The Night Parade was such an unique story! I was worried it was going to be a bit slow, but it really ended up being fascinating. It reminded me a bi The Night Parade was such an unique story! I was worried it was going to be a bit slow, but it really ended up being fascinating. It reminded me a bit of A Christmas Carol, with the three visiting spirits, but don't think it's a retelling. It's not.
Saki is your typical bratty, self-absorbed teenager. She does bratty teenager things until she accidentally summons a spirit and evokes a death curse.Participating in the Night Parade is her way to save herself. But then something happens. Each night, she learns a bit more about the spirit world. She meets interesting guides and creatures through her struggles.
The imagery is so vivid in this book. I felt like I was walking along the Pilgrim's Path trying to reach the Midnight Prince right along with Saki. While the message and story was great, I think my favorite element of this book is the Japanese culture. I know nothing of Japanese culture, but here I was reading about ceremonies and beliefs that fit perfectly in this tale. It was just wonderful.
I have a feeling this book is going to pop up a lot. I fully expect to see it land on many school reading lists in the upcoming years. ...more
This comes down to being a powerful coming of age story and learning about your place in the world.
What I loved most about the book was its beautifulThis comes down to being a powerful coming of age story and learning about your place in the world.
What I loved most about the book was its beautiful writing. It almost had a lyrical quality to it. The descriptions were not overdone and perfectly placed to enhance the story.
The characters were interesting too. The back story of some of the characters develops slowly, which adds to the air of mystery and magic that seems to swirl among these pages. Clara's insecurities and love for her sister--despite the fantasy elements-- made their relationship believable. She has to learn to deal with unrequited love, as well as understand where she fits in the world. These are not easy tasks for anyone regardless of their age. Because of her very real emotions, she felt the most real despite living in a world full of magic. ...more
I've said it before and I will say it again: I love retellings. Spelled was a great addition to the genre. It has everything a good retelling should hI've said it before and I will say it again: I love retellings. Spelled was a great addition to the genre. It has everything a good retelling should have: new characters, familiar characters, humor, and pizzazz.
It should go without saying that Spelled is a fun read! It's overflowing with word play humor, which I adore. It also has quirky humor and interesting characters. I enjoyed reading through the novel and finding essential Oz items, and then finding them revisited in very original ways. (LOVED the Hans Christian Louboutin shoe reference.)
While there were "familiars", Oz was still retold in a fresh way. So, don't go into the book thinking you know what will happen. I guarantee you will find many surprising elements you did not expect. That is one of the things that makes Spelled unique on its own, even if it wasn't a retelling.
Also, for fans of plot twists, get ready. There are plenty! Lessons are learned, hearts are broken, narrow escapes made-- all the elements needed for a perfectly delightful summer read! ...more
This is such a fun book to read! Gilly is not exactly what you would expect to find in a fairy tale heroine. She's not as vile as a villain, but she'sThis is such a fun book to read! Gilly is not exactly what you would expect to find in a fairy tale heroine. She's not as vile as a villain, but she's far from princess perfect. Unfortunately for her, that makes her a prime candidate for Fairy Tale Reform School. She quickly finds herself booted from her shoe and plopped right into the middle of a school for misfits. But the school isn't what it seems; something is amiss.
Younger readers will appreciate this book the most. It's quirky and fast paced. With only 256 pages, there isn't a lot of room for deep character development, but that's ok. You can still connect with Gilly and her plight. The supporting characters add a nice touch of humor and warmth to the story. It's not just about getting back to her family or stopping a diabolical plan; Gilly also has to learn to look beyond stereotypes and discover who she truly is.
The writing was easy to follow, and I really enjoyed seeing the villain reimagined. The plot was quickly moving; no lulls here! Towards the end I began to think it was wrapping up too quickly, but then I realized it's the beginning of a series. I will anxiously await to see how Gilly's adventures continue. ...more
Move over Harry and Percy, Callum is in the house!
