1/31/23

Elsewhere Girls, by Emily Gale and Nova Weetman, for Timeslip Tuesday

For the first time in ages, after a few weeks of silence while I did home renovations tasks and moved hundreds of books, I actually have a review for Timeslip Tuesday! 

Elsewhere Girls, by Emily Gale and Nova Weetman  (May 4th 2021 by Text Publishing), is a switching places time travel story.  Fanny and Cat are both Australian girls who are competitive swimmers, but Fanny is swimming in 1908 (salt water, uncomfortable bathing costume, no goggles) and Cat in the present day (healthy diet, clean water, with a trainer).  Fanny is fiercely competitive, determined to win; Cat, with a swimming scholarship to a private school her parents can afford her to use, feels burned out.  

Then comes a day when the two girls time themselves with the same stopwatch....and swap places.  Both are bewildered, both want to keep swimming.  And both want badly to be home with their own families. Cat really does not like all the hard domestic labor of Fanny's life and the lack of modern conveniences.  Not even swimming swaps well--Fanny's best stroke, the trudgeon, is not one Cat knows...or that Cat's coach appreciates).  Fanny, on the other hand, appreciates many aspects of modernity, but misses her family, especially her sister, dreadfully.  

It's really good time travel, with both girls struggling to pass as each other and cope with the situation.  Happily, each finds in the other's little sister a friend and ally, and they don't mess thing up too badly for each other, though there are some close calls. When the inevitable happens and they switch back, they bring with them new perspectives and insights--it's not just time travel as tourism, but a growing up experience for both, with plenty of thought provoking depth alongside the fun of temporal culture shock.

But though it's an excellent pick for any time travel fan, it's especially, wonderfully (and obviously) good for time travel readers who are also swimmers!  Fanny is based on a real person--Fanny Durack, the first Australian woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and realizing that this is the future in store for her is lovely.


1/23/23

I have new built-in bookshelves! And they are now painted (ultimately there will be crown molding across the top, matching the rest of the room, and cupboard doors at the bottom, as soon as funds allow) and although there is still painting to be done elsewhere in the room, I am ready to start shelving. You can see that I am not making good progress.



Here is what is happening to me:

-- all the books that will be shelved here are ones I keep for re-reading, so the moment they are in my hands I want to read them, and when I pick them up I get a rush of remembering and am overwhelmed, but I don't want to rush past this because I want to make time for friends, family, places, feelings....

--I shelve emotionally, not logically.  I feel it's almost an alchemical process, in which I consider which books will react well to each other, but I enjoy this sort of careful thought so again am not rushing it (I am not sure, for instance, that the Clare Dunkle books are happy with the company they are keeping....Kill Fish Jones, by Caro King, goes well with them, but the Diane Stanleys and Holly Webbs have a different feel...).  And who would Kelly Barnhill's books like to be shelved with?


--there are incomplete series, so should I a. leave space b. quickly spend a few hundred (thousand?) dollars on the missing books, or c. resign myself to repeatedly reorganizing?

--Ursula Le Guin has shared my bedroom for almost 40 years, but these shelves are for my sci fi fantasy books, so she belongs down here, but I will miss her and am having second thoughts.  

So I am quitting for the night!

1/22/23

No round-up this week

 I am frantically trying to get home renovations done while I still have kids home from college, so no round-up this week.  Next week-end is back to college, so no round-up then either.  See you in February, when my house will be beautiful and I will have more time to read and review!

1/15/23

this week's middle grade sci fi/fantasy round-up (1/15/23)

Morning all!  Rather shattered this morning, because my youngest's plans for a ride home from carousing the city feel through (not exactly his fault), and I had to go out in the small  hours of the morning....so it is perhaps more urgent than usual to ask if I missed your post (also Bloglovin is like a very old hamster who is mangy and not eating and no use at all to me most weeks....and Feedly hasn't quite filled the void for me yet...)

