Tag Archives: magic

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott. April 24, 2018. First Second, 224 p. ISBN: 9781250152558.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 2.9; Lexile: 300.

When a wealthy and sheltered young girl stumbles into a pitched war between two fairy kingdoms, the fate of San Francisco itself hangs in the balance!

The first decade of the twentieth century is coming to a close, and San Francisco is still recovering from the great earthquake of 1906. Isabel watched the destruction safely from her window, sheltered within her high-society world.

Isabel isn’t the kind of girl who goes on adventures. But that all changes when she stumbles through the invisible barrier that separates the human world from the fairy world. She quickly finds herself caught up in an age-old war and fighting on the side of the Seelie—the good fairies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Allusion to cannibalism, Depiction of severed heads

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 14))
Grades 4-7. Isabel loves San Francisco, even just a few years after the terrible earthquake. When she slips into an alternate fairy city, Isabel is caught up in a war that may tear apart both the fairy land and the world of humans. On the surface, Scott’s tale is a fairly standard story about a human caught in fairy business, but she and illustrator Robinson work hard to give their story its own personality. In addition to reflecting the realistic diversity of San Francisco—Latina Isabel makes friends with Filipino Benjie, for instance—Scott and Robinson include fairykind from different world cultures, as well as some they made up to reflect both the ancient and modern worlds. Robinson’s art is equally up to the task of drawing realistic humans or fantastical fairies, and the soft color palette is comforting, even when the action is tense. The result is a story where there aren’t many good or bad creatures but, instead, good or bad choices, making this adventure a fun story with a warm heart.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Isabel, a young Latinx girl in early 20th-century San Francisco, becomes embroiled in a war between the Seelie and Unseelie fairy courts in this historical fiction/fantasy graphic novel. After the disappearance of his daughter and heir, the Seelie king is losing the war, and he sends a messenger with a powerful and mysterious necklace that was stolen from Coscar, the Unseelie king. Meanwhile, in the human world, Isabel has been sent to the country to stay with her easily distracted artist father while her high-society mother travels in Europe. When Isabel stumbles into the fairy realm and finds the fatally injured messenger, she takes up the quest to find a Seelie general on the fairy side of San Francisco and deliver the necklace. Aiding Isabel in her mission are Button, a small, mushroom-headed Seelie fairy, and Benjie, a Filipino boy of uncertain loyalties who has moved between the fairy and human worlds since he was orphaned during the 1906 earthquake. The characters are nuanced for a mostly plot-driven adventure story, especially the Unseelie fairies, who develop beyond flat antagonists. The illustrations are dynamic, with panels varying in size and scale to keep up with the fast-paced plot. The detailed backgrounds are helpful in clarifying the switches between the more realistic human world and the whimsical fairy realm. –Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library

About the Author

Mairghread Scott is an animation and comicbook writer specializing in action-comedy. Her animation work spans such titles as Guardians of the GalaxyUltimate Spider-ManTransformers: Robots in Disguise, and more. You can also read her work in comic book series such as: Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Till All Are One, Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special, and her creator-owned work Toil and Trouble. She is the author of the graphic novel Science Comics: Robots & Drones, also from First Second.

Her website is www.mscottwriter.com

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Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. February 27, 2018. Random House Books for Young Readers, 544 p. ISBN: 9781101931295.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 830.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is. . . different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can’t seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she’s done is so disgraceful, she can’t even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess’s family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She’s not running away, she’s running towards something. What that something is, she doesn’t know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else–a life where she might belong.

Returning to the spellbinding world of the Southlands she created in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman explores self-reliance and redemption in this wholly original fantasy.

