3/21/17

The House of Months and Years, by Emma Trevayne, for Timeslip Tuesday

It's a bit of a spoiler to announce right off the bat that The House of Months and Years, by Emma Trevayne (Simon and Schuster, February 2017), is a book with time travel, but it's the sort of spoiler that might help you decide if its a book your interested in, and how else to review it for this week's Timeslip Tuesday?

10-year-old Amelia was happy with her family and her house and her best friend.  But when her aunt and uncle are killed, her parents pull up all her roots to move in with her three cousins-- two boys, one her age, one younger, and one baby girl.  The cousins' house is larger, and their lives of course had already been horribly disrupted, so that plan made sense to Amelia's parents.  And intellectually, Amelia can see the point.  Emotionally, however, she's a snarling mass of resentment (and her parents don't, in my own expert parenting opinion, spend enough time making sure she's ok, but of course they have the three bereaved children to look after...).

So Amelia is sore and cross.  Her cousins' house, however, is not without interest.  It's a calendar house, with all its architectural features tied to numbers related to time passing--the months, the days, the hours are reflected in its rooms, windows, and doors.  Even more extraordinary, it's original architect and inhabitant is still present, in a shadowy form of not quite corporal presence (though not a ghost).  And this occupant can travel through time, and is happy to take Amelia venturing to the past with him.  All he wants in exchange is for Amelia to be his apprentice....and Amelia, being disgruntled, finds the idea of being an immortal time traveler more than somewhat appealing.

But there are costs.  Horrible costs.  And there's a limit to how spoilery I'm willing to be so I won't say more.  It's this emotionally charged dilemma that is at the heart of the book, and which tilts it almost toward horror in a truly gripping rush toward the ending.

Though I was gripped by the story, and the pages turned, it didn't truly captivate me. For one thing, the time travel is of a tourist sort of variety.  The people in the past are alive around them, but don't seem them.  So it's not uninteresting, but not emotionally gripping.  The tension comes not from the visits to the past themselves, nor even from excursions to a sort of "other place"frequented by the group of time-travelers to which Amelia's guide belongs (though it is a fascinating scenario) but from within Amelia.  Though Amelia's decision about becoming a time traveler herself takes center stage at the end, the tension in the book begins with her refusal to accept her new situation living in her cousins' home with them as part of her immediate family.  And though I sympathize, it's hard to be all that sympathetic toward  her, because she really doesn't make much effort to be kind to her cousins or communicate with her parents.  This sulky unpleasantness of character is necessary for the plot to work, but diminished my enjoyment. 

So all in all, a well-written, gripping book with a beautifully memorable house that nevertheless didn't quite work for me personally.

3/19/17

This week's roundup of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (3/19/17)

Welcome to another week of links; please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, by Jennifer Donnelly, at A Backwards Story

Bone Jack, by Sara Crowe, at books4yourkids and Charlotte's Librarys

The Celestial Globe, by Marie Rutkoski, at Say What?

The Crooked Sixpence, by Jennifer Bell, at Ms. Yingling Reads and Word Spelunking

Dragonwatch: Revolt of the Dragons, by Brandon Mull, at Fantasy Literature and Cracking the Coverhttps://www.crackingthecover.com/13296/brandon-mull-dragonwatch/

The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman, at Jean Little Library

The Firefly Code, by Megan Frazer Blakemore, at Geo Librarian

The Forgotten Sisters, by Shannon Hale, at Leaf's Reviews

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, at Sonderbooks

Magyc, by Angie Sage, at Say What?

The Night Spinner, by Abi Elphinstone, at Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books

Return Fire, by Christina Diaz, at On Starships and Dragonwings

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, by Megan Shepherd, at Hidden in Pages

Winterling, by Sarah Prineas, at the Shannon Messenger Fan Club

The Wizard's Dilemma, by Diane Duane, at Fantasy Faction

Authors and Interviews

Eric Kahn Gale (The Wizard's Dog) at Word Spelunking

Joshuan Kahn (Shadow Magic) at Cybils

Laurel Snyder (Orphan Island) at Word Spelunking

Kandi Wyatt (Dragon's Future) at Word Spelunking

Other Good Stuff

Anne Nesbet "On Fiction, History, and Wishing the World Were Otherwise" with particular mention of A Crack in the Sea and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at Project Mayhem

3/14/17

Bone Jack, by Sara Crowe, for Timeslip Tuesday

I just gave Bone Jack, by Sara Crowe (Philomel Books, Feb. 2017, April 2014 in the UK)  five stars over at Goodreads, something I almost never do, not because I think it was an absolutely perfect book, but because it did what it set out to do very well indeed, and because it was a book I would have been so happy to find when I was the age of the target audience-11 -14 years old..  I loved  books in which the old stories and legends of the British Isles slipped through into the present day, with dark and dangerous consequences (books like The Owl Service, and A String in the Harp). (I still do, but a less naïvely romantic way....).  If I didn't already know better, I'd believe that Bone Jack was written back in the 1960s or 70s; it has very much the feel of so many excellent British children's books of that era. 

13 year-old Ash has won the competition to be this year's Stag Boy in a race that is now a quaint folkloric custom n his village in the north of England, but which  has dark roots--the other local boys, playing the hounds, are not expected these days to hunt the stag to his death in a ritual to renew the land,  but in the past.....It is a hard time for Ash's bit of the world--foot-and-mouth disease has wiped out the sheep, and a draught is drying up the land.  His best friend Mark's father killed himself after his sheep were slaughtered, and Ash's own father has come home from fighting in the Near East with PTSD.  

The darkness of the present calls to the past, and stirs up the old pattern.  Ash sees the ghosts of a past Stag Boy hunted till he falls from the cliff at Stag's Leap by merciless boys playing the hounds.  Bone Jack is walking the hills again, and the boundary between the past and present is slipping.  Mark, Ash's friend, will be a hound in this year's chase, but for Mark, who's now living wild in the hills, the Stag Chase has become a chance to bring his father back.  For that to happen, the Stag Boy must die.

So the story is filled with things inexplicable at first falling into an ancient grove, and the tension grows very nicely as Ash realizes that what had seemed a simple way of pleasing his father by running as the Stag Boy is turning into something that might end up with Mark trying to kill him.  He considers backing out, but he can't bring himself to do so....

