Jennifer is a good storyteller. So good that “The False Prince” could easily stand alone. It ended with no real cliff-hanger and the outcome was perfectly satisfying. At the time I finished it, I remember thinking, “well now what?”
Because of that setup, “The Runaway King” feels very much like a new story with the same characters. That sensation fades away as you continue to read, but it’s definitely there in the beginning.
Also disjointing is the character development. While Sage/Jaron has always been the main character, other players have also come forward. In “The Runaway King” it’s definitely the Jaron show. Yes, he interacts with people we’ve previously met, and yes, new friends and enemies make entrances, but they don’t feel as fully fleshed out and a few are one-dimensional and just plain annoying.
It’s easy to pick little grievances apart because Jennifer has set the bar so high. If “The Runaway King” were written by someone else, I may not have noticed or focused on the elements above. Because, in truth, “The Runaway King” is a good book. There’s lots of adventure — swordplay, bandits and pirates — and mystery. The pacing is fast and Jennifer’s prose is comfortable and her plotting well planned out. And I’m excited to see where Jennifer takes us in the final book.(less)
Full review at Cracking the Cover There’s an innocence and other timeliness to “Water Castle” that is missing in so many of the books coming out for mi...moreFull review at Cracking the Cover There’s an innocence and other timeliness to “Water Castle” that is missing in so many of the books coming out for middle readers today. The children aren’t snotty or self-absorbed. Instead, they’re smart and real and relatable. They use their imaginations and their minds aren’t closed to possibilities.
Author Megan Frazer Blakemore doesn’t write down to her audience, instead she writes up to it. Because of that, there’s a sophisticated elegance that runs throughout the book.
“Water Castle” isn’t a fast read, but it’s an engrossing one. You become invested in the characters and you want to know the outcome. It would be interesting to see how a classroom of children would react to this book read aloud.(less)
“This dream ended when I realized they expect you to have actual artistic talent in order to be an illustrator,” Kiersten told Cracking the Cover. “So picky! But books have always been my passion and I knew I wanted to be involved with their creation in one way or another.”
Fast forward a couple of years and Kiersten’s passion has turned into YA gold. She’s the author of the popular Paranormalcy trilogy — “Paranormalcy,” “Supernaturally” and “Endlessly” — about a paranormal butt-kicking teenager named Evie. This February “Mind Games,” a psychological thriller about two sisters (Fia and Annie) determined to protect each other — no matter the cost, was released.
Kiersten says she writes for young readers because the stories are more compelling and immediate than books for adults. “Those are the stories that I am the most interested in exploring — the ones that ask who am I? Who will I be? What do I want to do with the future that is very quickly opening up in front of me?” read more(less)
It also turns out that Cragbridge Hall, has a lot in common with another Shadow Mountain series: Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. Both feature a brother-sister duo that has to save the world with the help of their grandparent (grandparents in Fablehaven) and unlikely allies. The formula worked well in the Fablehaven world and, so far, it works well in the Cragbridge Hall world as well.
Lest you think Cragbridge Hall is a complete copycat, let me assure you it’s not. While Chad Morris and Brandon chose some of the same basic plot elements, they’re writing style and plots are much different. While Fablehaven takes place in a fantasy world of fairies and dragons, Cragbridge Hall takes place in the future while heavily looking back into the past.
“The Inventor’s Secret” is full of some pretty cool elements. Seeing history play out in front of you, becoming an animal or seeing how you imagine literature play out on a screen while you read it would be awesome. I could live without gym in this world or Chad’s imagined one, but it does play nicely into the story.
What makes “The Inventor’s Secret” a complete package, however, is the characters. Without Abby and Derick — and some other lesser players — the book would be just a bunch of fun ideas strung together. The twins and their individual and combined stories are what makes this story shine. Both of the twins are likeable and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. I connected with Abby a little more based on her feelings of being average and dealing with those feelings in a school full of above-average students. Chad handles that element well, never getting too heavy handed, and by the end of the book, I really felt like Abby and Derick, to a lesser degree, had grown.
“The Inventor’s Secret” is exactly what I’d like this genre of middle-grade novel to be — fast-paced and engaging with a little bit of humor on the side.(less)
Review via Cracking the Cover The Duck family lives in a pretty pond at the end of a long, long island. One day, Mama Duck takes her little ones out fo...moreReview via Cracking the Cover The Duck family lives in a pretty pond at the end of a long, long island. One day, Mama Duck takes her little ones out for a walk — out of the park and into town. Along the way Mama’s ducklings fall down a storm drain and end up trapped, but with the help of brave firefighters, the ducklings and their Mama are reunited and return home.