Part of Series: Tess of the Road (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Religious oppression, Rape and sexual assault, Realities of pregnancy and childbirth, Alcoholism

 

Book Talk

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. In her triumphant return to the world of Seraphina (2012), Hartman introduces Tess Dombegh, one of Seraphina’s stepsiblings. After a shattering fall from grace, Tess has tried to be the dutiful daughter to her critical mother. She may never be good, but maybe she can be good enough to be forgiven. When Tess drunkenly ruins her sister’s wedding night, she’s almost relieved to run away. Disguised as a boy, she seeks oblivion on the road; instead, she’s invited to help find a legendary serpent by her childhood friend, a quigutl (dragon subspecies). Along the way, Tess runs afoul of robbers, works as a manual laborer, poses as a priest, and struggles to make peace with past trauma. First in a duology, this is a perfect example of a familiar fantasy trope being given new dimension through empathetic characters and exquisite storytelling. At first appearing bitter and self-pitying, Tess reveals compassion, courage, and resilience on her journey, which is as emotional and spiritual as it is physical. This achingly real portrayal of a young woman whose self-loathing takes help to heal is a perceptive examination of rape culture rare in high fantasy. Not to be ignored, this is also a fascinating road trip adventure. Absolutely essential.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Hartman returns to Goredd with the tale of another young woman who breaks the rules in search of herself. There are three Dombegh sisters: naughty Tess, perfect twin Jeanne, and famous, talented older sister Seraphina (of Seraphina, 2012, and Shadow Scale, 2015). Now 17, haunted by past mistakes, immersed in self-denial and the need to follow “proper” behavior, white Tess—who once befriended lizardlike Quigutl and secretly attended lectures—is miserable. After drunkenly punching her new brother-in-law at Jeanne’s wedding, Tess dresses as a boy and takes off. She travels across Goredd and Ninys in search of a Quigutl prophecy and her own purpose in a sometimes-episodic tale narrated in descriptive, sharply observant third-person prose. Angry, bitter Tess has reason for her feelings but is not always easy to walk with, and the slow reveal of her past makes for a compelling read on the ways in which girls—in the quasi-Renaissance Goredd and also in the real world—are taught to take blame on themselves even when others are culpable. Fortunately, the Road has answers (“walk on”), and by the end Tess has faced her past and can look forward to another volume of adventure, discovery, and changing her world. Like Tess’ journey, surprising, rewarding, and enlightening, both a fantasy adventure and a meta discourse on consent, shame, and female empowerment. (dramatis personae, glossary; not seen) (Fantasy. 13-adult)

About the Author

As a child, Rachel Hartman played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of Seraphina. Rachel earned a degree in comparative literature but eschewed graduate school in favor of bookselling and drawing comics. Born in Kentucky, she has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada.

Her website is rachelhartmanbooks.com.

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La Niña Que Bebió la Luna by Kelly Barnhill

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna by Kelly Barnhill. March 1, 2018. Loqueleo, 424 p. ISBN: 9781641012102.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

The Newbery Medal winner from the author of the highly acclaimed novel The Witch’s Boy.

Spanish translation of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Human sacrifice, Negative attitudes toward the mentally ill

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
Grades 5-8. Every year, the elders of the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to appease an evil witch—though, in truth, it’s a facade to subdue the populace. Xan, the witch in question, actually rescues each baby and finds families for them. One time, however, Xan accidentally feeds moonlight to the baby, which fills her with magic. Xan thereupon adopts her, names her Luna, and raises her with the help of a swamp monster and a tiny dragon. Luna’s magic grows exponentially and causes such havoc that Xan casts a spell to suppress it until Luna turns 13. But the spell misfires, clouding Luna’s mind whenever magic is mentioned, making proper training impossible. As the fateful birthday approaches, Xan fears dying before she can teach Luna everything she needs to know. Meanwhile, in the Protectorate, a young couple dares to challenge the status quo, a madwoman trapped in a tower escapes by way of paper birds, and a truly evil witch is revealed. Barnhill’s latest, told in omniscient point of view, is rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity (as well as characters without any), a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2016)
Every year, the people of the Protectorate steel themselves for the Day of Sacrifice, when the elders take the city’s youngest baby and leave it in the woods to appease the witch — a witch no one has seen, but whose reputation has become a means to control the populace. In fact, a witch does live in the forest, and she rescues and finds homes for the babies; she even adopts one, the particularly magical Luna, whom she brings home to live with her own family that already includes a beloved bog monster and a dragon. Meanwhile, the true and malevolent Witch of Sacrifice Day, hiding behind the identity of a respected person in the city, secretly feeds off the grief of the bereaved parents until, thanks to adolescent Luna’s emerging magic, the sorrow-burdened Protectorate begins to rebel. Barnhill’s fantasy has a slightly ungainly plot, with backstory, coincidence, insight-dumps, and shifting points of view maneuvering its hinges of logic into place. But in theme and emotion, it is focused: love — familial, maternal, filial, and friendly — is its engine and moral, with Luna’s connections with her adoptive grandmother and unknown birth mother a poignant force. With all story elements and characters interrelated through “infinite love” (the story’s theology), there’s plenty for readers to puzzle out here. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

