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To the courtyard again, this time ascending that magnificent staircase photo at the bottom of this post. The small rooms to the right. The roofless rooms beyond. The spiral staircases. The small rooms are nondescript but it is worth looking around for the bars that signal a drop beyond — you can get good views of the rooms below from them. The rooms beyond the hall are the great chamber and kitchens; this place could hold quite a party. Up again to another, and then again — there are about four of the exact same room. The banquet house is composed of two rooms, nicely decorated, s in style.

The grotto is small and looks more tumbledown than you might expect, the stones pitted all over and suggesting a fairyland in the making. You can walk through it and there are a couple of places to sit. The standing stones are more restful. Wardour makes a lovely day out. Please note this post is full of images.

Kingston Lacy was built by Ralph Banks, beginning in , and remained in the family until when it was given to The National Trust. It started out as a red brick hall and was remodelled in the s. It houses many Egyptian artefacts, the result of the travels of the re-modeller. Kingston Lacy is one of, if not the best, historic house I have ever visited. And as I hope my photographs will show, it is simply spectacular. You get to go on all floors. You get to use the grand staircases where other houses relegate you to the back entrances.

And, significantly, you are allowed to take photographs. When you drive up to Kingston Lacy the car park is a little to the side. This means you get to walk up to the house, take photographs from the front, and enter through the main doors. The hall has a chequered floor and is on two levels.

Into the library and here comes the luxury. The room, despite being rather large, is very homely and warm. Next is the drawing room, just as beautiful. There is a lot more light here as you might imagine and it looks straight out of an Austen adaptation. The fact that that could well be the case considering the number of films and TV shows that require historical houses just adds to its appeal. And if we needed any more evidence that pink used to be more of a neutral colour, take a look at the walls.

The Spanish Room is where things take a step up, as if they needed to. The dining room has an organ. Up the stairs. The white marble stairs that are lovely themselves but are housed in an elegant hallway. The saloon opts for brighter, lighter colours. The ceiling is high; I believe it reaches the top of the house. The state bedroom is fairly small in comparison, as you can see, but no chances were being taken in the bed department.

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Clearly no crowd of visitors was involved in the thought process behind the decision. There are other bedrooms and bathrooms. Up another flight of stairs and you find yourself in the attic. Building dens seems to have been as popular back in the day as it is now but how many people can say they were able to keep their dens in place indefinitely? Downstairs, the domain of the servants, are some models of houses and a general exhibition on Kingston Lacy. The laundry is located in a long barn outside.

The rooms have been set up as they would have been and at three long rooms you can imagine how much there was to do. And now for a slightly slanted photo:. But I would recommend it in a heartbeat. Forgetting that I said I visited last year, where did you go this summer? Or, for those in the southern hemisphere, where are you hoping to go? This post is full of images. Whittington Castle changed hands through battle many times in the Medieval period; its place near the border being highly sought after by both English and Welsh alike.

Perhaps the most notable of keepers, the Fitwaryns, legend has it, kept the Holy Grail hidden there. Whilst the site is full of history, few walls remain; suffice to say a lot of my visit comprised of guesswork and the sorts of dreams history-minded tourists are predisposed to have, fancying ourselves sitting at windows and at table and what have you. Whittington Castle as it now stands is situated by a main road, the bridge and entrance facing the road almost as though it were just another residence. The gatehouse is actually Victorian, one of those faux-historical Victorian constructions, and the only part that remains intact even if the very fact of its Victorianhood makes such a fact less awe-inspiring.

Other than the gatehouse there is a barn-like building, newer, that houses the shop here I must thank the assistant who ran after me when I left my camera there , a tearoom, a couple of crumbling towers, and patches of stonework. Given that it is free to visit and that the walls have crumbled, you can approach the castle from a few places, namely the car park and the bridge.

