Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 6-8

Quest to the Uncharted Lands



When the Iron Glory’s engines rumbled to life for its journey to the uncharted lands, it marked a new future for the world of Solace.

– First Sentence

This book is a fantastic companion to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. It isn’t a sequel, it takes place in the same world with different characters.

Stella Glass is the daughter of two scientists who are traveling on the Iron Glory to explore the uncharted lands of Solace. No one has ever explored this far west beyond the mountains. The Dragonfly Territories and Merrow Kingdom have finally reached an uneasy peace. They worked together on this ship and representatives from both countries are onboard.

Stella is not permitted to go, but she has planned for months to stow away because she is terrified her parents won’t come back. On the first night, Stella finds out she isn’t the only stowaway. No children are allowed on the ship, but she sees a boy outside the engine room with his hands on the wall. His hands begin to glow, and then his eyes. Stella isn’t sure who he is or what he is up to, but when he passes out, she drags him to her hiding place in the cargo hold. Someone doesn’t want this voyage to succeed, but who and how can they be stopped?

So, in The Mark of the Dragonfly, we met Piper (a girl who connects to machines in an almost magical way), and Gee (a boy who can transform into a dragon). This book continues in the same fantasy steampunk world and the story is in the same heroic adventure vein. Again, I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 – 8. It is just as good as the first.


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Posted in Fantasy, Young Adult

Everlost by Neal Shusterman – review



Nick & Allie were in a fatal car accident and ended up caught in Everlost, a sort of limbo for kids who don’t make it where they are going when they die. Everlost is a magical place for things and places that no longer survive in the living world (ex. the Twin Towers). But Everlost is also full of dangers (if the kids stay in one place for too long, they sink to the center of the earth), and monsters (the Magill, the Haunter). When Nick and Allie make it to the Twin Towers, they find Mary, who calls herself the queen of lost children. But while Nick feels at home with Mary, Allie suspects Mary is hiding something.

This is a fun young adult story with plenty of excitement and danger. The narrator did an excellent job and didn’t distract from the story at all. This is an interesting look at what could happen to souls whose journey is interrupted. Many of the kids have been around for hundreds of years, including Mary, who has written books on how to survive in Everlost. The kids all cross over in whatever they were wearing, which makes for some interesting wardrobes and nicknames for those who may have died on Halloween or during a day at the beach (think Speedo). Nick even dies with chocolate on his face. However, if the kids don’t think about things, they tend to forget them, such as their name and their physical appearance.

Bottom line: This is an engrossing start to the trilogy, that I will be happily continuing. The world building is remarkable and the ending suggests more peril and exploits for the characters that survive. Recommended to grades 6 & up. No serious violence and no sex, only cute crushes. Most of the kids we meet are under 16.


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Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 6-8, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Sunshine State 17-18

Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson


Piper, a young girl with a talent for fixing mechanical things, finds Anna (a young girl with amnesia who needs her help) and together they take the 401 train trying to escape the man pursuing them. There they meet Gee, a boy who can transform into a dragon and who might be able to help them.

Piper is smart, brave and mechanically inclined, who could ask for a better heroine. She is alone and barely scraping by until she finds Anna in the meteor field (each meteor shower brings items from other worlds that the scrappers find and fix or sell). Anna doesn’t know who she is but she has the mark of the dragonfly which means she is someone important to the king. Piper sees her chance to help Anna and maybe get a reward that could change her life at the same time.

This story is filled with magic, adventure, steampunk, humor, and a smidge of romance. I highly recommend it to readers in grades 4 through 8 (and adults who enjoy strong female characters and a bit of western/sci-fi; sort of like Firefly for the younger set). A promising series which I plan to continue.

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8

The Silver Mask by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare


This is book 4 in the series that began with The Iron Trial (review here). The series started off closely paralleling the Harry Potter series, but as it continues, it becomes something more and in its own way, better.

The series is full of magic, adventure, danger, heroes & villains, and even friendship & typical teen issues. The story begins with Call in magical prison because of who people think he is. He is rescued and then asked to do the one thing magic hasn’t been able to do — raise the dead.

I am still enjoying this fantastic series and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Eighth Day Series

Book 1: The Eighth Day, by Diane K. Salerni

Book 2: The Inquisitor’s Mark, by Diane K. Salerni

Book 3: The Morrigan’s Curse, by Diane K. Salerni


I loved this series. Unknown to “normals,” there is an eighth day between Wednesday and Thursday called Grunsday. The people that know about this day are descended from King Arthur, Merlin and others from that time. Some of them are “transitioners” who are able to live in normal days as well as Grunsday. Some are “kin” and are stuck only living on Grunsday. Merlin created the eighth day to trap the kin and Merlin’s descendants are the ones keeping the magic of Grunsday alive. There are only two descendants of Merlin left and everyone wants to protect or control them.

That’s the idea, without giving too much away. Basically, if you like fantasy or adventure, read this series. I loved it!!

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Where do stories come from?

Storybound by Marissa Burt

When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she thinks nothing of opening the cover and diving in. But instead of paging through a regular novel, Una suddenly finds herself Written In to the land of Story — a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy tale characters.

But not everything in Story is as magical as it seems. Una must figure out why she has been Written In – and fast – before anyone else discovers her secret. Together with her new friend Peter and a talking cat named Sam, Una digs deep into Story’s shadowy past. She quickly realizes that she is tied to the world in ways she never could have imagined — and it might be up to her to save it.

Fabulous story, great characters – loved this!! Una is a terrific example of a strong female heroine.

Una finds an old book with the title: The Tale of Una Fairchild. She starts to read and next thing she knows, she is in the middle of the story. She is actually in the middle of an exam for students studying to be characters in a fairy tale. She meets Peter who is the hero-in-training and Snow, the Lady he is rescuing. Peter figures out Una has been Written In, which hasn’t happened since the Muses were defeated. But, why is Una here now and who wrote her in?? And what really happened to the Muses?

This story is full of adventure and excitement and twists and turns. If you like fairy tales or twists on fairy tales, this book is for you. It reminded me a bit of The Accidental Hero, which I loved too.

Recommended to:

Grades 6 and up; anyone who likes fairy tales or fractured fairy tales!