Waiting on Wednesday-Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear

Back in 2010, I read a slim little YA book that I adored--Bone and Jewel Creatures, by Elizabeth Bear. Here's what I said:

"I shall start by saying flat out that this is a book for fans of Patricia McKillip (like me). Which is to say--this is a book where language and description and things hinted at in the shadows and old histories hanging between characters are of paramount importance, and plot and character motivations aren't spelled out in obvious ways. I loved it."

It was a book full of untold backstory, and I wanted to stay in the world for pages and pages more....

Yesterday I saw a mention of 2 forthcoming books by Elizabeth Hand, and I had to check to see if this was the Elizabeth with Monosyllabic Surname whose book I had liked so much, and of course it wasn't.* But happily for me I found that E. Bear has a new book coming out, set in the same world as Bone and Jewel Creatures!

It is called Range of Ghosts (Tor, March 27) and here is its blurb:

"Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards. These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power."

But in the meantime, do try Bone and Jewel Creatures!

*There also Elizabeth Moon, and Elizabeth Wein (who I don't get confused with the others, because her last name isn't a noun in English). There is also Elizabeth Goudge, but she isn't a contemporary writer of sci fi/fantasy, so that's ok.

Waiting on Wednesday (which I always think of as Waiting, on Wednesday) is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The Jewel and the Key, by Louise Spiegler, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Jewel and the Key, by Louise Spiegler (Clarion Books, 2011, YA, 464 pages)

When an earthquake hits Seattle, it sets in motion a chain of events that gives sixteen-year old Addie, stage struck but shut out of the high school drama clique, the theater experience of her dreams. But this comes at a price that Addie could never have expected. While helping her father fix the earthquake damage to his bookstore, she finds a silver mirror, tucked among vintage clothes in a hidden storage room. When she looks in the mirror, she finds herself transported back to 1917 Seattle...where the dilapidated old theater of her own time, the Jewel, still has all its glory.

There, in the company of the vibrant theater people of the past, Addie learns to love the Jewel, and one young actor, named Reg, in particular. But the mirror shuttles her back and forth between times, and the future, both for the people of 1917, and in her own time, is clouded by war. For Reg, it's WW I; for Addie's best friend, and kind-of foster-brother, Whaley, it's the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the present, the owner of the Jewel is hoping to restore it--if the preservationists, with their grant money, can be convinced that enough is known about its original appearance. Addie's mirror might be the key that is needed...but saving the theatre, and saving Whaley and Reg from being swallowed by war, might be too much for her to pull off.

The Jewel and the Key is a book that carefully builds its story--as the cover image suggests, there are no mad rushings into headlong action. Addie is given time to come to terms with her time-travelling, the reader is given time to get to know the supporting cast, and, most importantly, there is time for Siegler to build a beautifully convincing picture of Seattle on the brink of WW I. The social history of the time is crucial to the story, and Siegler does an excellent job making it meaningful.

Addie herself is equally convincing--her relationships, both in the past and the present, rang true. The romance element of the book gave it poignancy on an intimate scale; the reality of war gave it a more universal emotional power.

It was a book I read somewhat slowly, feeling no need to rush (yet feeling, just a tad, that things could move on a bit faster...). I savored, along with Addie, the life of the early 20th century theater, I fretted along with her as she hunted in the present for the information that could restore it to its former glory, and my heart ached for her as she tried to keep safe those she loved.

At its best (in my opinion), time travel books use the past in powerful ways to change the lives of the characters from the present, forcing them to grow up, and change; putting them, essentially, through an emotional wringer, while shinning light on what was never considered before (and not annoying the picky reader with anachronisms). The Jewel and the Key does all this very nicely--Addie isn't the same person at the end, and I, as the reader, wasn't quite either, in the small, but cumulatively important ways that a book can change and educate its reader.

That being said, it wasn't a book that I loved. I think the deliberate pacing of the book diluted the emotional intensity somewhat, but this could have been just me. I held back from investing myself in the relationships formed in the past, having learned, through bitter fictional experience, that WW I and happily ever don't always go hand in hand (which isn't a spoiler for this book in particular, just my perspective reading it). I did, however, enjoy it very much, and do heartily recommend it, to fans of historical fiction and the theatre in particular.

Note on the mechanics of the time travel--sure, the mirror serves as a connection between past and present, and it's a special mirror, but there's no reason why it should act as a time travel device. If lack of explanation bothers you, you might well be bothered.

Note on age: It's YA in theme and age of heroine, but not inappropriate for a younger reader. The romance is understated, and though there are disturbing depictions of the reality of war, and police brutality, the violence isn't as nearly as graphic as The Hunger Games, which all the 11 year olds I know have read....

Here's another review, at Jen Robinson's Book Page (who incidentally found it a fast read, leading me to wonder if my reaction would have been different if I had read it under more peaceful circumstances that those that transpired. Last night was not a shining star in the annals of my 11 year old's homework)


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs

Hi. Here are the middle grade (ages 9-12) fantasy and science fiction focused posts that I found I found in my blog reading this past week. Please let me know if I missed yours, or anyone elses!

The Reviews:

The Book of Wonders, by Jasmine Richards, at Cracking the Cover

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, at My Favorite Books

The Dragon's Tooth, by N.D. Wilson, at Karissa's Reading Review

Elliot and the Goblin War, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, at The Introverted Reader

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep, by Liz Kessler, at Nye Louwon-My Spirit

Fairy Tale Detectives: The Sisters Grimm, by Michael Buckley, at Mister K Reads

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (a new, beautifully illustrated edition from Taschen) at Books of Wonder and Wisdom

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, at Bookie Woogie

Icefall, by Matthew Kirby, at RoeSpot--More Coffee, Please... and Book 'em Benj

Jellaby, by Kean Soo, at Back to Books (graphic novel)

Liesl and Po, by Lauren Oliver, at Adventures of a Book Wyrm and Bunbury in the Stacks

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia and Something Different Every Day

My Very UnFairy Tale Life, by Anna Staniszewski, at Geo Librarian

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, by D. Robert Pease, at Charlotte's Library

Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson, at Fyrefly's Book Blog

Revenge of the Horned Bunnies (Dragonbreath book 6) by Ursula Vernon, at Charlotte's Library

Secrets at Sea, by Richard Peck, at Reads for Keeps

Stealing Magic: a Sixty Eight Rooms Adventure, by Malorie Malone, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George, at Good Books and Good Wine

Ms. Yingling looks at several fantasies in one post--Bigger Than a Breadbox, by Laurel Snyder, The Rock of Ivanore, by Laurisa White Reyes, and Replication: The Jason Experiment, by Jill Williamson.

