Showing posts with label Middle Grade Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle Grade Fantasy. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2024

The Fairy of the Enchanted Lake by Kris Nedy


Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade Fantasy
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.


This was an absolutely wonderful book. I read it in about four hours. We start off with a young girl who has no friends. Michaela is constantly taunted about her size and appearance.  One day while playing outside she runs into the woods and gets lost. She keeps walking until she finds a lake. She meets the fairy in the lake and she meets a talking beaver. He givers her a stick that will take her home. He also tells her that it can bring her back if she only says some magic words. She buries the stick until the day she can no longer take the taunting. She takes the stick, says the magic word and is brought back to the lake. She makes a wish to be beautiful like the fairy in the lake. The fairy tries to talk her out of it, but she insists.  Michaela becomes beautiful on the outside. Unfortunately, something else happens to her and her insides begin to turn dark. 

This is a wonderful story of consequences of our actions. It is a story of Good versus evil, light versus darkness.  The characters are all very well developed. The world building, although fantasy is so well written the reader is made to feel like they have entered the world as they are reading. This is a brand new author to me. However, I love reading stories that are allegorical and I am sure I will be reading more of this author’s work.  I highly recommend this book to young and old alike.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Twell Town by Harriet M. Winter


Genre:  Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I absolutely loved this book.  It was fun and full of humor. The author created an alternate world that is so interesting. All the characters of Twell Town are made from fabric, yarn, and other recyclable items.

Bunny Thread is a very unique character. Bunny lives with her mother at the back of her mother's button shop.  Bunny has no school friends.  She doesn't exactly fit in with them.  She makes all her own clothes.  They are very unique to say the least. One day she comes home from school and decides to make herself a friend. She gathers up her materials and sews up a friend. Her first few tries are rejected as they aren't quite good enough. Finally she grabs some yarn and knits herself a bear. She goes to bed with him that night and when she wakes up in the morning he is gone. She finds him sitting in her window. When she goes to him he speaks to her. He makes sure she knows his name is Dexter, not Buttercup, like she had named the bear she created. He tries to explain where he is from. Finally he takes her hand and off they go to where he lives, Twell Town.

Bunny is given a tour of the town which is quite fascinating.  Everyone accepts her there. Then they get to his house. She is impressed, but he is not. Someone has been in his house. She doesn't understand how he figures that since everything is in place. That is when we learn he is definitely not a neat freak.  He is sure he know who was in his house and what they are looking for.  He tries to explain that to her but she doesn't quite understand. But she will. Dexter must get her back to her land and then try to stop the fiends from getting what he has hidden from them. But, what happens when they find Bunny and the item?

Fun adventure from the very beginning.  I loved the author's play on words.  When they visit a clothing store in Twell town the owner of the store starts listing off clothing designers whose names are very similar to those we know today. She also used a lot of figurative language that made the images jump off of the page.  Everything was well thought out and planned.  At the end I wondered if maybe there would be a sequel to this book.  It was wrapped up nicely. However, there could be more adventures down the road. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Cameron and the Shadow Wraiths by Mark Cheverton


Genre:  Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source:  I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the second book in the series: Order of the Stones.  This is a fabulous series.  I read the first book, Facing the Beast Within, and loved it.  In this sequel a year has passed and the kids are back at camp. Leonard has learned to stand up to his father when it comes to his love of History, Bobby is his same jovial person. Elise who loved archery comes back not wanting anything to do with it. Karl comes back a new person. He is no longer a bully. When Cameron steps off of the bus he hears kids chanting "The Hero of Pontchartrain."  He feels like a fraud. The school year was rough. His anxiety is back in force.  Then a childhood friend and bully show up. Twins Jessie and Jamis show up at camp.  Jessie and Cameron were best friends. Jamis does his best to torment Cameron.  When Jessie is taken by a shadow wraith it is up to these heroes to rescue her.