This series is going to be the next big thing. I guarantee it. How could it not with Holly Block anMove over Harry and Percy, Callum is in the house!
This series is going to be the next big thing. I guarantee it. How could it not with Holly Block and Cassandra Clare as the authors?
I'm almost scared to admit that I almost gave up on this one. Eek. I know. I came so close to putting it aside, but I'm glad I did not. If you feel like this one starts slow, you're not alone. But don't give up. The ending is worth it all.
I can't say much without giving away everything, but the setting of this book is awesome. Okay, I'm a bit biased since I know where the setting gets its inspiration from. I visited the Luray Caverns last summer. So when I read that the Magisterium is in Luray, VA I knew what I was reading! I was able to visualize everything, which sold me on this book. The Luray Caverns are spectacular; they fit perfectly with the mystery and vastness of the Magisterium. (Go ahead and look it up. You'll want a visual.)
For a middle grades book, The Iron Trial is packing a serious punch on the deep themes. Callum has issues. He's not hero material. He's weak, disfigured, and not at all what you would imagine a hero should be. He doesn't even think he's a hero. In fact, he has some major baggage to sort through. This book is certainly setting the stage for a kick butt series that is going to poke around at the meaning of nature vs nurture.
I will definitely be on the look out for book 2! ...more
Aside from a stellar cover, what can you expect from Hit? The answer to the story is both simple and complicated. On the basic level, you have a prettAside from a stellar cover, what can you expect from Hit? The answer to the story is both simple and complicated. On the basic level, you have a pretty horrific accident that wrecks havoc on the lives of a family. Sarah is a senior with everything going for her. She's beautiful and talented. Unfortunately for her, she develops feelings for the student teacher visiting from the local college, Mr. Haddings. The reader never really gets a clear picture of whether or not these feelings were reciprocated, but something is certainly afoot. There is a lot-- and I mean a lot-- of ambiguity in this area. When Haddings realizes he's hit Sarah, it's not just his windsheild that shatters. This man finds himself knee deep in a mess that he will never escape. Sarah's best friend Cyndi is quick to paint a less than ideal image of Hadding's motivation to hit Sarah. But it's left up to the reader to decide whether she's right or not. I liked the story itself. It was certainly gripping enough to keep me turning the pages. You can tell the author did a great deal of research to make Sarah's experience in the hospital as realistic as possible. At times, it was pretty gruesome for my weak stomached self. The story alternates between Sarah and Haddings' points of view. While Sarah spends a large part of her time unconscious in the beginning, she seems to be the one with the most insight. Haddings had a small part to play upfront but then his character seemed to fade away. He just wasn't as strong as I'd expect him to be. The two characters that really stood out to me were the parents. I don't think they were meant to be the focus, but it ended up that way for me. The mom has issues, obviously. I would think for a parent facing her children growing up and moving on, there is some struggle with the "empty nest syndrome". It would have to be a hard adjustment to make to see the person you've spent the majority of your life taking care of move on without you. That's where Sarah's mom finds herself until suddenly she's given that second chance to take care of Sarah. You see a very vulnerable side to the needs of a parent struggling to find a place outside of her child. Then there is the dad. I think I liked him the most of all because he was dealing out the life lessons. He's a man of faith that is struggling with forgiveness, and rightfully so. I really liked his lines about hope and forgiveness. There were some powerful messages coming from his character. Overall, I enjoyed Hit. It was a very quick read that kept me reading from the start. I felt like some of the characterization for Haddings could have been fleshed out a bit more, but I chose to focus more on the secondary characters as I read. I think this enhanced my reading experience, and kept me from focusing on things that I would have wanted to see changed...more
This cover perfectly captures the eeriness of The Ghost of Graylock. The suspense I felt on some pages was intense. My heart raced and my throat feltThis cover perfectly captures the eeriness of The Ghost of Graylock. The suspense I felt on some pages was intense. My heart raced and my throat felt tight. It was great! I really did not think a middle grades novel could deliver that much suspense.