Authors and Interviews:

Jasmine Richards (The Book of Wonders) at Cracking the Cover

Here's Neil Gaimen's Mythcon Guest of Honor Speech from 2004, which he's just put up on his website. It's a look back at his childhood reading of Lewis and Tolkien and Chesterton...

Other good stuff:

At SF Signal, many authors share the books that introduced them to fantasy and sci fi (of particular interest, perhaps, to those raising the next generation of fans!)

Here's an article from last week I forgot to put in--at the Guardian, Imogen Russell Williams talks Alternate history lessons for children's fiction (including, among other good things, Ellen Renner's Castle of Shadows which has been on my wants list for ages, so I was thrilled to find it's coming out here in the US in March!)

At Seven Miles of Steel Thistles, Lucy Coats reflects on Baba Yaga

Wrinkle In Time aniversery celebratory postings continue--Amy's Library of Rock takes a look at Meg Murry, and you can find this week's participants in the 50 years/50 blogs event (this weeks theme-Sharing A W in T) here at the event's facebook page
. And at the NY Times, there's "'A Wrinkle in Time' and its Sci Fi Heroine."

I have a post up about the Amelia Bloomer List, from a middle grade fantasy perspective

And finally, thanks to Queen's Thief Week, organized by Chachic, of Chachic's Book Nook, this past week has been one of my most favorite blog reading weeks ever! Wonderful interviews, guest posts, and tons of great comments (including lots from MWT herself! Chachic has also included links to posts elsewhere--lots of good reading there too.


My contribution to Queen's Thief week--MWT speaks

Chachic (of Chachic's Book Nook) had the brilliant idea of organizing a love fest of awesomeness to celebrate Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series, and I decided to make a small contribution, because I am a fan (in a passionately intense way). Megan Whalen Turner's books get the third best shelf space in my bedroom* and King of Attolia is in my top five favorite books of all time (I'm not sure which the others are, but they are probably good ones too).

I've had the happy fortune of meeting MWT in person twice now (here's a picture from the first meet-up in 2007, at the Niantic Book Barn--that's my husband, obviously thinking hard about whatever intelligent thing MWT is saying, along with a bit of a fellow Sounisian that I cropped because I wasn't sure she'd want to be on my blog):

As my Useful Contribution to Queen's Thief Week, I thought I'd gather all the bits of MWT talking I could find. Many of these links are on MWT's own website, but some aren't, so I thought it might be of interest to make a more complete list--let me know if I missed any!

2007 Shannon Hale interview MWT in three parts--here's the first

October, 2007 --Cheryl Rainfield was lucky enough to hear MWT at the Particles of Narrative Conference, and took detailed notes.

2009--a podcast interview in two parts at the Mount Kisco Library (here is the direct link--scroll down a tad, organized by Deirdre (of Deirdre's Blog, and found via The Serpentine Library)

Nov. 2009 "Plotting with Megan Whalen Turner" at HipWriterMama

March 201o The Enchanted Inkpot and Chersti Nieveen

April 2010 Q&A with MWT at Publishers Weekly and an interview at Shelf Awareness

April 2010 At Damsels in Regress

June, 2010 MWT is one of several authors discussing "morals and values and lessons" at Shannon Hale's blog, Squeetus

May, 2011 LA Times Festival of Books interview

January, 2012 At Chachic's Book Nook for Queen's Thief Week!

And, just as a coda, my proudest MWT fan moment ever:

MWT (over at Sounis, on 4/16/08): "Charlotte, YOU are my Buffalo Film Festival. You and no other"

How could any fan not swoon?

* Here are the books in my bedroom (it's two pictures adjacent to each other, which is why the chimney is cut off)--MWT is to the right of the chimney, third shelf up. Diana Wynne Jones gets the best slot--the entire bookshelf right by the bed, but that's just because she's written more books than MWT. If MWT were to write as many books as DWJ (a girl can dream), I'd put MWT there. Urusula Le Guin (second best shelf space--above MWT, fourth and fifth shelves) has to stay where she is, because those books are shared with my husband.


The Amelia Bloomer Project's 2012 list--a mg fantasy perspective on feminism

The mission of the Amelia Bloomer project is to "create an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18." They've just announced the 2012 list of books whose "women and girls reflect the complexities of the female experience and the increased awareness of strong women and girls throughout history and around the world." There are three age groups--Young Readers, Middle Readers, and Young Adult, and there is both fiction and non-fiction in each.

Here are the "middle reader" fantasy books (which goes from a low of second grade grade to a high of 10th, and is thus more flexible than my understanding of "middle grade," ie, ages 9-12):

Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke. Yay for Zita!

The Floating Islands, by Rachel Neumeier. Yay Floating Islands! This was a favorite of mine from last year.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett. Um, this was published in 2010, so it seems odd to see it here. But regardless, yay for I Shall Wear Midnight!

(I would have talked about the YA books too, but there were more of them, and more I hadn't read....)

And immediately upon reading the lists, I began to wonder what my own list would have looked like.

Here are the criteria:

1. Significant feminist content
2. Excellence in writing
3. Appealing format
4. Age appropriateness for young readers

Obviously criteria one is the trickiest, and because I'm interested, here's a big chunk of how this criteria is defined. I have enboldened the line I think is most telling.

"....feminist books show women solving problems, gaining personal power, and empowering others.... These books explain that there is a gender issue; they don’t leave the reader to guess. A book with a strong female character that does not demonstrate that an inequality exists may not be a feminist book. Strong female characters may be plucky, perseverant, courageous, feisty, intelligent, spirited, resourceful, capable, and independent–but the book’s presentation may still not be feminist."