This journey is not going to be easy. Lord Malphas wants Cameron. He has a reason for all of this. Will he succeed? We learn a lot more about Mr. Watson the grounds keeper.  He is more than just a grounds keeper. He will play a major role in shaping the person that Cameron becomes.  The tension in this book was very high. Just about the time we think things are going to work out, something else is thrown in their path and we see Cameron's Beast come back, This time he doesn't only have to battle his own beast, but also Malphas who has found a way to get into Cameron's head.  This was such a wonderful book. The third book in this series, The Gargoyle's Revenge comes up sometime in 2025.  I will definitely be reading it.  Go ahead, read it. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, kids who overcome their fears and find belief in themselves.  This one is a keeper

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Facing the Beast Within: The Anxiety of Cameron Poole by Mark Cheverton


Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I own a copy.

Mark Cheverton has written a book that children today will be able to connect.  He has taken his main character Cameron, who suffers from anxiety, and placed him in a summer camp. This isn’t any ordinary summer camp. That would make anyone anxious. This camp has monsters and it is up to Cameron and his friends to try to stop them from entering their world.

The world building is well done. Any kid who has gone to any type of summer camp or watched movies with summer camp will understand that for an outdoorsy person this is the best place to be. For a kid who suffers with anxiety, maybe not so much.  They will be able to identify with kids, especially Cameron, being bullied. After all, they deal with or see things like this all the time.  What this book does is shows what happens when someone steps up and faces their monsters. It shows how strong they can be, especially with the help of some friends. It shows that they don’t have to do things alone. What better lesson can one learn and in such a charming, and fantastical way.  Well done. I look forward to reading the second book in this series.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Student Saturday: Nightbooks by J.A. White


Genre:  Middle Grade Fantasy

Student Reviewer: Elijah S. 

This story is about a boy named Alex who became trapped in a magical apartment by a witch named Natacha. But in the apartment, there was also another person there. Her name was Yasmin and she tried to escape many times but couldn’t escape the witch’s grasp. Every night Alex had to read a book to the witch to survive. If I was in Alex’s place, I would try to deceive the witch into making me leave the magical apartment, but I don't think that would even be possible considering Yasmin tried countless ways to escape. I recommend this book to people who like hair-raising stories. If I had to rate this on a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate it a 6. This book was good, but it did not meet my expectations.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Student Saturday: The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan


Genre:  Middle Grade, Fantasy, Traditional
Student Reviewer: Mykyta K.

Egyptian Mythology and religion is a one of the many mysteries of our time, and one of the most interesting as well. Many fantasize about it, and many others make a career out of it by unraveling those very mysteries.

I am one of those people who enjoy fantasizing about it and imagining how it was back then, which is exactly why I enjoyed the idea of Rick Riordan’s book, “The Serpent’s Shadow”. Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors, and I particularly enjoyed his Greek Mythology works. “The Serpent’s Shadow” is one of his comics about Egyptian mythology that starred a family called the Kanes. The Kane Family is composed of a brother and a sister, a father whose job consists of judging the dead, and an uncle who works for the gods. However, the mother isn’t talked about much. This family was in charge of doing the work for the gods in the mortal world, using the Egyptian gods' powers. They led a group of magicians who also attempted to live alongside the gods while wielding magic, but had to protect dear things to the gods from their enemies who were against their ideas.


This world painted by Rick Riordan takes place in Egypt, along with some cities in modern day America. Personally, I enjoyed the idea of this, but in my opinion, the book overall didn't really appeal to me. I say this because I consider myself to enjoy more advanced books, and occasionally light reads, but “The Serpent's Shadow” was in a way, not very serious and quite “cringey”. I would however, recommend this book to younger audiences in elementary school, as it's a nice way for younger people and minds to begin learning about mythology and history.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Student Saturday: The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery, Fantasy
Student Reviewer Olivia S.

