7/1/15

Waiting on Wednesday--Kingfisher, by Patricia McKillip

I'm off travelling today (Colonial Williamsburg), so thought it would be a good day to just share a book I'm awfully excited about--a new one from one of my favorite authors, Patricia McKillip!

Kingfisher (coming in Feb. 2016, which is closer than one might think), is an Arthurian sounding story:

"Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on the way to the legendary capital city. “Look for us,” they tell Pierce, “if you come to Severluna. You might find a place for yourself in King Arden’s court.”

Lured by a future far away from the bleak northern coast, Pierce makes his choice. Heloise, bereft and furious, tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court, about an older brother he never knew existed, about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.

As Pierce journeys to Severluna, his path twists and turns through other lives and mysteries: an inn where ancient rites are celebrated, though no one will speak of them; a legendary local chef whose delicacies leave diners slowly withering from hunger; his mysterious wife who steals Pierce’s heart; a young woman whose need to escape her life is even greater than Pierce’s. And finally, in Severluna, the youngest son of King Arden, who is urged by strange and lovely forces to sacrifice his father’s kingdom.

Things are changing in that kingdom. Ancient magic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to legendary glory—or destroy it..."

Yay!

6/29/15

The Girl in the Torch, by Robert Sharenow

The Girl in the Torch, by Robert Sharenow (Balzer + Bray, mg, May 2015)

In the early 20th century, Sarah and her mother leave their home, where Sarah's father has just been killed, for the hope that is the United States.  But then Sarah's mother falls ill, and dies in the immigration center, and Sarah is put on a boat headed back to Europe.  She refuses to give up on her dream, though, and jumps overboard, swimming to the Statue of Liberty.  For the next few days, she makes it her home, scrounging for food discarded by tourists and hiding from the night watchman.

Then the watchman discovers her...but Sarah is lucky, and he takes her off the island to a refuge in a household run by a Chinese woman.   And though more troubles come her way (the life of poor orphaned immigrants in New York City not being all that fun), Sarah is lucky in that she finds people to befriend her (to the point of requiring strong suspension of disbelief), and so her story ends with hope.

The majority of the people whom Sarah meets are well intentioned, and lacking in ethnic prejudice (they were Russian, Irish, Chinese, African American, and Native American, and Sarah herself is Jewish).   So although it might be hard for the cynic to swallow the fact that all these people worked together to look after Sarah, this niceness did much to compensate for the sadness of death and the hardness of poverty that are also part of Sarah's life.   And though I myself am cynical much of the time, I frankly prefer my historical fiction not to dwell too much on dark realities.  I am not drawn to grit.  Which means I enjoyed this one just fine, and thought it pleasantly readable; I'd happily give it to any young historical fiction fan who likes nice character-centered stories of the past!

(Here's what I would really have liked more of--Sarah living in the Statue of Liberty for longer, and making a home for herself there ala the Borrowers.  Oh well!)

Here's the Kirkus review.

disclaimer:  review copy received fro the publisher

6/28/15

This week's round-up of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (6/28/15)

As ever, let me know if I missed your post!

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley, at In Bed With Books

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Children, by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder, at Fangirl Nation

Echo, by Pamela Munoz Ryan, at Literate Lives

Ferals, by Jacob Grey, at Charlotte's Library

Fires of Invention, by J. Scott Savage, at Views from the Tesseract

Flunked by Jen Calonita, at Pages Unbound

The IPhone that Saved George Washington, by David Potter, at Charlotte's Library

I Text Dead People, by Rose Cooper, at In Bed With Books

Into the Land of the Unicorns, by Bruce Coville, at Read Till Dawn

Lily, books 1-3, by Holly Webb, at alibrarymama

Loot, by Jude Watson, at Teen Librarian Toolbox

The Mad Apprentice, by Django Wexler, at Good Books and Good Wine

Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman, at KidLitGeek

Omega City, by Diana Peterfreund, at Dark Fairie Tales

The Peculiar, by Stefan Bachmann, at Hidden in Pages

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, by Jonathan Auxier, at Becky's Book Reviews

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, at Books Beside My Bed

The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani, at Leaf's Reviews

The Sound of Life and Everything, by Krista Van Dolzer, at The Children's War

Valiant, by Sarah McGuire, at Writer of Wrongs

Vanishing Island, by Barry Wolverton, at This Kid Reviews Books

Villain Keeper, by Laurie McKay, at Istyria Book Blog

Winter Turning (Wings of Fire book 7) by Tui T. Sutherland, at Charlotte's Library

Witherwood Reform School, by Obert Skye, at On Starships and Dragonwings

Two at Ms. Yingling Reads--Atlantis in Peril, by T.A. Barron, and Attack of the Alien Hoards, by Robert Venditti and Dusty Higgins

Authors and Interviews

John David Anderson (The Dungeoneers) at Maria's Melange

Other Good Stuff

There's an exhibit opening at the Smithsonian in July that looks really cool--"Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910."

A list of recentish scary/horror mg books at The Hiding Spot

Someone was looking for time travel books with diversity, so I pulled together a list of mg and ya titles.

6/27/15

A list of time travel books with diversity

The Twinjas asked on twitter for recommendations of diverse time travel books, and so here one is!  I keep a list of time travel books, and a list of multicultural spec fic books, but the two aren't cross referenced, so I went into time travel and pulled out the relevant books.  Here's what there's not a lot of--LGBT time travel or time travel of characters with disabilities.  I have given my personal favorites stars, and I've given books I think of as "important reads in diverse time travel" double stars.  The links go to my reviews.

I am always open to more recommendations, so sent them my way please.