It is not all mythos and ancient darkness--there are side notes of human relationships, giving Ash the opportunity for character growth, that I found moving and convincing--Ash and his mother hoping that Ash's father can come back to them, Ash's feeling of guilt from having pulled back from Mark after Mark's tragedy, Mark's little sister coping as best she can with the tragedy and now with the madness, that has overtaken her life.

I'm counting this as a time slip not because any of the main characters travel through time, but because the Past, embodied in a sense in Bone Jack, has very much awoken in the present.  The boys of the Stag Hunt long ago are perhaps ghosts, or time slipped echoes, but there is a wolf who has slipped from the past in true corporeal form, and that's good enough for me.

So if you like Celtic infused fantasy in which there isn't a Prophecy or a Chosen One or an epic struggle against a power hungry Dark Lord, but in which the tension comes from old stories manifesting in the present, you will like this one!  It might look like YA, but it isn't quite; it's being marketed as 10 and up (in the grades 4-6 slot at School Library Journal, and ages 11-13 at Kirkus), which is as it should be.  I don't know how many young Celtophiles/Anglophies there are today, but it's also a good one for kids who like horror.

My one real, strong, substantial objection to the American edition of Bone Jack is that they Americanized it, most obviously substituting "Mom" for "Mum."  Which subverts the whole point of the book being rooted in its particular, very non-American place.  And which also makes me wonder, in a suspicious and vaguely hostile way, what other changes were made for the American edition...

But in any event, Sara Crowe is now an auto-buy author for me (I think I will go with her UK editions, although I strongly prefer the American cover of this one; the UK cover is at right), and I can't wait to see what she does next.

Here's the Kirkuk Review, which more or less comes to the same conclusion as I do.


3/13/17

Heartstone, by Elle Katharine White

Heartstone, by Elle Katharine White (Harper Voyager, January 2017), has an incredibly catchy premise--Pride and Prejudice with dragons!  And if you find that an appealing thought, you should definitely add this one to your pile.  NB--I have read P. and P. more times than I can remember, so I'll be sprinkling this post with references to the original...

Aliza Bentaine lost her little sister to a gryphon attack (Kitty didn't add much to the original so her death doesn't have much affect on the plot, except that here it gives Aliza a backstory of loss and fear that adds to her character arc).  The gryphons are just one of a number of mythological creatures attacking this version of England, but happily there are other creatures who have joined with humankind to fight back.  Some brave men and women fight on foot, others ride on wyverns and dragons...The people of Aliza's community, Merybourne Manor, have scraped together enough money to hire a group of riders to solve their gryphon problem, but get more than they paid for when one of the hired guns turns out to be a dragon rider, the most elite fighter there is.

Alaister Daired is very conscious of just how elite he and his family are, and he turns out to be a most unlikeable individual. Aliza, for good reasons, quickly forms a prejudice against him.  Her older sister, however, quickly forms an attachment to Daired's wyvern-riding best friend, Brysney....(and instead of simple house calls and formal dances, we get gryphon slaying, in which Aliza is forced to take a much more active a role than she wished to, slaying one herself.  Although there is also a dance).

A band of Rangers, foot-soldiers not bounded to fantastical creatures and much lower in the social hierarchy, show up in town too, including the not-unappealing Wydrick, who tells Aliza how Daired wronged him, lowering her opinion of him even more.  Mr. Curdred, the heir to the manor, also arrives, and (in as much as he is playing the part of Mr. Collins), asks Aliza to marry him  (Mr. Curdred has more too him than at first appears, unlike Mr. Collins)....and of course her dear friend ends up doing so (although for somewhat unexpected reasons).

So far, so good with P. and P. retelling; everyone is assembled and recognizable, although there are sufficient twists to the story and setting to make this more than just a rehashing of the original.  I was thrown off by "Mary" being described as an introspective blue-stocking, as both concepts post-date Jane Austen's period, and indeed I was never really convinced I was in a Regency England equivalent,  but the excitements of monster hunting, the introduction of a strange shadowy character only Aliza can see, and other assorted bits of magicalness made the story unique enough so that I was willing to ignore this. 

And then we get to my favorite bits of the story, the real meat of the romance, to which the author is faithful enough to please me while allowing dragons, Daired's dragon in particular, to have speaking parts...and the equivalent of the "Pemberley" scenes was lovely, although Daired's transformation in certain particulars seemed unconvincing if looked at too closely.

Though I would have been happy to stay at Pemberely and enjoy the rising consciousness of love on Aliza's part (and shirtless Daired),  perforce I was whisked to an epic and dramatic monster battle, that gave Leyda's (Lydia) story a much more interesting arc than simply eloping with Wydrick, and also, satisfyingly, gave Mr. Brysney's sister (a monster hunter in her own right) a chance to do more than just hate Aliza for winning Daired's heart.  Though perhaps not as exquisitely intelligent as Elizabeth Bennett (who is?), Aliza is a more active agent in the plot (it helps that there's a more active plot in which to be an active participant), and this turned out to be an appealing part of the story.  I also appreciated that characters who were one dimensional idiots in the original are given more complexity here.

It was a somewhat distracting read, because of knowing the original so well...though I enjoyed it, and a lot of the fun was seeing the familiar transformed, it made it hard to evaluate this reimagining on its own merit.  I am pretty sure it works, though; the dragons and mortal peril add enough of a difference to make it feel like its own, exciting and romantic, story!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

3/12/17

This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from around the blogs (3/12/17)

Welcome to this week's round-up of what I gathered online this week of interest to fans of middle grade sci fi and fantasy.  Please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

The Bone Snatcher, by Charlotte Salter, at The Book Smugglers

Boy X, by Dan Smith, at Say What?

Dragonwatch, by Brandon Mull, at Fantasy Faction

Dream Magic, by Joshua Kahn, at Say What?

