Category Archives: Fantasy

COME READ WITH ME!!

When you start out reading mystery novels and fairy tales as a child, it is not unusual to return to those genres in adult life. I wanted to finish reading as many of the new mysteries of 2018 for children and young adults so I could share the titles with friends of all ages. In my last blog post (ACK! it was in August), I listed middle grade mysteries I had read and planned to read by December 31, 2018.

Now I can give brief summaries of the best I read and the newest books I have added to my reading journal in 2019.

Jonathan Auxier’s SWEEP. I wanted to see if it was a mystery, a fantasy, or a historical fiction novel. It was all of these genres creatively mixed into one novel. I have always been amazed by stories of Golems and I knew Auxier was a master at writing about monsters after I completed my 2018 reading with his crafty THE NIGHT GARDENER. What an amazing tale! The characters are bold, brave, and realistic in this novel in contrast to the scared but strong characters of Newt, Charlie, and Nan Sparrow in SWEEP.

The subtitle of Sweep tells you an important theme of SWEEP: THE STORY OF A GIRL AND HER MONSTER. Around the sadness, brutality, and hard work of the orphaned sweeps in 19thcentury London, there is love and belonging you will never forget.

I thank my daughter for granting me my wish of gifting me with this novel.

After reading that dark, but compelling novel, I needed some lighter reading which I found in two contemporary mystery novels for middle grade readers. You will have fun with CM Surrisi’s A SIDE OF SABOTAGE and Cindy Callaghan’s JUST ADD MAGIC—POTION PROBLEMS, both Agatha-nominated children’s mysteries. Fun reading with authentic, relatable characters and mystery plots that are unpredictable.

Cynthia introduced me to another writer friend who I am devouring. You will love Barbara O’Connor’s books WISH, HOW TO STEAL A DOG, and FAME AND GLORY IN FREEDOM, GA. Next on my TBR list is her newest book WONDERLAND.

The talent of these authors continues to amaze me. Just this morning I finished TO NIGHT OWL FROM DOGFISH, the combined efforts of Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. How did these varied authors come up with a novel in emails between two unlikely friends who try to make a larger, loving family? The entire novel is unpredictable with incredible, but realistic voices of Bett and Avery. You may be surprised at the depth of the girls feelings for their dads and each character in the book. I can picture them emailing each other with their diverse personalities coming out in successive letters. Be prepared for the added themes suggested by WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS in the girls’ subtle mentions of race, surrogacy, and same-sex partners.

Another novel completely in letters I love is THE NIGHT DIARIES by Veera Hiranandani. The author shares family life of Indians who are living during the partition of India into Pakistan in 1947. The characters are complex in this historical fiction epistolary novel, but the language is accessible for young readers from grades 4- 7. I love letter writing and this novelist crafts a novel of plot and character courageously through Nisha’s letters to her deceased mother. Each letter develops the characters in this devastating time period.

Because all of the titles I have invited you to Come Read with Me! star girls, I have to share the “boy” book my grandson, Jack, recommended. TWERP by Mark Goldblatt is full of humor with boys getting in trouble daily even though the main character, Julian, is a good sixth grader, not a bully some adults assume. His journal entries to his ELA teacher are full of crazy adventures only boys could cook up. Goldblatt wrote a sequel about more of Julian’s troubles in FINDING THE WORM. Unbelievable is my word for these middle grade titles by a former professor at the Fashion Institute of America.  Where did he get these plots and characters? They must be from real life. Jack found them hilarious!

Next blog post will be to share adult titles I am enjoying. Please comment on these reviews and share what you have been reading. I am “starved” for comments.

COME READ WITH ME in 2019

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Filed under Children's Literature, Fantasy, Historial Fiction, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Uncategorized

An Affinity for Books (Teens and ‘Tweens)

You could say I have an affinity for books.  Once I read a great title, I want to recommend it and find another Read A-Like for myself and others.  What is a Read A-Like you ask?  Librarians and book review sources alert you to books by saying “If you liked this book…you will love this one!”

The biggest question I have received from parents is “What do you recommend after Harry Potter:  that series is the only ones my child will read!”

Fantasy readers of all ages will enjoy Diane Duane’s creative series So You Want to Be a Wizard?  Similar to HP books are the main characters Nita Callahan and Christopher (Kit) Rodriquez  who do not realize they are wizards until they find a book with that same title.  Duane introduces many topics appealing to readers who love this genre including bullying, voracious readers, love of animals, annoying siblings, and she includes mystery and suspense with a dash of humor, as Nita and Kit learn how to deal with their “special” gift.  There are nine books in the series with one more planned for release this year.

The latest young adult (YA) book I completed (No, I didn’t write one yet) reading this year is by prolific Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  I was amazed that he wrote for young people after I remembered his imaginative adult fiction The Shadow of the Wind and its sequels.  The Midnight Palace reminds me of The Thief Lord, another favorite by Cornelia Funke, because the main characters are orphans who band together in an orphanage in Calcutta to swear allegiance forever.  They are challenged by a murderer who appears to them suddenly when they turn 16 and are ready to graduate from the orphanage.  The suspense is phenomenal, and I mean that literally! Funke uses the setting of Venice, so you can compare these two novels with settings far apart.  Ask yourself the question in each novel:  Who is the antagonist or the bad guy?

In my next post, I will review some adult Read A-Likes for you.

Please send me ideas and comments about this and my other posts!

Happy Reading in 2015!  Don’t forget the Goodreads reading challenge!

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Filed under Children's Literature, Fantasy, First Novels, Literary Fiction, untraditional mysteries