Rewind, by Lisa Graff, for Timeslip Tuesday

Despite not having finished preparing the talk I'm giving tomorrow (on shipwrecks and archaeology, which I've done before but it needs work), I'm here with a Timeslip Tuesday both again!   And it's a fun one--Rewind, by Lisa Graff (August 22, 2023 by Philomel Books).  

An annual highlight in 12-year-old McKinley's hometown is the Time Hop--everyone dresses up in clothes from the chosen year, and parties to that year's music.  It's about to be Time Hop 1993, and McKinley works hard on her outfit.  But the happiness of the day is spoiled when her father tells he she has to stay home to look after her grandma, who had a stroke a while back.  She sneaks out anyway to join her best friend Meg, but they have a falling out.  And then her father shows up in the middle of the party to drag her home.  But that's not all--McKinely, devastated, rushes away...and travels back in time to the real 1993!

It's the same town, and she's quickly befriended by Meg's mom.  Her grandmother hasn't yet had her stroke, and her dad and Meg's dad are two utterly obnoxious pests.  She and Meg's mom join forces to try to figure out how to get McKinley home--does she have to change something?    Like, perhaps, make the two dads less obnoxious so that Meg stands a chance of being born, and McKinley's own home life is more pleasant?  And some research in the library (microfiche ftw) results in the two girls learning that others in the town have travelled back in time as well- adding an interesting twist to the puzzle of getting back to the present.

(Meg's mom is just the sort of new friend one wants to make when time traveling!  She accepts the situation, is tremendously helpful, and very practical, keeping McKinley safe and fed).

It's fun, and I'm sure the target audience will love all the details of 1993, and be taken aback, as McKinley is, at some of the cultural nuances of that long ago time  (including more overt misogyny and racism than kids today maybe, I hope, experience).  There's some food for thought gently folded in, like this quote-“Not mentioning the bad stuff, doesn’t make it go away,” McKinley had explained. “It just makes it so kids like us don’t know what really happened. And talking about the awful stuff doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the good stuff that happened that year, too.” (pp 150-151).  And there's a subtle but strong message that changing other people isn't the way to solve problems.

It wasn't quite a book for me, as I have no interest in the 1990s, and didn't much like the characters (especially the two boys, who I found unbelievably horrid), but still I read it with enjoyment.


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

Welcome to this week's round up of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs etc.!

first--nominations of the Cybils Awards open October 1.  Any book published in the US or Canada between Oct 16 2022 - October 15 2023 is eligible, and I have helpfully (as is my wont) put stars in front of eligible titles in Elementary/middle grade speculative fiction (to the best of my current knowledge) in this week's round-up.  Here's who will be reading for the first and second rounds in in the two (EMG and Ya) spec fic categories.

The Reviews

*Abeni's Song, by P. Djèlí Clark, at Charlotte's Library

Attack of the Stink Monster (Grimwood #2), by Nadia Shireen, at Library Girl and Book Boy and Scope for Imagination

*The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejia by Alexandra Alessandri, at Bookworm for Kids 

*Ghost Job, by Greg Van Eekhout, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Impossible Girl, by Ashley White, at  Carol Baldwin's Blog: 

*The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall, by Ali Standish, at Ms. Yingling Reads 

*Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu, by Erika Lewis, at  Pages Unbound  

*More Tales to Keep You Up at Night, by Dan Poblocki, at Mark My Words

Mystery of Raspberry Hill, by Eva Frantz, at It's All About the Book 

*Once There Was, by Kiyash Monsef, at Redeemed Reader

 *A Pocketful of Stars, by Aisha Bushby, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Scareground, by Angela Kecojevic, at Book Craic and Valinora Troy

The Secret of the Blood-Red Key, by David Farr, at Vicky's Never Ending TBR 

Skrimsli, by Nicola Davies, at Scope for Imagination

Strange Tales: Shudder, by Daniel Morden, at Scope for Imagination

*Vivian Van Tassel and the Secret of Midnight Lake, by Michael Witwer, at Shane Plays

The Whistlers In the Dark, by Victoria Williamson, at Mani's Book Corner  

*White House Clubhouse, by Sean O'Brien, at Log Cabin Library 

*The Widely Unknown Myth of Apple & Dorothy, by Corey Ann Haydu, at Ms. Yingling Reads 

Two at Ms. Yingling Reads--*Finch House, by Ciera Burchand *The Odds, by Lindsay Puckett

Authors and Interview

Rob Long and Andrew Dolberg, (The Great Weather Diviner) at Smack Dab in the Middle

 Emi Pinto (*Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters) at Literary Rambles

Other Good Stuff 

Back to Magic School: a Middle Grade Book List at A Library Mama

'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' Teaser Trailer, at A Dangerous Quest Is Ahead 

Abeni's Song, by P. Djèlí Clark

It's almost time for me to post my regular Sunday round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi, but I am sneaking in a quick review of Abeni's Song, by P. Djèlí Clark (July 25, 2023 by Starscape) , so that I have something to contribute (and also because I think this is a book that deserves more attention than I've seen it getting in mg sci fi/fantasy circles).

Abeni's life growing up in a remote West African (fantasy version) town has been one of mundane concerns and small triumphs as she moves towards being a grown-up member of her community.  But then horror strikes, when a mysterious piper leads all the children but her off into who knows where, and a supernatural force destroys the town, capturing all the adults. Abeni is saved only because the local witch/wisewoman saves her.  

Safe (but trapped) in the witch's compound, Abeni burns with grief and fury, and is desperate to do something for all those loved and lost.  She tries to run, but outside the compound are magical dangers and she cannot find a way home.  Gradually she accepts that the witch has much to teach her, both magical and practical skills.  And gradually, too, her feeling of being trapped turns into a feeling of being at home (though her despair and anger simmer on a back burner of her mind).

And what a home the witch's compound is!  The first half of the story is set here, and it was an utter joy for me as a reader who loves houses of many doors, leading to magical strangeness.  But this interlude does not last; even the witch, who we are learning is much more powerful than your ordinary wise woman, can't stand alone against the dark forces of destruction.  

The compound is attacked, and the witch defeated.  But she isn't killed--rather she is reborn as a small girl, who remembers almost nothing of practical use.  Now Abeni must be the teacher and take her small (but still powerful and wise in spots) charge on a journey to find the witch's sister....

And so the second part of the book is a quest fantasy, in which Abeni and the child are joined by two other magical comrades, and almost impossible danger is faced and overcome.  This was solid mg fantasy as well, and readers who aren't me might even like this more action and adventure part better than the slower first half.  Abeni's character really shines in the face of the daunting obstacles she faces.