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, at For Those About to Mock and books4yourkids.com

If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses #1), by Susan Maupin Schmid, at Log Cabin Library

Me and Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King, at The New York Times 

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded, by Sage Blackwood, at Kirkus

Payback (Masterminds #3), by Gordon Korman, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training, by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, at The Book Monsters and Charlotte's Library

Riverkeep, by Martin Stewart, at Sharon the Librarian

Shadow Magic, by Joshua Kahn, at alibrarymama

Showing Off (Upside Down Magic #3) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins, at Jen Robinson's Book Page

The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan, at Leaf's Reviews

Skyborn, by Lou Anders, at Fantasy Literature

Talons of Power, by Sage Blackwood, at Kitty Cat at the Library

Tricked n(Fairy Tale Reform School #3), by Jen Calonita, at Mom Read It

The Tundra Trails, by Monica Tesler, at Say What?

You Can't Hide (Shadow House) by Dan Poblocki, at The O.W.L.

Authors and Interviews

Margaret Dilloway (Xander and the Dream Thief: Momotaro #2), at Word Spelunking

Other Good Stuff

"Women who lead the Wild Hunt," at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles

Save the date for Kidlitcon 2017, in Hershey PA, on November 3rd and 4th--it promises to be a great weekend of books and friends and Chocolate!  Once again I'm the program organizer, and even though I've not officially posted a call for proposals, please get in touch if you want to come talk about something relevant to Childrens/YA  book reading and reviewing.

3/9/17

Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner

Not to brag, but I have always been good at crying appropriately when reading sad books.  When my boys were born, though, any horrible thing happening to a little child became almost unreadable*....and now that they are teenagers, just about the saddest book I could think of to read would be one in which three beautiful boys die and the story is all about the grief and guilt and gut-churning loss suffered by their best friend, who blames himself for the tragedy.  That book just happens to be Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books for Young Readers, YA, March 7 2017), and I knew what I was getting when offered a copy, but said yes regardless because Zentner just won the Morris Award for The Serpent King and I am trying to be Open about reading outside my middle grade speculative fiction niche.  Which is how I found myself sniveling softly during my lunch break at work (it really is a good thing, for so many reasons, that I have the basement of work all to myself....).

I'm not going to try to describe the four boys involved; readers should meet them for themselves.  But they were funny, and smart, and talented, and they were best friends.  And one of them, Carver, the main character by virtue of being the one who didn't die, sent a text to the three who were driving over to get him.  And he sent it to Mars, who was driving.  And Mars was texting back when his car crashed, and all three boys died.

The book is about the aftermath of the accident, and it is harrowing because there is just a world of hurt, not just Carver's pain, but that of his friends' families.   Carver spends a day with each of them, sharing things the families didn't know, learning things he didn't know, and working on the long slow process not of healing, exactly, but of letting his love and memories of his friends be part of the new life he has to make without them.  Fortunately for the feelings of the reader, there are lots of flashbacks to happier times that are funny and warm, and fortunately too Carver in the present is able to find help and doesn't drown.

I'd call it un-put-downable, except that I had to put it down because of being too weepy every so often.  But with no caveats at all, I can tell you that it makes some of the clearest, most vivid, character-pictures of just about any book I've read.  You will feel like you know these four boys, and you will grieve for all of them. While I can't in good conscience urge parents of teenaged boys to read it, I think that teens who want weighty and emotional reading will love it.

And they will perhaps be less likely to text and drive themselves, which is all to the good.

There's diversity here--one of the boys is black, another had an Asian girlfriend who becomes Carver's chief mainstay.  There's a bit of  economic diversity included as well--one of the boys had a horrific childhood of neglectful abusive poverty before his grandmother swept in.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

*if you have an 8-10 year old-ish boy, do not read Ways to Live for Ever by Sally Nichols unless you want to audition for a role that requires you to look like hell or some such.

3/7/17

Seven Stiches, by Ruth Tenzer Feldman, for Timeslip Tuesday

Seven Stiches, by Ruth Tenzer Feldman (Ooligan Press, Feb. 2017), is both a time travel story and a gripping YA novel about a girl coping with the loss of her mother that's set in a near future America.  The year is 2058, the place is Portland, and the global warming has not been kind, but has not yet been catastrophic. Meryam and her biologist mom live in a big old house and keep chickens and goats; things are much like now, only different in believable ways.  But then the earthquake hits, the Big One.  And Meryam's mom was down on the coast that day, and she doesn't come home.  Months pass with no word, but Meryam can't give up hope.  Her home has been filled by other people--her African American/Vietnamese/Jewish grandmother and her great aunt have moved in, people in need of shelter have been rehoused under her roof, and Bandon, a young man who's part of a forbidden organization fighting homelessness, has shown up to offer the services of his male goat to Meryam's surviving female one, and ends up staying too.

Meryam throws herself into the busyness of everyday life as best she can, but can barely distract from her conviction that her mother is still alive.  Reading along, I expected Bandon to be a typical YA distraction, and Meryam to find connections to her grandmother, and for her to find some big sense of purpose, and to an extent these things happen....except that Bandon is gay (and says so right at the beginning), her grandmother not really the connecting type, and her sense of purpose external to her own life is sort of a one shot deal.

But there's also the distraction of time travel.  A mysterious woman, Serakh, shows up out of nowhere in Meryam's house, explaining that women in past generations of Meryam's family have been in the habit of time travelling to do necessary things in the past, and that now she has come to take Meryam back in the past to do a necessary thing--to save a little girl in 16th century Constantinople from slavery.  And there in the past the thread of her own story is twisted, all to briefly, with a bit of her mother's.  Time travel with Serakh is made easy with universal language comprehension, and though there are difficulties and twists to the adventure in the past that made things interesting, I didn't read it with the same intent immersion as I did the story of Meryam's present day life.

That being said, it's a book I recommend with conviction (I read it first in January, and have just now read it again, and didn't mind in the least!) but I'm not convinced that the time travel is sufficiently integrated into the central narrative of Meryam's life.  I think that even if it were cut out completely, there'd still be a really good, really solid YA sci-fi-ish story to enjoy.  That being said, I didn't mind the time travel, and it does give both Meryam and the reader plenty of food for thought....but it was fairly mundane time travel compared to the details of Meryam's real life which I found much more interesting (this could be just me, as I tend to enjoy lots of description of mundane details of house and garden tasks, which is perhaps Sad, as Donald Trump would say, but there it is).  So in the end, I'd really suggest reading this one for a fascinating near future YA growing up/coping with grief story, at which it excels!

