Tag Archives: action

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige. April 2, 2019. DC Ink, 192 p. ISBN: 9781401283391.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Princess Mera is teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel, a penal colony ruled by the other no-so-lost land under the sea, Atlantis. Her father, his court and the entire kingdom are expecting her to marry and introduce a new king. But Mera is destined to wear a different crown….

When the Xebellian military plots to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its oppressive regime, Mera seizes the opportunity to take control over her own destiny by assassinating Arthur Curry–the long-lost prince and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis. But her mission gets sidetracked when Mera and Arthur unexpectedly fall in love. Will Arthur Curry be the king at Mera’s side, or will he die under her blade as she attempts to free her people from persecution?

An astonishing graphic novel that explores duty, love, heroism and freedom, all through the eyes of readers’ favorite undersea royalty.

From New York Times best-selling author Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die) and artist Stephen Byrne comes a Mera and Aquaman origin story that explores Mera’s first steps on land, and her first steps as a hero or villain, forcing her to choose to follow her heart or her mission to kill.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 8-12. Mera is the princess and successor to the throne of Xebel, a nation under the rule of Atlantis. Mera’s mother was a warrior killed in battle, and her father tries to protect her from the same fate. Eager to prove herself, she secretly takes on the task of killing Arthur Curry, unknowing heir of Atlantis, until she realizes she loves him more than she hates his lineage. Mera is a compelling, easy-to-admire character. She readily proves her worthiness as a warrior, and readers will see in her plenty of parallels to Wonder Woman. The forbidden love theme plays out in the contention between the Xebellians and Atlanteans (and, more specifically, Arthur and Mera), which bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the Montagues and Capulets. Mera’s and her family members’ red hair is the focus of the illustrations, since it is the brightest thing in each of Byrne’s muted, bluish-gray panels. What with Aquaman’s introduction in last year’s Justice League movie and his own feature to pique extra interest, this graphic novel is likely to be a hit.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2019)
A feisty undersea princess must choose between love and duty. Bestselling author Paige (The Queen of Oz, 2017, etc.) reinvents Mera, the fierce, fiery-tressed heir to the throne of Xebel, an undersea realm ruled by the Atlanteans. The Xebellians yearn to be free of the Atlantean reign and plot to kill their missing royal heir, Arthur Curry (also known as Aquaman), who has been living among the humans. Singularly focused Mera comes to the surface to murder him but is ultimately touched by his intrinsic kindness. As Xebel and Atlantean tensions crescendo and romantic feelings grow, will Mera be able to slaughter the boy she now loves? Paige has rendered a sassy, take-no-prisoners heroine who may look like Disney’s Ariel but who is imbued with grit and substance. Artist Byrne’s tidy illustrations utilize a spare color palette, with cool gray marine tones save for the dramatic splashes of Mera’s red hair. Arthur and Mera’s backstory in the DC Universe is rather intricate, and while this volume explains it as well as possible, certain details are still a bit hazy. Those turned off by insta-love may want to pass; Mera and Arthur’s relationship and its ensuing tension are easily foreseen. Nearly all main characters are white and straight, however secondary and background characters portray a sampling of different skin tones and orientations. Though a bit convoluted, this mashup puts a fresh spin on a lesser-known superhero. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Danielle Paige is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dorothy Must Die series, Stealing Snow, and the upcoming Mera book with DC Entertainment. In addition to writing young adult books, she works in the television industry, where she’s received a Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. She is a graduate of Columbia University and currently lives in New York City.

Her website is daniellepaigebooks.com.

Around the Web

Mera: Tidebreaker on Amazon

Mera: Tidebreaker on Barnes and Noble

Mera: Tidebreaker on Goodreads

Mera: Tidebreaker on LibraryThing

Mera: Tidebreaker Publisher Page

Advertisements

Children of Jubilee by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Jubilee by Margaret Peterson Haddix. December 4, 2018. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781442450097.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg. Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 740.

Kiandra has to use her wits and tech-savvy ways to help rescue Edwy, Enu, and the others from the clutches of the Enforcers in the thrilling final novel of the Children of Exile series from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive.

But Edwy’s tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can’t find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive.

