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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Fantasy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,868
1. Really scary middle grade

Horrifying Hymenoptera, frightening faeries, malicious magick, and creepy corpses come out to play in these chilling middle-grade novels.

oppel_nestSteve’s baby brother comes back from the hospital sick (“there was something wrong with his heart and his eyes and his brain”) and needing lots of care, so his parents don’t pay much attention when Steve develops a fear of the wasps in the backyard. The boy finds comfort in a recurring dream in which a compassionate voice offers to make everything better: all Steve must do is say yes, and his dream confidante will turn her promise of a healthy baby into reality. In his (terrifying!) book The Nest, Kenneth Oppel’s language is straightforward, but the emotional resonance is deep. Jon Klassen‘s full-page black-and-white drawings — simple, but with maximum impact, in shades of light, dark, and darker — astutely capture the magnitude of a child’s imagination when he can rely only upon himself. (Simon, 10–12 years)

hahn_tookIn Mary Downing Hahn‘s Took, Daniel’s family abruptly leaves Connecticut for a simpler lifestyle in West Virginia after Daniel’s father loses his job. Daniel and his little sister, Erica, find their new dilapidated home and the woods that surround it frightening, and the kids at school tease them with scary tales of a strange old woman, a man-eating razorback hog, and a little girl who disappeared from their house fifty years before. Daniel does not believe these stories, but Erica becomes progressively stranger, withdrawing from her family and obsessing over her look-alike doll, Little Erica. Told alternatingly through Daniel’s first-person narration and a third-person omniscient narrator, the story spookily — and effectively — weaves in the oral tradition of folklore, legends, and ghost stories. (Clarion, 10–12 years)

smith_hoodooHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith is a creepy Southern Gothic ghost story focused on the insular 1930s black community of Sardis, Alabama. Folks there believe in equal measure in their God and in folk magick (or “hoodoo”). Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher doesn’t have a speck of magick in him—or so he thinks. When a Stranger, a nasty, foul-smelling incarnation of evil, comes to town Hoodoo discovers the magick deep within himself and the strength and heart to summon it. Filled with folk and religious symbols, the story is steeped in time and place. Hoodoo’s earnest first-person narrative reveals a believable innocent who can “cause deeds great and powerful.” (Clarion, 10–12 years)

trevayne_accidental afterlife of thomas marsdenWhile out grave-robbing one night, Thomas Marsden — star of The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden — digs up a corpse that looks exactly like him. In his hand the dead boy is holding tickets to a performance by the famous spiritualist Mordecai, along with a note bearing the instruction Speak to no one. As it turns out, Thomas is of faerie descent, and his people have been enslaved by Mordecai. As the last surviving member of the royal line, it’s up to Thomas to break Mordecai’s enchantment. Author Emma Trevayne plays her cards close to the vest, slowly doling out clues; the central drama — Thomas’s decision whether to help the faeries despite having been rejected by them at birth — makes it worth the wait. By the end, the boy’s humanity holds the key to the faeries’ salvation, leading to a satisfying resolution. (Simon, 10–12 years)

From the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

The post Really scary middle grade appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. Not-scary magic

Not everyone wants the pants scared off of them on Halloween. Some people like their witches sweet and their HobGrackles cuddly.

heppermann_sadie's storySadie’s Story, the first in the Backyard Witch series by Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge, introduces readers to nine-year-old Sadie, her cat — and the small witch who takes up residence in the plastic playhouse by Sadie’s family’s garage. Morgan, a.k.a. Ms. M., may be somewhat unreliable with spells and hexes, but she’s great company and quick with a gag. Best of all, she’s a birdwatcher witch, or ornithomancer, and Sadie herself soon gets bitten by the birding bug. Sprightly prose will pull in chapter book readers, and spot illustrations by Deborah Marcero keep the page design lively. (Greenwillow, 7–10 years)

mlynowski_upside-down magicThough her father is headmaster of the prestigious Sage Academy of Magic and Performance, Nory’s own magic is wonky. After a disastrous showing at her Sage Academy entrance exam, Dad sends Nory to live with eccentric Aunt Margo to attend a school that offers a special program for “the worst of the wonky.” Upside-Down Magic is a collaboration among three authors — Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins, and Lauren Myracle — and there’s no telling who did what, in a good way: the writing is seamless. The book is light but not inconsequential, and its multicultural and differently-abled cast will be welcomed by a broad audience. (Scholastic, 7–10 years)

pearce_pip bartlett's hiode to magical creaturesAfter a unicorn mishap at school, the nine-year-old (human) protagonist of Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures is sent to her aunt’s for the summer, where she helps run the family’s veterinary clinic. Then the town is infested with Fuzzles (combustible dustlike creatures that live in underwear drawers), and Pip and her pals — plus a scaredy-cat unicorn — investigate. Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater’s fast-paced prose is lively, witty, and gripping. Stiefvater’s black-and-white textured illustrations show the griffins, HobGrackles, and other magical creatures that inhabit Pip’s world. An accessible fantasy for independent readers not yet ready for Rowling. (Scholastic, 7–10 years)

Gypsy Beaumont, star of Ingrid Law’s Switch (and little sister of Savvy protagonist Mibs), has just turned thirteen and is starting to get the hang of her particular magical ability, or savvy — seeing people’s pasts and futures — when things go “wackadoo.” Soon after envisioning her own death (or so she thinks), Gypsy loses her original savvy and gains a surprising new one: stopping time. This comes in handy as her mother, big-brother Samson, and little-brother Tucker reluctantly travel to Colorado, through a blizzard, to retrieve prickly Grandma Pat, suffering from “Old-timer’s disease,” as Tucker calls it. In typical Law fashion, whimsy abounds, with vibrant supporting characters and helter-skelter pacing. (Dial, 9–12 years)

From the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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3. The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet, 320 pp, RL: TEEN

