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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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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Shadowed Souls

Cover of Shadowed Souls edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes. Art by Chris McGrath
Art by Chris McGrath. Click through to read an excerpt on Amazon!

Title: Shadowed Souls

Author: This is an anthology

Nutshell:  Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes put together this anthology of stories about people on the fringes of mundanity, steeped in the supernatural world. As with any anthology, within the parameters the editors set is a great variety.

Molly Carpenter faces the challenges of working for Queen Mab while facing a bizarre cult in Alaska.

Peacock, street thief indentured to some kind of supernatural mob tycoon, steals a soul from Hell.

Elsie Harrington, half-demon, gets kidnapped from a roller derby by the local D&D group.

It’s a dark and occasionally quirky collection of stories for the urban fantasy reader.

Read-alikes: Any of the authors’s other works are of course like this. Jim Butcher and Kat Richardson are the ones I’m familiar with. Simon Greene, though I didn’t care for the book of his I read, is quite like.Read More »

Shadowhunters

Artwork from the tv show Shadowhunters.
Click for an excerpt from City of Bones!

The Shadowhunters: Eleven books as a trilogy, a pair of trilogies, and two story collections.

Author: Cassandra Clare

Nutshell: Demons exist. So do a secret race of demon-slayers. They are called the Nephilim, or Shadowhunters.

In the late 2000s, Clary Fray discovers them in New York city, and learns that she is one of them. Her mother not only raised her as a normal human but erased all her memories of the magical world. But now Clary has discovered her birthright, and just in time, as she is about to be a key player in a war between the Shadowhunters and their greatest shame: the twisted Valentine.

In the 1850s, Teresa Gray arrives in London, the city with all the best novels. She’s eager to meet her brother and start a new life after the deaths of their parents, but something’s not right. The women that pick Teresa up at the docks are, frankly, hideous and terrifying, and the place they take Teresa is more like a prison than a home. Then they torture her, forcing her to perform dark magic. But one night, the Shadowhunters raid the place, expecting a den of demons. Teresa is at least as suprised to find a rescuer breaking into her room as the rescuer, one Will Herondale, is to see her there. After a slight misunderstanding (in which Teresa proves quite able to defend her virtue from mysterious young men at midnight) Will manages to hold her off long enough to rescue her, and takes her back with him. This is fortunate, as Teresa has the first warning of one of the greatest threats the Shadowhunters have ever faced.

In the Bane Chronicles, Magnus Bane, reprobate warlock, makes his irreverent, immortal way through the centuries, loving deeply, living wildly, and learning, but not too much. Too much learning is for people who want to be serious. And depressing. Magnus Bane is never serious or depressing. If he starts to show signs of seriousness, he gets himself riotously drunk instead.

And in the Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy, Simon Lewis does some things because of spoilers from the previous books and then some other spoilers happen and then more spoilers.

Read-alikes: There are lots of “Turns out you’re actually a character in a fantasy novel” books like the Mortal Instruments. Try the Iron King, by Julie Kagawa, or the Tryll series by Amanda Hocking. For the Infernal Devices, I find The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross is satisfyingly similar. Any Buffy the Vampire Slayer literature is going to be like this also, though I haven’t read any myself.

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Dengeki Daisy

Cover of Dengeki Daisy volume 4 by Kyousuke Motomi
Click through to read an excerpt on Amazon!

Title: Dengeki Daisy (Electric Shock Daisy)

Author: Kyousuke Motomi

Nutshell: Teru has just lost her elder brother who was her guardian and confidant. He leaves her a cell phone on which she receives mysterious, encouraging emails from DAISY, a person who Teru’s brother tasked with protecting her after his death. DAISY becomes her confidant, the only person with whom she shares her heart.

Meanwhile, due to an accident, Teru ends up working for the school janitor. Somewhat of a rebel and a mystery man, Teru finds herself drawn to him. But he behaves oddly toward her, and it becomes clear he’s hiding a powerful secret about her brother.

Read-alikes: Fruits Basket. Perhaps Kare Kano.Read More »

Stormbreaker

Cover of Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.
Click to read a preview!

Title: Stormbreaker

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Nutshell: Alex Rider’s uncle is dead. Many nephews would not find this such a world-shaking revelation, but Rider’s uncle was his sole relative and guardian. Now, alone and a ward of the bank his uncle worked for, his world is about to get very different.

The bank is a front for MI6. The world is very different indeed.

Not only is Alex now a ward of a branch of MI6, they want him to pick up where his uncle left off. His age and lack of experience are bonuses, in their eyes. Nobody will suspect a teenager of being a spy. They can get him right to the heart of the villain’s lair. It will be perfect. And if he doesn’t, well, they’ll deport his housekeeper and only friend, and send him to a cheap, nasty boarding school. What’s a fourteen-year-old to do?

Readalikes: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, any James Bond novel.Read More »

Star Wars: Scoundrels

Cover of Star Wars Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn. Art by Paul Youll.
Art by Paul Youll. Click to read a preview!

Title: Star Wars: Scoundrels

Author: Timothy Zahn

Nutshell: This book is very easy to describe in a nutshell:

Han Solo Does Ocean’s Eleven.

For those of you not sold, or not familiar with Ocean’s Eleven (Get thee to the library. Get, I say!) Han Solo is looking for work between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. He would go pay Jabba with his Rebel Reward Credits (trademark!) but, alas, they were stolen. By a pirate. Stupid pirates. He’s approached by a man with a job: Break into the most secure vault on the planet, owned by a high-placed member of Black Sun, the criminal syndicate which makes Jabba look forgiving and generous by comparison. All Han has to do to be set for life is come up with a team, bang out a plan, and pull off a heist. In two weeks. Say it with me: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this….”

Read-alikes: Most other Star Wars books involving Han Solo (There’s a trilogy named for him you could start with). Most other Timothy Zahn novels (although the Icarus Hunt is the one most like an actual heist). I confess, the only other titles I can come up with are actually movie titles like Ocean’s Eleven and Leverage. Read More »