Part of Series: Children of Exile (Book #3)

Sequel to: Children of Refuge

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Violence, False imprisonment

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 4-8. The third and final title in the Children of Exile series is all fans could hope for: exciting action, thoughtful examinations of social justice and prejudice, no excessive or gratuitous violence, a logically plotted universe, and an ultimately hopeful ending. Haddix once again changes narrators, this time focusing on Edwy’s tech-savvy 13-year-old sister, Kiandra. By switching narrators in each book, Haddix gives readers the chance to see each narrator through the eyes of others, as well as hear their own clear voice. Previously portrayed as a grumpy and self-absorbed genius computer hacker, Kiandra here discovers her connection to her siblings and other beings in general, including initially terrifying alien creatures. Kiandra, her siblings, and friends are whisked through terrifying adventures that include capture, imprisonment, and forced labor. It is Kiandra’s developing empathy that saves the group, as she dares to reach out to what she believes are enemy aliens, working together to achieve freedom. Though it won’t stand alone, this finale will be tremendously popular with series fans.

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.

Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio, with their two children. Her website is www.haddixbooks.com

Around the Web

Children of Jubilee on Amazon

Children of Jubilee on Barnes and Noble

Children of Jubilee on Goodreads

Children of Jubilee on LibraryThing

Children of Jubilee Publisher Page

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. October 2, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 450 p. ISBN: 9780062795328.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Sequel to: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Part of Series: Montague Siblings (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Though her elder brother Monty may be content, cuddled up in the dregs of London with the boy of his dreams (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, 2017), Felicity Montague has grander ambitions. Unfortunately, it’s the eighteenth century, and ambition in a woman isn’t well received. Felicity, who is determined to become a physician, has been met with resounding rejection from the hospitals of Edinburgh, though she has received a proposal that she won’t be accepting. Then she learns her medical idol may need an assistant, and he’s more forward-thinking than most—but he’s about to marry Johanna Hoffman, Felicity’s childhood best friend turned nemesis. Still, Felicity never said no to a challenge before, and so begins an adventure featuring field surgery, pirates, sea dragons, and one truly massive dog. Felicity, comfortable discussing medical science and not much else, and who ultimately realizes that she’s not interested in romantic or sexual relationships of any kind, is a singular heroine; Lee navigates her narration with even more aplomb than she did Monty’s. Felicity’s reconnection with Johanna and her gradual awareness of her own dismissiveness toward traditionally feminine interests adds wonderful depth, and Sim, the Muslim pirate inspired by pirate queens through history, offers a different image of strength and a window into a wider world. Lee’s research is thorough and organically incorporated, and this action-driven adventure is a joy.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2018)
Felicity Montague fights to take up space in a world that demands she remain invisible. Barred from study at hospitals and universities because of her sex, Felicity chases her dreams of medical study from London all the way to Stuttgart, where her idol, Alexander Platt, an expert in preventative medicine, plans to marry before embarking on an expedition. Without any money of her own since she ran away from home, white English girl Felicity must rely on Sim, an Algerian Muslim woman with connections to piracy and secret motives. To make matters worse, Platt’s fiancee, Johanna Hoffman, also white, used to be Felicity’s best friend until falling out over their changing interests. As in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017), Stonewall Honor recipient Lee (Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World, 2018, etc.) develops a world rich in historical detail, crafts a plot wild with unexpected turns, and explores complex topics like colonization and identity. Felicity’s brother, Monty, and his boyfriend, Percy, play smaller roles in this volume; the story focuses on the relationships between Felicity, Sim, and Johanna as the three women fight their own battles for respect and recognition within societal systems built to suppress them. Traveling alongside Sim and Johanna challenges Felicity to acknowledge the flaws of her not-like-other-girls self-image and realize that strength comes in more than one form. An empowering and energetic adventure that celebrates friendship between women. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical fantasy novels This Monstrous Thing and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (HarperCollins), as well as the forthcoming The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (coming in 2018 from HarperCollins) and Semper Augustus (coming in 2019 from Flatiron/Macmillan). She is also the author of Bygone Badass Broads (Abrams, 2018), a collection of short biographies of amazing women from history you probably don’t know about but definitely should, based on her popular twitter series of the same name.

She currently calls Boston home, where she manages an independent bookstore, drinks too much Diet Coke, and pets every dog she meets.

Her website is www.mackenzilee.com

Teacher Resources

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Amazon

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Barnes and Noble

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Goodreads

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy Publisher Page

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker. October 23, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 374 p. ISBN: 9780316327343.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

When Lady Katherine’s father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn’t the only secret he’s been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father’s mission, and to take it one step further–kill the queen herself.