Aviva vs. the Dybbuk, by Mari Lowe, at  Heavy Medal 

The Bookshop at the Back of Beyond, by Amy Sparks, at Valinora Troy

The Clackity by Lara Senf, at Susan Uhlig

Diary of a Martian: The Discovery, by  Stephen B. Haunts, at The Childrens Bookreview

The Marvellers, by Dhonielle Clayton, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads 

The Night Animals, by Sarah Ann Juckes. at Book Craic

The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill, at  Heavy Medal 

Princess of the Wild Sea, by Megan Frazer Blakemore,  Ms. Yingling Reads: 

The Rabbit's Gift, by Jessica Vitalis, at  Say What?

 A Rover's Story, by Jasmine Warga, at Redeemed Reader

Stellarlune (Keeper of the Lost Cities), by Shannon Messenger, at Children's Books Heal 

The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt, by Shawn Peters, at Always in the Middle… 

Valentine Crow and Mr Death, by Jenni Spangler, at Scope for Imagination

Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend, by Katie Zhao, at Kiss the Book

World Made of Glass, by Ami Polonsky, at  Ms. Yingling Reads: 

Two at  Falling Letters -- Kiki Kallira Breaks A Kingdom and Amari and the Night Brothers 


Authors and Interviews

Roseanne A. Brown (Serwa Boateng's Guide to Vampire Hunting) at Middle Grade Ninja

Shawn Peters (The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt) at Teen Lbrarian Toolbox)


Other Good Stuff

Whats new in the UK, at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books 

I compiled a list of the mg sci fi/fantasy debuts of 2023

1/13/23

Witching Moon, by K.E. Bonner

I don't often participate in blog tours these days, but when I was offered the chance to read and review Witching Moon, by K.E. Bonner (Belle lsland Books), I was intrigued by the synopsis and said yes please!

"Every once in an eon, when the Earth eclipses the moon on a winter solstice, an immortal is born under a witching moon. Anne has always had the strangest feelings—memories she couldn’t place; strangers she inexplicably yearned for. After she rescues the enigmatic Phillip from a shipwreck, her comfortable life on the island of Cusabo is shattered, and the mystery of her destiny starts to fall into place. Anne leaves behind the life she’s always known and sets out with Phillip on an arduous journey to Amaranth, where her ancient family awaits her. But the path is dark and daunting, and Anne’s powers have only just begun to manifest."

Mysterious destinies and occluded pasts intrigue me lots...and indeed this was my favorite part of the story.  When we first meet Anne, she's a young teenager, orphaned at birth, raised by a wise woman along with her sister and little brothers--not blood relatives, but a strong family even though they have little in the way of material comforts.  Watching as Anne is drawn from this safe haven into an adventure she never wanted that started centuries ago makes for interesting reading---reader and character try to make sense of all the bits of her backstory together.  Unlike the reader, comfortably at home, though, Anne is trying to do this while running for her life, moved from place to place by Phillip, and then captured by Phillip's enemy.  

She is aware that she is almost a commodity, wanted for who she is and for the magical powers she manifests, but can't do much about this.  And she is aware that she has a whole past with a powerful, magical family, and has half dream/half memories of this, that start to become stronger--this is the most interesting aspect of the story for me, and I wish the author had given a bit more of Anne's mental state when confronted with all this....

Readers who enjoy girls discovering they have destinies and magical powers and handsome men wanting them will doubtless enjoy this lots; it was not quite a book for me.  Though the pages turned quickly, I was frustrated that for much of the  story Anne was basically a pawn, fought over by powerful men, never in a position to exercise her own agency, and to make her own choices (that being said, when she finally gets a chance to take vigorous and decisive action she takes it with a vengeance!).  And also I kept getting thrown out of the moment by tiny details that jarred, individually minor things (like could her cropped hair really have a bit long enough to braid?) that distracted me from the story.  I think I would have enjoyed it lots more if I'd read it as a teen, but still had no problem being carried onward by the story--I never considered putting it down because I wanted to reach the resolution!


About the Author

K. E. Bonner, author of Witching Moon, was always the first kid to sit down during a spelling bee. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she was diagnosed with dyslexia, which explained why she always had to study three times harder than her peers. Being dyslexic taught her perseverance and kindness, her two favorite attributes. She lives in Georgia with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. When not writing, she loves to read, swim, explore new places, and meet fascinating people. If you have a dog, she would love to scratch behind its ears and tell it what a good pup it is.