I'm running into few problems. I can see why, for instance, the young heroine of Tuesdays at the Castle isn't "feminist": she's plucky, and an agent in shaping her destiny, but she's not a game-changer for the girls in her world. But Zita is troubling me. The text and illustrations don't, as far as I remember, explain that there is a gender issue. I can't remember gender being specifically an issue at all. It seems to be that Zita might be "feminist" just by the fact of her existence (?).

And I'm having a hard time deciding if gender is an issue for Hazel, the heroine of Breadcrumbs (this is a book I'd have put on the list)--I think it is, but again, I can't remember that being explained. I also don't recall any "others" in the book being empowered, but I'm not sure I like that criteria--when your journey is a solitary quest, like Hazel's, who is there to be empowered by it but yourself, and your readers?

But I've thought of one that meets the criteria, I think, rather well--Icefall, by Matthew Kirby. Gender is most definitely an issue, and the heroine refuses to let herself be confined by stereotypes. And I think The Floating Islands is an excellent choice.

What fantasy books from 2011 for "middle readers" would you have added to the list?

Update: Just wanted to say that I heard from Beth Olshewsky, the Amelia Bloomer Project C0-Chair from 2010-2012. She noted that the awards are given by consensus, so there's lots of debate and discussion about what books will make the list! (here's looking at you, Zita!)

She clarified the issue of which books are eligible: "books are eligible if they are published in the last six months of the preceding year (so the span is really 18 months), as you noted for I Shall Wear Midnight. The form for field nominations should be up by the end of February, so check back on the Amelia Bloomer blog http://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/ to field nominate this and any other books that you think may qualify."

I'm rather thrilled to know that one can field nominate, because I do think highly of this list and am eager to play a small part in its formtion! You can bet I'll be putting Icefall forward, and Circus Galacticus, by Deva Fagan, and The Book of Wonders, by Jasmine Richards and The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman...and quite possibly others!

Revenge of the Horned Bunnies--Dragonbreath, book 6, by Ursula Vernon

Revenge of the Horned Bunnies--Dragonbreath, book 6, by Ursula Vernon

The Dragonbreath books are mind candy for the young reader, and rather fun for the grown-up, as well. Mixing text dominated pages with graphic novel-esque spreads, they are easy, friendly, and fast books to read. The stories about Danny, a young dragon with fire issues, and his pals, are strange and suspenseful (and often very funny), the illustrations are utterly brilliant in their simple humor and charm. And as an added bonus, there is now a central girl character--a lizard named Christina, who is smart and skeptical as all get out.

But when the gang (Danny, Christina, and Wendell) head off to cowboy camp, along with Danny's annoying little cousin, Spenser, not even Christina's skeptical mind can deny that the creature Spenser secretly befriends is a jackalope!!!!! Yes, horned bunnies are real...but this one seems to be the last of its kind. All its friends and family have disappeared....

And it's up to Danny and co. to solve the mystery, and foil the nefarious plot that threatens the survival of the jackalopes!

This book has one of my favorite Dragonbreath pictures ever--Danny grooming his horse. And the jackalope is cute as all get out (even cuter than the picture on the cover). The story has swing, and made me chuckle (poor smart Christina, stuck with a camp counselor determined to apply nail polish!), and a message about protecting endangered species from mankind's greed that I liked lots.

A fine addition to a truly stellar series with just tons and tons of kid appeal, one of the few series for which I will I will go to the bookstore on release day. Give these books to your reluctant elementary schooler, or, like me, to your confidently reading middle schooler, or, also like me, to young Dutch cousins....they won't disappoint.

Here are my posts about the other books:

Book 1: Dragonbreath
Book 2: Attack of the Ninja Frogs
Book 3: Curse of the Weir-Wiener
Book 4: Lair of the Bat Monster
Book 5: No Such Thing as Ghosts


Help the Lorax speak for the trees

UPDATE: thanks to commenter Katie DeKoster, I've learned that this petition seems to have worked! There's a Go Green button right on the front page, that takes you to "The Lorax Project."


The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, is brilliant, and doubtless contributed to making me the tree-hugger and frenzied recyler that I am today. I dunno if the live action movie coming out in March will be brilliant or not, but I hope that it will reach some kid, and make them think twice about buying over packaged food, or littering, or all the other small yet helpful things all of us can do.

Since the movie has a website, don't you think that website would be a pretty good place to put some information about how we can try to stop messing up our planet? Mr. Wells' 4th Grade Class, in Brookline, MA, thinks so, and they've created a petition at change.org:

We were excited for The Lorax movie to come out in March, but when we went to the movie website, there was absolutely nothing about saving the Earth which is what Dr. Seuss wanted us to learn. The site is more about selling tickets. The trailer did not include much about the environment, either! We think Universal Pictures needs to “green up" this website.

Our world, like the Lorax’s, is facing major environmental problems like pollution, global warming, oil spills, littering, a Great Pacific Garbage Patch, deforestation, and loss of animal habitat. These problems will affect our future.

The Lorax movie, with its millions of dollars in advertising and massive audience has the potential to help heal the Earth. This movie can show the world we should not take our sky, water, trees, and animals for granted. It could inspire more and more people to treat Earth with the same respect you would give a child.

Please consider signing their petition, asking Universal to "green up" the Lorax website.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, by D. Robert Pease, for Timeslip Tuesday

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, by D. Robert Pease (Walking Stick Books, 2011, upper middle grade, 320 pages).

Time travel that's solidly science fiction for young readers is thin on the ground. With his series about a boy named Noah Zarc, a time traveller from the future whose family's mission is to restore the damaged earth to a thriving ecosystem, Pease endeavors to fill that gap. The ethical/moral point raised concerning the needs of humanity vs the needs of the planet, is certainly an important one, and it's good to see it being addressed head on.

Twelve-year old Noah is the youngest of his family, born without the use of his legs, and happiest when piloting a spacecraft. Technology enables his chair to move over any surface, but still flight gives him more freedom than anything else. Still, with the help of his chair, Noah is a full participant in his family's mission--to fill the giant, timetravelling spacecraft that is their home with extinct animals from long gone eras.