Multicultural (arranged more or less by age of reader)

Bonjour, Lonnie, by Faith Ringgold

The Little Yokozuna, by Wayne Shorey

The Magic Mirror, by Zetta Elliott

*Cleopatra in Space--Target Practice, and  The Thief and the Sword  by Mike Maihack

The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens, by Henry Clark

Chronal Engine, by Greg Leitich Smith

Abracadabra Tut, by Page McBriar

Turning on a Dime, by Maggie Dana

Bridge of Time, by Lewis Buzbee

Jacob Wonderbar and the Intersellar Time Warp, by Nathan Bransford

*The Wells Bequest, by Polly Shulman

Dragon Magic, by Andre Norton

Lavender-Green Magic, by Andre Norton

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time, by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Freedom Stone, by Jeffrey Kluger

Facing Fire, by kc dyer

Roberto and Me: a Baseball Card Adventure, by Dan Gutman

Black Powder, by Staton Rabin

The Snipesville Chronicles (three books) by Annette Laing

The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Archer's Quest, by Linda Sue Park

*The Prince of Fenway Park, by Julianna Baggott

And The Infinity Ring series from Scholastic, by various authors

YA on up

Black Powder, by Staton Rabin

The Girl Who Lept Through Time, by Yasutaka Tsutsui

*The Black Canary, by Jane Louise Curry

Echo, by Alicia Wright Brewster

*The Tomorrow Code, by Brian Falkner

The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman

Transcendence, by  C.J. Omololu

Along the River, by Adeline Yen Mah

**Kindred, by Octavia Butler

**A Wish After Midnight, by Zetta Elliott

(With reservations re whether it really counts as diversity as stated in my review) The River of No Return, by Bee Ridgeway

Disability--

Dreamer, Wisher, Liar, by Clarise Mericle Harper

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, by D. Robert Pease

Non-Binary Gender--

*Several short stories by Ursula Le Guin, in The Winds Twelve Quarters and Fisherman of an Inland Sea

6/25/15

The Eternal City, by Paula Morris--mythological mayhem in Rome for tweens

The Eternal City, by Paula Morris (Point, May 2015, upper middle grade/lower YA)

Laura is an ordinary American student visiting Rome, until war between the ancient Roman gods breaks out, and she's right in the middle of it.  Things start going strange gradually--ancient works of art coming to brief life, crows behaving strangely, and a manhole cover trying to eat her.  Then her classmates are almost all struck down with a mysterious illness, and a volcano erupts, showering Rome with Ash!  Mercury appears, telling Laura that she's in possession of two stones that are the Eyes of Athena... but he doesn't really offer helpful advice on what the heck she's supposed to do with them before Rome is destroyed.

In a panic stricken city, Laura and a handful of other foreign teens who have escaped the sickness try to figure their way through an ancient Rome coming to life...

On the plus side, this is a very tween friendly book, especially for an 11 or 12 year old girl--there's enough of a nod toward teen romance to please a reader who hasn't really gotten into the heart of the YA section, but it stays very tame.   It's also one that will appeal to those who insatiably devour stories of modern kids getting entangled with classical mythology, although they might be disappointed by the distance the gods themselves keep from the goings on the ground.   The descriptions of Rome and the magic filling its streets are very nicely done (and the ideal reader would be a tween about to travel there), but unfortunately, the story itself never ended up making much sense to me. Laura seemed just a random happenstance to the larger mythological goings on, and on top of that, she didn't have much agency, sort of drifting from one excitement to the next (and in the book's favor, there were lots of these, nicely paced) without much reason behind it.

Not a bad read, but not as good as I'd hoped it would be based on the description.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

6/24/15

Winter Turning (Wings of Fire Book 7) by Tui T. Sutherland

Of all the books I got at BEA, the one I read first for my own personal pleasure was Winter Turning, the 7th book in a series about young dragons reshaping their war torn world (Scholastic, June 30).  War between the dragon clans had been going on for years, and many dragons had died, horribly and unforgivably.  Now the war is over, and young dragons are being asked to forgive the past and to work together to build peace.  It is hard, almost unimaginably hard, when loved ones on all sides have died, many in horrible circumstances.  But it is possible...because among the young dragons are some who are just really great people, who believe friendship is possible.

This particular book focuses on a young Ice Wing, Winter, who isn't at all convinced.  His harsh upbringing (I don't want to be a young Ice Wing!) hasn't prepared him for peace in general, and his main concern is not the good of some abstract Dragonkind, but saving his older brother, still a prisoner of the war.   But to save his brother, Winter might have to betray dragons from other clans who he is starting to care about, who might even be friends...the next book can't come soon enough!

This series is beautifully character driven, each book being from a different dragon's point of view.  There's plenty of action and excitement, but what really makes this a Really Outstanding Full of Kid Appeal (and I don't Capitalize Lightly) set of books is that the dragons are so unique, so strong in some ways, so hurt in others, and the problems they are grappling with are so (sadly) germane to conflicts in our own world that the books are more than just entertainment (though they aren't preachy).  All the various dragon cultures and idiosyncrasies are fully detailed too, making the world building something to enjoy lots!

If you have a fourth or fifth grader, start them on the series (and speaking as a parent, the fact that it's a nice long series is something to be happy about too, viz keeping one's children reading.  They will be hooked and the books will take them through a good part of the summer).  The first book is perhaps the most violent of the series (with dragon pitted against dragon in an arena of death) but there's so much more than violence going on that I would not hesitate to give it to any random 9 year old I happened to run into on the street.

For those who, like me, are already hooked--the next book, which comes out in January, is from Peril's point of view!  I can't wait.  (This is the sort of thing that makes me really glad I started a book blog.  I will probably get a review copy, and give it to my son at Christmas, and he will be So Happy!)

Disclaimer:  received from the publisher

6/23/15

The Left Behinds: The iPhone that Saved George Washington, by David Potter, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Left Behinds: The iPhone that Saved George Washington, by David Potter (Crown Books for Young Readers, Jan. 2015).

For the Left Behind kids, stuck spending Christmas at their boarding school, going to see the re-enactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware was mostly something to be endured.  (Except for Mel, the history geek of the three of them, who was at least a little interested),

But then Mel find General Washington dead (really truly dead) in a stable.  And he realizes (in bits, as is only to be expected) that he's actually travelled back in time.   Bev and Brandon come back in time too, and Mel convinces them that they have to come to the rescue of the colonies, or the United States will never exist. 

Thanks to texts from his history teacher back in the present, Mel realizes that his iPhone was the time travel catalyst.  But unless he can charge it, the kids won't get home again.

So there in the middle of colonial winter (with Washington dead in barn) the three set out, braving hostile Hessians and suspicious colonial kids to find Ben Franklin, the only iPhone charging hope going.  But once that's done, there's the matter of George Washington...so Mel hops back in time again, to foil the killers...

