Readers of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will likely find Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh a lively read, rich with action and adventure but frightening with its plot line and themes about the abuses of power and the disparity in the treatment of human beings in their fight for both justice and survival. Like Katniss Everdeen, Astrid Jael is a strong and feisty female character who has chosen to risk her life in a cutthroat competition in order to win her freedom and to gain citizenship for herself and her family.  With its choreographed cruelty, the Race of Oblivion grants citizenship with allRead More →

Dressed in a disguise, the Queen of Mynaria plays the cello with passion and life as her ten-year-old daughter Princess Amaranthine sings in the ale houses.  But mothers die, and Mare becomes a different person after donning a surly personality, wearing it like a suit of armor.  Bold and brazen, she is vakos, a girl without magic and one with an affinity for trouble and without a knack for social pleasantries.  More comfortable in communities where horsemanship is a measure of rank, Mare falls in love with Dennaleia, Princess of Havemont who was betrothed to Mare’s brother, Thandi, and groomed to be a queen.  ButRead More →

Book Two of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s The Traitor’s Game series is packed with treachery, and everyone is a suspect or shares some blame.  The Deceiver’s Heart opens with sixteen-year-old Kestra Dallisar in possession of the Olden Blade, a dagger capable of destroying the evil magician and tyrant Lord Endrick if it is wielded by the Infidante.  When the girl who would save Antora fails in her attempt and Endrick steals her memories and turns her into an IronHeart to spy for him, Kestra changes dramatically.  As a weapon of the Dominion, Kestra thinks an arranged marriage to Basil will be far worse than anything elseRead More →

Forced to kill or die, Archer Aurontas has a history of horror as a cage fighter for the impressors.  Wishing to be whole again, he looks to Sefia, a girl who is focused, determined, and daring.  The daughter of Lon and Mareah who were hoping to shape the future, Sefia is known as the traitors’ child and as a girl whose life is illuminated by magic. Hoping to atone for what Sefia sees as the sins of her parents, people who helped to set in motion the prophesy for the Red War, Sefia steals the Guard’s greatest weapon, a weapon of paper and ink.  ThisRead More →

Consumed by grief, the Darrow family is broken, and nine-year-old Stanley is wishing with all his effort that some kind of magic will arrive to put his family back together after the death of his father.  “From the bottom of [his] flip-flops to the top of [his] Chicago Cubs baseball cap” (22), Stanley vows to find a way to make that happen. While searching for a solution, Stanley encounters a man in a green jacket who can make leaves dance.  When the mysterious man with a crooked grin shows up on the Darrow’s front step, Stanley wonders whether a male nanny (a manny?) can replaceRead More →

Similar to the Harry Potter and Charlie Bone series’,  Ed Masessa’s Wandmaker series focuses on magical learning. Wandmaker’s Apprentice is the second novel in the series and picks up from the dramatic events of Wandmaker. In that first novel, Henry and his sister, Brianna, came to terms with their different abilities connected to wand making. In this world, hidden behind the scenes from ours, magical ability is harnessed through different wands for various purposes. For those in this magical world, “your wand is an extension of you” (99). After defeating the villainous Dai She, Henry and Brianna are taken in by Wand Master Coralis. CoralisRead More →

Life is a physics lesson, and each of us plays a part in both weaving and repairing the fabric of the universe.  Both particles and waves of energy link us, bind us, protect us, and remind us that we a part of that tapestry.  These are the lessons that Wendy Mass discloses in her latest installment of the Willow Falls series, Graceful. In this book targeted for ages 8-12, readers will reconnect with familiar characters: Angelina D’Angelo, Grace, Bailey, Amanda, Leo, Rory, Tara, Connor, and David.  The latter seven comprise Team Grace, the guardians and advisors for the next Willow Falls Protector.  In a multi-genre format—with inventor’sRead More →

Because she’s “a shadow, a footstep in the woods that disappears, a twig no one notices” (19) and because she spends so much time climbing apple trees, Teresa Jane Fowler is better known in Sidwell, Massachusetts, as Twig.  Twelve-year-old Twig, the protagonist in Alice Hoffman‘s newest book, Nightbird, is good at running and at keeping the Fowler family secrets—among them the recipes for specialty pink apple desserts, the effects of the Agnes Early curse, and the reasons for the family’s reclusive manners and unusual nature.  These secrets lead to hurt and loneliness for Twig, but she wears her loneliness like armor. Although life without aRead More →

Sixteen-year-old Agnes Mochrie, aka Canny, stars as the protagonist in Elizabeth Knox’s new fantasy novel Mortal Fire.  This novel is set in 1959 in Southland, the same locale as the famous Dreamhunter Duet.  Canny, a Pacific Islander who attends Castlereagh Tech, is a math genius and the star of the school’s math team—a gender marvel for the time period.  But then, much about Canny is a marvel—from her massive, impassive, and queenly mother who presides over Canny’s life like an unexploded bomb to Canny’s admirable loyalty to her polio afflicted friend Marli. Readers are certain about the depth of Knox’s book early in, when Canny’sRead More →