When his parents fail to return from a routine mission back in time to the Ice Age, Noah heads down himself--only to find that his mother has been kidnapped by a powerful man who has no patience with Noah's family's dream of restoring the damaged earth. Along with a stowaway--a girl from the Ice Age, Noah sets of back to thirty-first century Mars, to save his mother, and all the esoteric scientific secrets that she holds. In the process, he discovers other secrets, about himself and his family, that will shake him to the core...

It's a fascinating premise, and a fast-paced adventure, that should please young readers who enjoy technological adventures, and who are fans of animals!

Unfortunately my own enjoyment was thrown somewhat by the introduction of the girl from the Ice Age, who adapted, it seemed to me, all to well and much to quickly to the wonders of the future. I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief, and my reservations regarding her were compounded by the fact that she does little to advance the story, as she is essentially shunted off stage for much of the action. I felt this was a pity, as the cultural dislocation of time travel fascinates me, and a lot more could have been done with this character's situation.

And there were, here and there, small details that bothered me--at one point, for instance, Noah is "walking" with the help of a special suit that responds to his thoughts, but still is out of breath after a "scramble" up a hill (pp 206-207)--if it was his thoughts moving the machine, there was no physical exertion. Small things like this, but they threw me out of the story.

On the other hand, there's lots of exciting action, cool technology, and the giant spacecraft filled with biomes is fascinating. Looking through the reviews on Goodreads, it seems that this book worked extremely well for many readers, although it wasn't quite a good fit for me personally.

Noah Zarc has been blog touring--here's a list of the stops. And here's the website for the book, where you can read excerpts and find other reviews.

(disclaimer: review copy received from the author)


Learning geography via Google Analytics, with bonus Hedgehog Fun!

There will be hedgehogs! But first....

My sons and I enjoy the map feature of google analytics lots. It allows you to zoom in on a particular country, and see every municipality where visitors have come from. We pick towns that sound interesting, find images of them, and then decide if we want to visit. Thank you, International Visitors, for helping us learn about where you live!

For instance, the coastline around Simferopol in the Ukraine (2 visitors in the last month) looks like it would be fun to explore:

As does the countryside around Guwahati, India (1 visitor):

The boys have decided that Elk, in Poland (1 visitor), would be a peaceful place to go:

And our trip to Romania will include a stop in Suceava (2 visitors) to see this castle:

(The hedgehogs are coming!)

In visiting Romania, I found something I'd like to see even more than the castle. While looking for pictures of Oradea, we came across these very very cute pictures of baby hedgehogs:Hedgehog lust!

Which in turn leads to this fun bit of hedgehog-ness found at Once Upon a Blog, a "Hans My Hedgehog" story poster by Yael Albert:

Although this hedgehog is not all that cute.Which finally leads to a book, making it all on topic:

Hans, My Hedgehog
, by my blogging friend Kate Coombs, is released tomorrow! Congratulations, Kate! Here's Kate talking about how the book came to be at The Enchanged Inkpot.

My dark horse pick for the Newbery--Where Do You Stay, by Andrea Cheng

Edited to add: Nope! not even an honor....the full lists can be found here.

In just a little while, this year's Newbery winner will be announced, and I quickly want to go on record with the book I think should win today--Where Do You Stay, by Andrea Cheng (Boyds Mills Press, 2011, 136 pages). It's not the book I enjoyed most this past year, but it's the one that packed the most emotional punch per word of any book I read (with the possible exception of A Monster Calls), the one whose brilliant writing has stuck with me, so that now, months after reading it, I still think about it.

Where Do You Stay tells of Jerome, come to live at his aunt's house after his mother dies of cancer--it is not home. There is no piano, there is not even a bed for him yet--his aunt and uncle are doing the best they can, but money is tight. There wasn't enough money to pay the movers to bring his piano from his old home. Soon after his arrival, he becomes friends with Mr. Willie, who does odd jobs for people in exchange for food, and who lives as a squatter in the old carriage house of the big ramshackle house next-door.

Over the course of the summer, Jerome and Mr. Willie talk a bit, and become friends...both are pianists, and both, for very different reasons, want the old house to be saved from demolition. And both are asking themselves the question posed in the book's title--where do you stay? Where is home, when the person who made it so isn't there anymore, where is the center of yourself, when everything around you has collapsed....

Cheng creates a wealth of rich back-story with amazing subtlety, and creates three dimensional characters with the exquisite economy. This isn't one for readers who want to zip along from event to event--it's more a painting of its people....There are bits that are warm and moving, there are bits that are heartbreaking in how well they convey regret, and deep loss.

It's not a book with tremendous, in your face "kid appeal" (the cover, also, does little to sell the book to young readers, in my opinion). Many things (the concept of "white flight" for instance), aren't explained, and there's a lot of reading between the lines required (especially in Mr. Willie's backstory). But still, for the quality of the writing, for the memorable characters and the beautifully described, small but significant events of their lives, this is my Newbery pick.


Middle grade fantasy and science fiction--this week's round-up

Here's what I found in this week's blog reading! Enjoy, and let me know if I missed anything.

The Reviews:

Above World, by Jenn Reese, at Wandering Librarians, So I'm Fifty, and Amy's Book Den

The Aviary, by Kathleen O'Dell, at Literate Lives

Bigger Than a Breadbox, by Laurel Snyder, at Good Books and Good Wine and at Jean Little Library.

The Book of Wonders, by Jasmine Richards, at TheHappyNappyBookseller, Mundie Kids, Rex Robot Reviews, and Charlotte's Library

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, at Readatouille

Casper Candlewacks in the Claws of Crime, by Ivan Brett, at The Book Zone

The Cabinet of Earths, by Anne Nesbet, at Charlotte's Library, Read Like Good Readers Do, Kindle-aholic's Book Pile, and twenty by jenny

Dragon Castle, by Joseph Bruchac, at Page In Training

The Fathomless Fire, by Thomas Wharton, at Back to Books

The Fire King (Invisible Order book 2), by Paul Crilley, at Beyond Books

Forbidden Sea, by Sheila A. Neilson, at Geo Librarian

The Girl Who Cicumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente, at Adventures of a Book Wyrm

Ivy's Ever After, by Dawn Lairamore, at Library_Mama

Liesl and Po, by Lauren Oliver, at Musings of a Book Addict

The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood, at Madigan Reads

Princess of the Wild Swans, by Diane Zahler, at Rebecca's Book Blog

Snow in Summer, by Jane Yolen, at Jean Little Library

Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George, at Literary Lunchbox

Winterling, by Sarah Prineas, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile

A Two for One Time travel post at time travel times two--11,000 Years Lost, and Switching Well, both by Peni R. Griffin

And a Two for One graphic novel post at Guys Lit Wire -- Sidekicks by Dan Santat and Bad Island, by Doug TenNapel

Authors and Interviews:

Jasmine Richards (The Book of Wonders) at TheHappyNappyBookseller

Sarah Prineas (Winterling) at The Enchanted Inkpot

Laura Lond (My Sparkling Misfortune), with bonus giveaway, at Geo Librarian.

