Reviews

ARC Alert: Paying Magic’s Price: The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr

Thank you to Netgalley and Chronicle Books for an ARC of this novel! Below is my honest review.

Weyr, Garret. The Language of Spells. Illustrated by Katie Harnett. Chronicle Books, 2018. Hardcover $14.64, ISBN 978-1-45215-958-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? No

Book Summary:

Grisha the dragon has not lived your average dragon’s life. Instead of being able to go to battle and fight, a sorcerer’s trick robs him of his freedom for a very long time. Now, however, he is able to go about life as he pleases (for the most part), and he gets to spend a great deal of time with Maggie, a very serious girl who loves Grisha more than anything. Are the dragons of Vienna really free? And what, if anything, can be done to help them?

Reader’s Comments:

This book is so wonderful. It is sweet, gentle, and addresses tough topics like love, freedom, and what is right. I am a little concerned that it is too quiet for most readers; there is epic feeling and the stakes are very high for Grisha and Maggie, but the tone of the novel is very calm even at the book’s most intense moments. That said, the book is gorgeous, and the story is deeply moving.

Grade Level: 5-8

Advertisements
Reviews

ARC Alert!: Left my heart in San Francisco: The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott

Thank you to Netgalley and First Second for the ARC! Below is my honest review.

Scott, Mairghread. The City on the Other Side. Illustrated by Robin Robinson. First Second, 2018. Hardcover $20.54, ISBN 978-1-25015-255-8; PLB $21.07, ISBN 978-1-54901-897-8; TR $14.49, ISBN 978-1-62672-457-0

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? Not at this time.

Book Summary:

Isabella loves the city of San Francisco despite her mother’s strict warnings to stay indoors, away from dirt, and certainly away from any adventures. When Isabella is sent to spend the summer in Carmel with her sculptor father, she is upset to leave her beloved city behind. Little does she realize that in Carmel, she’ll be able to get her hands dirty … and fall through the Veil into the fairy world where the Seelie and Unseelie courts are deep in battle. Can Isabella help the Seelie win? And will her beloved city hold the key to overthrowing the power hungry Unseelie king Coscar?

Reviewer’s Notes:

I’m a sucker for fairy courts and San Francisco separately, so when I saw this book, I knew I needed to read it. This is a great through the looking glass type adventure. San Francisco landmarks abound in this early twentieth century rendering of the city, and the fairies are varied and fascinating. The adventure really delivers, too, which is of course an important element of all fantasy stories 🙂 This is a great dive into the world of Seelie and Unseelie conflict with content more appropriate for our younger fans.

Grade Level: 3-6

Reviews

ARC Alert!! Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable

Thank you to Netgalley and First Second for an ARC of this book! Below is my honest review.

Annable, Graham. Peter & Ernesto A Tale of Two Sloths. First Second, c2017. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-62672-561-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Animal Story/Graphic Novel

Part of a series? Not at this time

Book Summary:

Peter and Ernesto are two best friends. Happily watching the clouds from their canopy of trees, everything changes when Ernesto decides he loves the sky so much that he needs to see it from EVERYWHERE. Peter, a bit of a worrywart and certainly a homebody, sees no reason to leave the tree. Ernesto sets off alone, ready for adventure, and Peter worries until all he can do is follow. Will Ernesto see the sky from everywhere? And will Peter find his friend?

Reader’s Thoughts:

This book is the SWEETEST. Peter and Ernesto are two adorable sloths, and the animals each encounters along the way are interesting, funny, and diverse. The themes of home, friendship, and adventure are fun in this novel. I look forward to having this to offer our readers looking for some non-scary adventure that they can really get into.

Grade Level: K-3

Reviews

ARC ALERT!! Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick

Thank you to Netgalley and First Second for the ARC! Below is my honest review.

Sedgwick, Marcus. Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter. Illustrated by Thomas Taylor. First Second, 2018. Hardcover $20.54, ISBN 978-1-25015-984-7; PLB $19.36, ISBN 978-1-54901-896-1 ; TR $12.79, ISBN 978-1-62672-026-8

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first.

Book Summary:

Scarlett Hart’s parents were truly amazing monster hunters. Following their death, Scarlett is determined to be just as great a hunter. That’s more easily said than done, however, given that she is too young to actually be a monster hunter, and her continued attempts at catching monsters for the reward money lands her in danger of getting arrested. That and her dwindling funds make for a tough situation.

Reader’s Notes:

This is a really great first installment. It has adventure, humor, and creepiness galore. It’s a fun adventure with a female protagonist who refuses to give up. Highly recommend!

