The Show Must Go On!

The Show Must Go On!written by Kate Klise

illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

This is book 1 of the Three Ring Rascals.  When you finish you’ll be glad that there is a plan for more stories with the characters that you’ve come to love.

The book opens with “If you’re ever walking down a dusty road and see a sign that looks like this, STOP and look closely.”  The sign says:  Coming Soon!  Sir Sidney’s Circus   Animals!  Acrobats!  Amazing Feats That Will DAZZLE YOUR EYES and DELIGHT YOUR BRAIN!

Sir Sidney’s circus is the best in the world, but Sir Sidney is getting old and a bit tired of travel.  He loves his circus and his animals, big and small, but he needs some help.  After a day of pacing and listing, considering and wondering Sir Sidney hires certified lion tamer, Barnaby Brambles to manage his circus.  Right from the start things begin to go wrong.  You see Barnaby Brambles doesn’t understand that kindness goes a long way.  He doesn’t consider how all things are connected. If you eliminate one thing or add another what is good doesn’t always remain.  Barnaby Brambles also doesn’t know that all things are not what they seem.  If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it just might be. No, Barnaby Brambles doesn’t think about anything but money and becoming rich.  He cuts corners in every way that he can.  If he thinks he can get away with it, he tries it and he has no qualms about telling a lie if it will get him what he wants.  He is bad, through and through.

What will become of the best circus in the world now that he is in charge?  Will the acrobats perform?  Will the animals be safe and cared for?  You’ll have to read The Show Must Go On! to find out.  It’s smafunderful!

You can Meet the Cast here and learn a more about the book. Which character are you most like?  I’m curious to know what you think.

The Golden Door

The Golden Doorby Emily Rodda.

Her writing is exciting and suspenseful.  As the reader of fantasy you know some things are bound to happen – the youngest brother is going to be the chosen one, the magic is going to help him at the last minute, the ancient ways have been lost or misunderstood – but with this author, you are not going to know how these elements will unfold, even at the last minute.  I love that!

Rye, pure of heart, is the youngest brother living in a land plagued with skimmers.  They come to Weld by night in search of prey – they eat any living thing they can find, human or beast.  Recently the attacks have been more severe and the Warden needs to take action.  He issues a quest. Any man 18 or older who accepts the terms of the quest will leave by a secret way, previously only known of  through the tales and legends surrounding Sorcerer Dann, Weld’s founder.  While outside the city the quester must find and destroy the source of the skimmers.  Upon returning, he will become the future leader of Weld.  Rye’s oldest brother, Dirk, is strong, steadfast and a determined leader.  He is 18 and among the first to accept the challenge.  A year later he has not returned.  Sholto, the middle brother, is studious, scientific and skeptical. Different, but determined as well in the year while Dirk has been gone he has turned 18.  Sholto is among the second group to go.  Two years later when neither has returned, Rye and his mother move to the Keep because they need the Warden’s protection and support to survive.

Rye can’t bear this life and determines to find his brothers and bring them home.  He too accepts the terms of the quest,  though he does not meet them, and is off, but not before one of The Keep orphans begs to join him.  Rye and Sonia begin their journey.  Readers quickly know that though Rye has deceived the Warden by saying he is 18, he has not broken any of the terms of the quest. He has not going to destroy the skimmers and has no desire to become leader.  He has gone to make his family whole again.  Sonia, too does not meet the terms of the quest, but she is determined to make Weld safe once more.  Readers also know that Rye and Sonia are part of something much larger than they realize.  It seems that Rye is “the one” who will set things right, but what they are and how that will be done is a mystery.    You’ll be eagerly turning page after page to find out why Rye has been chosen, what he will do to fulfill his destiny and how Sonia fit in.

This is the first in a trilogy.  What is exciting as a reader is knowing I will have to wait to the very last page of the last book in order to find the complete answer to my questions and fully understand the magic and mystery that surrounds Rye, Sonia and Weld.

A Box of Gargoyles

A Box of Gargoylesby Anne Nesbet

vampiri samodavi, gargoyles that move, stones full of memories, music that brings the dead to life – there is magic in the legends and magic waiting in a choice

Maya has found her way in Paris with the help of Valko – everything is better with a friend.  Just as she is willing to recognize a little of the happiness hope brings, strange things begin to happen and Henri de Fourcroy is part of them.  He has cast a spell, an enchantment, a bonding?  Something is calling Maya and changing the city: perhaps even undoing the world.