Lauren Oliver (Liesl and Po) at Jason's Bookstack

Sue Perkins (Reva's Quest) at Across the Shinning Plain of Books

More Good Stuff

It is Queen's Thief week over at Chachic's Book Nook this week! If you've never read The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner, do!

Kate Coombs (aka Book Aunt) offers a lovely collection of Beauty and the Beast retellings.

And speaking of fairy tales, Mary Hoffman reflects on the Fisherman and His Wife, at Katherine Langrish's blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.

Two mg fantasies that I like very much are in the running for the Edgar Awards for best juevenille mystery--Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, and The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey. The other three are Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger, It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett, and Vanished by Sheela Chari (which also has a slight touch of fantasy...)

At The Nerdy Book Club, Tom Angleberger proposes a new award, named for Lloyd Alexander, to be bestowed on a series after its last book is completed....lots of room for sci fi/fantasy there!

And speaking of awards, will a fantasy book be announced tomorrow as the winner of the Newbery? Here are those that did in the past:

2010 When You Reach Me
2009 The Graveyard Book
2004 The Tale of Desperaux
1999 Holes (do others consider this fantasy???)
1994 The Giver
1985 The Hero and the Crown
1976 The Grey King
1972 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
1969 The High King
1963 A Wrinkle in Time
1948 The 21 Balloons
1947 Miss Hickory
1945 Rabbit Hill
1938 The White Stag
1931 The Cat Who Went to Heaven
1930 Hitty, Her First Hundred Years
1925 Tales from Silver Lands (does this count? It's a collection of folk tales; I've never read it)
1923 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

(I've read all but four)

And here are those I think stand the best chance tomorrow-Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, The Cheshire Cheese Cat, by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, and (if it's eligible/deemed age appropriate A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness).

And speaking of A Wrinkle in Time, don't forget to check out the latest posts in the 50 Years, 50 blogs celebration! The full list is here.


Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin, has been sitting in my to-be-read pile ever since it was published, way back in 2008 (eep!). But, as of 1:00 pm, I can now say I have read all of her novels...and I can finally put Lavinia in her place on the special shelf of Le Guin books (shown here--front and center, at eye level; Le Guin is actually occupying two shelves, and there actually isn't space for another book, but there it is.).

Lavinia, a Bronze Age princess of a small Italian kingdom, appears at the end of Vergil's epic poem, the Aeneid. When Aeneas, after years of wandering, finally arrives in the place where he plans to found a new homeland for his band of exiles, Lavinia gets to watch her countrymen and the Trojans kill each other, with her hand in marriage as the prize to the victor. After much bloodshed, she gets to marry Aeneas. What she doesn't get, in Vergil's poem, is much screen time. And Ursula Le Guin, coming late in life to the Aeneid, was struck by this, and decided to give Lavinia a voice.

From a Kirkus interivew quoted here: “In the Aeneid, Lavinia is a mere convention, the blond maiden, a background figure barely sketched. Yet this is the woman the hero is commanded by the gods to marry. She so evidently has a voice, and Vergil knew how to listen to women; but he didn’t have time to listen to her. He’s in the war part of his story and has to get all the battles fought. So all Lavinia gets to do is blush. I felt it was time she got to tell her view of things. Inevitably this is also an interpretation of the hero’s story, in which I think Vergil shows the price of public triumph as personal tragedy."

Lavina is the autobiographical reflections of a character who knows that her existence is contingent (as she puts it) on her place in Vergil's poem. But, as she makes clear to the reader, there is more to her than is found in his words. She tells of her girlhood, running free in the woods, of her family, and the local people--small things of no great import, except to the people involved. She tells of her discomfort with being courted, and the distasteful thought of being married off, and being moved away from her place in the world. And then she tells of the arrival of Aeneas....and the blood that spilled, and the city that was built, and the love that she had for him.

Much of the book reads as straight historical fiction, the good type, that explores gender, and religion, and power, and how people make themselves who they are (Le Guin is especially good at the last in general, and does a particularly fine job with it here!). Although I enjoyed these aspects of the story, and although I liked the first part, about Lavinia as a girl, quite a lot, there were, quite frankly, too many people killed in the middle of the book (blame Vergil). I skimmed this part, and wish Le Guin had too, even though the dispassionate side of my brain realizes that the bloodshed is an integral part of the characters' story....

Here's what she said about that aspect of the Aenead, in a 2009 Time interview: "It’s pretty gross in the Aeneid. It’s ugly. And that too struck me as part of what the book is about. I think Vergil wrote that book partly to tell Augustus, OK, you made it, you won, you’re on top. This is the cost of winning, of getting on top. Enough is enough. I see it as kind of an anti-war story. Vergil doesn’t enjoy battles the way Homer does." And nor does Aeneas, which is why he is a hero so much easier to care about than any of Homer's!

Lavinia (the book) is more, however, then the simply telling of the life of Lavina (the woman) in her historical context. Alongside that story, Le Guin explores Lavinia's understanding of herself as a creation of Vergil's writing. Few characters get to meet their creator; Lavinia, however, meets Vergil's spirit quite early in the book--she hears his doubts, and regrets, and learns more than she might want to know about her future, and her own actions and emotions are tempered by this. It adds a rather poignant, meditative note to the book, and it left me with an aching empathy not just for Lavinia, but for all who try to be their true selves, and for all those who powerful, beautiful stories have been lost to master narratives. (At least that's what I think I was feeling).

