Rose and the Lost Princess is the second book in the Rose series, the first of which I loved and made it onto the CYBILs shortlist for Middle Grade Sp...moreRose and the Lost Princess is the second book in the Rose series, the first of which I loved and made it onto the CYBILs shortlist for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. I was excited to see that there was a sequel forthcoming along with several other books that were first published in another country and are slowly trickling their way to us in the United States. The aftermath of the first book comes to light right away as more and more people are becoming afraid of magic and those that use it, whether for good or for evil. When one of the princesses disappears and reappears, people suppose it's the work of another evil magician.
Rose's mentor and the chief magician to the king is trying his best to help figure out the situation, but even he is not as trusted as he once was. The King asks Rose for her help to find the princess when she disappears again, but not to be found like the first time. Rose must go undercover as the Princess herself to get to the bottom of this mystery. All while not being found out that she is not actually the princess. It's exciting to be in the palace, but Rose tries to keep her focus on the task at hand, even though she's barely begun her own magical training.
With the help of her friends, Freddie and Gus (the magical cat), she sets out on a new adventure, one that involves cold magic, an interesting snow globe and a palace setting. I love how sensible Rose is throughout this whole book. While still being a young girl and awed by life in general, she keeps herself grounded and wishes for a simple life, where things are less complicated. However, she knows that she has been given this gift and must use it to help others. I also cannot wait to find out more about where Rose came from, as her parents must have been magical and rarely are magical children abandoned like Rose was. I'm hoping this will come to light in some of the coming books.
My favorite side character in these books is Gus, who is very helpful yet pushes Rose to do some things that are against her nature. Freddie still is a bit insufferable at times, but he is growing on me considerably. I love the mix of serious, trickled with comedic relief from the character. The mystery of this book really pulled me in and kept me reading until the very end. Overall, Rose and the Lost Princess was a great follow up novel to the wonderful Rose and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next book has in store for our heroine. (less)
Northwood is the story of Cecilia Undergarment, a girl who can communicate with dogs. Her neighbor is a grumpy, miserable man who used to be a wonderf...moreNorthwood is the story of Cecilia Undergarment, a girl who can communicate with dogs. Her neighbor is a grumpy, miserable man who used to be a wonderful grocer with a wife and daughter, but quickly turned when starting a chain of superstores and ending up by himself. Cecilia one day finds herself being asked for help from the dog next door, who is literally being starved to death. Her interesting rescue involves balloons and the help of her housekeeper.
Unfortunately, after the rescue, the owner of Rocky the dog comes calling looking for him. A series of unfortunate events leads to the attic of her house, partly made of balloons, taking off with Rocky and her in it. They land in a mysterious land and find themselves in a castle ruled by a king who says he is merciful but is anything but that. What Cecilia uncovers is that the king is hiding a secret. With the help of her new friends in the castle, she must figure out away to get back home, without being eaten by the lions that are nearby, always on the prowl.
Northwood was full of magical realism, with plot twists that made sense in this day and age but enough flight and fancy to transport you to this world where there are evil forests, houses made of balloons and kings who have dark secrets. I loved Cecilia and her clever way of trying to figure a way out of Northwood. There were some wonderful life lessons mixed in with all the action and adventure.(less)
The Riverman is one of my most anticipated reads and one that I found myself unable to put down once I picked it up. Alistair's life changes when Fion...moreThe Riverman is one of my most anticipated reads and one that I found myself unable to put down once I picked it up. Alistair's life changes when Fiona decides that he will be the one to record her biography. Fiona is a strange girl and even stranger still, she begins to tell Alistair about Aquavania and The Riverman. Alistair is so grounded in reality, he thinks Fiona is using this land as a metaphor for the problems in her real life.
Beyond that, Alistair has to deal with his friend Charlie, whose older brother convinces him into lighting fireworks and he loses some of his fingers. Charlie uses his loss to keep Alistair as a friend, who seems to have outgrown their friendship but keeps him enraveled in playing video games now that Charlie cannot. I think beyond the magic and darkness in the book is showing a boy who is growing up. It's more Alistair's story than it is Fiona's, although she drives Alistair's plot and life in a different direction than he could have imagined.
I think what threw me about this book as that it really isn't a middle grade book, it's more upper middle grade or YA. It's about first loves, betrayal, and the darkness of becoming a teenager. There's some moments in the book that really widened my eyes and scared me more than I thought they would. I honestly thought this would be a book like Narnia, where this Aquavania would play a larger role, that it would be a new world to explore and an adventure to have.
Instead, The Riverman is a book about the loss of innocence and growing up. It has a dark edge to it that I enjoyed immensely, but would wisely recommend for older readers than I first thought the book was pegged for.(less)
A love triangle that makes sense, pirates, faeries, and great world building. Only complaint is that it was a bit of a slow read and then ended with a...moreA love triangle that makes sense, pirates, faeries, and great world building. Only complaint is that it was a bit of a slow read and then ended with a cliffhanger - grr!
The Queen's Choice is the first in a new series featuring faeries, romance and political intrigue. Anya is one of three cousins that may inherit the throne to Chrior, the faerie land separated from the human world by the Bloody Road. Only faeries can cross the road, as a huge bloody battle left its mark between the two species. When Anya finds out that her aunt and Queen of the Faeries has foreseen her death closing in, she is asked to take the throne. Anya is not the type of spirit that wants to be held to a throne and revels in her journeys to and from the human world. She accepts but when her unstable cousin Illumina, scarred by a horrible childhood is tasked with finding the missing, half human Prince to see his mother one last time, Anya cannot sit still.
Anya herself takes off into the human world only to have her wings severed from her body by human hunters and left for dead. A human family living deep in the forest finds her and takes her into their home to recover. There's something off about this family as they are very secretive, especially the father. They are living in hiding, having wronged the King of their land and if any of their family is found, they will have to serve their father's sentence. So when Shea, the oldest daughter stubbornly decides to leave with Anya to continue her quest, it's a bit rocky. The pair leaves on an adventure to find the Prince, Anya's cousin Illumina and find many more adventures on their path.
Although it took me a long time to read through to the end of the book, I found myself really enjoying the world that Kluver has built. Anya is a great female character in that she knows herself and her own desires. She leaves her beloved at home often and although she feels her love for him, she more strongly feels the urge of travel and adventure. Even after the loss of her wings, Anya despaired, but set to moving forward and completing her journey. I also loved Shea and honestly all of the characters in this book were so beautifully crafted. Each with their own weaknesses and strengths, making a cast that is very memorable.
My only complaint about this book is the ups and downs of the excitement. I felt at times the journey overly hashed out and could have been pushed forward a little faster. In turn, I think the extra time spent really gave an interaction between characters I may have missed otherwise. I'm on the fence about it. Overall, I really felt it was a long read and dragged at some parts, but the action and great characters really made up for that at the same time. The killer really was the twist at the end of the book, that I thought I saw coming but yet still surprised me.