Learn more about K.E. Bonner on her website or follow her on Instagram @kebonnerwrites. 


and here's the rest of the blog tour!

December 19th @ The Muffin

Join WOW as we celebrate the launch of K.E. Bonner's blog tour of Witching Moon. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book!
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com


December 20th @ Mindy McGinnis’s blog
Stop by Mindy’s blog to read “Release the Idea of Getting Rich or Published and Focus on Your Craft.” by K.E. Bonner
https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

December 20th @ Rockin’ Book Reviews

Join us as Lu Ann reviews Witching Moon

http://www.rockinbookreviews.com

December 21st @ All the Ups and Downs

Join Heather as she spotlights Witching Moon. Enter to win a copy of the book!

https://alltheupsandowns.blogspot.com/


December 23rd @ Michelle Cornish’s blog
Visit Michelle’s blog to read her review of Witching Moon.
https://www.michellecornishauthor.com/blog

December 24th @ A Storybook World

Join Deirdra as she features a spotlight of Witching Moon.
https://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews blog

Join Lisa for an interview with K.E. Bonner.
https://lisahaselton.com/blog/


December 28th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Join us today for author Anthony Avina’s review of Witching Moon.
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 30th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog

Revisit author Anthony Avina’s blog to read “The Best Writing Advice I Received” by K.E. Bonner. 
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


January 4th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Join us on Bev’s blog as she reviews Witching Moon.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

January 5th @ The Knotty Needle

Stop by for Judy’s review of Witching Moon.
http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

January 6th @ Bev Baird’s blog

Meet us back at Bev’s blog for “Ideas are Everywhere” a guest post by K.E. Bonner.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com


January 6th @ Look to the Western Sky
Join Margo as she reviews Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.
https://margoldill.com/

January 7th @ Chapter Break

Visit Julie's blog where she interviews author K.E. Bonner about her book Witching Moon.

https://chapterbreak.net/

January 9th @ Sue Edwards’s blog

Visit Sue’s blog to read “Magical Realism Surrounds Us” by K.E. Bonner.
https://suebe.wordpress.com/


January 10th @ Celtic Lady's Reviews
Visit Kathleen's blog and read her review of Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.
https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/

January 10th @ World of My Imagination

Stop by Nicole's blog where K.E. Bonner is a guest for "Three Things on a Saturday Night."
https://worldofmyimagination.com


January 12th @ Life According to Jamie
Join us as Jamie reviews Witching Moon
http://www.lifeaccordingtojamie.com


January 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Join Linda as she interviews author K.E. Bonner.
https://bootsshoesandfashion.com


January 15th @ Fiona Ingram’s author blog 

Stop by Fiona’s blog to see her spotlight feature of Witching Moon

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com


January 16th @ the Freeing the Butterfly blog
Visit Freeing the Butterfly to read “Life is Short, Do What You Love” by K.E. Bonner.
https://www.freeingthebutterfly.com/blog

January 18th @ Jill Sheets’s blog 

Stop by Jill’s blog to read her interview with K.E. Bonner. 

https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/


1/11/23

Middle grade sci fi/fantasy debuts of 2023

 I like to support debut authors, and like to read MG sci fi/fantasy, so here's a list of books coming in 2023 that fit both bills (most links go to Goodreads, some go to the 2023 Debuts website). Congratulations to all the authors in this list!  I can't wait to read your books.



Heroes of Havensong: Dragonboy  

by Megan Reyes (January 24)


"The tale follows four children--a boy-turned-dragon, his reluctant dragon rider, a witch whose magic rebels against her, and a young soldier boy carrying the weight of family secrets--bound together by the Fates themselves as they find the will to trust one another before the world is torn apart and magic, as they know it, disappears forever."






Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

by Kimberly Behre Kenna (February 2)

When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don’t make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens to be her mom’s boyfriend and boss. Artemis conjures up help from deceased ecologists, and as she works to untangle their clues, she finds family secrets that could be the key to saving the salt marsh but also may destroy her life as she knows it.