This is the third book by Ruth Tenzer Feldman about Serakh and the blue thread that binds her to Meryam's family, the others being Blue Thread, and The Ninth Day, both of which I'm going to look for now for future timeslip Tuesdays!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

3/6/17

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce (Scholastic, Feb. 28 2017), is the second story of Pip and the magical creatures she's determined to become an expert on!  In Pip's world, creatures like unicorns are real, and she has the unusual ability of being able to communicate directly with them.  She also has an aunt who's a vet specializing in magical creatures, giving her a chance to get to know many of them up close (sometime too much so) and personal.

In her first appearance (Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures), among other adventures she met a most unusual unicorn.  Instead of being a vain, self-absorbed snot like just about every other show unicorn, Regent Maximus is a neurotic mess, afraid of everything.  Yet Regent Maximus' owner has entered him into the competition that's basically the Westminster Kennel Club for unicorns, and even though the unicorns aren't the only creatures on display, and Pip was looking forward to expand her magical creature studies, she feels responsible for helping poor R.M. cope.

But her attention is distracted when other unicorns are attacked; someone is cutting off unicorn tales!  Though this increases R.M.'s chance of placing in the competition, Pip is determined to do what she can to stop the perpetrator, and since she can talk directly to all the magical creatures, maybe she can find a witness....

A nice little side story is Pip's hyper-allergic friend, Tomas, who finds a magical creature that he can (if he can convince his parents) keep as a pet....

These are great books for the 8 or 9 year old who loves fantasy creatures, and for whom "magical vet"  sounds like just the best job in the world! The unicorns have lots of personality (even though its not all charming personality), there are lots more fun creatures introduced here, and the mystery is satisfactorily resolved (it's a do evil that good might come sort of crime, adding a smidge of ethical thought provoking-ness to the mix). 

Short answer--fun and charming!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

3/5/17

This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (3/5/`7)

Welcome to another week's worth of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs!  Please let me know if I missed your post, and I'll put it in.

The Reviews

The Battle of Hackham Heath, by John Flanagan, at Say What?

Beauty, by Robin McKinley, at Redeemed Reader

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, by Jennifer Donnelly, at Fantasy Book Critic

The Blazing Bridge, by Carter Roy, at Mom Read It, Always in the Middle, and Geo Librarian

Choke, by Obert Skye, at Say What?

The Crooked Sixpence, by Jennifer Bell, at Log Cabin Library

Disenchanted: the Trials of Cinderella, by Megan Morrison, at Leaf's Reviews and Pages Unbound

The Doll's Eye, by Marina Cohen, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom, by David Nielsen, at Got My Book (audiobook review)

Horizon, by Scott Westerfeld, at The Write Path

The House of Months and Years, by Emma Trevayne, at Sharon the Librarian

Nightborn, by Lou Anders, at Fantasy Literature

Ollie's Odyssey, by William Joyce, at Charlotte's Library

Realm Breaker, by Laurie McKay, at Charlotte's Library

Tut: My Epic Battle To Save the World, by P.J. Hoover, at B. and N. Kids Blog

Three at The Bookshelf Gargoyle--What Not to Do If You Turn Invisible, by Ross Welford, and Shane Hegarty's Darkmouth books.

Authors and Interviews

P.J. Hoover (Tut) on creating promotional extras, at Cynsations

Other Good Stuff

A tribute to Ruth Chew at Time Travel Times Two

The women of NASA Lego project is a GO! (read more at Tor)

3/1/17

Ollie's Odyssey, by William Joyce

One of the things that happens to me every year when I'm a judge for the Cybils is a review backlog, and concomitant guilt, partly because I appreciate the publisher's making the effort to send review copies, and partly because the books I haven't reviewed are just sitting here at home instead of up the street at the public library making new friends (I've been doing it so long that books I donated to the library my first year of doing the Cybils are now being weeded....sigh).  But in any event, this evening I am posting about one of the review copies that came my way--Ollie's Odyssey, by William Joyce (Atheneum, April 2016)  one that I think the young library patrons and their parents will be very pleased with. 

It is a stuffed toy come to life book, but though that has been done before, Joyce has made a fresh and interesting story from it.  Ollie was made by Billy's mom to be his special friend, and they love each other very much.  But then one horrible day Ollie is kidnapped! And Billy must break his parents rules, and head out alone into the night, to find his most Favorite friend.

There's a whole back story to the kidnapper, a clown doll named Zozo, who presided over a carnival booth.  There he fell in love with a ballerina doll, who was taken from him to be the favorite of a little girl.  Warped by this loss, Zozo turned dark, and created an army of clockwork creeps to scour the world for favorite stuffed toys and dolls, hoping to somehow find the one doll he's seeking.  And Ollie, being a favorite, has fallen into Zozo's hands.....

But Ollie, being a very bright stuffed toy indeed, escapes, and finds himself in a junkyard.  There he finds unlikely allies, who agree to take on Zozo's army of creeps and save the other toys.  His new friends are a very odd crew indeed--including a bottle opener, a pet rock, and an aluminum can, but though odd they are stalwart.  As is Billy, still a very little kid making his way through the dark night to find his friend.

And all ends well, which is satisfying.

Joyce's charming illustrations, of which there are many, bring the characters to life, and though Zozo the clown doll is scary as all get out (as is the case with so many malevolent clown dolls), the sweetness of Ollie compensates.  The result is a lovely read to share with young kids who can cope with malevolent clown dolls!  I don't think it's one that most  4th and 5th graders would be interested in, but on the other hand, a 2nd or 3rd grader who is not in too much of a hurry to grow up themselves might well enjoy reading it to themselves. 

2/27/17

Realm Breaker (Last Dragon Charmer 3), by Laurie McKay

Realm Breaker is the third book in Laurie McKay's Last Dragon Charmer series (Harper Collins, March 7, 2017).  The books tell of a young prince and a young girl who's a magic user, inadvertently exiled from their magical homeland to Asheville, North Carolina. There Caden and Brynne found that Ms. Primrose, the principal of the middle school they were forced to attend by their new foster mother is actually a powerful dragon, of uncertain temper, presiding over a staff consisting of banished villains. 

