Wrecked by her parents’ divorce and then her brother’s disappearance three years ago, Andrea Murphy’s life has grown awful. The empty seat at the table, her unrelenting guilt that her brother’s disappearance is somehow her fault, and his ghost in the boxes stacked in the garage all haunt her. “I’m fine” is the lie she tells to hide the cracks and holes in her heart. As a reminder of his memory, she carries a missing piece of her brother in her pocket. When the pain grows too intense to bear, she rides her bike far and fast, letting the breeze whip through her hair whileRead More →

Readers of Patricia Wrede, Rainbow Rowell, and Maggie Stiefvater will likely enjoy The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos.  For his debut young adult novel, Eliopulos writes a story about friendship, first love, feeling out of place, and delayed dreams.  Through his characters, Sam Fisher and James Dawson, Eliopulos illustrates how waiting for life to begin often gives way to forgetting how to live.  It is also a story about the volatility of life and our magical thinking: that life will start when __.  All readers will be able to fill in the blank with their own wishful thought.  From this book’s characters, readers learn that livingRead More →

Readers of the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend and the Starfell series by Dominique Valente will likely enjoy The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder. This fantastical tale features the young Emily Featherhaugh, whose mother’s idiosyncrasies turn Emily into a “human firework of foot-stamping rage” (2). Emily was shamed at school and accused of living like trash after helping her mother retrieve “important art materials” from the dumpster.  Even the City Council receives complaints that Maeve Connolly is a “crazy Irish art woman who makes noise at all hours” (2). But when her mom receives a special delivery– a heavy, khaki-colored envelope from a giant carryingRead More →

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 →