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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones {4 Stars}

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones {4 Stars}

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #1)
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on Feb. 7th, 2017
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Romance
Page Length: 436 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Caraval by Stephanie Garber ARC {4.5 Stars}

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a luscious story of a girl willing to do anything for her sister, including win a game full of dark magic and dangerously lovely boys. If you are looking for an addictive and beautiful fantasy, look no further. This is the start of a new fantasy series that you don’t want to miss.

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

Caraval by Stephanie Garber ARC {4.5 Stars}

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on Jan. 31st, 2017
Genres: Dark Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 401 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody eARC {4 Stars}

The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody is a fantastic retelling of the story of the Pied Piper with cameos from several other fairytales and most importantly starring a sister and brother team where the brother has a physical disability and saves the day anyway. I was excited about The Peddler’s Road the moment I saw it because I was pumped about a middle grade fantasy that was retelling the Pied Piper story (since I like  dash of creepy!), but when I started reading, I realized that this story is so much more on top of that awesomeness. This is a book that I will actively put into the hands of young readers, especially young readers who have a disability and want to see themselves as the hero of a story.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Peddler’s Road from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody eARC {4 Stars}

The Peddler's Road by Matthew Cody (The Secrets of the Pied Piper #1)
Published by Knopf on Oct. 27th, 2015
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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It is said that in the thirteenth century, in a village called Hamelin, a piper lured all of the children away with his magical flute, and none of them were ever seen again.

Today tough, pink-haired Max and her little brother, Carter, are stuck in modern-day Hamelin with their father . . . until they are also led away by the Piper to a place called the Summer Isle. There they meet the original stolen children, who haven’t aged a day and who have formed their own village, vigilantly guarded from the many nightmarish beings that roam the land.

No one knows why the Piper stole them, but Max and Carter’s appearance may be the key to returning the lost children of Hamelin—and to going home themselves. But to discover the secrets of the Piper, Max and Carter will have to set out on a mysterious quest down the dangerous Peddler’s Road.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder eARC {3 Stars}

A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder is the story of sisters in a magical river valley determined to help each other no matter the costs, oh and did I mention one set are sprites? :D I’ve been excited for A Nearer Moon ever since I saw that gorgeous cover, and I might still need to buy a copy just to have such a pretty thing on my shelf, but I was a bit disappointed that A Nearer Moon ended up being just another cute middle grade instead of whatever perfection I had been expecting. Young readers, fan of sisters and sprites, and parents reading to children will find A Nearer Moon delightful and fast, but don’t fall into the high expectation trap that I did.

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

A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder eARC {3 Stars}

A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on Sept. 8th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 160 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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In a small river village where the water is cursed, a girl’s bravery—and the existence of magic—could mean the difference between life and death in this elegant, luminous tale from the author of Parched and Audacity.

Along a lively river, in a village raised on stilts, lives a girl named Luna. All her life she has heard tales of the time before the dam appeared, when sprites danced in the currents and no one got the mysterious wasting illness from a mouthful of river water. These are just stories, though—no sensible person would believe in such things.

Beneath the waves is someone who might disagree. Perdita is a young water sprite, delighting in the wet splash and sparkle, and sad about the day her people will finally finish building their door to another world, in search of a place that humans have not yet discovered.

But when Luna’s little sister falls ill with the river sickness, everyone knows she has only three weeks to live. Luna is determined to find a cure for her beloved sister, no matter what it takes. Even if that means believing in magic…

3 Stars

Strengths:
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The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox by Nigel Quinlan ARC {3 Stars}

The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox by Nigel Quinlan is a fun middle grade adventure featuring weather magic and, you guessed it, a magical weatherbox ;-). The magic of The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox was unique, especially for a middle grade, however the writing lacked the humor or whimsy that I need to really enjoy a middle grade story. If you know a kid obsessed with weather though, this is the perfect book!

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox by Nigel Quinlan ARC {3 Stars}

The Maloney's Magical Weatherbox by Nigel Quinlan
Published by Roaring Brook Press on July 28th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Purchases made support this blog

Neil and Liz measure their lives by the regularity of the seasons, until one year when autumn doesn’t arrive and all weather breaks loose.

Neil and Liz Maloney have a secret: Their father is the keeper of the Weatherbox, a magical phone booth that rings four times a year, signaling the changing of the seasons. But this summer when the family gathers to send off the season, the phone doesn’t ring and autumn does not arrive. Instead a mysterious tourist of magic shows up at their doorstep, along with two nonsensical hags and one cat-shaped bog beast. The only one not taken by surprise is their neighbor Mrs. Fitzgerald, who seems to be able to make the elements of weather itself do her bidding.

Now it’s up to Neil and Liz to discover the source of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s power and restore order to the climate.

3 Stars

Strengths:
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Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas ARC {4 Stars}

Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas is a magical realism story about three sisters struggling with the absence of their mother and poverty in a small fishing town. Secrets of Selkie Bay is short and sweet, you can easily finish it in an afternoon, but it drove home to me that aspect of magical realism that I love so much: subtle and open-ended magic hiding in plain sight.

