Three Lives to Live, by Anne Lindbergh, for Timeslip Tuesday

Three Lives to Live, by Anne Lindbergh (Little Brown, 1992, middle grade)

Garet's life was not extraordinary until the day Daisy fell out of the laundry chute and became her twin sister. Garet's grandma, known as Gratkins, seems to know a lot about the new arrival, and goes out of her way to make her welcome and buy her luxuries, but she's not sharing what she knows with Garet. Neither, at first, is Daisy. So Garet is understandably resentful.

But when Garet finds out that Daisy has fallen through from the past, torn from her family and flung into a strange new world, and that there is a very good reason (I'm not saying what) for Gratkins to be fond of her, she continues to show little compassion...making her a rather unsympathetic narrator. In fact, I wanted at various points to shake all the main characters--Gratkins (for not telling Garet what was up with Daisy), Daisy (for being manipulative and also for being unnecessarily secretive), and Garet (for being unsympathetic to Daisy when she does find out, and for being prickly and difficult).

Yet I still enjoyed this book, in a mild sort of way. In its favor was a really truly interesting time-travel twist, the sort that you find yourself thinking about lots, and forcing family members to talk about with you (this twist is a tremendous spoiler, so I've put it at the end). I actually guessed what the twist was (so it can't have been very subtle), but still enjoyed it.

I also liked the way the story is told. The framing device is an autobiography that Garet is writing for English class, and not only does she struggle to find her own authorial voice, she becomes fiercely embattled in a struggle to keep her account of events as they happened part of the story--her English teacher has trouble accepting laundry-chute-enabled time travel as fact, and thinks Garet is deeply troubled.

Publishers Weekly hated the book when it first came out:

"The inherent fascination of time travel cannot compensate for the novel's lack of any real adventure and its irksome, self-satisfied prose. The characters seem to be little more than repositories for cliched tics, and the narration, unfortunately, keeps the reader at arm's length."

I do not think this is fair at all! We all find different things irksome, but I don't think the prose was "self-satisfied," and I'd love to know what the author of that long-ago review meant by that phrase! And I wasn't kept at arm's length (maybe the narration liked me better than it did that reviewer).

Judging from the comments on Amazon, this seems to be one of those books that strikes the impressionable child as mind-blowingly Wonderful. I myself was happy to read it, and encourage others to pick it up if they come across it, but I don't think it needs to be quickly and anxiously searched for. Unless, of course, you are looking for a book for the impressionable 9 or 10 year old girl.


And it's a really major spoiler. So stop reading now if there's any chance you'll want to read the book.

The laundry chute is magic, sending whoever falls into it fifty years into the future (while leaving their doppelganger behind in the past). Not only is Daisy an adolescent Gratkins, but Garet herself (Garet being short for Margaret) came down the chute as a two year-old Gratkins! So one starts pondering nature over nurture along with characters, who all feel quite different from each other, but more interesting still, one contemplates how one would raise one's own two-year old, or twelve-year old, self....I, personally, would very much like to take crack at little me and see if I could do better than my own parents did.


Human.4, by Mike Lancaster

(Although I have hopes that things might change by the time I post this review, as of now I am vexed and thwarted; my eight year old finds the cover of this book scary, and keeps hiding it so he won't have to see it. Therefore, it is no longer by the computer where I left it (Fury of the Phoenix, the other book I brought up, is still there), and I can't include pithy quotes from it. And he isn't home right now to ask (his is a rich and full life). Argh).

Human.4, by Mike Lancaster (Egmont, 2011, 304 pages) is a book I had, before reading it, vaguely pegged in my mind as yet another YA dystopia. This, however, proved to be a facile judgment that didn't do this fine book justice. What it turned out to be (in my mind at least) is a really excellent science-fiction adventure story perfect for the 11 or 12 year old boy.

The story is presented as Kyle's first person narration, recorded onto cassette tapes and transcribed at a point far into the future (with amusing asides and annotations from future academics included). It begins thus: 'My name is Kyle Straker. And I don't exist anymore.' Of course, he did exist in a sense at that point in time, in as much as this book is his account of what befell him one fateful day. It was, in fact, the last day in which he was just a person like anyone else.

But it is also true that Kyle did, in fact, stop existing. What happened that day shunted him off the radar of the human race, and into a nightmare where strange and horrible things (from his perspective) had transformed all but a minuscule percentage of humanity into something....else. The mystery of what happened turns out to be deliciously sci fi-esque (you might be able to guess that from the cover), but I don't want to spoil it by saying more.

Happily (?) for Kyle, a girl he once almost sort of dated is in the same bizarre straits as he is....and this is where I think this book shows its true upper middle grade colors--their relationship isn't the point. The point, rather, is how one goes about making sense of a nightmare in which those you love are horribly changed, how one defines what it is to be human, and how one keeps just putting one foot in front of the other (ie, it's a book about seventh grade, although I wouldn't want to bet that the author had that metaphor in mind).

The mystery and the suspense of it all drives the book forward, and that is good, but even better, after a somewhat mundane start it became truly though-provoking. And although the secondary characters were little more than outlines, Kyle was enough of a person for me to find him interesting.

In short, Human.4 is entertaining for the older reader, as long as that reader isn't expecting YA dystopian romance, but really really good (obviously I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think so) for the upper middle grade boy in particular, and even more particularly, for the geeky middle grade boy.

I am going to try it on my almost 11 year old son, if it ever turns up again. Although it was pleasant to see how much he was enjoying re-reading Binky to the Rescue earlier today, there are lots of books out there waiting for him to read them, and he's not getting any younger.

Note: This was published in the UK as just 0.4. Other thoughts can be found at ComaCalm's Corner and (although ware spoilers) Read in a Single Sitting.

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)

This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction

Greetings, middle grade science fiction and fantasy friends, and welcome to another week's worth of what I found from around the blogs that of interest to us mg sff fans (please let me know if I missed your post--things were more scattered than usual this week!). If you are new to these round-ups, here's the full story.

But first, a Giveaway. At Book Expo America, I found three extra mg sff ARCs, and brought them home to give away here. And I'm not announcing it elsewhere, or putting it in the header, because you who read these round-ups are the people to whom I want to give these books (technical details at the bottom the post).

Here they are:

(although the ARC
of The Orphan of
Awkward Falls has a
different cover)

And now the reviews:

The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, at Steph Su Reads

The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski, at books4yourkids

Day of the Assassins, by Johnny O'Brien, at Charlotte's Library

The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, at Candace's Book Blog and The Fringe Magazine

Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis, at Waking Brain Cells

Knightly Academy, by Violet Haberdasher, at A Backwards Story

The Lost Conspiracy, by Frances Hardinge, at By Singing Light (which should have gone in last week's round-up, but ended up in a draft post all by itself)

The Midnight Gate, by Helen Stringer, at The O.W.L. and at Wicked Awesome Books

No Such Thing as Dragons, by Philip Reeve, at books4yourkids

Small Persons With Wings, by Ellen Booraem, at Geo Librarian

The Society of Dread (Candleman) by Glenn Dakin, at Nayu's Reading Corner (and she has a give-away here)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, at Reading Vacation

The Wikkeling, by Steven Arntson, at The Book Smugglers

Authors and Interviews:

Janice Hardy (The Healing Wars series) at The Compulsive Reader

Stephanie Burigs (Kat, Incorrigible) at The Enchanted Inkpot

Glenn Dakin (Candleman) at Nayu's Reading Corner

Helen Stringer (The Midnight Gate), at The O.W.L. (includes give away)

Nathan Bransford (Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow) at From the Mixed Up Files

Eric Nylund (The Resistors) at Random Acts of Reading

Matthew Kirby (The Clockwork Three) at From the Mixed Up Files

Other Good Stuff:

The Book Smugglers (it was great to meet them in person at the Book Blogger Convention!) showcase the mg sff books they took home with them.

Here's Alan Rickman's good-bye to Snape, from Empire Magazine, via Bookshelves of Doom

Giveaway Details:
There will be three winners (ie, one book each). Leave a comment to enter, make sure there's a way to contact you, and let me know the order in which you want them. International friends are welcome to enter too! I'll pick the winners just before I post (d.v.) next week's roundup.


