Jorie and the Magic Stones

June 25, 2017 at 7:20 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

19437293_10100245730471579_2579479098578961460_n.jpgTitle: Jorie and the Magic Stones

Author: A. H. Richardson

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Length: 263 pages

Kiddo and I received this book some months ago as a review copy. We adore fantasy and fairy tales and Cabrynthius was an exciting addition to our travels which already included Narnia, the Land of Stories, Neverland, Hogwarts, and more.

Kiddo is six years old and her official review goes as follows,

“Jorie is a great book. I love the adventures she had. I want to learn more about the mysterious book she found under her bed. Please make a sequel.”

She also asked me to include three happy face emojis, of which I will refrain. But if we’re working on a happy face system instead of star ratings, she gives it three in a row. (I think happy faces may be worth more than stars.)

Richardson is a talented children’s adventure storyteller. I can say I probably would have enjoyed this book thoroughly as a second grader, although the average reading level might fall in a third or fourth grade level.  As an adult reading a children’s book, the story was appropriately paced, the trials and life lessons were concisely addressed, and I looked forward to reading each chapter with my little girl.

My only criticism for the work as a whole lies in an editorial preference: too many instances of the word “quite.” In future works, I hope that Richardson takes a red pen to every use of the word “quite” and marks it out. Keep three, maybe, but lose the rest. I found the word more distracting than descriptive.

All in all, Jorie and the Magic Stones belongs in children’s libraries everywhere. All kids long to go on a quest and to be chosen, but have to learn lessons of discernment and ethical choice; Richardson presents all these things well.  Like my daughter, I look forward to a sequel.

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The Borrowers Series

October 9, 2016 at 2:55 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Borrowers

This was one of my favorites as a child and as I read it out loud to my own kiddo this week, I remembered why.  The Borrowers is simply magical and a tale every kid can get enchanted by.  The pages I read from were wrinkled with love, where I had toted it to school, to the mountain for camping, and every other place. I read it over and over again, and I’m hoping that my own kiddo will find the joy of reading this herself as she gets older.  But for now, I’m happy to read it aloud, and even happier to discover what other adventures are in store for Pod, Homily, and Arriety – as we’re about to begin reading The Borrowers Afield, which I never knew existed until I worked in a bookstore as an adult.

The Borrowers Afield

I read this aloud to my five year old today.  Not all in one sitting, but all in one day.  It was quite the affair, filled with many tea, coffee, sandwich, and taco breaks.  My voice is tired, but both our minds – despite the late hour – are alive with visions of dandelions as large as ourselves, bees to be pet like cats, and cats as large as an elephant.  I long to be Spiller, dashing around a field, “borrowing” from gypsies, sailing downstream in a soap tin.  I adored The Borrowers as a child, and just discovered its sequels recently; and despite having read The Borrowers Afield for the first time as an adult today, I think I might like it more.  I’m enchanted, and have enjoyed all my daughter’s renderings of tiny houses with oversized flowers and butterflies, on her drawing pad today, while I read on and on.  We look forward to the next book, The Borrowers Afloat.

The Borrowers Afloat and The Borrowers Aloft

The Borrowers Afloat took off just after Afield and left the Clock family living in less than desirable quarters along with the Hendrearys. It took far to long for them to actually make it down the drain the pipe and back into the out of doors, and this book along with the one after it – The Borrowers Aloft – were my least favorite. Mostly because the dangers became more and more stressful and the lives of the Clocks simultaneously more convenient but less cozy. I did very much enjoy the introduction of Miss Menzies, and so did the kiddo. We delighted in her as much as Arrietty. I still adore the entire series and these books deserve every star available to them.

The Borrowers Avenged

Finally the story of the Clocks is all wrapped up. But is it?! We lamented the ending and long to know what became of Arrietty’s whole life. Did she marry Spiller as she speculated? Or did Peagreen capture her heart as he did her mind?

It’s a shame there are no more. I’d keep reading them one right after another for years if I could.   The kiddo tried to tell me, “It’s ok mama, you’ll find that she’s written a second series about them some day.” I had to tell her “the author is dead, there’s no more.” “Sure there is, you just haven’t found them yet.” I didn’t have the heart to argue further. And who knows, maybe she knows something about Mary Norton the rest of us don’t…

Now we are off into another series of books for more adventures of a different nature.

 

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It’s a Keeper

November 7, 2015 at 1:06 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

keeper-front-revTitle: Keeper

Author: S. Smith

Genre: Middle Grade/ Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

Length: 200 pages

Many moons ago, it seems like forever now, S. Smith sent me a copy of Seed Savers, the first of her young adult series set in an America where growing your own food has become illegal.  Children were being taught about seeds and produce gardens in whispers; collecting, saving, and planting seeds a prison-worthy offense.

The story couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  It was the summer of 2012, I had a small daughter at home, my husband was out of work, and I had just started spending more time and care actively growing more of our groceries.  On top of that, I was beginning to learn how to forage and was focusing my daughter’s future education on as much regarding sustainability and self-sufficiency as possible.  I wanted taking care of ourselves to come as naturally as literature does for me.  I wanted finding edible grapes in the forest to be as simple as knowing that 2+2 = 4.  Then Seed Savers happened and it felt like the stars had begun to align.

