When this book arrived, my 11-year-old and I were opening our mail. Both of us were immediately interested—though the cover was originally completely different. (Check out more on this on my Writers page.) We started reading it together out loud that night—which was great because she’s at that age where our reading-aloud-before-bed sessions have turned into reading-alone time. We were both cracking up! After reading way past the allotted time, we made a deal that neither of us could read this book without the other—and we were both arguing over this! It was great fun.

The Wolf Hour​, by Sara Lewis Holmes, Scholastic Inc imprint (September 26, 2017), $16.99
Genre: Fairy Tales & folklore

Ages: 8-12

The story of Little Red Riding Hood intersects with that of the Three Little Pigs in this complex fantasy, set in and around an alluring but treacherous Polish forest known as the Puszcza. In this folktale world, readers meet a woodcutter’s daughter named Magia, who is enticed by a powerful red cape offered to her by a carefully disguised witch; a young wolf named Martin who has no sense of tracking but adores books; and three pigs who long for their absent mother.

The Unicorn in the Barn.

by Jaqueline K. Ogburn
HMH Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017), $16.99
Genre: Growing Up & Facts of Life

Ages: 8-10

A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turns.

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones
By Will Mabbitt Illustrated by Ross Collins
Viking, June 2015, $16.99
Ages 6-12 (though older readers will love humor)
Genre: Fiction, Pirate Humor (excellent for boy and girl reluctant readers, fast-read, humorous illustrations)

Book One: The Storybook of Legends

Little, Brown, & Co. $14.99

In book one, Raven Queen and Apple White have their destinies already written for them in the Storybook of Legends. All they have to do is sign the book, and their fate is secured. Ever After High prepares Raven, Apple and the other children of fairy tale legends for that future, but Raven's role as the daughter of Evil Queen makes her uncomfortable. Can she rewrite her destiny, or will her story come abruptly to "The End?"

I had included this book in my June/July 2015 Girls’ Life reviews, but it was eliminated because the original cover looked “too young,” so kudos to the updated, final cover!

The overall premise was hilarious in itself, when Mabel Jones commits “The Deed,” as in picking her nose and eating it! Utterly unladylike behavior, which is why the vicious Captain Split and his crew are shocked to discover their latest “recruit” is actually a girl! Once they realize it, they force Mabel Jones to walk off the plank of The Feroshus Maggot, where Mabel nonchalantly informs them they have a spelling error on their pirate ship. Once they realize she can read, Mabel is swiftly the best buddy of the wicked wolf pirate with a peg-leg formed from a human femur, since she can read his treasure maps and help with his ploy to be crowned the pirate king of London. Mabel agrees to help so she can quickly get back to her home in time to feed Hamish, her pet slug hidden under her bed, because it’s unlikely her parents received her message in a bottle. However, her new favored status with Captain Split has made for Mabel a deadly enemy—Omynus Hush, the Silent Loris—Captain Split’s original right-hand man. Even worse, she accidently cuts off Omynus’s hand with her rusty cutlass. An absolute must-read for, truthfully, all ages—it’s that funny, with a sweet spot of 6-11. 

Will Mabbit writes in cafes, on trains, on the toilet, and sometimes in his head when his laptop runs out of power. He lives with his family in the south of England. The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones is his first book. 

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe


By Lauren James, HarperCollins, $17.99​, ISBN-13: 9780062660251

Genre:YA, Science Fiction, Space, Alone, Isolation 

In the words of my fourteen-year-old daughter's friend, "This is soooo good! I might be the best book I've ever read."

​​The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents' tragic deaths left her alone on The Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth. Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can't help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, The Eternity, will be joining The Infinity. Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the commander of The Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as The Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there's more to J's mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone....

A Plague of unicorns

06.22.15     posted by:  Kim     comments:  

By Jane Yolen

Zonderkidz, $14.99

Release date: Dec 23, 2014, Middle grade

Working with Jane Yolen on this illustrated adventure was wonderful fun! Humor abounds in this middle-grade, historical tale of heroes, unicorns, dukes, and abbeys.

​​Yolen (Owl Moon) weaves a magical yet believable tale of myth and magic in this charming middle-grade fantasy. In the mythical kingdom of Callanshire, James, son of the Duke of Callander, is sent away at age nine to study at Cranford Abbey. The abbey, struggling to stay financially solvent, plans to make its extraordinary golden Hosannah apples into cider for sale. Unfortunately, unicorns also love these delicious apples. No matter how the monks try, they cannot get rid of the horned orchard raiders until James summons a singer named Sandy, who may have a way with unicorns...