And it's fine history adventure fun.  I'm a smidge doubtful about the appeal of the American Revolution to modern kids (mine are tired of it), and I think the blurb at Amazon goes over board--"Percy Jackson fans will embrace this humorous time travel adventure..." (what? P.J. is totally utterly different, except that he, like Mel, is a boy thrown into adventure, but of a totally different sort).  This is more along the lines of Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House books for older readers, and it's done well, with bits of humor, and vivid descriptions.  But it's not Percy Jackson.

Time travel via iPhone app is certainly an  interesting premise, and there's a not uninteresting story about why it happened to the kids (there's a villain who wants to unleash temporal chaos on the world).  There's certainly lots of room for more stories.  Despite the premise, there wasn't much overt concern for the paradox that beset time travelers, which, since the characters were busy staying alive and keeping Washington alive, is understandable, but which may disappoint time travel fans.  I'd classify this one as "time travel as a mechanism that allows modern kids to have adventures with historical figures" story, as opposed to "time travel as an opportunity to reflect on a different culture/time and see how it changes the protagonists."  And I'm really more a fan of the later.

Something I found interesting was that although the three kids weren't friends at the beginning of the book, they did Not grow to appreciate each other much, and did not become inseparable comrades by the end of it.  Points for realism!  But on the other hand, because there wasn't much change or growth to the characters, even though we learn more about their lives, there wasn't much opportunity to care that much about them.

In short there wasn't anything I actively didn't like about the book, but things just didn't feel particularly magical to me, and so it was a book that I read perfectly happily, but didn't love.




6/22/15

Ferals, by Jacob Grey

If you are looking for shape-shifting urban fantasy verging on horror for an eleven or twelve year old, Ferals, by Jacob Grey (HarperCollins, April 2015), is a good pick!

Caw's parents literally pushed him out a window when he was a little kid (for good reason), and since that day he's been raised by crows, living in a tree top nest with them, scavenging for food.  He can communicate with them, and does not think of his life as especially hard or unhappy (though he is sore, also with good reason, about the whole parents pushing him out of the house bit). 

But when three dangerous criminals escape from the prison near his tree, Caw's life becomes rather more difficult, in as much as they want to kill him (also for reasons).  Like him, each of these villains can communicate with a particular creature (dogs, cockroaches, and snakes), but unlike Caw, the villains want to bring back an even more villainous criminal, the Spinning Man (who controls spiders).

As Caw learns more about the danger he's in, he also learns more about who he is, and why he has the gift of communicating with crows.  He meets other communicators who tell him about the Ferals, as the animal speakers are known, and he makes an ordinary friend as well--the prison warden's daughter, Lydia (the sort of middle grade archetypally good friend who doesn't take no for an answer viz friendship with prickly main character).  Together Lydia and Caw, the ragtag band of crows, and their uncertain Feral allies, have to save the city and themselves from the Spinning Man...

What makes this one really verge on horror is not just the grossness of cockroach swarms (although those are very gross) but what happened to Caw's parents when they faced the Spinning Man.  It is the most horrible death by spider I have ever read, and not for the arachnophobic.

But for those who can stand a bit of arachnid hell, there's a fast paced story that's part mystery to enjoy, and for those who love animals, there are furry and feathered friends (besides the crows) on the good guys' side.  (The dogs are on the bad side, but once their master feral dude is out of they way, they are decent animals, so dog lovers shouldn't be bothered).  Dark real world based fantasy isn't really my thing, but if that's what you like, give this one a try!

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)

6/21/15

My 48 Hour Reading Challenge Wrap-Up Post

So my final reading time, which ended at 6:18 pm was 19 hours and forty minutes...plus an hour of social media, pushing me to 20 hours, 40 minutes.  I couldn't quite make it to 20 hours of reading.  Oh well!  I read lots of books though, which was good.  I finished 11 books, all with pleasure (although I'm not sure I'll ever be moved to re-read any of them, so they weren't quite Top Books).  Even though they were mostly middle grade, tilting toward spec. fic., there was enough variety to keep me interested.

Palace of Lies, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (368 pp)
Sugar, by Jewell Parker Rhodes (228 pp)
Dragons at Crumbling Castle, by Terry Pratchett (339 pp)
Apple and Rain, by Sarah Crossan (330 pp)
The Girl in the Torch, by Robert Sharenow (304 pp)
The Unmapped Sea, by Maryrose Wood (404 pp)
The Black Reckoning, by John Stephens (421 pp)
The League of Unexceptional Children, by Gitty Daneshvari (240 pp)
Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley (304 pp)
The Inquisitor's Mark, by Dianne K. Salerni (352 pp)
Stormstruck, by John Macfarlane (144 pp)

plus 89 pages of The Well-Tuned Brain, by Peter Whybrow

and listened to the first four discs of Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff.

which is about 3,400 pages altogether.

Now, of course, I have reviews to write for many of these....but I think I might curl up and read a bit more! Thank you so much, Pam, for hosting this!

This Week's Round-up of Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction (6/21/15)

Here's this week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and sci fi gathered from around the blogs; please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

All the Answers, by Kate Messner, at Semicolon

Bayou Magic, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, at Books of Wonder and Wisdom

Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon, at Jean Little Library

Dan and the Sherd of Ice, by Thomas Taylor, at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Eden's Wish, by M. Tara Crowl, at Nayu's Reading Corner

The Fog Diver, by Joel Ross, at Charlotte's Library

Goldilocks Breaks In, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams at Pages Unbound

Grounded: the Adventures of Rapunzel, by Megan Morrison, at Leaf's Reviews

Half a Creature from the Sea, by David Almond, at Falling Letters

Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, at By Singing Light

Jinx's Fire, by Sage Blackwood, at Sonderbooks

The Jumbies, by Tracy Baptiste, at The Washington Post and Abby the Librarian

The Left Behinds: The iPhone that Saved George Washington, by David Potter, at Always in the Middle

Magical Charms for Breakfast, by Merriweather Hope, at Andi's Middle Grade and Chapter Books

