The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Once there was a town that made a deal. The deal was made when the town was just a village, a hamlet, a collection of hovels. Now the town is a middle class suburb called Gentry. But the deal still holds. In exchange for prosperity and health, the town agrees not to notice that every seven years, one of their children disappears and is replaced by a sickly thing that is not human and doesn’t live for long. “We take for granted that sometimes you lose a child. And sometimes everyone else gets hit by the recession. Everyone else’s unemployment skyrockets…but not ours. Never ours because if you feed the ground, the ground feeds you back.” Except one time, one of them lives to grow up. Mackie knows he’s different, but his friends and family love him anyway. The problem is, he can’t love himself, not when he knows what he is. Not when he knows who’s rightful place he took. A human boy who’s blood was spilled so he could live. Now Mackie has the chance to save another small soul that will be sacrificed so the town can prosper. But with friends and family in both worlds, is he strong enough to make the ultimate choice  that will decide the future of Gentry? Haunting and melancholy, this debut horror novel is full of small, perfect moments of exquisite foreboding that almost made me hum with pleasure (you know if you read this blog regularly how much I love me some scaretasticness) I wish I could tell you more, but I’m afraid of giving away the sick little secrets at the rotten heart of this darkly gorgeous gem. I did feel like newbie author Brenna Yovanoff pulled a few punches at the end when it came to a gruesome character called The Cutter, but other than that, I was wholly satisfied. And while I saw interesting elements of books like The Last Daysby Scott Westerfeld, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and the story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, rest (in peace) assured that this atmospheric tome has a gothy music all its own. A perfect choice for Halloween reading. LOVE!

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

In this steaming, clanking sequel to Leviathan, Midshipman Dylan Sharp (aka Deryn, girl sailor in disguise) and secret Austrian prince Alek try to keep the world powers in balance as the Clankers and the Darwinists hover on the precipice of war. It is 1914, and the mighty British genetically designed airship Leviathan, carrying Deryn, Alek and the Darwinist creature fabricator Dr. Barlow is headed to Constaninople, capital of the Ottoman Empire. There, diplomatic Dr. Barlow hopes to smooth the Sultan’s ruffled feathers over the fact that the promised dreadnought & Kraken combo built for the Ottomans by the British won’t be delivered until the potential threat of war from the Germans has cleared. Alek and his Austrian entourage have plans to escape while Dr. Barlow is negotiating and disappear into the city’s cosmopolitan crowds, especially now that Britain has just declared war on Austria-Hungary. Deryn manages to look the other way, even though it’s mutiny to help Alek and her heart is breaking at the thought of being separated from him. Luckily, it’s not for long. Before they know it, they’ve fallen into each other’s company again, reunited after Alek stumbles upon a brewing plot to overthrow the Turkish monarchy and Deryn is abandoned when a top secret spy mission to disable an integral component of the Sultan’s security measures doesn’t go exactly as planned. Together, they will topple a tower, halt a speeding train and unleash a behemoth–all in the name of stopping World War I before it has a chance to start. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you better start here. For the rest of you steampunkers, prepare for a wild ride through the tangled streets and opulent palaces of Constantinople (which you should really call Istanbul). As lavishly demonstrated through Keith Thompson’s top notch illustrations, the action is epic, the machines are magnificent and the fabricated beasties (especially a certain perspicacious loris–where can I get one??) just can’t be beat.  A spicy, rich, satisfying second helping of a book that will just leave you craving more delicious alternative history goodness. I seriously can’t wait until Book Three!

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

julian game
Raye Archer is a lowly scholarship girl at swank private school Fulton. Her only friend is Star Trek geek Natalya, and Raye’s getting a little tired of spending Saturday nights at Nat’s house watching marathons of Next Generation on the Syfy channel while consuming copious amounts of Duncan Hines instant brownies. So when Ella Parker, one of the ruling members of the uber popular Group, offers Raye a shot at high school stardom by allowing Raye to become her Mandarin tutor, Raye jumps at the chance. But soon she starts losing Ella’s attention, so to keep the Queen Bee interested, Raye offers to help her get back at Julian Kilgarry, the hottest dude in school. Apparently, Julian had the gall to diss Ella at a party, and now Ella wants revenge. Julian’s comeuppance appears in the form of a blue-haired girl named Elizabeth, Raye’s online Facebook creation. Raye and Ella use Elizabeth to gain Julian’s trust in order to lure him places where he’s bound to run into trouble. But Raye’s conscience won’t let her keep up the ruse, so she ends up confessing to Julian, who is not only unexpectedly grateful, but ends up asking Raye out. Raye can’t believe her good luck. But just how long does she have before ruthless Ella discovers that she and Julian are more than just friends and her luck runs out? Ella will stop at nothing to show Raye who’s boss, even if it means using the Internet to cyberbully Raye into submission. What can you do when your frenemy is as elusive as a nasty email that can’t be deleted or website that won’t disappear? In terms of just really good writing, this mean girl thriller is heads and shoulders over those tired old Gossip Girls. Adele Griffin sums up so well how it feels to be drawn into the orbit of a dangerous girl who could kill your rep with a lift of her little finger: “I’d never had a bona fide girl crush, but something about Ella’s physical beauty and the way she was standing so close to me made me understand, with sharp and aching clarity, how you could fall wildly in love with a girl like Ella. She looked perfect as a daffodil. What did it matter if she was rotten at the root, if you could somehow get her to love you back?” Seriously, I’m rolling out “perfect as a daffodil” as my new catch phrase. Love it! Just like you will love this down and dirty story of best friends gone wrong and dudes done over. (And head over here for more information on the dangers of cyberbullying and how to stop it. Online harassment is no joke, be a part of the solution, NOT the problem!)