Obviously, the majority of the book centers around a ghost story. That story is pretty crazy. The threads slowly unraveled throughout the book. It was a nice, steady unraveling. I didn't figure out the outcome until a few pages before the characters (big perk). A+ for plot line and creepiness.
But what I really liked about this book is the emotional haunting Neil faces that flickers just below the surface. There were many issues with his family that he has to come to terms with, and it's not an easy thing to do. He faces many emotions that children from divorced families face, and he handles those emotions with such believability. I was highly impressed. I read another book on the Sunshine State Reader list for this year that boasted a ghost story/coming of age tale. I did not like that book too much. It felt way too busy for my tastes. However, I think The Ghost of Graylock really hit the mark. ...more
Doll Bones was listed as a Sunshine State Reader (for Florida) for 2014. I decided to read it to prepare for the upcoming year's book club. I will beDoll Bones was listed as a Sunshine State Reader (for Florida) for 2014. I decided to read it to prepare for the upcoming year's book club. I will be honest, I was not crazy about the idea of reading the book because I the 80s movie "Chuckie" has ruined me. So of course the creepy cover was not a plus for me. Thankfully, though, the story wasn't really about the doll or the ghost.
Doll Bones was not as scary as I thought it would be (thank goodness). If I had to classify it into one category, I think I would say it was more of a coming of age story than a ghost story. The creepy ghost living inside the doll was ghost was secondary.
The one thing that really set Doll Bones apart from other middle grades books that I have read was the believable emotions between characters. Holly Black did a great job showing the budding complexities of preteens. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have differing home situations, and each child has a reason for continuing the quest set before them. They are each at a very delicate time in their lives, where many things are changing and they don't know how to deal with those changes. This book has a great message about growing up and friendship. Any reader will be able to find something to relate to, regardless of gender.
It is also has a quick pace to keep a younger readers' attention. Without a steady supply of mystery and action, a younger reader might get lost before finishing nearly 250 pages. I felt like the various plots merged well together and kept the pacing on track. The ghost story helped fuel the quest and kept the characters engaged, which in turn kept me as a reader turning the pages.
Overall, Doll Bones is best suited for readers ages 10-12 (maybe I bit younger if they can handle the length of the book). ...more
When I saw this cover on NetGalley, I had to read it. It looked so cute. As an added bonus, I love fairytale retellings. The Silver Rings looked likeWhen I saw this cover on NetGalley, I had to read it. It looked so cute. As an added bonus, I love fairytale retellings. The Silver Rings looked like it would fit into the fractured fairytale genre, and it did!
I also saw a copy of this book in my local Barnes and Noble last week. It was sitting on a shelf in the young readers section, which I believe is for ages 7-12. I am not sure I would agree with the 10+ age range, but I can see it appealing to younger readers. I would be more likely to call this an intermediate (grades 3-5) read than a middle grades read (grades 6-8).
The story in The Silver Rings is straight forward. It unfolds like a true fairy tale. Readers will enjoy spotting old favorites that have found themselves twisted up in this plot. Also, like true fairy tales, there isn't a lot of character development. The sisters are very close--connected because they are twins, and because they have magical rings. The sisters are not, however, profoundly deep. None of the characters are for that matter. I don't think they really bothered me because I knew this was a fractured fairy tale and I wasn't expecting a super detailed story in only 223 pages. But, that simple fact is what makes me consider this book for younger readers (intermediate level). I do not think older readers will be happy with the quick plot and sometimes random/rushed actions by the sisters.