The ending is a fine place to stop book 1, but clearly there is lots more for Abeni to do!  Read this if you like found family, brave girls learning what they are capable of and facing seemingly impossible odds, and West African infused family (as well as magical houses of many rooms....).  The story, though set in a fictional Africa, reference the real world--it is impossible to miss evocations of the Atlantic slave trade, child soldiers in Africa, and the exploitation of African resources. 


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs (9/17/23)

Here's what I've found this week; please let me know if I missed your post!

Nominations for the Cybils Awards open October 1st!  Any kids/YA book published in the US or Canada between Oct 16 2022 and Oct 15 2023 is eligible.  There are lots of categories, including Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction; I've stared the reviews of eligible books in this week's round-up.  Anyone can nominate 1 book in each category--it's a great way to show book love.

The Reviews

*Beneath the Swirling Sky, by Carolyn Leiloglou, at Redeemed Reader

*Between Monsters and Marvels, by Alyssa Wishingrad, at Ms. Yingling Reads and The Story Sanctuary

*The Demon Sword Asperides, by Sarah Jean Horwitz, at Charlotte's Library

*The Dreamatics, by Michelle Cuevas, at Mark My Words

*The Fall of the House of Tatterly, by Shanna Miles, at Log Cabin Library

Hedgewitch, by Skye McKenna, at Laura's Bookish Life

Hush-A-Bye, by Jody Lee Mott, at  Kiss the Book 

Impossible Creatures, by Katherine Rundell, at Bellis Does Books  

Infinity's Secret, by Katie and Kevin Tsang, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads 

*The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor, by Aubrey Hartman, at PBC's Book Reviews 

*The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass, at Kiss the Book and Completely Full Bookshelf

The Marvellers, by Dhonielle Clayton, at Puss Reboots 

The Night Raven (The Moonwind Mysteries), by Johan Rundberg, at Mark My Words

*Nugly, by N.C. Ross, at Ms. Yingling Reads

*Project F, by Jeanne DuPrau, at Mark My Words

Scareground, by Angela Kecojevic, at Scope for Imagination and Bookbugworld

The Secret of the Blood-Red Key, by David Farr, at Book Craic

Shiver Point: It Came From the Woods, by Gabriel Dylan, at Book Craic

*Skandar and the Phantom Rider, by A. F. Steadman, at Pages Unbound

Skrimsli, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Jackie Morris (Illustrator), at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books 

*Totally Psychic, by Brigid Martin, at She's Got Books on Her Mind 

*Whispering Pines: Extinction, by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski, at Bookworm for Kids

The Whistlers in the Dark, by Victoria Williamson, at  The Inquisitive Newt, and Valinora Troy

Two at Ms. Yingling Reads:  *Nimbus by Jan Elderdge, and *Extinction (Whispering Pines #4) by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Two more at Ms. Yingling Reads: *Camp Sylvania, by Julie Murphy, and *Serwa Boateng's Guide to Witchcraft and Mayhem, by Roseanne Brown

Authors and Interviews

Landra Jennings (Wand), at From the Mixed Up Files

E.M. Greville (*Raine in the Underlands: The Lorekeepers) at Just Kids' Lit

Claribel A. Ortega (*The Golden Frog Games), at PBS Books | Author Talk:


The Demon Sword Asperides, by Sarah Jean Horwitz

 "If it was possible to somehow glow mockingly, Nack was pretty sure Asperides was doing it."

Oh goodness, I enjoyed The Demon Sword Asperides, by Sarah Jean Horwitz (July 2023, Algonquin Young Readers) so much!!!!  And basically, just want to say this repeatedly instead of writing something review-like.  But here we are...

So Asperides is a demon sword, quietly nursing a drink in his* favorite underworld pub (not actually drinking, because of being a sword, but peadefully contemplating) as is his habit--it's been years and years since he was wielded in battle, and being a demonic pub regular is at least something to do.  Up in the human world, he is pinning down his last master, Amyral Venir, a horror of a being who is not only stuck in place by his own ex-sword but sealed in a tomb warded by various curses, ferocious magical beings, etc.  

Nack is the younger son of one of a bunch of feuding clans, who has just failed "knight in training" rather badly, so much so that his family has disowned him.  He is desperate to find a quest to complete, to prove his worth to them, and hopefully be found worthy of an angel blade (literally angel infused) such as is wielded by the very best paladin-like knights.

The lost third moon is also an important player here--it's coming back, which means the weakening of the shields between the demonic and the human worlds.  And this means that the wards of Amyral's tomb are failing, and the watch beasts are getting out and menacing people.

Nack leaps on the opportunity to quest against the marauding watch beasts and ends up inside the tomb.  Asperides, stuck there, can't help but be the demonic sword he was forged to be.  He presents himself as an angel blade to Nack, points out that the two very nice married (to each other) woman paladins who also came to the tomb are about to be slaughtered, and glosses over the bit of the contract where Nack's soul will belong to Asperides for eternity.  Nack bites, and is rather thrilled with his new "angel" sword, even though he's taken aback by its rather salty, un-angelic, communications.  And off they go to fight for truth and justice (a change for Asperides, but one he thinks he could get used to...)

But then it becomes clear that Nack and Asperides have to save the world from the resurgence of Amyral Venir.  Even a demon sword isn't enough to make Nack a hero capable of saving the day alone so lots of story happens with other great characters and some icky undead birds etc. and it is great.

The snarky demon sword with a redemption arc is wonderful, and the wounded young teenager kicked out of his family finding the strength of will to recognize he doesn't actually need their approval is also excellent.

The pacing is brisk, the other characters are great, and the plot is pretty darn good too.  And it made me laugh.  It is marketed as middle grade (9-12 years old), and is great for that age range, but it has enough zest to make it appeal to older readers as well.  I am, in fact, pretty sure I am about to make a convincing argument to myself that I need to go out and buy a copy for myself (because what is the point of being a grown up if you can't go buy books?)

nb--The Demon Sword Asperides is eligible for the Cybils Awards this year, so keep it in mind when the public nomination period opens Oct 1!

Note on the sub-genre of sentient swords--I can only think of two other sentient swords (swords that possess their wielders with berserkery bloodlust don't count)

Have Sword, Will Travel, by Garth Nix and Sean Williams (mg, my review)

Swordheart, by T. Kingfisher

and I was just reminded of a third most excellent sword, in Nightingale, by Deva Fagan (mg, my review) 

This is a relatively small niche, but a good one.  Every sentient sword I've met so far has been a pleasure, so please add to my list!