Several books later (Seed Savers, Heirloom, and Lily), we finally have the fourth installment of S. Smith’s world.  The girls, Lily and Clare, have done a lot of growing up.  Siblings Dante and Clare have received a lot more education during their stay in Canada.  Rose is being indoctrinated… bad guys are getting closer and closer to turning everything upside down as rebels have begun starting riots in the street.  Soon, all four kids find themselves in Portland, Oregon, where Seed Savers headquarters has been stationed under a forested park in the city for years.

More and more, the series is resembling the fast paced action political drama of the Divergent series – without the killing, and with the added fun of things like Dandelion syrup being discussed.

Although I was sent an advanced reader’s copy of Keeper, I still made a point to pre-order a final copy for my kindle.  The book is a keeper in every format, and it’s just worth it to be as supportive as possible of this story, help it get told.  I’m looking forward to the day Smith gets a movie or mini-series deal.  Better yet, the homeschool mom in me votes for it to be a Netflix original.

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The Ice Sisters Cover Reveal

December 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm (Fan Art) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Glorian Legacy Series by A.L. Raine is about to begin.

Not long before it’s in print for you to read and enjoy!  For now, here’s the cover!

ALRaine book one

Cover art by Gershom Wetzel of Aoristos.

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Greystone Valley

November 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Greystone Valley“Which one of these could I read out loud to my daughter?” I always ask that question when perusing piles of books these days.  Not necessarily because I will read the title to my kid, but should she walk up and say, “Read it LOUDER, mommy,” because I’m not reading out loud at all – I want to feel comfortable with the words coming out of my mouth and falling on her ears.

She likes to hear my voice.  Not my singing voice, just my voice.  Which surprises me.  No one likes my speaking voice – no one.  As pretty as I sing, my speaking voice is annoying to the ears.  It grates.  I know this.  This isn’t self-deprecating, this is knowing myself.  So when my daughter wants to hear me talk, it surprises me.

Jason, the head honcho of awesomeness at Grey Gecko Press, pointed at Greystone Valley and said, “Greystone Valley for sure.”  He began telling me about the little girl, featured in her pajamas on the cover.  About Keely, about the world, about all of it.  Sold.  Well, not technically, I got a freebie copy from them on my kindle.  But I put it on my priority reading list.

And I’m so glad I did.

Greystone Valley is so much fun! With the holidays coming up and everyone setting out to buy gifts – even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving, so don’t get me started – this is the book I want to put into all the parents’ hands.

It’s not just for kids.  It’s not just for parents.  It’s for both, for the relationship you have with them.  It’s for the magical worlds you want to share with them, but instead you’re caught up teaching them about the real one.  It’s pretty spectacular in every way.

For all the kids who finished Harry Potter, who know Chronicles of Narnia like the back of their hand, and have moved on from A Wrinkle in Time… for the ones looking for that next classic fantasy and just haven’t found it yet – It’s Greystone Valley, hands down.

Charlie Brooks has created something that can stand the test of time all alone as an individual story, but I’m still tapping my fingers on my night stand demanding a sequel (for the record).

Please, this holiday season, when you’re picking out book gifts for your loved ones: remember to shop indie and shop small.  There are amazing things out there to be discovered that don’t have giant window displays or the backing of multimillion dollar publishers, but that doesn’t make them less amazing.  Charlie Brooks of Grey Gecko Press is one of those amazing authors whose book deserves a special place for a special little someone under the Christmas tree.

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The Fault in Our Stars

November 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

The Fault in Our StarsTitle: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Genre: Teen Fiction

Length: 318 pages

I was told not to bother reading this book.  It is predictable.  It is overly sentimental.  It is both those things, but it what telling you that does not include is how adorably witty the banter and narrative are.  The characters are clever, and fun, and teenagers, despite their cancer – and this reminds you that even the sick are human, even the terminal have personalities outside their prognosis.

I read the book in one sitting.

I enjoyed every page.

Peter Van Houten was a nice touch – and if you don’t know what that means, I suggest you read the book.  No skipping to the movie.  Read the book, it’s a quick, smooth read, that may remind you of people you’ve lost.  After all, we all have roughly 14.

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Insurgent and Allegiant

November 4, 2014 at 4:28 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I read Divergent a while back.  It intrigued me enough to know that I wanted to read the rest of the series eventually, but not enough to make too much of a mad rush to get my hands on it.  Although now I have read the rest of the series, despite many people telling me not to bother, and I’m glad I did.

InsurgentSo there’s a little too many fingers curling into shirt scenes… it might be the only way Roth has seen or experienced closeness – in the form of people tugging on t-shirts or twining their fingers around fabric in a near desperate manner.  That’s ok.  As a writer, I have a nasty habit of tucking things places.  She tucked this into that.  He tucked blah blah blah.  My editor gets on me about it all the time.  I’m surprised Roth’s editors didn’t nab her for the finger curling.  But that’s not the point…

The point is, despite the teen coming of age romance that we’ve seen over and over again, I liked one major thing about THIS romance.

