The Unwanteds
Middle Grade / Juvenile / April 22, 2016

Unwanteds #1. Author: Lisa McMann. Summary: Every Year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their graves. On the day of the Purge, identical twins Alex and Aaron Stowe await their fate. While Aaron is hopeful of becoming a Wanted, Alex knows his chances are slim. He’s been caught drawing with a stick in the dirt – and in the stark gray land of Quill, being creative is a death sentence. But when Alex and the other Unwanteds face the Eliminators, they discover an eccentric magician named Mr. Today and his hidden world that exists to save the condemned children. Artime is a colorful place of talking statues, uncommon creatures, and artistic magic, where creativity is considered a gift… and a weapon. My Thoughts: The writing is clearly directed to a middle-grade level, but I still enjoyed the story for myself. By the end many characters were well-filled out and interesting conflict set in place for later. The world was interesting, although without much background – no doubt more of that will come in later books. There was no romance among the teenagers except for one…

The Girl Who Could Not Dream
Middle Grade / Juvenile / April 8, 2016

Author: Sarah Beth Durst Summary: Sophie has lived all her life just above the dream shop where her parents work. She can’t dream alone, but when she borrows a dream from the dreamshop she can dream it – and coax things, and animals, out of the dream with her when she wakes up. This is how she acquired Monster, her devoted pet. And it’s a good thing he loves her so much, since she doesn’t have any other friends. But when her parents go missing, along with most of the bottled nightmares, Sophie may not be able to do this on her own – she needs allies, and fast. But are all her allies quite trustworthy? My Thoughts: A deliciously wry, humorous middle grade book I would recommend to younger fantasy lovers. Durst sets us in a solid, intriguing world and brings on the action. Here your deepest fears can come to life… but is this a threat or a tool? The characters lampshade and laugh at their own speeches and life lesson declarations, and Monster’s irritation with some of the clichéd dream characters is wonderful. In fact, Monster is one of the best sidekicks I’ve seen in a children’s book….

The Unicorn Girl

Author: M. L. LeGette Summary: Leah Vindral is suffocating–trapped in her own skin. In a land where magic is feared, magic saved her from death … but it came with a terrible price. Marked forever, she is shunned and isolated by those she loves most. Brimming with bitter rage at those who abandoned her, Leah flees from her childhood home only to be swept into an impending war: Mora, a wicked witch, has been imprisoned for years, waiting like a spider in the folds of her web for the chance to regain the powers once stripped from her. It is there, while she waits, that she learns of a strange young girl … a girl who can speak to unicorns. Now Leah must save the country that shuns her, for if Mora returns to power, all will be lost. But can Leah, who is so frightened and confused herself, find the strength to save them all? (Summary from Goodreads.) My Thoughts: There wasn’t anything wrong with The Unicorn Girl. It was just… bland. Generic. The writing style felt stilted and stiff, with ‘ly’ adverbs liberally scattered. There were elves – tall people with pointed ears who live in a shining castle, and…