In the book “The Circus of Stolen Dreams” Andrea is a 12-year-old girl that has suffered many losses, such as her parents divorcing, but she has always had her little brother to stay by her side and to comfort, until he mysteriously disappears one night. Three years later and they still find no trace of him. Andrea has hardened her heart and has shut herself down for three long years struggling with the loss of her shadow, until she smells sweets and popcorn in the air along with a chance of relief. Andrea is given a chance to go into the magical world of Reverie in exchange for a memory, dream, or nightmare, and she knows exactly what she wants to forget. What Andrea does not know is Reverie is not all that it seems and entering the magical world of Reverie means a chance at finding her brother. Willz Andrea find her brother before it’s too late, or will she fall prey to the trap that is Reverie, like so many children before her?

Andrea is a 12-year-old girl from Ohio who during most of the story feels guilty and sad. Throughout the story, Andrea is shown as brave and resilient. She is not afraid to face her fears to find answers. This book reminds me of “Percy Jackson the lightning thief,” since Percy loses his mother and blames himself, while Andrea loses her brother and blames herself. They both lose their loved ones and go through trials to find them. I would recommend this book to nine-year-olds through fourteen-year-olds since this book does not have many plot twists and you can predict what is going to happen before it happens. This book met my expectations, and even though the book was mostly predictable, it was still nice to see Andrea's healing process throughout the story and to see her love for her brother.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Student Saturday: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman


Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Student Reviewer:  Olivia S.

Elizabeth Rew is a Highschool student in New York, that just moved to her new school. Due to her mother's death and her father's remarriage, her family goes through a rough financial situation. Elizabeth gets recommended a job as a page at “New-York circulating material repository” to earn some money and to make some friends. She soon gains access to the Grimm collection and learns that the library is magic. When some of the items in the Grimm collection go missing, Elizabeth and some of her new friends must investigate to find out where the stolen objects are. Can Elizabeth find out where the stolen objects are disappearing to and find out who is stealing them before the entire Grimm collection disappears and gets into the wrong hands?

This book is called “The Grimm Legacy” and is centered around a girl named Elizabeth. Elizabeth is sarcastic, easy to talk to, and loves fairytales and anything magical. This book reminds me of another book called “Mr. Lemoncellos library.” Kyle Keely and Elizabeth Rew both go to a library and discover magical things and objects. I would recommend this book to ages 11 to 16, since it is light on any violence and there is some romance. This book met my expectations, and I am looking forward to reading this series.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

The Rise of Balakrik by Melody J. Bremen


Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Source: I purchased a copy

This is the sequel to "The Quest for the Luminae".  This was just as action packed as the first one. The tension was definitely tight in this one. The Prince of the Above Ground has decided to do whatever it takes to get control of the country. If that means he must get rid of the people below ground he will. When Milo and Rod return from their quest to find the luminae, they are attacked. They have brought back the potion that will heal their people, but are met at the dock by soldiers who bust up the barrels of the cure. Rod is arrested and Milo gets away.  

He seeks an audience with the King only to realize how crazy the man has become. Lady Mariel sends him with a message to the Prince's castle to give the message and explain to the Prince's granddaughter. She is not what Milo expects. There is a rebel in her that wants to save the people and she is willing to join Milo in whatever mission is necessary to do so.

There is danger all around those involved. Another legend turns out to be true, the legend of the Giant Balakrik who came to the area collecting gold and fell asleep underground.  Lately there have been a lot of earthquakes to add to the tension of the story.  After reading the first one you definitely need to read this one.  

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Quest for the Luminae by Melody J. Bremen

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Source: I purchased a copy

I just discovered this author's books. Milo is the apprentice to a Bounty Hunter. He helps capture criminals. His bounty hunter master, Rod found him beside his dead parents and took him to his sister's house to be raised. One day Rod and Milo are summoned by the Prince of the Above ground kingdom. They are also summoned by the King of the underground kingdom where they live. A sickness his wiping out the people who live underground. Both want them to go in search of something called the Luminae. This is a legendary creature that has the ability to heal the sick. Rod doesn't believe in them, but he will do anything when his sister get the illness. So the two of them set out in search of the legendary lunimae.  But, not everything is as it seems. Someone doesn't want them to succeed?