Grade Level: 5-8

Reviews

ARC Alert! Smile and Wave: Like Vanessa by Tami Charles

Thanks to Netgalley and Charlesbridge for the advance copy of this book! Below is my honest review.

Charles, Tami. Like Vanessa. Charlesbridge, 2018. 284 pages. Hardcover $14.64, ISBN 978-1-58089-777-8

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Historical fiction

Part of a series? No

Book Summary:

Vanessa Martin watches the Miss America pageant each year with her Pop Pop and cousin TJ. It’s a ritual for them, and when they see Vanessa Williams crowned Miss America, Nessy finds herself wishing that she could be just like her. When a new music teacher announces that King Middle School will be hosting their own pageant, Nessy finds herself pressured (lovingly) into auditioning. Can Nessy use her beautiful voice and stellar academic record to win the crown, or will her missing mom and silent father hold her back from truly being herself and putting herself out there?

Reader’s Comments:

This is a wonderful book. It handles Nessy’s situation thoughtfully, and Nessy is such a compelling character to spend time with that readers will not be able to put this one down. Themes of friendship, puberty, and family secrets are familiar to middle grade books, but Charles’s novel is new and sweet. I am a little bit concerned with the details of Nessy’s weight loss and how her life improves as she slims down for the competition. She still refers to herself as big-boned, but there are repeated references to the inches of fabric that TJ needs to take in as she loses more and more weight. Other than that one detail, however, I really enjoyed this book and the voice it brings to middle grade books. The history is well-researched, and the beauty pageant rituals are described excellently. Highly recommend!

Grade Level: 5-8

Reviews

ARC Alert, and the clock is ticking down! Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Rick Riordan presents for an ARC of this book. Below is my honest review.

Chokshi, Roshani. Aruh Shah and the End of Time. Rick Riordan Presents, 2018. Hardcover $14.64, ISBN 978-1-36801-235-5

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!! NOW IMMEDIATELY GO READ IT … well, okay, read it when it comes out! Its book birthday should be March 26th 🙂

Genre: Fantasy, and Mythology retelling!

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first of a new series!

Book Summary:

Aru Shah struggles a bit with the truth. Maaaybe she exaggerates things sometimes, but when your mom is always off at museums or dig sites or historical conventions and you live in a museum and everyone else at your new school is super rich and connected, maybe YOU would fudge the truth a bit, too. Fast-forward to Aru needing to light a cursed lamp that she’s been forbidden to light just so three bullies won’t expose her lies to the entire class. Well, turns out the lamp was cursed! The Sleeper has been released, and if Aru doesn’t stop him in 9 days, Lord Shiva will dance the world to its end. Cool.

Enter a pigeon guide, a new soul sister, and a thrilling adventure through the Otherworld, Kingdom of Death, and more. Can Aru stop the Sleeper?

Reader’s Comments:

WHAT THIS IS SO GOOD. Unsurprisingly, it’s a great pick for Percy Jackson fans, but it’s also just straight up a great book. Humor, great references (was that a Doctor Who reference I spotted?), gross jokes, and quick wit. Such a great read!

Grade Level: 3-6

Reviews

Enchanting: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Townsend, Jessica. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. Read by Gemma Whelan. Little, Brown and Company, 2017. 665 pages/11 hours. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-316-50888-9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? YES GO IMMEDIATELY NOW

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first of the new Nevermoor Series.

Book Summary:

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Like, actually. She’s on the Cursed Children’s Registry and everything. So whenever something bad happens, people blame her. To top it all off, she’s going to die at age twelve on Eventide night. Or, wait. No. She’s going to die on her eleventh birthday, as Eventide’s arrival surprises everyone by happening a year sooner than predicted.

Morrigan is, understandably, annoyed. Perhaps a bit upset. Imagine her surprise when she receives actual bids on bid day — patrons who want to help shape her future. What future? She’ll be dead before any schooling can actually happen. Additionally, Mr. Jones (representative of Ezra Squall, one of her prospective patrons) literally disappears before she can answer him. Her birthday dinner-and-last supper is interrupted by Jupiter North, another patron, who promises to whisk her away to a land called Nevermoor and a Wundrous future. Can Morrigan outrun her curse? Could her life be full of Wunder?