Mal Peet was an award winning British author of young adult books, although he disliked being defined by his audience or by genre, who died at age 67 in March of this year. Although he seemed like a veteran writer, he only began his career as an author at the age of 52. Peet wrote over 100 easy readers with his wife, author Elspeth Graham, before writing his first novel for young adults, The Keeper, in 2003. He went on to write six more novels, The Murdstone Trilogy being his last. Peet's name was not unfamiliar to me and I always intended to review his books here before now. When I read the blurb for The Murdstone Trilogy I determined that this would be THE book by Peet that I reviewed and, it was only after reading (and listening to it) that I learned of his untimely death. The Murdstone Trilogy is a wickedly funny novel that skewers so many sides of the publishing industry, from literary agents and reviewers to literary awards and authors, as well as provincial British villages and the people who live in them. And, as I learned while reading reviews of The Murdstone Trilogy, Peet makes fun most of all of himself, his novels and the village he lived in. Although British reviews of The Murdstone Trilogy refer to it as Peet's first book for adults, the book is being published in here as a YA novel. I'm not sure I could think of the teenager who would enjoy this and get all the jokes, although there are plenty of them who have read enough of the phantasy genre to appreciate that portion of the novel and especially how Peet wraps it up...

Philip Murdstone is the protagonist of The Murdstone Trilogy. Like Peet, Philip is an author who shot to fame with the young adult novel Last Past the Post that "made Asperger's cool." Since then, as his agent puts it, Murdstone has, "in five lovely sensitive novels" said everything there is to say about "boys who are inadequate." Over lunch in London, during which Murdstone orders a Mexican Platter that consists of an "enormous square plate upon which, apparently, a cat had been sick in neat heaps around a folded pancake," his agent, the gorgeous, driven Minerva Cinch, urges Philip to try a new genre. Specifically, fantasy, or, even better, high fantasy, also known as "phantasy." Completely unaware of the phenomena that was Harry Potter and the new series, The Dragoneer Chronicles, that is sweeping the genre, Minerva explains this genre to Philip as "Tolkien with knobs on." She goes on to tell Philip the formula for writing high fantasy, which she "pinched out of the Telegraph. From a review of The Dragoneer Chronicles, actually." Armed with this formula and the knowledge that his total income for last year, from all five books, was "twelve grand and some change." As his agent, Minerva's share was "a measly eighteen hundred quid plus VAT." 

Even though he lives the quiet life in Devon in the tiny village of Flemworthy, Philip knows that if he doesn't do something drastic Minerva will dump him and his career will be over. After the Ploughman's lunch and a pint of Dark Entropy at the Gelder's Rest, Philip wanders home, a bit hammered, stopping by the Wringers, the stone circle of Flemworthy where he blacks out. While unconscious, Philip hears a voice in his head narrating a story - a phantasy story. When he goes home and types it into his laptop, it flows from him in a continuous, powerfully voices narrative stream. Peet's send up of the real world of publishing are hilarious, but the fun that he pokes at the world of fantasy is almost more intriguing that funny. As with the names of the towns, pubs and patrons in Flemworthy, Peet does an excellent job building the fantasy world and the glimpses of it we see are rich and intriguing. Pocket Wellfair, a Greme who is Clerk to "Orberry Volenap, last of the Five High Scholars," has a mind of his own and inserts his point of view into the story that he is supposed to be recording for Volenap, the story that becomes Murdstone's book, Dark Entropy. The book becomes an international sensation, and Philip a literary celebrity. It seems he can do no wrong, say no wrong, even when forced into events (like speaking to a crowd) that he would have previously fumbled. Knowing that he needs to write a sequel, Philip tries to recreate his black out at the Wringers and instead finds himself face to face with Pocket Wellfair.

Philip's life becomes irrevocably, and increasingly, uncomfortably, intertwined with Pocket's as he struggles with his success and the demands of his public. He makes a Faustian bargain that he thinks he can get out of, making the last quarter of the novel tense and suspenseful. The ending seems only right, given the spirit of The Murdstone Trilogy (which is NOT an actual trilogy, in real life or the book, although Peet slips in one, final brilliant jab at the creative act of writing on the final pages) but, having quite a soft spot of my own for fantasy, I wish it had been a bit different.

Source: Review Copy and Purchased Audio Book

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4. Crimson Cloak Publishing Author-Jane Finch

Today starts a series of interviews with fellow authors of Crimson Cloak Publishing. Hope you enjoy their interviews! First we meet Jane Finch.

1) Do you write books as a career, or are you currently still juggling your author time with a full or part time job?

After working for over thirty years and dreaming of the time I could retire and just write – I am now living the dream!

2) Have you always wanted to be an author, or did some time or event in your life set you on the path?

I’m not sure I always visualised it as being an author, but I have always needed to write. Even from a young age I would sit and write stories rather than go out to play with other kids my age. When I had my son I used to take him into the local forest to watch the squirrels. I would make up stories about what they were doing and then he asked me to write them down so he could read them and I decided to write my first book – which was about squirrels.

3) Do you always write in the same genre, or do you sometimes like a change of theme? If you haven’t already, is there another genre you would like to write?

I started out writing children’s books and then decided to try my hand at writing adult novels. I now have sixteen published books including crime thrillers, historical, children’s and a book of comical poems about chickens!

4) As a writer, what is the best thing that has happened to you, and what is that most exciting thing that could happen to you?

It has to be my first book, which was published by a traditional publisher back in 1998. The thrill of holding the book was incredible. It’s a children’s animal adventure and I’ve scripted it so the most exciting thing that could happen is that it would be made into an animated film.

 5) How do you view the promotion, book signings etc. Is it something you enjoy, or do you prefer the writing stage?

This is the hardest for me. I prefer to sit in a quiet room and just write and am not comfortable with self-promotion. I have done some radio promotion and I don’t mind writing some press releases when a new book comes out, but I struggle to put myself out there. I even cringe if I post my book on Facebook. I’m not an ideal candidate for a literary agent or a publisher who expects massive self-promotion.

6) Could you tell us something about your published books, and let us know what they are about and where they are available?