If approaching from the left, you can get a sense of where the left side of the stone buildings would have been. I believe the room at the top of the gatehouse is used for parties of some sort but the castle as a whole is taken over once a year by a re-enactment society, Historia Normannis, that focuses on the many battles that took place. As with many historical sites, ghost stories abound. There are many, it seems, which surely fits the situation. It is by a road and you will never escape that, but the moat is lovely, the field a nice place for a walk, and it is incredibly quiet on account of Whittington being so small.

Can I recommend it? Tough question. Is it worth a trip for the average tourist, especially someone with little time in England? Is it worth a trip if you are really into Medieval history? Yes, though you would want to make it part of a day because it really only takes a few minutes to view everything unless you are intent on walking through every part. Where are you planning to visit this year or, if you live in the southern hemisphere, where did you go this summer?

The demonic Fen Pyre is a fine addition to the cast of characters, nicely removing the story from the real world and adding comic relief. I don't usually pass the YA books I read on to my husband, but I gave him this one to read, and he too enjoyed it very much. Yet, without ever betraying the farcical elements of the book, Carter makes thought-provoking points about tolerance and the dangers of over literal, de-contextualized, biblical interpretation. It is most emphatically not an antireligious book, but it is one that might well make the reader question the definition of "sin.

Disclosure: copy received from the publisher. Labels: fantasy , YA reviews. Why Shel Silverstein's mother thinks I'm absurd. At The American Scene , there's a short post about the two worst children's books ever, The Giving Tree being one of them. Shel Silverstein's mom or someone pretending to be his mom left a vigorous defense of the book in the comments, which included this statement: "It would be absurd if a fully grown and completely developed adult human being loved a plant. But if that's the attitude to plants his mother taught him, it's no wonder he wrote the book he did.

So, what children's books are there where plants are loved? The Secret Garden is the only one that comes to my mind-my favorite part of the book is the bit where Mary clears the encouraging vegetation away from the shoots of the bulbs. Oh, and The Little Prince.

It rained again this morning, so no weeding. The children and house guests slept late, and the house was tidy. So I got a lovely two hours in which to read a book I've been saving for just such a window of opportunity-- Mare's War , by Tanita Davis , Alfred A. Knopf, pp. And the two hours flew by in happy, deeply satisfied reading Mare's War tells of two journeys.

In a car speeding or not, depending on the driver across America to a mysterious reunion are two teenage girls who had their own, more teenagerishly appropriate plans for the summer and their grandmother, Marey Lee known as Mare , who planned the trip. On the way, their grandmother tells them the story of her own great journey, seventy or so years before, when she escaped from her home in Bay Slough, Alabama and went to war.

The two sister, Octavia and Talitha, squabble, fret, drag their feet, and send occasional postcards of complaint to friends and family shown in the book, in a nicely light touch , but as the miles pass, and their grandmother's story unfolds, the tone of the postcard messages changes. The friendships she made, the prejudice she encountered, and the historical pageant of which she was a part are spellbinding stuff.

This is an eye-openingly powerful narrative that educates without being didactic, filling a blank space in the history of World War II without ever loosing sight of Marey Lee, the girl. It was a story that sure kept me enthralled although I'm glad I didn't have to drive 2, miles from California to Alabama in summer with my sisters and grandmother to hear it. Davis manages to make her teenagers in the present interesting people in their own right, and not just vessels created to receive Mare's story, but their sibling relationship and 21st century teenage angsts pall in comparison to what their grandmother went through to give them credit, they realize this.

In essence, Mare's War is first rate historical fiction, set in a modern narrative that, I think, makes it much more accessible and appealing to teenagers than Marey Lee's story, served straight up, might have been. They are, though, all books that put girls front and central--books about girls doing things, and communities of girls, and career stories. And that, in my mind, is where Mare's War belongs. I'll be recommending this book at a yahoo group I belong to Girls Own , that focuses on British girls' boarding school books--the relationships between young women, their education, the career choices they made, and the windows they often offer on life as a girl many years ago are all here in Marey Lee's story.