Henri, now a shadow is using what is left of his magic to bring himself back to life.  The Cabinet of Earths may be gone, but he is sure he can bend the rules of the universe once more.  He will only need to convince Maya to give him what he needs – her heart.  He knows she will.   That is how the magic works now that he has bound her to him.   She is his zmey (dragon).   All he must do is wait for her to bring the pieces together. He places his memory into a wall for safekeeping, but the wall doesn’t want to think, to know, to feel, to be – that is not what a rock should do.  The wall resists.  Part of it explodes and the hole that appears it just enough… just enough to give Maya the space to think and choose.  She can decide if the dominoes will just fall as they will or if she will resist and create a new pattern.

Maya is caught in the force of the magic, but Valko is not.  Together they are aware of things that others are not.  They learn about history and heritage.  They learn about change and magic.  Determinism – physics, choice – magic.

A Box of Gargoyles settles the loose ends left from The Cabinet of Earths.  There are always at least two sides of a thing, if not more.  It is important to consider each facet, each color, each choice – they are always there.  When the time is right you’ll know what to do.  It will shine and sparkle like a star.  It will feel warm and happy.  The music of the world will twinkle with peace.

The Vengekeep Prophecies

The Vengekeep Propheciesby Brian Farrey

Every person is much more than they seem.

The Vengekeep Prophecies has been sitting in my pile for nearly a year.  I got it just as the school started and there it sat waiting to be read.  I’m glad it was patient.  Reading it made me think about the idea of choosing between what you should do and what you want to do.  It led me to think about the importance of finding a way to contribute by following your passion and knowing what you are good at.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, pick it up and give it a try.

Vengekeep is the name of the town where Jaxter and the Grimjinx family live.  The family makes their living by pulling cons, creating forgeries and pickpocketing.  The wisdom and skill of the profession has been passed down for generations in the family album detailing the Grimjinx history; each entry ending with ‘and then we were rich beyond belief.’   Jaxter is twelve and now is his time to add to the family legacy and continue the story.  The only problem is that Jaxter is a klutz of the very worse kind and that doesn’t bode well for his future success.

On his first solo mission, Jaxter burned the Castellan’s house down and landed the family in gaol.  But staying in gaol wasn’t what the Grimjinxes were destined for.  Each year Vengekeep has an Unveiling of the five hundred year old tapestry foretelling important events for the town’s upcoming year.  For centuries the Vengekeep scholars have been studying and interpreting the tapestry, making plans to avert any foretold danger and keeping the city prosperous.  This year the tapestry predicts a very bleak future that can only be overcome by the family marked by the star.  The Grimjinxes are that family.

Jaxter looks at all the horrors depicted on the tapestry.  How are they ever going to survive them? Each one seems to be a worse horror than the one before. It is going to be a disastrous year – why then are his parents so calm?   They seem to be enjoying their status as the keepers of the city.  That is until the lava monsters arrive and their plan unravels.  Jaxter may not have inherited his family’s skills but he does have knowledge.  Nanni had said, “The things you learn in books will outshine all of us someday, you mark my words.”  Maybe that is true.  Jaxter is going to need everything he has learned along with courage, friendship and creativity if he is going to beat the Vengekeep prophecy.

At the beginning of the book Jaxter wonders if his family is ashamed of him.  It can be hard to choose – doing what you think you should or doing what you want.  Do you have to choose?  Read The Vengekeep Prophecies to find out.



The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shopby Kate Saunders

You may not know it, but magic is everywhere.  You go through your day never noticing it, but it’s there.  Well, at least it is in The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop.

Oz and Lily didn’t know about magic either until their family arrived at 18 Skittle Street. Their dad had just inherited the property from his Uncle Pierre.  A bit strange because he had never met his uncle and the house had been empty for nearly seventy years. The twins hadn’t been expecting much, but everything seemed perfectly intriguing once they got there.  The house was large and homey, with a terrific backyard, and the workshop where the, once famous, Spoffard confections had been made still smelled of chocolate. There seemed to be a cat (something Lily had always wanted); maybe the same one in the photograph of Great Uncle Pierre if that could be possible. The electricity was still on.  Incredibly, the house was everything they could possibly want or need and so the family moved in.

In their first night at the house Oz and Lily learn they have been brought there for a reason.  They are the only ones able to keep Isadore Spoffard from selling Immortality Chocolate to the terrorist group known as the Schmertz Gang eager to take over the world.  Recruited by Demerara – indeed the exact same cat in the seventy year old photograph, the twins join the Secret Ministry of the Unexplained, a division of M16 (of 007 fame.) The SMU polices the misuse of magic to help maintain the world’s equilibrium.  Right now that balance in teetering on the edge.   You’ll have to read The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop to discover how it the plots and plans “unmold.”  You’ll be smiling through every page.