Overall, I thought this was cute. It would be perfect for a little girl looking for her first "big" chapter book. The pictures help illustrate what is going on in the plot, and the chapters aren't too long for a younger reader. I enjoyed it. ...more
I've been a fan of E.D. Baker's books since I read the Frog Princess (and all of the following books) many years ago. They are cute and simple, and abI've been a fan of E.D. Baker's books since I read the Frog Princess (and all of the following books) many years ago. They are cute and simple, and absolutely perfect for fans of fractured fairy tales. If you've been keeping up, you'll know that The Bravest Princess is the third book in the Wide-Awake Princess series.
Princess Annie is special. She is completely untouched by magic, and can alter magic with her touch. Pretty impressive if you live in a fully magical world. This time around she has to help Snow White while protecting herself from an evil witch that is determined to cause her harm.
While this probably isn't my favorite of the series so far, it was still fun to read. I enjoy reading about Annie's adventures. Adding in the banter between Annie and Liam is always a bonus, too. Unfortunately, this time around I didn't feel the magic between Liam and Annie. I wish there was more to the plot that included them together. It always felt like they were working together to reach the same solution, but doing it from across the room.
But don't fret. There is still plenty of the endearing elements that you expect from E.D. Baker's books in The Bravest Princess. The smoochy smoochy factor is low, but warm fuzzies are abundant. You'll enjoy reading through the plot and picking out elements from favorite fairy tales. You'll also appreciate the surprise twist at the end. Geared toward younger readers, this is definitely a series perfect for 4th-6th grade girls.
First let me start by saying how glad I am they changed the cover. The original (pictured here) was an eye sore. I would have never picked it up withFirst let me start by saying how glad I am they changed the cover. The original (pictured here) was an eye sore. I would have never picked it up with that cover. But the new cover has a delightful, whimsical font that just called to me. I did not realize that this book is not brand new. In fact, it was originally published in 2009. Given that dreadful cover that looked like a bottle of Pepto Bismol exploded on it, it's easy for me to see why I never knew this existed.
Unfortunately, I read this book months ago and never got around to writing the review. By now, most of the finer details have escaped me. I can, however, summarize what has stuck with me.
First, I really liked Rose. She was plucky. Her sass was endearing. She wasn't over the top or annoying. She stood up for herself but still knew her place. I also felt like her character was really well written. Even though the setting is not present day, the author did a fine job of making it easy to relate to Rose. The supporting characters were also enjoyable. My favorite was the sarcastic talking cat.
I also enjoyed the setting itself. A magical house that sparkles with magic and responds to Rose's emotions. Pretty awesome! Add that to an old-timey location with just a dash of mystery and you have a very remarkable setting.
The other thing I remember most about Rose was how quickly the plot moved. I flew threw this book because it was packed full of action. For younger readers, this is so important because we know how short their attention spans are. I also thought the conflict was well placed and unexpected (to a degree). It was pretty easy to determine who the "bad guy" would be, but how the villain was vanquished was a surprise.
I can't wait to see what else happens in this series. I did not anticipate Rose's decision in the end, which makes the set up for the continuation to be very interesting. ...more
Cute. I hate to say this one didn't leave a huge lasting impression on me, but I did enjoy reading it.
The writing style was probably my favorite part
Cute. I hate to say this one didn't leave a huge lasting impression on me, but I did enjoy reading it.
The writing style was probably my favorite part. The author used great imagery throughout the book. I could imagine the salty taste of the ocean spray as I read about Elin Jean's adventures. It was very realistic. The author also did a fantastic job of developing the setting. Selkies are part of the Scottish folklore, so it is only natural that this tale takes place somewhere near there. Although it doesn't come outright say where, you get the impression that you are on some tiny island near Scotland. The dialect is very distinct, so get your context clues strategies ready.
As far as the story goes, it's a fast read with straight forward action. Elin Jean has a few tough decisions to make, which lead to an interesting outcome. I can't say too much about it without giving away the story. What I can say, though, is that this is a coming of age story at its heart. It is all about Elin Jean finding herself and her place in the world. That theme makes it easy to relate to for middle grade readers-- whether they are part selkie themselves or not. ...more
Do not let the cover of this book fool you! It is not an overly cutesy middle-grades novel.(I was wrong!)