And then on the way home from BEA there was a stop at the Niantic Book Barn

If you ever travel the 95 corridor through Connecticut towards New England, and you have never heard of the Niantic Book Barn, you are in for a treat. It is a sprawling complex of used books and gardens off exit 72 in Connecticut, and they have a whole large room of Young Adult books that is utterly worth visiting (and the prices are great-- 4 -5 dollars for a like new hardcover) To me it is extra special, because it is here that I met Megan Whalen Turner for the first time back in the summer of 2008.

So anyway, it was on my way home....

And I got (all hardcover like new)

Wren's War, by Sherwood Smith
The Doomsday Book, by Mark Teague
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, by Catherynne Valente
The Dark Mirror, by Juliet Marillier
Green Boy, by Susan Cooper

And my sister, who was driving me up from New York, had enough book credit there from trading stuff in to cover the cost. Thank you, dear sister.


On the way home from Book Blogger Convention and Book Expo America

I am writing from my sister's house in Queens...more than a tad shattered by the giddy whirl of the last two days. The best thing about yesterday was meeting up for lunch with kidlit peeps, the best part of today was the joy of seeing people in real life for the first time! I wish there had been more time to talk--I was so happy to meet Lenore, for instance, but didn't get to say more than a glad Hi! Next time..........

The Book Blogger Convention was great--many kudos and many, many thanks to the organizers, and thanks to the speakers and the publishers who brought us swag!

And I had an added bonus. I found a super secret display that had been left up in a room that us bloggers weren't using....and it still had piles of ARCs....and one of those was the ARC I was most counting on getting but hadn't managed too--the Jewel of the Kalderash, by Marie Rutkowski. The room was being cleaned up, and the cleaners were moving closer to the display, and so I saved all the arcs and put them in neat piles in the hallway. They were all taken, and I feel almost as if I had found a good home for an abandoned puppy.

Another ARC that pleased me lots to get was one for Julianna Baggot's new book, Pure, coming out next winter. That one was lying forlornly on a table in the main foyer display area, and I asked the people manning the display if it were one of theirs, and they said no, and to take it, so I did! If I go to BEA again and feel I need more books to take home, I have decided that I will simply go lurk around the shipping area and pick up what gets abandoned (which is apparently lots). So much less stressful than having to talk to strangers and ask, although I do of course realize that Making Contacts is important, and I actually did do a lot of this, and bravely gave people my card, even though it turned out hideously Christmasy due to Staples making the crimson boarder much broader than nature intended. (Note to self--use extra business cards for present labels next December).

But anyway. There were three copies of Jewel--one for me, and one for Anamaria of Books Together, who was also sad not to have gotten one, and one to give away here. And I have two more books I have two copies of (one saved from neglect and one extra swag, that I checked first if it was ok for me to take). So I will putting that give away up when I get home....

And here is my pile from Thursday and today, which is quite enough books, thanks. The book whose title you can't see because of glare is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (yay!)


BEA and me

I successfully arrived at Book Expo America yesterday afternoon, and quickly realized that there had been no point in carefully making a list of books that I hoped to find.

The main reason being that (typically) I forgot to print it out and bring it with me. But also because ARCs were pretty thin on the ground. Here are the books I came back with:

And I only saw one person I knew, right as I was going home.

However, today is a day of mad and giddy socializing-- Kidlit Blogger Lunch, Book Blogger Convention reception, and Kid Lit Drink Night (and perhaps a few more books as the exhibitors close up shop). And then tomorrow is the Book Blogger Convention, which should be fun.


Day of the Assassins, by Johnny O'Brien, for Timeslip Tuesday

Day of the Assassins, by Johnny O'Brien (Templar Publishing, 2009, upper middle grade/YA, 224 pages), is a fast-paced time-travel adventure that takes two British school boys back to World War I, via a time machine. There they become pawns in a struggle between two rival factions of the scientists who invented the machine. One side (known as VIGIL) has sworn not to meddle with the past, lest the present be disrupted; the other side, led by a mysterious man known as the Benefactor, feels a strong moral imperative to change things, and make the past better.

Jack and Angus aren't sure which side is right. Thrown into Europe on the eve of WW I, they soon find out that the past, with its vast cast of characters, and conflicting points of view, is much more complicated than they thought. Should they try to stop the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, or let history take its terrible course?

Timeslip Tuesday is something of a risk for me as a reader--I've exhausted all but two of the timeslip stories I've already read (I'm holding those in reserve), and so I find myself, as it were, setting up blind dates with books I've never met and with whom I might turn out to have little in common. Day of the Assassins happened to be that sort of book--we had a pleasant conversation, but didn't exchange phone numbers.

I think it would be great for a 12 year old boy fascinated by intrigue and adventure--there are lots of Daring Escapes (rappelling down from a cable car, being shot at while escaping on high-powered motorcycles smuggled from the future) and Dramatic Events (an unexpected balloon trip when the tether rope is shot through, the culminating assassination attempt) as Jack and Angus travel across Europe, pursued by the operatives of VIGIL.

As for me, I find that, unless its Connie Willis, time travel devices built by scientists are much harder for me to accept than time travel through vague, even unexplained, magic. (It didn't help that the time travel machine is called Taurus--I kept mis-reading it as Tardis). I appreciated the central dilemma of the book--if you could keep a war from happening, would it be the right thing to do?--but that wasn't quite enough to satisfy me--I was never deeply moved, which surprised me a bit, because it doesn't take much of WW I to move me.

But that being said, if you know a young reader whose interest in WW I might have been sparked by Leviathan et seq. by Scott Westerfeld, you could offer them this--it's not as wildly extravagant in its imagination, but that reader might well find it a satisfying adventure. And for those who like to learn history through fiction, this is a good introduction to the beginnings of WW I.

And I myself might well, some other Timeslip Tuesday, find myself reviewing the next two books in the series--Day of Deliverance (2010) and Day of Vengeance (2011).

Here's an example from early in Jack's adventure, when he's hiding on a British ship of war:

"Jack turned round on the gun so his back was now facing away from the turret and towards the bow. Balancing dangerously, he inserted first one foot and then the other into the barrel and pushed his body carefully into the end of the gun. It was a tight squeeze, but he was small for his age and he just made it. As long as he kept his blond head down, nobody would ever know he was there.

But he did not have much time to enjoy his new hiding place. Suddenly he felt a slight vibrating sensation around him coupled with a low, grinding sound. Imperceptibly at first, the giant gun barrel in which he was encased, slowly started to move. The massive gun swung its way from its position parallel with the starboard deck out towards the sea. As it moved laterally, it also rose upwards into the air. Below, in the gun turret itself, he began to hear muffled voices and the commotion of men preparing… for what? Jack, whose head had been flush with the end of the barrel, pushed himself up a couple of inches and sneaked a look. He was shocked at what he saw. His gun was now pointing well out over the starboard side of the ship and thirty feet below all he could see was the grey water of the sea churning to white as Dreadnought drove through it at a mind-spinning twenty knots.

Emerging from a light mist on the distant horizon, he spotted first one, then two and then three ghostly shapes....The gun rose a little further into the air, and he realised with sickening fear that Dreadnought was about to open fire." (page 65)

(Ms. Yingling also has a time travel book review today--Ruby Red, by Kersten Gier, which I want rather badly! And at Just Booking Around you can find the classic Lest Darkness Fall, which I really need to read some day....If anyone else, by the way, were to review a time travel book on a Tuesday, and let me know, I'll put in a link!)


The Wild Girls, by Ursula Le Guin

My Mother's Day present this year was The Wild Girls, by Ursula Le Guin (PM Press, 2011), which was, coincidentally, the book I was planning on getting my husband for Father's Day (I've said this before, but I like saying it--when we met, we each had the same book of Ursula's on our bedside tables, and it is in essence a book about creating strong, loving relationships-- Four Ways to Forgiveness. It was as if it were Meant).

So anyway, after he finished reading The Wild Girls, I sat down with it myself.

First up is the titular short story/novella. It is a story of a rigid society, slavery, ghosts, and gender relationships--classic Le Guin stuff. It is blunt, a flung gauntlet of a story, that brings people, and their place, to life while simultaneously forcing the reader to keep stepping out of the story, to question and think.