The Alchemy of Letting Go

 by Amber Morrell (March 1)

Twelve-year-old Juniper Edwards can't stop chasing the endangered butterfly her sister died trying to catch. In her grief, Juniper finds comfort in her family's study of insects, because science is based on logic, order, and control. But then Juniper's search for the butterfly nearly kills her, too, and when she wakes up with newfound abilities, she discovers that the line between science and magic--and life and death--is not as solid as she thought. With the help of her mysterious neighbors, Juniper tries an experiment to change things back to the way they were. Its result will force her to face the fact that some things are way beyond her control.





Emma and the Queen of Featherstone

by Lindsay Fryc (March 7)

In the near distant future, Emma's life revolves around the company's Mars terraforming fast track program. Stuck between her parents' never-ending Mars shuttle supply runs and her own coursework in the program, Emma dreams of adventure outside of the company's plan for her. Anything to get away from the constant bullying and boring coursework.

She finds that adventure accidentally when she stumbles into a portal to a new world. On Merah, she finds two species, the secretive Kabiren. who create and run all technological advancement, and the Amethites, the native species of the planet. When the Kabiren inform her that a portal back to her world does not exist, she accepts a place in their society, as a Protector.

Now she must navigate her new assignment of guarding her new planet from portal intruders while also figuring out what the Kabiren are hiding. Her acceptance of her new life without her family and friends is thrown into chaos when she meets a special portal intruder: her best friend from Earth. Now she must decide between accepting her adventure in this new world, or fighting for her old one.
 

Maggie and the Mountain of Light by Mark Snoad (April 4)

12-year-old Maggie Thatcher longs to be a courageous Wayfinder Girl. But that's not very likely; she is barely coping with life as it is, relying on her asthma inhaler, epi-pen, and the support of her best friend, Anahira Waititi.

Maggie and Anahira attend a Wayfinder 'apocalypse training' camp in London. Despite it being just for fun, the sight of a green-skinned person with other-worldly eyes sends Maggie into a panic, especially as it’s a person that only Maggie can see.

And then Maggie learns of a dangerous secret that the Wayfinder Girls have kept hidden from the world. Anahira wants in on the secret. Maggie must decide whether to join her friend, even if she has no idea what that decision will ultimately cost.

Will Maggie face her fears and journey into the unknown?

Escape from Grimstone Manor (Monsterious, #1)

 by Matt McMann (May 9)

In a mansion on a hill,
lived a man no one could kill.
Raised the dead with magic dark
to rule the world and make his mark.

Zari has always been fascinated by creepy stories about Hezekiah Crawly, the real-life inspiration behind her local amusement park's haunted house attraction, so she's thrilled when her friends Mateo and Taylor agree to go on the last ride of the day before the park closes.

But when the ride breaks down, the three get trapped inside the haunted house for the night! As if that weren't scary enough, the kids stumble onto a hidden staircase leading to a dark, cobwebbed crypt that doesn't seem like part of the ride--and by the looks of it, they aren't alone down there. Is it possible the stories about Hezekiah Crawly and his monstrous experiments are true? And if so, can Zari, Mateo and Taylor make it through the night in one piece?
 

The Hunt for the Hollower by Callie C. Miller (June 13)

The great wizard Merlyn prophesized that his seventh descendant would do wonderful, miraculous things—baffling everyone when his great-great-many-times-great grandchild turns out to be twins. Soon enough, however, it becomes clear which sibling is the Septimum Genus: Percy is a natural with magic. Merlynda (to put it simply) is not.

But Merlynda doesn’t mind. Percy has always been by her side to cheer her up (and clean up) after her magical bungles—until the twins attempt a forbidden spell to help her control her magic, and Percy vanishes through a portal and straight into the clutches of the magic-stealing, mythical Hollower.

Aided by her best friend (who longs to be a knight), a wandering musician (who is fleeing from his past), and her brand-new, fierce familiar (who yearns for a taste of funnel cake), Merlynda sets off on a quest to rescue her brother. But to defeat this ancient evil, she must discover and embrace her true powers—or else lose her brother for good.