This was actually a solid mystery with severDo not let the cover of this book fool you! It is not an overly cutesy middle-grades novel.(I was wrong!)
This was actually a solid mystery with several sub plots. The main plot centers around trying to figure out who is attacking the selkies and why. But of course, that would be too easy if that was the only thing to discover in a small fishing town. Enter mysterious new boy, Jamie. The instant connection between Aileen and Jamie starts of a romance that carries throughout the novel. Oh, but that's not all! Aileen's family has secrets of their own to resolve, and the family store (and Aileen's way of life) is teetering on a ledge. All of these story lines meet at the end with a very suspenseful climax! I thought it was really well developed, and I enjoyed it alot.
The characters were pretty good as well. They worked for the story, but I didn't really connect with them. I did notice, though, how well Aileen's character depicted a teenager desperate for more freedom and responsibility. She has some pretty clever one-liners and insights that made me smile. The author did a nice job of giving Aileen a belieavable voice.
I am a huge fan of mermaid books, but selkies kind of gross me out. I think it's the idea of peeling off skin and leaving it in a heap that makes my stomach churn. Luckily, though, Legasea didn't spend a lot of time focusing on the selkie qualities. Instead, it told a good story-- placing it high up on my list of merbooks. So, if you are like me and you enjoy mermaid/selkie stories, give Legasea a try! ...more
This was certainly meant for younger readers! It had a cutesy feel to it, but it was still fun to read.
I thought Mermin was adorable. He looked moreThis was certainly meant for younger readers! It had a cutesy feel to it, but it was still fun to read.
I thought Mermin was adorable. He looked more like an aquatic frog crossed with the Creature from the Black Lagoon than a mercreature. He was curious and hyper, which often caused a lot of unwanted trouble for his human friends. The story itself was very short and to the point. There wasn't a lot of plot development or twists and turns. It was very straightforward.
The pictures were nice though. The entire book is in color and very bright. This would be very appealing to younger readers. I think there was an even mixing of pictures with text-- some pages even had just illustrations. The story was easy to follow and smooth. There was no sense of being choppy with the formatting or layout.
If the cover doesn't make it obvious, this is best suited for the 10 and below crowd. Die hard graphic novel fans in the 11-12 year old range might give it a try, but older than that is not likely. ...more
I have been looking for this book for so long. Imagine my surprise when I literally walked by it on a shelf at my library (the same library that saidI have been looking for this book for so long. Imagine my surprise when I literally walked by it on a shelf at my library (the same library that said they did not have a copy). I was thrilled! I snatched Into the Wild up so quickly that people looked at me like I was crazy. I also looked for Out of the Wild, but I didn't see it. Small victories, I suppose. I love this book!
Into the Wild was the debut novel of Sarah Beth Durst, which is rather surprising because I found it to be absolute perfection. It was a super fun read. I enjoyed recognizing fairy tales in the book (some were lesser known tales). You could tell that the author spent a lot of time researching to be able to weave the tells seamlessly.
The idea behind Into the Wild was highly original. Because "the Wild" is a sort of fairy tale prison (my interpretation, probably not the best way to describe it), it took a lot to fully develop the concept of a living entity being able to craft stories and capture fairy tale characters. But don't worry, it was done well. The experiences that the various characters faced gave depth to this concept.
The narrator, Julie, was full of wit and charm. She is a great narrator for middle grades readers. She faces the same struggles of feeling like she doesn't belong and longing for a whole family that many readers will be able to relate to her voice.
Simply put, this is another hit by Sarah Beth Durst that I highly recommend. Geared more for younger readers, it will widely accepted by younger readers that enjoy a good adventure or fairy tale. ...more
Amazing. Simply amazing. Another hit for Sarah Beth Durst. Ice was one of a kind and exceeded all expectations.