"As a reward for working," Nata corrected her, always gentle, never scolding. "The Sky Father made the City for his sons, the Crowns. And they reward good workers by letting them live in it. As our owners, Crowns and Roots, reward us for work and obedience by letting us live, and eat, and have shelter."

"Modh did not say, "But-"

"It was perfectly clear to her that it was a system of exchange, and that it was not fair exchange. She came from just far enough outside it to be able to look at it. And, being excluded from reciprocity, any slave can see the system with an undeluded eye But Modh did not know of any other system, any possibility of another system, which would have allowed her to say "But." (pp 29-30).

It might be too didactic for some readers, but her didacticism is something I have always treasured in Le Guin's writing. It is, after all, through reading books like hers that I started trying to say "But" myself.

Moving to lighter things, the reader is then treated to two essays, "Staying Awake While We Read" and "The Conversation of the Modest," both of which are wittily and intelligently trenchant, a small collection of poetry, and an interview.

The interview is the best part of the book!

For example:

Interviewer (Terry Bisson): "What have you got against Amazon?"

UKL: "Nothing, really, except profound moral disapproval of their aims and methods, and a simple loathing of corporate greed." (page 82)


Interviewer: "I'm working on the cover copy for this book right now. Is it Ok if I call our piece on modesty "the single greatest thing ever written on the subject"?"

UKL: "I think "the single finest, most perceptive, most gut-wrenchingly incandescent fucking piece of prose ever not written by somebody called Jonathan something" might be more precise." (page 91)

So anyway, thank you to my husband for this! (and now I have to find him a different book for Father's Day. I'm thinking Embassytown, by China Mieville, which Ursula liked very much)

Odd Ball: Hilarious, Unusual & Bizarre Baseball Moments, for Non-Fiction Monday

Odd Ball: Hilarious, Unusual & Bizarre Baseball Moments, by Timothy Tocher, illustrated by Stacy Curtis (Marshall Cavendish, 2011, elementary/lower middle grade, 64 pages).

This is a book that gives exactly what the title promises--exciting and interesting facts and stories about baseball! It's a book that's great both for the elementary school kid, and for the 9 to 10 year old looking for a light read. The titular moments are presented in a graphic-heavy format, great for the more uncertain, or less committed reader, with larger paragraphs of text providing more heft for the older kid.

I'm not particularly interested in baseball. Growing up it was hard to care about the Baltimore Orioles all the way down in Arlington VA; my boys, on the other hand, became Red Socks fans as simple fact of life in these parts up north. So they were more interested than I was in this particular book, when it arrived from the publishers. And indeed, my oldest had read it thrice, and my youngest once, before I looked at it myself.

By that point, I had been told many of the anecdotes already (it's the kind of book that makes you want to say to any loved one who happens to be around--"Did you know that....." ) I found it really interesting, in a fascinating factoid way, myself. Did you know that a baseball once landed in a match vendors tray and started a fire? Did you ever hear about Wilbert Robinson, who boasted he could catch a ball dropped from an airplane, and how, when his manger hired a stunt pilot to put him to the test, it turned strangely sour? I could go on...

And so, although I do recommend this one to its intended audience, you could also do far worse than to get this for a difficult to shop for grown-up loved one who loves baseball!

The non-fiction Monday round-up is at Great Kid Books today.


Fantasy and Science Fiction for Kids--this Sunday's round-up of posts from around the blogs

Another week, another round-up! This one has Exciting Awards News down at the bottom, and lots of other good stuff from you, the blogging community. Please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews:

Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder, by Michael Townsend, at Great Kid Books

Astrosaurs: The Sabre Tooth Secret, by Steve Cole, at Nayu's Reading Corner

The Boy at the End of the World, by Greg van Eekhout, at Fuse #8

Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon, by Ivan Brett, at The Book Zone (for boys)

Cinderella, Ninja Warrior, by Maureen McGowan, at The O.W.L. and Books at Midnight, where you can also find Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Slayer.

The Dark City (Relic Master Book 1) at The Book Smugglers and Charlotte's Library (where I'm giving away two copies; ends Monday)

The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, at Mudie Kids, Bewitched Bookworms, and at Books and Movies

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle, by Catherine Webb, at Bart's Bookshelf.

Fantasy Baseball, by Alan Gratz, at TheHappyNappyBookseller

Foundling, by D.M. Cornish, at Just Booking Around

The Gates, by John Connolly, at Books From Mars

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente, at Book Aunt and Ex Libris

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, by Nathan Bransford, at Musings of a Book Addict

Juniper Berry, by M.P. Kozlowsky, at Kid Lit Frenzy

Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis, at books4yourkids

The Midnight Gate, by Helen Stringer, at Book Aunt and Charlotte's Library

Reckless, by Cornelia Funke, at Book Nut (audiobook review)

The Resisters, by Eric Nylund, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Rotten Adventures of Zachary Ruthless, by Alan Woodrow, at Just Deb

Scary School, by Derek the Ghost, at Books Kids Like

The Shadow Hunt, by Katherine Langrish, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile

The Silver Door, by Holly Lisle, at Books and Movies

Spellbinder, by Helen Stringer, at Wicked Awesome Books

A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile

Throne of Fire, by Rick Riordan, at Becky's Book Reviews

The Underland Chronicles books 3-5, by Suzanne Collins, at Just Booking Around

Webster's Leap, by Eileen Dunlop, at Charlotte's Library

A World Without Heros (The Beyonders, Book 1), by Brandon Mull, at Karissa's Reading Review

Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke, at Books & Other Thoughts

Authors and Interviews

Anne Ursu (Breadcrumbs) talks about her childhood reading at There's a Book

Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel) talks about the Harry Potter phenomena at Book View Cafe

M.P. Kozlowsky (Juniper Berry) at Mundie Kids

Maureen McGowan (Cinderella, Ninja Warrior) at The O.W.L.

Clete Barrett Smith (Aliens on Vacation) at Cynsations

Other good stuff:

Stacy Whitman, of Tu Books (a Lee and Low Imprint) talks about diversity in sci fi and fantasy for young readers in a not-to-be-missed three part series that begins here.

At The Enchanted Inkpot, there's a discussion of Tween books (with fantasy books, natch, being the ones discussed!)

The Lost Years of Merlin, by T.A. Barron, might be coming to the big screen

Lots of award news:

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett, wins the Andre Norton Award (the YA Nebula). Here are the books it was up against:

Ship Breaker
by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
White Cat by Holly Black (McElderry)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press; Scholastic UK)
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (Amulet)
The Boy from Ilysies by Pearl North (Tor Teen)
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

And here's the full list of winners.

The 2010 Aurealis Awards (which recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writer) have also been announced:
  • BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
  • BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY: "A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan
  • BEST CHILDREN'S FICTION(told primarily through pictures): The Boy and the Toy, Sonya Hartnett (writer) & Lucia Masciullo (illustrator)
  • BEST CHILDREN'S FICTION (told primarily through words): The Keepers, Lian Tanner
And continuing on with awards--

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature "honors books for younger readers (from “Young Adults” to picture books for beginning readers), in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia."

Here's this year's shortlist:
  • Catherine Fisher, Incarceron and Sapphique (Dial)
  • Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight (HarperCollins)
  • Polly Shulman, The Grimm Legacy (Putnam Juvenile)
  • Heather Tomlinson, Toads and Diamonds (Henry Holt)
  • Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen’s Thief series, consisting of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings (Greenwillow Books)
End of awards section.

Just a reminder that I post lists of new releases in sci fi/fantasy for kids twice a month--here's the second half of May edition.

And finally, The Spectacle is closing up its shop. I've very much enjoyed their two and half year's worth of postings--so thank you, very much, Spectacle Bloggers, and good luck in all your ventures!


Why The Visconti House, by Elsbeth Edgar, is just the sort of book for me

I had the great pleasure this morning of reading a book that reminded me just why I turn to children's books for my personal reading pleasure--The Visconti House, by Elsbeth Edgar (Candlewick, 2011, upper middle grade, 304 pages). It is almost as if Edgar read a list of books I have loved since I was young, and remixed the bits I liked best, resulting in a beautiful hour of happy cover to cover reading.