The Magician's Dream, by Shawn Thomas Odyssey, at Fangirl Nation

Mothman's Curse, by Christine Hayes, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Nightborn, by Lou Anders, at Great Imaginations

Palace of Lies, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, at Charlotte's Library

Pennyroyal Academy, by M.A. Larson, at Good Books and Good Wine

Raising Rufus, by David Fulk, at The Write Path

Ratscalibur, by Josh Lieb, at Librarian of Snark and Teen Librarian Toolbox

Return to Augie Hobble, by Lane Smith, at Fuse #8

Scare Scape, and The Midnight Door: Scare Scape #2, by Sam Fisher, at Ms. Yingling Reads

Stellarcadia, by Julie Anne Grasso, at Nayu's Reading Corner

Seraphina and the Black Cloak, by Robert Beatty, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile

The Valley of Song, by Elizabeth Goudge, at The Emerald City

Worry Magic, by Dawn McNiff, at Nayu's Reading Corner


Authors and Interviews

Barry Wolverton (Vanishing Island) at Maria's Menage and The Hiding Spot

John David Anderson (The Dungeoneers) at Nerdy Book Club

David Fulk (Raising Rufus) at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Tonke Dragt (The Secrets of the Wild Wood) at Playing By the Book


Other Good Stuff

A Tuesday 10 of Fantastical Pirates at Views From the Tesseract

At the Morgan Museum in New York, a new Alice exhibit opens on the 26th (found via Educating Alice)

6/20/15

26 hours gone of the 48 Hour Reading Challenge

Checking in on the 48 Hour Reading Challenge, with a little less than halfway to go--I have now hit 10 hours of reading, and a about 30 minutes of online challenge related time.  I have read

Palace of Lies, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Sugar, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Dragons at Crumbling Castle, by Terry Pratchett
Apple and Rain, by Sarah Crossan
The Girl in the Torch, by Robert Sharenow
The Unmapped Sea, by Maryrose Wood

and have started two more....

This year I cunningly bought myself a boom box (does anyone call them that anymore?) so that I could listen to the audio version of Crumbling Castle while sorting books for the next library booksale, a matter of some urgency given the surprisingly large number of recent donations (one person who donated some 400 books wants four of them back, and counts on me to find them.  I am loosing hope).  I also listened while weeding, which was pleasant.

I think I can get at least ten more hours in before six tomorrow evening.   The book I'm reading now, The Well-Tuned Brain, is going on and on about over-consumption and too much choice and not self restraint...which pretty much describes my book situation.  Will I ever be book hungry again?  I kind of miss those days...but not enough to change my ways.

6/19/15

Palace of Lies, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Palace of Lies, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon and Schuster, April 2015, middle grade), is my first completed book for this year's 48 Hour Reading Challenge!  It was a good one to kick off with--a fast and entertaining story of a princess in danger, both politically and physically....

The book picks up where Palace of Mirrors left off (though Haddix does an excellent job making this one that can stand alone), with the 12 girls who had all been raised separately, each believing she was the one true heir to the throne, having come together to agree to rule the kingdom jointly.  Desmia is the only one who was actually raised in the palace, and so, having grown up in constant intrigue and danger, she is much more suspicious and wary than the other girls.  But when fire sweeps through the palace, destroying it and possibly killing her sister-princess, and Desmia is captured by an old enemy, she has to learn that suspicion and familiarity with plots isn't going to be enough to get her to the neighboring kingdom for help.

Fortunatly there is help much closer to hand.  A family of poor city folk has been looking out for her all along (for reasons), and though they have no money, and no clean clothes to offer, they do have the will to help, and the strength of purpose to get her out of the country.  During their journey together, Desmia learns to set aside her snobbish preconceptions of peoples' intrinsic worth, and (provided she makes it back to her throne) has become determined to be much more concerned with issues of social justice.

Gradually mysteries are unfolded, twists in her enemies plots revealed, and in the court of Prince Charming (of Haddix's earlier book, Just Ella) the tension builds to a head, and then falls gently to a satisfying ending.

It was a good page turner, though not exactly subtle, and stretching credulity at times.  But heck, these days any book that both entertains and promotes social justice is one I am all in favor of!!!

Note on age of reader--romance is a minor sub-plot here, but not enough to push it into true YA territory.  It's spot on, I think, for an eleven or twelve year old.  Desmia herself is 14, so not quite old enough to be a YA heroine...

Note on fantasy--there's no actual magic; it's your "set in other world, with a few vague fairy tale references" type fantasy.  So don't expect spells and enchantments!

(challenge update:  1 hour and 35 minutes read, 15 minutes social media).

My reading challenge begins!

I am all ready for Reading for Mother Reader's 48 Hour Reading Challenge!  Here is my pile of books (displayed, as always, on the wood stove; so handy), including all my library books currently out (at right) and a smattering of review copies and tbr books elsewhere:


Here are my goals:  I'd like to hit 30 hours of reading, hope to hit 25, and wouldn't cry it was 20. Admittedly I am a bit distracted by having reached level 1000 on Candy Crush, which is rather an exciting one....but I will do my best.  And so, at 6:13 pm, I begin.

I am not very impressed by my past statistics, which I have compiled for my own amusement.  My bar is set low.

2014
Reading: 18 hours and 15 minutes of reading
Social media: 1 hour and 58 minutes of social media
Total pages:  2091

2013
Reading: 23 hours and 32 minute
Social media: three ish hours
Total pages: 3086

2012
Reading: 18 hours
Social Media:  three ish hours
Total pages:  not counted;    8 and a half books

2011
Reading: 15 hours and ten minutes
Social media: 2 hours and 40 minutes
Total pages: 2963

2010
Reading: 22 hours
Social media: three 
Total pages; 3118

2009  (the year I tried to read Twilight at 3:00 am...and just couldn't even.)
Reading: 35 hours
Total pages: 3706

6/17/15

The Fog Diver, by Joel Ross

Post-apocalyptic disaster in middle grade science fiction almost invariably involves scavenging kids.  Which is fine and makes sense; kids are good scavengers and it comes naturally to them.  And happily there are enough twists available so that such books can be fresh and fun, and the scavenging just as interesting as ever!

