barnett_terrible twoMiles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town’s best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to lift his game. It’s prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen: a prank so huge that it would make the members of the International Order of Disorder proud.

In The Terrible Two, bestselling authors and friends Mac Barnett and Jory John have created a series that has its roots in classic middle-grade literature yet feels fresh and new at the same time.

 

Miles is the new boy in school, and having been famous at his old school for his pranks, he intends to use those talents to impress. When he arrives and finds that there is already a school prankster, he becomes determined to out prank him and win the glory of popularity. However, what he comes to find out is that the current prankster at school is anonymous. They do their pranks just for the results, instead of for the recognition.

Miles’s new school has had a long line of principals from the same family. It is a tradition that is passed on from father to son and they are very proud of running a tight ship. They already know of Miles’s past at his previous schools and have their eyes set on him and him alone when things go crazy.

Eventually, the two pranksters, after playing pranks on each other, decide to call a truce, and Miles begins to get schooled in the precise ways to play the best pranks while making a friend and cohort along the way. From cars on staircases to fake parties and rubber chickens, The Terrible Two shows us some very elaborate and hilarious pranks; along with illustrations and guidelines, we learn that to be a perfect prankster is an art, not a hobby.

I found the story to be very funny and reminiscent of Roald Dahl. It entertaining and fun with some lessons to be learned I recommend this book for the kids out there who like outrageous comedy and quirky story telling.

Hardcover, 218 pages

Published January 13th 2015 by Amulet Books (first published January 1st 2015)

ISBN

1419714910 (ISBN13: 9781419714917)

 



Barron_atlantis 2
In Atlantis Rising, Promi and Atlanta saved their homeland by transforming it into the magical island of Atlantis. They had hoped that would keep it out of the clutches of the evil spirit warlord Narkazan. But Narkazan has returned, more determined than ever to conquer the spirit realm and Atlantis as well. Will the destiny of the mystical isle lie in the boat of Greek sailors who wash up on shore? The powers of the ethereal oceanglass? Or will the growing bond between Promi and Atlanta cause the strongest magic?

With his trademark action, adventure and suspense, master of fantasy T.A. Barron explores the magical world of Atlantis and how its inhabitants’ actions sow the seeds of its destruction.

 

I had such a fun time reading this story, it took me right back to my early childhood. It was full of excitement, magic, creatures of all kinds and was hugely entertaining. I have to admit that I haven’t read the first book yet, but it turned out to be completely unnecessary. The reader is filled in with all the information we need to enjoy this book on its own. Although the ending does leave you a bit stranded, I promise you will want to carry on with the series!

Promi has been travelling to Atlantis by crossing the veil, but his actions have carelessly left holes making it vulnerable to attack, not only from the spirit realm, but also the human realm on the other side. Promi is stubborn regarding his visits to Atlantis because that is where Atlantia is. His parents caution him that the worn veil can be a great danger to everybody, but he does not want to believe them. His love for Atlantia is stronger than his faith in his parents (for reasons given in the story). When Promi’s sister is kidnapped and the news of Narkazan has returned, he is pulled in several directions and must save his sister.

The writing in this story is purely magical. The visuals that it offered really opened up my imagination to an exciting new world of ideas. As I was reading this story, inspiration took me over; the style was perfect and the descriptions even better. We get to follow the stories of different characters as the narrative takes us from the spirit realm to what is happening on Atlantis. Even though Promi is going through a bit of a stubborn period, the other characters are all very strong, mostly female and very good role models.

There are magical elements to the story, especially when we follow Atlantia who resides in the forest that protects her. She lives in an over-protecting acorn shell and the faeries help keep guard. When she needs help, she can always call upon the trees and animals to help protect her. There was very little about this story that I didn’t like and I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.



schantz-figLove and sacrifice intertwine in this brilliant and provocative debut of rare beauty about a girl dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia and her own mental illness.

This book crossed my path at an unexpected time in my life. I went into it almost blind, only having skimmed the summary and catching a few of my favourite keywords. What I found was a story that was so powerful it still remains in my thoughts to this day (weeks after I have finished it): a story that I wanted to re-visit and tell others about.

Fig begins her tale at the age of 6 and continues it until she is 19, a year that she is dreading. Her anticipation of that date carries an almost ominous feeling throughout the story. The majority of the narrative is from a younger perspective, and Fig tells it like it is. When her mother becomes mentally ill, she faces being separated from her. Her main focus becomes how to make her mother better again, and how to get the family to return to the days before it all went wrong.

