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Archive for September, 2013

Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Posted by Caitie F on September 27, 2013

Title: Fortunately, The MilkFortunately The Milk
Author: Neil Gaiman
Hardcover: 128 pages
Pub Date: Sept 27, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

While picking up milk for his children’s cereal, a father is abducted by aliens and finds himself on a wild adventure through time and space.


In Neil Gaiman’s letter at the beginning of the book, he says he feels bad that his book The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish is given as a gift for Father’s Day as it doesn’t paint dads in the best light. So he wrote this book about a dad doing something for his daughters.

I really hope dads (and moms) all over the country read this book to their sons and daughters. This book should be an instant classic.

It is so funny. At one point, I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard I was crying. The illustrations add to the humor and heart of the book.

There is everything from aliens, a stegosaurus, vampires, and of course, the milk which could end up ending the universe. This is not your typical book, but Neil Gaiman is not your typical author. It really can appeal to everyone across generations.

The ending is brilliant and perfect. Buy this book for your dad, buy it for your kids, buy it for yourself. You will want to have this book around.

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The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

Posted by Caitie F on September 22, 2013

Title: The Real BoyThe Real Boy
Author: Anne Ursu
Hardcover: 288 pages
Pub Date: 9/24/13
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

On an island at the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago.

Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in. But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.


Great books have more than great characters and a fun plot. They suck you into their world and beg you not to leave until they are done with you. And while you are there, you get to thinking about your world’s problems too.

This is a wonderful fantasy story that is about more than just a story. It talks about income inequality in a way that doesn’t hit you over the head, but reminds the reader of all the little things. It shows how profound grief is and how far people will to go to prevent themselves from feeling that grief again. It is about opening yourself up to more of the world than your own little corner, even if you really like your corner. And, like many books, it is about being yourself, and being your best self.

Oscar is an orphan, like many characters in fantasy books. He gets teased, doesn’t have any friends, and is incredibly bright. All pretty common things in a middle grade character. Yet the way he thinks and interacts with the world is wholly unique. There is more to him than most see, but the reader gets a glimpse of it early with his interactions with the cats. Throughout the book, you just want to sit down and tell him that it will all be okay.

This book is not just for middle grade readers, it has great crossover appeal because it is just so well-written. And look at that cover. I would buy this book just for the cover.

I hope you read this wonderful book!

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The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

Posted by Caitie F on September 10, 2013

Title: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the SpotLeague of Pirates
Author: Caroline Carlson
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: Sept 10, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors. She particularly enjoys defying authority, and she already owns a rather pointy sword. There’s only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.

Girls belong at Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, learning to waltz, faint, and curtsy. But Hilary and her dearest friend, the gargoyle, have no use for such frivolous lessons—they are pirates! (Or very nearly.)

To escape from a life of petticoats and politeness, Hilary answers a curious advertisement for a pirate crew and suddenly finds herself swept up in a seafaring adventure that may or may not involve a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn’t exist, a rogue governess who insists on propriety, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.

Will Hilary find the treasure in time? Will she become a true pirate after all? And what will become of the gargoyle?


While a pirate ship would have been a much more fun place than s finishing school, I think I would have passed on both. I never really got the attraction of pirates or sailing on the high seas, though I do love the Disney movie and ride. But if you love pirates or are looking for a fun adventure, this is a book to read.

It is by no means a bad book. It is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It is an exciting adventure that will capture your imagination. I loved that the end of each chapters had a letter to someone, so you got to see a glimpse of the rest of the story outside of HIlary’s perspective. Whenever it is done creatively, it really can add to a book, for this it gave it an entire extra + because it was done so well!

Hilary is great, as is the gargoyle, but no one really changed or grew. Hilary was brave and strong from the very beginning. She got better at everything, but the growth was minimal. Not to say she is unlikable, she is a very likable character and I hope she gives young girls a sense of bravery and adventure, I just think there could have been more. The gargoyle had me laughing out loud. It is the perfect humor for a middle grade novel that adults can enjoy as well.

The plot was rather predictable. There were several spots that seemed like they were large reveals, but there were so many hints towards them that it was never that big of a surprise.

It is a good book and I liked that it was a full story even though it is part of a series. If you like pirates, or know a middle grader who does, this book will be perfect.

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Rose by Holly Webb

Posted by Caitie F on September 5, 2013

Title: RoseRose
Author: Holly Webb
Hardcover: 240 pages
Pub Date: Sept 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebook Jabberwocky
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

The grand residence of the famous alchemist Mr. Fountain is a world away from the dark orphanage Rose has left behind. The house is positively overflowing with sparkling magic, and Rose can feel it. It’s not long before she realizes that maybe, just maybe, she has a little bit of magic in her, too.


If you like middle grade fantasy, this first book in the hit UK series is something you cannot miss! This is just now getting published in the United States, but the first four books are already out in the UK and I am so jealous of them! I want to read the next book as soon as possible.

This book has everything a great fantasy book has.

There is an orphan, Rose, who just wants to leave the orphanage and start working as a maid. She wants to have money of her own and a life of her own. She is clever and kind, the perfect leading lady.

There is a wonderful setting. i haven’t watched Downton Abbey, but apparently that is a comparison people are making. She works  at the most important alchemist’s manor and it is such a rich environment that it is very easy to get pulled in.

There is magic. In this world the rich can afford magic, but in this house it is everywhere. Of course, Rose can see the magic where others can’t and realizes that she might have magic in her too.

There is an awesome creepy villain that is taking children away, sometimes in pain daylight. This villain is scary in the best possible way. There are stakes that are higher than just the children, all of magic is at stake too.

This book is wonderful. If you have any interest in fantasy, you should pick it up. It will bring back a sense of wonderment and imagination. I can’t wait to share this book with some middle grade readers I know!

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The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

Posted by Caitie F on September 3, 2013

Title: The Song of the QuarkbeastSong of Quarkbeast
Author: Jasper Fforde
Hardcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: Sept 3, 2013
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Magic has been in a sad state in the Ununited Kingdom for years, but now it’s finally on the rise, and boneheaded King Snodd IV knows it. If he succeeds at his plot, the very future of magic will be at risk! Sensible sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange, acting manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management and its unpredictable crew of sorcerers, has little chance against the king and his cronies—but there’s no way Kazam will let go of the noble powers of magic without a fight. A suspenseful, satirical story of Quarkbeasts, trolls, and wizidrical crackle!


The Last Dragonslayer was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I have been eagerly waiting to read the next book in the series. I knew going into it that it probably wouldn’t be able to match the first one in creativity and enjoyability, but was hopeful that it would still be a fun read.

I was completely right. It was still a very good book, it just didn’t blow me away like the first one and it is hard to not compare them. This book is still full of creativity in a way that is not matched by many other authors though. It is very hard to be unimpressed by some of the creatures and ideas of magic.

Jennifer Strange is still smart, brave, and awesome. The sorcerers still had me laughing at their outrageousness. It just wasn’t quite as funny as the first, but you will still be laughing.

If you are looking for some fun middle grade fantasy, you will enjoy this book. And, like the first, it is middle grade, so expect some silliness.

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