*pronouns are discussed, because the characters aren't sure which to use for the sword.  "He" is deemed an acceptable choice.


this week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs (9/10/23)

Here's what I found this week; please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reveiws

The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria, by Adi Alsaid, at Bookworm for KidsMark My Words and The Story Sanctuary

Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones, by Sherry Ellis, at Bookworm for Kids: 

Changeling (The Oddmire #1), by William Ritter, at  Eustea Reads 

The Cursed Moon, by Angela Cervantes, at Geo Librarian and Ms. Yingling Reads

Deephaven, by Ethan M. Aldridge, at The Story Sanctuary

Extra Normal, by Kate Alice Marshall, at Mark My Words

 Finch House, by Ciera Burch, at Charlotte's Library

It Found Us, by Linday Currie, at megsbookrack  and at Ms. Yingling Reads (with three other mini reviews)

Medusa, by Katherine Marsh, at Mark My Words

 Tapper Watson and the Quest for the Nemo Machine, by Claire Fayers, at  Book Craic 

two at Sifa Elizabeth Reads -- The Raven Riddle and The Weather Well, by Vashti Hardy

Authors and Interviews

 Roshani Chokshi (The Spirit Glass) at The Nerd Daily

 Claire Fayers (Tapper Watson and the Quest for the Nemo Machine) at Book Craic and Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (mrripleysenchantedbooks.com)

 Lindsay Currie (It Found Us) at From The Mixed Up Files

Alysa Wishingrad (Bewteen Monsters and Marvels) at From The Mixed Up Files

 Ciera Burch (Finch House) at MG Book Village

Michael Witwer  (Vivian Van Tassel and the Secret of Midnight Lake) at The Nerd Daily

Other Good Stuff

10 Reasons I Love Middle Grade Spooky Books - From The Mixed Up Files


Finch House, by Ciera Burch, with thoughts on the subgenre of "house fantasy"

"House fantasy" is one of my favorite subgenres (perhaps because I spend every day living the fantasy that someday my historic house will be perfectly restored), and it comes in lots of different flavors--houses of many magical rooms and portals, etc, houses with ghosts and secrets through no fault of their own, and sentient houses, which are often trying to kill/trap the protagonist. (None of these are my house.  Although a windshield repair guy said he recognized my house from a haunted RI website, the "ghost"--a disheveled woman tearing her hair out in the upstairs sunroom-- is easily explained away, and though one window screen has "Kathy's room" written on it, Heathcliffe hasn't shown up (thank God).  And although I have literally bled for/on my house, the unfortunate meeting of my forehead and the back end of a prybar was not its fault.  Likewise, although I once drempt I found a secret room in my house full of books I haven't read, in reality all I do is walk into almost every un-secret room and find books I haven't read.  Living the dream, that's what I am).  

But in any event, when I made my list of debut MG sci fi/fantasy for 2023 way back in January and naturally wanted to read all the books, one that really stood out for me was Finch House, by Ciera Burch (September 5, 2023 by Margaret K. McElderry Books), in which a girl gets trapped inside a haunted house linked to past tragedy in her family and has to convince it to let her go.

Eleven-year-old Micah has been told by her grandfather to stay far away from the dilapidated fancy old Finch House, but, snarled up with soreness about having to move with her mother away from him to a new house of her own a ways away, she ignores that warning.  A family has moved into Finch House, and the boy is friendly, and Micah goes inside.  And can't go home again.

It's not the boy's fault, but rather that the house itself has twisted to trap Micah in a shadow reality.  There she meets another trapped girl, Jenn, who befriends her, glad to have Micah stuck along with her.  Jenn has a special connection to the house, and a tragic connection to Micah's grandfather, and in order to get home again, Micah has to unravel both mysteries, and confront the heart of the house itself. 

It is a very gripping spooky house story with an usual twist!  The author requires some attention from the reader to figure everything out, but I did not mind pausing in my brisk page turning to ponder, and ask what really happened (in both the past and the present), and this I think makes it a good book for discussion.  Adding to the potential for great discussion is that Micah is black.  As a black girl, and even more so for her grandfather back when he was a boy, some neighborhoods are/were unwelcoming/dangerous, and although it's never stated flat out, I wonder if this played into the past tragedy at the heart of the book.

But although I paused for thought, the page turning was indeed brisk--this was just the right length for a single sitting at 193 pages of generously sized font, and  so a great one for those of its intended audience of 10-12 year olds who don't feel like reading long tomes. I'd give it to a slightly younger kid too--it's scary but not in your face nightmare scary.  Compare, for instance, This Appearing House, by Ally Malinenko, another recent trap house story, in which the house has teeth (metaphoric and literal) and isn't afraid to use them....I (and everyone else) would pick Finch House to visit any day.  

It ends at a good ending point, but I hope I'm not mistaken in thinking that there's more of the story to come! And though I am tempted to make a long long list of my favorite fantasy houses in all the different house subgenres, I should go and perhaps do (carefully--safety first!) some light plastering.....

Before I go, though, here's a picture of the first family to live in my house--I like the looks of Clara, the daughter, and think she could be a friend (the others, not so much).


The Named, by Marianne Curley, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Named, by Marianne Curley (YA, Bloomsbury 2002), is a Timeslip Tuesday book that has been sitting on my (very large) main tbr pile for years, and even when I decided that yesterday its time to be read had come, I was kind of doubtful for the first third or so.  Happily, it started zipping along nicely, and I stayed up late finishing it. 

It starts with the horrible murder by monster of four-year old Ethan's beloved big sister, which he sees happen.  And then we jump to high school Ethan, still traumatized, with dysfunctional parents, and learn that Ethan was taken in by a society of guardians, who (with the help of a pantheon of mysterious deities who don't do much in terms of direct action) fight the forces of chaos trying to rip apart the past to make more chaos.  So Ethan is one of the Named, as they are known, and he's doing well in his time travel missions, trained by a purple-eyed 600 quasi-magical dude....and he reaches the next step in guardian advancement--he assigned an apprentice.

(me reading--not yet sure I like the book)

And the new apprentice is his ex-best friends little sister, Isabel.  So there are some real world problems, but Isabel takes to being one of the named like a fish to water, and it's clear to the guardians that Ethan and Isabel are part of an ancient prophecy, which, when we finally get to see what it says, is both confusing and somewhat pointless, and why did they have to make a difficult and dangerous journey to a magical underground chamber to read it when writing things down is a thing  (? I could have missed the point, or possibly several points.)

But Ethan and Isabel also time travel, and I liked their missions (saving Richard II and young Abaigail Adams from the chaos operatives, including the sister killer monster, trying to snuff them).   It's pretty easy time travel, where clothes and language and backstory problems are all taken care of (although I think they should have been sprinkled in grime instead of having new nice pretty clothes every time), but it was satisfying on the whole.

 And then everything gets very existing as new characters from the real world are brought into play and there's a big show down with sister killing monster and his gang, and I was reading very vigorously.