“I’m a writer, a mom, a wife, a dog owner, a reader, a thinker, a hiker, a friend, a runner, a teacher, a listener, terrible gardener, a lover of nature. Sometimes I’m all of these things at once.

“I’m also a former bartender, former park ranger, former waitress, former church janitor, former kosher meat slicer, former wild-eyed activist, former wildland firefighter, former coffee jerk, former phone-book delivery girl and a former dull-eyed office slave. Sometimes I am still these things. Sometimes all at once.”

Her website is www.kellybarnhill.com

Teacher Resources

The Girl Who Drank the Moon Book Guide

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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

the Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. February 6, 2018. Disney Hyperion, 440 p. ISBN: 9781484728499.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile:.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Part of Series: The Belles (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Alcohol, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2017)
In Tiny Pretty Things co-author Clayton’s solo debut, beauty comes at a price.On their joint 16th birthday, Camellia and her five sisters are sent out to restore beauty to Orléans, where everybody is born gray and ugly. They’ve been training for this their whole lives. As Belles, the sisters can use their magic to transform the citizens of Orléans from their original states. For the right price, Belles can grant any desired look. When Camellia secures the coveted spot of Her Majesty’s favorite, it seems as if her dreams have come true. As the most powerful, sought-out Belle, she is in charge of the royal family’s looks. However, the princess is insatiable in her quest for beauty and will do anything to get it—even if it means endangering the Belles and the kingdom—and Camellia may be the only one who can stop her. Not only that, but Camellia finds herself slowly uncovering the secrets of the Belles’ origin, and it’s not as pretty as she was taught. With wonderfully descriptive language, Clayton builds a grand and lavish world, carefully chipping away at the veneer to reveal its dark, sinister interior. In a world where anyone can change their skin color as often as they can change their hair color, race is fluid. Camellia is brown, and her sisters are various shades of brown and pale. With a refreshingly original concept, this substantial fantasy, the first in a duology, is an undeniable page-turner. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Publishers Weekly (November 20, 2017)
Sixteen-year-old sisters Camellia, Edelweiss, Ambrosia, Padma, Valeria, and Hana are the new generation of Belles, young women who are responsible for keeping the citizens of Orléans beautiful, magically transforming their appearances to align with the latest trends. Descendants of the Goddess of Beauty, the Belles are paid to perform their magic to prevent their people from reverting to pallid, red-eyed creatures, their natural state. Talented Camellia believes that she will be selected as the Queen’s favorite, a role the sisters covet deeply. But when another Belle is chosen, and Camellia is assigned to a teahouse to perform beauty rituals on the wealthy, she begins to wonder if what she has always believed about the Belles is true. Clayton (coauthor of Tiny Pretty Things) creates a vivid island world in this enticing series opener, saturating the narration with lush descriptions (“Carts hold tiers of pastries frosted in rose-petal pinks and pearly whites and apple reds, flutes overflow with jewel-tone liquids”) that reflect the culture’s obsession with elegance, appearance, and luxury. Readers will be left with much to consider about morality, individuality, and the malleability and artificiality of beauty. Ages 14-up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary. (Feb.)

About the Author

Dhonielle Clayton is the co-author of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs on the Maryland side and spent most of her time under her grandmother’s table with a stack of books. A former teacher and middle school librarian, Dhonielle is co-founder of CAKE Literary—a creative development company whipping up decidedly diverse books for a wide array of readers—and COO of the non-profit, We Need Diverse Books.