Katherine’s opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare’s newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn’t know is that the play is not just a play–it’s a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play’s leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Smoking, Alcohol, Homophobia

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. It’s Elizabethan England: practicing Catholicism can lead to execution, William Shakespeare is working on As You Like It, and Tobias Ellis spies for Queen Elizabeth herself. In Cornwall, Lady Katherine Arundell watches as her father is murdered for his faith, and she becomes entangled in a plot to assassinate the queen. When he catches wind of this plot, Toby sets a trap—Shakespeare’s new play, Twelfth Night, will be performed exclusively for Her Majesty—and Katherine walks right in. Disguised as a boy called Kit, she joins the troupe, playing opposite a watchful Toby. But Toby, bisexual in a time when same-sex relationships were dangerous, is beginning to fall for Kit, and Katherine has feelings for him as well, despite her guilt over lying to him about her true identity. Opening night approaches, and, one way or another, the truth will out. Boecker (The King Slayer, 2016) spins themes from Twelfth Night into her narrative, while neatly working ideas of gender and sexual identity into historical context. A romantic, swashbuckling adventure that will tempt Shakespeare buffs.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
A spy for the queen and a vengeful Catholic intent on regicide bend genders and battle their lovesick hearts in Elizabethan England. When Katherine’s father (a Catholic and therefore heretic) is killed by order of Queen Elizabeth I, Katherine escapes and, assuming the male identity of Kit Alban, stage actor, vows to avenge his death. Toby is a royal spy, intercepting coded letters, unraveling secrets, and unveiling traitors (it was his skill that unearthed Katherine’s father’s plot to kill the queen). Besotted with power and Toby’s dreamy blue eyes, HRH enlists him to ensnare her would-be-assassin. His solution? Bait the zealot with a role in Twelfth Night, to be performed mere feet from the monarch. Kit and a team of co-conspiring Catholics bite, arming Kit with a dagger and little hope for escape. Enter stage right: unexpected attraction between Toby and Kit. The first-person, present-tense dual narration of Kit/Katherine and Toby shows their tandem turmoil of pretense: hiding true missions, veiling sexual identity and orientation (Toby is bisexual), simultaneously hoping to actualize and be unfettered from their mutual affection. Though the author’s note declares liberties in storytelling, the meticulous design and execution make it read as a scrumptious slice of history. The conflicts of religion, sexuality, class, and gender identity are apropos to contemporary times. Victor, Victoria and Shakespeare in Love: Meet your thrilling new sister. Or brother. (author’s note, maps, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12-adult)

About the Author

Virginia Boecker is the author of The Witch Hunter series and An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason. A graduate of the University of Texas, she had a decade-long career in technology before quitting to become a full-time writer. When she isn’t writing, Virginia likes running, reading, traveling, and trying new things (most recently: learning to drive a boat). She has lived all over the world but currently resides in beautiful Lake Oswego, Oregon with her husband, children, a dog called George and a cat named Thomas.

Her website is www.virginiaboecker.com

Around the Web

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason on Amazon

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason on Barnes and Noble

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason on Goodreads

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason Publisher Page

Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands

Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands. September 25, 2018. Aladdin Books, 544 p. ISBN: 9781534428478.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.7.

Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this fourth novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.

Christopher Rowe has no idea who he is. After being shipwrecked in Devonshire, he wakes up alone, his memories gone. Villagers tell him he was possessed by an unseen evil, and only became conscious after being visited by the local witch.

As Christopher tries to get his bearings, he realizes his current state may be far from coincidence. Dark events have been happening in this corner of Britain—village children are disappearing without a trace. There are whispers that the malevolent ghost of the White Lady has returned to steal the children away, one by one, and consume their souls.

Thankfully, friends Tom and Sally find Christopher and help him reconnect with his unique skills and talents, even as his memories elude him. But as motives and secrets are revealed, Christopher finds himself in a desperate race to reclaim his memories and discover the missing children before it’s too late

Sequel to: The Assassin’s Curse

Part of Series: The Blackthorn Key (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Violence, Child abuse

 

About the Author

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher.

His website is kevinsandsbooks.com.

Around the Web

Call of the Wraith on Amazon

Call of the Wraith on Barnes and Noble

Call of the Wraith on Goodreads

Call of the Wraith Publisher Page

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour. May 15, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781524738655.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 760.