So I guess I like the book (with the exception of the prophecy and Isabel's romantic yearnings for purple eyed, 600 year old dude, which moved me not at all), and I rated it four stars on Goodreads for keeping me up late. And I have the next two in the series, and they may well show up here some Tuesday in the future....But there's a lot of flashy premise and not quite enough careful subtlety of story and character development to make me want to reread it--I'm don't think I'd get more out of it a second time through, which is how I feel with a book I am certain I like.


This week's round-up of mg sci fi and fantasy (9/3/23)

 Here's what I found this week, from before my computer crashed and I lost a lot of edits, including all the links I got from my customary google search. sigh.

I've put stars next to all the books that are eligible for this year's Cybils Awards, and if you want to read them all, and why would you not, come be an elementary/middle grade speculative fiction panelist this year!  Here's where you go to apply.

The Reviews

*Bad Grains (The Order of the Strawberry Circle #1), by Susanne Schmidt, at Mark My Words

Bridget Vanderpuff and the Ghost Train, by Martin Stewart, at Scope for Imagination

*Elf Dog and Owl Head, by M.T. Anderson, at Puss Reboots

*The Girl Who Fell to Earth, by Patricia Forde, at Mark My Words

*A Horse Named Sky, by Rosanne Perry, at Always in the Middle… 

Kid Christmas and the Claus Brothers Toy Store, by David Litchfield, at Scope for Imagination

*Lei and the Fire Goddess, by Malia Maunakea, at PBC's Book Reviews

*The Lost Library, by Rebecca Stead & Wendy Mass, at Cracking the Cover

Nightshade Revenge, by Anthony Horowitz, at Vicky's Never Ending TBR 

*Starboard, by Nicola Skinner, at Redeemed Reader

The Stupendous Sonny, by Ellie Clements, at Book Craic

Two at The Book Search--*Nimbus, by Jan Eldredge, and *The Dark Lord's Daughter, by Patricia C. Wrede

Six at Ms. Yingling Reads--

    *The Secret of the Dragon Gems, by Rajani LaRocca and Chris Baron

    *Tessa Miyata is No Hero, by Julia Abe

    *Extra Normal, by Kate Alice Marshall

    *West of the Sea, by Stephanie Willing

    *Totally Psychic, by Brigid Martin

    *Vivian Van Tassel and the Secret of Midnight Lake, by Michael Witwer

Authors and Interviews

Ciera Burch (*Finch House) at  From The Mixed Up Files

Rosanne Perry (*A Horse Named Sky) at From The Mixed Up Files

Kekla Magoon (The Secret Library) at Fuse #8

Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead (*The Lost Library) at Fuse #8

Other Good Stuff

Artist: Known — Illustrator for 'A Wrinkle in Time' gets long-overdue credit | Endless Thread (wbur.org)


A Dreidel in Time, by Marcia Berneger, for Timeslip Tuesday

A Dreidel in Time, by Marcia Berneger, illustrated by Beatriz Castro (2019, Kar-Ben Publishing), is a short (88 pages) chapter book that tells the story of Hannukah through the eyes of two American kids who travel back in time to live through it, helping the Maccabees in their fight. When we first meet Devorah and Benjamin, their minds are preoccupied with the thought of Hannukah presents, and when their grandparents give them a large old dreidel instead of shinning expensive new gifts, they are disappointed.

But the dreidel is magic, and when they spin it, they are transported back in time, and find themselves in the community of the Maccabees, who are getting ready to escape the religious persecution of Syrian ruler King Antiochus.

The time travel is rather easy--they find themselves dressed appropriately and speaking Hebrew. Though they quickly make friends with other kids, it's a bit of a challenge getting the community to trust them. But it's important that they do, because what the kids remember about the Hannukah story is crucial to making sure it happens as it's supposed to. The dreidel spins again, and the kids find themselves a few years further on in the story, and again, until the final spin take them home again.

It's an interesting and entertaining read, though the teaching the story part (and the there's more to the holiday then presents moral lesson) overshadows the time travel and character development parts, and the dialogue was a bit awkward at times. But the illustrations add charm, as do the elephants, and it was a very entertaining way to learn more about a story I didn't know that well. 


This week's round up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs (8/27/23)

Here's what I have this week; please let me know if I missed your post!

first--it's Cybils Time!  please consider reading Elementary/middle grade sci fi and fantasy with me this year (or applying for another category....).  It really is lots of fun, and I would love to welcome new folks!

The Reviews

Abeni’s Song, by P. Djèlí Clark, at Locus Online  

 Beadbonny Ash, by Winifred Finlay, at Charlotte's Library

Clarity Jones and the Magical Detective Agency, by Chris Smith, at Book Craic

Disconnected, by Riley Cross, at Carol Baldwin's Blog

Gossamer Summer, by H.M. Bouwman, at Mark My Words

Grayling’s Song, by Karen Cushman., at Pages Unbound 

Izzy Hoffman is Not a Witch, by Alyssa Alessi, at Mark My Words

Kevin the Vampire: A Most Mysterious Monster, by Matt Brown, at Valinora Troy

Mermedusa, by Thomas Taylor, at Vicky's Never Ending TBR 

 Molly and the Mutants (Far Flung Falls #2), by Eric Jon Slangerup, at Ms. Yingling Reads:

Read, Scream, Repeat, curated by Jennifer Killick, at Scope for Imagination

Rewind, by Lisa Graff, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Scariest. Book. Ever. (Goosebumps House of Shivers 1), by R.L. Stine, at Mark My Words: 

Terra Ultima: The Discovery of a Hidden Continent, by Raoul Deleo, at Library Girl and Book Boy

Too Many Interesting Things Are Happening To Ethan Fairmont, by Nick Brooks, at Bookworm for Kids

Totally Psychic, by Brigid Martin, at Cracking the Cover 

A War of Wizards by Margaret Storey, at Staircase Wit  

The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm, by Karen Foxlee, at Book Craic

Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup, by Andy Sagar, at  Laura's Bookish Life  

The Unsuper Adventures of Norma, by Mark Svartz, at  Log Cabin Library

Authors and Interviews

Patricia C. Wrede (The Dark Lord's Daughter) at Publishers Weekly 

Julie Abe (Tessa Miyata is No Hero) at Readers Digest

Emma Greville (Raine in the Underlands), at Kids' Book Review

Two at A Library Mama --  Ghosts, Toast, and Other Hazards, by Susan Tan, and Momo Arashima Steals the Sword of the Wind, by Misa Siguira |

Other Good Stuff

"Middle Grade Inspired by Folk & Fairy Tales" at Literacious

It's Cybils Time!

