November 23, 2016

Audio Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

 Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Author: Lauren DeStefano

Pram Bellamy is special--she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have oo many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

So at first I wasn't so sure about this book.  It starts out with a pretty graphic image of a dead body.  I thought wow where can this go from here?!  In the end tho, I did like it.  It was a little different at parts, but at its heart it was about Pram just wanting to know where she belongs and who loves her.  About Pram - I loved her, I really did.  She was sweet and strong and kind and determined.  I liked that I knew she was a character that would never intentional hurt someone.  I was able to trust her and cheer for her. And there were so many times she needed cheering! At some points I didn't know if things would work out!  But the way the story ended was great.  

And can I tell you that I loved Felix.  He was sweet and so kind.  I cheered for him too!

Lastly Pram's gift was very well done.  I liked that it wasn't over-played too much.  Yes it played a huge role in the story, but it wasn't a scary thing.  It wasn't creepy.  It was more factual.  It was a gift and accepted and moved on - well at least by Pram.  The aunts had different thoughts about it, but that was understandable.  

About the audio:  Liked it.  The narrator was good.  Sometimes I struggle with narrators for middle grade books, but this one was good! 

Final thought:  Enjoyed it after the shocking beginning.
Best stick-with-you image:  Beyond the first one?  Clarence and the box.  
Best for:  Middle school students

November 14, 2016

Audio Book Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Title:  Furthermore
Author: Tahereh Mafi

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

This book was adorable and sweet and odd and fun and thought provoking.  Yes it was all that! I adored Alice - ok I admit there was a point where I was getting annoyed by her because she just wouldn't listen BUT they she turned a corner, and I loved the girl she became.  From the start I did feel for her.  Here she is - a girl with no color in a world that values color to the point of seeing it as currency.  She felt so different from anyone around her, and her one champion, her father, is gone.  I wanted to hug her.  As story progresses she goes from knowing herself, to doubting herself to being able to accept who she is and the gifts she has been given.  Wonderful transformation.

I also loved the world of Furthermore. As the story went along I was amazed over and over by Mafi's ability to create such a world! It helped that she described it such reach and unique language that it was almost painted before you.  Completely wonderful.  But I also liked that you never knew what to trust in the brilliant world of Furthermore.  It added this edge to the setting that also kept me, and Alice, on my toes.

My one small issue was the ending.  It ended kinda fast!  I guess I wanted just a bit more.  Not a huge deal but something to note.  

Audio Book Thoughts:  LOVED the narrator!  He did such a wonderful job.  His narration truly brought the world and Alice's story together.

A few weeks back I had the chance to meet Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs.  I was super excited to hear she is going to write a companion novel to Furthermore! I cannot wait for it to come out!

In short:  Check it out. I hope you'll enjoy the world and Alice as much as I did.  
Best for: Kids who like books with magical worlds and a bit of topsy-turvy-ness.
Best stick-with-you image:  The paper fox and Alice's new dress. 

November 8, 2016

Review: Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy by Doug Savage

Title: Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy
Author: Doug Savage
Geared Towards: 4th grade and up

The forest is full of danger . . .  but help is here. Meet Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy, improbable pals who use their powers—laser vision and an unrelenting sense of optimism—to fight the forces of evil. Join the dynamic duo as they battle aliens, a mutant fish-bear, a cyborg porcupine, and a mechanical squirrel, learning along the way that looking on the bright side might be just as powerful as shooting a laser. 

Graphic novels are HUGE at my media center.  We cannot keep them on the shelf.  So when I was offered this book for review I wanted to check it out.  I do think it's one that kids will enjoy.  I mean really what kid wouldn't like a story with a moose that can shoot lasers out of his eyes?! But what is fun about it is that he isn't the best aim and some funny things happen because of it.  What I found interesting about this book is that it's several shorter stories in one book.  That is not something I've seen before in a graphic novel.  I think kids would like that as well because some need shorter pieces and like to read a story beginning to end in one setting.  

Media Thoughts:  Yes I'd put this in the media center.  One thing to note is that even though it looks like it could be for younger kids I think it's more for like 3rd and up.  

Like graphic novels

November 2, 2016

Impyrium Blog Tour +GIVEAWAY X2!

Welcome to Day #8 of the Impyrium Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Imyprium by Henry H. Neff (10/4/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Henry and 10 chances to win a SIGNED copy of Impyrium, as well as a Grand Prize Giveaway!

Lyrical Beauty:  Lingua Mystica and IMPYRIUM Magic by Henry H. Neff

A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast called “Imaginary Worlds” which tackles fun questions and themes related to fantasy and science fiction. The topic of the day was magic, and the host interviewed Kingkiller Chronicles author, Patrick Rothfuss, who discussed how various authors approach magic. His take was that magic tends to fall in one of two camps: poetry or science. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings would be an example of poetry, where Gandfalf and others work magic by virtue of some power within their being, or associated with their role or rank. At the other end of the spectrum might be Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series where magic is derived from specific metals and scientific processes. It was an interesting discussion and got me thinking about my own system and the way magic works within IMPYRIUM. My conclusion? I’m a scientific poet. Or a poetic scientist. Take your pick. I do like to have some rules to the magic in IMPYRIUM, a sense of how things work so that readers can grasp what is being achieved, the degree of difficulty, and ranks among practitioners. I think that’s helpful. But I never want to have so many rules that magic is simply another science, no different from chemistry or geology. 