At the end of the second book, the leader of the villains, a  truly sinister fellow, has overthrown the dragon principal and is setting up a dark magical spell  that will allow him to access the magical realm and take control there too.  Caden is naturally determined to stop this evil plan.  But though he has allies in Asheville, and though he has magical gift of his own for persuasively charming speech, it's not at all clear whether he'll be able to do so.  Especially since the dragon ex-principal is being pushed toward her own dark side....

This series is tremendously fun in general, in its lighthearted use of High Fantasy conventions mixed with the real world of Asheville, where Caden is in foster care.  And this third book, not having to set the stage, spends less time playing with Caden's confusion about life in the real world (though he's still confounded at times), giving McKay room to up the ante of the plot.  There's lots of  suspense and danger, making for truly gripping reading! 

The world building of the fantasy realm and its inhabitants is strengthened here, adding interest, and the relationship between Caden and his older brother (banished to Asheville under a cloud of suspicion) is also given more depth. Though there are lots of great character interactions, it's especially fun to see Caden gingerly negotiating with Ms. Primrose, who is one of the most diverting dragon characters of the current middle grade fantasy scene!

Fans of the series will not be disappointed, and younger middle grader aficionados of magical mayhem (the 9 to 11 year olds not ready for YA) should seek the books out post haste!  Here's my review of the first book, Villain Keeper, and the second book, Quest Maker.  Realm Breaker builds on the strengths of these two, making for very good reading indeed!  This installment ends at a good ending point, but there are lots of questions and unresolved issues left, so hopefully there will be more to come!

final note--  I want to share the link to the Goodreads page for the book, because Ms. Yingling's review there gives a lovely detailed summary, and because she loved it, though she is not naturally drawn to middle grade fantasy, so I think her admiration for the series is about as shining a testimonial as one can get....

disclaimer: review copy received (with great happiness) from the author

2/26/17

This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (2/26/17)

Here's this week's roundup--please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

100 Cupboards (series review) by N.D. Wilson, at Redeemed Reader

Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson, at Charlotte's Library

Ben the Dragonborn, by Dianne Astle, at Middle Grade Munch

The Burning Bridge, by Roy Carter, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood and Co. book 4), by Jonathan Stroud, at The Bookshelf Gargoyle

The Crooked Sixpence, by Jennifer Bell, at My Brain on Books

The Doll's Eye, by Marina Cohen, at Mom Read It

The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, by Steaphanie Burgis, at The Book Smugglers

The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman, at GeoLibrarian

The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Peter Begler, at Sharon the Librarian

The Goblin's Puzzle, by Andrew Chilton, at GeoLibrarian

The  Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, at Imaginary Reads

If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses #1) by Susan Maupin Schmid, at Redeemed Reader

The Inquisitor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz, at Book Nut (audiobook review)

A Little Taste of Poison, by R.J. Anderson, at Redeemed Reader

The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi, at Redeemed Reader

The Nest, by Kenneth Oppel, at Nerdy Book Club

Palace of Stone, by Shannon Hale, at Leaf's Reviews

A Pocket Full of Murder, by R.J. Anderson, at Redeemed Reader

Saturdays at Sea, by Jessica Day George, at Reading Violet

Time Travelling with a Hamster, by Ross Welford, at The Bookshelf Gargoyle

Authors and Interviews

Carter Roy (The Blood Guard Series) at Always in the Middle and the Children's Book Review

Other Good  Stuff

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center 2017 best of the year book  list

The Alsc 2017 Notable Children's book list

The Nebula Awards List has been announced, and I'm pleased to see that Evil Wizard Smallbone is in contention for the Norton Award (for "YA" books) .  Here's the whole Norton list:

      The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

  • And finally, after twenty years, the world of Megan Whalen Turner's books has a map, created by artist Maxime Plasse

    2/23/17

    Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson

    I have not read the first book about Audacity Jones, denizen of Miss Maisie's School For Wayward Girls (Audacity Jones to the Rescue) but that did not stop me from enjoying her second outing! 

    Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson (Scholastic, January 31, 2017), Audie is once again taken on as a detecitve's sidekick.  "Cypher", the mysterious gentleman responsible for Audie's first outing, now has been hired by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and needs a set of young eyes and some quick wits to help him on another case.   Accompanied by her best friends, a fellow Wayward girl and a most unusual cat, they set off for New York.

    There Harry Houdini is about to pull off his biggest magic trick yet-he plans to make an elephant disappear!  But someone is trying to sabotage him, and its up to Audie and her friends to make sure that the absent-minded genius who's the brains of this trick isn't "taken care off" by a jealous rival before she can complete her work for Houdini.  And in the meantime, there's the elephant himself--a young and mistreated animal, who must be saved!

    It's  fun visit to turn of last century New York.  There's enough historical detail to make it convincing, without weighing the story down.  The highly intelligent and highly unusual cat brings a touch of fantasy to the mix, which makes it all the more intriguing; that being said, it's subtle enough so that those who are looking for more realistic fiction won't be bother, but those who are looking for full blown cat fantasy will be pleased but might perhaps want more!

    Animal lovers, magical cat lovers, and fans of upper elementary level detective stories with strong girl leads will love it.  It's not a long or dense book, so it's good for the third to fifth grade set.

    disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.

    2/21/17

    The Invisible Hand, by James Hartley, for Timeslip Tuesday (British boarding school meets Mcbeth!)

    In The Invisible Hand, by James Hartley (Lodestone Books, Feb. 22, 2017), Sam is stuck at a gray and dismal British boarding school finds himself caught in the story of Macbeth, time-traveling back to medieval Scotland for brief intervals (that usually end up in him being badly damaged or killed, Macbeth not being the most peaceful story to visit. Back in the past, he meets a girl, Leana, and she too is caught in the the time-travel magic, only she moves forward in time to the boarding school.

    The episodes of danger in medieval Scotland are vivid and convincing. This is sort of time travel where the traveler fits neatly into a slot, and knows the right thing to say, but though Sam passes as a native just fine, he keeps his own internal point of view. We don't get to see medieval native Leana's point of view as she finds herself at boarding school far in her future, but it's still an interesting narrative, and we do get her perspective back in the past as Macbeth's story plays out.

