Loves gold – check. Lives in gated community – check. Breathes fire – not your average rich teen girl!
Being the youngest following super-talented brothers is rarely easy, and being told she can’t attempt the coming-of-age quest means that Sky will try even harder.
Gold sings to her blood – yep, wyvern is the more socially acceptable name for were-dragon.
Her impulsive nature wars against the detailed planning needed to successfully steal the artifact that Mom coveted, but Sky is determined to succeed, with a little help from her friends.
What’s your favorite family-first story? **kmm
Book info: Fire & Heist / Sara Beth Durst. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Sky wants to restore her family’s status within their exclusive Colorado mountain community, so she does what any 16-year-old wyvern would – attempt the heist scripted by Mom and get back their gold, all their gold and more!
Human on the outside, dragon on the inside, Sky longs to complete her first quest and erase some of the shame brought on her family by Mom’s disappearance during a heist gone wrong.
Luckily, that arcane artifact is in a vault in her boyfriend’s family mansion so he must know ways around the chief were-dragon’s magic protections.
Unluckily, Ryan dumped Sky when her family’s worth plunged at the Reckoning. So much for being soulmates.
Curiously, a human girl at school might be able to help, if only Sky were allowed to tell her that wyverns live right here…
A caper story, a friendship story, a betrayal story, a family-first story – soar with Sky as she uncovers deep secrets high in the Rockies.
A less-than-perfect teen girl and a coldly distant wizard meld magics to save their valley and kingdom from the evil which pushes the devouring Wood over the land in this tale of their difficult partnership amid treachery with a long, long memory.
Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here so you can read the first chapter.
Book info: Uprooted / Naomi Novik. Del Rey, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: As the Dragon untangles Agnieska’s magical skills, the young woman finds that mastering them will catapult her into court politics, too-close encounters with the magical Wood, and disruption of all that she holds dear.
To keep the valley safe from horrifying nearby evils, the wizard called Dragon takes a young maiden every ten years, never to return. At least her family knows she’s alive, unlike those whose loved ones have been captured and absorbed by the Wood.
After Agnieska rescues her best friend from the Wood and helps her master expel its corruption from Kasia, Prince Marek vows that his army – and the Dragon’s magic – will rescue the queen from her years-long captivity there, little realizing that his rash actions will aid their rival kingdom and the evil of the Wood.
What evil changed a borderlands forest into such a terrible force?
Can Nieshka find answers in the royal magicians’ hall?
Will her family ever be safe in their village so near the Wood?
From the author of the Temeraire series comes a story with hints of Baba Yaga, threads of eastern European folktales, and the struggle of good versus evil at its core. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
A treasure under enchantment,
unspoiled northwoods beauty,
a killer determined to own it all?
Francie is not a NYPD detective, but she played one on television, and that’s more mystery-solving experience than the local sheriff seems to have!
As deaths keep piling up (each by a different cause), even her eccentric great-aunts’ unique food combos (curry with a side of pickled beets, anyone?) can’t distract the teen from worrying that they will be the next victims.
A departure from the author’s acclaimed historical fiction Heart of a Samurai (my recommendation here) and Shadow on the Mountain, this first book in the Northwoods Mystery series is equally well-written, with interesting characters and setting.
Death by hot-dish? What casserole would you choose for your last meal?
Book info: Enchantment Lake (Northwoods Mystery, book 1) / Margi Preus. University of Minnesota Press, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When her great-aunts say that they’re in danger, Francie leaves summer drama camp in New York City to find mysterious deaths and rumors of treasure in the remote Minnesota lake town where it’s assumed that the 17 year old orphan can solve all mysteries because she played a kid detective on TV.
On the far shore of deep Enchantment Lake, eccentric Astrid and Jeannette tell Francie that city folks want a road through the peat bog so more mansions like the Fredericksons’ can be built. Property owners along the right-of-way have been dying oddly, and local real estate man Buck Thorne is pressuring their heirs to sell.
At the latest victim’s funeral, a poisoned casserole kills Buck, and the suspect list grows since everyone in town owns a serving dish made by the local potter.
What was Buck going to tell Francie about her long-lost mother?
Why does Buck’s stepson need so much money suddenly?
Can young law intern Nels help make any sense of these recent deaths?
Uh-oh, Francie’s grandfather demands that she return to drama camp or he’ll stop paying her expenses! But how can she when her aunt is arrested for Buck’s murder, a little boy who gets grimy every night goes missing, and someone tries to sink her kayak – with her in it! First in the Northwoods Mystery series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
What to do with that earring who’s lost its mate?
Hmmm… you’ve saved all the beads from that broken necklace…
There’s got to be a way to showcase that stunning sea glass without drilling holes in it!