I'm also more than happy to recommend this to fans of World War II historical fiction--it's a great addition to that genre. And while I'm at it, it's a great road trip story too! I hope Mare's War will be happy shelved next to Hester Burton's books more great historical fiction , and one shelf up from Helen Doyle Boylston Disclosure: Tanita Davis is a blog friend of mine, and I was lucky enough to win a copy of the book from one of her giveaways.

So, although I was very glad to write what I think is a glowing review at least, it's meant to be of her book, I just want to make it clear that I would have written this even if I had never met her in an online sense. I didn't read anything yesterday, and I haven't yet today. Instead, I was running a yard sale at my library. Another member of the Friends of the Library really really wanted to have one, and was going to organize it all, and then let me know a few weeks ago that she'd actually be out of town today. So it became my yard sale.

The world was peaceful at four this morning, washed clean by yet another heavy rain, that had soaked the tarps lovingly draped last night over the piles of yard salage like silage , only junkier. Oh well. We made enough money to pay for 2 summer reading programs, 2 books I want to read, and some left over for the savings account my dream is to have the hard cash on hand to buy the library solar panels some day.

Think of all the money currently spent on air conditioning that could be used for books instead So there was no time to read yesterday or today, which was sad. And then I find lists like this, taken from Fantasy Book Reviews , over in the UK: Must-reads The following reviews are of books that begin the very best fantasy series available.

If I must read the others, so be it. I will try. Speaking of reading, does anyone else pick what to read on the basis of what is going to happen to the book next? I am currently trying to read "books that will leave the house. I had hoped to create more shelf space by disposing of sundry toys, puzzles, and videos at the library yard sale, but while I was away, time and space collapsed in the playroom, and the little clearings I had made are gone Once I've decided to keep a book, I keep it.

This is why, even though I have little desire to read it again although I might re-read its sequel , I still have my copy of Nancy Springer's The White Hart , and it will probably end up in the nursing home with me someday if I have enough shelf space. But I can't get rid of it, because I do want to keep the next book in the series, The Silver Sun , simply because I loved it so much when I was a freshman in high school Here, by the way, is the one line I remember from The White Hart last read c. Still does. Labels: fantasy. Paris Pan Takes the Dare , by Cynthea Liu Putnam, , pp, middle grade , balances on a razor's edge well, perhaps not quite between supernatural chills and the angst of being the new kid at a very small rural middle school in Sugar Lake, OK.

It's so small that every girl has to play on the basketball team. From my point of view, that is the true horror of the book, but for Paris Pan, that unpleasantness palls beside the fact that, if she wants to keep her two new friends, she will have to take THE DARE. Not to long ago, the girl who lived in Paris' new house disappeared on her thirteenth birthday. Her body was later found, or at least, most of it was found. Her killer, if killer there was, was not. Ever since, according to Mayo, the alpha girl in Paris' tiny class, it has been a rite of passage to follow that girl's footsteps into the dark woods, and spend the night where she died.

Now Paris is hearing spooky noises outside, strange artifacts of the dead girl's life are turning up in the garden, and Mayo is pressuring her to commune with the spirit world All Paris wants is to have friends after a life of shunting briskly between schools, but she really, really, doesn't want to take The Dare. Great characterization, especially with regard to the relationship between Paris and her Chinese-American family, a snappy plot, and a creepy atmosphere combine to make this a very enjoyable book, that girls, in particular, from fourth grade or so on up, should enjoy.

I've labeled it fantasy, because there is a supernatural plot line, although, of course, there is no such thing as ghosts. Or so Paris tries hard to believe Kudos to Liu for using the launch of her book to raise money in not inconsiderable quantities to support a needy Title I school in Oklahoma. It was this fundraiser that prompted me to buy the book--Liu donated all her royalties during the fundraising period to this effort.