It's Cybils Time! The Cybils are awards bestowed on worthy, kid-friendly children's and YA books by us, the readers and reviews, and I think this produces the best shortlists of any awards around--I have yet to read a Cybils shortlisted book that disappointed me.

Since the books are chosen by readers and reviews (on any online platform), such readers are needed to take a deep dive into the books in all the various genres covered (YA, Middle Grade, Easy Reader, Poetry, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Picture books, Non Fiction). The call has gone out, and now is the time to submit an application if you would like to be one of the panelists (first round, who create the shortlists) or second round (who pick the winners).


There are two rounds of judging, and two types of panelists.



Panelists are the first-round judges. You start work when nominations close on Oct. 15th, sifting through scores of nominated books in your chosen genre. [if you are reading something like middle grade/elementary speculative fiction, there will be about 125 books).  You start reading and requesting library holds the moment you find out you are a panelist, and as nominations start rolling in, you gather as many together as you can. It is a commitment, but a fun one! 

You’ll join a gmail group or similar list and use a database to keep track of what you’ve read.
Although we make every effort to obtain review copies for books not in your local library, you may have to track down some copies via interlibrary loans. The group chat part is the BEST-so much fun talking books with other fans of the genre; it's a nice mix of intense enthusiasm, critical thought, and a touch of snark! You don't have to talk about every book you've read, but the comments group members make, the more rewarding it is for their co-panelists who procrastinate by checking their email too often. 

 Each panel commits only to making sure every nominated book is read by at least two people, but if you don't like a book, you don't have to finish it! The panelists agree on a shortlist of 5-7 titles in late December. The intense chat at the end, where you make hard choices about beloved favorites, is great fun!

[there's no requirement that you have to blog about the books you read, but I myself try to make an effort to do so, especially for books that were sent by the publishers.  Reviews are linked over at the Cybils website if you want them to be.]

You can also be a second-round panelist, who has to make the really hard choice about which book should be the winner.

Judges pick up where panelists leave off. You start work on Jan. 1, and have the winner picked by the middle of February.

While we make a Herculean effort to get review copies to you extra speedy fast, it is up to you to make sure you read EVERY SINGLE BOOK ON THE SHORTLIST in a timely fashion. 

And here's what we look for in a panelist--

Thoughtful enthusiasm for the genre, demonstrated by on-line reviews is the big thing; other expertise/experience counts too!

Only books published in the US and Canada are eligible, but you don't have to be in North America to be a panelist.  Most of the review copies are electronic.  I had an Irish panelist one year in EMG spec fic who was able to keep up with the reading, thanks to ebooks, pretty well.

So, if this sounds like something you'd like to do, head here to apply!


Beadbonny Ash, by Winifred Finlay, for Timeslip Tuesday

Oh the pleasure and excitement of finding a new to me vintage time travel book by a new to me author! Beadbonny Ash, by Winifred Finlay (1973), started out very promisingly indeed--with three children (two siblings, boy and girl, and one visitor) and an older brother studying medicine, out in the Scottish countryside...They are all quickly characterized, and it's clear that Bridie, the visiting child, is badly traumatized by a past tragedy and having a hard time being part of family life, and then, suddenly and strikingly, Bridie hears strange music, and 

"Slowly, almost against her will, she left Kenneth, walked up to the crest of the hillock, and there, in the hollow, she saw them." 

The them are a crone singing in gaelic and playing the harp, and two men, in strange clothing, staring down at a third man, lying still.  The crone switches to English, with a sound of calling that begins thus

"We call from the star-heart of Dunadd
We call the Healer from the Unborn Years"

and the reader knows they are in for a nice timeslip back to the ancient past of Scotland.

And then there was a bit I enjoyed about the family and Bridie travelling to the family's summer cottage on the island of Mull, and we get some nice Scottish island and some good tension between Bridie, with her troubling tendency to retreat into fantastical imaginings of her dead father, and the other kids.

Then the time travel kicks in for real.  All four kids travel back to the 6th century, where the three youngest of them slot into the roles existing persons in the kingdom of Dunadd, retaining at first dreamlike memories of their own time.  The oldest, training to be a doctor, boy, stays himself and is faced with the nightmarish task of healing the badly wounded prince.  And since he still has all his memories of his own time, this is very good medical time travel.

But things go badly south for me after this.  Bridie becomes the sole pov character and in her aspect of living Dark Ages goddess (believing she had magic powers and was the most important person around), she wasn't as interesting a character to me as troubled modern Bridie was.  She becomes immersed in the tensions of the past, with no memory of the present.  And what I find most interesting in time travel is the tension between the two, I was both resentful and disappointed.  Even the looping around of her experiences in the past to starting to heal her troubled mind in the present wasn't enough to make past and present work in tandem for a better story.

There were moments of interest, beauty, strange Celtic magic, and character development, and it is so easy to imagine it being one I really loved.  And Finlay does a fine job bringing Dark Age Scotland to life, and I appreciated Saint Columba showing up and adding a bit of Pagan vs Christian tension--old gods giving way to the new and all that.  If the time in the past had been presented to me, somewhat expanded, as a book on its own, I would probably have enjoyed it.  

But it wasn't, and so I am a bit reluctant to spend more money on Finlay's books because what if this sort of bait and switch is something she does in all of them?  (that being said, the The Castle and the Cave, which isn't time travel, looks very appealing, but at $728, is not obtainable at this time....)


no round-up this Sunday

 Taking a kid to college Sunday, so no round-up....

But just as a heads up, the call for Cybils Awards Panelists opens Tuesday!  Come join the reading fun!

Vermilion Sunrise, by Lydia P. Brownlow

It was a nice change for me to read an engrossing YA sci fi story that checked lots of my reading boxes--Vermilion Sunrise, by Lydia P. Brownlow (May 2, 2023 by Warren Publishing).  

17-year-old Leigh has no memory of volunteering to be one of the first colonists on a watery world far from Earth, and so it is more than a bit of a shock when she wakes from cyrosleep and is shuttled down to the planet with very little in the way of a briefing.  The cyrosleep technology is flawed--killing adults.  So her new home is inhabited only by teenagers.  Hers is the third shuttle of kids arriving at a small island outpost.  The earlier arrivals, from countries all around the world, have no answers for Leigh's many questions--why does none of the technology that came with these first settlers work?  Why were these kids selected to be colonists, and why do none of them remember volunteering?  Why have none of them been told what to do? And she has her own demons to struggle with, hoping to put her traumatic past behind her and start again, with a new name and identity.

I was worried that it might become a Lord of the Flies scenario, but happily for my reading pleasure, the kids that were already there included some great leaders, who had made their settlement into a functional sort of found family.  And much of the book involves the dynamics of this group as they work together to make their outpost a place to call home.  Another mystery quickly intrudes, though--bits of a broken shuttle are washing ashore.  Could there be survivors beyond this one island?