Well, as there are sixteen I don’t want to bore your readers with listing all of them, but they are all on my website http://www.finchlark.webs.com/ I teamed up with an illustrator and we produced a number of children’s picture books; then there are three crime thrillers one of which – The Black Widows – I am scripting. My most recent book is something I have always wanted to write – a Christmas special. Twelve Days to Save Christmas has a little bit of magic and a shape-shifting elf, a mean mayor, and lots of animals. It’s published through Crimson Cloak Publishing. All my books are on Amazon. Twelve Days to Save Christmas

Thank you, Jane. I had the pleasure of reading your Christmas book, and a lovely tale it is. What an accomplished writer you are! Wishing you continued success. Lynne North





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5. Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger (Gold Seer Trilogy) by Rae Carson. Greenwillow Books. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: 1849 Georgia. Leah Westfall lives with her parents, and together they hide her secret: she can find gold. It calls to her. To the rest of the world, her father is lucky; a luckiness that the family has to hide.

Her world comes crashing down when her parents are murdered and Leah finds herself running for her life. But where to go, what to do?

She can find gold. So she decides to go where everyone who has gold fever is going in 1849: California.

The Good: Oh, so much to like about Walk on Earth a Stranger!

First is, girls getting stuff done. At the start of the book, Leah is 15. She is devastated by the murders of her beloved parents, especially when she realizes who is behind it and that she is not safe. As a minor, and a woman, she has few options so she runs away. Dressed as a boy, and calling herself Lee.

So yes, this becomes a girl dressed like a boy story! Love. Leah binds her breasts and pleads modesty to explain her needs for privacy. And yes, Walk on Earth a Stranger is the type of book that doesn't shy away from things like Lee having to figure out what to do when she gets her period.

Lee's journey across the country is quite the adventure, by horse, by boat, by wagon. Pretending to be a boy gives her a level of safety and independence in her travels, but it doesn't totally protect her. It's still, at times, a struggle, and there are things -- there are people -- to fear.

Lee meets a wide assortment of people during her travels. One friend from the start is a neighbor and quasi-romantic interest, Jefferson. What I like about Jefferson is that he doesn't save her, and Lee doesn't need saving; they are friends, who may become something more, but they are equals. At times there are secrets and misunderstandings between the two, but the friendship is constant.

At least half of the book is the journey to California. It's not easy; there are difficulties, based on the method of travel, the ignorance and naivety of some of the travelers, and problems with some of those they are traveling with. Lee sees firsthand the hatred and fear of those in their party towards Indians, ranging from malicious actions to making up stories. She also sees it in how Jefferson (whose mother was Cherokee) is treated and talked about.

The people traveling to California are an odd mixture, bound together mainly by need and timing. It includes families and young men; people hoping to make their fortune finding gold and people hoping to make their fortune off of the gold seekers.

The Joyner family is the one that Lee travels with the longest, and so perhaps that is why the Joyners, and Mrs. Joyner especially, fascinates me. The Joyners are a well off family, bringing their furniture with them, insisting on tablecloths and china at meals. They have prejudices and biases typical of their time. (The interactions, or lack of interactions, between families based on religion and background is another fascinating part of the story.) The trip itself takes the family physically out of their comfort zone, and as the story continues Mrs. Joyner is continuing pushed beyond her comfort zone. Her character trajectory, when she rises to the occasion, when she falls, makes me hope to see more of her in the second book. Once in California, will she fall back to who she was? Or continue to grow and adapt?

Finally, what I like is that Lee's gift is not an easy answer. "Finding gold" sounds wonderful but the reality, not so much. Her parents, for example, knew that they had to be careful about who knew how much they had found; and also to take a care of whose gold is found. I liked the way that Lee used her gift in ways other than prospecting.

Walk on Earth a Stranger ends with Lee in California, and I liked that resolution, that the book was all about Lee's journey and about her gathering around her a small group of people she can trust. I'm looking forward to the next book, not just to find out more about Lee and her friends, but also to see if some of the many questions raised in the first book get answered.

And yes, I adore Rae Carson and her writing, so of course this is a Favorite Book Read in 2015.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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6. The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

After his father suddenly dies, Evan Griffin, 16, discovers he had been reading a book written by a Japanese soldier named Isamu Ōshiro, who found himself stranded on a small island in the Pacific during World War II.  The book is a memoir of his life on the island, which he called Kokoro-Jima, and is addressed to his new bride, Hisako, back in Saipan.  But Evan also discovers a letter to his dad from a man named Leonardo Kraft that seems to connect his estranged grandfather, Griff, a career Marine, to the events that are in the book.

Curious, Evan begins to read the Ōshiro's memoir one night when he gets a phone call from his grandfather that he will be at the house in a little while - arriving a week earlier than Evan expected him.  But why?  Clearly it has something to do with Ōshiro's story.  But what?

Isamu's story, framed by Evan's story, is riveting.  He describes his arrival on Kokorro Jima, what he does to survive despite being severely injured, but he also writes about something else.  There are ghostly children on the island who hover close by him, and who Isamu calls his ghostly family.  Soon, however, he begins to notice that there are also zombie-like ghoulish creatures, which he calls jikininki and who feed off the dead.

It is the jikininki who lead Isamu to a crashed cargo plane and the two dead pilots.  Isamu realizes there is a missing person, the navigator, and eventually he finds Derwood Kraft on the beach, seriously injured and who seems to have his own ghost family of children. But along with this gaijin, Isamu also discovers Tengu, a monstrous black creature about to attack the American.

That pretty much sets the stage for this incredibly well-written, well-developed, wonderfully crafted novel.  At the heart of the novel is the mystery of what happened to Isamu and why this is connected to Evan's grandfather.  But Tim Wynne-Jones keeps the mystery going without even a hint of what happens until the very end, and getting there is never dull or boring.

As far as I'm concerned, The Emperor of Any Place is definitely top-drawer fantasy, and yes, it is also very graphically detailed.  The novel switches between the present and past seamlessly, and Wynne-Jones throws in some seemingly unimportant scenes that only serve to deliciously increase the mood and tension.  I'm not much of a zombie fan, but I was totally drawn into this novel and hated to put it down when I had to do something else.

