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Louie Lets Loose by Rachel Hamilton ARC {4 Stars}

Louie Lets Loose by Rachel Hamilton ARC {4 Stars}

Louie Lets Loose by Oscar Armelles, Rachel Hamilton (Unicorn in New York #1)
Published by Scholastic on May 30th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 128 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In this hilarious new fiction series, Louie the unicorn searches for stardom in New York City. Louie's story is brought to life with a unique visual approach, combining real New York photography with funny character illustrations.

'Dear Ma and Pa,
The New York School for Performing Arts is the perfect place for a unicorn like me. So far it has been totally AWESOME! Madame Twirler says that 'pigs will fly' before I get the lead part in a show. Man, I would LOVE to see that! After all, New York has a unicorn in town, so why not flying pigs?
Love you more than cake,
Louie xx'

4 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of Louie Lets Loose from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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Return Fire by Christina Diaz Gonzalez ARC {5 Stars}

Return Fire by Christina Diaz Gonzalez ARC {5 Stars}

Return Fire by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Moving Target #2)
Published by Scholastic Press on September 27, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 214 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

The thrilling sequel to Moving Target! When a young girl can determine the destiny of the world, the wrong choice could lead to disaster . . .

Cassie Arroyo has found the long-lost Spear of Destiny -- only to have it stolen right out from under her!

In Return Fire, Cassie and Asher must regain the spear. This time, however, it's not enough just to find it: Cassie realizes that when she used the spear, she sent the world down a path that could eventually lead to serious trouble. Can she find a way to stop the terrible chain of events that she set into motion?

As she tries to reshape her own destiny, Cassie takes off on a breathless adventure across Italy, leading her to a forest outside Rome, a Caravaggio painting full of clues, and a villa by the sea. There, in the ultimate showdown, Cassie has to decide who she can truly trust. And when the chance to use the spear presents itself again, she has to figure out if she can even trust herself.

Kids will be clamoring for this sequel after finishing Moving Target, and this has even more thrills, riddles, and page-turning excitement!

5 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of RETURN FIRE from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Note: I received an advanced copy of DEFENDER OF THE REALM from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler {Just Hatched}

Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler (Defender of the Realm #1)
Published by Scholastic Press on March 28, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 306 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

For hundreds of years the United Kingdom has been protected by a mysterious guardian known as the Defender. Part myth, part superhero, few truly believed the Defender existed . . . until now.

Alfie thinks he knows his destiny. As Prince Alfred, heir to the throne of Great Britain, he's fated to become the most disappointing king in the nation's history. Alfie longs for a way to prove himself, but little does he realize that with the throne of England comes an ancient secret. He who wears the crown must protect the country as the legendary hero -- the Defender of the Realm.

Hayley is an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life. She certainly never believed in the mysterious superhero, the Defender. Then, after witnessing a very public battle at the Tower of London, everything is different, and Hayley is left with no doubt. The Defender is real.

Two kids with two very different lives are about to get caught up in a centuries-long battle for the fate of a nation. Monsters and criminals, villains and dragons, together Hayley and Alfie must protect their home at all costs.

3 Stars

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Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson ARC {4.5 Stars}

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson ARC {4.5 Stars}

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson (Audacity Jones #2)
Published by Scholastic Press on January 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 176 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Audacity Jones and her best friend, Bimmy, are setting off from Miss Maisie's School for Wayward Girls on an extraordinary adventure! In the glittering city of New York, the girls meet Harry Houdini, the world's most famous magician, as he prepares a new spectacle: Houdini plans to make an elephant disappear from a crowded theater.

But Audacity and Bimmy discover a nefarious plot that puts Houdini's illusion in jeopardy. Who could be trying to sabotage the master magician? Audie will need all her smarts, the help of friends new and old, and even her best juggling skills to solve this mystery. Will she manage to save the show in time?

Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson brings readers a magical romp of a mystery that will delight and thrill to the very last page.

4.5 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of AUDACITY JONES STEALS THE SHOW from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent ARC {5 Stars}

Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent  ARC {5 Stars}

Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent (Alfie Bloom #1)
Published by Scholastic on October 25th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Alfie Bloom's life is dull. Dull and lonely, and this summer is set to be the most boring yet. All of that changes when he is summoned to the bizarre offices of mysterious solicitor, Caspian Bone, where he discovers he has inherited a castle full of wonders that has been sealed for centuries. Alfie is astounded to learn he was born in that very castle six hundred years ago during a magical timeslip. There, Orin Hopcraft, the last of the druids hid an ancient magic inside him, which others seek but should never be used. With the help of his cousins Madeleine and Robin, and Artan the flying bearskin rug, Alfie must keep the magic from terrifying adversaries and ensure that the secrets of Hexbridge castle stay secret, forever!

