Tag Archive | magic

Magic & music together are forbidden – should SOFI AND THE BONE SONG change that? by Adrienne Tooley (YA book review)

book cover of Sofi and the Bone Song, by Adrienne Tooley. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Winter won’t go away,
talent isn’t always rewarded,
what else will Sofi endure? (don’t ask…)

After years of obsessive practicing, long-motherless 16 year old Sofi’s perfect performance is upstaged by an untutored young woman who didn’t even bring a lute to the Guild audition, yet wins apprenticeship to the ruling lute Musik, Sofi’s own father.

Lara didn’t use a Paper to perform, or all would have seen the spell inked into her skin – music is the only craft forbidden to use the Paper spells sold by the king.

When Sofi’s father suddenly dies, Lara must immediately qualify to be the lute Musik by traveling through the country and performing specific complex songs in certain towns – songs that Sofi knows and Lara doesn’t.

Away the two young women go with the Musik’s lute made of bones, through their ever-winter land, knowing that some Musiks of the Guild want Lara to succeed, but if she fails, perhaps Sofi has a chance at her life’s dream.

Why did the seasons stop changing when they were babies?
Is Lara using illegal magic to learn this complicated music so fast?
Will the malfunctioning Papers sold to neighboring kingdoms lead to war?

Rivalry becomes companionship and so much more, as Lara and Sofi begin to truly understand the magic of their musical gifts and their growing bond with one another.

What instrument would you play if magically given the skill?
**kmm

Book info: Sofi and the Bone Song / Adrienne Tooley. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Their quest is complete! SO THIS IS EVER AFTER – now what? by F. T. Lukens (YA book review)

book cover of So This Is Ever After, by F. T. Lukens. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Behead the evil king!
Fulfill the prophecy!
And then…

We all know the quest narrative: a hero answers the Call, they gather companions – mage, knight, healer, bard, rogue – and we follow their Quest journey.

This time, we join the story just as Arek and his teenage companions arrive at the castle, where the 17 year old beheads the Vile One with a magic sword to fulfill the prophecy (rather messily).

Well, the old wizard didn’t say there would be trumpets or lightning when the quest was done, so rogue Lila is sure it’s time to grab some loot and leave.

But the knight Rion reads out the prophecy again – whoever cuts off the Vile One’s head must rule, so Arek grabs the blood-smeared crown and declares himself king (temporarily, as they search for the imprisoned true heir) .

When there’s no living heir to be found, it’s up to Arek and friends to actually manage their kingdom after 40 years of terror – with the help of castle steward Harlow (who really knows how things are supposed to work).

Arek’s lifelong friend, Matt the mage, sets wards to protect them, and Bethany the bard magically sings out invitations welcoming all to the castle.

So many details! Liaisons to rebuild with neighboring kingdoms, a company of knights to assemble, and this little matter of Arek finding his soulmate in the next three months… but only if he wants to stay alive.

Maybe their healer Sionna? (after she stops blushing as castle worker Meredith teaches her to dance)
Perhaps one of the many noble folk invited to the first ball at the castle?
Why, oh, why can’t it be Matt?!

Tick tock, the days count down to Arek’s 18th birthday…

By the author of swoony magical In Deeper Waters , recommended here.

Who would you select for your quest crew?
**kmm

Book info: So This Is Ever After / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is for weaving & crafting with NETTLE & BONE she must master to stop great evil, by T. Kingfisher (book review) #A2Z

book cover of Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher. Published by Tor | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom threatened,
no prince as heir,
daughters as pawns… or not.

Third daughter of a king with no sons, 15-year-old Marra is hidden away at a convent, remaining within its walls for years and years, as her older sisters are married in political alliances to save their tiny kingdom.

The weaving and healing skills she learns there will serve her well as now-grown Marra flees the security of Our Lady of Grackles, seeking ways to save her sister from the brutal prince of the Northern Kingdom.

She travels far and then farther to find the powerful dust-wife who communes with the dead and has the magic she needs. The spell requires Marra to make a cloak from nettles and cursed wool, to fashion a dog from bones, and bring moonlight in a jar – three impossible tasks (and she does them).

Away they go to kill the prince – Marra and Bone Dog, the dust-wife and her demon-possessed hen, through enchanted marketplaces and haunted lands, releasing from ensorcelment a man who unwisely slept in a fairy fort.

Secrets of the Northern Kingdom lie deeply buried in the crypts beneath its palace – danger and doom.

Its king lost in madness, the terrible prince rules with an iron fist and paranoia.

How to infiltrate the crypts? How to steer all blame from Marra’s sister? How to escape with their own lives?

A princess exists solely for the kingdom’s benefit, but not Marra…

Just published yesterday (4/26/22) – read the first two chapters on the publisher’s website here, free!

What non-traditional princess story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Nettle & Bone / T. Kingfisher. Tor, 2022. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is for Trix, family secrets & A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES, by Miranda Asebedo (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Constellation of Roses, by Miranda Asebedo. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Thieving is a gift,
all that Trix has now
since Mom has gone again.