But there is something else that Wynne-Jones wants us to take away beside a great story and that is how tenuously connected the lines between war and peace, friends and enemies, love and hate are and how they impact past to present, generation to generation.  As Griff explains to Evan, "[war] ends and then it starts again, and the end of one war inevitably grows out of the war that can before it."

The Emperor of Any Place is one of those novels that took me totally by surprise and my only regret is that I can't have the pleasure of reading it for the first time again, but I will be re-reading it soon.

The Emperor of Any Place will be available on October 13, 2015.

This book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

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7. Review & Epic Giveaway: THE ELEMENTAL TRILOGY Featuring THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS by Sherry Thomas

Review by Andye The Burning Sky & The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas The Burning Sky opens with an amazing introduction that hooked me immediately, and I loved every single page that came after.  It was magical!  I almost felt a Harry Potterishness about this world. There was magic and mystery and a beautiful slow romance. I just can't begin to describe the depths of my love for this series

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8. Illustrating “The Hole Story of Kirby the Sneak and Arlo the True”

Summary: This blog post covers a book project that I worked on from the end of 2014 to the beginning of 2105. I was hired to create a cover illustration and a number of black and white interior illustrations for the book The Hole Story of Kirby the Sneak and Arlo the True.

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1h8AfKg

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9. Six of Crows: blog tour + giveaway

When I heard that Leigh Bardugo was writing a spinoff duology set in the Grishaverse, I was hopping with excitement. Every reviewer at The Midnight Garden is a huge fan of the Grisha trilogy, but there’s always a fear that accompanies such news as well. The story of six outcasts who try to pull off a dangerous heist sounded fantastic–but could anything live up to the original stories? I’m so relieved–and thrilled–and astonished to find that Six of Crows surpasses its venerable origins. This book is superbly crafted from start to finish; its plotting deliberate, its world-building immersive, and its characterizations complex. From snow-covered fields to salty docks to the grandeur of the ice court, this world feels richly detailed , and I love the thrilling use of magic as well as the crazily inventive action sequences. Not to mention a fully diverse set of people and smart, witty dialogue!... Read more »

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10. many props to fine art america...

for they did it again! have yet to find a better vendor for tote bags than these guys. these bags are GORGEOUS!!! color, spot on. the image fills up the whole entire bag, which is available in THREE different sizes. perfect for anything and everything.

big believer in giving credit where credit is due...and this one is well deserved.

thanks, fine art america for putting out yet another fabulous product! one happy little artist here!

{ps and btw, sun glare not included. ;) }

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11. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate -- keeping hold of hope through hard times (ages 8-11)

I find that my students particularly respond to books that touch their hearts, that talk honestly about how kids can survive through difficult times, about how we can keep hold of hope even though everything seems like it's about to crumble around us. I can't wait to share Crenshaw, Katherine Applegate's newest novel, with my students and friends.

by Katherine Applegate
Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan, 2015
Preview at Google Books
Your local library
ages 8-11
*best new book*
Jackson knows that his parents are worried about having enough money for rent. And he's noticed that lately, the cupboards seem pretty bare. But he's a no-nonsense kind of guy, entering 5th grade--the kind of kid who likes to learn all about the facts, not get lost in make believe stories. That's why he's seriously perplexed when he sees a giant cat surfboarding at the beach.
"Maybe I'd gotten sunstroke at the beach... Maybe I was asleep, stuck in the middle of a long, weird, totally annoying dream... Maybe I was just hungry. Hunger can make you feel pretty weird. Even pretty crazy."
Applegate draws readers into Jackson's story, blending humor with small moments that place you right in Jackson's world. For example, instead of just telling us that Jackson is hungry, she shows us how he plays a game with his little sister called Cerealball: "a good trick for when you're hungry and there's nothing much to eat."

Jackson is resilient and smart -- and that's why he's so perplexed that this giant imaginary cat has come to visit him again. But it's also why we, as readers, can relate so easily to him. He wants his parents to realize that they can tell him what's going on, but he's also shaken by the uncertainty. Will they have to move? Will they have to live in their van again? Will he have to change schools?

Applegate helps kids see the impact of worrying, something that kids can relate to all too well. She shows them how a friend can help, how talking with your family can help. But she does more than this. Applegate creates a voice for kids struggling with hunger and homelessness. She says, in effect, I see you, I know you, I care about you. And she helps all of us say the same thing.

When students perform in front of their class at school, we talk about how the audience holds their heart in their hands. I feel the same way about authors who write the books that we read as kids. They hold our hearts in their hands as they take us on a journey. Friends, I hope this is a journey that you take as well.

This book trailer does a great job of introducing the story to kids:

Please use this opportunity to talk with kids about hunger and what we can do about it. Support local food banks and food drives. Check out all the local bookstores that are participating in a nationwide food drive throughout October: #CrenshawFoodDrive.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Macmillan, and we've already purchased several more copies for school. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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12. A Thousand Nights: Review + Giveaway

A Thousand Nights is the Arabian Nights retelling I have been waiting for. I know there have been a few to come out this year, but A Thousand Nights has been my favorite of them all. If I could imagine an Arabian Nights retelling that would make my heart sing, it’d be this book. Go read this book when it comes out. It’s awesome. Probably you are already familiar with the story on which this novel is based. If not, let me give you a brief synopsis. There’s a king. He takes a new bride every day and kills her each night. One woman, Scheherazade, becomes his queen and delays her execution by telling a series of interlocking stories with cliffhangers for 1001 nights. What I liked about A Thousand Nights is that it takes this frame narrative but transforms it – the novel stays faithful to the spirit rather than the letter of its... Read more »

The post A Thousand Nights: Review + Giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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13. this little fire starter....

serafina~fire goddess
11x14 acrylic on canvas
©the enchanted easel 2015
i thought it might be fun to take on the four elements (in between commissions), so i began with a self-portrait of sorts...the true definition of a fire sign.

meet serafina, the goddess of fire. PRINTS (AND SUCH) can be found through the shop links here. also, the ORIGINAL PAINTING is FOR SALE. contact me if interested and please place the word SERAFINA in the subject line so i don't mistake it for spam/junk mail.

i'm hoping to get to the remaining elements (air, water and earth) SOON! :) currently working on a couple commissions.... Read the rest of this post

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14. Book Blog Tour: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord...