It was not the death of Aeneas that made my eyes briefly blurry, but this passage at the end of the book--

"I was fated, it seems, to live among people who suffered beyond measure from grief, who were driven made by it. Though I suffered grief, I was doomed to sanity. this was no doing of the poet's. I know that he gave me nothing but modest blushes, and no character at all. I know that he said I raved and tore my golden tresses at my mother's death. He simply was not paying attention: I was silent then, tearless, and only intent on making her poor soiled body decent. And my hair has always been dark. In truth he gave me nothing but a name, and I have filled it with myself. Yet without him would I even have a name? I have never blamed him. Even a poet cannot get everything right." (p 263).

In any event. If you are a fan of Le Guin's fantasy and science fiction, you might be disappointed--it's not much like her other books. Except that it is, in its thoughtful, graceful exploration of what it means to be a person, like so much else that she has written.

You can find lots of links to other, more detailed, reviews of Lavinia and interviews with Le Guin here at her website.


The Book of Wonders, by Jasmine Richards

The Book of Wonders, by Jasmine Richards (HarperCollins, 2012, middle grade, 416 pages)

Thirteen-year-old Zardi longs to see the great wide world beyond her town. She loves the stories of adventure and magic that she manages to hear--not as many as she likes, because the sultan has banned all magic, and even all talk of it, from the kingdom of Arribitha. Disobey, and die. But Sinbad, the sailor, dared risk the sultan's wrath to tell his tales...and Zardi was there in the crowd along the waterfront, entranced.

So far Zardi has escaped the sultan's men, who are quick to break up crowds such as that, but since she is thirteen, a new danger looms. The sultan has a nasty habit of taking unmarried young women to be his praise singers, for a short term--and then killing them. It is not Zardi, though, who is taken, but her sister...

And so Zardi chops off her hair, dresses as a boy, and sets out into the world to find out if it the stories of an army of resistance to the sultan are true. With her goes her foster brother, Rhidan (abandoned as an infant), on a quest to find out the mystery of his own past. And fate leads them to Sinbad--storyteller, rouge, pirate, and charismatic leader of men. Whose mother just happens to be the daughter of a djinn, and a magic user in her own right.

When Zardi and Rhidan meet Sinbad's mother, Rhidan's own innate magic, the heritage of his mysterious father, is woken. And so, when Rhidan launches Sinbad's ship into a magical whirlwind to save it from the Sultan, a magical adventure begins, drawing on the adventures of Sinbad as told in the Arabian Nights, but combining them with the quest story of two young people seeking the magic and knowledge they need to set everything to rights.

The Book of Wonders is a good title for this--like the Arabian Nights, once things get going, the episodic adventures fall one after another like beads on a string, and just when seem things settled, another perilous encounter appears! If you are a reader who delights in one magical, dangerous, imaginative adventure after another, this is a book for you.

"The light bent and twisted. It grew arms and then legs, and Zardi gasped as a figure flickered into life beside her. It was a man who looked as if he were made out of green-tinted glass. He wore spectacles and had a neat, curling mustache and was no taller than her knee. A breath lodged in her thought. Could it be? Is he a djinni?

"You rubbed?" the man said in a dour voice, hovering up to eye level." (Page 220)

I myself would have liked a bit more, though--as readers of my blog have heard me say before, I prefer character to plot, and character here is definitely not as front and center. Although Zardi was reasonably real to me--brave, smart, and determined in the true middle grade fantasy way, Rhidan never came at all alive to me at all, and Sinbad, after a promising start that indicated interesting complexities of character, essentially faded out of the story.

By way of observation--sometimes, in fantasy books for "children," the writing and vocabulary can be complex and demanding. This is not the case here--Richards underlines her points, and keeps her sentences, for the most part, short and to the point. Which is either a good thing, or not so much of one, depending on the age, taste, and mood of the reader! But it does give the story a slightly younger vibe than some "middle grade" sff. And indeed, although there are some tense episodes of monster confrontation (those who don't like snakes, be warned--they play a scary role at one part), there's nothing here that pushes the story Young Adult-ward.

Although this story comes to a satisfying conclusion, many questions about Rhidan in particular are left unanswered--lots of room for a sequel.

Here's what I want to read next, though--Sinbad's original stories! I enjoyed picking up on many Sinbadian references, but I want to go back and see what I missed.

Other reviews can be found at Mundie Kids, The Book Monsters, The Book Cellar, and Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks

Edited to add: Here's an interview with Jasmine Richards at TheHappyNappyBookseller, who also has this review.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


Misfit, by Jon Skovron

I was intrigued as soon as I heard that the premise of Misfit, by Jon Skovron (Amulet Books, 2011, YA), was a half-demon girl at a Catholic school. Then Misfit was shortlisted for the Cybils in YA sci fi/fantasy, and I was convinced. And I was also ready to read a nice YA book, after several months of middle grade...a kiss or two, or even more, is sometimes nice.

So I read Misfit. And it is more than just "demon girl has trouble fitting in at Catholic School." Jael, the titular misfit, actually was fitting in just fine. She had a best friend, a boy who might be become more than friend, and finally, after years of moving suddenly and too often, she'd been in the same place for two years. But then the necklace that belonged to her dead mother is handed over to her when she turns sixteen, triggers the demon side of herself, and all hell breaks loose (in a rather literal sense).

Turns out there was a lot of backstory to her parent's lives that Jael hadn't known about. The sort involving epic demonic power struggles of a tumultuous, and deadly, kind...Now that Jael is coming into her own, she's the target of demonic hatred. And the reader is left wondering (along with Jael, her father, and the cute boy mentioned above), if there is any hope....

Gosh, this was fun! Those who want good times with the paranormal, but are sick of Tortured Romance, should seek this out (that being said, I did get as much YAish romance I was hoping for). The telling alternates between Jael's brisk first person present and third person flashbacks to her parents' past, and the result is a nice narrative balance. The main characters were great (with a special nod to Jael's demon uncle--I can't wait to hear the story about how he ended up in his current, um, fishy state). The plot was just right too--exciting enough to be gripping without overwhelming me in violent action.

