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.

The Changeling Sea
Young Adult / May 14, 2017

Author: Patricia A. McKillip. Summary: Since the day her father’s fishing boat returned without him, Peri and her mother have mourned his loss. Her mother sinks into a deep depression and spends her days gazing out at the sea. Unable to control her anger and sadness any longer, Peri uses the small magic she knows to hex the sea. And suddenly into her drab life come the King’s sons—changelings with strange ties to the underwater kingdom—a young magician, and, finally, love. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Gorgeous. I love a good book-length fairy tale, especially when it doesn’t even try to hide that that’s what it is. The Changeling Sea is short and sweet, with vivid descriptions both of sea-side life, sea-magic, and the human heart. Like any good fairy tale, I think it’s good for both younger and older readers, as long as they’re old enough to appreciate the prose. Peri is a relatable, enjoyable protagonist and Kir is one of the only examples of ‘dark brooding LI’ that I have ever found acceptable. He is, after all, the sea’s son – I loved the way this was portrayed, the way the sea and its power was shown, and above…

Deep Wizardry
Young Adult / April 26, 2017

Young Wizards #2. Author: Diane Duane. Summary: It all begins one summer night at a Long Island beach, when thirteen-year old Nita is nudged by a friendly dolphin and summoned to the aid of a wounded whale. Using their wizard powers, Nita and her sidekick, Kit, walk on the moonlit water to a distant sandbar, and there find S’reee, a whale-wizard who has been attacked by sharks. Content Review: Sexual content: Due to shapeshifting, the two end up on the beach naked once – they dress immediately. Nita’s parents suspect her and Kit of sleeping together due to the inordinate amount of time they spend together away from home, but the suspicion turns out to be unfounded. Language: 2 crap, one exclamation of ‘my God’, one d*** Violence: Shark attack, Kraken attack, killing said kraken, attack by a giant sea-serpent evil power. Other Issues: The main character plans to willingly give up her life directly. Essentially commit suicide. (To save many people.) Personal Thoughts: Fun! Not even completely fluff, with all its reflections on life, good and evil and the sort.

High Wizardry
Young Adult / April 25, 2017

Young Wizards #3. Author: Diane Duane. Summary: Young wizards Nita and Kit have a new problem: Nita’s sister. Dairine is too smart to be Nita’s little sister; she’s too smart, period. So, when the new family computer clones itself and suggests that Dairine go into New York, Nita and Kit find themselves acting as escorts. Somewhere in the Museum of Natural History, near the ladies room, there is a door. It doesn’t lead where it’s supposed to, it leads into outer space. (Goodreads Summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Passing mention of Nita having gotten her first bra, developing, and having temporarily high levels of power from hormonal surge. Language: 2 scatological terms, 1 damnable Violence: One alien is destroyed, girl is chased across a dozen worlds by aliens, spoken fight with the Lone Power.

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…

Manxmouse: The Mouse Who Knew No Fear
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 22, 2017

Author: Paul Gallico. Summary: The brave little Manxmouse is on a special journey. But can he survive fearsome foxes, terrified elephants and cats big and small to reach his destination? The Manxmouse is one-of-a-kind. He’s the strangest little mouse you’ll ever see, with bright blue fur, huge rabbit ears and a distinct lack of tail. But Manxmouse doesn’t mind being different. He knows that destiny awaits him, and so Manxmouse sets out on an exciting adventure. He meets tigers and hawks and dastardly pet-shop owners, but there’s someone he dreads and desires to meet more than anyone else. The someone who has been waiting for him all along…the Manx Cat. (Published summary) My Thoughts: I remember really liking this when I read it as a younger kid, but on a second read through I found it less interesting. The plot is disjointed, moving from mini-adventure to mini-adventure as Manx wanders through the world. The writing style is clearly aimed at younger children, as are the characters. Overall I’d say a fun story with a nice moral for younger children. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Cat pounces on mouse, and hawk picks the mouse up, but both are…

Wednesdays in the Tower
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 6, 2017

Castle Glower #2. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Strange things are afoot in Castle Glower: new rooms, corridors, and even stables keep arriving, even when they aren’t needed. Celie’s brother Bran, the new Royal Wizard, has his hands full cataloguing an entire storeroom full of exotic and highly dangerous weapons, while Celie has her hands full . . . raising the creature that hatches from a giant egg she finds! Will they be able to find out what’s making the Castle behave this way in time? (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Another light-hearted read for the younger kids – and now we get griffins! Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Minor roughhousing with a griffin – he nips, but leaves no more than bruises.  

The Thirteen Days of Christmas
Uncategorized / January 4, 2017

Author: Jenny Overton. Summary: Annaple Kitson dreams of romance and being swept off her feet, so her family hatch an elaborate plan to help her sweetheart, Francis Vere, win her hand in marriage. When Francis arrives on Christmas morning with a partridge in a pear tree, Annaple is delighted! But that is only the first day of Christmas… My Thoughts: An absolutely delightful romance short! The rich-man-sweeps-village-girl-off-her-feet plot has been done before, but Jenny Overton puts a new twist on it. Annaple isn’t impressed by Francis’ wealth and ships, but she is a die-hard romantic, and through the conspiracy of her siblings Francis begins a new courting tactic on Christmas day. Thence ensures chaos and confusion, as Francis completely revamps their home, filling it with romantic animals, hiring carpenters to add a romantic pool and stream, and going so far as to hire performers to arrive outside her door each morning. Annaple goes through delight, irritation, horror, and all the way back at her lover’s devotion. A perfectly clean read for the kids, and highly amusing. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: None.  

Tuesdays at the Castle
Middle Grade / Juvenile / December 22, 2016

Castle Glower #1. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: A fun, whimsical read for both younger and older kids. Content Review: Sexual content: Some very minor flirting. A girl asks to see the prince’s bedroom, and another character is scandalized, but the girl explains she needs to see how the castle favors him. Language: None Violence: Soldier reports that a carriage was attacked – most of his men were shot down by arrows and one horse had to be put down. Two men try to imprison a girl, who pushes them down a flight of stairs. Girl breaks man’s nose by flinging her head back while he’s trying to…