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Adam Gaylord's New Novel ~

Sol of the Coliseum

Follow Along to Read Reviews, an Excerpt, and Spotlights.

Survival is an act of defiance.

About Sol of the Coliseum:

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K'nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Follow the Blog Tour:


Title: Sol of the Coliseum

Author Name:  Adam Gaylord

Genre(s): Epic Fantasy, Adventure

Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Epic, Coliseum, Gladiator

Length: Approx. 259 pages

e-Book:  978-1-987976-10-6 

Paperback:  978-1-987976-09-0

Release Date: September 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/)

Guest Post: Naming the Characters of “Sol of the Coliseum”

One of the things that’s both really fun and really challenging about writing fantasy is the freedom you have, as an author, when it comes to crafting your story’s world. In historical or contemporary fiction, the setting and structure of the world are pretty ridged. You can’t go switching around who fought who in a WWII story or have gryphons walking the streets of your Washington D.C. political thriller. I mean, you can, but then your story is a different genre (fantasy). As an author, having that set structure means 1) you don’t have to come up with a new world (although you do have to research the bejezus out of the real one) and 2) you don’t have a lot of room to play with. But in fantasy, the sky’s the limit. Actually, the sky isn’t the limit. There are no limits.

A great example of this freedom and challenge comes in the form of character names. You can’t rewrite the names of history in historical fiction, but you don’t have to come up with a bunch of crazy names either. And fantasy names are not only crazy but unique! It’s totally fine to have Kings Henry I-VIII but it’s a little more difficult pulling of Warf IV or DrizztDo’Urden Jr. (famous characters from Star Trek and novels by R.A. Salvatore, respectively). So authors have to come up with original fantastically fantastical names for their characters. It can be a real challenge but it’s also a lot of fun.

Take the names of the characters in my gladiatorial fantasy novel “Sol of the Coliseum”. Right off the bat we have the main character, the story’s protagonist and the title character, Sol. I love words and wordplay (which is one of the reasons I write) and Sol’s name is a good example of me having fun with words. Sol is of the coliseum, he was born and raised there. He is a son of the coliseum. In my mind, son equated to sun, and the Spanish word for sun is sol. Also, Sol’s character is a bit of brightness in the terrible dark that is the coliseum: another sun/sol reference.

One of my favorite characters, and I hope she’ll be yours, is Oci. She’s the mother hen of the coliseum slaves, always taking care of someone in need. Her name comes straight from my family. I had a great aunt Ociolla (who everyone called Oci) who was that type of lady (and made the best lemon meringue pie you’ve ever had).

The story’s main female protagonist needed a strong yet beautiful name. Strong and beautiful made me think of corral which led me to Korra.

“HOLD ON!” You’re probably saying. “Korra is the name of a name of a character in a very popular animated series, ‘The Legend of Korra’, and you just told us all about the importance of originality!”

You got me. Sometimes, purely by coincidence, names are repeated. But in all honesty, they’re both strong female characters that bring a lot to their respective stories so I’m cool with it. Besides, I started writing SOTC in 2005 and “The Legend of Korra” didn’t debut until 2012. Mine came first.

There are a lot more characters in SOTC but I’ll finish with one of my favorite names, the empire’s assassin and a truly unpleasant fellow, Lysik. Fantasy has a long history of naming villains by incorporating root words with nefarious meanings. Take the Latin “mal”, for example. It means bad or evil and has given rise to names like Maleficent and Malfoy. For SOTC, I fused together lie (as in telling an un-truth) and sick (as in this character is one sick SOB). A little morphing and we get Lysik, a bad guy for the ages.

I hope you enjoy the characters and the names of SOTC!

Read an Excerpt:

A baby’s cry.

Grall was sure that was what he’d heard. In the depths of the Coliseum a person became accustomed to various cries of pain or despair. Prisoners, men broken physically or mentally, called out in the night. Spoils, the women given to victorious fighters to do with whatever they saw fit, cried out often. The beasts, crazed by captivity and seclusion, howled and cackled. Even Grall, though the proud young guard would never admit it, sometimes fought back tears that came in the dark. Over time, one could learn to block out the sound completely.

But the cry of a child, an infant, a sound that had no place in this world, could not be ignored.

Grall made his way slowly down the roughly-carved stone hall, unenthusiastic in his search for the sound’s origin. He knew what was expected of him when he found the child. His stomach clenched at the thought.

“I don’t need this,” he thought aloud, his voice barely a whisper. “I should be in bed.” In truth, only minutes before he had lain wide awake, willing dawn to come and give him a reason to abandon his tossing and turning. With the day came his duties; blessed menial tasks he could lose himself in, briefly forgetting his loss.

Grall had come to the Coliseum only a few months before. He had been a guard in the city of Astrolia, capital of the Astrolian Empire, until he refused to participate in a drill using live captives. His protests changed nothing. The captives had died regardless and he had yet again angered his captain, the man that controlled his fate. As punishment he had been transferred to the Coliseum, a post feared by guard and soldier alike. Far more than the danger and brutality, what inspired dread for the post was that for all intents and purposes the Coliseum was a closed system. Be you slave or guard, once you entered it you probably didn’t leave. He had begged his captain, promising him utter obedience. But for the Captain, Grall had made it personal. It mattered not at all that Grall’s young wife had just given birth to their first son. Neither did it matter that he would probably never see either of them again. Even if he managed to be one of the few to live long enough to see retirement, his son would be grown with children of his own.

