‘A Flicker of Courage’ by Deb Caletti is a farcical fantasy for middle grade readers

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“A Flicker of Courage” by Deb Caletti is a book that will appeal to children who love extremely fantastic books — fantastic in the sense that everything that happens in this story is either the best or the worst in the world, and Henry Every, the main character, and his four friends will have to vanquish evil and do heroic deeds without being caught or killed themselves. Continue reading

‘Highfire’ is indeed a dragon; adult fantasy by Eoin Colfer

 

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Folks who worry about a personal lack of imagination need no longer be concerned; they can simply absorb and digest “Highfire” by Eoin Colfer and the gobs of creative delights he offers.

Colfer’s latest novel is a shining example of those delights. Each of the characters is hilarious and sympathetic. The hero, for example, is fifteen-year-old “Cajun-blood” kid Everett (Squib) Moreau, who is impish, sly, and funny; a bad boy and a good person. But he’s not the first character we meet. That’s Vern. He’s a dragon who loves human beings. That is, he loves to eat them. Humans, you see, have destroyed almost the entire universe of dragons. Vern seeks revenge.

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‘A Heart so Fierce and Broken’ by Brigid Kemmerer is everything YA fantasy should be

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“A Heart So Fierce and Broken” is Brigid Kemmerer’s second book, following “A Curse So Dark and Lonely,” a tale of Beauty and the Beast reimagined with lots of violence and a heartstopping ending. It was the story of Rhen, the prince cursed to turn into a beast, and Harper, the tough young girl who is determined to save Rhen and his kingdom, Emberfall. Grey is the loyal Guardsman who risks his life repeatedly to save them.

In this second story, Grey becomes the pivotal character with a new character, Lia Mara, the daughter of the cruel queen of Syhl Shallow, Karis Luran. Lia Mara is not destined to be queen; her sister is. Her sister can be cruel and harsh while Lia Mara prefers to use intellect and persuasion instead of brute strength and fear to create alliances.

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7 Picture books with surprisingly sweet messages

 

Read to children, as much as possible, and repeat. Often. The secret to raising book- loving youngsters is to read fabulous books to them from infanthood and never stop until they go to college. Or maybe high school. But even older children often love reading with parents. Here are some clever and humorous picture books that also have clever and important messages for young readers. Continue reading

‘Winterwood’ by Shea Ernshaw is a bewitching young adult fantasy

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“Winterwood” by Shea Ernshaw is about witches. Specifically it’s about Nora — daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and more — descended from a long line of witches who live and practice their magic along the shore of Jackjaw Lake and in the shadow of the forest outside the town of Fir Haven.

The Walker women came out of the forest back in the days when Fir Haven was a small gold mining town, and ever since, they have lived in a log cabin between the summer cabins and the dark forest. Nora lives there with her mother, now that her grandmother has died, leaving Nora with her moonstone ring. But Nora’s mother has left to sell her honey (charming bees is her particular magic), and Nora is alone in the cabin with only her wolf, Fin, to protect her when a blizzard envelopes the town and cuts off electricity and the roads.

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‘The Beast: A Darkdeep Novel’ by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs is the second in this middle grade horror novel

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The series began with “The Darkdeep,” a horror story by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs, and now the stories of the monsters and the mystery behind the appearance of “The Beast” might just be solved. In the first book, we learn about the quiet town of Timber in the Pacific Northwest, and about several of its teenage residents.

Nico is the son of an environmentalist, and with his friends Opal, Emma, and Tyler, and another teen, Logan, the son of the richest businessman in town, all happen upon a houseboat in the middle of an unnamed island. Strange things happen both in the houseboat and in the waters around it, but in this second book, they learn that the fate of the world may be on their teenage shoulders.

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‘The Shape of Night’ by Tess Gerritsen

 

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How much does our subconscious control our reality? Do our fears and our regrets shape what we see and experience?

In “The Shape of Night,” Tess Gerritsen most definitely does not answer those questions. When food writer Ava Collette rents an historic mansion on the coast in Maine, she is fleeing a horrible decision she made that resulted in tragedy. She leaves her friends and her family to grapple with her feelings of guilt, and she also needs to finish her new cookbook, which is behind schedule.

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‘The Fire Keeper’ is the second ‘Storm Runner’ middle grade fantasy action novel by J.C. Cervantes

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Fans of Rick Riordan’s many fantasy series, like the Percy Jackson series (The Lightning Thief) are sure to love many of the series in the “Rick Riordan Presents” imprint. The “Storm Runner” series takes the idea of young heroes who are the offspring of gods and mortals and moves it to New Mexico, where the gods are Mayan. 

In “The Fire Keeper,” the second in the series, Zane Obispo (don’t you just love the name?) has met his father, the fire god Hurakan, and received a special walking cane/spear/staff from him. While Zane’s limp has always been a source of embarrassment to him, it turns out that the apparent handicap is because of his god blood and is an indication of his power. Zane can control fire — albeit to a very limited degree. He and his family live on a secluded tropical island that is protected by magic from notice of the other Mayan gods, who think he is dead. And that’s the way they prefer it..  Continue reading

‘The Last Dragon’ by James Riley is the second book in “The Revenge of Magic” middle grade series

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“The Last Dragon” by James Riley begins shortly after the end of the first book in the series “The Revenge of Magic.” In the first book, Fort Fitzgerald watches helplessly as his father is grabbed by a monster and dragged underground during an attack when they were visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Sure that his father is dead, Fort is determined to get revenge on the creatures who killed him.

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‘The Tyrant’s Tomb’ by Rick Riordan is the 4th book in ‘The Trials of Apollo’ series

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In “The Tyrant’s Tomb,” master of middle grade fantasy Rick Riordan continues “The Trials of Apollo” series, the story of Apollo, brought low to earth by his father for a transgression, and made into a very human figure.

As Lester Papadopoulos, acne-ridden and with a waist that is far less than Apollo’s trim figure, Apollo must deal with injury, lack of magic, and insolence. Not to mention mortality. He has come far since the first book in the series on his journey to save the world from a triad of evil Roman emperors, but there’s still a long, dangerous road to travel on this quest.

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‘Sauerkraut’ by Kelly Jones is a ghostly middle grade story about making connections and helping family

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In “Sauerkraut,” author Kelly Jones continues to show her expertise in writing clever and touching stories that include a bit of ghostly action. In this story, Hans Dieter Schenk, also known as HD. His dad was Hans Peter Schenk, his grandfather Hans Gerhard Schenk, and before him Hans Franz Schenk. Until HD, all the Hans’ looked pretty much the same with pale skin, hair and blue eyes. But HD is different. While his skin is lighter than his mothers, his dark locs (dreadlocks) are longer than hers. And people sometimes confuse his father with his best friend Eli’s father “Just because they’re both white. It’s … awkward.”

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