    The time slipping isn't, though, the actual point of the story, merely a symptom of supernatural forces at work. The magic of Macbeth's three witches spills into ordinary life at boarding school. The ordinary lessons and discomfort that Sam has been learning to put up with become mixed with danger. The school is the repository of an ancient book that can change reality, and Sam needs to find it in order to chart a course that will steer him clear of the darkness of Macbeth's story, giving him and Leana a more hopeful future.

    If you are looking for a YA fantasy that is a change from the standard "young magical savior of the realm, possibly in an attractive dress on the cover" sort of thing, and of course if you enjoy Shakespearean riffs, and British boarding school stories, you might well enjoy this one lots. It's not necessarily for every reader--the bouncing between past and present is somewhat abrupt, and Explanations aren't as forthcoming as some of us might like. For instance, if there was a reason why Sam started time-slipping, I didn't pick up on it. But it is a vivid and memorable story, that sticks very nicely in the mind.

    It's possible that more answers will be forthcoming. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare´s Moon, in which book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

    Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

    2/19/17

    This week's round-up of middle grade science fiction and fantasy from around the blogs (2/19/17)

    Welcome to this week's collection of blog posts of interested to fans of middle grade fantasy and science fiction.  It's a little light this week, which makes me feel I might have missed things, so let me know if I missed your post!

    The Reviews

    A Crack in the Sea, by H.M. Bouwman, at books4yourkids

    The Crooked Sixpence, by Jennifer Bell, at Great Imaginations

    The Dog Ray, by Linda Coggin, at Charlotte's Library

    Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman, at alibrarymama

    The Forbidden Fortress (Omega City #2), by Diana Peterfreund, at Ms. Yingling Reads

    The Inquistor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz, at Pages Unbound Reviews

    The Marvellous Magic of Miss Mabel, by Natasha Lowe, at The Write Path

    The Nethergrim, by Matthew Jobin, at Say What?

    The Secret Keepers, by Trenton Lee Stewart, at Pages Unbound Reviews

    Shadow Magic, by Joshua Kahn, at Geo Librarian

    The Skeleth (Nethergrim, #2), by Matthew Jobin, at Say What?

    The Sorcerer of the North, by John Flanagan, at Leaf's Reviews

    Talons of Power, by Tui T. Sutherland, at Hidden in Pages

    The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech, at Completely Full Shelf

    Voyage to Magical North, by Claire Fayers, at Geo Librarian

    When the Sea Turns to Silver, by Grace Lin, at Geo Librarian

    Authors and Interviews

    Kent Davis (A Riddle in Ruby) at The Reading Nook Reviews

    2/18/17

    The Dog, Ray, by Linda Coggin

    The Dog, Ray, by Linda Coggin is the story of a girl who is reincarnated as a dog.  Which sounds rather bald, and kind of odd.  But it is a story that works; a gripping, emotional read.

    When Daisy is killed in a car accident, she's slotted for reincarnation.  In the normal run of things, she would have been born again as a person, but lack of availability in her area lands her rebirth as a puppy.  And in a slip-up, she's been left with her memories of her human life, and she wants to get back to her parents.  Instead, she finds a friend in a homeless boy named Pip, who also is looking for family, and as they travel together, Daisy gradually looses her human memories and becomes more and more completely Pip's dog, Ray.

    Daisy's metamorphosis into true dog sounded to me, when I first read about this book, like something horrifying and grotesque--a loss of humanity and a loss of self.  But the actual progression of her change was, instead, gentle and natural; she wasn't, after all, Daisy the human girl any more, so sinking more and more into dogness seemed like a gentle, natural  thing to happen to her.  And it was made more palatable by the bond between her and Pip, a loving relationship formed purely by the dog, Ray, with very little of Daisy to do with it.

    This book offers a moving portrayal of homelessness; one of Daisy's first and best friends in her dog life is a very sympathetic older homeless man, who is also kind to Pip, himself a runaway from foster care. 

    Give this one to kids who love dogs who like their fantasy real-world oriented and their reading on the sad side: it didn't make me exactly cry, but almost.....Kirkus and I are on exactly the same page with this one; they say (full review here):  "A powerful story brought to heart-beating life by its cogent craftsmanship."

    2/15/17

    Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt, by George O'Connor

    In his afterword to Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt (First Second, January 31, 2017) , the latest in his graphic novel series about the Olympian gods and goddesses, George O'Connor shares that this was one of his favorites to create.  That enthusiasm shows clearly, and this was by far my favorite of the series to read.

    The story of Artemis, strong-minded protector of wild things, is told from multiple points of view, beginning with her mother, Leto's persecution by Hera, and including the sad tale of Niobe whose pride in her children came to a dreadful end, the story of  fierce hunter Atlanta, and that of Orion, her would be lover, as well as others. It's a rich and varied tapestry, with one constant factor--Artemis herself, steadfast in her choice to be free and fierce all her life.  She is not kind, but she is not unsympathetic either; though she's a killer, she's also admirable.  The book is given depth by the emotional heft of Artemis' choices and their consequences.

    Although I haven't read the other books in the series recently, the images here seem brighter, which is appropriate for moon-loving Artemis, and they are full of vivid detail and expressiveness.  They
     help make Artemis a more complex character than some of the other Olympians featured in earlier books..

    In short, it's a very vivid collection of vignettes that combine into a gripping portrait of one of my own favorite Olympians, and fans of the series will not be disappointed!

    disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

    2/12/17

    This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (2/12/17)

    A shortish round-up this week, which is fine because now I can go play more Stardew Valley (although my new cat is not letting me in my house, and my children are asleep so I can't ask them what to do...)

    As always, please let me know if I missed your post!