Running away from that foster home wasn’t her best idea, but Trixie knows that if drug-addicted Mom is coming back, she’ll come to this cheap motel – exactly where her social worker finds the 17-year-old and takes her to relatives on her dad’s side, a family she never knew about.

Her aunt Mia bakes amazing pies, almost magical Lucky Lime, Never-Lonely Lemon – all the McCabe women have some kind of gift, according to her great-aunt. Eventually her very quiet teen cousin Ember will tell Trix about her gift, maybe.

What’s a streetwise teen with a gift for undetectable theft going to do in this tiny Kansas country town? Live with her aunt and graduate from high school – or go to prison! Okay… but Trix missed so much school that it’ll take two years to finish now!

She’s sketched since she could hold a stolen pencil, so art class is fine (artistic just like her late father, folks say), and some of the students are okay, like Jasper who helps with pie deliveries.

How did Jasper’s brother die last year?
Why does everyone in Rocksaw have a different story of how her dad died?
What future does her great-aunt see in Trix’s palm?

Putting down roots like the climbing roses at the McCabe house or blowing away with the drifters in the city – Trix thinks and thinks…

What paranormal gift would you choose, if you knew it was in control?
**kmm

Book info: A Constellation of Roses / Miranda Asebedo. Harper Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for sisters & THE SPLENDOR, hotel of secrets & stolen memories! by Breeana Shields (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Splendor, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Glamour, luxury,
delights and dreams,
upheld by secrets, dark secrets!

At the Hotel Splendor, whatever you wish for comes true! This glittering promise has kept hope alive for orphaned sisters Juliette and Clare, now young women struggling to make ends meet.

A year of working extra jobs allowed Juliette to save up enough to give Clare the chance to live out her dreams at The Splendor, but a few weeks later, Clare returns as a stranger instead of Juliette’s dearest friend!

Whatever happened at the Splendor, Juliette must find a way to reclaim her sister’s love, so she takes their rainy-day money and becomes a guest at the dazzling hotel up on the hill.

There, she finds possibilities beyond her dreams – diving beneath the sea, riding on a giant bird, a garden made of sweets – as the staff creates a Signature Experience for each guest using the Splendor’s unique magic.

It is handsome young Henri who makes those Experiences seem more than real, with his mother Stella directing their huge staff of seamstresses, chefs, and concierges at the glittering, luxurious hotel.

How can Henri grant Juliette’s dearest wish when it was the Splendor that took away Clare’s love for her?

Every elegant inch of the Splendor Hotel is enhanced by Henri’s magic, but at what cost?

After Juliette is caught exploring behind the scenes, will the extravagant costume ball be her last dance?

Told in alternating chapters by Juliette and Henri, the dark secrets of the Splendor Hotel are gradually revealed! By the author of The Bone Charmer (recommended here).

What amazing experience would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Splendor / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Cover image from the author; review copy courtesy of the publisher.

R is for Rowenna, regrets, enchanted swans’ RUSH OF WINGS, by Laura E. Weymouth (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Welcomed by salt spray and wind,
born with a power inside,
ignored, untrained… how long?

So hard for young teen Rowenna to control her temper, amidst all these rowdy brothers. That’s why her mother won’t yet teach her the magic craft needed to protect their seaside Scottish village from wicked creatures of land and water.

A terrible beast steals Mother away, a storm catches father and the older boys in their small fishing boat, and now 18-year-old Rowenna finds a young man Gawen washed up in the cove – searching for her and her craft to save his family, he says.

Amazingly, her menfolk return safe from the storm, bringing with them Mother… who’s someone altogether different on the inside, who angrily turns the brothers and Gawen into swans, who steals Rowenna’s voice.

Banished by her father who believes Rowenna has bewitched them, she follows the swans inland, leaving her beloved sea for the very first time.

Ah! At night, the swans regain human form – and she can speak! Gawen has led them to Torr Pendragon’s castle, where his friend lady Elspeth tells Rowenna how to break the curse.

Even so far from the sea, the wind whispers to her that she can’t trust battle-victor Pendragon, especially when the ruler wants to use her magic to control a foul mystical beast.

Each night, the boys’ time as humans grows shorter and shorter – can Rowenna break the curse before it’s too late?

It’s Pendragon who has captured Gawen’s family – can she save anyone?

And that creature living in her father’s small house on the shore – what can Rowenna do?

Voiceless as those she cares for are threatened, Rowenna must find a way to harness and direct the power that simmers in her breath and blood in this retelling of the Six Swans folktale.

Swans – what’s your story about them?
**kmm

Book info: A Rush of Wings / Laura E. Weymouth. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I is for the Impossible Task they must complete or stay mere WITCHLINGS forever! by Claribel A. Ortega (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Witchlings, by Claribel A. Ortega. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not chosen for a coven,
doomed as a Spare –
or complete the Impossible Task!

