Tag Archive | magic

Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Must get to Dragon’s Green! by Scarlett Thomas (book review)

book cover of Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandfather didn’t really teach her magic,
Dragons don’t really eat lovely young ladies,
Kids can’t really go to the Otherworld or Underworld…

These are just a few of the wrong, wrong, and very wrong things that “everyone knows” in Effie’s post-Worldquake England, with its throttled-down technology and disdain for magical arts.

Perhaps she and her friends from the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled, and Strange can use the ring, spectacles, and other objects that Grandfather left to Effie in their search for answers that someone or something is trying to hide from them!

What kharakter in this alternate Worldquake universe are you?
**kmm

Book info: Dragon’s Green (Worldquake, book 1) / Scarlett Thomas. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book series website] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Magical thinking and bravery may help Effie and her school friends outwit the man who stole her grandfather’s magical library, but only the eleven-year-old herself can use his ring to travel to the Otherworld and solve the mystery of Dragon’s Green (and save the world).

Ever since the Worldquake five years ago disrupted the internets and made technology erratic (and perhaps killed Effie’s mother), grandfather Griffin has kept to himself. Of course, Effie’s father and stepmother know that magic is not real (except that it is, and Griffin had begun teaching it to Effie before his demise).

Effie learns more about the unscrupulous man who claims that Griffin’s priceless ancient books belong to him and glimpses what their true powers might be, as she begins to make friends with classmates at her unusual school.

Why are Maximilian and Wolf suddenly brave against their tyrannical teachers?
Who in the Otherworld would willingly become a dragon’s favorite meal?
How can someone be the last reader of a book?

Effie, Lexy, Raven, Maximilian, and Wolf each have to master their gift from the small bag left by Griffin – without letting the magical item master them – if their Realworld is to remain safe from the darkness of the Underworld in this first book of the Worldquake series.

Y for Alexander Yates’ tale of loss & belonging in The Winter Place

book cover of The Winter Place by Alexander Yates published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com Dad’s sudden death,
fast move to never-seen grandparents’ home – in Finland,
that man, everywhere, and the ghost bear…

Dad made sure that Tess and Axel learned Finnish from their late mother’s childhood book collection, but they weren’t at all prepared to wind up with their maternal grandparents far away in Finland, visited by its mythic spirits.

And the mysterious man who visits them on both sides of the Atlantic, the brown bear where none should be, and the ghost wheelchair that only Axel can see? Who could be ready for that?

Visit the book’s page here on publisher’s website and scroll down to read an excerpt as you begin to discover how Tess and Axel wound up in The Winter Place.

Where is the home of your heart’s memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Winter Place / Alexander Yates. Atheneum, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent abruptly to live with never-met grandparents in Finland after Dad’s death, Tess and little brother Axel find themselves farther from their rural New York home than they could have ever imagined, as ghostly creatures continue to visit Axel and draw them both into mysterious places that could steal them from reality forever.

Mom died when Axel was tiny, so Tess is navigating her teen years with just their offbeat professor father (who jousts at the faire each summer). Losing Dad suddenly propels the siblings to Finland to live with grandparents they don’t know, yet the Keeper who visited them in the woods at home finds them in the forest there, also.

The ghostly wheelchair following Axel is truly the Hiisi of Finnish folklore, and the brown bear spotted in their backyard perhaps is Mom’s spirit wandering in search of…

Why do ghost objects keep pestering Axel?
How many times may Tess or Axel cross over that fine line between death and life?
Will they be able to help Mom’s spirit find peace?

The strangeness that follows them from Axel’s first sighting of the bear to the fortress ruins near a Finnish lake sets this mourning sister and brother on an otherworldly path that may not lead back to the mortal world.

R for reach in Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar (book review) – family secrets, magic, doom

book cover of Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar published by Kathy Dawson Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemoving a troublesome memory
or unneeded physical attribute,
easy enough to do for Aspen’s family.

Using his ‘reach’ to steal thoughts or feelings or fears from others to keep the Cliff from falling on Grandma’s town?

Aspen sometimes can’t believe the ritual works, but the lure of snipping out someone’s memory for his own benefit is very, very hard to resist.

Go to the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt of this spooky tale (free!); the eerie paperback edition releases on June 6, 2017.

Would you reach into someone else’s memories and take one away?
**kmm

Book info: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies / Lindsay Ribar. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Summer vacation in upstate New York is no holiday for Aspen, as the teen discovers that his family’s rituals for keeping the Cliff from falling on Three Peaks are more sinister than he ever imagined.