Reader’s Comments:

SO AMAZING. This book has received many comparisons to Harry Potter. That is precisely why I picked this up. Or, however, a comparison I heard quite a bit was that this wasn’t reminiscent of Harry Potter itself but rather that reading this one feels like reading Harry Potter for the first time. While some of the story’s elements are familiar to those of us who love the Boy Who Lived (unloved child with a miserable life is whisked away to a magical hidden world, there’s an ages-old evil that may return to power, there is a school for special children, there’s an eccentric mentor and a wild best friend, not to mention the snooty rival!!), the way that Townsend uses those elements AND TONS OF OTHERS that are in no way Potterish is STUNNING. Morrigan’s bitingly funny, and her sarcasm is a delight. Jupiter is tons of fun, and Hawthorne sounds like the ideal best friend. The trials are interesting, and the book has twists aplenty. I definitely recommend this one to your fantasy fans.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Publishers Weekly starred, 07/31/17

School Library Connection starred, 10/01/17

School Library Journal starred, 07/01/17

Reviews

Friendship to the max! Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Tamaki, Mariko. Unicorn Power. Illustrated by Brooke A. Allen. Amulet Books, 2017. 239 pages. Hardcover $12.89, ISBN 978-1-41972-725-2

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure Fiction

Part of a series? Yes! This is the first Lumberjanes novel; it draws heavily on action that has happened in the comics.

Book Summary:

One day the Lumberjanes find themselves face to face with UNICORNS! While Ripley is stoked beyond belief with this find alone, April notices a HUMONGOUS mountain that is recorded on zero maps. April knows she can earn a super-rare badge … and if all of them explore, they will all earn it together! But there’s a weird broken sign on the ground that nobody reads, and some weird weather, and … well, will this mission go smoothly? Or is this bound to turn out like a campfire tale?

Reader’s Notes:

I read Beware the Kitten Holy, so I’m familiar with the Lumberjanes, and I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun romp through the wacky woods outside their camp for hardcore lady-types. I’d absolutely hand this off to a Lumberjanes fan.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 08/15/17

Reviews

Some YA –> BRB, I’m AFK: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Doctorow, Cory. In Real Life. Illustrated by Jen Wang. :01 First Second, 2014 (Square Fish rereleasing 2018). 175 pages. 2014 PLB $22.96, ISBN 978-1-48984-753-9; 2018 PLB $17.66,  ISBN978-1-54901-903-6; 2018 TR $11.09; ISBN 978-1-25014-428-7

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!

Genre: Realistic Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

When a visiting speaker informs the class about Coarsegold Online, a massively-multiplayer role playing game, Anda gets her parents’ permission and begins to play. She loves the game, her guild, and her missions. Soon, however, she meets a player who is a poor kid in China. This other kid works to harvest gold in the game that players can pay to access. Gold farming is against the rules in the game, but is everything as black and white as Anda previously believed? Can online games have real life repercussions?

Reviewer’s Notes:

This story goes by quickly but is a really gripping one. Wang’s art keeps us flowing from real life to game and back. Anda reads as a real kid — she makes choices that aren’t the best, but she tries to do better. I really enjoyed this book and would absolutely hand it to my students who are interested in MMORPGs.

Grade Level: YA

Reviews

ARC Alert: Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly

Connolly, MarcyKate. Shadow Weaver. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018. Pages TBD. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-49264-995-3

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first in a series

Plot Summary:

Emmeline has been a loner for as long as she can remember. Her family is disturbed by her Talent (bestowed by a comet with certain properties, properties that give newborns Talents every 25 years) for weaving shadows. Well, perhaps it isn’t the shadow weaving that others find objectionable — it might be that she claims that she can speak to her own shadow, Dar. Servants avoid Emmeline and fear her. Dar is Emmeline’s only friend; fiercely protective, Dar is Emmeline’s cheerleader, confidante, and support. When a mysterious man comes to take Emmeline away and train her talent out of her, Dar acts quickly to protect Emmeline. The next morning, the man is in a coma. Dar promises Emmeline that the coma is reversible … if Emmeline helps Dar regain her physical form. Can Emmeline help her friend? Is her friend really being honest with her, or does Dar have secrets of her own?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book has already received rave reviews from readers. I’m not quite as sold on the book. I wouldn’t actively turn kids away from it, but I wasn’t captivated. The book feels as though it is set in the past, perhaps in an Edwardian vein. Cars, phones, and other modern luxuries are absent. That said, the language feels anachronistic — people are “brought up to speed” amongst other modern turns of phrase that ring oddly. Furthermore, Dar seems evil from go, and Emmeline’s repeated moments of doubt and then “pushing” the thought of Dar’s creepiness out of her mind gets grating. Students looking for a good gothic read would perhaps be better off picking up Elizabeth and ZenobiaMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, or Doll Bones.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a at this time