From debut author Jeff Seymour and bestselling illustrator Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) comes this breathtaking fantasy adventure, starring an extraordinary new heroine and set in an unforgettable world where ships can fly.

It takes a very special crew to keep the cloudship Orion running, and no one knows that better than Nadya Skylung, who tends the cloud garden that keeps the ship afloat. When the unthinkable happens and pirates attack, Nadya and the other children aboard–all orphans taken in by the kindhearted Captain Nic–narrowly escape, but the rest of the crew is captured. Alone and far from help, only Nadya and her four brave and loyal friends can take back the Orion and rescue the crew. And she’ll risk life and limb to save the only family she’s ever known. But . . . this attack was no accident. What exactly are the pirates looking for? Could it be Nadya they’ve been after all along?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Grades 6-8. Nadya and the others aboard the cloudship Orion are orphans taken in by Captain Nic until the day they can run their own ships. Nadya dreams of one day leaving the security of the cloud garden and becoming first mate, until the ship is attacked by pirates. When the crew is taken hostage, Nadya and her friends must risk their lives to save them. This brilliantly characterized debut features heroes who are well-rounded and layered; each come from tragic circumstances, but their connection is genuine and emotional as they deal with realistic conflicts and daily life aboard the ship. Opinionated Nadya often fails to see others’ perspectives, but as she learns to put aside their differences in order to honestly understand her teammates, it’s easy to form a real connection with her. An impressive read that explores ideas of what bravery means though rich writing, vivid descriptions, and a strong voice. Readers will be eager to explore this breathtaking and dangerous steampunk world set in the sky.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2018)
Nadya Skylung, an orphan, was rescued by the cloudship Orion’s captain, Nic, as were the other orphans who are in the crew: Tam, Tian Li, Pepper, and Salyeh. In the cloudship’s garden, Nadya helps fellow skylung Mrs. Trachia take care of the special plants and animals that help keep the vessel aloft. As the book opens, Nadya hopes to be named first mate. Then the worst happens: Pirates attack the Orion. They are looking for skylungs, and Nadya fears they are looking for her. The action’s both nonstop and circular: The adults sacrifice themselves so that the children can escape, and then the children execute a daring rescue to save them. Nadya gets some but not all of her questions answered, leaving room for a sequel. The built world is complicated, with elaborate biological mechanisms that power the cloudship and humans with special properties to run it. With geography and naming conventions vaguely analogous to our own, Seymour constructs a racially diverse cast around Nadya, who presents white. The language he uses to describe his characters of color is sometimes poorly chosen: Tian Li is rather opaquely described as having “sandstone-colored skin,” and, worse, Salyeh is described as having skin “the dark brown of burning paper.” While the worldbuilding can be heavy-handed and confusing at times, readers who love action-adventure stories will enjoy reading about Nadya and her friends. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Jeff Seymour writes hopeful, heartfelt fantasy that blends modern characters with timeless plots and offers something new and fantastic on every page. His debut middle-grade novel, Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, will be published by Putnam Young Readers in 2018, and his epic fantasy Soulwoven got over a million reads while being featured on Wattpad. In his day job as a freelance editor, Jeff helps shape and clean up stories for a talented roster of bestselling sci-fi and fantasy authors as well as newcomers to the business. In his free time, he plays more video games than he should, serves as support team to a wife with an incredible career of her own, pretends he knows anything about raising children, and gathers ideas for stories everywhere he goes

His website is jeff-seymour.com

Around the Web

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue on Amazon

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue on Goodreads

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue Publisher Page

Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein

Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein. June 5, 2018. Imprint, 320 p. ISBN: 9781250146922.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.0; Lexile: 820.

Chopping blades, scorpion nests, giant spiderwebs—no one makes traps better than Wily Snare.

He has never seen the sun, or blue sky, or even his parents. Wily Snare lives underground, creating traps to keep treasure-seekers away from the gold in an ancient wizard’s dungeon. He spends his days mopping up giant slug slime, avoiding poison darts, and herding undead skeletons. It’s all he knows.

Until an unusual band of adventurers—an acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a giant made of moss—successfully defeat Wily’s traps. And they want the ultimate treasure: Wily himself. His skills can help them invade every other dungeon in the kingdom. He might even aid their fight against the Infernal King, whose gearfolk and prisonauts terrorize the land.

But for a boy who has never been outside, dungeons aren’t nearly as scary as the world above. Or an evil king who builds the trickiest traps of all . . .