AllegiantTris acknowledges that Love is a Choice.

“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”

After Twilight and Bella’s helpless infatuation…  After The Mortal Instruments and the “to love is to destroy” mantra…  After Hunger Games and a PTSD induced marriage of comfort… I’m glad Roth had the guts to write about another kind of choice, the kind that doesn’t happen just once, but every day in every moment.

I think that every true relationship has a little bit of all of those things: infatuation, passion, trust and comfort, and thousands of choices.  It’s interesting that in one sub-genre of young adult fiction, all released within a decade of each other, all popular enough to make blockbuster films out of them… we’ve covered such a vast array of relationships in our teen romances.  It’s good for young people to see such a variety of examples.

Even though Roth’s aren’t my favorite books ever, I like that she had the courage to write the ending no one wanted, but the one that would be expected in a world such as the one her characters live in.

I still haven’t seen the Divergent movie, but I’m looking forward to the day I do a little bit more, hoping that they stick to the books and don’t go too Hollywood with it.  I also look forward to seeing what Roth will write next.

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Enchanted Ivy

October 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

EnchantedIvyCover_LoRes312hTitle:Enchanted Ivy

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Length: 310 pages

It was the matte finish that got me.  So many young adult fantasy novels have the glossy cover that screams: I’m complete brain candy and will rot your mind! READ ME!  But not Enchanted Ivy, maybe you can’t tell from the picture, but if your fingers touch the cover, you’ll know.

Ivy here is a play on words.  The main character, Lily Carter, is trying to get into Princeton (her back-up school is another Ivy League option: Harvard).  No biggie, right? She just has to pass a top secret admissions test provided by the Old Boys her grandfather went to college with and she’s in…

Insert Tolkien and Harry Potter style creatures of myth… shape shifters, a gate to a magic world, gargoyle professors, unicorns, dryads, and ivy (and trees and flowers) that obey commands, and you’ve got the fixings for a fantastical adventure that occurs in a day or two and can be read faster than that.

Cassandra Clare meets C.S. Lewis and Sarah Beth Durst brought us a fun filled fantasy with a few romantic moments or two to satisfy our girly hearts.

When I read these books, I’m mentally cataloging them… will I recommend this to kids at the store? Will I recommend this to my niece?  Will I recommend this to my daughter?  For Enchanted Ivy, yes on all fronts, as long as their school work is done.  The book is both exciting and innocent enough for tweens and teens, I enjoyed it, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time or killed brain cells in doing so.  The author, after all, is a Princeton gal herself.

As for a few cheesy soulmate lines, I both loathe them and am a sucker for them.  I met my husband when I was 14, all the first meetings and teenage hormones is sheer nostalgia for me.  Although Durst does a great job at keeping these on the very far back burner.

 

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Fizz and Peppers Got a New Cover!

September 27, 2014 at 2:12 am (Fan Art) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Remember my obsession for Fizz and Peppers? Do you also recall my adoration for Bryan Collins?

You can imagine my squeals of joy when this happened:

Munkcoverthumb

This second is my favorite. Munk really POPS!
fizz newest cover

Just thought I’d share and send two of my favorite people to promote some online love.

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Wrapping up Clare, Clary, and Clockworks

June 18, 2014 at 1:26 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

City of Heavenly FireTitles: City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Fantasy/ Teen

*SPOILERS*

So I was finally able to wrap up two series, The Mortal Instruments and the prequel series Infernal Devices.  It was kind of refreshing to finish something and know that I know as much of the story that is available to know at the moment.

City of Heavenly Fire was exactly what I expected.  Great closing to it all, not a lot of surprises.  The only thing that did surprise me were the number of new characters that were introduced, seemingly to kick start another set of books.  But Clary and Jace are finally basking in their glorious together-ness, the readers got a wedding (Clary’s mother and Luke of course), and the teen couple finally sealed the deal which was expected, gratifying for the masses, but also disappointing for me – the girl who waited.

clockwork princessClockwork Princess was not nearly as satisfying.  It went as expected (the ending sort of spoiled by having already read City of Heavenly Fire), but also disappointed me in the sense that sometimes a girl should actually have to do a little more choosing.  No one gets everything they ever wanted that thoroughly, and Tessa being allowed to love both boys so completely thrusts you outside of the book’s reality and back into your own by the sheer fact that no one should be allowed such a fairy tale.  Even in happily ever afters, a girl has to pick a prince.  You didn’t see Clary marrying Jace and running into the ever after with Simon or vice versa.  It was sweet and wonderful, but too sweet and too wonderful, and therefore fell flat to me.

I’m glad I read them the way I did though, I am.  Even if things were a little anti-climactic, I understand stories and the fact that the characters simply have to live their lives and sometimes those lives are anti-climactic.  I’m just also a little relieved that both series have ended.

I still adore Cassandra Clare, I still look forward to reading more of her writing in the future.  But for now, I think I may have burned myself out.  Or maybe Clare burned herself out.  I’m not sure and it’s probably not fair for me to decide right now.

 

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