    The Reviews

    The Castle in the Mist, by Amy Ephron, at Great Imaginations

    The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix, at Charlotte's Library

    The Doll's House, by Rumer Godden, at Semicolon

    The Eternity Code, by Eoin Colfer, at Lunar Rainbow Reviews

    Foxheart, by Claire Legrand, at A Reader of Fictions

    Games Wizards Play, by Diane Duane, at Sonderbooks

    The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, at Becky's Book Reviews

    The Jamie Drake Equation, by Christopher Edge, at Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books

    Journey Through Ash and Smoker (Ranger in Time 5) by Kate Messner, at Time Travel Times Two

    Last Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson, at Charlotte's Library and Word Spelunking (with giveaway)

    The Mesmerist, by Ronald L. Smith, at Cracking the Cover and Ms. Yingling Reads

    The Pinhoe Egg, by Diana Wynne Jones, at The Book Smugglers

    When the Sea Turned to Silver, by Grace Lin, at Sonderbooks and Falling Letters

    A Wizard Abroad, by Diane Duane, at Fantasy Faction

    Word of Mouse, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, at Log Cabin Library and A Bookshelf Monstrosity

    Two at Ms. Yingling Reads:  Finders Keepers (Rebels of the Lamp #2). by Michael Galvin and Peter Speakman. and The Mesmerist, by Ronald L. Smith

    Authors and Interviews

    Amy Ephron (The Castle in the Mist) at Nerdy Book Club

    Fred Holmes (The Ugly Teapot) on adapting his screenplay to a book, at Middle Grade Ninja

    Dana Langer (Siren Sisters) at Literary Rambles (with giveaway)

    Other Good Stuff

    The Waterstone Children's Book Prize (a UK Award) shortlist has been released, with Middle Grade Spec Fic well represented.

    2/8/17

    Last Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson

    https://www.amazon.com/Last-Mars-Chronicle-Dark-Star/dp/0062306715/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486599459&sr=8-1&keywords=last+day+on+mars
    Last Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson (Walden Pond Press, February 14, 2017), is the most gripping middle grade science fiction book I've read in ages.  A hundred and fiftyish years in the future, our sun is going supernova, long before it should be.  Humanity has been forced to leave Earth, settling on Mars, but with Mars about to be engulfed by the sun, colony ships have set off for a new solar system.  Liam and his friend Phoebe are supposed to be on the last ship leaving Mars.  Their parents are desperately working to finish the terraforming project that will make their new planet habitable, but they have only a few hours left before the colony ship must leave.  And things are going wrong.

    The first half of the book covers these last few hours, and it is basically my own personal travel anxiety dream taken to a whole new level of anxious, because the clock is ticking...and  if the kids and their parents don't make it onto the colony ship, they die.

    And like I said, things are going wrong.

    It's not just your basic level of last minute panic wrong, but a much larger, more threatening wrongness.  We learn right at the beginning of the book that the supernova is not a random happenstance, but deliberate sabotage not just of our sun but of other stars.  An alien scientist had come to Mars before humanity left earth, and was killed there, leaving behind a strange device that allows its user to see future possibilities.  Liam and Phoebe find it, and Liam sees disasters ahead.

    Can he and Phoebe save their parents (the terraforming project headquarters is sabotaged), and get off Mars safely?  And in future books, will humanity be able to foil the evil star destroying masterminds? 

    So tense. Very, very tense.  I must confess I enjoyed the first half of the book, with just the generic tenseness of escaping a doomed planet, more than the second, in which enemies (the star destroyers aren't the only ones) start playing a more active role.  Liam and Phoebe are sad to be leaving Mars, their home, and the poignancy of their situation is made vividly real, along with the physical details of the Mars colony itself.   I liked Liam and Phoebe lots; they are not so plucky and lucky as to be unbelievable, but simply ordinary kids doing the best they can.

    Sabotage, robots, space travel and time-slippiness combine for a nail-biting adventure, that will leave readers anxious for the next book.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Kevin Emerson is the author of The Fellowship for Alien Detection as well as the Exile series, the Atlanteans series, the Oliver Nocturne series, and Carlos is Gonna Get It. He is also an acclaimed musician who has recorded songs for both children and adults. A former K-8 science teacher, Kevin lives with his family in Seattle. Visit him online at www.kevinemerson.net

    Disclaimer: review copy received from the publishers, as part of the blog tour for the book.  The other stops are:

    Other Blog Tour Participants: 
    Jan. 27th  Unleashing Readers 
    Jan. 30th  SciFi Chick
    Feb. 1st  This Kid Reviews Books
    Feb. 3rd  Walden Media Tumblr
    Feb. 6th  Word Spelunking
    Feb. 7th  Novel Novice
    Feb. 9th  Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
    Feb. 10th  Librarian's Quest

    There's a fascinating educator's guide, which you can find at the publisher's website (under "learn.")

    2/7/17

    The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix, by Kate Saunders, for Timeslip Tuesday

    The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix, by Kate Saunders (Delacorte, Dec. 2016), brings back twins Oz and Lily, and their friend Caydon, for another adventure involving magical chocolate (Oz and Lily's family have a  somewhat dubious heritage of mixing of magic with chocolate, as explained in The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop).  Although this is a sequel, it stands alone just fine, and it's a fun "magical romp" (meaning mostly lighthearted adventure with magic) with some evil antagonists, a talking cat, a young vampire (though she's been 11 for several centuries) and time travel. 

    It starts when the talking cat finds some crumbs from the chocolate phoenix imbued by the twins' Uncle Isadore with time travel magic.  Her visit with Queen Elizabeth has no great implications for the stability of the time stream, but the magical enforcement agency of London is worried.  With good reason--sinister forces are at work, determined to use the time travel chocolate to change the course of history (for the worse).   Silver, who was made a vampire when she was 11, several centuries ago, is assigned to the kids to be their bodyguard, because they have the right magical heritage that enables the chocolate to work its magic.

    And because of this, they are sent on two missions to make sure the past happens as it should--the first, to make sure the Great Fire of London happens, and the second, to make sure that St. Paul's isn't burned in WW II.  Both are exciting time travel adventures, although the actual experience of being in the past is not the point; thwarting the villains, with good reason, absorbs the energies of all concerned. 

    Even though there are plenty of tense moments, when Lily in particular is not as brave as one would like ones young fantasy heroines to be (though goodness knows I two would be a mess if I was thrown into the prison of child-eating giants to be their next snack), the whole ensemble is good magical adventure fun.  The magical world is broadened somewhat in this second book in the series, and there's lots of potential for more character growth and world building to come!

    The true hero is the immortal talking rat, Spike;  the kids themselves are mostly pawns in the battle of grown-ups.  But it's plenty diverting to just go along with them for the ride!

    Caydon's family is from Jamaica, providing some diversity (and I think it's cool that he got to be front and center on the phoenix); I hope we see more of his grandma in future books!