He had been all for packing their meager belongings and making a run for it, but his wife’s cooler head had prevailed, as always. They lived in the middle of the Astrolian Empire, two week’s hard ride in any direction from free lands if they had a mount, which they didn’t. She was still weak and sore, not yet recovered from a difficult childbirth. Most importantly, they had a brand new baby. In the best of times the road was no place to raise a child, and they would be in hiding.

“No,” she had answered stoically through her tears, “you will go to the Coliseum. You will send us your pay. I will raise our son.”

He protested and argued to the point of exhaustion, vainly fighting the logic in her words. Eventually he conceded, packing his bag and leaving his family, barely started, standing at their doorstep.

He still grieved for the son he would never know.

And now there was this.

“I don’t need this,” he repeated to himself, stopping outside the door to the women’s barracks.

They had promised to take care of it.

He knew the mother. She was a slave in the luxury boxes. As sometimes happens, one of her wealthy male patrons had an eye for her and he raped her after she refused his advances. She’d hid the pregnancy well at first but eventually her condition became all too obvious. Grall had been sent to deal with it. The women of the barracks had assured him that though uncommon, such things were not unheard of. The baby would be disposed of in a quiet manner. He had relented.

An infant howling down the halls was not a quiet manner.

Grall took a deep breath and opened the door. His broad frame and barrel-chest filled the doorway while he let his eyes adjust to the dimly-lit barracks. Women were sitting awake in their bunks, eyeing him with considerable disdain. He made his way down the candlelit center aisle toward the source of the disturbance, avoiding the hostile glares and trying to keep his face passive. He didn’t want to be here any more than they wanted him here. The object of his quest lay wrapped in a blanket and was held by a rather large cook. He saw the mother lying in a bed off to the side, unmoving. The sheets were soaked with blood but it was her face that drew his gaze. She had obviously been beaten, badly.

“She panicked,” the cook said flatly to answer his unasked question. “She confronted the father. He did that and she gave the last of her strength giving birth to this boy. We’ve named him Sol.”

A heavy silence settled over the room; the baby was finally quiet, as if showing respect to his deceased mother. Grall’s gaze lingered on the dead slave, her many bruises contrasting with her pale skin and long blonde hair. In life she had been beautiful, a curse for a woman in the Coliseum. In the peace of death she still held her beauty, despite the violence she had encountered.

“And now you’re here,” the cook broke the silence accusingly.

“I’m sorry. Melina was well liked,” he said, attempting civility.

The cook nodded. “She never let this place get to her.”

He nodded, recognizing the compliment. There was a long pause.

“You can’t keep it,” he said plainly, surprised at the feeling he was able to keep out of his voice. Several hisses sounded behind him. The cook neither responded nor moved. She just sat holding the child.

“You know the rules as well as I.” He could feel the animosity radiating onto his back from the bunks.

“What life could he hope to have here?” he asked, almost pleading, bristling at the tone of his own voice. He was a guard of the Coliseum; he didn’t need to explain himself. Who were these women and this cook who sat unmoving? Had they taken care of things as they promised, he wouldn’t have to be down here at all.

He straightened up. “I’ll deal with it,” he said firmly. Moving the last few paces toward the cook, he felt the women stir behind him. The cook made to strike him and several cries of protest sounded as he reached for the baby. But something unexpected happened, something amazing. As Grall reached for the bundle, his hand was met by the child’s. Without fear and with a strong little grip, the baby grabbed one of Grall's fingers and held. He froze, as did the women.

Had it been any other guard, hard and embittered with years of service, nothing would have changed, but for Grall that tiny hand struck with the force of a blow. He shuddered visibly, staring wide-eyed at the child. All was still. Grall knew his duty, what was expected of him. The problem with duty was that it belonged in the Coliseum and he was no longer in the Coliseum. Looking at this tiny baby, feeling it holding his hand, the guard was home.

The little hand holding his finger melted Grall's resolve. The women saw it immediately and smiles passed around the bunks. Grall didn’t see them, he only saw the child. He sighed and then without a word he slowly straightened, turned, and walked back the way he had come.

From that moment on, Sol was a child of the Coliseum.

Purchase Links:


Mirror World Publishing

Meet the Author:

Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others.

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15. Dreamstrider: Review

While I, sadly, didn’t fully connect with this novel as I would have liked to, I do have to admire it for the sheer ambition of its scope. This story set itself after the incredibly complex task of telling a political mystery, set in a fantasy world, where dreams themselves figure so heavily they are practically characters. You know how difficult it is to describe your dream to someone? You can see it so clearly, but when you go to actually tell it it’s impossible? This story features a lot of dreams, and I have to applaud Lindsay Smith for the attempt to capture and convey the weirdness and irreality of them in the context of a story. Dreamstrider takes place in a fantasy world that is reminiscent of a sort of 17th-18th century Europe. The Barstadt Empire is a nation with a very strict class system. There are the... Read more »

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16. Interview with Christopher Nuttall, YA Fantasy Author of ‘Trial By Fire’