Seven Salazar is sure she’ll be placed in the same five-witch coven as BFF Poppy at the Black Moon Ceremony, but instead the 12 year old is left out as a Spare with new girl Thorn and bullying classmate Valley.

When their coven bond doesn’t take, Seven invokes the Impossible Task so the three tweens don’t stay Forever Witchlings with limited magic. Even being outcast Spares in their witchy town would be better than no flying.

Consulting the Oracle, the Town Gran announces their Impossible Task: fell a Nightbeast in 21 days or be toadified!

Soon the vicious monstruo Nightbeast will fully waken from hibernation, fed by its minion cucos darting out of the Cursed Forest, seeking food like Seven’s powerfully magical baby brother.

Their families believe in them (except Valley’s haughty rich parents), and the Town Uncle puts protective spells on their houses.

The girls research in the Ravenskill Library and the bookstore that Thorn’s parents now own, practice useful spells (some unapproved for their level, but desperate times…), and begin to trust one another.

Days tick by, and their plan comes together – they’ll have to be as brave as the Witches of Heartbreak Cove in their favorite book series to make it work!

In the long history of the Twelve Towns, only one group of Spares has completed their Impossible Task and bonded as a coven – can these not-quite-friends succeed or will they become toads forever?

The name given at their birth is sign and prophecy – will Seven, Thorn, and Valley discover their true meaning during this ordeal?

Hurry along to your local library or independent bookstore for this exciting just-published book!

What spell would you learn to fight a huge, hungry monstruo?
**kmm

Book info: Witchlings / Claribel A. Ortega. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is more adventure than THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE expected, by Amanda Foody (MG book review) #AtoZchallenge

book cover of The Accidental Apprentice, by Amanda Foody. Published by Margaret McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No running, no dirt,
nothing exciting –
especially no magical beasts!

One of Dullshire’s many, many rules: stay away from the Woods after one of its Beasts attacked the village and killed Barclay’s parents.

Forced into the Woods, Barclay encounters Viola, a Lore Keeper whose trap summons a Beast that chases him… no, that runs with him! A wolfish Lufthund that chooses to bond with the 11-year-old orphan!

No place for him now in rules-restricted Dullshire, Barclay goes unhappily with Viola to the magical town of Sycomore, filled with all sizes of Beasts and all kinds of people.

Barclay hopes that a Master can remove his Mark, the golden tattoo where the Lufthund dwells when not out in the world, but it’s not so simple.

Only if he places first in the Exhibition testing new Lore Keepers will he have any chance of losing the Lufthund!

Most youth preparing to test are jealous that such a powerful Beast chose to bond with a boring outsider, but Viola and a few others decide to help him learn some Lore so he has a chance to pass.

Barclay must quickly discover how he and his Beast can work together, avoid the bullies who will sabotage his Exhibition matches, and decide how much he’ll risk to go home.

So many fantastical Beasts, so many Lore Keepers with different abilities, so many chances to fail – or to win!

First in the Wilderlore series, followed by The Weeping Tide .

Which of your personal skills would you want your Beast to amplify?
**kmm

Book info: The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore, book 1) / Amanda Foody. Margaret McElderry Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SECRET OF THE STORM is… a tiny kitten? by Beth McMullen (MG book review)

book cover of Secret of the Storm, by Beth McMullen.  Published by Aladdin Books S&S | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sad without Dad,
best friend ghosting her,
does she hear meows in the storm?

In this foggy coastal California town, Cassie just trudges through her days at middle school, avoiding the Popular Posse that took away her best friend, ignoring comments about her non-fashion sense.

Volunteering at the public library is the only bright spot in Cassie’s life, as Mom is still not-all-here after Dad’s death, even when cool Ms. Asher partners her with geeky Joe, whose tech skills have finally made the bullies leave the Black boy alone.

When the tweens rescue a tiny black kitten during a wild storm, life gets more interesting. How did Albert survive when lightning struck that dumpster? Cassie takes him home and is amazed at how fast and strong he is!

More unusual weather events in town, Albert’s water bowl steaming when he plays in it, and a strange symbol appearing on Cassie’s closet door – the same symbol that’s on the notebook that Ms. Asher hides when anyone comes near!

Scorch marks on her bedroom carpet, an old college friend ranting to Ms. Asher about storms and dragons, mysterious events in their town’s history – Joe and Cassie (and Albert) need more information so they visit the library… after hours.

When little kitten Albert comes to Cassie’s defense during a slumber party (best friend’s mom said she had to be invited), there are suddenly flames, screaming popular girls, and a viral video…of a dragon!

The police start asking questions, Ms. Asher’s friend is threatening them, and they have to leave town with Albert – now!

When have you and your friends stood up for someone who needs help?
**kmm

Book info: Secret of the Storm (Secret of the Storm, book 1) / Beth McMullen. Aladdin Books/Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.