Heart’s Blood

Cover of Heart's Blood. Art of a woman in green looking into an enchanted mirror by Melanie Delon.
Art by Melanie Delon. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: Heart’s Blood

Author: Juliet Marillier

Nutshell: This is very simple to nutshell: A female scribe in Medieval Ireland finds herself in a Beauty and the Beast tale under threat of Norman invasion.

Readalikes: Mrs. Marillier’s Sevenwaters books are also fairytales made real in Medieval Ireland. Mercedes Lackey’s Arthurian tale Gwenhwyfar: the White Spirit is another in this vein.

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School’s Out Forever

Cover of School's Out Forever by James Patterson. Art of a teen boy in sunglasses by Larry Rostant.
Art by Larry Rostant. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: School’s Out Forever

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.

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The Spirit War

Cover of the Spirit War by Rachel Aaron. Picture of a man standing on the side of a mountain by Sam Weber.
Art by Sam Weber. Click through to read a preview on Amazon!

Title: The Spirit War

Series: The… Chronicles of Eli Monpress? 1

Author: Rachel Aaron

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.

Readalikes: I’ve still only got Stormlight and the Codex Alera for you.Read More »

The Body in the Library

Cover of The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. Cover of words on shelves by Michael P. Correy.
Cover by Michael P. Correy. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Body in the Library

Author: Agatha Christie

Nutshell: Miss Marple’s friend, Mrs. Bantry calls in a panic. There is the body of a dead woman in her library! Neither she nor the Colonel have ever seen the woman before. Will Miss Marple please come and have a look round to see what she thinks of the affair?

The dead girl turns out to be Ruby Keene, a dancer for a nearby hotel, who was mixed up in nothing, and nobody has anything remarkable at all to say about her. Miss Marple must use all her insight to crack this case.

Read-alikes: Dorothy Sayers is very like Christie. Their faintly satirical portrayal of their characters is similar.

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Maximum Ride

Cover of Maximum Ride by James Patterson. Cover art of a teen girl with white hair by Larry Rostant.
Art by Larry Rostant. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: Maximum Ride

Author: James Patterson

Nutshell: Max and her flock are winged children, products of genetic experimentation. They’ve escaped their lab and are hiding out in the mountains when their past shows up. The enforcers from their lab appear suddenly, snatch the youngest, and run off, leaving the others panicked and scared. Max won’t leave any of them in the hands of evil, and so they launch a rescue mission, that turns into a cross-country flight. But their creators have secrets and surprises in store. As the children’s special gifts begin to develop, they must push them to the limit to keep their freedom.

Read-Alikes: Growing Wings, by Laurel Winter

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The Dark Talent

Cover of The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson. Art of a team of quirky heroes by Scott Brundage.
Cover art by Scott Brundage. Click through to read an excerpt of book one on Amazon!

Title: The Dark Talent

Series: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians 1

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Nutshell: The world is not what you think it is. You live in the Hushlands, the territory controlled by the Evil Librarians, who supress your knowledge and technology. But somewhere out there are the Free Kingdoms, a place of unbridled knowledge and wondrous technology. Start your search-

What? Yes, I said librarians. Yes, I meant those nice, little, old ladies with horn-rimmed glasses. They’re sneaky.

Alcatraz can tell you. Alcatraz Smedry was a foster child in despair because he broke almost everything he touched, but when he received a box of sand for his birthday, he learned the truth.

What? Yes, sand. It was a very momentous occasion. Stop interrupting.

His grandfather, Leavenworth Smedry, rescues him and explains that he is the last in a long line of powerfully gifted people. His cousin, Kaz, can speak in gibberish. Leavenworth himself is always late. And Alcatraz? He breaks stuff! So incredible!

What? Of course I’m serious. If I have to tell you one more time…

So Alcatraz embarks on an epic, zany, sarcastic quest to save the world, find his parents, and discover the truth. Like how penguins are rocket-propelled, how France is a deception, and how to use found objects to do almost anything.

Read this book. Read all these books. Read. Every. Page.

That is all the guidance I can give you. Good luck.

 

1 This is the fifth book in a series. The Nutshell will be for the series. The Ramblings will be for the book, with spoilers for previous books.

Read-alikes: Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events is very like this in tone. Randoms is like it more overall.Read More »

The Cloak Society

Cover of The Cloak Society by Jaramey Kraatz. Art by Michael Komarck.
Art by Michael Komarck. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Cloak Society

Author: Jeramey Kraatz

Nutshell: Alex Knight is just your average, ordinary supervillain-in-training. He knows, of course, that there are heroes to oppose him, but he has grown up believing that his parents are owed their due, that they will be better for the world if only they’re given a chance. He has also been raised in a top-secret, underground bunker, allowed topside only with permission and two adults. Talk about your controlled socialization. I’m all for homeschooling, but this is extreme.

Alex and his friends are finally given a chance to prove to the world (or at least Sterling City) that they deserve to be rulers when their parents assign them the job of stealing a valuable diamond from the bank. It seems like an easy job until the Junior Justice Rangers arrive. During the fight, Alex acts on instinct to keep one of the Rangers from being killed. That instinct causes everyone to question him, and so he begins to question himself.

Read-alikes: The Artemis Fowl books, by Eoin Colfer, or for the grown-up audience, the Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson.Read More »