A perilous voyage through stormy seas is the only way to find answers...but will the answers they find destroy the tenuous peace of their home?

So the pacing won't be for everyone--for much of the book, there are few Exciting Happenings (there are some very exciting ones towards the end though).  You have to be a real lover of character driven survival stories to fully appreciate this one, which I am, so I did! I really enjoyed the group dynamics as they worked through practical and ethical problems together, and the romance was sweet.  The only thing that would have made me like the book more would have been more time spent by the kids trying to figure out the ecology of the world.  One of the things I immediately found disturbing about this already disturbing situation (and the wrongness of it all is clear from the get-go) was that the colonist kids didn't include anyone with biology experience, and so there wasn't much attention paid to the specifics of flora and fauna (and fauna, especially, was given short shrift).  

I will happily read more about these kids and their new world!  The book ends at a good stopping point, but I want more answers (why, as Leigh herself asks, are there no Canadians? Has something bad happened to Canada? And even more pressingly, why the heck weren't the kids briefed and trained?) and more attention paid to the ecology (the ready-made "food" supplies they arrived with won't last forever....).

disclaimer: review copy received from the author.


Whisper Falls, by Elizabeth Langston, for Timeslip Tuesday


A YA romance for this week's Timeslip Tuesday--Whisper Falls, by Elizabeth Langston (2013).  Out mountain biking in the North Carolina woods, Mike sees a girl in strange clothes standing behind a waterfall.  Susanna is an indentured servant in 1796, bound to a cruel master.  Susanna and Mike discover they can cross through the waterfall to each other's time, and as Mike learns about Susanna's harsh life and researches what happened to her and the family she serves, he becomes desperate to save her.  And he does, bringing her back to the present, which is where this first book of their story ends.

Most of the story takes place in the past; and basically, it is historical romance, with lots of good details and descriptions of the past.  The time travel adds some additional interest, though Mike has too easy a time passing in the 18th century (language, for instance, isn't a problem, though idioms are different).  I was much more interested in Susanna's reactions to the modern world, which is a story that continues in the next book, A Whisper in Time.  

Short answer--it was fine, but not quite my personal cup of tea--a kind of boring boy saves a more interesting girl from a predictable situation thanks to a magical waterfall and they are in love. I had trouble caring as much as I knew I was supposed to, and the central conflict was so predictable there was no tension.  If I had lost the book halfway through reading it, I wouldn't have cared over much.  


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs (8/13/2023)

 Here's what I found this week!  Please let me know if I missed your post.

The Reviews

Deadly Deep, by Jennifer Killick, at Scope for Imagination

 Estranged, by Ethan Aldridge, at Pages Unbound

Field of Screams, by Wendy Parris, at Ms. Yingling Reads 

The Fox’s Tower (Wolfstongue 2), by Sam Thompson, at  Mark My Words

Gallowgate , by K.R. Alexander, at Ms. Yingling Reads 

The Ghost Job, by Greg van Eekhout, at Mark My Words

Great Texas Dragon Race, by Kacy Ritter, at Cracking the Cover

The Girl in White, by Lindsay Currie, at Geo Librarian 

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories, by Hanna Alkaf, at PBC's Book Reviews 

 Hansel & Gretel, by Neil Gaiman, at Mark My Words:

The Ice Children, by M.G. Leonard, at Scope for Imagination

The Lost Library, by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass, ar Log Cabin Library

The McNifficents, by Amy Mckechnie, at Redeemed Reader

Meesh the Bad Demon, by Michelle Lam, at Vicky's Never Ending TBR 

Mia and the Traitor of Nubis, by Janelle McCurdy, illustrated by Ana Latese, at Book Craic

Mr Tiger, Betsy, and the Golden Sea Horse, by Sally Gardner, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads

Quest Kids and the Dark Prophecy of Doug, by Mark Leiknes, at Bookworm for Kids 

The Raven Throne, by Stephanie Burgis, at Cracking the Cover and The Story Sanctuary

Shiver Point: It Came from the Woods, by Gabriel Dylan, at Library Girl and Book Boy

Wider than the Sea, by Serena Molloy, at Valinora Troy

The Wrath of the Blob, by Dashe Roberts, at Book Craic

Two at The Breadcrumb Forest: Crookhaven: The Forgotten Maze, by J.J. Arcanjo, and Ember Shadows and the Lost Deserts of Time, by Rebecca King

Four at Ms. Yingling Reads:  Grumbones, by Jenn Bennett, The Raven Throne (The Raven Heir #2), by Stephanie Burgis, The Nameless Witch (Devouring Wolf #2), by Natalie C. Parker, and The Fury of the Dragon Goddess (Adventures of Sik Aziz #2), by Sarwat Chadda

Authors and Interviews

Elf Dog LaRue: A Guest Post by M.T. Anderson, at Fuse #8

Refe Tuma (Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest) at MG Book Village

Other Good Stuff

New in the UK, at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books 

If you love reading mg sci fi/fantasy (which you probably are if you are reading this), you would love being a Cybils Awards panelist in the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category, and I, in my role of category chair, would love to welcome new folks! The Call for Judges begins on 8/21/2023 and runs through 9/8/2023.  Please let me know if you have any questions..


this week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction (8/6/2023)

Good morning, all!  Here's what I found this week; let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup, by Zira Nauryzbai and Lilya Kalaus, at Always in the Middle…  Cracking the Cover, and Geo Librarian.

Dead Good Detectives Ghost Rescue, by Jenny McLachlan, illustrated by Chloe Dominique, at Book Craic

Elf Dog and Owl Head, by M.T. Anderson, at Semicolon 

 Elsetime, by Eve McDonnell, at Valinora Troy

The Eyes and the Impossible, by Dave Eggers, at Redeemed Reader

The Golden Frog Games, by Claribel A. Ortega, at Puss Reboots 

The Great Texas Dragon Race, by |Kacy Ritter, at Always in the Middle… The Story Sanctuary, and Ms. Yingling Reads

Hansel and Gretel, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti, at Sharon the Librarian: 

The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall Book 1, by Ali Standish, at Mark My Words

Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu, by Erika Lewis, at Cracking the Cover

The Last Elder King, by D.B. Collins, at YA Books Central

The Light Thieves Search for the Black Mirror, by Helena Duggan, illustrated by Katie Kear, at Book Craic and Vicky's Never Ending TBR 

The Sinister Secrets of Singe, by Sean Ferrell, at Mark My Words

Skellig 25th Anniversary Edition by David Almond, illustrated by Tom de Freston, at Magic Fiction Since Potter

