Duncan lives a life layered in secrets. His fearful mother begs him never to stand out, to hide his academic and physical prowess, to conceal his unusDuncan lives a life layered in secrets. His fearful mother begs him never to stand out, to hide his academic and physical prowess, to conceal his unusual red hair under a cap, and to stay away from strangers of all sorts. Mysterious visitors come and go from their home late at night, and the details of Duncan’s deceased father, are shrouded in secrecy.
But Duncan has a secret of his own, too. He can understand and speak the language of cats. This secret saves, and threatens, Duncan’s life, when he is kidnapped and forced to serve on board the ship of the evil Earl. Fortunately for Duncan, a feisty kitten named Fia has also stowed away aboard the ship. Together the two uncover the Earl’s ghastly ambitions and terrible secrets.
The swashbuckling tale of deceit, treachery, and betrayals combines talking cats, a missing princess, thrilling sword fights, and concealed identities with daring acts of bravery and self-sacrifice on the high seas. Readers will thrill to Duncan’s exciting adventures and clamor for more!
Will Fia and Duncan be able to return to the kingdom of Arvidia in time to save the king? Will Duncan and Fia ever see their families again? What will become of the lost princess? The open-ending promises more adventures of the engaging duo....more
“Worst Witch and the Wishing Star,” is the seventh installment of the series that launched in 1974 with “The Worst Witch.” The series combines boardin“Worst Witch and the Wishing Star,” is the seventh installment of the series that launched in 1974 with “The Worst Witch.” The series combines boarding school with magic and inspired a television series that ran from 1998-2001.
Now in the Winter term (September to January) of her fourth year, Mildred Hubble is still the worst student witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Assigned to be a lantern monitor, on her first night’s patrol, Mildred makes a wish on a falling star.
Mildred discovers and adopts a stray dog, which she names Star, and conceals it in her room. When her nemesis, Ethal and Enid, discover Mildred’s secret, they also manage to damage their costumes for the Talent Show. Fortunately Mildred, with Star’s help, saves the day and wins the prize for her school. The students and faculty celebrate the victory, and the headmistress’ birthday, with a party.
Fans of the series will be delighted at the happy ending, and that Mildred makes a new friend. Newcomers to the books will find that the story is engaging and accessible. It is able to stand alone, though readers will very likely demand the other books in the series as follow-up reading. ...more
Once the village Luna lives in was full of sprites, fairies, and magic. Its people were happy and healthy. At least that’s what Luna’s Granny Tu says.Once the village Luna lives in was full of sprites, fairies, and magic. Its people were happy and healthy. At least that’s what Luna’s Granny Tu says. But Luna has grown up in a swamp, where the water is befouled and causes illness. When Luna’s beloved younger sister Willow falls into the swamp, Willow is consumed by a wasting illness that will kill her in less than three weeks.
Perdita is a young water sprite who lives beneath the waves of the polluted river. Her family is determined to create a portal to a place that humans have not yet discovered and destroyed. She also has a sister, her twin, Pergia. Luna and Perdita’s stories are inextricably entwined as they meet the challenges that explore their interconnected worlds.
Crowder’s prose is richly evocative, luminous as only the best fairy tales can be. Her detailed world-building conveys an atmospheric view of the faerie world, as well as the compromised human world. Readers will be captivated by Luna’s quest for a cure to save her sister from river sickness before it is too late....more
Hadn't expected this to be a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Thought it would be an original story in the Herald Mage tradition. Ending gave the storyHadn't expected this to be a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Thought it would be an original story in the Herald Mage tradition. Ending gave the story a different twist. ...more
Cyn’s friend Annie has a huge crush on the new high-school librarian, Mr. Gabriel. It’s easy to see why. Mr. Gabriel is young and cute; he lets AnnieCyn’s friend Annie has a huge crush on the new high-school librarian, Mr. Gabriel. It’s easy to see why. Mr. Gabriel is young and cute; he lets Annie become a library aide. Convinced that there is something creepy about Mr. Gabriel, Cyn discovers that he is a demon. It is up to Cyn to save her friend, save the school musical, and win the heart of her own crush.
