in a new series, Talon

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA Sci-Fi > Dystopian, Supernatural
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Noteworthy: 3rd book in The Darkest Minds trilogy

Friday, September 26, 2014

Feature & Follow: Book Character(s) You'd Like to See with Their Own Twitter Page

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Feature & Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkiee's View & Alison Can Read. Check out their blogs and the Featured Bloggers of the week! This is great for finding amazing new blogs to follow and for gaining followers yourself. 

Book character(s) you'd like to see with their own Twitter page Suggested by A Great Read

The answer: Well, since Lord Voldemort already has a twitter page...

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. She knows how to tell a joke. She knows how to take a joke. And she knows how to flirt...

Actually, I'd love it if she had an Instagram page. Then I could see pictures of her and Mr. Darcy :)) 

How about you? What book character would you like to see with their own Twitter page? If you're a new follower, let me know! I love connecting with fellow book-lovers :) 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)
Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: YA Fantasy, Horror > Second World Fantasy > Necromancers
Setting: The Old Kingdom
Copyright: 1995
Publisher: Harper Collins
Mass Market Paperback: 491 pages
Axie's Rating: 5 out of 5. Best of the Best. Old Favorite.
Plot: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
Reasons WHY you should read this book:
**a heroine who's a NECROMANCER! Sabriel is courageous and intelligent.
**a talking cat! Every book needs a talking cat sidekick.
**the girl saves the prince! Literally.
**a wonderful father-daughter relationship. Sabriel's father is the Abhorsen, a good necromancer who protects the people from rogue necromancers.
**a legit, terrifying villain. He's super scary and kills a ton of people.
**the most interesting magic system EVER. Sabriel fights death with a bandolier full of BELLS [see: cover photo]
**super cool names. Sabriel, Mogget, the Abhorsen. The bells have cool names like Kibeth and Saraneth.
**a map! The book has the coolest map in the beginning. I kept on referring to it, to see where the characters were, physically. It's not super confusing...if maps scare you.

Quote: Does the path choose the walker, or the walker the path?  -Sabriel  by Garth Nix

Plot: When 18-year-old Sabriel's father goes missing in the Old Kingdom, she must leave her convent school in search of him. On the way, she meets Mogget, a sarcastic talking cat, and Touchstone, a mage she releases from a magical imprisonment. She must use her magic (necromancer magic!) and her wits to overcome a dark, undead entity, an old enemy of her father and the Kingdom.
Main Character: Sabriel is one-of-a-kind. She has a dry sense of humor, unwavering courage, and a forthright personality. #girlcrush
Love Interest: Touchstone, despite appearances, is more than he seems. After having been imprisoned in wood for countless numbers of years, his memories are a little stodgy. Still, he sticks by Sabriel as her muscle and magic-wielding back-up. He also wields double swords, which is awesome. 
Favorite Secondary Character: Mogget. Hands down. He's a malevolent spirit trapped in the body of an adorable white cat! 
World Building: Nix is one of those brilliant Australian authors who can build a world like nobody's business. It's effortless, interesting, and mind-blowing. The Wall divides a mid-century England-like country from the Old Kingdom, a kingdom teaming with Free Magic (magic that isn't sanctioned by the Charter [which is a magic based on ordered symbols]). In order to raise the dead (the dead have their own hierarchy of undead creatures), Sabriel wields a bandolier of bells. Each bell has a different melody/sound when swung, which has the power to do different things, like Ranna, the first bell, puts listeners to sleep.
Writing: Garth Nix is a brilliant writer--here's just a snippet of his narration style, of when Sabriel crosses the Wall.
Quote: The final confirmation of strangeness lay beyond the Wall. It was clear and cool on the Ancelstierre side, and the sun was shining—but Sabriel could see snow falling steadily behind the Wall, and snow-heavy clouds clustered right up to the Wall, where they suddenly stopped, as if some mighty weather-knife had simply sheared through the sky. - Sabriel  by Garth Nix
Quote: But now, I live again for only a short time—a hundred hundred heartbeats, no more—and I must win a battle against a terrible enemy.  - Sabriel  by Garth Nix 
 Word I Learned From Reading this Book: Bitumened Parade Ground: Bitumen = Asphalt

Recommendations: For another well-written YA Fantasy classic, check out Robin McKinley's The Hero and The Crown. For a book with another brilliant magic system, check out Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass.

Looking Forward to: Clariel (October 2014), a prequel to Sabriel.

+ Dream Casting

Rooney Mara as Sabriel
I mean, she just looks like how I imagine Sabriel looking. Serious and intelligent.