Based on a true story, “Lucky Ducklings” has a timeless quality to it. It’s reminiscent of Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings.” The story is simple and accessible and the illustrations are beautifully rendered. Children will love the adorable ducklings and their heroic rescuers. (less)
He stood out from the very beginning. He stood out everywhere except, perhaps, when he was asleep. He wanted them to be more like them, but he just wasn’t like everyone. He even thought about running away until the day he meets a question mark, and everything changes from there.
“Exclamation Mark” is a delightful look at punctuation. The writing is humorous and the illustrations are a perfect match: simple and smile worthy. In addition to clarifying punctuation rules, the book also explores what happens when you try to fit it and when you stand out.(less)
“Truck Stop” is one of those books you just know a child will want to pick up and read or have read to them — even my husband picked up my copy and flipped through it. The brightly colored illustrations are bold and exciting. And the story is both accessible and fun.
As an added bonus, illustrator Melissa Iwai has created corresponding activities for kids — including a coloring sheet for the littlest ones — on her website.(less)
I’ve always loved books that tell the history behind things, that explain elements in smaller snippets yet still go into detail. So I was excited when I received a copy of “Mathematics: An Illustrated History of Numbers.”
The coffee-table book is more than 100 pages and features various illustrations, pictures, charts and graphics. Following an introduction, it’s divided into four sections based on time/advances: prehistory to the middle ages; the renaissance and the age of enlightenment; ne numbers, new theories; and modern mathematics. A section on “great mathematicians” is also included.
An added bonus is a 12-page removable timeline that features key moments in culture, world events, science and invention, and mathematics dating from 4000 B.C. to today. On the other side of the timeline: all sorts of mathematical enigmas (games, paradoxes, primes, problems, etc.) and a chart of mathematical symbols.
“Mathematics: An Illustrated History of Numbers” isn’t the type of book you read cover to cover — unless you’re a true math geek, of course — rather, it’s best paged through, stopping at your areas of personal interest. Though some of the topics may at first appear over your head, the authors have made them accessible. The writing is well done and there’s not too much jargon to wade through.
Bottom line: Not only is this book interesting, it’s fun, too.
“Skinny” is sad, happy, frustrating and rewarding. It’s also engrossing. Ever is a likable character that I immediately felt drawn to. I’ve never weighed that much, but I could easily identify with her insecurities, her hopes and her dreams.
“Skinny” isn’t the first book about an overweight teen, nor will it be the last. What makes it work is the sincerity in which it was written. There are no easy fixes and there are a lot of other emotional issues that need to be worked through.
Author Donna Cooner underwent gastric bypass surgery herself. She says surgery was a positive experience but not a magic wand. Donna understands negative thoughts come in all shapes and sizes — too fat, too tall, too ugly, too stupid. It’s because of that understanding and honesty that “Skinny” works so well. It’s a beautiful book of growth and personal development that’s well-worth your time.(less)
Computers have failed. Electricity is no longer used. The world is bigger and more complex than originally thought. A whole new profession of explorers has evolved, mapping undiscovered lands and discovering new species of plants and animals.
Among those explorers is the brilliant mapmaker Alexander West. His maps and discoveries are world-renowned. And now he’s dead, and the events surrounding his demise are anything but clear-cut.
Alexander left behind three children: Kit the brain, M.K. the tinkerer and Zander the brave. He also left them a secret map — well half of a secret map — that could change their lives forever. It’s up to the three siblings to decode their father’s message before the wrong people get their hands on it.
“The Expeditioners” is an exciting ride from beginning to end. I love author S.S. Taylor’s idea of unexplored places right under our noses.
Steampunk imagery combined with James Bond-like gadgets really help round out the book, but it’s the characters that bring it fully to life.
Middle-sibling Kit becomes the voice of “The Expeditioners” giving familial insight with a slight bias. It’s just the right edge to lend emotion and likability to the West family. While the siblings are brave, vulnerability also shines through, making them feel both real and relatable.