I read this in one sitting. I stay up into the night to finish it because it was that good. The world building is awesome and  the different lands are so well described you feel like you are there. The adventure is so tension filled you find yourself leaning forward and sitting don't he edge of your seat to find out what is next. Here is another book I will recommend to my local and my school library.


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Race to Krakatoa by J.D. Peabody


Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. The opinions expressed here are my own.

To say I have found a new author that I absolutely love would be an understatement. J.D. Peabody has created a series that not only kids will love, but educators and book lovers everywhere will love. In the second book in his series we find several things have happened. First, Mrs. Crimp is back, but loveable and protective of the children. She learned some valuable things while she was Inkased.  Everett has found a strength he didn't know he possessed. Bea has learned how much of caring person she is. She feels she is inadequate, but she is not. We have most of the same characters from the first book, including the villains with a few extras thrown in. One in particular is nasty. He was an Inking but used the ink for illegal purposes. He was shunned by the other inklings. He creates his own ink, a mixture of the ink from the first book with his own additives and gets it funded by the very people who hate the Inklings. But we all know that evil has a way of backfiring. The only thing I can say I hated is the ending of the book. I love that it ended in a cliff hanger.  That was brilliant writing. What I hated is that I will have to wait at least a year probably to read a continuation of the story. I could see people forming lines like they did for the Harry Potter books to purchase the next one.  They are that good. I want to jump into the story the way Everett is able to Leapread. I want to become a part of that world. THAT is how good these books are.  The author's nod to other authors and their works, which you can find out more about on his website, have made me want to check out some of the books I was unfamiliar with. It gave me a warm feeling to have him sprinkle in books I grew up with. That is why I say this is a book for young and old alike.  You have got to check these books out.

Monday, January 1, 2024

First Review of the New Year: The Ink of Elspet by J.D. Peabody

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Source: I own a copy

Kids today need more books with creativity woven through the plots. My middle grade students are always telling me they don’t have any imagination. Maybe if there were more books out there like this, they wouldn’t say that as much. Marcus is a preacher and the creator of a comic book. He has left them at home to go on a secret trip. After the train he is on crashes and he is whisked away, Everett and Bea are on a journey to try to find and save their dad. They have his pen and magical ink. They slowly learn about their father and the magic ink and “inklings” who must find and protect it. The characters are easy to like and believable. The world building is phenomenal. We travel on mysterious, magical mysteries along with the characters. The explanation of how the evil characters came to be was awesome. Everett reminded me so much of some of my students who think they have no talent and doubt everything they do, often sabotaging themselves. There are lessons to be learned that don’t hit the reader head on.  I definitely recommend this book and will make sure my grandkids get a copy.  I am looking forward to reading the second book in this series.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Student Saturday: The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Student Reviewer: Jillianna H.
Genre: Middle Grade, Traditional, Fantasy

  Marinka is a red haired girl who is also what is called a yaga. A yaga is someone who is in charge of guiding the dead through The Gate. She lives with her grandma, named Baba, who is also yaga and has been raising Marinka since she was a baby. Marinka's house has chicken legs and moves to a different spot about three times a year. The house does this so that Marinka and Baba can guide the dead.  

   As a baby Marinka used to love playing with her house and helping her grandma guide the dead. But as she gets older, she realizes that she doesn’t want to be yaga or guide the dead. Marinka does everything to try to change her fate of being yaga. She tries to make human friends, which wasn’t allowed, and she even tries to make a ghost friend. All of these events lead to trouble, either for her, Baba, her friends or the house. She ends up having to make a big decision that would risk her life but maybe save another. During this I wasn’t sure whether to think she was being selfish or making the right decision for herself and her future. This is because she wants to do it because she doesn’t want to be a Yaga or guide the dead. There are a ton of risks if she decides to go through with it, and she gets told all of these risks by another yaga but doesn’t mind them and is only thinking about what would be best for her.