With some crafting tools, wire, and jewelry “findings” (clasps, jump rings, etc.), you can turn these assorted bits into great jewelry – elegant or funky, casual or ooh-la-la.
Sarah Drew shares techniques and ideas from her successful handmade jewelry business in England so that you can let your imagination transform parts, pieces, and pearls into wearable art.
With lots of color photos and instructions, this Zest Books paperback hits the shelves on June 26, 2012, so zip in to your favorite independent bookstore then, and ask your local library to order it, too.
When folks start asking to buy your one-of-a-kind jewelry, be sure to grab Kenrya Rankins’ Start It Up (recommendation) so you can build a great business plan for your new enterprise.
Book info: Junk-Box Jewelry: 25 DIY Low-Cost (or No-Cost) Jewelry Projects / Sarah Drew. Zest Books, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: If you want to create new jewelry from interesting bits and pieces, then this is the book for you! Sarah Drew provides clear instructions and diagrams for basic and intermediate wire-crafting techniques, plus twenty-five innovative jewelry concepts from funky to fancy.
Once you have a few very basic tools and the right kind of wire and jewelry fittings from the local craft department, then you’re ready to start looking around your house, rummage sales, and even the beach for the colored, sparkly, smooth or shiny items that will feature in your creations.
Perhaps you’ll start mastering your wire techniques by remaking old beads into a new Retro-Bauble Bracelet or a fanciful Bling Ring. A Vintage Lace Choker has white glue as its secret ingredient, ornamented by a few well-placed reclaimed beads or faux gems.
You’ll learn how to suspend a beautiful stone as a pendant without drilling a hole in it, go green by making your own colorful tube-beads with magazine photos for a Newsstand Necklace, and turn hardware store finds into “charms” that will make your Toolbox Bracelet unique.
With a little practice, you can crochet wire into fanciful Cuff Bracelets or twist and twirl it around pearl-beads to fashion an intricate Art Deco Bracelet. For the prom or that special night out, create Elegant Earrings and a Juliet Headband to match your favorite outfit.
Once you’ve learned these basic jewelry techniques, you’re only limited by your imagination and the intriguing pieces of old brooches, sea glass, silk flowers, and thrift-store treasures that you find! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Who’s to say that Prince Leopold didn’t borrow a particular ring from his mother’s strongbox to show his royal brother Arthur? Or that certain well-dressed ladies at the masquerade ball at the Palace were not exactly who they seemed… or even as human as they appeared to be?
Commoners and royalty, the calm Seelie Court of Faerie opposed by the Unseelie Court determined to take back the world from humans… all bound up in the truce of The Faerie Ring. This first book in the series by Kiki Hamilton is an exciting read. Now, to wait for the October 2012 publication of book two, The Torn Wing !
My Book Talk: Not many orphans find themselves accidentally inside Buckingham Palace; only Tiki could accidentally find a gold ring as she escaped. The strange words of its inscription remind her of a childhood rhyme, but carry a violent oath about a treaty broken. Perhaps that’s why the London slum shadows now fill with winged beings trying to steal the ring back…
Tiki only picks pockets to keep her small family of other orphans alive in 1871’s brutal winter cold, hidden in an abandoned shop near Charing Cross Station. After her father and mother died of the fever, Tiki went to live with her aunt and uncle, whose leering grabs sent the young teen fleeing.
Fellow thief Rieker warns her of danger – from the Queen’s agents and from the winged ones she’s spotted. For the ring that Tiki found is more valuable than mere gold – it’s the treaty between Faerie and the mortal world. If it is out of Queen Victoria’s possession, then the separation between the two realms can be crossed over. As disasters begin to rock the human world and the Queen falls ill, reward posters about the gold ring appear. Tiki is too clever to directly return it and starts to formulate a plan that could get the orphans off the streets.
Why can’t anyone else see the faeries but Tiki and Rieker?
Why does the ring’s inscription sound so familiar?
Will Prince Leopold discover her secret before she can return the ring without endangering the orphan children she has sworn to protect?
And who exactly is Rieker anyway?
This thrilling debut novel takes readers from the coal-smoky backstreets of Victorian London to the palatial halls of royalty as warring factions of Faerie take advantage of the ring’s absence to enter England for good and for evil. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Only being found by an honorable samurai warrior saves Jack from immediate death.
Only Masamoto’s power within the empire allows the blond-haired teen to accompany him to train with other young men and women in the most-demanding of martial arts.
Only Jack’s determination to survive and someday return to England keeps him going through the mental challenges of fitting into Japanese society and the physical challenges of samurai school. Can blue-eyed Jack truly become an English samurai warrior in feudal Japan?
And DragonEye the one-eyed ninja assassin waits… waits for his chance to steal the navigation charts and to kill Jack. This is the first book in Bradford’s “Young Samurai” series – your chance to travel back into a closed society and heart-pounding adventure on a World Wednesday.