“The Expeditioners” is a fast 384 pages — I read it in one sitting — that’s a perfect choice for either girls or boys looking for a new series that will keep their attention. I can’t wait for the next book. (less)
“Divide and Conquer” is the second book in the seven-book, six-author Infinity Ring series. The first, “Mutiny in Time,” was penned by James Dashner. In the second, YA author Carrie Ryan takes a crack at fixing time, and she does it well.
There are a few things to note straight off the bat.
“Divide and Conquer” does not feel like it was written by a different author than it’s predecessor. Carrie has done a fine job carrying on where James left off, further developing the characters and not straying from their cores. Carrie does such a good job of this that you wouldn’t know two authors were involved without being told. Kudos to the Scholastic editors who coordinated things and smoothed the edges.
Carrie also excels in setting the scene. Her descriptions of Viking warriors and the battles come vividly to life. There is a lot of action, but there’s also a fair amount of humor, too, that really ties everything together and keeps the tone light.
This is a fast read. At 188 pages, there’s not a lot to hold readers back. The added bonus is the inclusion of yet another adventure via the secret compartment in the book’s front cover. The “Hystorian’s Guide” is a collectable map that includes a special code to unlock exclusive content on the Infinity Ring online game.
Bottom line: This series is shaping up to be one that kids will love from beginning to end. Not only is it fun and interactive, but kids will get a kick out of alternate versions of history and recognizing where and when things need to get back on track.(less)
I wasn’t expecting much from “Edenbrooke.” I thought it would be an easy, clean read featuring girls in pretty dresses at balls and handsome men on horseback. And it does have all those things, but it also has much more.
What I wasn’t expecting was strong character development and a unique quality story. Though it is a romance set in the 19th century, “Edenbrooke” isn’t a homage or copycat. The story is original and the characters likeable.
Julianne Donaldson’s prose is smooth and accessible and her pacing is exceptional. I never once felt as if the story were lagging or rushing through a scene.
“Edenbrooke” is not perfect. There are a few happy coincidences and expected plot turns, but nothing that’s grossly out of tune.
And for those of you wondering about the book’s appropriateness for teens — “Edenbrooke” is squeaky clean. In fact its much cleaner as far as language and sexual content than most of the books on the YA market. It’s not a difficult read and plays perfectly to a teenager’s romantic sensibilities.
“Edenbrooke” is a happy surprise. It’s a great option to curl up with on a snowy afternoon.(less)
I love books that I go into thinking I know what will happen only to find out I was completely wrong. “Shadowlands” is one such book. Though I did figure out some of the plot elements later in the book, I found myself completely surprised by others.
“Shadowlands’” opening chapters are dark and terrifying. Nell’s calculating manner and Rory’s amazing fight and strength will left me breathless and completely off guard. Within one page, I was hooked.
“Shadowlands” ends abruptly with a revelation worth reading your way to — don’t skip to the end, it will ruin it for you. The book stands alone. However, it’s the first of a planned trilogy, which has me wondering where author Kate Brian will go from here. If the next two novels are even close to this one, we’ll be in for intensely satisfying reads.(less)
“Unspoken” is the story of a young farm girl who discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn. The girl is frightened and runs away, but she can’t forget the slave’s fearful eyes. She brings food and quiet comfort and is rewarded with an unspoken gift of gratitude and friendship.
Sometimes, you don’t have to have words to speak.
“Unspoken” is a quiet, moving story that children will immediately understand. At the end of the book, author Henry Cole asks that readers “will write the words and make this story your own — filling in all that has been unspoken. In that way, he makes this an interactive story, compelling children to share their own words about bravery and compassion. From it’s overall story to its beautifully rendered drawings, “Unspoken” is simply perfect.(less)
“Perfect Flower Girl” is the story of a Lebanese Muslim wedding. It is not a traditional Muslim wedding, but one that incorporates traditions and influences from other cultures. A glossary of select Arabic terms is included at the beginning of the book.
There are a number of reasons to like “Perfect Flower Girl”: It’s got sweet illustrations and fun characters, and it introduces children to other cultures and religions. The book captures the excitement leading up to most weddings — Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, Christian, etc. Though some of the traditions and words may not be familiar, children will understand the underlying themes of love and acceptance.(less)
3 1/2 stars If ever there were a book that showed the consequences of not sleeping, it would be “The Princess Who Could Not Sleep.” Author An Leyson co...more3 1/2 stars If ever there were a book that showed the consequences of not sleeping, it would be “The Princess Who Could Not Sleep.” Author An Leyson combines a fun story, whimsical artwork and elements of her own daughter’s drawings to create a tale young children will gobble up.(less)
“Reached” is the culmination of years of work, and it shows. The writing is tight and the storyline believable. Ally’s prose is easily accessible and flows effortlessly from page to page.
