Nutshell: Gracie is a force of nature. She’s broken her collarbone, she terrorizes her older sister, and once she tried to touch a dragon and nearly got crushed. She does things the loud way, takes no guff from anyone, and if something isn’t right, she beats it until it is.
But she can’t beat a Dark Cloud.
Dark Clouds come for people who are about to die, to take them to the afterlife. Gracie’s little brother, Sam is always sick, and the Cloud comes practically up on to their doorstep. Trying desperately to save him, their Dad buys a camper and loads them all in: Mom, Millie, Gracie, Sam, and the neighborhood runaway, Oliver, and takes them on a journey. They’re trying to find the Extraordinary Land, a place where there is no magic and people live easier lives. Lives without Clouds to carry them off.
The trouble is, only crazy people believe in the Extraordinary Land.
Readalikes: This reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, by DiTerlizzi and Black. The Thirteenth Child, by Patricia Wrede is also about a hostile, magical America, in a very different time. This book is difficult to categorize because I, at least, have not read very many “whole family” adventures. The world itself is most like either Terry Pratchet or Douglas Adams.
Series: The Spirit’s World **This is book five. Spoilers for the previous books abound.**
Nutshell: Eli Monpress gave up his freedom to save the people he loved, but Benehime isn’t about to be satisfied with that sacrifice. She requires everything from him, and she shows him the plan she has designed for the two of them. Pushed to the breaking point, Eli finally pushes back, and Benehime flings him onto the mercies of the Council of Thrones. Eli is locked summarily into Sara’s very best wizard-proof cell. With his father. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Alber Whitefall is using him as leverage against Josef.
But that’s trivial compared to what Miranda is facing. Something is causing massive panic among the spirits across the world, and with Banage in prison, it falls to her to fix things. She knows where to find answers, but she might not get them quickly enough to do anything but watch the world end.
Eli Monpress isn’t trying to be a hero. So why do people keep expecting him to save the world?Read More »
Nutshell: The vicar is a much put upon man. He must deal with the problems of the village, and the gossips, and the problems caused by the gossips talking about the other problems. In addition, his wife is flighty and his maid is awful. So really, finding a man shot to death in his library ought to be the end of enough. But no, not only is the man found shot in his library, but everyone connected with the case seems determined to involve him in the matter. The gossipping ladies share their gossip with him. The principal suspects in the case confess to him, and then un-confess later! The possessions of unrelated persons are found in the woods behind his house, and inside those are the possessions of the muder victim! Really, it’s enough to drive a vicar to drink.
Read-alikes: Dorothy Sayers. Really, I need to read more old detective novels.
Series: Maximum Ride, book 3 (Spoilers ahead for preceeding books. Use discretion.)
Author: James Patterson
Nutshell: Maximum Ride, winged and sassy, is determined to save the world, if only so that people will leave her alone. She has the name of the big bad corporation, and an inkling of their evil plan. All she has to do now is foil it. Her assets are: Five other bird kids with various secondary powers, a talking dog, a reject wolfman, a schizophrenic hacker, a voice in her head, and a sarcastic bad attitude. Isn’t that all you need?
Series: Maximum Ride **obligatory spoilers for previous book warning. Actually, I don’t know what I could spoil from the first book.** (Also get a load of this series with unmatched titles. The 90s were a strange place, y’all.)
Author: James Patterson
Nutshell: Maximum Ride and her winged brothers and sisters are still on the run. But when Fang gets injured, they have to take him to the hospital. And the FBI is called. Agent Anne Walker is in charge of the bird-kids, and she’s got a very odd proposal: Come stay at her house for a little while, let her ask some questions, and stop being on the run.
Stop being on the run. Max wants to, but she’s not sure how. Hesitantly, the flock accepts Anne Walker’s offer, and they stay at her house. Try out being normal kids. Anne even sends them to school, and they start to make friends. Get in trouble with the principal. Go on dates. Normal kid stuff.
But Max can’t stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. When they find that the principal is hiding files from the school’s past, that seems like the sound of it landing. Time to go before the shockwave hits. Then they realize that the principal is the least of their problems.
Read-alikes: Really, if I were you, I’d read Growing Wings by Laurel Winter, or for more of the saving-the-world angle, try The Maze Runner by James Dashner or Blackout by Robison Wells.
Nutshell: Eli Monpress is looking for his next big score, and checking on his slowly burgeoning bounty, when he gets a shock. The most ordinary member of his crew is now the most wanted. The island nation, Osera, is offering the entire worth of their country for Josef. What’s more, Josef is turning himself in.
Meanwhile, Miranda Lyonette is finally getting some answers from the shapers. Answers that point to a dark conspiracy surrounding the very nature of reality. If only people would stop having their regular old wars, she could get some serious progress made on saving the world.