Friday, February 26, 2016

Classic MG Read-along: No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

13622198No Flying in the House by Betty Brock
Format:  Paperback
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 144
First Published: January 1st 1970

Source:  Library

This month's  pick for the Classic Read along with the Midnight Garden Book Group on Goodreads was another new to me book, No Flying in the House by Betty Brock.   The book was first published in 1970, but seems to hold the test of time, I  quite enjoyed it.  In many ways it feels like a quiet story, not heavy on plot or messages, but draws on the desire of a  little girl to have a family and to belong.  Annabel is such a cute little girl and I was pretty fond of her three inches by three inches protector Gloria. One day, Gloria shows up on the terrace of Mrs. Vancourt's home and dazzles her with "three hundred and sixty-seven tricks."  In exchange for a home that offers "three meals a day, cozy fires, fresh flowers, birthday cakes, singing, and laughter,"  Mrs. Vancourt agrees to let Annabel and Gloria live with her, as long as Gloria agrees to continue to perform her tricks for Mrs. Vancourt's guests.  Annabel is a well behaved quite girl, who has never known her parents.  Their whereabouts are a closely guarded secret by Gloria.  Annabel has always been content with Gloria watching over her, but as she goes to school for the first time and makes friends with children who have parents, she gets quite sad.  She'd never questioned where her parents were before, that is not until a cat named Belinda appears and  hints that Annabel is actually half fairy.  Annabel also learns that soon she will have to make an impossible choice.  I really enjoyed reading No Flying in the House, the pencil illustrations by Wallace Tripp reminded me of the one's from Charlotte's Web, so gorgeous and detailed.  They just give the story a classic, warm and cozy feel to me.   Annabel is a darling little girl filled with curiosity and her and Gloria's friendship is quite sweet.  Who wouldn't like having a talking dog as a nursemaid/protector?  This would make a lovely read together or beginner chapter book for a six to eight year old child who enjoys stories with talking animals, or fairies.  

Have you ever read this before?  Or perhaps you have another classic book that you might like to suggest that I check out next.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TTT: Ten Book I Enjoyed Reading Recently (last yearish)

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Books I Enjoyed Reading Recently (last yearish) That Weren't My Typical Genre.  

So, most of my reading last year was reading for the  Cybils awards in the category of Elementary/MG Speculative Fiction.  I'm going to adjust my list this week to books that I enjoyed reading, but didn't get to write a review for, well not all of them.  (Summary and links to Goodreads or to my review provided in the title). 

22551747"Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion! 

Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late."

My thoughts:  Amusing battle between Miss Drake and Winnie over which one of them is really "the pet."  Recommended age range 8-12
"When Molly shows up on Castle Hangnail's doorstep to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the castle's minions are understandably dubious. After all, she is twelve years old, barely five feet tall, and quite polite. (The minions are used to tall, demanding evil sorceresses with razor-sharp cheekbones.) But the castle desperately needs a master or else the Board of Magic will decommission it, leaving all the minions without the home they love. So when Molly assures them she is quite wicked indeed (So wicked! REALLY wicked!) and begins completing the tasks required by the Board of Magic for approval, everyone feels hopeful. Unfortunately, it turns out that Molly has quite a few secrets, including the biggest one of all: that she isn't who she says she is."
My thoughts:  A very cute, humorous story with lovely messages of friendship and standing up for oneself.  Recommended age range 8-12

3.  Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan 
"Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. 
Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, this impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck."

My thoughts:  Weaves together four stories, four settings, four time periods.  Part historical fiction, part folktale.  Winner of a 2016 Newbery Honor.  Recommended age range 10-14

22827605"When Burdock the barn cat sneaks into the Baxters’ farmhouse kitchen to hide behind a warm stove, he overhears a sinister plot that endangers all the animals on the farm. It’s up to him and his cacophonous cohorts to figure out how to bust out of the barn before it's too late. In this winning debut, readers will fall in love with the solitary cat, the self-effacing cow, the unstoppable pig, even a wayward she-owl—all brought to life with clever dialogue, poetic descriptions, and expressive black-and-white illustrations. This warm, lively read-aloud story about teamwork and friendship has the timeless appeal of a much-loved quilt."
My thoughts:  Classic feel of Charlotte's Web.  Lovely, detailed pen and ink illustrations and descriptions of the farm/animals.  Messages of  what it means to be a true friend and a moral message of what "if saving yourself meant abandoning someone else."  Recommended age range 7-10 

25205326"Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on—and quite possibly their very lives." 