Such a book is The Fog Diver, by Joel Ross  (HarperCollins, May 2015).  In this particular version of the future, a fog of nanobots, poisonous to people, but nothing else, has covered the surface of the earth.   A few enclaves of people live above the fog, on mountaintops (if wealthy or powerful) or floating rafts (if they are not).  13 year old Chess and his friends fall into the latter category, making a hardscrabble living through scavenging.  Though the fog is poisonous, it's not immediately toxic, so the surface of the earth can be visited briefly by those desperate enough to dive through the fog (although it's eventually fatal).  And so Chess, who has a strange affinity with the fog, is lowered down by his friends from their ramshackle hired salvage vessel, and he explores...and if he finds food or useful scraps from the past, they will eat.

Hazel, Bea, and Swedish never know what Chess will bring back to them, but all four are hoping he finds something really good.  Their beloved surrogate mother has fallen ill, and in the fabled city of Port Oro is there hope for a cure for her.  But even though Chess makes the find of a lifetime, it might not be enough.  Because Chess is being hunted by one of the ruling dictators, who will stop at nothing to get Chess' preternatural fog diving abilities under his control.

Persued by this enemy, and running afoul of piratical mercenaries, Chess and his friends desperately struggle to escape.

What makes this one such a solid read is not just the fantastical world of the fog and those who fly above it and dive down into it; it is the loyalty and bonds of friendship that hold the kids together.  Each kid has his or her own strengths, and each one has an important part to play in the survival of the group.  Middle school kids, who treasure deep friendships and who are working to figure out their own identities, will find this part of the book very appealing.   It helps that these are a really good group of kids, the sort one would like to be part of!  Many readers will also like the space pirates, the treasure hunting below the fog, and the dangers of escaping from the bad guys--it's solid adventure, with plenty of near disaster.  Distorted pop culture references to the past add humor (many aphorisms and advertising slogans we take for granted haven't aged well in this future world!)

I myself would have liked just a tad more peaceful treasure hunting by Chess alone in the fog, and a bit less exciting action, but that's just me.

In short, it's a very good first "survival in a world almost ruined" science fiction adventure for kids 9 and up, and I'm looking forward to the sequel!

disclaimer: review copy received from the author.

6/16/15

Scorched, by Mari Mancusi, for Timeslip Tuesday

It's kind of late in the day, and this book kind of didn't work for me, but Timeslip Tuesday has a powerful pull on my spirit, so here are my tired and somewhat rambling thoughts on Scorched, by Mari Mancusi (Sourcebooks Fire Sept. 2013)-- time travel from an appolyptic future with dragons, which is a pretty great hook.  In my mind, however, the book doesn't quite do it justice.

The future is a scorched wasteland, because once dragons were rediscovered they were genetically manipulated to be weapons, and they got loose and burned with savage ferocity and were pretty impossible to kill, unless you were a really good dragon killer.   And in this burny future, one young woman from our time was pretty much blamed for bringing dragons back into the world, even though she wasn't the bad dragon gene manipulator.

In the present, this young woman, Trinity, has no idea that the dragon's egg her grandpa just paid all their last money for really is a dragon's egg, or that she and the baby dragon are destined to be psychically bonded soul-mates.   So it's something of a surprise to her when a strange dude from the future, Connor, shows up to stop the egg from becoming a dragon (saving the future from its scorching).  Adding to the surprise is the arrival of a homeland security type swat team (though how they knew to come wasn't clear to me) who want her to surrender the egg to them. 

Connor wants Trinity to trust him, and to agree that her unhatched dragon should be destroyed.  But Connor has a twin brother, Caleb, who has also traveled back through time who wants Trinity to trust him instead, and to save the dragon to breed a race of unkiller dragons who will be good for humanity.  What ensues is a lot of the two guys telling her to trust them, her being uncertain about who to trust, and insta love with both of them (complicated by trust issues).

The book has an exciting beginning, a rather long middle of trust issues and explication that didn't explicate much, and an ending of sudden excitement that was almost enough to make me want to read the next book (Shattered).  But Sorched wasn't to my taste.  I was uninterested by the middle, and grew sick of Caleb calling Trinity "Princesses" (which he did every time he opened his mouth just about), and unconvinced by the world building (like the existence of a Nether world that can be accessed by people with psychic gifts such as the twins and Trinity where there's lots of wish fulfilment), and the whole business of loving bonds with dragons wasn't fresh and new and fascinating to me (though Trinity's dragon is rather charming) and the whole issue of events in the present changing the future was murky at the beginning, and became much more so.  Connor, for instance, is bent on changing the future even if the hellish one he's come from full of killer dragons will continue on in one version of reality, but at least humanity will be spared in an another, if he can change things, which seems odd, but even more complicating was the fact that folks from Caleb's faction were bouncing back into Trinity's time right and left so there doesn't actually seem to be any sort of uncontaminated present left to change.  And where on earth did the mutated dragons in the secret lab come from if Trinity's dragon was the only one left???? 

Mancusi's writing didn't gel for me;  too often, I found myself reading it with an eye for how it wasn't working for me, rather than as a story I was interested in.  And that, along with too many questions, too much time on trust issues (though goodness knows, they were required by the set up), double the usual insta love, and too many princess references makes me not able to actually recommend this one with anything but a rather tepid "it is an interesting idea and if you love baby dragons and double insta love sounds fun and you are cool with psychic powers having popped up in humanity with our heroine just happening to have her fair share along with dragon bonding you might want to read it."

Book number two, Shattered, which came out Sept 2014, sounds better because instead of bad guys from the future manipulating not just the characters but time itself (with no explanation of How they do it) it sounds like straightforward girl and the two guys in love with her on the run from government agents who want her baby dragon.  Which seems like it make for a tighter, more holding together sort of story.

6/15/15

Penguins With People Problems, by Mary Laura Philpott

So at one point while at BEA I found myself in a random line by the Penguin bookmobile, and although I didn't mean to be lining up for another book, it was an enticing one--Penguins With People Problems (Perigee Books, June 2 2015)by Mary Laura Philpott.  Those of you who like to give books as presents-- this is a Great Book to give to those grownups in your life who are difficult to buy books for (as long as they are the sort of people who enjoy a chuckle, and if they aren't, why bother to get them anything?).  The recipient will pick it up soon after getting it, and enjoy flipping through the pages of penguins suffering various vicissitudes of daily life.