Lei and the Fire Goddess

 by Malia Maunakea (June 6)

12-year-old Lei is forced to spend summers in Hawaiʻi with her grandma who is determined to make sure she knows all her family's moʻolelo—stories the kids back home donʻt care about or believe. But after insulting Pele, the Goddess of Fire, she learns just how real these legends are when the goddess takes her best friend and places a curse on her family—one that only Lei can lift. 






The Horrible Bag of Terrible Things #1 by Rob Renzetti (July 25)

When Zenith finds a strange, unsettling bag at his front door, he's not sure where it came from or who sent it to him. He knows better than to expect his annoying older sister Apogee to help him figure it out, because ever since she turned thirteen, she's been acting more like a parent to him than a sibling. But he certainly did not expect for a horrifying spiderlike creature to emerge from the bag, kidnap Apogee, and drag her inside to the equally horrifying and unsettling world of GrahBhag.

Zenith sets off into the bag to bring her back but soon finds a bizarre realm where malicious forests, a trio of blood-drinking mouths, and a sentient sawdust-stuffed giant are lurking within the seams. And from every corner of the world come whispers of the Great Wurm, an eldritch horror with a godlike hold over the creatures of GrahBhag, who seems to have a dark, insidious purpose for Apogee. With the help of a greedy, earwax-nibbling gargoyle, Zenith will have to save Apogee from the Great Wurm and help them both escape the horrible bag before it's too late.


The Destiny of Minou Moonshine

by Gita Ralleigh (August 1)

A magical middle-grade debut adventure set in an alternate colonial India, about a fierce orphan girl on a quest to save a queen.








Don't Want To Be Your Monster

by Deke Moulton (August 1)

Adam and Victor are brothers who have the usual fights over the remote, which movie to watch and whether or not it’s morally acceptable to eat people. Well, not so much eat . . . just drink a little blood. They’re vampires, hiding in plain sight with their eclectic yet loving family.

Ten-year-old Adam knows he has a better purpose in life (well, death) than just drinking blood, but fourteen-year-old Victor wants to accept his own self-image of vampirism. Everything changes when bodies start to appear all over town, and it becomes clear that a vampire hunter may be on the lookout for the family. Can Adam and Victor reconcile their differences and work together to stop the killer before it’s too late?



Field of Screams

by Wendy Parris  (August 1)

Paranormal enthusiast Rebecca Graff isn't happy about being dragged to Iowa to spend the summer with family she barely knows. But when she tracks a ghostly presence to an abandoned farmhouse, she starts to think the summer won't be a total lost cause!

The trouble is no one believes her. Then Rebecca finds a note stashed in a comic belonging to her late father--a note that proves the same spirit haunted him when he was twelve. Suddenly she feels a connection to the dad she pretends not to miss, and she is determined to uncover the story behind the haunting.

But the more Rebecca discovers, the scarier the ghost becomes. Soon she is in a race to piece together the puzzle and recover a family legacy before it is lost forever and a horrible tragedy repeats itself.


The Great Texas Dragon Race,  by Kacy Ritter (August 1) cover and description na

Peril at Price Manor 

by Laura Parnum (August 8) 

Halle Thompson is determined to someday play the Damsel in Distress in a horror movie. She takes acting lessons, practices fainting, and has the most perfect of all perfect horror movie screams—something her mom and classmates could do without. When she seizes the opportunity to deliver flowers to Price Manor, home of the famous horror movie maker who lives just outside of town, she is sure she will get her big break. Meanwhile, at Price Manor, a strange creature is attacking the household staff. The movie maker’s 12-year-old twins are sure it’s just another one of their father’s elaborate pranks. But when Halle shows up and discovers the very real horror scene, she must stop thinking like a Damsel in Distress and start thinking like a Heroine.


(I'll check back in in a month or so to see if I can add covers/more information to these. Or if anyone can point me in the right direction, please let me know!)