The Spaces In Between (Exit 13 #2), by James Preller, illustrated by Kevin Keele, at Ms. Yingling Reads 

(Super Secret) Octagon Valley Society, by Melissa de la Cruz, at Mark My Words

Mr Tiger, Betsy, and the Sea Dragon, by Sally Gardner, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads 

A Vanishing of Griffins, by S.A. Patrick, at Log Cabin Library

Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate, at Book Craic

Authors and Interviews

Julie Abe (Tessa Miyata Is No Hero) at The Nerd Daily

Kacy Ritter (The Great Texas Dragon Race) at Mindy McGinnis

Katrina Leno (The Umbrella Maker's Son), at Smack Dab in the Middle

Wendy Parris (Field of Screams) at From The Mixed Up Files

Frantz Charles (New Watchers: The Dead Sea Scroll) at Literary Titan


This week's round-up of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (7/30/2023)

Morning all!  Here's what I found this week; let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

Alex Neptune: Monster Avenger, by David Owen, at Book Craic

The Area 51 Files, by Julie Buxbaum and Lavanya Naidu, at Kiss the BOOK

Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup, by Zira Nauryzbai, Lilya Kalaus, translated by Shelley Fairweather-Vega, at Log Cabin Library 

Bob vs the Selfie Zombies, by Andy Jones, at Twirling Book Princess

Brick Dust and Bones, by M.R. Fournet, at Ms. Yingling Reads

 Carnival of the Spider, by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by Sam Usher, at Book Craic

The Cat Half-Eleven, by Kevin Blakeslee, at Pages and Paws

The Chaos Monster (Secrets of the Sky), by Sayantani DasGupta, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Destiny of Minou Moonshine, by Gita Ralleigh, at Scope for Imagination and Charlotte's Library

Devin Drake and the Family Secret, by R.M. Clark, at Bookworm for Kids

Finding Bear, by Hannah Gold, at Magic Fiction Since Potter 

A Game of Fox and Squirrels, by Jenn Reese, at Pages Unbound 

The Great Texas Dragon Race, by Kacy Ritter, at Pages Unbound 

Hansel and Gretel, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti, at Twirling Book Princess

Into the Shadow Mist (Legends of Lotus Island #2), by Christina Soontornvat, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Interdimensional Explorers, by Lorraine Gregory, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads 

International House of Dereliction, by Jacqueline Davies, at Cracking the Cover

Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu, by Erika Lewis, at Always in the Middle…  and Charlotte's Library

The Memory Thieves, by Dhonielle Clayton, at Mark My Words

Odwar vs. the Shadow Queen, by Shiko Nguru, at Mark My Words

The Puppets of Spelhorst, by Kate DiCamillo, at Mark My Words

The Storm and the Minotaur, by Lucy Strange, at Valinora Troy

Thomas Creeper and the Purple Corpse, by J.R. Potter, at  Bookworm for Kids 

Winnie Zeng Vanquishes a King (Winnie Zen #2), by Katie Zhao, at  Kiss the Book

Three at  A Library Mama--The Carrefour Curse by Dianne K. Salerni, The Rhythm of Time by Questlove and S.A. Cosby, and A Spoonful of Time by Flora Ahn

Authors and Interviews

 Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass (The Lost Library), at Publishers Weekly 

Erika Lewis (Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu) at MG Book Village

Deke Moulton (Don't Want to be Your Monster) at From The Mixed Up Files

Eibhlís Carcione  (Welcome to Dead Town Raven McKay) at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books 

Kate DiCamillo on The Yarn Podcast (Pt. 2) at 100 Scopenotes

Other Good Stuff

Tara Gilboy (Unwritten) shares "The best middle grade books for kids who love fairy tales" at Shepherd


Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu

We first met Kelcie Murphy in the middle grade fantasy Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for Unbreakable Arts (2022) when she (much to her astonishment) qualifies for a magical school in the Summerlands, a place where Irish mythology is real.  She discovers she has magical gifts, is descended from a minor goddess, finds her father is still alive (but imprisoned for being a traitor) and helps save the Summerlands from a terrible danger, and makes friends (and more).  

She returns to school in Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu (July 25, 2023, Starscape)  Summer is still at war with winter, Kelcie's father is still imprisoned, and the Summerland faces its most dire threat in millennia.  And a saboteur from the Winterlands, Lexis, is one of her classmates.  Lexis is on a mission to steal the Heart of Danu, the source of all light and warmth, and if she succeeds, Winter will win once and for all, for everyone in Summer will die.

And Kelcie's mother, the omen of doom, seems to think Kelcie can save the day.  Which she does, with the help of her close group of friends.  But it's a tough challenge.  Kelcie is treated with lots of suspicion, not just because of her father, but because on that side of the family she is Formorian --the predecessors of the summer folk.  The Formorians are kept partitioned in a particularly nasty bit of the Summerlands, and only now are Formorian students being welcomed to the Academy.  And Lexis is always a step ahead of her...

There are mythological monstrous challenges galore, which will please readers who love vivid action and adventure.  (Kelcie also has a magical animal companion, a cù sìth named Striker, who will delight many young readers).  I myself preferred the first book, which has much more of the magical school experience in it, including more time focused on friendship and belonging, but that's just me; the parts of this one I most enjoyed were the those that focused on Kelcie and her particular coterie, though I was a bit frustrated that one particular bit of tension never got explained to my satisfaction (the way Niall distances himself from Kelcie...).  

 This second book, though, takes on bigger, real-world challenges, which I appreciated.  How can two lands, at war for ages, who have hurt each other badly, find peace?  There's a satisfying resolution to this particular story at the end of the book, but there's lots left for book #3!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.


The Destiny of Minou Moonshine, by Gita Ralleigh

I first heard about The Destiny of Minou Moonshine, by Gita Ralleigh, when I was compiling a list of debut middle grade fantasy books for 2023, and I immediately wanted to read this historical fantasy set in an alternate India!  I was fortunate to have that pleasure this weekend, and it was a lovely read!

Minou is a foundling who has lived for all her 13 years with her adopted grandmother in a ramshackle boathouse shelter in Moonlally, a queendom colonized by foreigners (the British Raj with different names, and slightly different culture and technology...).  Her grandmother has raised her to be fierce, smart, and respectful of the Dark Goddess who, despite the efforts of the colonizers, continues to be worshiped by the local people.  Thirteen years ago, the last Queen died, and now a wicked General rules by fear and force.

When her grandmother is killed in suspicious circumstances, Minou joins the rebels bent on overthrowing the General....and so her adventures begin, taking her into the secret heart of the old palace, the jungles beyond Moonlally, and even the skies above it in the general's own airship.  The Queen still lives, and can, perhaps, be found.  With true friends at her side, a marvelous mechanical elephant to help considerable with travel through the jungle, and only a few derailments when her kind and generous heart threatens the quest to find the Queen, Minou succeeds in her quest...only to find that she's also found her own unexpected path forward.