 My thoughts:  Nice blend of science, nature, physics, a mechanical dragon and a story that was both interesting and fun for me and my kiddo to read.  And, Steampunk Dragons!  Recommended age range 8-12

224004786.   I'm With Cupid by Anna Staniszewski
"Marcus is a Cupid. Lena is a Reaper. Opposites attract in the exciting new Switched At First Kiss series by the acclaimed author of The Dirt Diary. 

When she's dared to kiss the adorkable Marcus Torelli at a party, Lena thinks it's the perfect opportunity to cross First Kiss off her list of "Things to Accomplish Before I Turn Fourteen."

It's only when she gets sent on an assignment the next day that she realizes something went horribly wrong. That ZING she felt wasn't the thrill of her first kiss--she and Marcus have swapped powers! Lena is not your average eighth grader; she's a soul collector with a serious job to do. And Marcus turns out to be a supernatural matchmaker (like Cupid, but without the diaper).

Now logical Lena finds herself with the love touch, and sweet, sentimental Marcus has death at his fingertips. The truth is that Lena should never have taken that dare...because one little kiss has Lena and Marcus in a whole lotta trouble."
My Thoughts:   A Cupid and Reaper swap powers and jobs over a shared kiss with interesting mishaps. Reminded me a little of the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty.  Nice beginning to a new series.  

7.   Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson

23309600"Tabitha Crum is a girl with a big imagination and a love for mystery novels, though her parents think her only talent is being a nuisance. She doesn't have a friend in the world, except her pet mouse, Pemberley, with whom she shares her dingy attic bedroom.

Then, on the heels of a rather devastating announcement made by her mother and father, Tabitha receives a mysterious invitation to the country estate of the wealthy but reclusive Countess of Windermere, whose mansion is rumored to be haunted. There, she finds herself among five other children, none of them sure why they've been summoned. But soon, a very big secret will be revealed— a secret that will change their lives forever and put Tabitha’s investigative skills to the test."  

My Thoughts:  Reminded me of The Westing Game and Matilda.  Plus,  I just adore old mysterious houses and children who like to roam around investigating them.  Loved Lawson's description of the setting, such a wordsmith.  Recommended age range 8-12

8.  Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon
22929592"The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown's merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can't rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected." 
 My Thoughts:  Nice re-imaging of Robin Hood with diverse characters and lots of action.  

9.  The Fog Diver by Joel Ross 
"A deadly white mist has cloaked the earth for hundreds of years. Humanity clings to the highest mountain peaks, where the wealthy Five Families rule over the teeming lower slopes and rambling junkyards. As the ruthless Lord Kodoc patrols the skies to enforce order, thirteen-year-old Chess and his crew scavenge in the Fog-shrouded ruins for anything they can sell to survive.

Hazel is the captain of their salvage raft: bold and daring. Swedish is the pilot: suspicious and strong. Bea is the mechanic: cheerful and brilliant. And Chess is the tetherboy: quiet and quick…and tougher than he looks. But Chess has a secret, one he’s kept hidden his whole life. One that Lord Kodoc is desperate to exploit for his own evil plans. And even as Chess unearths the crew’s biggest treasure ever, they are running out of time..." 

 My Thoughts:  Fast paced steampunk pirate adventure, with a nice inclusion of technology. Winner of the Cybils 2015 Award for Elementary/MG Speculative Fiction.

2263967510.  Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

"Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse....
And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.
Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickensis a quirky, clucky classic in the making." Recommended age range 8-12
My Thoughts:  Lots of fun details about chickens, very humorous and lovely illustrations.  I still think about those force using chickens from time to time.  