My Book Talk: Stormdriven to the rocky shores of 1612 Japan, Jack sees his father and shipmates killed by ninja pirates. Rescued from the wreckage by a samurai’s men, the young blond teen is the first Englishman ever to visit Japan, bringing with him only his father’s secret sea navigation charts.
Jack is adopted into the family of samurai Masamoto who has mourned for 2 years since his elder son was assassinated by “DragonEye,” the same green-eyed ninja who killed Jack’s father. At age 12, Jack must quickly learn how to handle a wooden practice sword and chopsticks, how to speak Japanese and follow the many rules of this polite society, how to “fall seven times and rise up eight.” Akiko, daughter of a fallen samurai, helps Jack learn these many lessons as they prepare to enter the samurai academy in Kyoto.
Will the younger Masamoto son accept this “gaijin” foreigner as a foster brother or keep fighting against him? Will Jack succeed at the samurai academy as he seeks to learn the Way of the Warrior? When DragonEye threatens the capital city, can Jack and the other young samurai stop him? And will Jack ever get home to England again?
This exciting first book in the Young Samurai series includes a glossary and pronunciation guide for the Japanese words essential to the story. Ikinasai! Let’s begin! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Fired on his first day as King Vandemere’s Royal Reporter?
Ven must make his friends believe that as he embarks on a dangerous undercover assignment at the King’s behest.
Willingly visiting the Gated City rather disreputable weekly Market? Alone?
Of course, they insist on going with him to the Outer Market, where one can buy pleasant dreams or have one’s childhood memories stolen.
If they aren’t out of the Raven Guild’s market by last bell, they’ll be trapped for a week in hostile territory where their coin won’t buy food and their heads might not stay attached for long…
Haydon has ‘excavated’ Ven’s fascinating journals from the long-ago time when humans were not the only intelligent race on the earth, when magic and dragons were commonplace, when Nainfolk like Ven lived to be 200 years old. It’s great to see this series available in paperback now.
Having a brave Nain as a sworn friend-for-life might lead you into all sorts of adventures.
What are your experiences with friends who stuck with you through thick and thin?
Book info: The Thief Queen’s Daughter (The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, book 2) / Elizabeth Haydon; illustrated by Jason Chen. Starscape, 2007 (hardback), 2008 (paperback). [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: When the King sends Ven searching for the origins of a mysterious artifact, he warns the young Nain that entering the Gated City on this secret mission might be the last thing he ever does. Of course, that’s the one place where unique items are bought and sold (and stolen) – from merchandise and promises to dreams, memories, or even childhood!
Curiosity and courage are equally strong in Ven, who is just beginning to grow his beard at age 50 (a young teenager in human terms), thirteenth child of the famous shipbuilding Polypheme family. He has to make his friends in the Boys’ Lodge believe that the King has fired him (his first day on the job as Royal Reporter, no less) so that they won’t be in danger as the hunt for information takes them to strange places.
A guard dog with an attitude in the armorer’s shop, warnings to leave the Gated City’s Outer Market before last bell or be locked in for a week, spying birds who report to enemies and allies – Ven and his friends have perils to avoid and wonders to explore as he seeks the artifact’s history. The Raven’s Guild doesn’t take kindly to strangers being inside the Gated City walls after Market Day, and the Thief Queen rules the Raven’s Guild with an iron hand.
When Saeli disappears near last bell time, they fear she’s been kidnapped and go looking for her. Daring to use the back alleys and rooftop ropewalks, Ven and friends find their way to the Inner Market gate, just as the last bell sounds.
Are the archers on the Gated City walls keeping the King’s citizens out after Market Day is over or making the Raven’s Guild and company stay inside? Why does Ida say she knows the Thief Queen? (Ida tells such tall tales) Will Ven live long enough to write this adventure in his journal or grow another hair in his beard?
Ven’s “rediscovered” journals have been carefully compiled by author Elizabeth Haydon, who enlisted Jason Chan’s help in restoring the maps and illustrations that our clever and oh-so curious young Nain included. Enjoy book 1, The Floating Island, first to learn how Ven wound up so far away from his family’s shipbuilding yard, then watch for book 3, The Dragon’s Lair. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
When Esty’s father is killed trying to help starving farmers, she and her mother and granddad no longer have a home, and Esty must hire out as a servant. Emigration out of Ireland is offered – many travel to the United States, but Esty has carefully read the newspapers discarded by her employer and finds a way for her family to get to the goldfields of Australia.
The Mahers will face bandits, harsh weather, backbreaking toil, and outright prejudice as they dig for gold in Ballarat in this exciting story based on history.