Labels: fantasy , middle grade reviews , reading in color. Here's how to take part. Head over to the Book Bloggers Appreciation Week Directory , register your blog, and visit some of the many other book blogs that, if you are like me, you haven't heard of. Or you can fill out the registration form here. Next, nominate favorite book blogs for awards by August The hardest part will be picking my entry for Best Kidlit blog As part of the celebration, many of us will be having giveaways, which you can sign up to do here. Thanks, Amy, for organizing all of this! Here's a book for those who love dark historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, and who are fascinated by the legends of King Arthur-- Twilight of Avalon, a Novel of Trystan and Isolde , by Anna Elliott Simon and Schuster, , pp, technically a book for adults, but one with YA appeal as well.

Modred-the traitor. Cause of King Arthur's death and seven years of land-bleeding civil war. From her grandmother, Morgan, she inherited the gift of sight, but she cannot see her own future. Caught in the struggle for power that has followed Constantine's death, trapped inside Tintagel Castle, and suspected of witchcraft, Isolde struggles to save what is left of Britain from the Saxons, and from those who would betray it. At last she escapes into Cornwall, and finds that her fate is tied inexorably with that of Trystan, a former prisoner with a dark past of his own. But will they be able to secure a future for themselves and their kingdom?

This is dark, atmospheric, and heavy stuff. Slowly Elliott makes clear the walls of intrigue and hatred that surround Isolde inside Tintagel, and she is not sparring in her details of the harm men and women do to each other. It is not until page that she escapes Tintagel, and so well has Elliott created a claustrophobic setting of incredible tension that it comes as a great relief to the reader, as well as Isolde, to have left it behind.

But then her visions return to her, and draw her back to the violence that continues within its walls The romance aspect of the book comes slowly. I imagine that it will be more front and central in the next book of the series, The Dark Moon of Avalon , coming in Spring The magical element of Isolde's visions gives color and interest to the plot, but does not take the story so far into fantasy as to be a turn-off to those who like straight historical fiction.

Despite the link between Isolde and the old magic and beliefs of Celtic Britain, Elliott presents the tensions between older beliefs and the relatively new Christian religion even-handedly. Although the pace of the book is slow and strongly focused on Isolde's minute by minute experiences, which might not appeal to all readers, Elliott has done a fine job bringing a relatively unexplored story of the Arthur legend to life, creating an Isolde who is believable and brave--an actor in her own right.

Tintagel Castle is a truly stunning place, by the way. I've been a few times, and am always impressed. I'm curious to know if Elliott has ever been--one of my few specific quibbles with the historical accuracy of the book and this is actually high praise, as I read books about periods I know something about somewhat suspiciously was with her descriptions of the castle. Note: copy received from the author.

Most timeslip stories are fantasy--the travel through time is left a mystery that science can not explain. Sometimes, though, scientific principles drive the passage of people, things, or messages from one time to another, and sometimes very good books are the result. Which wasn't really a lake at all. Rebecca's super smart, logical mind rejects the idea, but Tane, thinking outside the box, wonders if it might not be possible to send messages back into the past It is possible. Soon, the two of them have received, as a gift from the future, winning lottery numbers.

But there are strings attached--the messages they are getting encoded in gamma ray bursts are an SOS from their future selves. The Chimera project, whatever that is, must be stopped, and Tane and Rebecca must race to decode the instructions they are getting before humanity is destroyed. The first step is to buy a state of the art submarine.

The second, to break into a top secret biolab. The third, to stop the mysterious fog enshrouded horrors that were unleashed despite their plans, horrors that are steadily depopulating New Zealand. And finally, Tane, Rebecca, and Tane's big brother "Fatboy" , have to set up the device that will let their future selves change the past. Not easy to do, when death delivering fog surrounds the site where the machine must go This is a tremendously exciting story as well as submarine fun and decoding mysterious messages, there is a great battle scene that made me sniff a little bit , and it hangs together very nicely plot-wise.