I so appreciated when I was young, and I still do, books about girls who don't fit in because their interests are so diametrically opposed to those of their peers (which is one big reason why I'm going to BEA next week--to see some of my book peeps!). The Visconti House offers a stellar example of such a girl--Laura, a girl who's working on a detailed encyclopedia of dragons, who has eccentric parents (her father wakes her up by quoting Longfellow, much to her annoyance) and who lives in an old and crumbling Italianate mansion (not your ordinary Australian house).

Then add to that a new boy in town, Leon, who is also a loner (but who, of course, proves to be more intelligent, and much more fun to be with, than the other kids). And then, as the pièce de résistance, add an old house with secrets, and an overgrown garden, and fading murals painted on its walls, and a hidden cellar room....And then, as icing on the cake, add a detective story, (involving trips to the library for historical research! and a visit to an old cemetery! I am utterly sincere in my excitement here), as the two kids try to figure out the story of Mr. Visconti, who tried to make his house as much like a beautiful little bit of Italy as he could, but who lived and died there alone. His is a sweetly melancholy story, and it echoes the theme of the book--that difference is not something to be afraid of, and that convention should not get in the way of life and love.

Happy sigh.

Here's the Australian cover (Walker Books, 2009). I don't find it all that appealing--for one thing it looks like she has no clothes on, and this is a much warmer and cozier book than the girl's expression indicates. Sure Laura is unhappy at school, and Mr. Visconti's story made me sniff, but the feel of the book--with its good food (including little rolls shaped like echidnas!), loving parents, good friends, and a tree house aerie--is not depressing at all. I think the US cover does a better job.

It's listed on Amazon as YA, but I think it is beautifully, squarely, and solidly best for the 6th or 7th grade girl who is off to the side of the mainstream middle-school currents.


Misc. things of a bookish nature

First: Please consider pushing the Guys Lit Wire Book drive, in aid of a needy Washington D.C. school, over the top!

Second: Please consider entering to win one of two copies of Dark City, by Catherine Fisher! It's US only, but that doesn't mean that you out there in some other country can't enter and have it sent to a friend here in the US!

And now, notes on my life with books.

Just five more days till I head to Book Expo America (and the Book Blogger Convention)....and my list of books that I want to look out for is now up to forty two books (Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George! Little Women and Me, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted! Darke, by Angie Sage! Spellbound (The Book of Elsewhere 2), by Jacqueline West! etc.)

I don't actually expect to come back with all the books on my list, but I do expect to come back with lots (happily my sister is going to drive me and my books back home!) And so, this weekend (a weekend mercifully free of Things!) I am going to get 42 books from the to be read/to be reviewed pile out of the house, or put neatly on shelves (after having been read/reviewed). Otherwise the Book Creep will take over the whole house (like kudzu. There is a house in that picture)

However, my main reason for wanting to get the book situation under control is that somewhere in the house, lurking in the book filled shadows, is my library's copy of Where She Went, which I feel just terrible about not reading right away because of all the holds on it. Sigh. So if I can at least find and read that one book, it will be a good weekend.

Fortuitously, Pam (aka Mother Reader) has announced up-coming 48 Hour Readathon, scheduled for the weekend after BEA, ie June 3–5, 2011. So I will, I hope, continue to move the tbr books up and out.

One of the Things that made it hard to read last weekend was a trip to Providence for the kickoff of Kids Reading Across Rhode Island (the book chosen for RI kids to read this year is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon). Thank you so much, all you RI librarians who made this happen! My older boy and I very much enjoyed listening to Grace Lin's talk, which made a huge impression on him. Here's an excerpt from the school book report he wrote last week:

"Because of the talk she gave, I know that the second book she tried to write, the publishing company tried to whitewash, and told her to make the Chinese girl into a white boy. Thank goodness she didn’t do that here with this story!"

He utterly loved Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which just goes to show that a white boy doesn't need books with white boys in order to be a happy reader. And it also goes to show that if you have a picky reader, you shouldn't limit the books you offer him to books that ooze "Boy Appeal"--ie, boy characters, lots of Action, short sentences, etc. The other book he read and loved this week, and read literally in a single sitting, was Highway Cats, by Janet Taylor Lisle, another book that I wouldn't peg as having that sort of in your face boy appeal.

And just to include my little one (eight years old)--his class just gave their book project presentations, and his story included a "steam punk" helmet that tickled me lots. It also had ninja carrots.


The Midnight Gate, by Helen Stringer

The Midnight Gate, by Helen Stringer (Feiwel and Friends, 2011, middle grade, 376 pages) is a book I would recommend at the drop of the hat to a young Percy Jackson fan. This isn't something I say lightly with regard to every fantasy quest or adventure book that comes my way, primarily because it's a facile cliche. But that aside, here's what I look for when making such a comparison.

The book has to have a similar story line--the un-ordinary child on a quest, in which the tension gets ratcheted up and up, and monstrous things menace at every turn. It is not hard to find books like this.

But the book also has to have a certain light but effectively used intelligence to it--not just in its writing but also in the richness of its detail, the distinctiveness of its characters. It has to entertain, to make me invested in the characters, to keep me wondering. In short, it has to be a book like The Midnight Gate.

The Midnight Gate is a sequel to Spellbinder, a book I enjoyed very much when it first came out, a book I bet I would have Loved if I'd read it when I was young. Here's what I wrote about it:

"Young Belladonna can see ghosts, and, even though she has to worry about talking to people her classmates can't see, it's a darn good thing that she can. [This is] because, even though her parents are dead, they are still home, taking loving care of her. Then all the ghosts vanish, dragged out of our world. And Belladonna and Steve (a tricksy boy from school, not yet a friend) are off to find out what has happened...even if it means travelling to the land of the dead, where they are pitted against the ominous forces of darkness raised by a wicked alchemist. Lots of ghostly fun, with a mysterious dark dog, the Wild Hunt, and a plucky Edwardian schoolgirl who has haunted the school since a nasty incident on the tennis court, and who keeps a stiff upper lip throughout.

An enthralling new take on the plot of chosen children facing Evil."

So it was with great pleasure that I embarked on Belladonna's continued adventures in The Midnight Gate. Two months have passed since Belladonna first found she was the Spellbinder, and she still has no clear idea what that means, or what she's supposed to do. But a malevolent power is waiting outside our world, gathering strength to enter it once more--and that power has a very clear idea indeed of just how Belladonna can be used to open the way.

Belladonna, with Steve at her side, must solve the clues held in an ancient map given to her by a ghost, find the lost items of power the map gives directions for, and journey from a foster home of great creepiness to the court of the Queen of the Abyss. Then she gets to face the really bad guys.

So. I explained up at the top why I'd recommend this to Percy Jackson fans, or anyone wanting an Exciting Read. I think this sequel one is much more Exciting than its predecessor--it's tighter, faster, and more action-filled. I enjoyed it lots, and look forward to the next book!

That being said, I think I have a slight preference for Spellbinder, primarily because of the enchantment of getting to know Belladonna's ghost parents, and getting to meet Elsie, the Very British School Girl ghost, for the first time. Although it's the monstrous questy things that will doubtless please the young Percy fans referenced above, for me the appeal of this series is the quirky charm that can be found off to the sides of the main plot.

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)

Ferret Fun, by Karen Rostoker-Gruber, illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagyos

Due to the exigencies* of life, I do not have my beautifully insightful, articulate etc review extolling the virtues (and they are many) of The Midnight Gate, by Helen Stringer, ready to post yet. So some ferrets are filling in.

As far as I'm concerned, the only drawback to Ferret Fun, by Karen Rostoker-Gruber, illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagyos (Marshall Cavendish, 2011) is that it will make your child pine for a ferret of their own. This utterly charming picture book, presented in graphic novel-esque panels, tells of two ferret friends who are confronted with a visiting cat. The cat is not a friend; when he sees the ferrets, he sees "double-rat snack pack."

And so the ferrets must determine just how they can survive the visit of this malevolent predator.

"We could ignore her." says one.

"She'll bug us more." says the other.

"We could run away."

"Then who would feed us raisins?"

"It's no use. We're doomed."

