In the sequel to Flora Segunda, Flora Fyrdraaca ov Fyrdraaca, fourteen-year-old heroine of an alternate-history version of San Francisco called Califa, finds out what her true name is. And while I’m mentioning it, I might add that the full title of this book is Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room)...Read More
4 lightning bolts tagged posts
Young Tom comes from a line of storybook heroes. And by that I mean the actual heroes of such stories as “Jack the Giant Killer” and “The Frog Prince.” Whether a clever tailor or a charming prince, the hero in each of your favorite fairy tales was most likely a member of the Trueheart clan, acting on instructions from the staff at the Story Bureau, and with a little help from sprites who carry messages and throw in a little magic now and then.
Here’s how it works: Either Tom’s father Jack (missing these last several years) or one of his six elder brothers (all named Jack, or some variation thereof), on receiving a memo from the Story Bureau, marches out of the family cottage and into either the north, south, east, or west gate of the Land of Stories—a place where all the ingredients are in place for an adventure with trolls, giants, fairy godmothers, wicked witches, and what you will...Read More
The Hardscrabble children are (let’s face it) strange. Elder brother Otto never takes off the scarf he has worn since their mother disappeared, and speaks only in a private sign language understood only by his siblings. Youngest child Max is a walking encyclopedia with a head for heights. And in the middle is Lucia, the narrator (though she pretends to be anonymous), scared and vulnerable and mouthy and fiercely protective of her family. A lot of self-deprecating humor works its way into her narrative, as she admits to being afraid of heights, repeatedly mistakes the meanings of words Max knows and uses, and addresses back-chatty remarks to the English teacher who asked her to write this studiously dramatic account of her family’s most gothically creepy adventure.
Otto, Lucia, and Max live alone with their father, who is a portrait painter—except, when their father goes out of town to sketch studies of fallen...Read More
Book 6 of “The Saga of Darren Shan,” also known in some markets as the “Cirque du Freak” series, begins where the previous book left young half-vampire Darren—in a damp, dark place deep within Vampire Mountain, hurtling down a subterranean river toward all but certain death. Even after he (barely) survives his tumble out of the mountain, Darren faces odds stacked mightily against him. He has failed the trials that were to decide whether he is to be accepted by the vampire clan or executed. He has run away from a death sentence, which also carries a death sentence. And a vampire he counted on to help him, turns out to be a murderer and a traitor working with those enemy bloodsuckers, the Vampaneze.
As Darren slowly recovers from his injuries, naked in a winter wilderness and surviving only by the help of a pack of wolves, he faces some tough choices...Read More
Book 2 of the “Tapestry” quartet continues with Max McDaniel’s second year at the Rowan Academy, a school for magically talented teens somewhere on the east coast of the U.S. I have already noted that Rowan has as much in common with Hogwarts as almost any school for magic. In this book, however, the apparent similarities between the two schools take a backseat to the intriguing differences between them. Not that we get to see much of what goes on in the classroom, this year. Max and his frail, vulnerable, yet super-sorcerous roommate David Menlo miss most of the school year between one perilous adventure overseas and another to the world of the Sidh (which I take to be something like Faerie), where they spend more time than passes in our world...Read More
In book 5 of the “Saga of Darren Shan,” a.k.a. “Cirque Du Freak”—or book 2 of the “Vampire Rites” trilogy, which is the second of four trilogies within the same—half-vampire Darren starts to look less like an eternally whiny teenage git and more like someone with the potential to be a hero. But it looks as if he may need to be drowned, roasted, sliced, and skewered along the way. As you would expect from the ending of Vampire Mountain, Darren must either pass five trials of physical courage, luck, and endurance—any of which could kill him—or, upon failing or wimping out, face execution by being dropped repeatedly into a pit of sharpened stakes. While none of the possible deaths offered by the randomly-drawn trials sounds much better than that, Darren opts to face fate on his feet.
But after seeing Darren survive his first three trials and growing more confident that he is going to make it through them all, ...Read More
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell - buy it
By Chris Colfer – website
Recommended Ages: 9+
Bookish Alex Bailey and her twin brother Conner are navigating sixth grade in very different ways. Struggling with a ‘family situation’, Alex sits at the front of the class and hangs on the stories and words of her teacher Mrs. Peters, whilst Conner is just trying to rest his eyes! The one thing they have in common is their mutual love for the fairy tales read to them from their Grandma’s old book, The Land of Stories. When Grandma tries to cheer the twins up on their twelfth birthday by gifting them the book, it’s not long before Conner starts noticing strange changes in his twin’s behaviour. What secrets does The Land of Stories hide, and why exactly is it glowing?
In his first novel, Chris Colfer of Glee shares his childhood escape with young readers, and we fall headfirst into the land of fairy tales...Read More
In Book 2 of the trilogy titled “Gods of Manhattan”—which started with the book by the same name—young Rory Hennessy takes big strides toward fulfilling his destiny as the last surviving Light in the city, county, and state of New York. This sentence immediately confronts me with the problem that there is so much to explain, just so you can understand what I’m talking about as I try to describe this book, that I could very well say, “Read no further until you have read Gods of Manhattan.” There’s a lot to be said for doing so. This trilogy is really a most unique fantasy concept, and its complex layering of magical problems and solutions bears witness to a lot of intricate planning on its author’s part. I’m not sure I can do it justice in a paragraph or less. But I’m going to give it my best effort anyway. Brace yourself.
The fundamental idea of “Gods of Manhattan” is that people who have left a strong ...Read More
In this companion to Belle Prater’s Boy, Gypsy and her cousin Woodrow do a little more growing-up in the small town of Coal Station, Virginia. It’s still the 1950s, when families like Gypsy’s are just getting their first TV set and, by running a wire up to a mountaintop antenna, they can pick up all of two networks. Black people are still (inexplicably) described as colored folks, barred from entering many businesses, and required to sit at the back of the bus. And more than anything else—even more than having the operation to straighten his crossed eyes—Woodrow wants to find out what became of his mother, the Belle Prater of the title, who disappeared one night and left him alone with his hard-drinking, good-for-nothing father.
Woodrow now lives next door to Gypsy with their grandparents. The two cousins are approaching high school age, and are beginning to take more adult responsibility...Read More
You may have heard of the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. This festival is named after the mansion where the festival is held. The mansion was named after the nearby cottage where Nathaniel Hawthorne stayed while writing this book. And the cottage, according to my sources, was named after this book—a sequel to the same author’s A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. Houston, Texas, has a neighborhood named after this book, and the state of Washington has an island ditto. These facts illustrate the love in which this book was once popularly held, and the influence of some of the people who loved it so.
And yet I would bet you’re hearing about this book for the first time now. Here some writers would say, “So goes the world,” and let it be. But I say it need not be so...Read More