nuttall_pix_med (1)Christopher Nuttall was born in Edinburgh, studied in Manchester, married in Malaysia and currently living in Scotland, United Kingdom, with his wife and baby son. He is the author of 20 novels from various publishers and thirty-nine self-published novels. More than 100,000 ebooks in the Schooled in Magic series have sold since March 2014.
Sample Chapter HERE.
Purchase on Amazon / OmniLit
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Trial By Fire, Book 7 in your Schooled in Magic series. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy? 
Well, I started writing seriously around 2004-2005 and … well, I write the sort of books I like to read. I began with a military thriller, then went through alternate history and alien invasion before starting to experiment with fantasy. Frankly, I’m still fond of all four genres, although military science-fiction is probably my favorite. 
What is your book about? 
Oh, a hard question.
The Schooled in Magic series follows the adventures of Emily, a teenage girl from our world who is accidentally kidnapped by a necromancer and swept into an alternate world where magic is real, dragons fly through the sky and young magicians are sent to boarding schools to learn magic. But it’s also a series about the introduction of new ideas into a static society and just what happens when those ideas are developed, then start to mutate.
Trial By Fire follows Emily as the repercussions of her actions in earlier books finally come back to haunt her, putting her at the center of a deadly plot that will force her to fight for her life – or die at the hands of a relentless enemy.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book? 
Making it convincing, alas.
Ok, that sounds absurd; fantasy is not, by definition, convincing. A world where someone can be turned into a toad with a snap of a witch’s fingers isn’t our world. However, it does have to follow its own logic – and, if that logic is violated, people tend to protest. (They also protest if humans don’t act like humans, although creatures like Elves get a free pass – they’re not human.)
TrialByFire_med1One very notable example comes from Harry Potter (I use this because most of my readers will probably be familiar with the series.) In Goblet of Fire, Harry is forced to compete in a deadly contest that could easily leave him dead … apparently because having his name put in the titular Goblet creates a magically-binding contract that enforces participation. But we know Harrydidn’t put his name in the Goblet … which raises questions about how the contract was binding in the first place. (And why, if you can create a contract binding someone, they don’t use it on the Dark Lord.)
(Personally, I tend to think that Dumbledore was the one under contract; he’d sworn to make sure anyone whose name came out of the Goblet had to compete, which would have included Harry as well as the other guy. And it would be perfectly in character for Dumbledore to keep mum about this and push Harry forward.)
In Trial By Fire, I worked hard to put together a trap for Emily that wouldn’thave a thinking fan banging his head off the wall. I hope I succeeded. 
What do you hope readers will get from your book? 
Well, I hope they will have an enjoyable story.
Let’s be honest here. I’m not trying to write something that will echo down the ages, something with the staying power of the Foundation series. I’m writing so my readers will have fun reading the books. If they learn something about the importance of technology, the spread of ideas and just what can happen when whole new approaches are explored … well, that’s a bonus. 
Did your book require a lot of research? 
The series absorbed a great deal of research . I actually spent years reading about the Middle Ages, just to flavor my work. The Allied Lands themselves have a great deal in common with Europe, particularly in the Reformation era. I studied how those societies worked, what drove them, how their people thought and what weakened them in the face of stronger enemies.
Of course, there are differences – the presence of functional magic, for a start. 
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this? 
Sometimes. Oddly, I feel it while crafting the next installment in a successful series.
Trial By Fire was originally intended to serve as the end of the first arc of novels set within the Schooled in Magicuniverse. I knew it had to be spectacular, the moment when Emily steps up and takes firm control of her life, and so I was nervous about actually having her do it. I hope it lives up to its purpose. 
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined? 
Very disciplined. Truthfully, you don’t get anywhere in writing unless you’re disciplined.
I get up, eat breakfast and drink coffee, then get to work. I set myself a goal of three chapters a day, except for the first day; that generally takes around five hours. Then there’s the task of checking the beta reader comments and editing the manuscript. Between drafts, I generally try to move to something different or edit completed manuscripts. 
How do you define success? 
Success comes in the form of people buying my books and writing good (and thoughtful reviews). I know; I probably won’t win any major awards. (I did win the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards for Bookworm.) However, I’m happy with being paid and being told I did a good job. 
What do you love most about the writer’s life? 
I get to work from home, set my own hours and generally be my own boss. And then there’s the fact I get to meet fans, even if I am a little shy. 
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work? 
I have a website, a blog, a mailing list and a Facebook fan page.
The website contains free samples – I try to give away at least a couple of chapters, sometimes as many as ten – and a number of older books that are completely free. They’re really ones I wrote during my first period as a writer; not good enough to be published, perhaps, but people liked them. A couple have even been rewritten for later publication.
The blog and Facebook page cover everything from my musings to fan comments and suchlike, allowing a degree of fan participation. All are welcome. The mailing list, however, is only for new releases – I believe in trying to avoid spamming people where possible.
Where is your book available?
The ebook version of Trial By Fire is available for purchase from Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, BN Nook, Kobo Books, OmniLit, etc.
The print version of Trial By Fire will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, Brodart, Coutts, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Emery-Pratt, Follett, Ingram, The Book Despository, The Book House, etc.
Purchase links will be available on the chapter excerpt page:
What is your advice for aspiring authors? 
I think I’ve said this before, time and time again, but the best advice I can give is work hard, work hard and work hard. Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% hard work. It is very rare to get a first novel published, unless you have VERY strong connections with the publishing industry or a name you can exploit (and those books tend to be terrible). Eric Flint said you really need to write at least a million words before you have something worth reading and I tend to think he was right.
Once you have a manuscript, get a few readers to look at it and give you honest feedback. If they said “this sucks, because [insert reason here]” listen to them. They may be wrong, which is possible, or you may have failed to explain something properly. Either way, they should make you think about it … which is better than having a review that boils down to “this author is an idiot.”
And grow a thick skin. You’ll need it. 
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 
I offer cameos for anyone who reads a book and reports an error to me. All (again) welcome.

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17. #735 – Scrap City by D. S. Thornton

Scrap City Written by D. S. Thornton Capstone Young Readers    10/01/2015 978-1-62370-297-7  352 pages       Age 10—14    “Beneath a small Texan town lies s city unlike any other . . . “Eleven-year-old Jerome Barnes isn’t expecting to find anything interesting in crazy Wild Willy’s junkyard. But then he discovers Arkie. Arkie …

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18. Seeker, by Arwen Elys Dayton | Book Review

It's delightful to slip into the complex and fully realized world where Seekers slice through time and space and unlock the mysteries of the universe.

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19. 6 Authors + 5 Books = 1 Great Evening of Readings and Book Signings…

It’s been a busy summer of new releases from Mirror World Publishing, so they’re throwing a multi-author book launch event to celebrate! If you’re in the area or able, please come out and meet the authors of five new books. Here are the details:

When: September 3rd, 2015
Where: Artspeak Gallery, 1942 Wyandotte East, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Authors:

Sharon Ledwith - Legend of the Timekeepers
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred - Unintended
Rita Monette - The Legend of Ghost Dog Island
Elizabeth J. M. Walker - She Dreamed of Dragons
Nate Friedman - The Coffee Monster

From children's to middle grade, young adult and adult, Mirror World Publishing is launching creative fiction novels in every age category! Come out and hear the authors read from their new releases, pick up a signed copy, and stick around for your chance to win free books! Plus there’s going to be cupcakes and coffee on tap from local vendors. Yum!