Cyn is smart and practical. She isn’t a drama diva or a victim. She is a “normal” teen with decent grades, average looks, and an upbeat outlook. Readers will identify with her and appreciate her resourcefulness in dealing with everyday and paranormal crises. This is a light read for teens who enjoy horror served up with humor and a little romance. Buffy fans will find this an appealing story. Most readers, though, like me, will be drawn to the cover art, and will flip through the pages to discover an engaging story. No doubt, when they finish the last page those readers will wish, as I did, that they could have a T-shirt with the cover art on it....more
The thirtieth anniversary edition of Anthony Browne’s outstanding picture book, “Gorilla,” continues to appeal to contemporary readers. The story of aThe thirtieth anniversary edition of Anthony Browne’s outstanding picture book, “Gorilla,” continues to appeal to contemporary readers. The story of a lonely little girl who craves her father’s attention still rings true.
Hannah adores gorillas. She reads about them and watches movies about them. Gorillas decorate her bedside lamp and are cleverly insinuated in the illustrations throughout the book. Sharp-eyed readers will be on the lookout for this motif!
Hannah longs to see a real gorilla, but her father is always too occupied to take her to the zoo. On the night before her birthday, Hannah has an extraordinary experience/fantasy. A gorilla appears and makes her wishes come true! All the things Hannah longs to do with her father, the gorilla does with her that night. Readers will love the fantasy, and the TWO happy endings!...more
Arianne’s family is scraping a living out of their ranch. Her mother is stressed, as she attempts to please difficult owners who board horses with theArianne’s family is scraping a living out of their ranch. Her mother is stressed, as she attempts to please difficult owners who board horses with them and bring their children for riding lessons. Her brother, afflicted with birth defects, is a sweet-tempered, homeschooled child, who can’t help with the endless chores that a horse farm generates. When one of their horses gives birth to a centaur, Arianne is not certain if it is a blessing or a curse.
Arianne’s family tries to keep the centaur a secret, reasoning that he should not be treated like a sideshow attraction (possibly prompted by the cruel behavior people exhibited to her brother’s birth defects in the past). Of course, the secret is exposed and the family must deal with the curious, the cruel, and the exploiters. However, the situation also cements family ties and encourages the local veterinarian to (finally) propose to Arianne’s mother.
Yolen deftly weaves a fantasy set in the “real,” world while tackling complicated themes about tolerance, love, acceptance, and family into an appealing story. Young horse enthusiasts and readers of fantasies will enjoy this novel....more
Lailah is the pivotal figure in the battle between Good and Evil. She remembers her past lives, does not age, and heals phenomenally fast. Lailah is aLailah is the pivotal figure in the battle between Good and Evil. She remembers her past lives, does not age, and heals phenomenally fast. Lailah is aware that vampires exist, but when she decides to assist a vampire who is fleeing from hunters, she finds herself caught in a love triangle.
Lailah's love interests are Jonah, a young and darkly attractive vampire, and Gabriel, an older man who is also an angel. Before Lailah can commit to either suitor she must come to grips with her past and how it will affect her relationship with either Jonah or Gabriel.
Fans of paranormal romances will enjoy the novel, though it is similar to other volumes in this genre. Formulaic and predictable, "Lailah" will appeal to fans of "Hush, Hush," "Halo," and "Fallen."...more
Ali is raising a flock of fairies so she can have her wish come true. Ali plans to ask for “mental acuity,” so she can outshine her smart older sisterAli is raising a flock of fairies so she can have her wish come true. Ali plans to ask for “mental acuity,” so she can outshine her smart older sister. But growing a flock is more challenging than it sounds. Fairies eat only human hair and the rules for dealing with them are confusing, misleading, and subject to change. Ali soon discovers who her real friends are as all her classmates become enmeshed in Ali’s struggle to earn her wish.
Readers will relate to Ali. Despite a supportive, caring cadre of friends, Ali is insecure and feels inferior to her older sister. She wants to be clever, never realizing that she has become so by overcoming the challenges placed in her way. Readers will also appreciate that Ali is not the only kid who wants to earn a wish. The demands of growing a flock of fairies is widespread; many kids her age have cut or shaved their hair or started wearing severe buns to comply with the rules.