So What books made it on your Top Ten List for this week?  Feel free to post your links in the comments.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

MG Fantasy/Adventure: The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt

25600503The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt
Illustrations by Ross Collins
Format: Paperback

Pages: 304
Release Date:  May 29th  2015  by Puffin Books
Genre:  MG Fantasy/Adventure with a girl pirate
Source:  A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Far away aboard the Feroshus Maggot is Captain Idryss Ebenezer Split, who while looking through his telescope into the "hooman world," spots Mabel about to perform "THE DEED."  Not any only deed.  The most horrible, disgusting deed.  She is about to pick her nose and ...yep.... eat it.  I know gross right?  If you perform the deed, you get yourself bound to the Captain.  And at this very minute, he is sending his trusty mate, Omynus Hussh, to sneak down and bag himself the snuglet.  Mabel tries really hard to be brave after being kidnapped, but this crew is rather "beastly." And, when Captain Split makes  the horrible discovery that Omynus bagged himself something so terrible, something for which  the word can't be used to describe, the pirates vow to make it walk "the greasy pole of certain death."  That is until Mabel reveals that she can do the one thing that they've been searching for, she can read.   Mabel is enlisted as an honoree' member of the crew, given a cutlass and a belt, and in exchange for a means to get back home, she will help them find the pieces of a key needed to unlock a treasure.  

I absolutely adored The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones, it was so, so very humorous with lines that had me snickering and laughing aloud   It has this adorable pajama wearing girl pirate, wonderful illustrations, an intrusive narrator, a lovely map, and creative writing fonts with words that cascade down the page. Think Snicket, Pseudonymous Bosch or even Carrie Ryan's book The Map to Everywhere. A great addition to the pirate stories already out there, which will delight with the antics that this crew get themselves into, and keep you in suspense when the crew is faced with peril after increasing peril.   Mabel is such a lovable character, despite her having performed "The Deed." And even though she makes a mistake early on in the story that costs someone dearly, making an enemy for awhile, she does apologize and wins their loving friendship. It is quite sweet.  The characters are zany and the adventures they go on to collect the pieces of the key are all quite amusing.  I especially enjoyed when Mabel challenges a bear named Bartok the Brute to a drinking contest (a milk drinking contest).  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.   

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

MG Review: Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Keira Gillett

27423136Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword (Book 2 in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy) by Keira Gillett
Format:  Ebook
Publisher: Keira Gillett
Number of Pages: 270
Date Published: November 6th 2015

Source:  A Review copy was received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

In  Zaria Fierce and the Secret of the Gloomwood Forest, Zaria made a huge mistake while trying to rescue her friend Christoffer, well she was actually tricked by Olaf, a river troll, but the sting of what transpired has been a painful reminder of her mistake.  Waiting months on end for any news from Hector hasn't been easy and Zaria and her friends are impatient to begin the next step of their adventure, to retrieve the Drakeland Sword.  When news finally arrives from Hector, Zaria, Geirr, Filip, Aleks and Christoffer,  make arrangements to acquire a ship and set off for the kingdom of dwarves.  Zaria plans to present herself to the dwarf king in hopes that he will release the Drakeland sword to her. But, something sinister has been following them, lurking in the shadows plaguing Zaria, haunting her dreams and feeding off of her insecurities. Will Zaria prove to the king that she is Queen Helena's daughter or will she succumb to her fears?

 I like how the action begins quickly and Gillett brings the reader up to speed on the plot, no time is wasted in getting these friends off on another adventure through the Norwegian countryside.   Oh and that setting, it's one of the most enjoyable things in reading Gillett's stories.  All the lovely rich details of each of the magical kingdoms, each place is unique and highlights the depth of her imagination.   (For some  really good examples of the magical kingdoms check out this blog tour stop Gillett did at  A Cup Of Coffee and A Book and while there check out  the illustrations by Eoghan Kerrigan too.)   I also love the detailed illustrations by Kerrigan, they really compliment the text and bring the trolls, giants and dwarves to light.  In book 2,  I couldn't help feeling sorry for Zaria.  She has been paying dearly for her mistake,  mostly by being so hard on herself and taking all of the blame for being tricked by Olaf.  It's been difficult to see her transforming from this shy quiet girl, to then fighting off wolves, and now regressing backward after being plagued by this trollish specter.    I had wished that she could articulate to her friends what was happening to her and know that they would have been there for her all along.  They all do make such lovely friends.   But, I'm fairly certain that Zaria will be back to herself in the next book and learn from the whole experience.  So, if you like middle grade stories about Norway with beautiful illustrations, you'll really appreciate Zaira Fierce.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MG Review: The Circle of Lies (Hunters of Chaos #2) by Crystal Velasquez

The Circle of Lies (Hunters of Chaos #2) by Crystal Velasquez
Format:  ARC
Publisher: Aladdin
Number of Pages: 240
Expected Publication: February 16th, 2016

 A review copy was received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.  