Although the simple yet expressive penguins make the book look cute and child friendly, the problems these penguins are having are rather grown up ones.  Some of them might well need a bit of awkward explaining to a person not yet at least a teenager, and some are pitched directly at adults, like this one  "Well, that didn't turn out at all like those bitches on Pinterest said it would."  And some spoke directly to my own life experiences:  "Halfway through changing clothes, Patty became trapped half-in and half-out of her dress, and now she fears she will die and be found this way."  That being said, my 12 year old son and I enjoyed looking at it together, and my mother also got several laughs out of it.   So like I said, a good one for quick and easy present giving!

Mary Laura Philpott is the creator of The RandomPenguins.com, where you can see lots of penguins, some with problems!  And she was kind enough to take the time to draw penguins for everyone in line.  Here is the penguin she drew for me: 


(Thank you, Ms. Philpott!  It is a lovely penguin.)



6/14/15

This week's round-up of middle grade science fiction and fantasy from around the blogs (6/14/15)

First, a news item--Registration for Kidlitcon 2015 is now open!  If the thought of a not overwhelmingly large gathering of people passionate about reading and talking about children's and YA books appeals, full of blogging introverts (and occasional extroverts to add spice), full of authors that's you'll actually have a chance to talk to, appeals (and how could it not?)  come to Baltimore this October!  And if there is a topic you would just love to talk to other kidlit bloggers about, submit a session proposal or an idea for one!

(nb: helpful travel tip-- Southwest Airlines flies into Baltimore, but doesn't show up in Travelocity)

Of special interest to us mg spec fic fans--Tracy Babtiste (The Jumbies) will be a keynote speaker!

In any event, here's this week's round-up; please let me know if I missed your post!

The Reviews

All the Answers, by Kate Messner, at Mister K Reads

The Arctic Code, by Matthew Kirby, at Fantasy Literature

Back to the Day Lincoln Was Shot, by Beatrice Gormley, at Time Travel Times Two

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley, at Great Kid Books and Waking Brain Cells

The Disappearance of Emily H., by Barrie Summy, at Small Review and Cracking the Cover

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Children, by Laurence Yep, at Kid Lit Geek

The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson, at The Hiding Spot, This Kid Reviews Books, Charlotte's Library, and Ms. Yingling Reads,

Enchantress from the Stars, by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, at Becky's Book Reviews

The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer Holm, at Mister K Reads

The Half-A-Moon Inn, by Paul Fleischman, at Views From the Tesseract

The Island of Dr. Libris, by Chris Grabenstein, at For Those About to Mock

Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff, at Becky's Book Reviews

The Jumbies, by Tracy Babtiste, at 1330V:Thoughts of an Eclectic Reader

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls, by Holly Grant, at The Reading Nook Reviews

Ms. Rapscott's Girls, by Elise Primavera , at For Those About to Mock

Nooks and Crannies, by Jessica Lawson, at Middle Grade Ninja

Peter and the Starchatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, at Books Take You Places  (with bonus look at other Peter Pan imaginings)

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, by Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater, at Mugglenet

The Search for Wond-La and A Hero for Wond-la, by Tony DiTerlizzi, at alibarymama (audiobook reviews)

A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd, at GreenBean TeenQueen

The Thickety: a Path Begins, by J.A. White, at Big Hair and Books

Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George, at Mister K Reads

The Unmapped Sea (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 5) by Maryrose Wood, at Stray Thoughts

The Whisperer, by Fiona McIntosh, at Semicolon

Two at Ms. Yingling Reads- Into the Dorkness, by John Kloepfer, and Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway by Max Brallier and Rachel Maguire

And a second two at Ms. Yingling Reads-- Raising Rufus, by David Fulk, and Circus Mirandus, by Cassie  Beasley

Authors and Interviews

Cassie Beasley (Cirus Mirandus) at The Reading Nook Reviews, Fuse #8, and Word Spelunking

Stephanie Burgis (Kat, Incorrigible) at Middle Grade Strikes Back

John David Anderson (The Dungeoneers) at Ms. Yingling Reads and Charlotte's Library (with giveaway)

Sarah McGuire (Valiant) at Literary Rambles (giveaway)

Other Good Stuff

A Tuesday Ten of Prisoners of the Fantastic at Views from the Tesseract

Zoe at Playing by the Book makes a game out of science fiction for 8-12 year olds

6/10/15

The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson, with Interview and Giveaway!

It's  my pleasure today to be a stop on the blog tour for The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, MG, June 23, 2015).  This fun and exciting story is one to add to the summer reading pile of any kid who dreams of treasure seeking and goblin bashing!

Colm's family is struggling; his father can't make and sell enough shoes to keep him and his eight sisters comfortably feed.  So Colm decides to take things into his own hands; literally--it turns out that he has a natural gift for pickpocketing.  When things go wrong, he's in danger of having one hand cut off by the law, but he's saved by a mysterious stranger, Finn, a smooth talking master rouge who takes Colm on as his protégée.  Finn is a member of the most famous league of Dungeoneers in the land--adventurers who routinely go into danger below ground in search of treasure. 

Colm becomes a student at the league's headquarters, partnered with three other kids who have their own roles to play in their future dungeon diving adventures.  There's Serene, a druid in training, who can commune with nature (as long as it's not nature in the form of giant spiders), Quinn, whose magical abilities are hampered by a nervous stutter when he's trying to use them, and Lena, determined to be the best barbarian warrior ever.

So basically it's the story of a school that trains Dungeon and Dragons-esque parties of adventurers....but as Colm's abilities as a rogue and a thief grow, he has to learn the hard way who he can really trust.  And when he and his cohort find themselves in an a real dungeon adventure far above their pay-grade, they have to learn the hard way how to stay alive.....

Give this one to any kid who enjoys stories about kids at magical schools, and definitely give it to any young fantasy game players you might happen to have on hand!  I myself enjoyed it lots--the adventure part is combined with pleasing character interaction parts, and the action is gracefully introduced into the story, without overwhelming the less frenetic school and friendship side of things.

And now it's my pleasure to welcome John David Anderson here today!  My questions for him are in blue.