Quite a bit of suspension of disbelief is called for viz Jael and her demonic powers (which almost crossed the line of being Too Much to swallow), and I can imagine that some readers might be thrown out of the story if they stop and think about things too much. But I was careful not to, and so enjoyed it immensely!

This is one I'm putting on my list of multicultural sci fi/fantasy: Jael's mother is most definitely not Caucasian (more North African/Middle Eastern/South Asian), and Jael is described as "maybe Middle Eastern or something" and says that her hair is like a "giant black cotton ball." So I'm counting her as non-white.

Note for those who might have doubts about the demon element: Skovron doesn't use the framework of Christianity as the fixed template for his story, although it is, in the world he's created, a real and powerful force against demons. The demons themselves, drawn from ancient myths and stories, predate it, though they were involved in the events of the Old Testament (I found the story of Sampson and Jael's mother especially fascinating). The "Hell" here is not the Christian place for damned souls; it is more a paranormal alternate realm. There was nothing that struck me as disrespectful of Christianity as a religion (although some practitioners are not portrayed in a positive light).

Waiting on Wednesday--Ship of Souls, by Zetta Elliott

A new book by Zetta Elliott! I love bird-watching, math whiz kids, and the magical element sounds most intriguing.

Ship of Souls (AmazonEncore, February 28, 2012, 132 pages)

"When Dmitri, an eleven-year-old bird-watcher and math whiz, loses his mother to breast cancer, he is taken in by Mrs. Martin, an elderly white woman. Unaccustomed to the company of kids his own age, D struggles at school and feels like an outcast until a series of unexpected events changes the course of his life.

First, D is asked to tutor the school’s basketball star, Hakeem, who will get benched unless his grades improve. Against the odds, the two boys soon realize they have something in common: they are both taunted by kids at school, and they both have a crush on Nyla, a beautiful but fierce eighth-grade girl. Then Nyla adopts D and invites him to join her entourage of “freaks.” Finally, D discovers an injured bird and brings it home from the park.

D is stunned when the strange bird speaks to him and reveals that she is really a guiding spirit that has been held hostage by ghost soldiers who died in Brooklyn at the start of the American Revolution. As Nuru’s chosen host, D must carry her from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan, but the ghost soldiers won’t surrender their prize without a fight."

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Little Women and Me, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, for Timeslip Tuesday

Little Women and Me, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Bloomsbury, upper middle grade/YA, 320 pages)

The March sisters, the titular "little women" of Louisa May Alcott's classic--Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy--have loomed large in many the young reader's mind. As Emily, the freshman protagonist of Little Women and Me, puts it:

"Girls without any sisters want to have sisters like them. And girls like me, ones with sisters who always make you feel like the least important people in your own families--those girls really wanted to have sisters like them!" (page 13)

And Emily gets her wish one evening while writing an essay about what she would change in Little Women (a difficult choice between saving Beth, and hooking Jo up with Laurie). WHOOSH! [sic] Emily finds herself the middle March girl, living the story along with Meg and co.

And from then on, all the familiar scenes from the book play out, with Emily right there in the thick of things...more or less. The newest March sister has, understandably, a rather vague place in her new family, something that puzzles even the other girls from time to time. But as the seasons pass, jumping from scene to scene from the original story, Emily becomes more and more one of the family...which only increases her determination to change things for the better.

Bartz-Logsted writes with loving affection for the original, mixed with loving fun-poking at the original! And I appreciated this, and enjoyed many parts of it lots.

Little Women (counting, as is the case here, the sequel Good Wives as the same book) is something I can quote chunks of from memory. I do not know how many times I have read it. So on the one hand, I am the perfect reader for the book--I got all the jokes, and enjoyed many of the twists. Except, on the other hand, I'm the most critical type of reader, because of course I would have done things differently, and some of the twists I downright loathed.

And I am also a bad reader for the book because I think Amy and Laurie are the right match for each other. Darn it, I like Amy! She grows up! She changes! Sure, she's a self-centered brat for much of the story, but she's a realistic kid! I must confess that, though I am of course far less self-centered, vain, and concerned with material things than Amy, once I was a teenager and in my twenties (yes, I was still re-reading the book at that point) she was the March sister I felt was most like me...Since Beth dies, she of course was not an option, obvious though my similarities to her are (ha ha). And I re-read that bit on the lake with Amy and Laurie especially often, savoring the romance of it.

So I didn't agree with Emily that the romance part needed to be changed.

But back to Emily's story, and the rather difficult question--does this book work, and for whom? I think you have to be more than a little familiar with the original for it to make any sort of sense, but if that is the case, than sure, it's fine entertainment, even thought-provoking at times when Emily starts questioning the norms of 1860.

I would have liked it more had Emily been a more sympathetic character. She is more self-centered than I would have liked! But this aspect of her personality made the sparks fly between her and Jo, which was fun, and she does become a somewhat improved person (in true Little Women fashion) by the end of the story.

Final word: Don't expect any rational sort of explanation for Emily's experience...the time-slip/reality-slip has to happen for the book to exist, and that's all there is to it!

Note on age: Emily is definitely a modern young teenager, pushing the book YA-ward, but, apart from some competitiveness with Jo to attract the attentions of Laurie, there is nothing content-wise that makes this any less suitable for younger kids than the original!

Not directly related to the book at hand: At one point (in both the original and her) Beth is busily engaged in sorting pine cones, her version of virtuous industry, with some craft in mind (those crazy Victorians!). Never in my life have I said to myself, "Oh how I would like some sorted pine cones," and overcome with curiosity, I turned to google. Perhaps Beth plans to make this, which I found here:
Select good clear cones, and dissect some which have handsome, large scales, and brush them clean; lay nice white putty, or a similar adhesive substance, smoothly on your frame; set into this putty whole cones, large and small, in such figures as suit your taste, and fill the entire groundwork with the scales, lapping one neatly over the other.

Cut oval and round frames for light pictures, from bookbinder's pasteboard, and cover with the scales in layers or rows. Scallop the edges with small whole cones, set in large cones surrounded by little ones equidistant, if the frame be broad, and fill in with the scales. When dry, take out those which are not firm, and replace. Add acorns ad libitum.