    2/6/17

    She had run out of books to read. What she did next will amaze you! (especially #6) (a 10th anniversary of blogging post)

    (I have been wanting to use this clickbait-inspired post title for ages, and now that it is the ten year anniversary of my blog, I think it is time....nb.  #6 is not actually any more exciting than anything else.)

    So in my twenties, I didn't have anything to read.  Sure there were books for grad school, and a couple of hundred favorites from my youth, but I would go to bookstores and libraries, and not find much of anything that appealed, and it was sad and I whined a lot. 

    Here's how I changed my life, so that now my Book Needs are met.

    1.  In the late 1990s, I joined an online group called Girls Own, thanks to my sister who found it first.  It is a group of fans of primarily British school girl stories, with lots of recommendations of older girls fiction thrown in.  This was wonderful; it gave me lots of authors to look for, and lots of books to buy, especially when small publishers sprang up (like Girls Gone By) who were reprinting some of the scarcer titles.  It also gave my sister lots of books to lend me whenever she visited.

    2.  I married a fellow bibliophile.  This resulted in me reading, in the early days of our relationship, books he had lying around that he recommended to me even though he hadn't read them himself yet (I didn't know that until I had read Angle of Repose and River of Traps, with no enjoyment whatsoever, sparing him the pain of having to do so himself).  On a more positive note, it also resulted in him building lots of bookshelves in our new home (the bedroom shelves are shown below; couldn't get them to fit in one frame, so the splice is awkward, with half the chimney cut off), and lots of visits to used bookstores in England when we went to see his family there.



    3. Amazon was founded in 1994, and Ebay started in 1995.  Ebay was especially exciting, because rare books could be bought rather cheaply....(does anyone else remember making rash purchases of random old books just because one could?)

    4.  The Library card catalogue became available on line.  Placing library holds became a source of much comfort in the first decade of the 21st century, especially when I realized, admittedly rather late in the game, that authors I liked might have written other books.

    5.  I started running booksales for the local library around 2000. Not only did this give me first crack at donations, but the library was also just starting to weed the children's books, which had been stagnant since the 1950s, which I also got first crack at.

    6.  And then the thing that made my book piles explode--I started this blog back in February of 2007.  I started reading blogs the fall of 2006, after successfully selling a first edition of  Newbery award winner Kira-Kira on Ebay for $300, and realized that Newbery Award book speculation was a sure fire way to untold wealth.  The first blog post I ever read was one by Linda Sue Park on what would win the Newbery that year, and that led me to other book blogs, which meant recommendations galore.

    7.  And when I saw that publishers would send you books to review if you had your own blog, I knew I had to do it...And it worked (except for the untold Newbery speculation wealth part).   Hundreds, possibly thousands, of review copies have come my way, and I (and my local library, where many of the finished books have ended up) am very grateful.  I have written almost 3,000 reviews.  I now review for the B. and N. Kids Book blog too, which has added to my review copy piles.

    (Here is my first post to get over 1000 views, on Women's Sufferage Fiction.  You will notice there are no hyperlinks.  It took me almost a year or so to learn how to do those, because I lacked Confidence, but I can now, and that's all that matters.  I am a much better blogger now).  Incidentally, the book by Geraldine Symons I mention was discarded by the library the next year, and is now safely on my own shelves (proving that my cunning plan to get all the books is working).


    So now, twenty years after my horrible time of book drought, I will never be hungry again (imagine a book in Scarlet's hand instead of a potato which is what I would have done if I had decent photo editing capabilities.  Although I also have lots of potatoes that come up year after year because of my poor harvesting skills, which is also fine).




    2/5/17

    this week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi from aroudn the blogs (2/5/2017)

    Welcome to this week's round-up; please let me know if I missed anything!

    The Reviews

    Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson, at On Starships and Dragon Wings

    The Battle for Skandia, by John Flanagan, at Leaf's Reviews

    The Court of the Stone Children, by Eleanor Cameron, at Time Travel Times Two

    The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim, at Manga Maniac Café

    The Emerald Tablet, by Dan Jolley, at Say What?

    The Firefly Code, by Megan Frazer Blakemore, at alibrarymama

    Guys Read: Terrifying Tales, edited by Jon Scieszka, at Good Books and Good Wine

    The Hero's Guide to.... series by Christopher Healy, at Boys Rule Boys Read

    If the Magic Fits, by Susan Maupin Schmid, at A Bookshelf Monstrosity

    The Inquisitor’s Tale, by Adam Gidwitz, at Sonderbooks

    Key Hunters: The mysterious moonstone by Eric Luper, at Jean Little Library

    Last Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson, at This Kid Reviews Books

    The Lost Property Office, by James R. Hannibal, at Log Cabin Library

    The Luck Uglies, by Paul Durham, at Good Books and Good Wine (audiobook review)

    Me and Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King, at Ms. Yingling Reads and Charlotte's Library

    The Mesmerist, by Ronald L. Smith, at Me On Books

    The Scourge, by Jennifer Nielsen, at Semicolon

    Story Thieves: Secret Origins, by James Riley, at Carstairs Considers

    Time Traveling with a Hamster, by Ross Welford, at Charlotte's Library

    The Wishing World, by Todd Fahnestock, at Imaginary Reads

    The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories, by Terry Pratchett, at Back to Books

    The Wizard's Dog, by Eric Kahn Gale, at Always in the Middle, Charlotte's Library, and Falling Letters

    Two at alibrarymama--Me and Marvin Gardens, and Ninja Librarians--the Sword in the Stacks


    Authors and Interviews

    Greg Leitch Smith (Chronal Engine and Borrowed Time) at scbwi

    Zeta Elliott (The Ghosts in the Castle) at Cynsations

    Eric Kahn Gale (The Wizard's Dog) at The Write Path

    Dianne K. Salerni (The Eighth Day series) talks about character names at Project Mayhem

    Janet Fogg and Dave  Jackson (Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper) at Carpinello's Writing Pages


    Other Good Stuff

    Visit The Brown Bookshelf every day this month for 28 Days Later, featuring a different black YA or Childrens author/illustrator every day!

    At Semicolon, a look at trends and themes in middle grade spec fic from 2016





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