Fyre (Septimus Heap, #7)Angie Sage does a masterful job of bringing all the characters from the first six books of the Septimus Heap series together in Fyre. Septimus is 14 and he has chosen magical over alchemical.  He has made his commitment.  Past and present weave together setting the stage for what looks to be a very bright future indeed. Septimus will become the next ExtraOrdinary Wizard.  His main challenge at the moment is to decipher the glyphs on the tower roof.  Beetle is the newly appointed Chief Hermetic Scribe of the Manuscriptorium.  He is sorting and classifying and working to locate missing pieces in the documents of the history of their magical world. Jenna, soon to be the new queen, must learn all she can about the Queen’s Way.

Their tasks are pushed aside by a challenge from the Darke Domaine.  The evil contained in the two-faced ring is ever-changing and strong.  If they are ever to be free of it, it must be denatured in the true alchemical fyre.  This is not an easy task – especially when magic and deceit are in play so even what they think they know, they do not.  To achieve this goal Septimus must use all his skills –  magical and alchemical and he will require the knowledge, support and genius of everyone he has met in the past and present, living or not.  Everyone and everything will be needed to bring the evil begun DomDaniel to an end.

Septimus is the seventh son of a seventh son who must study his craft for seven years and a day before becoming the new head wizard.  It is fitting that his tale comes to a close in the seventh book of this series.  Unpredictable, funny and exciting – you’ll love reading Fyre even though it means leaving behind characters and a story you can’t get tired of.  I loved reading this series and I think Fyre is the best of them.  Enjoy!

In a Glass Grimmly

In a Glass Grimmly (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #2)a companion to A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz  You can find out more about him by clicking on his name.

Where the first book follows Hansel and Gretel through various Grimm fairytales this book follows cousins Jack and Jill through Grimm and Anderson tales , along with rhymes from Mother Goose.  Jack and Jill are not happy in their respective homes.  Jack longs to be admired and Jill longs for beauty and both are bent on making decisions that will enable them to reach their goals.  Off to a rough start, they find themselves working together with the help of a talking, three-legged frog.

After making a deal with a strange baby-faced ancient woman, Jack and Jill set off on a quest that sends them to many different places.  They go to the clouds where they meet a murderous group of giants who are outwitted after stunning amounts of vomit.  From there they journey to the sea only to find beautifully cruel mermaids and then on to the goblin market where truth is not valued, nor are body parts or life.  Lastly they find themselves underground where they befriend an enormous salamander that smells worse than any combination of smells you can imagine – and that is on the outside before they enter his gullet to retrieve a lost treasure.

Irreverently disgusting, this book is full of revolting delights.  It is a well written blend of fairy tale telling with a vocal narrator who offers cautions and belated apologies for events that may have scared or offended.  Along the way there are other ideas to ponder…

One is the ravens’ distinction between being confused and being con-fused.

“As long as you are con-fused you will never find what you seek.  Even though it is right there.”

“There is this weird thing that happens, when you stop worrying so much about what other people think of you.  When you are no longer – to use the ravens’ word – con-fused.  At that moment, you suddenly start seeing what you think of you.”

You’ll love it from beginning to end.  Enjoy!


Dragonborn (The Flaxfield Quartet, #1)by Toby Forward

Book 1 of the Flaxfield Quartet

don’t be deceived by the cover – this is a book for seasoned fantasy readers who’ll be okay with a little confusion and patient enough to have their questions answered as the story unfolds throughout the series.

Dragonborn begins with these words:  Flaxfield died on a Friday…  Flaxfield had been teaching Sam to become a wizard.  Sam is halfway through his apprenticeship – he knows some magic but not enough.  He is completely alone but for his dragon and best friend, Starback. Everything that is familiar to Sam disappears in that instant.  Flaxfield’s past apprentices come back to the cottage to honor their master as the rules dictate – while there they question Sam and don’t believe he is an actual apprentice.  They frighten and confuse Sam enough so that he runs away in search of someone or a way that will help him complete his apprenticeship. He is determined to become a full wizard.  That he will not lose.