Varnish the whole once or twice. If you wish something nice, go over every part with a fine brush, and leave no varnish standing in drops. Cones can be found by almost anyone in an hour's walk through pine woods. Indeed, if one has a taste for the beautiful, and is quick in perception, it is impossible to ramble through woods and fields without finding many curiosities in the shape of mosses, grasses, cones, etc.
I find it hard to imagine actually wanting the final result.

Probably, knowing Beth, she is making cute little pine cone dolls for the poor. I wish Alcott had told us....


New releases of fantasy and science fiction for kids and teens--the second half of January, 2012 edition

Here are the new releases of fantasy and science fiction for kids and teens coming out in the second half of January, 2012! My information comes from Teens Read Too, with blurbs (for the middle grade books, because the YA books get more attention elsewhere) from Amazon.

Middle Grade (ages 9-12)

ANGEL OF THE BATTLEFIELD: THE TREASURE CHEST by Ann Hood "While exploring The Treasure Chest, Felix and Maisie are transported to a Massachusetts farm in 1836. Disappointed that they have not landed in their beloved New York City, they wonder why they were brought to Massachusetts to meet a young girl named Clara Barton. Perhaps Clara has a message for the twins? Or maybe they have one for her?"

THE BOOK OF WONDERS by Jasmine Richards "Sorcerers, Cyclops, Djinnis...Magic. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone who is caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying tyrant who, even with his eyes closed, can see all. When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must risk everything to rescue her. Along with Rhidan, who is her best friend, and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all."

CHASING THE WHITE WITCH by Marina Cohen "Teased by her older brother, bullied by the popular girls at school, and plagued by a blistering pimple that has surfaced on the tip of her nose, twelve-year-old Claire Murphy wishes she could shrivel up and die or spontaneously combust. But when a mysterious book appears at her feet in the checkout aisle of a grocery store, Claire is confident all her troubles are over. Following the instructions carefully, Claire dives nose-first into reeking remedies, rollicking rituals, and silly spells. It's only when she recklessly disregards the Law of Three that the line between good and evil blurs and Claire must race against time to undo all of the trouble she's caused."

HADES, LORD OF THE DEAD: OLYMPIANS by George O'Connor "Hades: Lord of the Dead tells the story of the great God of the Underworld and one of the most famous of all Greek myths: Hades’ abduction of Persephone and her mother’s revenge. Be prepared to see a new side of Persephone in this dynamic adaptation of the story of the creation of the seasons."

THE ISLAND HUNTERS: THE LEGEND OF BROWN EYED JAMES by N.E. Walford "The legend is real and the man was named James Baako, a merchant, a coppersmith, and voyager turned Treasure Hunter. The key to the Hunter family legacy has been found. But he s not where anyone would expect. And as the Hunter boys find this latest mystery revealed, little do they know who else is looking for him. Now, the journey of a lifetime has turned to chaos as all of their enemies converge in one place. And the knowledge of the past has already begun to bestow power upon the wrong people."

JOURNEY TO MARS: PHINEAS AND FERB by Ellie O'Ryan "Phineas and Ferb's friend Baljeet is working on an awesome project for the summer school science fair—he's building a giant portal to Mars! But when Phineas and Ferb's sister, Candace, accidentally goes through the portal and lands on the barren planet, it's Phineas and Ferb to the rescue! Readers will love this fun 112-page chapter book filled with exciting black and white screen grabs from the show."

LITTLE LION: THE TREASURE CHEST by Ann Hood "Now that the twins have begun to settle into their new lives at Elm Medona, they delve deeper into The Treasure Chest and uncover more about the Pickworth family, including the disappearance of their great-uncle Thorne and the theft of priceless family artifacts.

In this adventure, The Treasure Chest transports Felix and Maisie to tropical St. Croix in 1772. There they meet a young man named Alexander Hamilton who is about to embark on a journey to New York. Felix and Maisie aren't sure why The Treasure Chest has brought them to meet Alexander, but they are determined to not let him out of their sights . . .even if that means stowing away on the very ship he is sailing off on!"

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate "Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better."

POPULAR CLONE: THE CLONE CHRONICLES by M.E. Castle "Meet Fisher Bas: 12 years-old, growth-stunted, a geeky science genius, and son of the Nobel Prize-winning creators of the Bas-Hermaphrodite-Sea-Slug-Hypothesis. No surprise: Fisher isn't exactly the most popular kid in his middle-school, tormented daily by the beefy, overgrown goons he calls The Vikings. But he senses relief when he comes upon the idea of cloning himself--creating a second Fisher to go to school each day while he stays at home playing video games and eating cheetos with ketchup. It's an ingenious plan that works brilliantly, until Fisher's clone turns out to be more popular than him--and soon after gets clone-napped by the evil scientist Dr. Xander."

PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS by Diane Zahler "Princess Meriel's brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment--cast by their conniving new stepmother--has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.
Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.
With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam--a pretty half-witch and her clever brother--Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.
But if she fails . . . all will be lost."

STEALING MAGIC: A SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS ADVENTURE by Marianne Malone "Ruthie and Jack thought that their adventures in the Thorne Rooms were over . . . until miniatures from the rooms start to disappear. Is it the work of the art thief who's on the loose in Chicago? Or has someone else discovered the secret of the Thorne Rooms' magic? Ruthie and Jack's quest to stop the thief takes them from modern day Chicago to 1937 Paris to antebellum South Carolina. But as more items disappear, including the key that allows them to shrink and access the past worlds, what was once just an adventure becomes a life and death race against the clock. Can Ruthie and Jack catch the thief and help the friends they meet on the way before the magic—and the rooms—are destroyed forever?"

The Young Adult books




THE DEAD OF WINTER by Chris Priestley (new release in the US)


EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton

FORBIDDEN by Syrie & Ryan M. James
FRACTURE by Megan Miranda
HALFLINGS by Heather Burch
IN DARKNESS by Nick Lake
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows
STOLEN AWAY by Alyxandra Harvey
THE SURVIVORS by Will Weaver
TANGLED by Erica O'Rourke
TEMPEST by Julie Cross
THERE IS NO DOG by Meg Rosoff
THE WAY WE FALL by Megan Crewe

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