Review: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

5 stars (It was amazing!)

Wundersmith cover (link to Goodreads)

I honestly liked this one even better than the first in the series, which I also loved enough to put it right into the hands of my 11yo son. It has just as much magic, wonder, and fun as the first, but it starts asking some important questions about destiny, good and evil, the obligation to teach someone who might be dangerous, loyalty, etc.

I continue to love the giant talking cat, and the supporting characters just keep getting more interesting. Really, really good series. I can’t wait to read the third.

Review: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

4 stars (I really liked it).

Liesl & Po cover (link to Goodreads)

I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie The Box Trolls, but this reminded me of it in ways. Mainly the setting and the feel: vaguely Victorian England, where almost all the adults are horrid, almost everything is bleak and gray and depressing, but the children are bright lights in all of it, plucky and courageous and smart and wise.

Liesl is a little girl who is locked in her room by her evil stepmother. Po is the ghost who haunts and then befriends her. Meanwhile, an alchemist’s apprentice, who is being terribly abused as well, makes a big mistake, and things start to unravel for all of them. It’s twisty and darkly humorous and well written, and I did enjoy it a lot. This isn’t my favorite setting, honestly, but the story sucked me in despite that.

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

5 stars (This was amazing!)

Planet Earth Is Blue cover (link to Goodreads)

I’d seen this book in lots of “Best of” lists and had it on my wish list in my library app already when a friend of mine, Heather Clark, was chosen to be Nicole’s Pitch Wars mentor. Pitch Wars is a contest on Twitter where aspiring authors submit their books to mentors–usually other published or agented authors. The mentors may get dozens or even hundreds of submissions, and they pick one person to work with for two months to help them get their book as close to perfect as possible.

I’ve read Heather’s book, Lemon Drop Falls, and it’s amazing. I was not surprised it was picked. But when I found out Nicole was her mentor, I knew I had to bump Planet Earth Is Blue to the top of my to-read pile. I’m SO glad I did. This book is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. The main character is utterly unique. She’s almost nonverbal, for one. She’s severely autistic. But her thoughts are beautiful and utterly engaging.

Nova is obsessed with space and knows lots about it, and there are sciency facts dropped throughout, which was fun. She’s looking forward to watching the Challenger launch with her sister, who has promised she’ll be back by then.

The book is funny, heartwarming, sad, hopeful, eye-opening, and overall magical. I’d compare it to books like Wonder and Out of My Mind, but it’s better than either (even though I also rated Wonder 5 stars), so I can’t compare them. My 11 year old son is reading it and enjoying it too.

Review: Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

4 stars (I really liked it)

Best Friends cover (link to Goodreads)

This one didn’t make me cry, so I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing or just a me thing. But it had more of the same things I adored in the first book, only for junior high: the drama of having boys (or girls) who like you or who you think you might like but aren’t sure or who you think you’re supposed to like but you’ve never really thought about it. It’s got navigating the pressure to be cool and to fit in, which I personally didn’t relate with because I was the direct opposite of cool in junior high, but it’s just so well done, and the art is emotional and adorable and relatable, and I loved watching Shannon as a baby novelist.

These books are important. They are for everyone who is a kid, who was a kid, or who knows a kid. Really. Go read them if you haven’t. It’ll only take an hour or two per book.