The quirky premise is a natural conduit to crazy situations and humorous antics. Combined with a slighly frenzied plot and mischievous characters, the text is entertaining. Readers will be intrigued by this light, original story. ...more
Exceptional world-building makes this high fantasy read more like historical fiction. Readers may be surprised by a plot twist midway through the bookExceptional world-building makes this high fantasy read more like historical fiction. Readers may be surprised by a plot twist midway through the book which turns the story into a quest. Lia is a strong-willed and determined heroine. She longs to fall in love with someone she knows and cares for. When faced with an unwanted arranged marriage, Lia runs away and fails to consider the fallout from her actions. The arranged marriage is the only way to ensure the safety of both countries from barbarian invasion. While Lia is sure that people are searching for her, she is unaware that she is in mortal danger. Instead she is distracted by two men who are vying for her attention. Lia s drawn to both men, but is uncertain which should win her heart.
Lia feels safe in a seaside inn, working as a waitress, and believes herself unrecognized. The reader is aware, as Lia is not, that the two men in her love triangle are the Prince she jilted at the altar and an Assassin sent to kill her. Circumstances lead Lia to head back to reclaim her throne, still unaware of her suitors’ true identities. Readers will speed through the volume to see what happens next and then wish that the sequel would soon be published....more
Sarah thinks her father’s marriage to a woman he met online can hardly get worse, until she joins her new family on the “honeymoon” that strands themSarah thinks her father’s marriage to a woman he met online can hardly get worse, until she joins her new family on the “honeymoon” that strands them on a strange island. The island has many peculiar features (four-winged birds? clawed kangaroos?) which take as much adjusting to as getting along with her new stepbrothers, Marco and Nacho, and her stepmother. As this is the first book in a planned series, there is sure to be plenty of time to work out the complicated relationships and survival tactics in future volumes.
The difficulties of blending a family ring true, as do the details of surviving on an unfamiliar island. However, the characters are flat and the book is very short, with an abrupt ending. In an effort to appeal to both male and female readers, the story and chapters switch back and forth between Sarah and Marco (both twelve years old). Despite the fact that this is a quick and easy read, it does not provide a compelling introduction to this watered-down tale of a contemporary Swiss Family Robinson combined with Land of the Lost. ...more
“The Glass Voice” is like “High School Musical” meets “Cinderella.” Chantella must win a singing competition to escape her unkind stepmother and steps“The Glass Voice” is like “High School Musical” meets “Cinderella.” Chantella must win a singing competition to escape her unkind stepmother and stepsiblings. Mara, the new stepmother, removes Chantella from school to serve as an unpaid servant in her own home while Mara’s twin children, who may remind the reader of Sharpei and her brother in HSM, treat Chantella shabbily. Fortunately, with the help of her former nanny, Chantella captures the attention of the director of “The Next Teen Star,” and becomes a recording star in Hollywood.
The tired, predictable plot, combined with two-dimensional characters, does not stand out from myriad, similar fairy tale knockoffs currently being produced by the publishing industry. ...more
Bracken and Nettle may be the last witchlings (witchlings are the offspring Woodfolk men and Witch women). But the Woodfolk have gone, and the only wiBracken and Nettle may be the last witchlings (witchlings are the offspring Woodfolk men and Witch women). But the Woodfolk have gone, and the only witches left in their small coven are very old. Bracken and Nettle’s parents left in search of a way to save their way of life, but never returned, and humans are about to stumble onto their secret haven.
Humans are different from witches. They have no respect for land or animals, unlike these “good” witches, who can talk to animals and care about what happens to them. Contact with humans will syphon off the witches’ powers and will cause the witches to forget their own ways. Can Nettle and Bracken find the portal into the world where the Woodfolk went and save the coven if they venture out into the danger-filled world?
Fans of Ruth Chew will find this book appealing. ...more
Cassidy remembers her first kiss. It was a perfect kiss with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan. But now Cassidy is dead and she is trying to solve hCassidy remembers her first kiss. It was a perfect kiss with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan. But now Cassidy is dead and she is trying to solve her death while in a ghostly form. The key to the mystery is hidden in Cassidy’s last kiss. But her recollection of her last moments of life are blurred, and she isn’t certain if her last kiss was with the wrong boy?