A criticism I sometimes have of fast packed adventures is that charging around saving the world leaves little room for character development, but that is most emphatically not the case here. Even though they are involved in a desperate struggle, the three teenagers are still strongly individual, working out their relationships with each other and their thoughts about themselves, their families, and their world. Added bonus features: diversity--Tane and his brother are Maori, and this is important to the story; environmentalism--the question of human impact on the world is central to the plot; gender balance--both girl and boys are important and have their own strengths to give to the group effort; and finally, good solid writing, without run-on sentences I would never be caught dead writing run on sentences, she says ironically or unnecessary latinate words.

In short, I think this is a pretty darn good book. I'll be giving this to my son when he's around 11, I think. I pretty much read whatever AFortis and Tanita over at Finding Wonderland tell me to, and, as usual, this one didn't disapoint-- here's the review that added this one to my list. Other reviews at Create Readers , where I found the New Zealand cover at right, which is described by Readplus an Australian review site as "bland. The book has a great website , where you can learn more about the science behind the book, Morse code, the geography and culture of New Zealand. Labels: middle grade reviews , reading in color , science fiction , Timeslip Tuesday , YA reviews.

The winners of the Mythopoeic Awards have been announced! All five of these are excellent books, but it seems to me that the award committee would have had a fairly easy time picking the winner. It is an excellent look at Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Penelope Lively, and Diana Wynne Jones, and therefore of great interest, I assume, to anyone who reads my blog except all the people that come here wanting to know when the next Ricky Ricotta book comes out, for whom I have no help.

If I knew, I'd share. Jones, btw, won in for Dark Lord of Derkholm, a book I love it is funny. New releases of science fiction and fantasy for children and teenagers. Here are the new releases of fantasy and science fiction for children and teenagers, from July 14 to July 21 although actually none of them look like science fiction I pretty much want to read them all. Such a good thing I have unlimited time and money and no other books at home waiting to be read ha ha.

I loved The Robe of Skulls , so I'm very happy to see this! The witches who tried to wreak havoc in the first tale The Robe of Skulls, are back, and readers will also be introduced to a nasty orphanage overseer and a pack of friendly rats. This sounds very intriguing. Finding a friend in Winston, the ghostly bellboy who wanders the Dunes, Emma learns that it has been more than years since the hotel with an unsavory reputation vanished; but, unbeknownst to either of them, the long slumbering resort has just begun to stir. Allying herself with a motley crew of companions—the ghost bellboy, a kindhearted cook, a pirate with a heart of gold, and the imperious young heir to the Wenlocke fortune—Emma soon learns that things are not always as lost as they seem First and foremost is the certainty that the Teshic Empire is its center, and that everything -- and everyone -- beyond the empire's borders has been created ultimately to be brought under Teshic dominion.

Furthermore, because Kehl is being trained to follow in his father's warrior footsteps, he is all too aware of the expectations placed upon him to never show weakness or fear, to instead show an unwavering loyalty to the Teshic Empire and its often severe beliefs and demands. But when Kehl is abducted by a seafaring band of rebels and taken beyond the borders to the enigmatic Sea of the Dead, a whole new world begins to open up before him.

A new world filled with challenging beliefs and dangerous ideas. A world where Kehl's future -- as well as his past -- may be linked to the renegade crew of a ship named Carillon's Revenge and the Fallen King who captains her. A mysterious house with time portals, and two boys trying to put a stop to an evil villain.

Maybe it's because she's caught up in reading A Wrinkle in Time and trying to understand time travel, or perhaps it's because she's been receiving mysterious notes which accurately predict the future. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. Now if only she could decide what that might be Their parents have been arrested on suspicion of being spies. Not only in a different country but in a different time—Prague, The children travel back in time and find themselves face to face with danger, mystery, and the magic of a strange place.

Where are their parents and who has stolen the key to the time machine? Will our young heroes be in time to save their parents from siniser Karlstein Castle? And even if they do, how will they return to the present day without the key? All she wanted was to be popular. But sometimes what we want is the absolute worst thing for us. Sam discovers that Kylie, It-girl of Woodlawn High, owes her popular status not to her expensive clothes, highlighted hair, and spot on the cheerleading squad but to a magical second skin.

