Moonkind
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 12, 2017

Summerlands #3. Author: Sarah Prineas. Summary: As the Lady of the Summerlands, Fer has vowed to serve her people without the deception of the glamorie, and she had trusted other leaders to fulfill the same promise. But not all of the Lords and Ladies want to keep their oaths, and they’ve unleashed the consequences of their betrayal onto the lands. Only Fer, with the help of the puck-boy Rook, can fight the stillness invading the realm. But can she trust Rook? And can she protect her people before it’s too late? My Thoughts: The implications going on with Humanity, Change, and the Summerlands confuse me. On the one hand, change is definitely shown as a good thing; the stilth would kill them all without it. And again and again we are told that Fer’s humanity spurs her power to change. But… there were no humans in this alternate world before Fer’s father. How did it survive for hundreds of years? There was corruption among the Lords and Ladies, but what would have happened if humans didn’t show up? And what’s up with the Elders, who are unchanging and constant, and yet quite definitively on the good side? Content Review: Sexual…

Summerkin
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 9, 2017

Summerlands #2. Author: Sarah Prineas. Summary: In Summerkin, the sequel to Sarah Prineas’s fantasy-adventure Winterling, Fer now the rules the magical realm as Lady of the Summerlands. Although Fer defeated Mór, the dark queen who terrorized the magical beings of the world, there are those who do not trust her. To prove herself, Fer, aided by her deep connection to the natural world and her healing arts, must enter a grueling contest. If she loses, she will be banned from the realm and all those she has come to love. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I appreciate the fairy-tale trope of a competition which is not as it seems, where showing compassion and kindness are more important than winning and the real test may not be what you expect. However, I found the whole argument about oaths and their rightness somehow irritating; I think because it’s clearly suggested that Fer’s on the right side. I don’t have a problem with the premise that a ruler should serve the people, instead of the other way around, but that the half-human newbie Lady who only came into rule a few seasons ago should know better than the Elders and all the peoples around her?…

M.C. Higgins the Great
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 6, 2017

Author: Virginia Hamilton. Summary: Mayo Cornelius Higgins sits on his gleaming, forty-foot steel pole, towering over his home on Sarah’s Mountain. Stretched before him are rolling hills and shady valleys. But behind him lie the wounds of strip mining, including a mountain of rubble that may one day fall and bury his home. M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day, atop his pole, he thinks he sees it — two strangers are making their way toward Sarah’s Mountain. One has the ability to make M.C.’s mother famous. And the other has the kind of freedom that M.C. has never even considered. (Published summary) Content Review: Sexual content: Boy remembers trying to steal a kiss from a girl. Boy kisses a girl against her will. Language: Shoot. 1 d*** Violence: Character cuts a rabbit’s throat. Character is kicked in the forehead. Girl punches a boy when he tries to steal a kiss. Character cuts another slightly in the back with a knife during a fight.

Flame of Olympus
Middle Grade / Juvenile / July 28, 2017

Pegasus #1. Author: Kate O’Hearn. Summary: When Pegasus crashes onto a Manhattan roof during a terrible storm, Emily’s life changes forever. Suddenly allied with a winged horse she’d always thought was mythical, Emily is thrust into the center of a fierce battle between the Roman gods and a terrifying race of multiarmed stone warriors called the Nirads. Emily must team up with a thief named Paelen, the goddess Diana, and a boy named Joel in order to return Pegasus to Olympus and rescue the gods from a certain death. Along the way, Emily and her companions will fight monsters, run from a government agency that is prepared to dissect Pegasus, and even fly above the Manhattan skyline—all as part of a quest to save Olympus before time runs out. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Flame of Olympus is definitely on the lower end of middle-grade age ranges. It was too simplistic and obvious on all counts to really appeal to me; I saw the plot twist coming within about two sentences of the first lead-in, and all the character development was laid out very explicitly. More, while I do enjoy a good story with Greek/Roman mythology, I didn’t really appreciate all…

Winterling
Middle Grade / Juvenile / July 27, 2017

Summerlands #1. Author: Sarah Prineas. Summary: “We live here, my girl, because it is close to the Way, and echoes of its magic are felt in our world. The Way is a path leading to another place, where the people are governed by different rules. Magic runs through them and their land.” With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land. Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mór rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter. (Published Summary) My Thoughts:…

Frogkisser!

Author: Garth Nix. Summary:  The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic. Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low. My Thoughts: It was funny for the first chapter or so, but then it got just a little bit bland. Everything was just a little too humorous and stylized for my taste, although I realize that the author did it on purpose, and the message was a little too blatant. Mostly, it felt too much like middle-grade magic, not like Garth Nix fantasy. However, the message was good, even…

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 6, 2017

Author: Kelly Barnhill. Summary: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known….

The Silver Trumpet
Middle Grade / Juvenile / May 31, 2017

Author: Owen Barfield. Summary: In this delightful fantasy of kings and queens, a magical Silver Trumpet, a jester dwarf, and castle intrigues, English author Owen Barfield has created an enduring tale to captivate the imaginations of all readers. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Really, a lovely fairy tale in the old style. A handful of interesting metaphors for older readers to discuss, but nothing that tangles the story up or leaves it moralistic or boring. Content Review: Sexual Content: None. Language: One instance of ‘demme’. Violence: One character is killed by fright. There are two instances of planned mob-violence, but both times it is stopped.

Dragon Slippers
Middle Grade / Juvenile / March 17, 2017

Dragon Slippers #1. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Poor Creel. She can’t believe her aunt wants to sacrifice her to the local dragon. It’s a ploy to lure a heroic knight so that he will fight the dragon, marry Creel out of chivalrous obligation, and lift the entire family out of poverty. Creel isn’t worried. After all, nobody has seen a dragon in centuries. But when the beast actually appears, Creel not only bargains with him for her life, she also ends up with a rare bit of treasure from his hoard, not gold or jewels, but a pair of simple blue slippers-or so she thinks. It’s not until later that Creel learns a shocking truth: She possesses not just any pair of shoes, but ones that could be used to save her kingdom, which is on the verge of war, or destroy it. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Dragon Slippers is usually shelved in the middle grade section, but I find it a fun fantasy read even for older readers. There’s humor, tension, and dragons – what more could you ask? Content Review: Sexual Content: Girl walking alone runs into a band of young men. She decides not to pray…

Greenglass House
Middle Grade / Juvenile / February 14, 2017

Greenglass House #1. Author: Kate Milford. Summary: It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Greenglass House was lying around the house when I picked it up, and I didn’t realize it was middle grade at first (a good sign), not because of adult content but because the writing style was actually interesting and non-condescending. Our two main characters, Milo and Meddy, start investigating a seemingly minor mystery just to pass the time – but the further they go, the more tangled it gets, and the events at the house only add to it. As more questions are raised, their quest…