Bethany Neal’s haunting tale of first love is bittersweet, yet suspenseful. Told from the point of view of Cassidy, we see her grow from a selfish, privileged young adult to a more compassionate and loving spirit. She has flashbacks to the past, combined with observations from the present. Slowly, painstakingly, Cassidy (and the reader) piece together the events leading up to the fateful night of Cassidy’s seventeenth birthday party. Since we lack all the facts, everyone is suspect until the final reveal. It is clear how deep the impact Cassidy’s death has on her family, her friends, and even the greater community. The ending is not un-happy,but is bound to surprise most readers.
Neal’s cinematic writing style makes “My Last Kiss,” a strong contender for a future screenplay...more
“Neverwas” picks up where “Amber House” left off. Although it is possible to piece together the backstory from context, readers new to the series wil “Neverwas” picks up where “Amber House” left off. Although it is possible to piece together the backstory from context, readers new to the series will have an easier transition if they read the first volume prior to this one.
When Sarah saved her brother Sammy at the end of “Amber House,” she unknowingly altered history by changing his fate. In Sarah’s present reality, the Constitution never replaced the Articles of Confederation. Racism, sexism, and segregation are the norm. Sarah can’t put a finger on why everything feels “off” to her. Her life seems perfect, but the world seems wrong. Unable to dismiss the dreamlike fragments of memory from another timeline, Sarah attempts to unravel cryptic clues, sent by her family’s historic home.
The setting feels like the 1940s, but is actually “present” day. In “Neverwas,” the country is split into provinces, the civil rights movement never took place, and Germany is about to invade America. Working on the premise of Bradbury’s “Butterfly Effect,” Sarah must come to terms with some difficult decisions if she wants to escape her current reality and return to her home-timeline.
This book is sure to fly off the shelves. But readers looking to read the final volume will have a long wait (four years, according to Wikipedia) before the next installment!...more
Hahn’s outstanding debut novel is a stand-alone tale about Marni, a girl who is half-dragon, half-human. Living in exile on the edge of a wild forestHahn’s outstanding debut novel is a stand-alone tale about Marni, a girl who is half-dragon, half-human. Living in exile on the edge of a wild forest that flows and ebbs like the ocean’s tides, Marni lives with her grandfather, the former king. Marni is introspective and engaging, but must now answer a call to action: Will she claim her throne from the king who wants her dead? or will she go to live with the father she does not know, a wild dragon?
Marni eventually finds herself in the castle, and a nacent romance develops between her and young Lord Edgar Ontrei. As Marni journeys to self-discovery, she must find out who she is and what she really wants to be. Marni must determine the truth about her past and determine who deserves her trust. She must face painful decisions: Should she avenge her mother’s death? or embrace her magical heritage?
Evocative prose and well-rounded characters keep readers engaged through the meandering plot. Readers must take time out to think about the action, instead of hurrying from point to point. ...more
The cover art of “Ruins and Rising,” includes the stag, sea serpent, and firebird, which symbolize the amplifiers Alina sought in earlier volumes. InThe cover art of “Ruins and Rising,” includes the stag, sea serpent, and firebird, which symbolize the amplifiers Alina sought in earlier volumes. In the third installment of the “Grisha” trilogy, Alina continues to search for Morosova’s last amplifier, the phoenix, while coming to terms with the power she wields and choosing which love interest (Mal or Nikolai) will ultimately win her heart. The Darkling continues to harry Alina at every turn, but it is apparent that he, too, has feelings for Alina.
The tone of “Ruins and Rising,” differs significantly from the earlier volumes. It is darker and harsher. Readers invested in the series may be disappointed when Alina ultimately clings to Mal and we see both Nikolai and the Darkling destroyed. Alina rejects the crown, power, and her home, all enormous personal sacrifices, in order to save the country and live a very ordinary life.
Even readers who have not read “Siege and Storm,” or “Shadow and Bone“ will be carried along by the fast-moving, action-packed plot of “Ruin and Rising.” Those who have read the earlier books may be surprised when innocents die, or many of their favorite characters perish. Bardugo leaves very few loose ends. Though the plot begs for a happy ending, the ending Bardugo supplies is plausible.