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

Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas ARC {4 Stars}

Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas
Published by Farrar on July 7th, 2015
Genres: Magical Realism, MG
Page Length: 208 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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In their present-day tourist trap of an Irish seaside town, famed for its supposed involvement with selkies in the past, three sisters are faced with the sudden disappearance of their mother. Crushed by the loss, their father is struggling to carry on. To make matters worse, there are rumors afloat in the village that their mother herself is a selkie who has now shed her human form and gone back to sea. As Cordie Sullivan, the oldest daughter, tries to learn more about her mother's vanishing, she must find the strength to help her family move ahead, even as she discovers an increasing number of clues that point to a hidden island off the coast--a mythical kingdom of the selkies.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye eARC {2 Stars}

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye is a middle grade tale of two trouble makers dropped off at a very strange and mysterious boarding school. I had high hopes for Witherwood Reform School, but ended up disappointed by the complete lack of an ending or any answers and annoyed with the pretty bratty main characters. The illustrations are gorgeous though!

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

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye eARC {2 Stars}

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye (Witherwood Reform School #1)
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on March 3rd, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 240 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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After a slight misunderstanding involving a horrible governess, oatmeal, and a jar of tadpoles, siblings Tobias and Charlotte Eggars find themselves abandoned by their father at the gates of a creepy reform school. Evil mysteries are afoot at Witherwood, where the grounds are patrolled by vicious creatures after dark and kids are locked in their rooms. Charlotte and Tobias soon realize that they are in terrible danger--especially because the head of Witherwood has perfected the art of mind control.

If only their amnesiac father would recover and remember that he has two missing children. If only Tobias and Charlotte could solve the dark mystery and free the kids at Witherwood--and ultimately save themselves.

2 Stars

Strengths:
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The Perilous Princess Plot by Sarah Courtauld ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Perilous Princess Plot by Sarah Courtauld promises lots of laughs in its tagline and it very much lives up to that promise. The Perilous Princess Plot is a middle grade chapter book, but includes a whole lot of puns, footnotes about possibly time-traveling goats, and jokes that will definitely go over a young reader’s head at times. As an adult who likes to read silly middle grade fantasies in between the door-stopper epic fantasies, I absolutely loved The Perilous Princess Plot and can see it being fun for a parent to read with their child in the same way that Shrek is fun for parent and child for very different reasons ;-).

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

The Perilous Princess Plot by Sarah Courtauld ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Perilous Princess Plot by Sarah Courtauld (Buckle and Squash #1)
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 5th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 192 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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This is the story of two very different sisters--Eliza, who longs to ride into battle against villains and dragons, and Lavender, who would give anything to be a pampered princess. Before the end of the story both of them have had a chance to fulfill their dreams, though not quite in the way they intended...
Accompanied by their depressed goat, Gertrude, with their granny's warnings about the Black Death ringing in their ears, they head out into the forest and come face to face with an evil count who definitely does not have their best interests at heart.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke eARC {5 Stars}

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke combines the favorite sci-fi topic of parallel worlds with music theory for some truly awesome world-building along with the adorable teen romance that we’ve come to expect of the YA genre. On top of all that goodness, Dissonance contains family relationships and develop and actually matter to the plot, a whole lot of feels, and some crazy plot twists of deliciousness. Dissonance really is as awesome as you’ve been hearing ;-).

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

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke eARC {5 Stars}

Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke (Dissonance #1)
Published by Simon & Schuster on July 22nd, 2014
Genres: Sci-fi, YA
Page Length: 496 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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Purchases made support this blog

Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman {3 Stars}

Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman is an intriguing mix of parallel worlds and fantasy elements and the start to a new series with a lot of potential. I haven’t read any of Friedman’s adult work so I went into Dreamwalker not knowing at all what to expect! I’m excited about the new universe that Dreamwalker has revealed, even though I didn’t completely connect with Dreamwalker itself.

Note: I received Dreamwalker for review from the publisher.

Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman {3 Stars}

Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman (Dreamwalker #1)
Published by DAW on Feb 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-fi, YA
Page Length: 312 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Purchases made support this blog

All her life Jessica Drake has dreamed of other worlds, some of them similar to her own, others disturbingly alien. She never shares the details with anyone, save her younger brother Tommy, a compulsive gamer who incorporates some aspects of Jessica’s dreams into his games. But now someone is asking about those dreams...and about her. A strange woman has been watching her house. A visitor to her school attempts to take possession of her dream-inspired artwork.

Why?

As she begins to search for answers it becomes clear that whoever is watching her does not want her to learn the truth. One night her house catches on fire, and when the smoke clears she discovers that her brother has been kidnapped. She must figure out what is going on, and quickly, if she and her family are to be safe.

Following clues left behind on Tommy's computer, determined to find her brother and bring him home safely, Jessica and two of her friends are about to embark on a journey that will test their spirits and their courage to the breaking point, as they must leave their own world behind and confront the source of Earth's darkest legends as well as the terrifying truth of their own secret heritage.

3 Stars

Strengths:
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