Being able to ‘reach’ into someone’s memories or passions or skills and remove one, just by touching an important object, is his family’s secret skill, but the townspeople don’t know how the things they leave at the May Day tree are used, to heal faults in the Cliff… and more.

Is family story true, about how they became bound to the Cliff which gave the gift of reach?
What if Aspen doesn’t want to help with the ritual any longer?
And that rule about ‘never steal from family’ when you reach – why?

Superstitious tokens at the May Day tree and the power to remove memories, skills, even life itself – the Cliff and this family have a long, dark history together!

P is A Pocket Full of Murder & magic & treachery, by R. J. Anderson (book review)

book cover of A Pocket Full of Murder by RJ Anderson published by Atheneum BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCommon spells to wash clothes,
intricate spells to power vehicles,
Sagery spells to steal your breath away – forever.

Writing more adventures of lady justice Auradia won’t put food on the table or get Papa out of jail, so Isaveth and Quiz, an eyepatch-wearing streetboy, decide to save Papa by discovering who really had reason to kill the governor of Tarreton College, but someone wants them to stop!

Step into Isaveth’s world of spell-tablets, political scheming, and religious intolerance with the first chapter of A Pocket Full of Magic here, courtesy of the author.

Now in paperback, followed by A Little Taste of Poison (hardcover 2016).

Who’s the friend who’ll help you with any mystery?
**kmm

Book info: A Pocket Full of Murder (Uncommon Magic, book 1) / R.J. Anderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After Papa is unjustly arrested for murder, 12 year old Isaveth searches for clues from her impoverished neighborhood to the wealthy districts of Tarreton, assisted by ingenious streetkid Quiz, with his eyepatch and uncanny knowledge of society gossip.

Baking and selling spell-tablets from her late mother’s recipes is Isaveth’s best chance to feed her sisters and find out more about Papa’s case, with Quiz appearing just in time during dangerous situations.

Who made it look like Common Magic killed Master Orien?
Was Papa framed because of his Moshite beliefs or his support of the Workers’ Club?
Where does Quiz go when he’s not helping Isaveth?

In a world powered by Common spells and elite Sagery, someone is trying to gain political power, no matter who stands against them, but Isaveth and Quiz won’t let her Papa take the blame for murder! Followed by A Little Taste of Poison.

N for Rachel Neumeier, writing of the war coming to Mountain of Kept Memory (book review)

book cover of The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier published by Saga Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWar on the horizon,
her country’s sometime-god is neutral.
Kick-ass princess leaps into web of diplomacy and deceit.

If Oressa and her brother can stymie the ambition and treachery of their father the King, there’s a tiny chance of avoiding invasion by neighboring country.
Maybe the mysterious Kieba who watches over the dead gods’ memory will help them.
Maybe the brutal princes from across the sea won’t arrive.

Read an extract of epic fantasy The Mountain of Kept Memory here (courtesy of the author) to see how Oressa – and her country – got into this predicament of plagues, princes with visions of conquest, and powerless gods.

What place of power would you like to eavesdrop on?
**kmm

Book info: The Mountain of Kept Memory / Rachel Neumeier. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the author.

My book talk: The King will allow invasion, if it gives him the magic he craves, but his daughter Oressa won’t let Carastind become a slave state. With her princely brother’s help, the young woman travels to the Kieba’s spell-woven mountain domain, looking for answers that will save her homeland.

Lusting for power, the invading princes may unleash catastrophe.
Observing from a distance, the Keiba may act or may not.
Seeking peace for Carastind, Oressa may become a hostage.

A classic high fantasy with its large cast of characters (each with their own agenda regarding the dead gods’ memories) and swirling alliances, The Mountain of Kept Memory holds secrets dark, surprises deep, and worlds within its stone heart.

H for hurricane & The Odds of Lightning healing friendships, by Jocelyn Davies (book review)

book cover of The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies published by Simon Pulse  | recommended on BooksYALove.comGradually fading away,
or becoming someone else,
how can you stay yourself, when everything else changes?

Maybe the superstorm will wash away what divided these best friends three years ago
– or stop Tiny from fading from view (translucently)
– or reveal Will’s true self beneath his new snarky persona
– or make Lu feel real and take fewer dramatic risks
– or help Nathaniel forget that he cannot replace his genius older brother.