To me, magic must always have an element of mystery and wonder, a glimpse of some hidden aspect of the world or even Creation itself. Rothfuss thought it was silly that magic would have some darker side or inherent cost—after all, chemistry doesn’t. I would disagree for the simple reason that magic isn’t chemistry—it is, almost by definition, not something that can be defined and contained by scientific laws. In IMPYRIUM, magic is tied to one’s soul, and the way in which it’s used can change, disrupt, or even destroy one’s essence. I never want the magic in my stories to be pure science for the same reason that many Star Wars fans were upset when the Force was boiled down to “midi-chlorian count” in later films. The Force—this energy field that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together—can be counted and quantified? No, thank you. I always want some mystery in my magic, some element of the sacred and even profane. Imagination will always be more powerful than algorithms. In IMPYRIUM, mystics and sorcerers represent both ends of the spectrum. 

Mystics comprise the vast majority of magical humans in Impyrium. They are scholarly, almost scientific practitioners that spend their time trying to learn, master, and add to the mountain of magical knowledge—established spells and alchemical formulae—that exists. Much of their research is spent trying to dissect magic, to find the ideal combination of ingredients, words, and context to maximize an enchantment’s power. In IMPYRIUM, much of this power stems from the concept of truenames, which have a long and celebrated history in mythology, folklore, and fantasy. The basic idea is that everything—every person, creature, even river or tree—has a truename, a sacred word tied to its creation and place in this world. To use a being’s truename is to potentially wield great power over them, or summon them to you. A classic example of this is Rumpelstiltskin, or the superstition of not saying the names of evil things for fear that you will call them. 

If you really want to see an author make marvelous use of truenames, have a look at Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea series. No one does magic quite as beautifully as she does. And beauty brings us to IMPYRIUM’s sorcerers. They are the poetic savants of the magical world, artistic geniuses whose intuition and instincts are so inspired they can often bypass the tedium of rote spellwork and simply improvise to greater effect. There’s a wonderful scene in the film Amadeus when the older composer Salieri, outraged at having been upstaged by the young pup Mozart, comes across the young man’s latest work. The music is simply beautiful—divine—and Salieri is looking at the original sheets. There are no changes, no scratchwork or second guessing. The music simply sprang from Mozart’s head like Athena did from Zeus’s. Salieri understood that he was in the presence of true genius and that he could never compete with such a prodigy, much less fathom how such a mind worked. Poor, frustrated Salieri was a mystic, and a good one. But Mozart was a sorcerer. I like having that dichotomy in IMPYRIUM. When Hazel Faeregine explains magic to commoner Hob, he can grasp the rules of mystics—the combinations of words, gestures, and components performed by someone possessing the inherent spark (i.e., magic) to catalyze the desired reaction. But when Hazel moves beyond these scientific descriptions and hints at grander designs, the veiled Olympian heights that only sorcerers can glimpse, Hob is understandably lost. His mortal mind can’t comprehend what exists at such a level. And neither can we. And that’s just the way I like it. Want to learn more about magic in Impyrium? Click here and dive into a tale where Old Magic meets new dangers.

Stop by Mundie Kids tomorrow for day #9 of the tour!
Blog Tour Schedule:
October 24thCrossroad Reviews
October 25th — Book Swoon
October 26thLife Naturally
October 27thThe Fandom
October 28thGeoLibrarian
October 31st WordSpelunking
November 1stBookhounds
November 2nd The OWL
November 3rdMundie Kids
November 4thRavenous Reader
Follow Henry: Website | Twitter | Facebook

In the first book of Henry H. Neff’s new high-stakes middle grade fantasy series, two unlikely allies confront a conspiracy that will shake the world of Impyrium to its core. For over three thousand years, the Faeregine dynasty has ruled Impyrium. But the family’s magic has been fading, and with it their power over the empire. Whether it’s treachery from a rival house, the demon Lirlanders, or rebel forces, many believe the Faeregines are ripe to fall. Hazel, the youngest member of the royal family, is happy to leave ruling to her sisters so that she can study her magic. But the empress has other plans for her granddaughter, dark and dangerous plans to exploit Hazel’s talents and rekindle the Faeregine mystique. Hob, a commoner from the remote provinces, has been sent to the city to serve the Faeregines—and to spy on them. One wants to protect the dynasty. The other wants to destroy it. But when Hazel and Hob form an improbable friendship, their bond may save the realm as they know it…or end it for good.

About the Author: Henry H. Neff grew up outside Chicago before going off to Cornell University, Impyrium is his second series. The first, The Tapestry, is a five-volume epic that follows the life and adventures of Max McDaniels. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two sons. You can also find him at where he majored in history. Before becoming a writer, he was a management consultant and also taught history at a San Francisco high school.


  • One (1) winner will receive an Impyrium Prize Pack featuring a collector's box packed with a signed copy of Impyrium, bookmark, poster, Hob temporary tattoo, and a signed sketch by Henry H. Neff (not pictured: bookmark, tattoo, and sketch)
  • Enter via the rafflecopter below
  • US Only
  • Ends 11/6 at midnight ET
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I also have up for grabs a SIGNED copy of the book! 

Must be a US or Canada Resident
Must be at least 13

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