Hangabout: Far From Home, by Ree Augustine  (August) Hangabout, a puppy whose body has just grown into his long teardrop ears, searches for his Keeper, who unbeknownst to Hangabout has abandoned him in the countryside.

Thinking his Keeper has come under harm, Hangabout prepares to find his way back home. Bean, a know-it-all street cat, tries to talk him out of it. Hangabout loves his new friend, Bean, but is determined to return to his Keeper. In the end, Bean joins Hangabout, under the pretense
that she is returning to her Keeper too, when in fact Bean is homeless and has no one. Hangabout naively presses on, even though he is traveling to a lie and traveling with a lie.

After being attacked by rats, and a fox, and a farmer with a BB gun, Hangabout, along with Bean, finally makes his way back home, only to find the house is empty. Hangabout now realizes his Keeper has abandoned him. Hangabout still believes there is good in the world, and he sets
out to find a Keeper for himself and Bean. But when Bean seems to have died, Hangabout lowers his standards and decides to live with a Scavenger who wants nothing to do with him.

If Hangabout does not stick to his belief that there is good in the world, he will never find the Keeper who is waiting for him.

Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters, by Emi Pinto (September) This modern retelling of "Hansel and Gretel" follows 12-year-old Bee who is self-conscious of her too-Indian family in a white community with a sinister secret. Her stress about fitting in is soon the least of her worries when she's drawn to a strange house and history begins to repeat itself.

Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans, by Isi Hendrix (September 19)

Finch House, by Ciera Burch (Fall) 11-year-old Micah finds herself trapped in an old Victorian house while searching for her grandfather who was last seen there. If she has any hope of escaping, she must outsmart the house and find a way tp get it to release its hold not just on them, but on the other souls it has trapped over the years.

Alex Wise vs. the End of the World , by Terry J. Benton-Walker Alex Wise feels like his world is ending. His best friend Loren is leaving town for the summer, his former friend and maybe sort of crush Sky hasn't spoken to him since he ditched Alex on first day of sixth grade, and now his mom is sending him and his annoying younger sister, Mags, on a cruise with the dad who abandoned them. And, as if things couldn't get worse, a creepy shadow monster may or may not be stalking him.


But none of this could prepare Alex for the actual end of the world. Too bad that is exactly what's coming, after the definitely-real Shadow Man kidnaps Mags and she is possessed by the ancient spirit of Death--one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Luckily (depending on who you ask), Alex is possessed as well by a powerful god who imbues Alex with their powers in an effort to stop the Horsemen...if he can figure out how to use them. So begins an epic battle between good and evil: Alex, Loren, a grumpy demi-god and Alex's fourth grade teacher vs. Death, Pestilence, Famine, War, and the waves of chaos and destruction they bring to LA and soon the rest of the globe. Just your average summer vacation.

Alex is more used to being left behind than leading the way, but now he's the only one who can save his sister--and the world. That is, if he can unlock his new powers and see himself as the hero he is.
 

The Otherwoods, by Justine Pucella Winans Pitched as TOO BRIGHT TO SEE meets DOLL BONES, the middle grade novel follows River, who can see monsters and enter a spirit world called The Otherwoods--but would rather avoid both at all costs. When their crush is kidnapped and taken to The Otherwoods, River must face their fears and find the confidence to believe in themself in order to save her.

Tethered to Other Stars by Elisa Stone Leahy






1/8/23

Middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (1/8/23)

Welcome to the first round-up of 2023, with no thanks to bloglovin, so please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

Eden's Everdark, by Karen Strong, at Say What?