Snared: Escape to the Above is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series from bestselling author Adam Jay Epstein.

Part of series: Willy Snare (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 18))
Grades 3-6. An acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a moss giant walk into a dungeon. They walk out with its buried treasure, a hobgoblet, and Wily Snare, who has lived his entire life underground. Together, they embark on a journey requiring Wily’s skills as a trapsmith (think security expert) to steal treasure from other dungeons, with the goal of leaving the kingdom and escaping the evil Infernal King. But all the people Wily meets in the Above are not who they seem, and he must decide how he really wants to use his trapsmith talents. Epstein’s series starter is a fun and creative story with surprisingly deep plot twists. Readers get to experience the world for the first time with Wily, and they’ll enjoy discovering the land through his eyes. The villain is reminiscent of Valentine from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, though for a decidedly younger audience; and the ending wraps up the story nicely, so it will be interesting to see where these characters are headed next.

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2018)
Intruders in the dungeon! Five unlikely heroes unite for a treasure hunt but find themselves on a quest to save the kingdom instead. Wily Snare has spent his whole life cleaning up slime and maintaining the deadly traps in Carrion Tomb to protect the treasure hoard from foolhardy adventurers. No invaders have ever escaped capture until Odette (a cunning, blue-haired elf), Pryvyd (a one-armed ex-knight with olive skin), and Moshul (a moss golem who communicates through sign language) cheat their way past the tomb’s defenses and change Wily’s future forever. The ragtag gang of thieves whisk Wily (a white human boy) and his adopted hobgoblet sister off into the Above, a land ruled by the tyrannical Infernal King. With Wily’s expertise with traps, the group plans to plunder their way to riches and sail far away from the evil infesting their home. Wily’s naively unreliable perspective adds refreshing humor as he discovers the world doesn’t function with the predictability of a tomb full of traps. The notion of chosen family plays a significant role in the story and ultimately directs the characters on a new quest. While the group of adventurers includes two disabled characters, Pryvyd’s severed arm is enchanted (it fights independently of him), and Moshul is an object of pity. For the first book of a new series, the plot arrives at a curiously neat and abrupt resolution. A lighthearted fantasy with a strong start and a hasty conclusion. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Adam Jay Epstein spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, when he wasn’t aboard his father’s sailboat. He spent many days sitting in the neighborhood park, traveling to fantasy lands in his head (occasionally when he was supposed to be doing his homework). In college, he circled the world on a ship and studied film at Wesleyan University. He is the co-author of the internationally bestselling middle grade fantasy series The Familiars, the middle-grade sci-fi series Starbounders, and the middle grade fantasy series Snared. He has written film and television projects for Disney, Sony, Fox, MGM, Paramount, MTV, HULU, SYFY, and Disney Channel. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters, and dog, Pixel.

Her website is www.thefamiliars.com

Around the Web

Snared: Escape to the Above on Amazon

Snared: Escape to the Above on Goodreads

Snared: Escape to the Above Publisher Page

Deep Water: A Story of Survival by Watt Key

Deep Water: A Story of Survival  by Watt Key. April 17, 2018. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 272 p. ISBN: 9780374306540.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.5; Lexile: 720.

A middle grade survival story about a scuba dive gone wrong and two enemies who must unite to survive.

It’s the most important rule of scuba diving: If you don’t feel right, don’t go down.

So after her father falls ill, twelve-year-old Julie Sims must take over and lead two of his clients on a dive miles off the coast of Alabama while her father stays behind in the boat. When the clients, a reckless boy Julie’s age and his equally foolhardy father, disregard Julie’s instructions during the dive, she quickly realizes she’s in over her head.