And then the lightning strikes

Don’t wait for the late August 2017 paperback release – read The Odds of Lightning now to see what transpires for these four former friends as they rush through the hurricane-darkened city in search of answers and transformation.

When have you wished you could become someone else?
**kmm

Book info: The Odds of Lightning / Jocelyn Davies. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When lightning strikes four teens, the former best friends race through the New York City night trying to reverse its effects on them before the hurricane hits.

Before freshman year of high school, they were inseparable – Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will as science club buddies. That’s all gone now, on the night before SATs, the night they were struck by lightning and became… other.

Is the lightning still bottled up inside them?
Why is Tiny’s body disappearing and Lu’s all numb?
Who does Will look like now?

Switching from now to then to now and presented from the viewpoints of all four friends, The Odds of Lightning brings us the aftermath of gradual drift and sudden shock with a magical twist that has nothing to do with spells or wands and everything to do with friendship and love.

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
**kmm

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

Shield of Kuromori, by Jason Rohan (book review) – save all or save her?

book cover of Shield of Kuromori by Jason Rohan published by Kane Miller | recommended on BooksYALove.comEvil ogres attacking Tokyo.
Ninja colleague not yet recovered.
Hero has to wonder who wins this time!

Second in the Kuromori Chronicles, raising the stakes even higher for prophesied warrior Kenny, as the teen soccer player starts learning new sword skills and how to ID evil beings in the supernatural line-up just as the bad guys try to remove him from the picture entirely!

I like that Kane-Miller asks folks to buy their books at a local independent bookstore rather than selling through their own website. Of course, you should ask for it at your local library also, so that more readers can enjoy this exciting series! (my recommendation of Book 1 here, with no spoilers)

After experiencing typhoon rains in Tokyo during my first week there, then an earthquake while waiting at the airport to leave, I can well imagine supernatural creatures below the earth or warring gods among the clouds!

Still wondering… any yokai (evil or benign) where you live?
**kmm

Book info:  Shield of Kuromori (Kuromori Chronicles, book 2) / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016. [series Facebook page]   [publisher site]   [distributor site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A new threat to his adoptive land and his ninja partner’s growing anger keep Kenny jumping as the young hero foretold in Japanese prophecy strives to master supernatural warfare, stay away from school bullies, and keep Kiyomi calm enough to fight by his side.

With Kiyomi’s behavior becoming more erratic, Kenny must decide whether to search for a way to cure her or to pursue the mysterious threat just uncovered by Japanese gods.

Who is so unleashing so many evil yokai at once?
Can two teenagers really save Japan from slow death?
A mirror or a shield?

Ancient Japanese stories, modern technology, and ages-old greed of man – all collide as Kiyomi and Kenny must unpuzzle this devious plot before evil wins the day. Follows The Sword of Kuromori in the series.

Birth of Kitaro, by Shigeru Mizuki (book review) – Japanese supernatural Yokai!

book cover of Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com Last of the ghost tribe yokai,
helped by his magic hair (and dead eyeball dad),
fighting evil beings in Japan!

While I didn’t meet any (obvious) supernatural beings during my recent trip to Japan, I am delighted to share this first volume in a new English translation of Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro series. The Japanese manga master died in December 2015, leaving a legacy of yokai tales and other graphic novels, which Drawn & Quarterly is bringing to western readers.

Visit the publisher’s page here to download a free excerpt of Kitaro’s adventures. Next book in the series arrives soon!

Any supernatural folk in your neck of the woods?
**kmm

Book info: The Birth of Kitaro (Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro) / Shigeru Mizuki; text translated by Zack Davisson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [artist’s obituary]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fighting evil creatures is Kitaro’s specialty, but the one-eyed spirit boy and his eyeball-father aren’t always sure that the people of Japan are worth battling monstrous beings of legend.

Single-eyed newborn Kitaro digs out of his mother’s grave and quickly finds himself embroiled in struggles with malicious yokai who want to overrun modern Japan.

Can half-cat, half-girl Neko Mutsume help him outwit greedy Nezumi Otoko?
How long will his late father’s spirit animate the eyeball?
What’s the best way to banish a frightful buru-buru haunting the mountain highway?

Kitaro’s wooden geta sandals clip-clop away from each supernatural encounter, and a letter in just the right forest postbox will always bring him back, as these 7 episodes from his earliest manga appearances show. First in a series, with new English text by Zack Davisson complementing manga master Shigeru Mizuki’s well-loved illustrations.

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