But soon the courage of the ferrets is revitalized, and in a bold full page spread that underlines the power of Determination in the face of Bullying, the ferrets take a stand. (Yay, ferrets!)

And all becomes well.

Share this one to your little one who is learning to read. It's perfect for the sort of reading in which your child takes one or two parts to read, and you take the rest. You can also leave this one around for your eight and ten year old boys to read and re-read--my boys got a kick out of it, as did I!

The pictures of the ferrets are awfully charming. I almost want one, or two, ferret friends myself....

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

*(how is exigencies pronounced, btw? EXigencies or exIgencies?)


Waiting on Wednesday--the Book Expo America Edition

A week from today, I will be at Book Expo America! So exciting! I know, from past experience at meetings of the American Library Association, that I become over-excited when surrounded by new books. So I have made a vow not to do an imitation of Scrat (from the Ice Age movies) surrounded by more acorns than he can carry home. I will be calm, cool, and collected, and I will try to take home only books I really want (although I am very opened to being convinced I want books I didn't know I wanted....)

To help myself stay Calm, I have put together a list of the books I'm absolutely certain I would be happy to have the chance to take home with me (some of them are less urgent than others, like the Demon's Surrender and Nightspell--I'll be buying these anyway. But still).

First Second
Hera, the Goddess and Her Glory: Olympians, by George O’Connor

Chicken House
Ravenwood, by Andrew Fusek Peters

Rip Tide: Dark Life by Kat Falls
Liar’s Moon Elizabeth Bunce
Empire of Gut and Bone (the Game of Sunken Places 3), by M.T. Anderson

The Cupid War, by Timothy Carter

Henry Holt
The Fox Inheritance, by Mary E. Pearson

Marshall Cavendish
The Centaur's Daughter, by Ellen Jensen Abbott

City of Lies: The Keepers, by Lian Tanner

The Fire King: The Invisible Order, by Paul Crilley

Little Brown
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
Dark Parties by Sara Grant

No Such Thing as Ghosts: Dragonbreath, by Ursula Vernon
The Ogre of Oglefort, by Eva Ibbotson
Luminous, by Dawn Metcalf
Spellbound (The Book of Elsewhere 2), by Jacqueline West
Dragon Castle, by Joseph Bruchac

and of course I would love books 2, 3, and 4 of the Relic Master Series by Catherine Fisher--
Book Two: The Lost Heiress, June 14
Book Three: The Hidden Coronet, July 12
Book Four: The Margrave, August 9

(I'm giving away the first book here!)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Jewel of the Kalderash: the Kronos Chronicles, by Marie Rotkoski

Harper Collins
Nightspell, by Leah Cypess
Voice of the Undead: Alex Van Helsing by Jason Henderson
Shadowcry, by Jenna Burtenshaw
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
Breadcrumbs Anne Ursu
The Trap: The Magnificent Twelve by Michael Grant
Darke, by Angie Sage

Circus Galacticus, by Deva Fagan

The Mystic Phyles: Beasts by Stephanie Brockway, illustrated by Ralph Masiello

White Crow, by Marcus Sedgwick
The Fairie Ring, by Kiki Hamilton (Tor)

Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George
Little Women and Me, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Simon and Shuster
The Demon’s Surrender
Torn: The Missing, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Goliath: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld

A Year Without Autumn, by Liz Kessler
The Unforgotten Coat, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
The Midnight Zoo, by Sonya Hartnett

Vanished by Sheela Chari (Thank you Doret!)

Running Press
The Wikkeling, by Steve Arntson

Am I missing anything obvious that I should add to my list??????


The Mythopoeic Awards shortlists have been announced

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature "honors books for younger readers (from “Young Adults” to picture books for beginning readers), in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia."

Here's this year's shortlist:
  • Catherine Fisher, Incarceron and Sapphique (Dial)
  • Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight (HarperCollins)
  • Polly Shulman, The Grimm Legacy (Putnam Juvenile)
  • Heather Tomlinson, Toads and Diamonds (Henry Holt)
  • Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen’s Thief series, consisting of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings (Greenwillow Books)
A truly interesting list of very different books (both from each other and from other award lists I've seen), and none of them brought either The Hobbit or Narnia to mind when I read them! If I were to recommend one of these to someone, it's unlikely I'd recommend a second one to the same person. The closest I get is Catherine Fisher and Megan Whalen Turner.

But, of course, to me (MWT fan that I am) there's an obvious winner....

And just because we all need more books on our to be read lists, here are the books in contention for the Adult Award:
  • Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (Roc)
  • Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo (Small Beer Press)
  • Patricia A. McKillip, The Bards of Bone Plain (Ace)
  • Devon Monk, A Cup of Normal (Fairwood Press)
  • Sharon Shinn, Troubled Waters (Ace)
None of which I've read, and all of which I now want to! (I actually have the McKillip, and have been meaning to read it for ages sigh sigh)

Webster's Leap, by Eileen Dunlop, for Timeslip Tuesday

Webster's Leap, by Eileen Dunlop (Holiday House, 1995, middle grade, 168 pages, published in 1995 in the UK as Castle Gryffe)

When Jill's parents divorced, she stayed in London with her mother, and her much loved older brother, Tad, went to live with their father. At first Tad and Jill were able to stay close, but when her father took Tad to live in Scotland, he seemed not at all sorry to go. Jill took it personally, and her fondness for her brother turned cold. And so in the summers Jill and Tad swap places, and have nothing to do with each other. This particular summer, Jill finds herself in the wilds of Scotland, at Castle Gryffe, where her father is the caretaker.

Bored and resentful, Jill wanders the empty rooms of the castle, where there is little that interests her. But all that changes when she starts up Tad's computer, and clicks on one of his files about the castle--and finds herself back in the 16th century, when Mary was still Queen of Scots, and the castle was bustling with activity.

She has a place in the past, into which she slips seamlessly--she is the young protegee of the castle's lady, who is lovely, save for a birth defect that mars her face. And Tad is there too, serving the lord. There in the cold winter of Castle Gryffe the chill between brother and sister vanishes when they are confronted with a horrible plot to accuse the lady of the keep of witchcraft. Unravelling the plot will take courage and determination...and working as a team.

This is the sort of book that will delight and enthrall the 10 or 11 year-old girl who daydreams about the past, the sort who imagines slipping back into the past whenever they visit an old castle, but Dunlop manages to keep her Scotland nicely unromanticized. I felt she did an excellent job capturing what life might well have been like in a cold and not particularly wealthy castle back in the 1500s! And although the first third of the book might seem slow--it is primarily concerned with Jill sulking around in the present--once the time travel gets going, there is plenty of mystery and intrigue for those who like things to Happen, and the tension builds most satisfactorily to an exciting climax.

So although I'm not going to say that you Must go find this book at once, if it should still happen to be in your library system, and you like a nice time travel, go for it! Dunlop is an excellent writer (in fact, she wrote one of my Favorite Books Ever, A Flute on Mayferry Street (aka The House on Mayferry Street in the US, my review), and although this book isn't nearly as magical, I enjoyed reading it. I probably would have LOVED it back in the day....when I still had my collection of unicorn stickers.

(one thing that made me chuckle was how dated Tad's computer is--Jill has to insert a floppy disk).


The Dark City (Relic Master Book 1) by Catherine Fisher; Review and Giveaway!!

The Dark City (Book 1 of the Relic Master Series), by Catherine Fisher (Dial, May 17 2011, mg/YA, 384 pages) is an engrossing blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Rather late, the winners of the two copies are Brooke and Brandy! Thanks all of you who entered.

Anara is a world where an ancient civilization is crumbling into darkness. Member of the old Order, whose spirits are linked to the forces of nature, and who keep alive the stories of the Makers, are ruthlessly prosecuted by the inquisition of the governing Watch. To the Watch, members of the Order are nothing more than believers in dangerous superstition, to be exterminated whenever they are found (after being tortured, to convince them to betray their fellows).

Anara is a world where humans live alongside a race of others--the fur-covered Sekoi, who keep old knowledge of their own.