What really makes “Reached” work is Ally’s willingness to change — once again, the physical and mental landscape in which her story unfolds provides surprises.
Cassia and Ky return from the vast Outer Provinces to confined cities. These are new locations that provide new challenges and freshen the overall feel of the trilogy.
The best change is one Ally has used before — adding another voice to the mix. “Matched” was told by Cassia. In “Crossed,” Ky joined the mix. Now, with the completion of the series, readers get to see inside Xander’s head. This trio of voices serves to build complexities within complexities, making for a more interesting and overall entertaining read.
“Reached” is like an ice cream sundae, smooth and crunchy layers harmoniously combining to create a memorable experience you won’t soon forget.(less)
Read full review at Cracking the Cover Loosely based on Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” “Ironskin” feels immediately familiar. The tone and setting of...moreRead full review at Cracking the Cover Loosely based on Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” “Ironskin” feels immediately familiar. The tone and setting of the two novels are quite similar, and there are obvious plays on the main characters — Jane Elliot (Jane Eyre), Dorie (Adele), Edward Rochart (Edward Rochester), Poole and Blanche Ingram. But there are obvious departures, too — the war, the fey, Jane’s sister, Jane’s happy childhood.
The departures make “Ironskin” more successful than many of the other reimaginings of Bronte’s classic. Here, Tina Connolly has molded the tale into something new and unique.
“Ironskin” is not an action-packed adventure. Much like “Jane Eyre,” it has a Gothic broodiness that some readers will equate as slow. The truth is, “Ironskin” actually reads quite a bit faster both in length and in writing style.
Honestly, that’s what’s missing, too. I personally wanted a little more weight, a little more depth. The last few chapters felt rushed. Not because the action picked up, but because there could have been more there. Though satisfying, the conclusion could have been a little stronger.
Overall, however, “Ironskin” was a satisfying read. I could have lived without the book cover, which felt like a reach, but otherwise my complaints are limited to those above. At approximately 300 pages, it’s a fast read, too. Perfect for a weekend afternoon.(less)
“The Sky of Afghanistan” celebrates ideas of unity and peace. The creation of a place where innocent people can live in harmony and without fear. It’s...more“The Sky of Afghanistan” celebrates ideas of unity and peace. The creation of a place where innocent people can live in harmony and without fear. It’s a beautiful sentiment and a beautiful book.
Ana A. de Eulate’s prose is poignantly lyrical. Her sophisticated style is warm and welcoming, as are Sonja Winter’s illustrations. Her eye-catching lines and stylized depictions are masterfully rendered. Her use of light — stunning.
“The Sky of Afghanistan” depicts both conflict and the desire for peace at a level young child can understand. It’s a fine addition to any collection.(less)
Sheila has a way of translating complex relationships and situations into something accessible for young readers while maintaining a maturity that defies age limits. “Keeping Safe the Stars” is equally enjoyable for a 10-year-old as it is for a 32-year-old. Her prose transcends expectations as she slips seamlessly into a time a place both new and familiar at the same time.
Each of the main characters are well-developed and likeable in their own way. You come to know the weight of responsibility on Pride’s shoulders, the studious strength of Nightingale’s resolve and the impish curiosity of Baby as their story plays out. And though readers barely meet Old Finn in person, he becomes an old acquaintance through Pride’s remembrances and a stack of old letters she finds.
Like Sheila’s “Sparrow Road,” “Keeping Safe the Stars” is one of those books that will live on your bookshelf long after the latest fads find themselves sold for $1 or given away. There’s a timeless elegance to it that makes it worth the time and money investment.(less)
Full review at Cracking the Cover Written by the mother-daughters trio of Kelly Moore and Tucker and Larkin Reed, “Amber House” is a complex narrative...moreFull review at Cracking the Cover Written by the mother-daughters trio of Kelly Moore and Tucker and Larkin Reed, “Amber House” is a complex narrative that builds in tension and depth as the story unfolds. Kelly wrote the beginnings of the novel years ago. Later, her daughters found it and convinced her to complete it with them.
Normally, when I see three authors on a book, I worry about its cohesiveness. It’s not easy to make three voices sound like one. But in “Amber House” it does. In fact, after the first page or so, I forgot about the authors all together and allowed my self to get lost in their story.
