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.

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: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

5 stars (It was amazing!)

This was book 2 on my read-YA-science-fiction-with-male-protagonists list, and it did not disappoint. It did remind me in feel of the Illuminae Files series, so if you like that, maybe check this out. And if you don’t like that, then maybe this won’t be for you either.

Is this book going to change the world? Absolutely not. Was the romance swoony and believable? Oh yes. I loved watching the two leads gradually increasing in respect for one another, which slowly developed into love. The plot also kept surprising me, and a series of twists blew my mind.

It’s fun science fiction and fun romance. The YA voice is just right. I’m not sure it would be the sort of thing my 13 year old son would love at this moment in his life, but maybe it would be. Who knows?

There is a pretty tame sex scene, so I guess parents should know about that.

Review: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

5 stars (I loved it!).

Nevermoor cover (link to Goodreads)

Forgive the teeny-tiny cover image.

Everyone knows Morrigan Crow is cursed to die on her eleventh birthday and to make bad things happen to those she comes in contact with until then. But when, on the eve of her 11th birthday, she is recruited for several jobs that she can’t possibly do after she’s dead–and by some rather mysterious and very interesting people, no less!–her life begins to change in completely unpredictable ways.

There are twists upon twists. Morrigan’s mentor reminds me of a ginger-bearded David-Tennant-as-10th-Doctor. Very energetic, cryptic, and zany. The world is magical and a bit steampunky and a bit Harry Potter. Much of the feel of everything reminded me of Harry Potter (specifically book 4), but there was enough that was unique that it didn’t feel totally derivative. The prevailing emotion throughout is wonder–that “Wow! So cool!” feeling that J. K. Rowling so often gets just right.

I immediately recommended the book to my picky 11 year old, and he devoured it and the second book in the series. We’re eagerly awaiting the third, which comes out this spring.

I can’t guarantee your kids will like this book, but if they like Harry Potter, City of Ember, Doctor Who, or Aru Shah, chances are good they’ll like this too.

Review: The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso

5 stars.

The Defiant Heir cover (link to Goodreads)

I mentioned before that I was completely invested in the first book in this series, The Tethered Mage, from the beginning to the end. Caruso is a master of pacing. In this one, too, there’s never a moment where it failed to keep my attention.

But there were a few things it did even better than the first book.

  1. The problematic aspect in the first book is treated as problematic rather directly. I’m beginning to trust that a satisfying end to that whole situation can be achieved.
  2. KATHE. I won’t spoil anything, but holy cow, that’s an interesting character, and a VERY interesting love triangle.
  3. A deeper look into the magic of the world, which is weirder and cooler than I thought it would be.

This series is a lot of fun. I highly recommend it if you like fantasy with lots of court intrigue, weird magic systems, and romance.