A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

24585386.jpgMagic is my favorite thing in a story. I get to see how it works in the universe and how it affects the characters. Magic in a modern day world, like the one in A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic,Β where cell phones and blogs make a regularΒ appearance, always intrigues me. How will magic and technology interact? Will one negate the other, or will they work inΒ highly unusual harmony?

Bestseller and author of the popular middle grade series Confectionately Yours Lisa Papademetriou is back with a magical, page-turning adventure for readers of all agesβ€”a touching tale about destiny and the invisible threads that link us all, ultimately, to one another.

Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first pageβ€”and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.

A heartfelt, vividly told multicultural story about fate and how our stories shape it.

-Goodreads

I promise I’m not telling everyone how much I lovedΒ A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou because I met her during my first semester at Sierra Nevada College. It’s because the story of Kai and Leila is so heartfelt and runs much deeper than one might initially think.

Kai and Leila are both headstrong girls, lost in the surrounding newness they have found themselves in. Kai is on her own for the first time with her great-aunt in a town she’d never been to, and Leila is halfway across the world visiting family in Pakistan by herself for the first time. Then both girls find a magical book and a new story that connects them in an unusual and slightly magical way begins to unfold.

Leila gets herself into some trouble regarding a bad translation and a goat on her first time in town on her own. She has to find a way out of it and in the process changes from the self-conscious, self-doubting girl she was into a strong and well-rounded young girl.

Kai finds a friend with a strange obsession–moths, of all things!–and she finds the key to her friend’s success means revisiting her failures. When she travels down the hard path of her past, she finds it easier to navigate with a friend at her side.

I truly loved the interwoven stories of both Kai and Leila, not to mention the third story hidden within theΒ Exquisite Corpse, the magic book. And while we don’t get a closed ending inΒ A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, we do get an open ending: there are plenty of things that could happen after the closing of the story, lots of places for the reader to imagine the possibilities that might befall Kai and Leila after their jaunt with theΒ Exquisite Corpse is all said and done. The only question is whether it’ll be highly unusual, or highly magical.

Lisa Papademetriou

Barnes & Nobles . Amazon

Mice of the Round Table β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

23384425I have been waiting to get my hands on a copy of this book ever since I heard about it from the author herself. I’m so happy that it’s finally out and that I can review it.

Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†

puddles wonderous worry dollsI’ve been meaning to read more easy readers and middle grade, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with this one. Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls reads like an easy reader but it tried desperately to enter into the heftier realm of middle grade.

The Palace Library β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†

16284783It’s pretty much Narnia, and I don’t feel like it’s good Narnia.

Three children stumble upon an extraordinary library in an old house. Armed with magical books, and accompanied by an enchanting deerhound, they leave through a door that takes them to a world in the past.

Beyond the door, a kingdom is in crisis. The Great Sword of State has been stolen and destroyed. The Queen reveals an ancient prophecy that says only children can replace the Sword and she sends them on a journey that takes them beyond the world’s end.

The children must unlock the secrets in their books as they face storms, fight traitors and tackle dragons. Without knowing who they can n trust, can they succeed?

-NetGalley

One of my favorite quotes about children’s literature comes from C.S. Lewis. He says, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

I think this book is really missing a good editor. It has potential. I wouldn’t have requested it if it didn’t sound interesting, but it just wasn’t written well and it felt too targeted.

The tricky thing about children’s literature is that you don’t want to sound like you’re writing for children and the writing inΒ The Palace Library felt just like that. Sentences were too simple, things that were special had way too much attention drawn too them, and, of course, it was the youngest child who knew the most instantly about this crazy world within the wall.

It just didn’t feel like Steven Loveridge really knew how to write for children. Writing for children also means writing for adults and I, an adult though some deny it, didn’t feel included in the story.

Summer is Ending

wpid-img_20150704_132124.jpgI’ve been a very busy bee this summer. I bet you’re thinking “Whatever happened to the vlogs you were doing, Jess?” And I will tell you: adult life.

After the third Casavloga episode all I did was go to work and write more of my thesis project. Which means all I have are video clips of me in the car on the way to and from work talking about my thesis project.

And I imagine you don’t want to watch what is pretty much the same episode week after week.

Eventually I just didn’t have the time to edit the videos, especially since I didn’t have much to say in most of them except, “On my way to work… again…”

Serafina and the Black Cloak β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

cover61596-mediumSerafina’s father always told her to never go into the deep parts of the forest, “for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.” She never had a reason to disobey her father’s wishes for her to remain on the grounds of the Biltmore estate, exploring its many rooms, taking care to never, ever be seen by anyone (especially since the Vanderbilt’s don’t know she exists or that she and her pa have been living in their basement).

When children start to go missing, however, Serafina hunts down the culprit. Even though it means disobeying her father and going into the woods.Β 

The Swift 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

cover57370-mediumEight months after his father was lost at sea, Pete’s mother still cries, his grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and his twin brother hates him. In fact, Henry blames Pete for everything. If Pete had gone on the boat with Henry and their Grandfather their father might still be alive and they might not be losing their house.

While searching in the attic for old things to sell, Pete finds a battle-weary ship-in-a-bottle. When Henry and Pete take the bottle to their grandfather they are transported back in time and land on the very ship that’s going down in the bottle. The boys must learn to work together in order to battle pirates and the raging sea. If they don’t, they mayΒ not have a home to return to.

Return to Augie Hobble β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†

cover57567-mediumAugie Hobble lives in a fairy tale world… well… more like the run down amusement park, Fairy Tale Place, that his father manages. His life is horrible: he failed creative arts and has to take summer school, the girl he likes doesn’t bother with him, and the school bullies won’t leave him alone.

To top it off he might be turning into a werewolf! Well, at least he has his notebook and Britt, his best friend, to confide in. That is until the unthinkable happens and Augie’s life gets even worse and every event in his life takes on a new meaning.

Return to Auggie Hobble β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†

cover57567-mediumAugie Hobble lives in a fairy tale world… well… more like the run down amusement park, Fairy Tale Place, that his father manages. His life is horrible: he failed creative arts and has to take summer school, the girl he likes doesn’t bother with him, and the school bullies won’t leave him alone.

To top it off he might be turning into a werewolf! Well, at least he has his notebook and Britt, his best friend, to confide in. That is until the unthinkable happens and Augie’s life gets even worse and every event in his life takes on a new meaning.

Silverwood β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

cover59131-mediumBetsy Streeter’sΒ SilverwoodΒ comes outΒ tomorrow (March 11th, 2015) and believe me, you’re going to want it on your shelf!

At age 14, Helen Silverwood, and her 9 year old brother Henry, are tired of the constant and inexplicable moving. Helen doesn’t understand her recurring dreams about the Tromindox, which, as Henry will explain, are “time traveling predators that feed exclusively on humans… they kill people and eat them.”

Got your attention now, don’t I?