Recommendation: Surely the potato blight won’t hurt Esty’s family, her papa being agent for the landowner, right? But the famine in 1840s Ireland cuts deep, and 12-year-old Esty finds herself hired out as a servant, with Mama and Grandpa sent from their big house to a tiny cottage.
As the large landowners continue evicting the tenants who can’t pay rent or feed their families because of the blight, more rebellion springs up. Esty reads the newspapers discarded by her employers and dreams of taking her family away from the famine, off to the goldfields of Australia.
Such a long journey, from Ireland to the other side of the world! And what perils along the way to the goldfields at Ballarat – thieves, wild weather and worse!
Can Esty really find a way to get her family all the way to Australia? Will they be tough enough to survive the pioneer conditions at the edge of the Outback? Can they find gold or will Ballarat be one more heartbreak for the Mahers?(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
They’re not the only ones on the hunt for a possible archaeological treasure, so The Red Blazer Girls need to watch their backs! Mystery, history, and fun with friends… what more could you want? (oh, there are some cute guys, too)
Be sure to solve each puzzle before reading the next chapter – it’s so much more fun that way! And, yes, there are more Red Blazer Girl cases ahead! **kmm
Recommendation: Sophie decides to investigate the white face she saw in the church tower window, which would make anyone scream during 7th grade English class, right? So she, Rebecca and Margaret cross the courtyard from St. Veronica School to St. Veronica Church, where they find mysterious passageways, a huge orange cat, and a new friend with an old family problem.
Mrs. Harriman hasn’t seen her daughter since her ex-husband took Caroline away on an archaeological dig 20 years ago, and they drifted apart. But yesterday, a birthday card addressed to Caroline from her beloved grandfather was found in Mrs. H’s study, giving the first clues for a birthday scavenger hunt. Grandfather Ev died the next day, so he never gave Caroline that card, and the retired archaeologist’s gift hasn’t been found yet. Perhaps it is the missing ruby Ring of Rocamadour, over 1,000 years old…
The card says that the next clue is in St. Veronica School’s library, so slightly eccentric Mrs. H asks Sophie and friends to please search for it. Perhaps if they can track down all the clues and find the gift, then Mrs. H can contact Caroline at last.
They find and work through clues and puzzles, they have to practice for the Dickens skit contest, and someone else is just half a step behind them as they scour their New York City neighborhood for the next clues. Who can they trust? Will the gift still be there after 20 years? What is that odd smell?
When they got their red blazers to start the year as upper school students at St. V’s, the girls never dreamed that they’d be solving mysteries between guitar lessons, art class, and violin studies!
Funny, suspenseful, and totally real, this first book in the Red Blazer Girls series will have you working through the puzzles right along with Sophie, Margaret, Rebecca, and Leigh Ann, just waiting with the St. V’s girls for the next adventure!(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
Ahoy, and welcome aboard on Fun Friday! But ’twere no fun for Maurice Reidy to give up country life and become an errand boy for his uncle in Dublin. The only swimmer in his large and impoverished family, he’s known as “Fish” and would certainly rather swim than fight.
How was Fish to know that he’d be kidnapped by pirates during his very first errand? And what a crew of pirates! A captain who’d rather search for treasure than capture other ships, a gunner who’s expert in cannons and cheese, and a girl cook!
Life on board a pirate ship challenges both Fish’s swimming skills and his conciliatory abilities, as he tries to stave off mutiny while the captain solves an intricate puzzle, then “The Scurvy Mistress” must outrace other would-be pirates to the treasure.
A rollicking read on the high seas, and a great addition to any pirate’s library of fantastic fiction – with nary an Arrrggh in sight! **kmm
Recommendation: Living in bustling Dublin or a poor country farm? At age 11, Fish (nicknamed for his swimming skills) will soon find out which he prefers as he leaves his large family’s small farm to work for his uncle as a courier. But his first parcel is snatched just as he is delivering it to Mr. Swift on the city dock! Chasing the thieves, Fish watches them row toward a menacing ship across the harbour and decides to swim after them to recover the bag of coins.
The sailors aren’t going to give up their prize easily, and Fish finds himself kidnapped – aboard a pirate ship! A good captain (and his wife!), a skilled ship’s cook (a girl!), a silent giant, a first mate plotting mutiny, and Fish’s own determination to survive without fighting make life aboard ship complicated. The coins are part of a treasure map that must be unpuzzled…
Ahoy! “The Scurvy Mistress” is being pursued by Mr. Swift and his ship full of treasure hunters who shoot first and talk later! And they want those coins so they can complete the treasure map!
As they race to find the treasure predicted by the mysterious coins, Fish and crew must overcome treacherous waters, nefarious plots, and terrible smells. Who will discover it first – the honest pirates or the dishonest treasure hunters?
Travel the high seas with a young man who’s true to himself in this tale of adventure and danger (and really funny characters!). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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