Nobody can actually see it—but they can feel it. Popularity is yours. So Sam stole the skin from Kylie. Sam can barely recognize herself.

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Her old geek clique is history—but are her new friends really people she can count on? The skin is clinging tighter to her each day. Sideshow , edited by Deborah Noyes. Ten stories of oddities and magic-- my review. Three Witches. All have their own reasons to summon Trevor Saunders after his car goes over a cliff. Aliya brings the mystical seances of Syria. Gillian contributes the voodoo arts from her native Trinidad. Miya shares the secret magic of ancient Japan. Will they be able use their powers to bring him back one more time?

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Should they? My boy turned nine today.

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This past year he has become a true reader--falling so hard into books that he is deaf to his mother's voice, reading in the car to the point of car sickness, walking to the library by himself and coming home with more books than he can comfortably carry and not necessarily ones I'd have picked for him-- James Watson and the Double Helix , for instance, is probably not going to get read, but if checking it out helps him define himself, more power to him.

I was anxious for a while about his reading--he didn't read early, he didn't read books that challenged him, he was essentially unwilling to spread his wings. He still doesn't read long books, although he has the skills to do so, but I've decided to just let him go at his own pace, and to keep lots of easier books on hand for him--the sort of books that I think of as non-quite-middle grade, like Encyclopedia Brown and the A-Z mysteries.

My most recent spectacular book offering success was This Side of Magic , the first volume of a new fantasy series aimed at this reading bracket May , Tom Doherty Associates Tor , generously fonted pages. It's written by the same team that brought us the Bailey School Kids which don't interest my son for reasons unknown to me --Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones. I brought it home from the bookstore, and a little more than an hour later he had finished it and was clamoring for the next volume which his grandma got him for an early birthday present a few days later.

I've read it now too, and I was pleasantly surprised by how readable it is for an adult. I'd go as far as to say that I enjoyed it a lot myself. It tells of two ordinary kids, Penny and Luke, who find themselves charged with the awesome responsibility of guarding the border between our realm and the lands of magic. Dark forces are impinging on the border, and only one old man remains of the three former guardians, the Keyholders. Now Penny and Luke are this man's apprentices, with companion fantastical creatures to link them to the magic a unicorn and a dragon, respectively.

Then the third member of their trio is chosen--and much to their dismay, she is a spoiled and unpleasant child they have loathed all their lives. But boggarts are already making themselves felt around the town, and there are worse things to come This is similar in feel to the Spiderwick Chronicles, but a few degrees easier I tried those on my son too, but he only got to halfway through book 3, again for reasons unknown to me. The writing is pleasant, and the story is interesting.

I can imagine it being read to bits pretty quickly in a second or third grade classroom. Here's my son's very own review, from his blog, Pickled Bananas. Labels: fantasy , not quite middle grade books , reading in color. Diversity in speculative fiction-- three covers. Bi-weekly Ali at Worducopia and the folks at Color Online host a meme designed to encourage readers to broaden their reading habits--to add color and diversity. Today's assignment, posted at Color Online -- "Spotlight science fiction and fantasy titles where people of color are the leads, works by people of color in these genres or discuss your thoughts about race in these genres.

Linky is collecting people's responses. Here is mine. One of Shannon Hale's most beloved stories is Book of a Thousand Days , a fantasy set in an alternate Mongolia, featuring a strong, loving, intelligent heroine by the name of Dashti. The original cover was gorgeous, but did nothing to convey that the heroine was non-European. Over at her blog , Shannon has just unveiled the cover of the paperback edition. Viz adding diversity to the shelves of speculative fiction, I think it speaks for itself: This is a book that will be face-out at the bookshelves, a book that many people are eager to buy.

Much as I love the hardback cover, I am glad to see Dashti's face. Labels: fantasy , reading in color. I am reading five books at the moment. Five books that are just fine, but haven't quite done it for me. And it turned out to be just what I wanted, the sort of book that makes you forget you are reading. The sort of book that, when you close it, makes you sigh both for the pleasure of having read it, and the sadness that you won't get to enjoy it for the first time ever again.