Sam’s journey follows a tracing of trails that weaves worlds and times together.  For a time Sam loses Starback because he meets a roffle.  The roffle leads Sam to a school for wizards suggesting he can finish his apprenticeship there.  Once at the school, Sam discovers that it is not what he needs at all. The magic taught there is not what he wants to learn.  Most of the teachers and students there lack respect for the rules of real magic, the important kind.  Magic is wasted there so it becomes weak and useless. Sam leaves there too.

Almost as soon as Sam begins his journey, the other Flaxfield wizards realize that Sam might be “the one” and they go in search of him. Starback, no longer with Sam, but wishing to help, sees this and leads them away from Sam.  He leads castle he once knew.  Then it was teeming with life.  Strangely now it is lifeless and dark, but it is away from Sam and Starbuck hopes that will keep him safe.

Separated from his friend, Sam’s lonely journey continues.  Glimmers of hope appear around some of the bends, while shadows of evil slip through at others. Sam is on a quest, one that threatens his very life.  It seems he has no choice but to follow the path before him.  There is no running from destiny and by the end of the book I had a inkling of what that destiny might be. There is evil magic abroad and an old danger is gathering strength.  It seems that Sam and Starback have an important part to play in this unfolding battle.

I have much more to learn about magic, dragons, Flaxfield, Flaxfold, Tamrin and Ash and I can’t wait!  Dragonborn is the first of four books.  I am eager to read them all.  I had many questions as I read.  It was challenging to keep the characters and the action straight. Jot some notes. They may help you understand the sides and that’s important.  I found myself rereading large sections of the book to make sure I understood how the pieces fit together.  This is a complex book – one to read and read again and enjoy.

The Spindlers

The Spindlersby Lauren Oliver

a intermediate adventure with an eerie twist

The first thing I noticed when I opened The Spindlers was the dedication:  To Patrick, of course –  And to my sister, who has rescued me many times from the dark, and for whom I would gladly go Below.  Hmm… I thought as I began to read…  “One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning , when she woke up, he was not.”

A few sentences later I read:  The fake-Patrick picked up his spoon and gave Liza a look that chilled her to her very center.  Then the fake-Patrick began to eat his cereal, methodically, slowly, fishing all the alphabet letters out of his Alpha-Bits one by one and lining them up along the rim of his bowl.  … I-H-A-T-E-Y-O-U.

Patrick was somehow both there, and totally gone.  Because of this, their parents see no reason to notice.  They are caught up with  the search for missing reading glasses and the endless cycle of working hard and worrying about paying bills on time.  If Patrick is to be saved, it is totally up to Liza.  She knew there were worlds beyond and below.  She’d heard the stories, and though she hadn’t been sure they were true, she wondered now that Patrick was gone.  Had his soul been stolen by the Spindlers.  Though he was a pain, he was her brother.  He was her friend and it seemed to Liza that she must try to find and save him if at all possible.  And so she went looking.  She discovered more than she had ever dreamed of and she had the courage to go Below.  That is how she met Mirabella, the mascaraed rat, learned of the lumer-lumpen, discovered the seeds of hope and found the truths that come to you in your dreams.

Liza is off on a challenging quest in a land that is totally unique and far from kind – and yet it is just down the stairs and a bit below from where you are reading right now.  Will you dare to go?   Will your courage hold ?  Once you’ve made your decision you’ll have a great tale to tell…if you return.

Ordinary Magic

Ordinary Magicby Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

278 pages for intermediate and middle grade readers who want a little magic and a little fairness in their lives.  Ordinary?  What is that?

When ordinary is not normal and normal is an illusion, how can you be sure of what you know?  Abby Hale is the youngest of five.  On her twelfth birthday she heads to the guild where the mages will give her some tests and learn what magical abilities and talents will be.  The Judging is an exciting to day!  Abby can hardly wait to discover her magical ranking.  Her family has gathered.  A celebration has been planned.

Abby walks through the door and into the testing – her score… zero.  Abby Hale – youngest of an important magical family, sister of one with a nearly perfect score … has no magic.  She has nothing.  She is nothing.  She is an “ord.”

In one moment Abby’s life is changed.  What will she do?  How will she survive in a place where she is no longer wanted and no longer safe?  Though Abby has a family who loves and accepts her for who she, that is not typical.  Traditionally Ords are abandoned or sent away.  Having no value to society, they are sold or stolen and forced to do things only the non-magical can do.  King Stephen wants to change that – but will it be in time to help Abby?

Ordinary Magic is fun.  You’ll like the new places this book takes you, but it will make you think.  Ordinary…what does that really mean?