And there’s a lot to get lost in.
Inside “Amber House” readers will find stories within stories, hidden passageways within walls and houses within houses. It’s impressive how smoothly each element fits with the next; almost all of the transitions are invisible.
Sarah is a strong leading character, not without her flaws but likeable just the same. And though I found myself increasingly frustrated with Sarah’s mother, the authors made it clear there was more to her story. Though Sara builds relationships with Jackson and Richard, it’s her relationship with her brother I liked best. I appreciated the closeness of their bond and the love that they share.
Kelly, Tucker and Larkin are a strong writing team. Their prose is easily accessible and they excel at setting the scene — I felt as if I were at Amber House, watching the events unfold. “Amber House” is the first three planned books. Here’s hoping the following two live up to their predecessor.(less)
Author Nic Bennett has made economics exciting. Granted, there’s conspiracy involved, but his descriptions of actual trading were actually interesting. The first half of “Dead Cat bounce” is heavy on the banking/trading side, but it doesn’t feel out of place nor is it boring. Nic’s pacing and his ability to build tension are what make this book a success. And there’s no doubt it is a success. “Dead Cat Bounce” ends with a cliffhanger. I’m excited to see where Nic takes his readers in the next installment. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long.(less)
Full review at Cracking the Cover Author Maggie Stiefvater is known for her mix of magic and mystery filled with tension and adventure. “The Raven Boys...moreFull review at Cracking the Cover Author Maggie Stiefvater is known for her mix of magic and mystery filled with tension and adventure. “The Raven Boys” is no different. Though if you’re looking for a novel as strong as “Scorpio Races,” you’ll be a little disappointed.
There are a lot of things going on in “The Raven Boys” and not all of the elements are tied together in a way one would expect from Maggie. It’s also a slower-paced novel with bursts of information that come as a surprise — not because of their content but because they’re suddenly there.
“The Raven Boys” is part of a series, and feels like it’s part of a series. Unfortunately that telegraphs into a slipshod ending that feels out of tune with what came before. It leaves the reader with ambivalent feelings for what’s to come.
“The Raven Boys” is not without merit. Where Maggie excels is in her character development. Blue and the Raven Boys are well crafted. These are characters you care about, you want to keep learning about, growing with and experience the bumps and bruises of life with.
It’s because of Maggie’s characters you should read “The Raven Boys.” The way they work together, and sometimes against each other, to uncover the mysteries hidden within the surrounding area is great. It will be interesting to see how the series develops.(less)
Full review at Cracking the Cover “The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit” is perfectly in keeping with its predecessors. Both the story and the illustration...moreFull review at Cracking the Cover “The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit” is perfectly in keeping with its predecessors. Both the story and the illustrations are charming. At more than 60 pages, it’s longer than most picture books, but the text is sparse and simple, which makes it feel shorter than it is.
This edition also comes with a CD recording by Emma Thompson. And while I thoroughly enjoyed how the actress/screenwriter/author brought the characters to life, I did have some issues with the recording. At 14 minutes long, it’s kind of, well, long. The story doesn’t actually get started until 45 seconds in. The other problem is the lack of cues to turn the page. Sometimes there are pauses, sometimes not. Pauses in the middle of a page feel almost as if the page should be turned. There’s a lack of musical cues, as well. This won’t be a problem for more advanced readers or children who are reading with their parents, but it could be for others.
Despite my few issues with the recording, I would not hesitate to give “The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit” as a gift. It’s a great addition to the Peter Rabbit library.(less)
Full review at Cracking the Cover At first glance, “Seraphina” seems similar to Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, though if you take a closer lo...moreFull review at Cracking the Cover At first glance, “Seraphina” seems similar to Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, though if you take a closer look, you’ll see that while the attention to detail and writing quality in both are strong, the stories themselves are much different.
The dragons here are haughty, almost aloof in their mannerisms. Emotions are considered bad and better to be avoided. That provides an interesting juxtaposition with humans who often wear emotions on their sleeves.
Seraphina herself is a compelling character with layer upon layer of her unveiled throughout the book. Her insecurities make her strong and likeable while her developing talents shape her into someone you want to root for.