A great read for middle grade readers who love stories of plucky girls vs tyrants, with action that zips briskly along.  Sometimes the resolutions to dangers seemed too easy to me as an adult reader, but this I think actually adds to the appeal of the book to those of its target audience who are in the market for fun reads and not doorstoppers.  Even so I found the adventure part of the story to be lots of fun, especially the steampunk-esque elements, and Minou is certainly a character to cheer for.  

That being said, what I enjoyed most were the pictures the words made for me.  It was a lovely trip to an alternate India!  

Out now in hardcover in the UK from Zephyr, an imprint of Bloomsbury, available also as an ebook in the US.  

this week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs (7/23/2023)

Here's what I found this week; let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

Abeni’s Song, by P. Djèlí Clark, at  Pages Unbound 

Arkspire, by Jamie Littler, at  Magic Fiction Since Potter

Book Review: The Blameless (The Blameless #1), by E.S. Christison, at GoodeyReads

Bob, by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, illustrated by Nicholas Gannon, at Magic Fiction Since Potter

The Chaos Monster (Secrets of the Sky #1), by Sayantani DasGupta, at Cracking the Cover

ChupaCarter and the Haunted Pinata, by George Lopez and Ryan Calejo, at Mark My Words

The Curious Mysteris of Eli Marks, by John Gaspard, at  Always in the Middle…

The Great Texas Dragon Race,by Kacy Ritter, Log Cabin Library

Etta Invincible, by Reese Eschmann, at  Kiss the Book 

Into the Shadow Mist, by Christina Soontornvat, at Cracking the Cover 

The Legend of Greyhallow, by Summer Rachel Short, at Ms. Yingling Reads: 

Misfit Mansion, by Kay Davault, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Mr Tiger, Betsy, and the Blue Moon, by Sally Gardner, at  Sifa Elizabeth Reads

No One Leaves the Castle, by Christopher Healy, at Mark My Words

Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa, Julian Randall, at A Kernel of Nonsense

Rieden Reece and the Broken Moon (Rieden Reece #1), by Matt Guzman, at Mark My Words

Scarewaves, by Trevor Henderson, at Mark My Words

The Snow Girl, by Sophie Anderson, at Scope for Imagination

 A Spoonful of Time, by Flora Ahn, at Charlotte's Library

The Stupendous Sonny, by Ellie Clements, at Scope for Imagination

The Very Unfortunate Wish of Melony Yoshimura, by Waka Brown, at Ms. Yingling Reads: 

The Wonder Brothers,’ by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, illustrated by Steven Lenton, at Library Girl and Book Boy

Villains Academy, by Ryan Hammond, at Twirling Book Princess

Authors and Interviews

The Importance of Unimportant Books, a guest post by Darcy Marks (The Afterlife of the Party) at Teen Librarian Toolbox

Other Good Stuff

Here's the long list for the  new Oxford/Pushkin Children's Fantasy Prize!


A Spoonful of Time, by Flora Ahn, for Timeslip Tuesday

A tasty one for the week's Timeslip Tuesday-- A Spoonful of Time, by Flora Ahn (April 11, 2023, Quirk Books), in which the time travel magic is inextricably linked to delicious Korean food!  

Maya's Korean grandmother has come to live with her and her busy mother, and though Halmunee is loosing her memory, she still has brightly lucid moments in the kitchen, making delicious food.  The food is more than just tasty, though--it transports Maya and her grandmother back in time, to watch as young Halmunee and her family, back in Korea, eat the very same thing!  Turns out, Maya's family has a gift for timeslipping through food, and though they can only watch as spectators, it's still wonderful.  And Maya is thrilled to learn more about her family; her mother has never wanted to talk about it, and Maya is pining to learn more about her absent father.

It was a pleasant start to the story, with simple time slipping tourism, but things get more intense when Maya meets a boy who's also a time slipper.  As the time travel becomes more than just episodes of watching her family, she realizes she's caught up in a series on interconnected mysteries, hinging on the secrets of her missing father and her mother's strained relationship with Halmunee.  

And by the end, it becomes powerful and truly magical in the best sort of twisting timeness as Maya learns the truths her mother kept from her.  (Twisty enough that even a relatively strong time travel reader like me had to stop and think hard about what was happening and when....not a complaint, becuase I like this sort of thing!)

Maya's somewhat strained relationship with her best friend, Jada give this nice middle grade realism, and I loved how this tension was resolved (with the help of cookies!); I appreciated, as many middle grade readers probably will, that it was casually mentioned that Jada has a crush on another girl.   And as an added bonus for young foodies, there are recipes included.


this week's round-up of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (7/16/2023)

 Morning all.  Please enjoy this collection of mg sci fi/fantasy reviews etc. and let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

Arkspire, by Jamie Littler, at Scope for Imagination

Back to the Bright Before, by Katherine Nolte, at Faith Elizabeth Hough

The Eyes & the Impossible, by Dave Eggers, at Mark My Words: 

Gallowgate, by K.R. Alexander, at Geo Librarian.

The Housetrap by Emma Read, at Scope for Imagination and Book Craic

Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy, by Angie Thomasat Puss Reboots

One True Wish, by Lauren Kate, at Pages Unbound 

The Phantom Firefighter, by J.W. Jarvis, at Mark My Words

The Sea of Terror, by Stuart Gibbs, at Geo Librarian.

Sometime in Summer, by Katrina Leno, at  Charlotte's Library

The Song that Sings Us, by Nicola Davies, at Book Craic

Stinetinglers 2: 10 MORE New Stories From the Master of Scary Tales, by R.L. Stine, at  Mark My Words

Suzie and the Moon Bugs, by Katie and Kevin Tsang, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads

Tapper Watson and the Quest for the Nemo Machine, by Claire Fayers, at  Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books 

 The Time Tider, by Sinéad O’Hart, at Magic Fiction Since Potter: 

The Umbrella Maker's Son by Katrina Leno, at  Mark My Words: 

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, by T. Kingfisher, at Pages Unbound 

Three at Black and White Words and Pictures --The Demon Sword Asperides, by Sarah Jean Horwitz, Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, and  The Lock-Eater, by Zack Loran Clark

Authors and Interviews

Jenna Yoon (Lia Park and the Heavenly Heirlooms) at MG Book Village

Kaela Rivera (Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls and Cece Rios and the King of Fears) at From The Mixed Up Files

 Refe Tuma (Frances and the Monster) at Literary Rambles (with giveaway)

Other Good Stuff

at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books  UK Children's Book Picks July 2023 

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