She’s got a serious travel bug and loves spending time outside of the USA, but makes her home in New York City, where she can most likely be found hunting for the best slice of pizza. Her website is www.dhonielleclayton.com.

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The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G.. February 27, 2018. First Second, 240 p. ISBN: 9781250159823.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 350.

The quest to save Dreamside continues! After a surprise attack at sea, Cucumber finds himself in the Ripple Kingdom, home to white sand, blue waves . . . oh yeah, and the giant, terrible squid monster holding Almond and Sir Carrot captive. Can our so-called “legendary hero” rescue his companions from the nefarious Splashmaster?

Nah, probably not.

Good thing Princess Nautilus is here! With her wit, charm, and positive attitude, there’s no way they can lose. But saving the day won’t be as simple as it seems once a 500,000-year-old secret comes to light . . .

Adapted from Gigi D.G.’s popular webcomic series of the same name, Cucumber Quest: The Ripple Kingdom is the second book of a clever, adorable, and hilarious four-volume heroic adventure that is sure to make you hungry for sweets and action.

Sequel to: The Doughnut Kingdom

Part of Series: Cucumber Quest (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Body humor

 

Reviews

School Library Journal (January 1, 2018)
Gr 2-5-D.G. presents a second print installment based on her hit webcomic Cucumber Quest. This leg of the quest centers on the watery Ripple Kingdom (one of the seven realms of Dreamside), where bunny siblings Cucumber and Almond have been separated. Almond is a fighter but finds herself at the mercy of Splashmaster, a giant squid with an abysmally low intelligence score. Reluctant hero Cucumber has washed ashore and rescues Princess Nautilus from a mob of crabs. Cucumber and Almond eventually reunite to defeat the Splashmaster, who is one of the henchmen of the Nightmare Knight, the “big bad” summoned once every 5,000 years to help a greedy mortal bent on world domination. With the help of a hilarious supporting cast, Cucumber and Almond must save the land of Dreamside once and for all. D.G.’s comic has transitioned from web to page beautifully, with the exception of a few scene transitions that aren’t quite clear. Readers looking for high action and ridiculous comedy will devour this tale. While this title can stand alone, those who are familiar with the first installment will get more out of it. Soft lines and saturated color convey light and emotion perfectly, creating a style sure to draw elementary and middle grade readers alike. VERDICT Jump in! The water in Ripple Kingdom is just fine, even if it is chock-full of sassy crabs and one giant vacuous squid. A recommended purchase for all graphic novel collections.-Taylor Worley, Springfield Public Library, OR

About the Author

Gigi D.G. is a comic artist from Southern California who does concept work for animation and video games. She started creating Cucumber Quest in 2011, and it is her first published work. Her website is cucumber.gigididi.com

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The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick

The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick. February 1, 2018. Carolrhoda Books, 344 p. ISBN: 9781467775694.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 810.

After a close call with an assassin in Barcelona, Danny is more convinced than ever that his parents–star performers in the Mysterium circus–died under suspicious circumstances. He’s also sure that there’s a traitor within the Mysterium. As the troupe heads to Berlin for a circus festival, Danny scrambles to unravel the clues his father left behind. He’ll need his decoding skills–plus some extremely risky circus tricks–to find out what really happened to his parents and who’s still trying to sabotage the Mysterium. Can he expose his parents’ killer before disaster strikes again?

Sequel to: The Palace of Memory

Part of series: Mysterium (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Criminal culture, Murder

 

 

About the Author

Born in rural East Kent in 1966 Julian Sedgwick resolved to become a writer at an early age. He and his brother (writer Marcus Sedgwick) relied on their imaginations, and each other, to entertain themselves – inspired by their father’s love of cinema, theatre and storytelling.

Julian took a long detour whilst working out what and how to write – via a degree and a half at Cambridge University reading Oriental Studies and Philosophy, dying his hair various ill-advised colours, working as a bookseller, painter, therapist and researcher for film and TV – before moving into screenplay development and writing.

A lifelong interest in the arts and culture of China and Japan has influenced much of his work, as has his fascination with performance, street art and circus.