Soul-crushingly un-outstanding. He doesn't excel at anything--even skateboarding, which he loves, is something he has had to work hard at to be decent. There is one thing, though, that sets him apart--his dreams.

Vivid, colored dreams that come true. The book begins one stormy night, when Frankie dreams of flying on black wings. A vicious wind comes up and throws him toward the ground. Soft sand. At the last second I saw the horse- a black horse with a rider dressed all in red. The black hose bolted sideways. The red rider fell. Head first. I screamed again- an empty, useless dream scream. When he wakes, his first thought is that his friend Tim, who rides a black horse, is in terrible danger. The frantic dash to school skateboarding through storm debris, running late is more frantic than usual.

But when Tim comments that he won't be riding in that weekend's horse show after all, Frankie wonders if the dream means something else entirely. The storm brought more than fallen branches. A grey lump of what looked like garbage, lying on the pavement, turns out to be a storm tossed bird, a petrel.

All the other birds he's tried to save have died, but this one might be different--after all, he had just dreamt of flying. Because of the bird, he is thrown into the life of Weird Maura-Lee, whom he has avoided like the plague all his life since they were small children. She was quiet--and alone--breaking the biggest rule of all: "Never be seen standing alone. She was Weird Maura-Lee. And kids said she could read minds. Then Frankie is forced by his father to help out a therapeutic riding clinic, despite his terror of horses.

And there he finds Maura-Lee, training her own horse to read her mind, and seemingly able to read Frankie like a book. And his dream still hangs over his head, waiting This is a great story about friendship, with twang zest, forward momentum, interest provided by the understated supernatural gifts of two main characters.

It reminds me a bit of The Wednesday Wars , in that it has the same sweetness of plot--a sensitive boy growing up in his way of understanding the people around him. As well as recommending this in general to any introspective older middle grade reader, I'd also recommend it those looking for books with charming and happily married parents rare , horses, friendships between boys and girls that are just friendships, and poignant bird sub-plots I myself am a sucker for poignant bird sub-plots. Labels: fantasy , middle grade reviews. The official blurb for A Conspiracy of Kings!!!!

Sophos with a peashooter!!! It is even more to squee for now. At least, according to those in power. At least, to those who do not know him or the size of his heart and the depth of his courage, loyalty, and love.


Gen and the queen believe that Sophos is dead. But they also believe in hope, especially since a body was never found. So when Sophos is discovered in Attolia, climbing a lamppost, peashooter in hand, the obvious question becomes: where has Sophos been all this time? The cover has also changed. Sophos, with eye cropped off and beard added, looks much less elfin. You can see the first one here. From an article at Publisher's Weekly : "Cashore is currently working on a third book in the series, one that follows the story of Bitterblue, a character introduced in Graceling.

Dawson is aiming for a release. And actually, I still have Fire to look forward to Vanderwal Tunda Books, , pp, middle grade. I would have pounced on this as a child--time travel to medieval Scotland! Twelve year old Alex has been raised by a reluctant uncle since the mysterious deaths of his parents. Now his uncle has decided to ship him off to an aunt in Scotland, who wants him even less. So little, in fact, that he never meets her--instead, he finds himself billeted at the home of a local farmer and his three children, two boys and a girl near his age.

Like his own parents, their mother mysteriously disappeared. The farm lies near a rocky coast, whose cliffs are guarded by the ruins of Duncragglin castle, the site of a bloody battle waged by the great Scottish rebel William Wallace. And beneath the castle, the stories say, are mysterious tunnels in the ground, from which no explorer returns. Naturally, the tunnels are forbidden, but the four children find the temptation irresistible, and one dark night they set off to see for themselves what secrets the underground labyrinth holds.

What they find is a mysterious chamber, covered with tangled carvings. Their exploration triggers a shift in the rocks, blocking the way they came, but creating a new passage.