Debut author Rachel Hartman has a sophisticated writing style that some readers will need to warm to. “Seraphina” reads slower than your typical YA book, but that just gives you more time to savor it. Description and scene setting are key players here, and the book is better for it. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.(less)
Full review a Cracking the Cover “The Dark Unwinding” is steampunk with a gothic feel. It’s not as action-packed as other steampunk fiction, but that d...moreFull review a Cracking the Cover “The Dark Unwinding” is steampunk with a gothic feel. It’s not as action-packed as other steampunk fiction, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, the pacing provides a sense of purpose and allows readers to fully absorb the discoveries Katharine makes. There’s a lot going on in this novel, and if you read too fast, you might miss it.
One of “The Dark Unwinding’s” greatest strengths is the descriptive prose of author Sharon Cameron. The rolling estate, quirky characters and Uncle Tully’s inventions are brilliantly defined. Instead of following along, you feel as if you are inside the book, standing just to the side as a silent observer. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish, and made me like the book more than I would have otherwise.
There are some convenient plot twists and a couple of eyebrow-raising events, but those quibbles aren’t enough to not recommend “The Dark Unwinding.” It’s an enjoyable novel, and I look forward to its follow-up.(less)
Where it doesn’t completely work is in making all the elements cohesive. The story is there, and so are the characters, but the transitions are sometimes slow or extremely convenient. I would have liked to see tighter editing and perhaps some trimming or reworking in a few places. That would have cleared up the feeling that the author clearly knows more but isn’t sharing.
That said, author Sarah J. Maas has done an excellent job setting the scene. It only takes a few paragraphs to pull the reader in, making them want more. And Celaena is a likeable, strong young woman that has unexpected faults and gifts.
It will be interesting to see where Sarah takes this series. Fingers crossed that both her characters and her writing will continue to develop. If so, this could become something special.(less)
It’s always a chancy venture to take on a series beloved by millions. Writing a prequel can be even more adventuresome. Luckily, Albert Whitman & Company had the right person in mind when it chose Patricia MacLachlan to author the latest book in the Boxcar Children series.
The author of “Sarah, Plain and Tall” knows how to write for children without talking down to them. In “The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm” she not only writes sensibly and articulately, she also captures the essence of Warner’s characters and the overall tone of the late-author’s books.
Though the writing in “The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm” feels absolutely on par with the series, I did find myself missing the original silhouette images. Illustrator Tim Jessell does fine work, but it’s just not the same. It’s a minor complaint, but one worth noting for sentimental fans such as myself.
“The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm” is an easy, quick-moving read that should appeal to old and new fans of Warner’s classic series.(less)
Like Matthew’s previous book, “The Clockwork Three,” “Icefall” is a conglomeration of a lot of styles. It’s part mythology, part mystery, part adventure and part fairy tale. And what’s so exciting is that all of those parts, or genres, really do work together.
The diversity of Matthew’s plots set him apart from other writers. Told from Solveig’s point of view, “Icefall” is light years apart in subject matter from “The Clockwork Three.” Both books are interesting and quickly captivate their readers.
It’s clear Matthew intimately knows the worlds he creates. His storytelling abilities have evolved just like Solveig’s. His prose is tighter and more refined, and his characters are well thought out and multidimensional. It never feels like a character is thrown in to make the story work, rather the story works because certain characters are there.
“Icefall” is a joy to read and that’s because of the care Matthew put into it. His research of Norse mythology and its incorporation into this tale really make “Icefall” something special. It’s one of the best middle-reader books of the year. (less)
Full review at Cracking the Cover “The Springsweet” is a companion novel to “The Vespertine,” and I didn’t realize this until I had begun reading. “The...moreFull review at Cracking the Cover “The Springsweet” is a companion novel to “The Vespertine,” and I didn’t realize this until I had begun reading. “The Vespertine” has been on my “to-read” list since it came out, and after reading “The Springsweet” it’s jumped a few notches up on the list. While there are references to “The Vespertine,” it’s not imperative that readers have read it first. Though, the background would have helped make more sense of some things up front.
Author Saundra Mitchell is a natural storyteller. Her words flow smoothly, as does her story. “The Springsweet” is a fast read — partly because it’s a relatively short book at less than 300 pages and partly because of Saundra’s pacing. Saundra sets a great scene, with lyrical imagery that transports her readers. And while I found the eventual outcome somewhat predictable, I didn’t mind in the least.
“The Springsweet” evokes a different time and place. There’s a sense of history that gives weight to the more “magical” moments weaved throughout the book. It’s definitely worth giving up a couple hours to read.(less)