Fig struggles not only with family issues but her adolescence in general. She has never had any close friends, and in her small town she is teased because of her mother. Her father also feels the emptiness in the household and turns to his routine of running the farm and worrying about finances. This leads Fig to spend more time with her grandmother, whom she has never really liked, and her uncle who she admires but who has a tendency to not sit still for too long.

This story was so beautifully written. Being swept into Fig’s world as she tries to figure out how to make things better was a very emotional experience. I don’t usually cry when I read, but this one has me as close as I’ve ever been. There were so many sides to Fig as we see the different way the characters cope living with mental illness. Not only has this book become one of my favourites of the year, but also one of my all-time YA books ever.

Can you tell that it’s a book that I recommend you to read too? I HIGHLY recommend it.



Porter_MermaidsThe Twice Lost (Lost Voices #3)

Mermaids have been sinking ships and drowning humans for centuries, and now the government is determined to put an end to the mermaid problem—by slaughtering all of them. Luce, a mermaid with exceptionally threatening abilities, becomes their number-one target, hunted as she flees down the coast toward San Francisco.

There she finds hundreds of mermaids living in exile under the docks of the bay. These are the Twice Lost: once-human girls lost first when a trauma turned them into mermaids, and lost a second time when they broke mermaid law and were rejected by their tribes. Luce is stunned when they elect her as their leader. But she won’t be their queen. She’ll be their general. And they will become the Twice Lost Army—because this is war

Characters: This story jumps around from several characters perspectives. Our main focus is still on Luce, as the general who is taking a stance to help prevent any further mermaid deaths. We get the side of the American Government, a secret weapon the government is holding hostage, and the humans that have had connections with the mermaids and are on their side.

Plot: As Luce travels south after witnessing the loss of her old Tribe, she has found other mermaids and humans along the way. Breaking the code of the Timahk more than once, she is now focusing on finding her long lost friend Nausicaa and warning the mermaids of the government killings. When she reaches San Francisco however, she comes across hundreds of misplaced mermaids and decides this is the spot where she will stop and fight.

Originality: This trilogy includes all female mermaids. There is very little made of any ties to current mermaid mythology. However, the mermaids do age more slowly than humans and have the ability to sing to the water to cause magical effects, some dangerous enough to sink ships. The mermaids (Queen’s) are ranked and chosen by how powerfully they can sing (manipulate the water).

Writing: The pacing of the story is pretty slow. The building up and causes of the war, in particular, involves a lot of different characters. Each character’s story has to evolve and grow until the point that the war begins. As the mermaids are aiming for a peaceful ending, they show a lot of restraint but the humans are less honourable.   The villain of this story is a truly horrible, abusive, and manipulative person who oversteps his boundaries.

Krista’s Rating: As this is the final book in the trilogy, I was expecting everything to come to a very fast-paced ending but the writing was slower than I anticipated. Yet even with a lot of down time, this is a series that kept me thinking long after I finished the books; the story still sticks with me.

 

Read Krista’s review of book one in the trilogy.



glass_echoEcho is the story of two lovers who are under a curse (the story will bear this out). One of them always loses the other, tragically. But the two of them learn to beat the curse: whenever one dies, the other time travels to the lost lover’s next (or past) reincarnation. The novel spans over a thousand years, to several different times and places; and it clearly illustrates the risks one will take, the lengths one will go, and the sacrifices one will make for true love.

The keywords that caught my attention with this book were curse, soul mates, and the story spanning over thousands of years. There were so many possibilities for how the story might develop.

The story starts out in the 460’s A.D., and Karissa has just appeared in Gaul on a mission to find her lost mate. We learn some historical background about what was happening at the time and in that area of the world. I really enjoy reading historical books and was getting my hopes up that this was leading to a very detailed and well-researched story with a mystery and romance at the core.

Unfortunately, I did not end up loving the book as much as I was hoping mainly due to the characters. Karissa didn’t seem to fit in this ancient world. What I mean is that she was very much a 21st century girl living in an ancient time and the two just did not mesh well. People were too patient with her inappropriate behaviour.

POV’s switched between Karissa and Adregin, and their names changed throughout the book as did the settings (time periods). However, I wanted information than I got ; for example, I never completely understood how the languages came so easily to them, or how they maintained their memories.

I believe that Echo would have benefited from pruning in some areas and expansion in others, but there were lots encouraging things about it, and some readers will find interest in the bigger picture ideas of reincarnation and the looping of the curse.

 

***For older readers



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