This has to be one of the best settingAmazing. Simply amazing. Another hit for Sarah Beth Durst. Ice was one of a kind and exceeded all expectations.
This has to be one of the best settings for a story that I have read in a long time. It was highly original. You would think that a story that takes place in the Artic tundra would be lacking in descriptive details and originality, but you would be wrong. The descriptions were amazing, and the setting was phenomenal. I have to admit that I was drawn to this book partly based on the location since I visited Alaska this summer. I was able to identify some of the elements mentioned in the story because I saw them with my own eyes. If the author has never traveled to this area, I am highly impressed with her ability to capture its essence. A+ in this department.
The characters were very uniques as well. Cassie is your typical strong-willed teenager, but she is different. She's the granddaughter of the North Wind and the future wife of the Polar Bear King. Yeah, you read that correctly. I will admit, as far as depth goes, there wasn't much. Cassie does grow and develop throughout the story, but that's the extent of things. I didn't really connect with her, but that's ok. The story line was so good that I didn't need to feel that personal connection. Ice read like a myth, which had me engrossed until the very end.
Sarah Beth Durst is known for her original stories. It never ceases to amaze me how she can write books that are so different from one another. Ice is not like any of her other books that I have read thus far. In fact, I would challenge someone to find a book similar to Ice.
If you are a fan of mythology, get ready! You will love all the subtle (and not so subtle) references to mythology hiding among these pages. On the surface, this is a highly original tale of Cupid and Psyche. Complete with the West Wind (in this case the North, South, and East winds) wisking Cassie (Psyche) off to a secluded location. The invisible servants in the original myth are very uniquely described trolls in Ice. There is also Inuit mythology scattered all over the place. You see mentionings of Sedna and Inuit soul keepers.
Simply put, read this. That's all I can say. It's amazing, and it will knock your socks off. ...more
Wow. Where to begin with this one? Um… I really wanted to like this book. I promise I did. I haven’t read any selkie stories, so I was pretty stoked wWow. Where to begin with this one? Um… I really wanted to like this book. I promise I did. I haven’t read any selkie stories, so I was pretty stoked when I found this one on the shelf at the library. I also thought the hidden references to Irish and Celtic mythology was promising. In fact, I was a little excited… but then I started reading the book. Whoa Nelly. The story is ok. It’s not all that exciting, but it wasn’t horrific either. There was a plot and a few interesting characters that made things lively. I’ll be honest though, some parts of this book just freaked me out. For instance, right up front when the old man finds the baby in the water and brings her home. What happens? His wife tries to breastfeed the babe to “see how it feels” (direct quote) and magically starts lactating. Now, this woman is described as someone in her 50s or older. I was totally freaked out by that scene. It just screams psycho in my mind, but whatever. I’m sure that scene was found someone in mythology, or at least I hope it was because it was too weird otherwise. I did enjoy searching for the parts of the story that were based on mythology. The author did a really good job of weaving everything together so that it became difficult to tell what was an original idea and what was myth. I was already familiar with the story of Sedna from Inuit mythology, so when the crazy lady told Gioga about how her kinfolk (the seals) were made, I got that reference right away. The flip side of this is, however, that since this story is based on so many different myths from various cultures, it feels choppy in some places. There were just key parts of the plot that didn’t fit perfectly. And with only 128 pages, it was hard to form any connections to the characters. They all felt flat. In fact, it read like a myth in the fact that it’s a telling of events and not a story per se. I read this book in a few hours while riding in the car on my way to Orlando. Normally I fall asleep instantly when in a moving car, but I thought I would make good use of my 2.5 hour ride this time. While I can’t say I wasted my time (because my only other option was sleeping in the car), I can’t say I used it in the best way possible either. I had other books I could have read. If this book had been longer and left me with the same feeling at the end, I would have been furious with the time I spent reading it. But since I really didn’t have anything else to do, I say it was ok. Not one I would re-read or recommend to anyone, but ok. ...more