Readers of Rick Riordan, C.S. Lewis, or other writers of fantasy will likely find The Lion of Lark–Hayes Manor a delight! Under the influence of Aubrey Hartman’s pen, readers will join the journey of sixth grader Penelope Woodlock (Poppy) who makes a hasty and soon regrettable bargain with a water nymph who has been banished from the Old World. Possessing a vivid imagination, Poppy, a creative and passionate book-lover, moves from Virginia to Oregon with her historic preservationist parents and her brother Luc. As Poppy struggles to adapt to the new environment and to the social dynamics of middle school, she finds solace in booksRead More →

Dedicated to all readers who “stagger beneath the weight of expectations and emotions, The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley tells two parallel stories. One reveals the ambitions of the Warnou family; the other shares the reality of the Anders family. As much as this is a story about those who are born into wealth versus those who are not, it is also about the impact of power and privilege. It reveals the consequences of knowing and embracing one’s identity. Born the eldest in the royal family, Princess Elodie Warnou has been raised to be strong, calculating, and regal. Her mother taught her not only toRead More →

In writing Hamra and the Jungle of Memories, Hanna Alkaf begins in the fashion of a traditional fairy tale. In her reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood, Alkaf borrows heavily from the Malaysian Muslim culture and weaves her magical retelling with Malay customs and cuisine. The star of this tale is thirteen-year-old Hamra, who is stubborn, sad, rebellious, and angry. She is tired of wiping up messes and cooking and listening to her grandmother say things that don’t’ make sense now that she is living with dementia. Hamra is tired of always having to be nice and good and polite and responsible. And she isRead More →

Readers of Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling will likely enjoy Angie Thomas’ new fantasy series for middle grade readers, The Manifestor Prophecy. In its first installment, Nic Blake and the Remarkables, readers will meet Nichole Blake, Alex DuForte, and Joshua Paul Williams (JP).  Each member of this dynamic trio has idiosyncrasies with which readers will identify and appreciate. Just as the Harry Potter books has muggles and wizards, the Nic Blake books feature Remarkables and Unremarkables, manifestors and monsters. When she was just a baby, Nic’s Dad kidnaps her, so the two have been living on the run—something Nic only learns later, along with aRead More →

Wren Warren and Derek Pewter-Flores ae both sixteen-year-old members of the four founding families in Hollow’s End. Wren’s family grows wheat, and Derek’s grows melons. The the pair hopes to build on their families’ 150-year-legacy, marry, and have children someday, but Wren has overheard her parents arguing about money, so she takes measures to help increase the farm’s production. Soon after, a blight appears, one with devastating effects on the soil, crops, animals, and people—one with the power to fracture not only a family but a future. Believing herself responsible, Wren takes matters into her own hands, and what she discovers rocks her core. WhenRead More →

Set in 1937, Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland is a fantasy built on how capitalism consumes culture and about the limitations of being a Black person in America. To spin her magical tale, Ireland creates Laura Ann Langston, a seventeen-year-old black girl who is impulsive and craves adventure. Not satisfied with just performing “root magic,” Laura wishes to earn her mage license so that she can open her own treat shop, raveling confections for the likes of J. Paul Getty, Howard Hughes, and Shirley Temple. Not willing to hitch her talent to a Mechomancer, whose constructs are based on the forces used inRead More →

Perfect for animal lovers, How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra puts a magical spin on veterinarians and showcases a plump witch with spunk and sass. Giada Bellantuonos is twelve, and on her thirteenth birthday, she is expected to take the oath to become a guaritrice and to join the family business. These guardians of the people use their power to strengthen people. However, the family business is not Giada’s dream. She has lived in the shadow of her famous brother Rocco, and wants her own identity as a famous fixer. Rather than heal people, she wishes instead to honor Diana, goddess of wildRead More →

Set in a world similar to our current reality but not quite, The Darkening by Sunya Mara is a study of both psychology and sociology. Mara explores the consequences of classism and social hierarchies while also taking a deep dive into the effects of despair, vengeance, hate, pain, and anger. In the process, she also asks some critically important questions worthy of soul-searching. Seventeen-year-old Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries and refers to herself as “a hopeful little screwup from the fifth ring” (216). Her father’s fear has kept her safe, but Vesper wonders if it is wrong to want more out of lifeRead More →

Edited by G. Harron Davis, Cam Montgomery, and Adrianne White, All Signs Point to Yes is a collection of short stories targeting those who are addicted to reading their daily horoscopes. That many of the collected stories end with a kiss and several include references to the occult or witches shouldn’t alarm readers. After all, there is something magical about love. The thirteen authors who contributed stories prove that love is as universal as sexuality and ethnicity are diverse. Their works further share powerful morals, such as: regrets don’t serve anyone or that flirting isn’t a valid form of identification. These authors also invite criticalRead More →