Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the tag “Fantasy”

The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody

The Peddlers RoadTaking its inspiration from “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, The Peddler’s Road can be thought of as a modern-day continuation of the original story. Remembering back to the 13th century telling, the Pied Piper made a deal with the townspeople of Hamelin to rid them of their rat infestation. The Piper used his magical flute to lure the rats away from town and into the river where they drowned. The mayor refused to pay as agreed so the Piper left town vowing revenge. He came back months later dressed as a woodsman and, using his magic flute again, lured the town’s children away from their families – never to be heard from again.

So what ever happened to those lost children you ask? Well, wonder no more as this tale may solve the mystery.

Set in current time, we meet a pink-haired girl named Max and her younger brother Carter. They’ve just traveled from New York with their dad who is doing a summer research project in Hamelin, Germany. It’s here that they meet a mysterious man who refers to himself as a ‘pest control professional’. He’s come to their rental home to investigate a rodent problem they’ve been having but Max can’t shake the feeling that the stranger is up to no good.

As it turns out, the peculiar man is the Piper himself, and he’s been subtly playing a tune that’s caused Max and Carter to be cast under his spell. He spirits them away to a place called the Summer Isle where they discover the original children who were lured away from Hamelin hundreds of years ago. The pair sets out on a dangerous quest to discover the secrets of the Piper in hopes of figuring out how to get themselves, and the lost children, back home. This book is the first in a trilogy that will leave you anxiously awaiting the next installment.

– Mark

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Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville

Diary of a Mad BrownieAngus is a 150-year-old brownie that loves to do chores for humans. As the story starts out, he is readying to embark on a great and fateful journey into the next part of his life.  The reason behind this major change is Sarah, the human he was most recently bound to, is currently on her death bed.  Sarah informs Angus he must leave Scotland to travel to America and serve young Alex Carhart.

Upon Sarah’s passing, Angus ventures from the human world into the Enchanted Realm.  Over a week and several interesting people later, he finally makes it to America.  Arriving at Alex’s home, he goes through a pet door (Satan’s door as he refers to it) and meets a monster (the family cat).  Eventually making his way to Alex’s room and finding a place to sleep.

On the first morning Angus isn’t sure where to even begin.  Alex’s room is beyond a pig sty; however the thought of her being pleased by a clean room pushes him to begin.  When Alex arrives home, instead of being happy that her room is now more room-like, she freaks out.

Eventually, Alex sets a trap by spreading molasses all around her bed and Angus, unfortunately, steps in it and gets stuck.  Will Alex accept Angus and the binding, and if so, will they become friends?  Join Angus and Alex as they attempt to co-exist and learn valuable lessons along the way.

This was a very comical and cute book.  Young readers will surely enjoy following Angus and the Carharts.

– Amanda

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Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Circus MirandusBrought together through the death of his parents, Micah has spent several blissful years with his Grandpa Ephraim; to Micah, grandpa is all anyone could ask for. He regales young Micah with tales of a magical Circus that he discovered as a child. Micah is captivated by these stories that Grandpa Ephraim brings to vivid life with fantastic characters such as an invisible tiger that guards the gates, the beautiful flying bird woman and the mysterious “Manager”.

Micah’s favorite stories are the ones about the powerful magician – the Man Who Bends Light. His grandpa tells about how this very talented magician had the most popular show at the circus. The magician delighted in showing the wonders and mysteries of the world to the audience through spectacular illusions.  On his last day at the circus, he offered Grandpa Ephraim a miracle. Being mindful of his future, Grandpa Ephraim asked to save the miracle, or so the story went.

All too soon for Micah, Grandpa Ephraim becomes deathly ill and Micah’s Great Aunt Gertrude comes to take care of them.   She is a horrible person – mean, nasty and nothing like her brother. Micah is faced with the frightening reality that should Grandpa Ephraim die, Aunt Gertrude and her cruelty will be his future.

Knowing he will die soon, Grandpa Ephraim shares his secret with Micah; the stories are true! Now the time has come for Grandpa Ephraim to cash in the miracle he has been saving for over 50 years. Possessing unwavering faith and love for the dying man, Micah knows he will do whatever he can to help. Teaming up with his friend Jenny, they set out to find the Circus Mirandus and the magical man he believes can save his grandfather. This could be an adventure that will change his life forever.

– Renee

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The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter is a fantastic story following the chaotic life of Elizabeth Gray. She is orphaned at a young age because of a plague believed to have been started by witches and wizards unknown. The direct result is the immediate eradication of witchcraft. Anyone found reading books associated with witchcraft, using herbs or practicing magic of any form will be sentenced to death.

Alone and starving, Elizabeth is saved by Caleb, who is also an orphan, and together they survive by becoming servants at the palace. Unhappy as a servant, Caleb aspires to be more, so he asks Elizabeth to join the elite team of witch hunters with him. Afraid to be left alone, but unsure this is the right choice for her, she blindly follows him.

They become the most fierce witch hunters the land has ever seen, bringing countless witches and wizards to justice. She is soon betrayed, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. With little hope, Elizabeth is rescued by a wizard and is forced to reevaluate everything she has ever believed. She finds friends and allies in the most unlikely places.

This is a fast paced book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I genuinely look forward to reading the sequel.