And once she surfaces, things only get worse: One of the clients is in serious condition, and their dive boat has vanished–along with Julie’s father, the only person who knows their whereabouts. It’s only a matter of time before they die of hypothermia, unless they become shark bait first. Though Julie may not like her clients, it’s up to her to save them all.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-7. When 12-year-old Julie is descending more than 100 feet below the ocean’s surface, all she can think about is how to complete the dive safely—not how miserable her father, owner of a small diving business, has been since her mother left him to move to Atlanta. But when Julie must lead a dive with two reckless clients whose expensive equipment is as untested as they are, she encounters a nightmare more harrowing than any of her problems on land. This scenario closely matches the events of Key’s Terror at Bottle Creek (2016), this time starring a female protagonist. Julie is a tough, smart, and resilient lead, although her narration does not come across as believably 12. Classmate and client Shane is Julie’s forgettable companion for an oceanic ordeal that Key treats with his signature compelling detail and suspense. Readers hungry for an epic tale of grueling odds will also find lessons in bravery, resourcefulness, and practical survival advice. Just try to stop yourself from committing Julie’s shark-repelling strategies to memory.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
Twelve-year-old Julie supervises an important dive for her father’s scuba-diving business, but she soon learns that when you play against Mother Nature it is for keeps.During the school year, Julie lives with her mother in Atlanta, but her summers are spent with her father in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Unfortunately, although her mother’s law career is taking off, her father’s dive business is struggling. When a wealthy businessman and his arrogant son, Shane, demand to see the artificial reef her father owns, the money is just too important to turn down. Her father, a diabetic, decides Julie should run the dive, so when the anchor pulls, leaving the three of them lost at sea, it is up to Julie to do what she can to save them all. But sharks, hypothermia, dehydration, and exposure might prove more than she can handle. Inspired by a diving accident the author himself experienced, this is a gritty look at what can happen when everything goes wrong. Julie is arrogant and fearful, but she’s also strong and quick-thinking. Shane likewise evolves during the ordeal, but it is the beautiful, terrible, and dangerous Mother Nature who steals the show. Julie is depicted as white on the cover, and the book seems to adhere to the white default. A nail-biting survival tale. (Adventure. 10-14)

About the Author

Watt Key received his BA from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. He subsequently earned an MBA from Springhill College in Mobile, AL. While working as a computer programmer, he began submitting novels to major publishers in New York City. When he was 34 years he sold his debut novel, Alabama Moon, to publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Watt currently lives with his wife and three children in Mobile, Alabama.

Her website is www.wattkey.com.

Teacher Resources

Watt Key Common Core Guide

Around the Web

Deep Water on Amazon

Deep Water on Goodreads

Deep Water Publisher Page

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay. April 3, 2018. Harper Collins, 272 p. ISBN: 9780062672964.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.3.

From award-winning Jamaican author Diana McCaulay, Gone to Drift is a powerful voice-driven middle grade novel about family set in Jamaica.

Lloyd comes from a long line of fishermen. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Lloyd feels most at home with the sea and his grandfather, Maas Conrad, at his side.

When his grandfather doesn’t return from a fishing trip, Lloyd fears he has gone to drift. The sea may be in Lloyd’s blood, but as he searches for his grandfather, he discovers a side of the ocean—and the people who use it—that he’s never known before.

Told in the alternating voices of Lloyd and Maas Conrad, Gone to Drift is a moving story of family, courage, and the wonders of the oceans we call home.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Mentions of drugs

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 4-7. Twelve-year-old Lloyd Saunders, who lives with his mother near Kingston, Jamaica, worries that his grandfather has “gone to drift” when he doesn’t return from a fishing trip. No one seems interested in searching, so Lloyd investigates on his own, stowing away on a coast guard ship and interviewing some of Gramps’ friends. As he zeroes in on where Gramps may have gone, Lloyd also learns about the fishing industry’s secrets: consistently poor catches sometimes drive desperate, hungry men to capture dolphins, a lucrative but illegal trade. Told in parallel narratives by Lloyd and Gramps, this tale draws readers in as McCaulay gradually reveals what drove Gramps to the dangerous Pedro Bank on that fateful day. While the Jamaican patois might initally take some getting used to, it quickly becomes routine and adds to the book’s authenticity. This makes a good choice for adventure fans, the eco-conscious, and those hoping to understand the economic hardships faced by those who make their living from the sea.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
A Jamaican boy and his family are caught on the cusp of change.Lloyd Saunders, a young brown-skinned Jamaican boy, keeps counting the days until his fisherman grandfather, Maas Conrad, returns from Pedro Bank. His father occasionally comes around with a few dollar bills, fists, and the smell of rum. His mother sells Conrad’s catch to the well-to-do by the nearby Liguanea supermarket and has no time to worry about the old man. Only Conrad talks to Lloyd and teaches him about the sea, life, and times gone by. As each day passes he wonders what has happened to the old fisherman. Determined to find his grandfather, Lloyd sets out asking around Kingston, enlisting his buddy Dwight to help solve the mystery. Although Lloyd has faith, each day erodes the belief of everyone around him. When he learns that his grandfather may have been involved in dolphin hunting, Lloyd realizes sinister forces threaten Conrad and his family. The characters’ lilting patois guides readers into a changing Jamaica rich with lessons bobbing just below the surface. The quiet, deliberate third-person narration is interspersed with the thoughts of Conrad, whose personal history of Jamaica gently anticipates Lloyd’s journey. The relationships between boy and elder, man and sea, crime and poverty all lift McCaulay’s first children’s novel into a different league. A boy’s home is a place in the heart of one whose heart makes a place for him. Beautiful. (Fiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Diana McCaulay is an award-winning Jamaican novelist. Gone to Drift is her first book for children; it placed second in the 2015 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Diana was born and raised in Jamaica and has spent a lifetime pondering questions of race, class, color, and privilege in Jamaican society.