Julian lives near Ely, Cambridgeshire, with his wife and two sons, waiting impatiently for it to get cold enough to go Fen skating.

Her website is http://www.juliansedgwick.co.uk.

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. January 30, 2018. Flatiron Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9781250147905.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Part of series: The Hazel Wood (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Underage drinking, Smoking, Gore

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. Some fairy tales ask to be lived in. They involve enchanted forests and handsome princes, talking animals, kind maidens, and wishes come true. Others are darker. Others have teeth. The Hinterland is one such savage place, not that Alice would know—she hasn’t read Tales from the Hinterland, the book penned by a grandmother she’s never met. They aren’t children’s stories, her mother, Ella, says, and besides, the book itself is infamously elusive. Alice, quick to anger with a heart of ice, has spent her 17 years in constant motion; trailed by bad luck, she and Ella move from place to place, never staying anywhere long enough to put down roots. But when Ella is taken suddenly, the lines between the real world and the Hinterland start to blur. Faced with the loss of the only person she’s ever loved, Alice must rely on Ellery Finch, the kind of Tales from the Hinterland superfan she’s always avoided, to help her track down the world she thought existed only in her grandmother’s imagination. In this unsettling debut, Albert takes familiar stories and carefully pulls them apart; the end result is a sort of deconstructed fairy tale that, despite its familiarity, gets under the skin. Highly literary, occasionally surreal, and grounded by Alice’s clipped, matter-of-fact voice, it’s a dark story that readers will have trouble leaving behind.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2017)
A ferocious young woman is drawn into her grandmother’s sinister fairy-tale realm in this pitch-black fantasy debut.Once upon a time, Althea Proserpine achieved a cult celebrity with Tales from the Hinterland, a slim volume of dark, feminist fairy tales, but Alice has never met her reclusive grandmother nor visited her eponymous estate. Instead, she has spent her entire 17 years on the run from persistent bad luck, relying only on her mother, Ella. Now Althea is dead and Ella has been kidnapped, and the Hinterland seems determined to claim Alice as well. The Hinterland—and the Stories that animate it—appear as simultaneously wondrous and horrific, dreamlike and bloody, lyrical and creepy, exquisitely haunting and casually, brutally cruel. White, petite, and princess-pretty Alice is a difficult heroine to like in her stormy (and frequently profane) narration, larded with pop-culture and children’s-literature references and sprinkled with wry humor; her deceptive fragility conceals a scary toughness, icy hostility, and simmering rage. Despite her tentative friendship (and maybe more) with Ellery Finch, a wealthy biracial, brown-skinned geek for all things Althea Proserpine, any hints of romance are negligible compared to the powerful relationships among women: mothers and daughters, sisters and strangers, spinner and stories; ties of support and exploitation and love and liberation. Not everybody lives, and certainly not “happily ever after”—but within all the grisly darkness, Alice’s fierce integrity and hard-won self-knowledge shine unquenched. (Fantasy. 16-adult)

About the Author

Melissa Albert is the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog and the managing editor of BN.com. She has written for McSweeney’sTime Out Chicago, MTV, and more. Melissa is from Illinois and lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Hazel Wood is her first novel.

 

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The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco. March 20, 2018. Sourcebooks Fire, 400 p. ISBN: 9781492635857.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she’s after revenge…

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

Sequel to: The Bone Witch

Part of series: The Bone Witch Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Transphobia