Edie and the Box of Flits, by Kate Wilkinson, at Twirling Book Princess

Every Bird a Prince, by Jenn Reese, at Puss Reboots

Harley Hitch and the Fossil Mystery, by Vashti Hardy, at  Book Craic

Haroun & the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie, at Colorful Book Reviews  

How to Heal a Gryphon, by Meg Cannistra, PBC's Book Reviews  

The Lost Ryū, by Emi Watanabe Cohen, at  Charlotte's Library

Monster Hunting: Monsters Bite Back, by Ian Mark, at Book Craic

Ravenfall, by Kalyn Josephson, at Kiss the Book 

Saving Neverland, by Abi Elphinstone, at Sifa Elizabeth Reads  and Book Craic

Spell Sweeper, by Lee Edward Födi, at Falling Letters 

Vampiric Vacation, by Kiersten White, at Books Teacup and Reviews

Wild Song, by Candy Gourlay, at Magic Fiction Since Potter


Other Good Stuff

In case you missed it, here's this year's Cybils Awards Elementary/Middle Grade Spec fic shortlist

(Of interest primarily to me, but the round-up is light this week....) My favorite middle grade books of 2022, at Charlotte's Library

1/7/23

My favorite middle grade books of 2022

 In 2022, I  had my 4th worst reading year, number-wise, since I started keeping track back in 2012, with 292 books read.  I faltered during the fall, as is so often the case, when I realized that the windows weren't going to glaze themselves, nor the house paint itself, or the wood magically be cut, split and stacked by good fairies....but still, there was lots of good reading, and at no point did I think "Charlotte, you may run out of things to read."  It was more like "this is getting out of hand please for the love of all that is holy, Charlotte, read down your tbr heaps and maybe stop going to library book sales?"  I did not stop going to library book sales, and I will not run out of books in 2023 (I have set my Goodreads goal at 500 as is my wont, just to show a willing and hopeful reading spirit to myself; I am currently 2 books ahead of schedule yay me.)

In any event, here are my favorite middle grade books of the year, some new, some vintage. (links go to my reviews, if applicable, or to Goodreads). 

Of course, if you are a regular reader, you know that a lot of what I read is middle grade fantasy/sci fi, and you probably also know that I was a panelist for the elementary/middle grade speculative fiction category of the Cybils Awards.  I loved all the books that me and my fellow panelists shortlisted, and those automatically count as favorites of the year, but there were others that would have made the list if it were just me doing the nominating and the picking the shortlist.

My top four:


The Shelterlings, by Sarah Beth Durst

Ravenfall, by Kalyn Josephson

A Taste of Magic, by J. Elle

The Secret of the Shadow Beasts, by Diane Magras 

I also very much enjoyed The Fire Star, by J.L. Tait, Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont, by Nick Brooks, and The Prince of Nowhere, by Rochelle Hassan


On the vintage side of things (mostly for me this means mid-20th century books marketed to girls), there were fewer books I loved.

My top two were Gone Away, a lovely half school story, half ghost story by Ruth Tomalin, by Ruth Tomalin, and The Level Land (Holland at the outbreak of WW II), by Dola de Jong, and am deeply sad that the sequel, Return the Level Land, isn't available anywhere at any price.

Two that aren't all time favorites, but which most pleasantly surprised me. were A Tune for the Towpath, by Jane Flory, about a 19th-century girl whose father is a canal lock-keeper (it's first vintage canal mg book I can remember liking lots; generally "historic canal fiction" as a category does not appeal) and Run Sheep Run, which has an unappealing name and a worse cover, but is a nice malt-shop type adjacent story in which the high school girl's happy ending isn't a boy but the prospect of a career as a marine biology illustrator (marine biology illustration appeals, so if you know of other mg/ya books where the main character does this, let me know).


Though their books don't make my best of list for 2022, I have hopes for the two new authors I am not collecting -- Frieda Freedman (I've now acquired Sundays with Judy and Dot for Short, both nice comfort reads), and Meta Mayne Reid (The Glen Beyond the Door).

And finally a bonus award for the 2002 best middle grade house ("house" is a category that appeals to me lots) in a book--The House of the Swan, by Elizabeth Coatsworth |--a lovely historic house in France carved into limestone. The house is unfortunately the best part of an otherwise mediocre book, but it is a really, really neat house!





For 2023, I will of course keep on reading and reviewing middle grade spec fic, but I think I might start reviewing more of the vintage books I read; I do review vintage time travel, and those are my most visited posts.  I can't think of any blogs that regular review vintage middle grade....if you know of any, let me know.

Happy reading to us all, and may we have good luck at the library booksales!

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