In the first book of the Hunters of Chaos series, we were introduced to Ana, Lin, Shani, and Doli, four girls that attend a private southwestern boarding school.   The four girls had just discovered they are the descendants of ancient shape shifting warriors or Wildcats,  with Ana being (a jaguar), Lin (a tiger), Shani (a lion) and Doli (a puma).   With their new found powers also came the responsibility of  fighting the forces of evil and preventing the god Anubis from unleashing Chaos on earth.  The story ended with Ana receiving a disturbing telephone call from her aunt and uncle.    Link to my review for book #1 in the Hunters of Chaos series.

The Circle of Lies picks up with Ana and the girls uncovering that Ana's aunt and uncle may have gone to Cancun, the reason is still somewhat of a mystery, and the excuse that they give her really makes 
Ana begin to worry about them.  Then Ana receives a late night telephone call from her aunt asking her to meet her in the school gymnasium.  Unfortunately, this turns out to be a ruse so that The Brotherhood of Chaos can attack them.  During the attack, Shani attempts to save them by hacking into the sprinkler system, but is caught on video camera and accused of vandalizing the gym,  and ultimately she gets expelled.  Unhappy with Shani being kicked out of another school, her mother sends her to Mumbai to live with her father.  Shani's friends then venture to Mexico in hopes of finding any information about the disappearance of Ana's  Aunt Teppy and Uncle Mec.   Though now that the girls have separated, none of them are safe from the dangers the Brotherhood of Chaos has planned for them next.          

The Circle of Lies has a very diverse set of characters coming from four  varied backgrounds and cultures,  each story gives little bits and pieces of information about  the girls,  and I'm fairly certain that the series will  visit the countries  the girls are from eventually.    In this particular book,  the girls traveled from the ancient runes of Chichen Itza to the Mumbai temple Shree Siddhivinayak.   We're introduced to the city of Mumbai through Shanti's eyes, with its "chaotic traffic and oppressive heat."   The Hindu God Vishnu and Mayan God Quetzalcoatl make an appearance,  I  for one always love reading the details about the gods,  even if as in this series it doesn't go into large details,  there still was enough to give a basic understanding about each of the gods abilities.  The Circle of Lies is the perfect kind of book for an eight to twelve year old who likes a story packed full of action, mystery and shape shifting girls who can use their teeth to "shatter the bones" of the forces of Chaos or rip skin like "peeling a banana."    My favorite thing is the solidarity that these girls share, how they work to stay together and share a common link.   There is a nice recap of the first story at the beginning of the book, so I suppose it could be read  on its own, but sad to say the story ends  with only resolving one small piece.  I do see the girls going on another trip in their future, better gas up the jet.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Guest Post and Excerpt from Keira Gillett author of Zaria Fierce Trilogy

Today I have the wonderful pleasure of introducing Keira Gillett, author of the Zaria Fierce Trilogy.  As you may recall, I recently reviewed her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest.  I really enjoyed the setting of Norway and wanted to know more about the folklore behind her story.  Maybe also get a glimpse of some more of Eoghan Kerrigan's illustrations.  Lucky for me, Keira was able to take a bit of time away from drafting her third book and stop by for a chat.  Thank you so much for dropping by Keira!    I hope you'll stop back on Wednesday for my review of the second book too.  

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword 
by Keira Gillett

Illustrations by Eoghan Kerrigan
Release Date: November 6, 2015 
Genre:  MG Fantasy/Adventure
Summary: If Zaria Fierce had her say, being a princess would mean you’d never have to wait for news. In the eight months since Olaf tricked her, Zaria has felt a near constant mixture of restlessness, listlessness, and hopelessness. When the time comes to fix past mistakes, she is more than ready to climb aboard the ship sailing towards the giants. Summertime in Norway promises many more adventures, but also many more perils… something sinister lurks beneath the surface following her every move, haunting her, disturbing her dreams, and stealing her peace. Can Zaria figure out what it is and stop it before it’s too late?

