Review: The Doorway and the Deep by K E Ormsbee

The Doorway and the Deep by K E OrmsbeeThe Doorway and the Deep
K. E. Ormsbee
Chronicle Books
Available October 4, 2016

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Lottie struggles to learn how to use her gift of healing so she can save her best friend Eliot. She must hurry, because the longer Eliot stays in the land of Limn, the sicker he’ll become. When her hosts in the South make a bargain with the elusive Rebel Gem of the Northerly Kingdom, Lottie and her friends must travel north instead of returning Eliot home. A treacherous king’s servant, a powerful shape-shifter named Iolanthe pursues them, sending assassins after Lottie. To protect her, Lottie’s companions must make a dangerous journey to find the … Continue reading

Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

oneparissummerOne Paris Summer
Denise Grover Swank
Blink / Zondervan

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Anyone would be thrilled to spend the summer in Paris, but Sophie dreads it. Meeting her dad’s new wife and stepdaughter? Leaving her friends behind in the States? Not fun at all. When Sophie arrives, things only get worse. Her dad promised her a piano but never follows through. Her stepsister Camille torments her constantly, and even recruits her friends to help make Sophie miserable. Then one of Camille’s friends reaches out to Sophie. His charm and sweetness are the lifeline Sophie needs to get her through the difficult summer. The two grow closer, but if Camille finds out, she’ll do everything within her power to ruin Sophie’s happiness.

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Review: Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder

Be Light Like a Bird by Monika SchröderBe Light Like a Bird
Monika Schröder
Capstone Young Readers

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After Wren’s father unexpectedly dies, her mother rips her away from her only home. Move after move takes Wren further and further across the country, and Wren can’t help but wonder what her mom is running from. Then Wren finds a beautiful pond to secret herself away to watch birds the way she and her father used to do. When Wren discovers the local landfill owner plans to demolish her sacred place, Wren vows to stop him.

The birdwatching elements felt very natural to me. I’m not an experienced birdwatcher by any means, but my daughter and I kept a journal … Continue reading

Review: Lightning by Bonnie Calhoun

lightningLightning
Bonnie Calhoun
Revell

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Selah has finally found her father only to lose the rest of her family. And with her transformation to novarium in process, the clock is ticking down to her destruction if she doesn’t complete the final phase in time. Answers will only be found by returning to the one place Selah least wants to go: the Mountain. She must gather the answers she needs, rescue her family, and bring her friends to safety before time runs out.

I think my first mistake was probably in reading this book without having read Thunder, the first book in the series. I never felt like I could fully grasp the storyworld elements critical to the tale. I’m still … Continue reading

Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

magic-bitterMagic Bitter, Magic Sweet
Charlie N. Holmberg
47 North

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Maire arrives in Carmine without any memory of how she got there. A kind couple take her in and she spends her days baking sweets infused with love, hope, or strength. That is Maire’s gift: she can impart these things through her cakes. She has a good life, one which she may yet share with Cleric Tuck. But before she can find out what an ordinary life in Carmine might hold for her, she meets a ghostly form from her past, a winged man named Fyel, who desperately wants her to remember who she is.

Before she can pursue her lost memories, marauders tear through her home, capturing … Continue reading

Review: The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

year of the bookThe Year of the Book
Andrea Cheng
HMH Books for Young Readers

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When a social shift at school leaves Anna without her best friend, she turns to books for companionship. When she feels pressure in Chinese class because she doesn’t know as much as the other kids, books are her refuge. But as the people in Anna’s life begin to experience troubles of their own, she learns that sometimes, just like the heroes in her stories, she must step out into the unknown and offer help. Sometimes, Anna learns, this is precisely what makes for the best friendships.

Anna charmed me from the first page. I loved the descriptions of the stories she read, and though … Continue reading

Review: The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

the-choosingThe Choosing
Rachelle Dekker
Tyndale

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Seventeen year-old Carrington Hale is at the top of her class, a sure pick for some lucky man on her day of Choosing. Only, no one chooses her. Devastated and forced to leave her family behind, Carrington joins the masses of other unworthy, unchosen girls to serve as Lints, laborers whose only value lies in completing the menial tasks assigned to them.

Authorities are troubled by the murder of several Lint workers. The brutal killer must be stopped before he undermines the Authority of the Law and upsets the people. To reassure the people, when widowed leader Isaac makes the unorthodox request to choose a second bride, the ruling leaders ask him to choose … Continue reading

Review: That’s Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner

thats-not-hayThat’s Not Hay in My Hair
Juliette Turner
Zonderkidz

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Jules finishes fifth grade just in time to move from her tiny New York apartment to a 300 acre ranch in Texas. While her mom overflows with confidence that she and Jules can care for the longhorn cattle, horses, dogs and cats on their own, Jules carries some doubts. Sure enough, zany adventures abound as she and her mom struggle to find their inner cowgirls. Through it all, Jules determines to remain positive. When tragedy strikes, though, she’ll have to reevaluate her feelings for her new Texas life.

Turner really hits her stride in the scenes in which one wacky event follows another. In one, Jules struggles to … Continue reading

Top Ten Underrated Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme lists underrated books, or books with fewer than two thousand ratings on Goodreads. I’ve talked about a lot of these books before. Some are indie or small press novels. Others remain largely undiscovered for reasons I can’t quite figure. All are books I would happily pick up and read all over again.

Top Ten Underrated BooksTop Ten Underrated Books

Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurke

You know when you find one of those books where the writing itself is as beautiful as the story? Glass Girl is like that to me. Big emotions, great characters, and a totally swoon-worthy romance. I’m no cowgirl, but I … Continue reading

Review: Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Paper Wishes by Lois SepahbanPaper Wishes
Lois Sepahban
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

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Ten year-old Manami loves her home on peaceful Bainbridge Island. Then her family and other Japanese American members of the community are forced to relocate to internment camps. Manami tries to smuggle her family’s dog, Yujiin, into the camp, but is forced to leave him behind. The foreign circumstances and grief over her lost dog cause her to stop speaking. Instead, Manami expresses herself through drawings she creates every night. She draws memories of Yujiin and writes asking him to find her family. She will only find her voice again if she can work through her guilt over losing Yujiin.

This realistic debut tackles a dark moment … Continue reading

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