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Chupeco’s beautifully crafted world from The Bone Witch (2017) expands in this sequel, which joins dark asha Tea on her crusade of revenge. With an army of the dead and monsters known as daeva, she wrests control of kingdoms that would oppose her. But this is far more than a power grab. A mysterious sleeping sickness is afflicting royal families, and the cure appears to lie with the old Heart Forger and bringing down the remaining Faceless leaders. As in The Bone Witch, the narrative alternates between Tea’s recollections, which she tells the bard, and his own account of her terrifying campaign. Chupeco places the reader in the middle of the action, and they must puzzle through Tea’s motivations and the circumstances that brought her there—things that are gradually revealed through her conversations with the bard, and often seem at odds with one another. Tea is a wonderfully complex character who knowingly assumes the mantle of villain, but Chupeco deftly exposes her admirable qualities alongside her flaws. Readers will benefit from starting with the first book, which meticulously lays out Tea’s world and her training as a bone witch, but Chupeco incorporates enough of these details in her action-driven sequel that newcomers can still find their footing. Dark and entrancing, with a third volume to come.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
With a thirst for vengeance, a band of terrifying daeva at her command, and her resurrected lover by her side, Tea is ready to face her adversaries in this sequel to The Bone Witch (2017).Continuing the established plot, Prince Kance of Odalia falls unconscious due to a mysterious sleeping sickness; the old Heartforger—who might know of a cure—is nowhere to be found; and broody and loyal Deathseeker Kalen still expresses an aversion to Tea and her infatuation with the charming prince. Meanwhile, the sinister Faceless Aenah tries to persuade Tea—who is struggling to control the Dark’s influence over her—to join the even darker side. While necromancy, spellcasting, and political intrigue permeate the narrative as in the previous book, romance (falling in love, surprise engagements, and the sharing of heartsglasses) is the clear catalyst here. Chupeco’s time-hop storytelling style, established in Book 1, is still imperfect, as the intense progression of both the past and present plots results in two seemingly divergent stories (and versions of Tea). But from the sweet banter between two lesbian ashas to Fox’s hilarious sarcasm (even when his arm is dangling by threads of flesh), readers will find Chupeco’s dynamic characters and their interactions with one another refreshing, contributing light and liveliness to a story centered on dark magic and impending war. The world, explicated in the backmatter, is a racially diverse one; Tea and Fox both have brown skin. A sequel that builds in both thrills and enchantment. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

About the Author

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband.

Her website is www.rinchupeco.com.

 

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The Heart Forger on Amazon

The Heart Forger on Goodreads

The Heart Forger Publisher Page

Elementals: Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

Elementals: Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman. March 27, 2018. HarperCollins, 352 p. ISBN: 9780062457981.  Int Lvl: 3-6.

Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragonsare sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.

So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Rayna is Anders’s only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.

In order to rescue her, Anders must enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shapeshifting force of all.

Part of Series: Elementals (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Theft

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 4-7. Orphan twins Anders and Rayna question their shared parentage when a routine pickpocket run lands them both in the public trials for admission into Ulfar Academy, training center for Vallen’s Wolf Guard—those with the rare ability to transform into ice wolves and defend the land from deadly dragonfire. Both unexpectedly transform: Anders into an ice wolf, and his twin, impossibly, into a scorch dragon, anathema to the wolves. As Rayna is seemingly kidnapped by dragons, Anders realizes the way to his sister is through Ulfar and their technology artifacts, and it must be before the wolves declare war on the dragons. Kaufman, coauthor of the Starbound Trilogy and Illuminae Files, struts her stuff as a solo author with a rousing middle-school adventure speaking to family (both born and made), trust, friendship, and determination. Despite a few instances of overstated writing, Kaufman creates a well-rounded fantasy world graced by scenic touches and relatable characters who transition from human to animal (and back). This is Anders’ story, and there are hints aplenty that Rayna’s is next.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2017)
Twelve-year-old twins discover that they have opposing elemental powers that could change the fate of the entire realm.Homeless, orphan twins Rayna and Anders have spent most of their lives stealing and picking the pockets of rich tourists to survive. Pickings are good at the Trial of the Staff, when the entire village of Holbard gathers to see which of its 12-year-old members have the elemental power to shape-shift into an ice wolf and qualify for the Ulfar Academy. At this event, both twins discover elemental powers: Anders has ice wolf blood and Rayna, dragon blood—but dragon and wolf are enemies. They are separated when Rayna, in dragon form, flees the Wolf Guard, later to be captured by other dragons. Now Anders has no choice but to join Ulfar Academy in order to learn what the Wolf Guard teaches about dragons, as it is imperative that he locate and save his twin sister. As Anders grows close to the members of the Wolf Guard, he discovers secrets about the true relationship between dragons and wolves. Both twins have brown skin and black, curly hair, and Holbard is a genuinely diverse community. What a treat to have a magical world full of diverse characters in which any young person can imagine themselves as powerful shape-shifters. This engaging page-turner honestly earns its forthcoming sequel. An engaging world and cliffhanger ending leave readers wanting more. (Fantasy. 10-14)

About the Authors

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times and internationally bestselling co-author of The Illuminae Files (Illuminae, Gemina) and the Starbound Trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light.) Her award-winning books are published in almost 30 countries, and she is based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband, their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.