Available in E-bookPaperback, and  Audiobook formats.  See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here. 

Guest Post:  Folklore and World Building of the Zaria Fierce series by Keira Gillett

Hi, my name is Keira Gillett and I’m the author behind the Zaria Fierce Trilogy, which is about a young adopted American girl that moves to Norway. On her 13th birthday she meets a troll on her way to school, who appears from under a bridge and threatens to eat her. The first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest discovers which of them outsmarts the other. Does she trick him or does he trick her? 

The Tale of the Moose Hop
 and the Little Princess Cotton Grass by John Bauer
 I’ve been invited by the lovely Brenda to talk you here at Log Cabin Library about the folklore that is a part of my world building for Zaria. Her world because it’s based in Norway features heavily of Norwegian and Scandinavian folklore and fairy tale creatures. One of my favorite races in Zaria Fierce is the ellefolken race, which are allies with the elves, whom they live near and intermarry. This race and kingdom came to me as I read a few lines of text that talked about alder tree girls. Why only girls? The men are mentioned briefly in passing. I was struck by these lines and returned to them often. The race of alder tree girls is supposed to be evil. They seduce men and lure them away to dance and possibly die or lose their memories. But I couldn’t reconcile that (and, also because there are so many evil women species that lure men into the woods it’s practically a cliché and I wanted to avoid that), so I looked up the meaning of alder trees. Due to their natural properties alder trees are considered rot-resistant and therefore resistant to corruption. That didn’t sound evil to me. That sounded like a guardian people, which is what I turned the ellefolken into. Now the name ellefolken means elle (elf) people, but I switched it up a bit to mean elk-people because of two beautiful paintings by John Bauer of a princess riding a moose (The Tale of the Moose Hop and the Little Princess Cotton Grass).

The Tale of the Moose Hop and the Little Princess Cotton Grass by John Bauer
I knew after seeing them that I wanted Zaria to have a similar magical experience and midnight ride. I didn’t want a wild or domesticate elk though, I wanted the elk to be sentient. I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if the elk could turn into a human being? So that is how my ellefolken race can change from elk to being to alder tree. The women have no problem transforming between their three forms, but the men in the species are limited and can’t transform at will. They can only transform in one direction and once transformed never go back to their old form. This helped me to explain why there are many more women than there are men. It was a conflict of power and freedom. 

 The Elleken kingdom is ruled by their Golden King (in alder tree form). I chose gold because it symbolizes purity. The face of the race is always the crown prince, known at the Stag Lord. He wears a cloak made from his elk hide (like a selkie, but unlike a selkie he can be separated from it without ill effects) and his antlers (which are gold) are part of the cloak’s hood, forming a crown. The spare is always in elk form and is a pure white creature with golden horns. 

So how does this all tie together? In my Zaria Fierce books the ellefolken protect the world from dragons, who spread evil and fear and hate like a disease (or rot). The dragons try to escape their prison by corrupting the alder trees that form its barrier. To bolster the defenses the Stag Lord must join the Golden Kings, which is what Hector’s father, Hakon, wants him to do. Hector however loves his freedom and enjoys trading with the different magical kingdoms and humans. He doesn’t think like the giants do, that becoming one with nature is something to look forward to and not dread. His son also wants him to transform, but for more selfish reasons. He wants to have the freedom to leave the glade of the Golden Kings and explore Norway, which he can’t do until he becomes the Stag Lord. It’s a conflict that spans generations of fathers and sons. It was so much fun to research the different races of beings for the books. If you’d like to learn more about Norwegian and Scandinavian mythology and folklore, check out these books:
  • Favorite fairy tales told in Norway by Virginia Haviland
  • Great Swedish fairy tales by Elsa Olenius
  • The troll with no heart in his body and other tales of trolls from Norway by Lise Lunge-Larsen
  • Santa Clause by Mauri Kunnas
  • Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins: A Norwegian Folktale by Lauren Mills
  • Louhi, Witch of North Farm by Toni de Gerez
I hope this has whetted your appetite and that you're ready to learn more about Hector’s role in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy. Want to see who I would cast for him in a movie? Of course you do! Hehe.