– Renee

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The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac

The Boys of Fire and AshThis book is set in a very scary and different world than we know. It follows the lives of the Ikkuma Brothers. These boys are abandoned at birth in the Ikkuma volcanic pits by mothers that don’t want male children. They take care of each other and have become brothers by fate.  The Bigger boys get assigned a baby and he takes on the role of raising the baby, teaching him and making sure he is fed and healthy. When a big brother becomes a man at the age of 16, he leaves the pits and makes room for a new little brother.  No big brother has ever come back after he has departed on his leaving day, until now.

Near death and being chased by huge angry beasts, Blaze returns and offers no explanation for his mysterious arrival. Blaze brings with him trouble the boys have never seen. The monsters kill one little brother and take another one to be sacrificed to their god. Little brothers die all the time but not like this. Big Brothers are obligated to take care of little ones, so they follow the beasts in the hopes of a rescue. Blaze and a few big brothers chase the beasts and leave the pit embarking on a journey that has never been attempted before. And hopefully will never happen again.

This book is about emotional and physical discovery. I found it fascinating to read and enjoyed the development of the story. It leaves you on the edge of your seat!

– Renee

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The Fearless by Emma Pass

The FearlessAuthor Emma Pass has created a world where the worst possible outcome to a potential “World War” has happened. The governments of various world leaders created a drug to minimize the effects of PTSD in our soldiers  and it worked but it also diminished their capacity to feel other feelings as well. They are essentially mindless killing machines. This drug is sold to our enemies and everyone now has some form of their very own “Fearless” soldier. War erupts and mass invasions occur, thus ending life as we know it.

Years after our world has ended, small isolated groups of people that were able to survive the initial wave of invasion continue to live as best as they can.  Cass is a young woman living in one of these groups on an isolated island. Her baby brother was taken by the fearless on the same day a stowaway named Myo is discovered. She is faced with the choice to follow the rules of survival and write her brother off as dead or rescue the only family she has left.  She chooses to rescue him and leave her semi-safe island behind and venture out into the world. Accompanied by Myo, she begins her dangerous search for her brother.

This was a well written and exciting book. You follow Cass and Myo on their journey to rescue her brother and go through many obstacles along the way.  Their relationship develops into something more than friendship and you fall in love with their story.

I look forward to a sequel!

– Renee

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes is a beautiful narrative following the life of a Scholar girl named Laia and a Martial boy named Elias. In their world, the Martials have invaded and taken over Laia’s people, the Scholars, and enslaved them. The Martials rule with an iron fist and tolerate no resistance. Her story begins in the middle of a war that she doesn’t know is raging between the resistance and the Martials.

Fearing raids and punishment for any tiny infraction, the Scholars tend to their daily chores as best as they can and Laia’s family is no different. That is until one day Laia discovers that her brother may be helping the resistance. That day her entire life changes. Her home is raided, her family is murdered and her brother is captured. Stranded and alone, she has no choice but to join the resistance that betrayed her and go on a suicide mission to rescue her brother.

Once on her mission she meets up with Elias and he shows her that not all Martials are the same. Their upbringing and lifestyles are vastly different and yet they are drawn to each other, bonded by similar love and loss.

This is a beautiful and exciting story and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

– Renee

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The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant

The League of Beastly DreadfulsAnastasia McCrumpet is a 5th grade student at Mooselick Elementary where she’s a completely average almost eleven-year-old girl.  She lives with her parents (and a grudge-holding, revenge-pooping guinea pig named Muffy) in an ordinary house, in an ordinary town. And as you may have guessed, she feels very ordinary too. But there’s more to the story after Anastasia finds out that her parents may have suddenly died in a tragic vacuum cleaner accident. After hearing the news, she’s whisked away by two “great aunts” who she doesn’t recall ever meeting and quickly turn out to be not so great. Aunts Prudence and Primrose take Anastasia to their home – the former St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Soon the mystery deepens as she discovers strange goings on at the creepy castle-like residence. Anastasia quickly realizes that her aunties may not be who they claim to be and that she’s being held against her will. While exploring the asylum, she meets mysterious brothers Quentin and Ollie and the trio begin to plan their escape. This book tells a fantastical account and is filled with shapeshifters, shadow dwellers and other oddities as well. Who will come to the rescue for Anastasia and expose the sinister “aunties” for who they really are? You will be surprised by the ending.

– Mark

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Kid-Safe Graphic Novels—January 2015

Are you looking to start or add to an existing children’s graphic novel collection?  Each month, Brodart’s graphic novels expert, Kat Kan, compiles a list of graphic novel titles appropriate for children.  The titles are kid-safe and librarian-approved so you can be assured they are suitable for young library patrons.  View the titles on the January 2015 list here. Read more…

Atlantia by Ally Condie

AtlantiaClose your eyes after reading this story and you might see Atlantia’s citizens listening for voices in mysterious seashells or clambering at the chance to touch a most sacred ring that once belonged to Rio’s late mother, Oceana the Minister. That is how real this enclosed underwater society feels in Atlantia, Ally Condie’s first novel since her Matched trilogy.

In a future where the Divide separates those Above from those Below, Rio vows to find a way to the surface to find the sister she never thought would abandon Rio in the Below. The world was well fleshed out and quite breathtaking, but it felt a little claustrophobic. More characters would have benefited the tale.

That being said, Rio and Maire were well developed, and there were a few satisfying twists, but I did not get the same epic feeling that I felt while reading Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. Rio seemed to spend a bit too much time in her own head; more secondary characters and a close friend or two would have helped.

The pacing felt acceptable, though the ending was a bit too clean and tidy for my liking. Still, there is an artistic resonance that makes this fantastical tale well worth the read.

– Travis

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