Anara is a world where the works of the Makers can still be found--some deadly, some with mysterious powers, and some simply sitting enigmatically in the landscape. At the center of that lost world was the great and wondrous city of Tasceron, that has now become a pit of darkness and chaos after a cataclysm of epic proportions. It is truly a dark city, where monsters hunt the unwary.

And Anara is home to young Raffi, the apprentice of a man named Galen, one of the few surviving members of the Order. Along with Galen, and a young woman named Carys (who has secrets of her own), Raffi will face terrible dangers on a quest to find the ultimate lost relic in that dark city...but if they can find the secret they are looking for (and stay alive and away from the Watch), they might just save their world.

The Dark City is a truly gripping journey quest story. It's the sort of quest whose greater point isn't immediately clear to the reader, but which becomes increasingly more apparent as the backstory of the characters and their world is slowly, almost teasingly, rolled out. The beginning is a tad confusing, and you might think that Fisher isn't covering new ground here, but as the story continues, it becomes beautifully epic, beautifully complicated, and fascinating as all get out.

The Relic Master series is already published over in the UK; the first book came out in 1999, called The Relic Master, and the series was called The Book of the Crow. Happily for us here in the US, the next three books in the series are being briskly rolled out over the course of the summer. Not only do I want to find out what happens, I want to get to know the characters better, and find out more about this mysterious sci fi meets fantasy planet on which they live! Here they all are, in their great handsomeness:

And here's when we can expect them:

Book Two: The Lost Heiress, June 14
Book Three: The Hidden Coronet, July 12
Book Four: The Margrave, August 9

Note on age: Fisher made a bit of a splash here in the US recently with Incarceron and its sequel, Sapphique, which are most definitely for teenage (and older) readers. This series is being marketed to teenagers too, but it seems to me that it reads a tad younger--The Dark City is a book I'm happy to recommend to upper middle grade readers as well, not simply because there is no romance sub-plot. This might well happen in the next three books--after all, our cast of characters includes a teenage girl and a teenage boy. But regardless of that, sixth and seventh grade kids who like dark (ie, difficult, with monsters, and no happy walks in the sunshine) adventure should eat this up.

Fisher assumes that her readers will lose themselves in her story without having to be explicitly Told things in long passages of disquisition in which nothing is happening, and I think that this approach to storytelling (brisk and respectful of the reader's ability to make sense of things in medias res) is spot on for many younger readers (and many older ones too, of course...).

And the fact that the series is being released throughout the summer makes it perfect for summer vacation reading....

Courtesy of the publisher, I have two copies of The Dark City to give away! Just leave a comment to be entered (closes at midnight on May 23, so you have a smidge more than a week).

Just to convince you that you might want to enter (and I do strongly recommend this one), here's the trailer:

disclaimer: review copy gratefully received from the publisher.


New Releases of Fantasy and Science Fiction for Teens and Kids--the second half of May, 2011 edition

Here are the new releases of fantasy and sci fi for kids and teens that are being released the second half of May. As ever, I get my info. from Teens Read Too, and the blurbs from Amazon/Goodreads.

My pick this time around is Nightspell, by Leah Cypess--I loved her debut novel, Mistwood, and can't wait for this one!

The Middle Grade Books (aka for 9-12 year olds)

ATTACK OF THE VAMPIRE WEENIES: AND OTHER WARPED AND CREEPY TALES by David Lubar "A boy steals a ticket to an amusement park and gets the ride of a lifetime—literally. The first day of middle school turns into a free-for-all when the gym teacher offers a “get-out-of-gym-free” card. Sick of his sister’s vampire wannabe friends, a kid decides to teach them a lesson at their next party. But the tables are turned when some surprise guests show up."

DEATH AND THE UNDERWORLD: LEGENDS by Anthony Horowitz "From the pen of master storyteller Anthony Horowitz comes a new series of myths and legends from around the world, retold in a contemporary voice, and illustrated with bold, graphic artwork. Packed with Horowitz's signature action, humor, and suspense these collections feel fresh, modern, and perfect for today's fast-moving audience.
When life is over, and the conflicted souls of the dead wend their weary way down to the underworld, what do they see? A three-headed dog with slavering jaws, a bubbling swamp and a hangman's noose, or simply darkness? From familiar stories like the Greek myth of Orpheus, to lesser known tales like the Viking legend of the poet Nornagest and his precious candle, or the story of the Indian Princess Savitri who cheated death with nothing but her smarts, this collection is full of characters who are brave enough (or foolish enough) to cheat death and tell the tale."

THE DRAGON IN THE VOLCANO: DRAGON KEEPERS by Kate Klimo "What do you do when your dragon becomes a 'tween? Worry! And that's exactly what Dragon Keepers Jesse and Daisy do when their dragon, Emmy, outgrows their garage and starts disappearing. Luckily, when she really disappears, she also leaves them a trail of socks, which leads them headlong into a . . . volcano? Yep! And it only gets crazier from there! In this fourth title, author Kate Klimo introduces readers to a whole new world—the Fiery Realm, where dragons can be felled by a squirt of water and fire fairies have started mysteriously disappearing. As always, readers get a full dose of action and imagination in this expanding tale of two kids and a dragon, growing up together. A great boy-girl adventure for readers of How to Train Your Dragon!"

DREADNOUGHT: H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden "A renegade faction of the world’s most powerful villains is intent on destroying G.L.O.V.E. (Global League Of Villainous Enterprises) and showing the world the true face of evil. The Disciples begin by hijacking Diabolus Darkdoom’s Airborne command post, then they kidnap his son and his son’s best friend. Unfortunately for them, Nigel Darkdoom (and Franz) also happen to be Otto’s friends. Heading out to America, Otto, Wing et al embark on a perilous and highly unauthorised rescue operation. Cut off from the support of H.I.V.E. and on the run from American security forces the hunt for their friends leads to one of the US military’s most secret facilities. It becomes clear that the Disciples are not all they appear and in a desperate race against time Otto must work out who his real friends are and prevent the Disciples from completing their true objective. Only Otto can save the world from domination by a sinister new world order but it might be that the price he has to pay is just too high. When it comes to the crunch will he be prepared to sacrifice himself?"

THE EMERALD CASKET: THE ARCHER LEGACY by Richard Newsome "It has only been a month since Gerald Wilkins be-came the richest kid on earth. One month since he found out his great-aunt Geraldine had left him all her fortune and, with it, a murder mystery, clues to a diamond heist, and a target on his back. One month since Sir Mason Green made off with the contents of the diamond casket, an object of unspeakable power. And you thought your school vacation was eventful.

As book two of the Archer Legacy opens, Gerald, Ruby, and Sam come upon papers, drawings, and reams of research, all indicating that Gerald's family has been protecting a secret concerning nothing less than the fate of the world. Now Gerald and his friends are off to India to try to find out the truth. Friendships will be forged and broken. A city buried under the sea will be rediscovered. A whole mess of pigeons will be involved. And Gerald is going to have to make a choice between his love for his friends and the darkest desires of his heart.

It's entirely possible that this month might be even more eventful than the last."

FIBBLE: THE FOURTH CIRCLE OF HECK by Dale E. Basye "Dale E. Basye returns to Heck for his most over-the-top (the Big Top, that is) adventure yet. When Marlo Fauster claims she has switched souls with her brother, she gets sent straight to Fibble, the circle of Heck reserved for liars. But it's true—Milton and Marlo have switched places, and Marlo finds herself trapped in Milton's gross, gangly body. She also finds herself trapped in Fibble, a three-ring media circus run by none other than P. T. Barnum, an insane ringmaster with grandiose plans and giant, flaming pants. Meanwhile Milton, as Marlo, is working at the devil's new television network, T.H.E.E.N.D. But there's something strange about these new shows. Why do they all air at the same? And are they really broadcasting to the Surface? Soon Milton and Marlo realize that they need each other to sort through the lies and possibly prevent the end of the world—if Bea "Elsa" Bubb doesn't catch them first."

FLY TRAP by Frances Hardinge "Having barely escaped the revolution they had a huge (if accidental) part in causing, sharp-eyed orphan Mosca Mye; her guard goose, Saracen; and their sometimes-loyal companion, the con man Eponymous Clent, must start anew.