Thanks Brenda for having me! 

Filip slung his window open and tossed out his backpack. It landed in a thump in the hedgerow. Aleks pulled it out and slung it over his shoulder with his own bag.
“How’re you getting down?”
“Hopefully with your stargazer.”
“Then why toss down your bag?” Aleks asked, exasperated.
“Just in case,” Filip said with a wink at Zaria.
She suppressed a smile. She looked to the others, “Does anybody have rope?”
Aleks and Geirr both nodded. Then Geirr unzipped his bag and pulled out a neat coil from on top. He tossed it to Filip, who snatched it up as it sailed by the window. He disappeared into his bedroom and reappeared moments later slinging the coil out the window. It unraveled to the ground.
“Good,” Filip said briskly. “It’s long enough. Now let’s see if it holds.”
Filip quickly scaled the side of the house and they gathered their belongings preparing to dash. Without warning, Mrs. Storstrand stuck her head out of a bottom window and shrieked at the sight of them.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“Run!” Filip shouted, grabbing his friends’ sleeves and rushing for the street.
Aleks cursed and threw Filip his backpack while slinging his own around to the front and unzipping a pocket. He looked frazzled as he dug inside the opening. Mrs. Storstrand was quick. She was already out of the house and chasing after them. She threatened life and limb and the most terrible of all – letting Filip’s father know what he was about.
At last Aleks found the stargazer – a shiny purplish egg-shaped object perforated with stars – and almost dropped it in his haste. After a brief fumble, Aleks located the largest star, and hastily jabbed his finger into the hole. Just like that, Mrs. Storstrand froze mid-run. But so too did Christoffer, Filip, and Geirr.
Aleks looked at Zaria and to the others. “Damn,” he hissed. “Wait! How are you not frozen too?”

Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest (Book 1): 

“Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers.” Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal

 “A captivating blending of fantasy storytelling with today’s technology. At the base of this tale is deep, abiding friendship that stands the tests of time, adventure and even danger.” 
Kathy Haw, Goodreads Review 

“A great book with a lovely story and amazing characters. It’s a fantasy and adventure book that will be the delight of Narnia fans and those looking for a bit of Norwegian folklore thrown into it.”  Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book

 “If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure dipped in fantasy, look no further. This book kept me on my toes with its many cliffhangers and plot twists; it was quite hard to put down at times.” Meredith, All ‘Bout Them Books and Stuff

 “I love when a story jumps right in and hooks me like this one did. I highly recommend you look into it if you are in the mood for a fun adventure. I also recommend that you get it for any book loving middle schooler you know.” Emily, Midwestern Book Nerd

Keira Gillett author picture


  Author Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

YA Fantasy Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Number of Pages: 480
Date Published: September 29th 2015

Source:  Purchased

Synopsis from Goodreads "Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price--and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first."

One of the first things that I heard about Six of Crows was it being compared to the movie Ocean's Eleven.   I was already familiar with Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy having read Shadow and Bone, but when I read about how there was going to be a team of criminals coming together to pull off a seemingly impossible heist, yep I was in.  Each chapter of Six of Crows is written in the alternating views of  Kaz (thief), Matthias (convict), Nina (Heartrender), Inej (spy), and Jesper (sharpshooter)  picking up the action where the previous part left off, while developing the characters back story in effortlessly.  Most times I'm not a fan of this style, typically I'll find a character that I enjoy reading about and want to stick with their POV.    But, I felt Bardugo used this style in a way that brought the story together seamlessly.  Each of the characters are so well written that I can't say that there is one character that I didn't want to learn more about,  and  grew to care for each one of them as I learned more about their past.  Each one has their part to play in the heist and not one persons role is more important than the other.  Although, I couldn't help be curious why Wylan (the runaway) doesn't get his own chapter, but that's just one of my pondering's while reading.   The Six of Crows was never short on action, with plenty of twists and turns, magic and wonderfully crafted world that made this an excellent beginning to this series and one that I would highly recommend.  Did I mention there is romance too? For which I love this line...    

       “Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you'll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won't matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.”