Her website is http://www.amiekaufman.com.

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Ice Wolves on Amazon

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Ice Wolves Publisher Page

 

Arlo Finch and the Valley of Fire by John August

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August. February 6, 2018. Roaring Brook Press, 336 p. ISBN: 9781626728141.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.6.

As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest. Only his bed remained, and the frame of his window, through which he saw the girl. The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves.

She looked off to her right. Someone was coming. Her words came in an urgent whisper: “If I can see you, they can see you. You’re in danger. Be careful, Arlo Finch.”

Arlo Finch is a newcomer to Pine Mountain, Colorado, a tiny town of mystery and magic, but he’s already attracted the attention of dark and ancient forces. At first he thinks these increasingly strange and frightening occurrences are just part of being in Rangers, the mountain scouting troop where he learns how to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods. But soon Arlo finds himself at the center of a dangerous adventure, where he faces obstacles that test the foundations of the Ranger’s Vow: Loyalty, Bravery, Kindness, and Truth.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 8))
Grades 5-8. Twelve-year-old Arlo Finch is new to small-town Pine Mountain, Colorado. Observant and inquisitive, he soon realizes that there is more to the town than meets the eye. Dark and magical forces surround the town, and it doesn’t take Arlo long to encounter these magical forces as they inexplicably try to harm him. With the help of new friends from an outdoor scouting group, the Rangers, Arlo learns how to use his new Rangers skills to fight off these magical forces. With nods to the Harry Potter series, accomplished screenwriter August artfully thrusts readers into a whole new world, right alongside Arlo. The many magical forces and creatures in this book are intriguing, especially because August firmly establishes them within the magical parameters of Arlo’s world. Arlo, meanwhile, is a lovable, inquisitive character, and as he wittingly subdues the magical creatures, the plot only becomes more dynamic. This is just the first volume in a new series, so readers won’t have to wait long to plunge back into the mysterious Long Woods.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
A 12-year-old white boy finds out he’s special in a new middle-grade fantasy series.Arlo Finch has just arrived in the tiny town of Pine Mountain, atop the high peaks of Colorado. Times are tight, and Arlo, his sister, and their mother have moved into the crumbling family home with his taxidermist uncle. Arlo, who has one green eye and one brown, isn’t in Pine Mountain long before he makes friends with (the requisite girl and boy sidekicks) supersmart Indian-American doctors’ daughter Indra Srinivasaraghavan-Jones and Chinese-American STEM genius Henry Wu. When Arlo joins the Rangers, a mixed-gender scouting troop, he’s made privy to thunderclaps (literal hand-clapping that sounds like thunder) and snaplights (a snap of the fingers that creates illumination) along with traditional scouting tasks such as tying knots and pitching tents. As Arlo works toward earning his first rank—Squirrel—questions mount. What is the Wonder? What and where are the Long Woods, the Realm, and the Valley of Fire? How is Arlo connected to a long-lost girl only he can see? Who wants to kill him, and why? Arlo is a smart, likable boy, but his story adds little new to the genre. The mountain setting and eerie house filled with stuffed and mounted animals provide an evocative sense of place for Arlo’s adventure, but characters and plot feel too familiar, particularly a Goblet of Fire–like Ranger challenge. Atmospheric at best, formulaic at worst. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

John August is a screenwriter whose credits include Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie. He is also the creator of the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling school distributed to more than two thousand classrooms worldwide.

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, John now lives in Los Angeles with his family. Her website is johnaugust.com.

Around the Web

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire on Amazon

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire on Goodreads

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire Publisher Page