All too quickly, they find themselves embroiled in fresh schemes and twisting politics as they are trapped in Toll, an odd town that changes its entire personality as day turns to night. Mosca and her friends attempt to fend off devious new foes, subvert old enemies, prevent the kidnapping of the mayor's daughter, steal the town's Luck, and somehow manage to escape with their lives—and hopefully a little money in their pockets.

In the eagerly awaited sequel to Fly by Night, acclaimed storyteller Frances Hardinge returns to a vivid world rich with humor, danger, and discovery."

A GIRL CALLED TENNYSON by Joan Givner "Anne “Tenn” Tennyson Miller’s adventure begins during an ordinary ferry trip, but reality soon melts away as Tenn is transported to the fantasy land of Greensward. When she arrives in Greensward, Tenn is elected to rescue her new friend, Una, who has been spirited away to a nearby country occupied by evil forces determined to destroy the harmony of Greensward. Before she sets out on her dangerous mission she is trained by the wise woman, Bethan, who understands the enemy’s weaknesses and offers Tenn resources and information that can help her on her mission.

Once in enemy territory she uses Bethan’s supplies and teachings, as well as her own keen memory and wealth of knowledge, to sustain her quest. She is eventually successful in finding Una but then discovers that there are many other children who must also be saved and returned to Greensward.

This classic fantasy quest from established YA author Joan Givner takes young readers on an adventure written in the British tradition, fused with a contemporary voice. Givner alludes to the work of Tennyson, as “Tenn” loves poetry, story and rhyme; in fact it will be her love of great writers that helps her in her quest and leads her to success."

THE GREAT MOGUL DIAMOND: THE DOPPLE GANGER CHRONICLES by G. P. Taylor "Everything was going so well for a change. Sadie and Saskia Dopple, those troublesome twins, had been adopted by the wealthy writer and recluse Muzz Elliott. And their friend Erik Morrissey Ganger was finally on his way to becoming a full-fledged private detective. But when an anonymous note threatens someone they love, the twins are off on an express train to danger. Suddenly they find themselves awhirl in a series of crimes—stolen right off the pages of Muzz Elliott’s own mystery novels. The twins need to figure out who’s behind this twisted plot soon, or Muzz Elliott will be framed for her own greatest literary invention . . . the theft of the Great Mogul Diamond. Meanwhile, Erik speeds through the countryside in an unbelievably cool car with private eye Dorcas Potts, racing the clock and attempting to outwit a gang of robbers. At the end of the road (if he ever gets there), he and the twins will have to get their hands on the diamond first in order to save Muzz Elliott. But not even this car is fast enough to escape the nagging doubts in Erik’s mind . . . What do you do when you aren’t sure what’s right? Sadie, Saskia, and Erik face this question head-on in the third installment of The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, by New York Times bestselling author G. P. Taylor. "

HEROES AND VILLAINS: LEGENDS by Anthony Horowitz "From the pen of master storyteller Anthony Horowitz comes a new series of myths and legends from around the world, retold in a contemporary voice, and illustrated with bold, graphic artwork. Packed with Horowitz's signature action, humor, and suspense these collections feel fresh, modern, and perfect for today's fast-moving audience.
The battle between good and evil has raged throughout time, in every corner of this world and the next. Some have fought using their superior strength, and some their wit and cunning. This collection features some epic favorites on both sides like Hercules, Theseus, and Polyphemus the Cyclops, and other less-familiar but equally fierce opponents like Polynesian trickster Maui, and Grendel of Beowolf. No matter if they fight with speed, skill, or sheer determination, they all have one thing in common: they will fight each other to the death."

SUPER CHICKEN NUGGET BOY AND THE PIZZA PLANET PEOPLE by Josh Lewis "When a mysteriously delicious-looking pizza falls from the sky into his backyard, Fern Goldberg (aka Super Chicken Nugget Boy) gets a strange feeling in his gut. No, not hunger. Well, maybe a little bit. But mostly, it's an inkling that something fishier than anchovies is about to tackle planet earth.

Sure enough, when Bert Lahr Elementary's head bully Dirk Hamstone steals and eats the space pizza, it reassembles itself and crawls out of his mouth as a fully-formed alien Pizza Person!! Soon, all the pizza ingredients in Gordonville are vanishing, and Pizza People are multiplying faster than you can say "extra large double cheese." If Super Chicken Nugget Boy doesn't act fast, the only pizza left on earth will be the kind that topples terrestrials with toppings! Virulent vittles beware! Earth's finest deep-fried superhero is back! "

A TRAVELLER IN TIME by Alison Uttley "Penelope Taberner Cameron is a solitary and a sickly child, a reader and a dreamer. Her mother, indeed, is of the opinion that the girl has grown all too attached to the products of her imagination and decides to send her away from London for a restorative dose of fresh country air. But staying at Thackers, in remote Derbyshire, Penelope is soon caught up in a new mystery, as she finds herself transported at unforeseeable intervals back and forth from modern to Elizabethan times. There she becomes part of a remarkable family that is, Penelope realizes, in terrible danger as they plot to free Mary, Queen of Scot, from the prison in which Queen Elizabeth has confined her.

Penelope knows the tragic end that awaits the Scottish queen but she can neither change the course of events nor persuade her new family of the hopelessness of their cause, which love, loyalty, and justice all compel them to embrace. Caught between present and past, Penelope is ever more torn by questions of freedom and fate. To travel in time, Penelope discovers, is to to be very much alone. And yet the slow recurrent rhythms of the natural world, beautifully captured by Alison Uttley, also speak of a greater ongoing life that transcends the passage of years. " (not technically a new release, but rather a classic being re-published by the NY Review Children's Collection).

The Young Adult Books

ANGEL BURN by L.A. Weatherly "Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip - and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind. "

AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky "Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her. Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking. In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space."

BLOOD MAGIC: THE BLOOD JOURNALS by Tessa Gratton "This page-turning debut novel will entice fans who like their paranormal romances dark and disturbing. It's a natural next-read for fans of Stephanie Meyer, Carrie Jones, and Becca Fitzpatrick. But instead of mythical creatures, blood magic has everything to do with primal human desires like power, wealth, and immortality. Everywhere Silla Kennicott turns she sees blood. She can't stop thinking about her parents alleged murder-suicide. She is consumed by a book filled with spells that arrives mysteriously in the mail. The spells share one common ingredient: blood, and Silla is more than willing to cast a few. What's a little spilled blood if she can uncover the truth? And then there's Nick—the new guy at school who makes her pulse race. He has a few secrets of his own and is all too familiar with the lure of blood magic. Drawn together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick must find out who else in their small Missouri town knows their secret and will do anything to take the book and magic from Silla."

CRYPTIC CRAVINGS: VAMPIRE KISSES by Ellen Schreiber "The morbidly monotonous Dullsville has finally become the most exciting place on earth now that Raven is madly in love with her hot vampire boyfriend, Alexander, and a crew of vampires has taken residence in Dullsville's old mill. Raven discovers Jagger's plan to open a new club, the Crypt, right here in Dullsville. But is it her dream come true or her worst nightmare? Raven and Alexander have to figure out what the nefarious vampire has in store for Dullsville's teen and vampire population. Can Raven convince Jagger to listen to her plans to make the Crypt the morbidly magnificent dance club it could be? Will it be safe for mortals and vampires alike?

And as Sebastian and Luna's relationship heats up, Raven wonders about her own amorous fate: Will Alexander ever turn her? Does he crave her and does he want to spend eternity together? And what does she really want?

With cryptic secrets and cravings, this eighth installment in the Vampire Kisses series is a romantic and mysterious thrill ride."

CURSEBUSTERS by Julie Smith "Budding-psychic Reeno is the most accomplished teenage burglar in California, but one tiny screw-up and poof!—she's sentenced to Bad Girl School. And that isn’t even her worst problem. Her sister Haley’s dying of an illness no one can diagnose, and now she can’t even help. But wait, maybe she can! The school psychics have found each other and formed their own club. With the help of her gay friend Carlos and the other Ozone Rangers, Reeno finds out Haley’s disease is the result of an ancient Mayan curse. And A.B., the group's sinister non-faculty adviser, claims he knows how to break it.