  1. I'm going to pitch The Dungeoneers to my own boys as a perfect read for Dungeons and Dragons characters, and I'm wondering if you yourself were/are a D. and D. person?  If so, were you by any chance a rogue or a thief yourself?  If not, have you played similar games?

I’ve never actually played hard-core, full-on, roll-for-crit D&D, but I’ve played plenty of less-involved versions (dungeon-diving board games, Pathfinders Adventure Card Game and the like). I’ve also played plenty of computer role-playing games, so I’ve had the chance to vicariously goblin bash using a variety of personas. Usually I go for the kick-butt Amazon warrior princess or the dark sorcerer type who summons undead things to do his bidding. I’m usually not a rogue or thief because, frankly, I can’t imagine myself ever being that crafty (though I can imagine myself as an Amazon princess—go figure).

2.  There's a certain moral ambiguity (not that ambiguous) about several of the character in this book, and in your earlier books as well....is this something that just happens, or that is part of your grand plan from the get go?   Have you gotten any pushback from gatekeepers about this?

Moral ambiguity is at the heart of what makes fiction interesting. If I knew from the very start how my characters were going to behave at every possible moral crossroads I’m afraid I would get bored with them myself. I enjoy writing characters who struggle with right and wrong, who are questioning the ideologies around them and trying to find one that they can work with and stand behind, because that’s what adolescents are just starting to do (and what some adults continue to struggle with). I think both readers and gatekeepers appreciate a little moral complexity. Yes—we want our protagonists to do the right thing in the end, but if we can play with the definition of “right” along the way, it not only provides a more intriguing journey, but also gives us more to talk about when it’s over.

3.  lt interesting to me also that your books place kids in the difficult position of having grown-ups trying to make their moral decisions for them, and then having to trust, or not, their own feelings.  It this something that draws you to writing for middle grade kids, as opposed to YA, where the protagonists strike out on their own more blatantly from the get go?

Dang, that’s astute. Yes, that’s both a boon and a bane of middle grade fiction, that your characters are granted limited agency due to their age (it would be so much easier if they could just drive places!), but are often thrown into a world where their decisions suddenly matter. They still need guidance, but they are just starting to recognize the power they have to change their environment, impact other people, even rebel against their parents’ teachings. Maybe that’s why I like to write about twelve-year-olds who cast spells, pick locks, or have super senses, because it empowers them to trust in their own autonomy. That moment when you realize that your actions matter—and just as importantly—that your parents/guardians/Obi Wan Kenobis won’t be able to swoop in and clean up the mess you’ve made—it’s frightening, but it also makes for a compelling story and some much-needed evolution.

3.  Will there be more books continuing Colm and co.'s adventures?  Will the quality of the food improve?  Will we get to meet any of his sisters in any great depth?

I have yet to write a book where the food is good. I realize that. It’s a running theme. One day, I hope to, though it might require me learning how to cook first.

As for sequels to The Dungeoneers, I certainly hope so. I am quite fond of all of the characters and would love to discover what they do next. I never write a book with a sequel in mind, but as soon as I finished this one I began dreaming up further adventures. Hopefully The Dungeoneers will find its audience and leave them hungry for more. If not, I suppose I can at least write a little pamphlet called “The Candolry Sisters’ Guide to Tormenting Your Brother.”   

4.  My kids' school offers a lock picking class (although they call it "introduction to lock mechanics" to avoid Legal Issues).  Did you learn any lock picking yourself in preparation for this story?  Or practice in any other way (I, for instance, could practice walking through the lego minefield of my kids' playroom as "trap-avoidance.")

Your kids’ school is awesome! Do they offer classes in safe cracking and computer hacking? What about trap making? Fireball flinging? I have jimmied a few locks before (all my own, due to an inability to remember where I’ve put keys). I did book-research, but I refrained from buying an actual lock-pick set and breaking into my neighbor’s house (“I’m researching for my next novel, officer, really!”). I think my entire childhood was spent practicing to be a dungeoneer though. My favorite activity was covering the floor with throw pillows and pretending the carpet was lava, jumping from safe spot to safe spot to get at the treasure buried under the couch cushions (usually about thirteen cents, a gum wrapper, and a stale potato chip). Ah, those were the days.

Thanks for interviewing me, Charlotte. Hope you enjoyed the book!
Dave
John David Anderson is the author of Sidekicked and Minion (both very good!  The links go to my reviews). A dedicated root beer connoisseur in his spare time, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org,
or you can find him on twitter-- @anderson_author and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnDavidAndersonAuthor?ref=hl

Thanks very much, Dave! 

And now the giveaway--thanks to Walden Pond Press, I can offer a signed finished hardcover of The Dungeoneers!  Just leave a comment between now and midnight next Wednesday June 17, making sure there's some way to contact you!  (US and Canada only).

Here are the other stops on the Dungeoneers Blog Tour:
6/2/2015 Maria's Melange                                    ​                             
6/5/2015 Unleashing Readers                                              
6/6/2015 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia            
6/7/2015 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers         
6/8/2015 This Kid Reviews Books                                   
6/8/2015 Ms Yingling Reads                             ​         
6/9/2015 Read Now Sleep Later                         
6/11/2015   Nerdy Book Club                     
6/12/2015 The Hiding Spot                         

6/9/15

A Kiss in Time, by Alex Flinn, for Timeslip Tuesday

A Kiss in Time, by Alex Flinn  (2009), is a sleeping beauty reimagining, in which a modern boy, Jack, kisses awake a European princess, Talia, who's been sleeping for three hundred years.  Although Talia hasn't actually travelled through time, it is as if she has--everything in the present is of course strange to her.   And the whole castle, and it's inhabitants, were all asleep in true fairy tale fashion, so it is as if a whole late 17th/early 18th community were whisked to the present.

When Jack goes AWOL from the European Tour his parents had sent him on, he did not expect to end up crashing through briars and finding a sleeping castle.  Nor did he expect that kissing the sleeping princess would wake her up (obviously he is not a fairy tale reader).  But Talia, who had pricked herself on a spindle 300 years earlier, knows that the kiss was destined to happen.  But is Jack really the true love destined for her by the terms of the enchantment?  Jack certainly doesn't think he is--his first impressions of Talia are not at all favorable.   But when she travels back to Florida with him, and he gets to know her (and she gets to know herself better too, outside the constraints of her protected princess life) he begins to think otherwise.  And when the evil fairy interferes again, Jack embraces his role and set out to make happily ever after come true....