The Glass Sentence

By S.E. Grove
Penguin Group (June 16, 2015) $8.99
Ages: 9-12
Genre: Fantasy

 In 1891, in a world transformed by 1799’s Great Disruption—when all of the continents were flung into different time periods—thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims and her friend Theo go in search of Sophia’s uncle, Shadrack Elli, Boston’s foremost cartologer, who has been kidnapped.

the inventors secret

posted by:  Kim     comments:  

by Andrea Cremer

Philomel, $18.99
Middle-grade, action, adventure, steampunk, alternate history, Ages 9-12

I found this to be a brilliantly re-imagined steampunk world in which the British won the Revolutionary War, revolutionaries are hanged for treason, and New York has become a floating city for the upper-class elitists. Charlotte has street smarts and is thrilled when her older brother finally lets her go on an important mission—she must travel with the obnoxious Jack Winter to the floating city, where for the first time she gets an entirely different look at her nemesis, Jack Winter. And she discovers she may have been wrong about him, and a few other things. The romance was light enough not to get in the way of the story. A smart, witty, mystery/adventure with light romance, the story pulled me in ... until the cliffhanger ending! Noooooooooo!!!! I've grown a bit tired of trilogies that I have to wait and wait for. And this one was a great story that left me hanging.

I become shadow

posted by:  brianna b.     comments:  

by Joe Shine

SOHO Teen, $17.99
YA fantasy, dystopia, sci-fi, Ages 12+

Kidnapped by a mysterious group that claims to know the world’s future, Rennes (Ren) Sharpe is believed dead by everyone she holds dear. Under constant surveillance, Ren begins a new life and prepares to become a Shadow – a glorified bodyguard charged with the protection of a Future Important Person (FIP). Rigorous training transforms her from a normal, slightly awkward teenage girl into a hardened weapon of mass destruction. She re-enters society after being assigned to her FIP, Gareth, who becomes the center of Ren’s world. Distinguishing between her Shadow-programmed response to Gareth and her real emotional response to his friendship becomes difficult for Ren, as does her separation from her only Shadow friend, Junie. Even more worrisome is the ominous twist that calls into question the motives of the Shadow Program’s founders.

From the very first chapter, titled “Milkshake,” I knew I was going to love Rennes Sharpe. Her realistic and sarcastic voice narrates a flash of humor into many dire, intense, and often terrifying situations. I admire Ren’s iron will, forwardness, and clever mind throughout this fast-paced novel. Her strong personality and determination to do the right thing make her lovable, though she remains a force to be reckoned with. I recommend I Become Shadow to anyone who enjoys ninja-esque battle action, powerful female characters, a hint of romance, and covert military organizations.            

-Brianna B.

The Lost boy

posted by:  Kim     comments:  

by Greg Ruth
Scholastic $12.99 PA, $24.99 HC, $12.99 ebook
Graphic novel, upper middle grade, contemporary realistic with a touch of fantasy, ages 11+

Nate moves into a new house, albeit unhappily, and discovers, under his bedroom floorboards, a tape recorder and a note addressed to him. He soon learns of a boy who disappeared years ago, and strange creatures begin following Nate around. He teams up with his new friend Tabitha to solve the dark mystery surrounding the lost boy.                                                                       


posted by:  Kim     comments:  

by Scott Bly

Scholastic, $16.99
​Middle-grade, sci-fi, fantasy, ages 8-11

A big-business man plans to unleash a biological computer virus on the world, ending freedom forever. The only ones who can stop him are Charlie and Geneva, a midieval math whiz with unnatural abilities and a robot girl from the future. Using "Smasher," they travel through space in search of a solution.

​​Book Three: A Wonderlandiful World 

is available at your local library. Go read and find out the end! #AmReading #ShannonHale #EverAfterHigh

Book Two: The Unfairest of Them All

Little, Brown, & Co. $14.99 HC

In the second installment, not only is Queen Raven's role in jeopardy, now the destinies of all the other fairy tale children are in jeopardy too! The Royals, like Apple White, want to stick to the Storybook destinies, while the Rebels would rather decide their own stories. Events take a turn for the worse, and it seems that everyone is doomed to a Happy Never After. 

 Ever after high series

​ posted by:  Kim     comments:  

 by Shannon Hale

 Middle-grade fiction, fantasy,   fractured fairy tale, humor,   heroes, villains, good versus evil

Fantasy and Science Fiction