The Grisha series is very readable high fantasy. Fans of these books will be gratified to learn that two more spin-off stories set in the same world are to be published in the near future. ...more
As soon as I finished "Frost Burned," I wanted to turn to the first page and begin all over again! Readers who may be reluctant to pick up the latestAs soon as I finished "Frost Burned," I wanted to turn to the first page and begin all over again! Readers who may be reluctant to pick up the latest Mercy Thompson story (haven recently taken a side trip to explore Mercy's Coyote heritage) will find that this story returns to the formula that won them to the series in the first place. Strong characters, lots of action, and more insight into the story, since it is told from both Adam's and Mercy's POV.
Am eagerly anticipating the next installment!...more
Without their seal skins, selkies become trapped in their human forms, in thrall to the person who has captured their pelts. In “Tides” a pod of selkiWithout their seal skins, selkies become trapped in their human forms, in thrall to the person who has captured their pelts. In “Tides” a pod of selkies fears to morph into seals, and hasn’t for nearly a decade, because someone inexplicably kidnapped the younglings the last time the pod met to celebrate their ability to change.
Noah and Lo are spending the summer on the New England coast. Noah has a marine biology internship and hopes a change of scenery will be good for his bulimic sister, Lo. The youngsters are bunking with Maebh and Gemm, their grandmother and her life partner. The adults have more secrets than their matter-of-fact lesbian relationship, one of them is a selkie! When Noah rescues a teen selkie and brings her home to his family, recognition is immediate between the selkies and everyone is outed.
Cornwell’s prose is particularly evocative when describing the wonder of ocean and shore. However, she also creates a well-paced mystery featuring interesting, strong characters. Writing from multiple points-of-view can be tricky, but Cornwell handles the challenge masterfully. ...more
Three friends, a Storyteller, a Hunter, and a Binder, live in a village that is surrounded by ghosts. An ordinary Binder can deal with most ghosts, buThree friends, a Storyteller, a Hunter, and a Binder, live in a village that is surrounded by ghosts. An ordinary Binder can deal with most ghosts, but White Hands devour the spirits of the living, and it takes a Binder with legendary skills to successfully contain one. When the village is confronted by a White Hand that had once been a Binder, the three Friends must journey to the dawn of legends to seek a solution.
Erin Bow has created an eerie, atmospheric novel after the style of a Native American folk tale. In the process, Bow’s superb world building provides a rich backdrop to the exploration of profound questions about sacrifice, freedom, love, life, grief, and death. Each character is fully rounded and developed, providing glimpses into humanity that readers will recognize in themselves and others.
Delicate and spine-chilling, this book will keep readers up late at night, haunting them long after they’ve turned the final page....more
Twins Jack and Jaide Shield are still learning to master their psychic powers when they are called upon to locate a magic object in Rourke Castle befoTwins Jack and Jaide Shield are still learning to master their psychic powers when they are called upon to locate a magic object in Rourke Castle before The Evil, a force set on destroying their world, finds and controls it. The problem is, the twins do not know what the object they are looking for looks like.
The twins’ grandmother, their mentor and instructor, is out of the picture. She has been hospitalized with a serious illness, and Jade and Jack may not visit her. With no one to trust their secrets with, everyone becomes a suspect and a menace to the twins’ search, even their parents.
Keeping this many secrets slows the action down considerably. The protagonists do not undergo much change and secondary characters do not move the plot along significantly nor point the heroes towards revelations. While entertaining, and able to stand on its own outside the series, some children may be disturbed by the “great reveal” related to the twins’ parent(s) and what this implies about the twins’ own future.
Peter Lubinsky doesn’t like dogs, so he is surprised to find himself asking for a dog for his birthday. The dog he picks at the shelter looks as ordinPeter Lubinsky doesn’t like dogs, so he is surprised to find himself asking for a dog for his birthday. The dog he picks at the shelter looks as ordinary as Peter is himself, but it soon becomes apparent that looks are deceiving. The Dog can talk and do magic, and he needs Peter’s help to change his previous master, from a rock back into a boy.
The mission is more complicated than The Dog at first describes. The Dog’s previous owner was a boy Peter’s age, but he was also an wicked magician. Peter can also do magic, but only when he is very angry. Is it worth losing Peter’s positive traits to save another boy, and possibly his father who is an Air Force pilot flying missions in Iraq?
As Peter and his siblings discover the cost magic exacts from its users, they are forced to make serious moral choices. The result is an entertaining, thought-provoking novel that will keep readers engaged as fast as they can turn the pages. ...more