BTW – Rita Monette is the special guest star, as she'll be coming in from Tennessee! So don't miss this opportunity to meet her and get your signed copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island! Hope to see you there! Cheers!

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20. Diary of a Mad Brownie - an audiobook review

I can't republish certain reviews that have already appeared in print or elsewhere online, but I can point you to where you might find them.

The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville. (Listening Library, 2015)
Suggested for ages 8-12.  298 minutes.


Diary of a Mad Brownie is the first book in Bruce Coville's new series, The Enchanted Files.  I listened to the audio book, and I can tell you that it was the most fun I've had listening in a long time. And it's read by a full cast!

Read my review here: http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/102097/

My copy of the book was supplied by AudioFile Magazine.

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21. If you only had a brain

scarecrow-in-fieldFarah Mendlesohn called my attention to this bit of fuckwittery from The Guardian, in which their art critic Jonathan Jones opines that the late Terry Pratchett wrote “trash” while the equally late Günter Grass was a “true titan of the novel,” so why is everyone more sad about the passing of Sir Terry? The dumbness of this point–let’s start with the fact that more people love Pratchett’s books more than people love Grass’s–is exacerbated by the fact that Jones admits, nay, crows, that he’s never read a word of Pratchett and doesn’t intend to.

I have only read about half a dozen of Pratchett’s books and none of Grass’s, so I have no opinion of their comparative merits. (That didn’t stop Jones but I haven’t passed judgment on a book I haven’t read since that time I put Red Shift on a syllabus but never got around to reading it before the class began. I was younger then.) But his argument is straw-man specious–as far as I can tell, the only person comparing Pratchett to Grass is Jones.

He is right, though, that critical discourse is now both puffed-up and flattened. I blame the internet, although God knows even The Horn Book has tossed around words like “brilliant” and “ground-breaking” for books that are in hindsight “smart” and “different from those other books we’ve been seeing lately.” But not only has the internet brought together readers, critics, creators, fans, and publicists in what can be an orgy of self-serving hyperbole, it has leveled distinctions between high, middlebrow, and disposable culture, with TV episodes, for example, dissected with the same assiduousness as, well, the works of Pratchett or Grass. It makes me think of Anne Lamott writing in Bird by Bird about her brief but over-reaching career as a restaurant reviewer, where one of her friends had to remind her gently that “Annie, it’s just a bit of cake.”

It is a peculiarity of books for youth–along with speculative fiction and romance novels–that its devotees frequently feel burdened by the genre’s putatively second-class status of not being “real literature.” The defensiveness is certainly warranted–witness critics like Jonathan Jones!–but it can also lead to claims of greatness than only resound in the choir loft. If I were to write “Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books are awfully good children’s books” (talk about clickbait) I would inevitably be scolded for putting limits on their goodness. But can’t it be enough that something be an awfully good children’s book without claiming it stands among the titans of literature writ large?


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22. Windmill Dragons: A Leah and Alan Adventure by David Nytra, 120pp, RL 2

In 2012, David Nytra's The Secret of the Stone Frog kicked off the TOON Graphics series for visual readers. At a higher reading level and with more complex stories, TOON Graphics are perfect for readers ready to graduate from the  superb selection of TOON books created for emerging readers. Now, Nytra brings us another incredible Leah and Alan Adventure with Windmill Dragons. The

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23. Gryphons Aren't So Great by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost, 40pp, RL 1.5

Gryphons Aren't So Great is the second book in the Adventures in Cartooning Jr. series by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost. If you don't know the Adventures in Cartooning series of graphic novels (my review here) you have to check them out. They combine humor, action, adventure and even drawing instruction (thus the name) in a format that is perfect for readers who

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24. DRIFT AND DAGGAR by Kendall Kulper \\ I want more!

Review by Leydy DRIFT AND DAGGAR by Kendall KulperAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 368 pagesPublisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 8, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon In Mal's world, magic is everything. But Mal is a "blank," the anti-magic. Blanks can't be hexed or cursed or saved or killed by magic. And everyone is afraid of them--even Mal

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25. Review of Lair of Dreams

bray_lair of dreamsLair of Dreams: A Diviners Novel
by Libba Bray
High School   Little, Brown   691 pp.
8/15   978-0-316-12604-5   $19.00   g
e-book ed. 978-0-316-36488-1   $9.99

Seventeen-year-old flapper Evie O’Neill (The Diviners, rev. 11/12) and friends confront another supernatural threat. As before, Bray follows multiple characters, many of them also paranormally gifted; while Evie (now a radio star known as the “Sweetheart Seer”) is still a focal point, here dream walkers Henry DuBois and Ling Chan also come to the fore. Several plot threads intertwine when Ling and Henry begin dream-walking together (Henry hopes to communicate with Louis, the love he left behind in New Orleans; Ling meets another dream walker, a Chinese girl named Wai-Mae) and a frightening “sleeping sickness” descends on New York City, sending people into comas, then death. As the sleeping sickness spreads, Henry and Ling start to notice disturbing things about the dream world…and about Wai-Mae. Bray’s vividly detailed descriptions, which take readers from glittering high-society parties to claustrophobic tunnels filled with ghastly creatures, give the novel a sweeping, cinematic quality. Sweet relationships (romantic, platonic, and familial) and snarky banter filled with period slang balance and accentuate the suspenseful horror. Through it all, new questions arise as mysteries from the previous novel deepen. What is the connection between the Diviners and the government’s ominous Project Buffalo? Who is the man in the stovepipe hat lurking at the edges of all this supernatural violence? Despite its considerable length, fans will barrel through this second installment and emerge impatient for the next.

From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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