At first both Jack and Talia are unpleasant company; both are kind of spoiled and needy and unappealing.  It doesn't help that it is really icky to kiss a strange girl you just happen to find sleeping in her home.   Happily they grow up (remarkable and unbelievably quickly in just one week; little flashbacks showing Talia being decent to the Poor while being a princesses are more awkward than convincing), and happily the circumstances of their meeting are enough to keep things interesting until they become more pleasant company!  It is not a particularly realistic romance, but when fairy magic and destiny are involved, realism isn't really something one can expect.  

Disbelief has to be suspended pretty actively in just about every other aspect of the story as well.  Talia's adaptation to the 21st century is also a lot less fraught than I imagine would really be the case.  Her observations of American teen life are mildly amusing, but not tremendously insightful or thought-provoking.   Don't go reading it for a convincing look at the late 17th century, because the past as presented here is an odd medieval enlightenment mash-up that doesn't convince at all.  And don't be expecting that Jack's fraught relationship with his parents will be convincingly resolved--it is a pretty magical happy ever after on that front too. 

However, it you enjoy fairy tell retellings that add interesting twists, this is worth reading as long as you don't have expectations of greatness with regard to plot or character and are in the mood to accept an unbelievable story somewhat uncritically; I read it in a single sitting, with my mind peacefully turned off, and as a result was able to enjoy the premise just fine. 

6/7/15

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Autobiography, edited by Pamela Smith Hill

When I was in graduate school, rapidly becoming disillusioned with the idea of a career in academia, and rather lonely, two of my favorite comfort reads were the last two (since these were the ones in which Laura and her family settle down, have a decent, pleasant home, nothing horrible happens to the crops, Laura gets nice clothes, and also gets Almanzo and a home of her own).  Sometimes I re-read The Long Winter, but I can't remember ever being moved to read the first four...



In any event, it was with great interest that I read (in just about a single sitting) Pioneer Girl, the memoir that was Laura's first stab at chronicling her life.  It is her true autobiography (the Little House books are fiction heavily based on the memories that Laura gathered here) and so there are many places where the published books and this previously unpublished account diverge.   Not only was Laura's own original story interesting (both in its own right, and as a different view of the events in the published books), but the extensive footnotes add lovely historical context and clarification, and made for good reading as well.

I felt I knew Laura pretty well from the Little House books, but feel I know her even better now--I didn't realize, for instance, that she really was insecure about not being thin.  I also appreciated learning that Laura snapped a bit at her daughter Rose over Rose's editing!  Laura's account of the Little House on the Prairie time is still troubling for its portrayal of Native Americans, but slightly less so than  it is in the final book, because of being briefer and because of Ma not spewing hateful prejudice as she does in the final version.

Short answer--the original Pioneer Girl is well worth reading in its own right, and is a must read for fans of the Little House series!

(It was also nice to see Helen Dore Boylston, author of the Sue Barton nursing books, which I love, mentioned in passing...she lived with Rose Wilder Lane for a time in Laura and Almanzo's old house).

This week's round-up of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (6/7/15)

I am (I hope) almost recovered from a lot of book moving in the past two weeks--first at BEA, and then while setting up my library's book sale (it still has to be put away, so the book moving is not over yet......).    But what with one thing and another, I just zoomed through about 1000 blog posts in the past 24 hours, extracting the middle grade sci fi/fantasy posts as best I could.  Please let me know if I missed yours! (or anyone elses, for that matter...)
The Reviews

The Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer, at The Book Wars

Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees, by Robert Kent, at Charlotte's Library

Beastkeeper, by Cat Hellison, at Falling Letters

The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander, at Becky's Book Reviews

Castle Merlin, by Ursula Moray Williams, at Charlotte's Library

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley, at Librarin of Snark

Darkmouth, by Shane Hegarty, at Nerdophiles

Dark Life, and RipTide, by Kat Falls, at Librarian of Snark

The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy, at The Reading Nook Reviews and proseandkahn

Dragons at Crumbling Castle, by Terry Pratchett, at Redeemed Reader

The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson, at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, at proseandkahn (audiobook review)

A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge, at Charlotte's Library

The Fairy-Tale Detectives, by Michael Buckley, at Leaf's Reviews

Fork-Tongue Charmers, by Paul Durham, at Geo Librarian

The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman, at A Fantastical Librarian

Greetings from the Graveyard, by Kate Klise, at Geo Librarian

The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold, at Cracking the Cover

Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis, at Leaf's Reviews

The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, at The Book Wars

Lucky Strike, by Bobbie Pyron, at Read Till Dawn

The Magic Pudding, by Norman Lindsay, at Becky's Book Reviews

Monstrous, by MarcyKate Connolly, at Dee's Reads

Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman, at books4yourkids and Through Raspberry Colored Glasses

North of Nowhere, by Liz Kessler, at Cindy Reads A Lot

Ratscaliber, by Josh Lieb, at books4yourkids

The Unmapped Sea, by Maryrose Woods, at Sonderbooks

Valiant, by Sarah McGuire, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile

The Water and the Wild, by K.E. Ormsbee, at This Kid Reviews Books

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, at Leaf's Reviews


Authors and Interviews

Stacy DeKeyser (One Witch at a Time) at Nerdy Book Club

Cassie Beasley (Circus Mirandus) at Project Mayhem

John David Anderson (The Dungeoneers) shares the essential components of being a Rogue at Maria's Melange

Dan Davis (White Wind Rising), at Carpinello's Writing Pages

Rebecca Stead on "Why Writers Write" at the SCBWI Blog

P.S. Mokha (The Last Sanctuary) at Capinello's Writing Pages



Other Good Stuff

The movie version of When Marnie Was There, a classic English time slip book, is out now from Studio Ghibli; here's my review of the original book.

At Middle Grade Strikes Back, a fun quiz--can you identify these ten MG spec fic books by their first few lines?

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