All Reeno has to do is time-travel to an ancient Mayan city and steal a little item A.B. needs to save the world. Since she’s an ace thief, he has complete confidence she can execute the task before the outraged Mayans can execute her. But can she trust A.B.? Despite his cuddly appearance, she knows he’s a merciless predator and ruthless assassin. And he's not even human."

THE DARK CITY: RELIC MASTER by Catherine Fisher "Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it. "

DESIRE by Kailin Gow "A Dystopian world where everyone's future is planned out for them at age 18...whether it is what a person desires or not. Kama is about to turn 18 and she thinks her Life s Plan will turn out like her boyfriend's and friend's as they desired. But when she glimpse a young man who can communicate with her with his thoughts and knows her name...a young man with burning blue eyes and raven hair, who is dressed like no other in her world, she is left to question her Life's Plan and her destiny. Knowing the truth can destroy everyone... Within the book itself, find out how you can win a SIGNED Kindle! "

THE FIRES BENEATH THE SEA by Lydia Millet "Cara's mother has disappeared. Her father isn't talking about it. Her big brother Max is hiding behind his iPod, and her genius little brother Jackson is busy studying the creatures he collects from the beach. But when a watery specter begins to haunt the family's Cape Cod home, Cara and her brothers realize that their scientist mother may not be who they thought she was—and that the world has much stranger, much older inhabitants than they had imagined.

With help from Cara's best friend Hayley, the three embark on a quest that will lead them from the Cape's hidden, ancient places to a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. They're soon on the front lines of an ancient battle between good and evil, with the terrifying "pouring man" close on their heels.

Packed with memorable characters and thrilling imagery, Lydia Millet weaves a page-turning adventure even as she brings the seaside world of Cape Cod to magical life. The first in a series of books about the Sykes children, The Fires Beneath the Sea is a rip-cracking middle-grade novel that will make perfect beach reading—for readers of any age!"

THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET: THE STEAMPUNK CHRONICLES by Kady Cross "In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her."

LARK by Tracey Porter "When sixteen-year-old Lark Austin is kidnapped from her Virginia hometown and left to die in a snowy forest, she leaves behind two friends who are stunned by the loss. As Lark's former best friend, Eve can't shake the guilt that this tragedy was somehow her fault. Meanwhile, Nyetta is haunted each night by Lark's ghost, who comes through the bedroom window and begs Nyetta to set her soul free. Eve and Nyetta realize that Lark is trapped in limbo, and only by coming together to heal themselves will they discover why.

Tracey Porter's stunning narrative about love and loss demonstrates that forgiveness can never come too late."

MERCY by Rebecca Lim "A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers. Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind. Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?"

THE MIDNIGHT PALACE by Carlos Ruiz Zafon "Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night--and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces. "

THE MORNITH WAR: THE WINNITOK TALES by Patrick Doud "Though The Mornith War picks up three years and many adventures after the events in The Hunt for the Eye of Ogin, Patrick Doud's latest book stands alone as a gripping epic fantasy novel. Elwood Pitch and his companions are charged with a task just beyond Winnitok’s northern edge. The land’s immortal protector Granashon the Nohar has joined them in the company of a charismatic prophet, who has been trying desperately to establish a truce between the prophet’s followers and a proud clan of wolf truans. No sooner have the scouts learned of this threat to peace than it is overshadowed by one even more ominous—a scourge of spirits burning the prophet’s fields with a ghostly, seemingly unstoppable green fire.

While Granashon leads the band of adventurers to battle the source of the spirits in an ancient mountain fortress, Elwood's companion Drallah stays behind to help protect the besieged prophet and her followers—including a girl with whom Elwood has begun a relationship that the prophet has expressly forbidden. With the spirits threatening to spread to Winnitok and beyond, catastrophe looms. Can Elwood and his friends stop it?"

NIGHTSPELL by Leah Cypess "Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all.

In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.

Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister . . . if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.

In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all?"

QUEEN OF THE DEAD: THE GHOST AND THE GOTH by Stacey Kade "After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like.

Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea."

SOMETHING DEADLY THIS WAY COMES: MADISON AVERY by Kim Harrison "When Madison died the night of her prom, she knew her life would never be the same. Now she has a powerful amulet, a team of rogue angels by her side, and the ability to flash forward into the future to see the shape of destiny. And of course, now she's finally with Josh—a perfect boyfriend who doesn't even mind that she's dead.

But being dead has its disadvantages, too. Madison feels caught between the light and the dark, and between her real life and her timekeeper status. When Madison has the opportunity to get her body back—to be alive again—she faces her most difficult decision yet. If she claims it, she could return to being a normal girl—and have a chance at a real relationship with Josh. But would having the one thing she wants most in the world also mean giving up everything she's worked so hard for?"

SPINNING OUT by David Stahler, Jr. "High school senior Frenchy has little ambition beyond hanging out at the smoking rock until his best friend, the ever-witty and conniving Stewart, gets him to try out for Man of la Mancha. To everyone's surprise, the guys are a hit. But when Stewart's antics begin to grow more obsessive he wears his costume 24/7, freaks out about little details, and displays an incessant hatred of the high-tech windmills outside of town Frenchy worries that there's something deeper going on. Is Stewart spiraling into madness, just like Don Quixote? And can Frenchy battle through his own demons in time to save his friend from self-destruction before it's too late? " (quite possibly not fantasy....but maybe it is....)

STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini "How do you defy destiny? Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart."

THE WARLOCK: THE SECRETS OF THE IMMORTAL NICHOLAS FLAMEL by Michael Scott "In the fifth installment of this bestselling series, the twins of prophesy have been divided, and the end is finally beginning.

With Scatty, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare all in Danu Talis, Sophie is on her own with the ever-weakening Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. She must depend on Niten to help her find an immortal to teach her Earth Magic. The surprise is that she will find her teacher in the most ordinary of places. "

WATCHED by Sharde Richardson
"Mikayla doesn't want much: just to rock out to her favorite band, become the next Kwiki Stop video gaming champion, and keep her Q-tip habit under control. What she does want is the sight of the sudden inexplicable dark auras around everyone to stop. Problem is, those auras are demons and Mikayla is the last trait holder with the power to ban them. Which is a total buzz kill.

To make matters worse, the town folk of Sulphur Springs don't look the same, and her classmates are a little dark in the eyes. There are murders, suicides, reckless skinny-dipping, gratuitous use of Q-tips, and newfound powers that Mikayla must learn to control.

Her past becomes present when a shape-shifter tells her what her true identity is, and how to keep the demons of Hell from nipping at her Converse. Through him she'll discover who to trust, who to kiss, and how valuable her abilities are to the right beings. Because the evils of Hell aren't staying down without a fight..."

WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN edited by Holly Black & Ellen Kushner "Bordertown: a city on the border between our human world and the elfin realm. Runaway teens come from both sides of the border to find adventure, to find themselves. Elves play in rock bands and race down the street on spell-powered motorbikes. Human kids recreate themselves in the squats and clubs and artists' studios of Soho. Terri Windling's original Bordertown series was the forerunner of today's urban fantasy, introducing authors that included Charles de Lint, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, and Ellen Kushner. In this volume of all-new work (including a 15-page graphic story), the original writers are now joined by the generation that grew up dreaming of Bordertown, including acclaimed authors Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. They all meet here on the streets of Bordertown in more than twenty new interconnected songs, poems, and stories. "

X RESTORED: EXORSISTAH by Claudia Mair Burney "After three years and more creepy demons than she’d care to recall, Emme Vaughn has finally found her mama. Only the reunion doesn’t go as X expected. It’s not easy adapting to a new life in New Orleans, with a mother who was possessed by the devil until recently and a stepfather she didn’t know existed. Especially when a mysterious stranger, her stepfather’s charming and handsome protégé Jean-Paul, drives a wedge between Emme and Francis. Is the enigmatic outsider trying to replace her man? Or does he have a more sinister plan— one she couldn’t have imagined?

Haunted by a mysterious ghost and threatened by a demon in her mama’s house, X gets ready to rumble. She dons God’s armor to face the evil force that has hunted her all her life, but first she must cast aside the little girl act and draw strength from all the celestial and worldly friends who have guided her this far. Once and for all, the devil has it coming . . . Exorsistah style."

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