  I found this book very entertaining and would recommend this book to everyone who likes stories that have unexpected endings. The book definitely surprised me and kept me on my toes.                             

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Student Saturday: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate


Genre:  Middle Grade, Fantasy
Student Reviewer: Sophie E.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is a passionate fantasy book with a wonderful theme about friendship. The Wishtree, also referred to as Red, lives in harmony with its best friend Bongo the crow. Red is known around town as The Wishtree because on the first day of May every year, people traditionally tie its branches with paper or cloth with their wishes written on them. None of these wishes have been known to come true. 

However, recently a young girl, Samar, who had just moved to town started showing up at Red's roots each night. When the day of wishing begun, the quiet girl decided to share a wish with Red. After being bullied and shamed for her religion and looks, will Red be able to grant her one single wish with the help of its forest friends? Will Samar be able to fit in like everyone else?

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon by Justin M. Stone

Genre:  Middle Grade, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I was given this book to review a long time ago.  Unfortunately, it fell way down the stack of my pile of books.  I am sad I waited so long to read and review this book.  I live in a district where books have to be read and reviewed by a group of people to be considered for our classroom libraries. Unfortunately, this one has not had that privilege. I can recommend it to my students, which I will, but I can’t put it on my bookshelves.  Here is why I believe this should be allowed to be on my school shelves.

First, we have very relatable characters. Allie is just starting middle school.  Her mom is in the military and is missing. She stands up against bullies to defend Daniel, one of the nerds. Their friendship is necessary, as they have many battles ahead of them. When Allie's mom is deployed, she leaves the necklace she has always worn behind.  Allie wears it and, of course, we can expect things to happen. 

There are many lessons to learn through reading this book. One,  stand up for those who seem weaker than you. That’s what Allie does when she defends Daniel. Never give up no matter how impossible it may seem or no matter what obstacles stand in front of you. A great author like this one knows how to wrap lessons up in a story line that is so amazing that the reader doesn’t realize until afterwards all the lessons they have learned. If I asked my students what connections they had with this book after reading it, those lessons would be the things they connected with. I will definitely read more in this series. I will also recommend it to my students. After all, we still have public libraries and bookstores.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

That Thing in the Sky by Christopher Francis

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy from StoryOrigin. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I really enjoyed this book. You have two ten year old children on their way home from school when they see something in the sky. Suddenly there is an explosion and black things dropping from the sky. A neigbor working on his farm is watching as well. They realize there is something in the haystack and go to investigate only to be chased by the strange broken horned, octopus looking alien. Both are kidnapped and place high up in a tree for the night.  Just what do the aliens want with them? Why are Bailey and Margaret so sure it doesn't mean them any harm?  

Christopher Francis has created an alien that on one hand is terrifying, yet you can't help but like. You start out scared, then you feel for the creature and want to help it.  He has left the end of the story nicely concluded, yet set up in case there is another one coming after it. (hint, hint)   I have not found a single one of his books that I didn't love. He does a great job with the setting.  I grew up on a farm in Indiana so I could picture the country setting he described.  When they first see the thing in the sky hovering over the silos and the cows acting strange I was taken to the night we saw a strange, quite hovering disk with lights all around it float over the trees along our driveway and hover over our hogs. The pigs were squealing like crazy. Like these kids I was scared, yet curious.  Then it just disappeared. No harm was done to our pigs. Every book I have read by this author has taken me back to my childhood. I believe that is why I love them so much and why I highly recommend them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Little Wanderers: The Everlasting Seasons by I.K. Silver