Her website is www.dianamccaulay.com.

Around the Web

Gone to Drift on Amazon

Gone to Drift on Goodreads

Gone to Drift Publisher Page

Rescue by Jessie Haas

Rescue by Jessie Haas. April 10, 2018. Boyds Mill Press, 200 p. ISBN: 9781629798806.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.7; Lexile: 610.

Shy farm girl Joni’s new friendship with animal rights activist Chess unravels when Chess’s views push Joni too far in this layered coming-of-age story about two girls and their love for horses.

Joni’s world revolves around her beloved horse, Archie, and her family’s Vermont sheep farm. When outspoken, sophisticated Chess moves nearby, Joni is drawn to her, even though Chess questions everything Joni loves—working horses, eating cheese, having pets, and even the farm itself. Torn between desperately wanting a friendship and resenting Chess’s assumptions about horses and farms, Joni mostly keeps her opinions to herself. But when Chess steals their neighbor’s miniature horses to “rescue” them, Joni finds the courage to stand up for her beliefs. With quiet intensity, this timely novel tackles the complex issue of bridging the political divide and building friendships while staying true to yourself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mentions of inhumane treatment of animals

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
A Vermont farm girl’s new friend fights for animal rights. Joni, a 12-year-old white girl, loves the quiet and calm of her family’s sheep farm; she loves riding her pony, Archie, after school. But her best school friends don’t live nearby, so when a new girl, Chess (also white), moves into a house Joni passes on her rides, she’s intrigued by the possibility of a new friend. Chess loves Joni’s horse, kittens, and sheep, but she asks uncomfortable questions: don’t the sheep mind being shorn? Milked? Eaten? Joni doesn’t know how to answer, but she does challenge Chess’ interpretation of her neighbor’s treatment of her miniature horses—Chess is certain their muzzles, which restrict them from overgrazing, are cruel, while Joni knows they keep the animals safe on lush pasture. When Chess steals the minis and sets them free to eat, the near disaster challenges their budding friendship. Chess’ back story is muddled, so readers are not entirely sure how she came to her positions, and some of the characterizations are unclear, but Joni’s first-person voice is fresh and true. As always, Haas knows her horses, and she explores the issue of animal rights with sensitivity to both sides. A satisfying read. (Fiction. 8-12)

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-6-Twelve-year-old Joni lives on a sheep farm with her family and her spirited horse, Archie. Joni’s family lives a simple life, shearing sheep, making cheese, and taking care of their farm. Joni often feels left out, even at horse camp. When Chess moves in next door, it seems like Joni will have a built-in friend. Chess, however, is different from anyone Joni has ever known: Chess is a vegan and an animal rights activist. When she questions Joni about eating cheese, whether the sheep are happy, or if Archie wants to be ridden, Joni must think about things in an entirely new way. When Chess releases a neighbor’s miniature horses, one of the horses becomes injured. Joni has to decide how to stand up to her new friend and still maintain the friendship. Haas is an expert on all things horse and farm, bringing authenticity and informative details to her novels. Joni is a relatable character, and the themes around animal rights and sustainable farming are timely. –Terry Ann Lawler, Burton Barr Library, Phoenix

About the Author

Jessie Haas has written over 35 books for children and adults, many about horses–a lifelong passion. She currently owns a Morgan mare, Robin, who is being clicker-trained to be a trail and pasture-dressage horse. She lives in a small, off-grid house in the woods with husband Michael J. Daley, two cats and a dog. When not writing or riding or reading she likes to knit, cook, and write, or ride, or read.

Her website is www.jessiehaas.com

Around the Web

Rescue on Amazon

Rescue on Goodreads

Rescue Publisher Page