5 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of ALFIE BLOOM AND THE SECRETS OF HEXBRIDGE CASTLE from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen is a middle grade fantasy that features strong, likable characters and a subtle mystery that unfolds gently and gradually through most of the book.  As young readers start putting together pieces of the puzzle, pages will turn in a rush to find out the truth behind the Scourge.

Note: I received an advanced copy of THE SCOURGE from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published by Scholastic on August 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor's wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge -- and quarantine colony -- for the ill. The Scourge's victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there. However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn't know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She's been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on.

But will she and Weevil survive long enough to do so?

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Young fans of the Wings of Fire series will enjoy watching the history of the current series unfold as legendary dragons emerge from their eggs and start down the paths that lead to conflict within families and between the dragon nations.   Fans will enjoy knowing where the paths lead as they follow the tales of young heroes and villains, awkward and questioning as youngsters themselves, wondering if somehow all of the heartbreak could have been avoided with different choices.  But, as with classic Greek tragedy, we realize that some destinies cannot be avoided, even with the magical gift of foresight.

Note: I received an advanced copy of DARKSTALKER from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland {Just Hatched}

Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland (Wings of Fire - Legends #1)
Published by Scholastic Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Three dragons. One unavoidable, unpredictable destiny. This is the beginning... of the end.

In the SeaWing kingdom, a young prince learns he is an animus -- capable of wonderful magic that comes with a terrible price.

In the mind of a NightWing dragonet, a thousand futures unfold -- and almost all of them, she knows, lead to disaster and destruction.

And under three full moons and the watchful eyes of his NightWing mother and IceWing father, the most powerful dragon Pyrhhia will ever know is clawing his way out of his egg. Darkstalker, the dragon who will change the world forever.

Long before the SandWing war, lifetimes before the Dragonet Prophecy... darkness is born.

2 Stars

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Everland by Wendy Spinale {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Everland by Wendy Spinale is a Peter Pan retelling set in a post-war England where London has been completely decimated and the kids remaining are barely surviving. I was drawn in by that gorgeous cover immediately and am happy that the steampunk wings show up right away. However, this seems like a retelling that is a bit too gimmicky for my taste.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Everland from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Everland by Wendy Spinale {Just Hatched}

Everland by Wendy Spinale
Published by Scholastic Press on May 10th, 2016
Genres: Alternative History, Steampunk
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

2 Stars

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Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez ARC {4 Stars}

Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez is a middle grade adventure/thriller/mystery and a tough book to put down!! I found myself making time to get back to Gonzalez’ trio of seekers to root for them in their search for the Spear of Destiny in the hopes of saving the main character’s father. It would definitely be a good book for pre-teens who like Rick Riordan’s mythical series but are looking for something quick and fast-paced. And this would be especially good for a young woman who likes adventure stories. She will find a good role model in Cassie!!

There’s plenty of action to go around, a magical artifact to locate, and various factions who are hunting for our protagonist and her friends in order to gain control of the Spear’s magic. The main character is likable and sympathetic to the reader – spunky without being obnoxious – and seems to have the hopes and fears of any ordinary 8th grader. The book starts out with a plan to play hooky from school and rapidly moves into a hunt for a historical/mythical artifact worthy of National Treasure or the DaVinci Code. By the end of the book, some loyalties are tested and secrets unveiled, but the end is just the beginning for Cassie and her readers!!

Note: I received an advanced copy of Moving Target from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez ARC {4 Stars}

Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Published by Scholastic Press on August 25, 2015
Genres: MG, Thriller
Page Length: 248 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In this exciting and action-packed adventure by an award-winning author, a young girl discovers her secret ancient bloodline. The fate of her family, and the world, may rest in her hands...

Cassie Arroyo, an American studying in Rome, has her world ripped apart when someone tries to kill her father, an art history professor at an Italian university. Is she their next target?

Cassie sets out to uncover what is happening, only to learn that she is a member of an ancient bloodline that enables her to use the Spear of Destiny--a legendary object that can alter the future. Now running from a secret organization intent on killing those from her bloodline, Cassie must--with the help of some friends--decipher the clues that will lead her to the Spear.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez has created a fast-paced thrill-ride of a book, rich with riddles and myth, that young readers will not want to put down.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Woven by Michael Jensen {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Woven by Michael Jensen is the start of a middle grade fantasy focused on a young boy who has a hidden past that is going to come back to bite him in a big way! The magic involves paint apparently and pulling on threads that only the magic user can see; sounds pretty cool :D.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Woven from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Woven by Michael Jensen {Just Hatched}

Woven by Michael Jensen
Published by Scholastic Press on Jan. 27th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

[Read more…]