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Once I started this book I couldn't stop reading it. Snowy is  a very small dwarf. He lives in a village where it snows all the time. He hates the cold. One day he decides he is going to leave. He packs his things and heads off to find the village of Origenem where there is supposedly a buried treasure. He read about it in a book.  On his trek he meets another dwarf who mistakes him for a young kid. Korkoro takes him home with him. Snowy stays for a while before deciding to join Snowy on his trip. The two encounter talking cats, a castle where everyone eats nothing but maple syrup, a wizard and a village that is cursed.  This was such an interesting book that I couldn't stop reading. I read it from beginning to end in one sitting. I can't wait until the next book comes out so I can continue to read the adventures of Snowy and Korkoro.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Uprooted by Kandi J. Wyatt

Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

As always Kandi Wyatt has created a series you have to read. Once I started the book I could not put it down. As I have said before, her world building is so realistic you find yourself along for the ride with the characters.  She has created a world where some lands are in almost total darkness, while some lands have too much light.  This creates a unique problem that kids who have taken science will understand. Without light you can’t grow products to help you life. On the other hand if you have too much light you have the same issue. She has created these worlds and the people who inhabit them with such skill.

Hest, the main character lives in a land where very little grows. He has never seen a tree. Any wood they have must be imported so it is limited.  His parents are dead so he works for a woman who runs the tavern. He has feelings for her daughter and her son is like a little brother to him. He is in charge of the stables and beyond  good with horses. One day a man shows up with a magnificent horse. Hest doesn’t get off to a very good start with him. The next day as the man prepares to leave he finds Hest working his horse. It is through this activity a life changing decision is made for Hest. He sees the man hand a bag of money to the woman who has been like a mother to him since his own died. He believes he has been sold.  He goes with the man.  It is along this trip he learns he is not a slave but something more.

Hest grew as a character and a man throughout this story.  However, knowing this is a new series I know there is so much more to learn about this character. He proves his loyalty not only to the people of the new land he now belongs to but also to a dragon.  Yes!  I knew the master storyteller of dragons would have to place one somewhere. At least I hoped she would.  I can not wait to read the next book and learn more about this new world she has built. I do hope I left enough teasers here to make you order your copy today. You won’t regret it.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Robber Girl by Franny Billingsley

Genre: Middle Grades, Young Adult, Adult, Fantasy
Source: I purchased a copy

This is probably one of the harder reviews I've had to write. I absolutely loved this book. There are so many layers to it that make it hard to write about it. We have a young girl working alongside "Gentleman Jack" a known criminal. She believes he rescued her after her mother abandoned her. While trying to rob a stagecoach Gentleman Jack is caught. This young girl is taken home to the Judge's house. This is a house that has known sorrow. The judge and his wife lost their son and daughter to smallpox. As you read along you realize that things definitely are not what they seem.  The judge and his wife try to "tame" this wild girl. She communicates with her dagger who keeps reminding her how much Gentleman Jack has done for her. You know something is afoot whenever she begins to communicate with the dolls in a dollhouse the judge had made for his daughter. The dagger also doesn't like when she thinks she remembers things. It doesn't want her to remember.  There are definitely reasons Gentleman Jack has not named her. There are reasons she has been lied to for five years.   She is the only one who holds the key to what Gentleman Jack wants. Better than that she holds the key to who and what she is.  I tried to explain this to my students and had just as much trouble explaining it to them.  I recommend this one to everyone who loves beautiful language, fantasy and, unreliable characters.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Color Keepers by Catriona Crehan

Genre:  Middle Grade, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy to review


Emily, her brother James and her crush Sam are on a mission. When Emily’s mom brings home an antique mirror with 4 colors of stained glass, a gift for Emily she is shocked. She awakens to hear a humming and sees the colors on the mirror brighten. A note floats out from the mirror with Emily’s name on it. She touches the colors in the order described in the note and walks into another world. She sets free a girl who has been imprisoned, only to learn the prisoner was the Crow Queen.  Emily is told she will need to bring two people back the following night to stop the Crow Queen before she destroys the Flatlands and Emily’s world. The adventures were not bad. The world building was great. I felt the characters were not as developed as much as I would have liked them to be. However, I did enjoy

the book and would recommend it.