Tag Archives: middle grade

Embracing the Magic: A Middle-Grade Magical Fantasy (Town Magician Book One) by S.A. Schneider Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young boy who dreams of becoming a powerful wizard must work with his bitter rival, a trickster who has convinced his town that he is a powerful magician himself when an evil wizard arrives to destroy their home and those they care about in author S.A. Schneider’s “Embracing the Magic”, the first in the Town Magician series.

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The Synopsis

Their hero is a fraud and only he knows it. When the truth comes knocking, can one boy conjure a way to save the day?

Young Samual longs to perform magic of his own. And what’s worse, he can’t seem to convince anyone that their beloved Town Magician is a trickster without an enchanted bone in his body. When a wicked wizard challenges the pretender to a duel, Samual vows keep his village safe by forcing the fraudster to rise to the challenge.

Determined to prevent disaster, he secretly shadows the phony protector during his training with the Grand Wizard. And when they barely escape an attack by dire wolves, Samual realizes he must partner up with his bitter rival. But keeping the truth hidden any longer may not help them outwit a powerful sorcerer.

With his town in grave danger, can Samual protect the ones he loves from the forces of evil?

Embracing the Magic is the enchanting first story in the Town Magician middle grade fantasy series. If you enjoy unlikely heroes, coming-of-age adventures, and spellbinding creatures, then you’ll love S.A. Schneider’s fantastical tale.

The Review

This was such a captivating and tantalizing read. The author did an incredible job of capturing a unique world filled with magic and wonder. The imagery and atmosphere did a beautiful job of bringing the action and adventure of the story to life on the page. The way the author is able to relate this story to younger readers and provide both study guides, terminology, and a reference guide on the world-building he did was great to see brought to life. 

For me though, the character growth and world-building/mythos the author creates in this story were the highlights of the narrative. The relationship between Rory and Samual was such a rollercoaster of highs and lows throughout the narrative, showing the bond they form and the motivations that take life as their journey continues. The concept of challenges between town magicians, a Town Magician Council, and so much more made this story feel so vibrant and alive on the page. 

The Verdict

With amazing world-building, rich atmosphere, and engaging storytelling, author S.A. Schneider’s “Embracing the Magic” is an incredible Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure novel and the perfect first chapter in this emerging series. The emotional growth of the characters, the powerful villain they face, and the entertaining narrative will have young readers and others alike hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Don’t you wish you could have a lightsaber? I imagine it all the time. And force powers – definitely force powers. Think of that? Oh, wait – how about spider powers? Shooting web lines and clinging to walls. You could get to school in style.

OK, so we can’t have those. At least to the best of my knowledge. What’s the next best thing? Reading stories about other worlds. I guess I’ll have to settle for that and hopefully you’d like to come along for the ride.

I live and grew up in a rural area in Ohio. That left a lot of room for reading. I now live with my family and create stories set in many other places.

For now, I have to visit another world.


Enjoy the adventure!

Stay by Katherine Lawrence Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl desperate for a family dog finds her world turned upside down as crisis after a crisis hits her family in author Katherine Lawrence’s “Stay”.

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The Synopsis

Millie is eleven (going on twelve) and enjoys doing what kids usually like to do: riding her bike and dreaming of the day she can convince her family to get a dog. She also writes in her diary daily. But instead of writing to herself, she writes to her twin brother Billy, who died before he was born. Alright, so it’s not totally normal, but it’s manageable.

Millie’s life as she knows it comes to a screeching halt, however, when her parents decide to separate. Her mother gets a new boyfriend, and her father moves into a new place – an apartment – with a big sign on the door that says NO DOGS ALLOWED.

As she struggles to get her parents back together – not just for her sake, but for the sake of her future dog as well – Millie is elated when her father moves back in a short while later. She can’t understand why her parents aren’t happy at the reconciliation until she learns the truth: her father has moved back in because he has been diagnosed with cancer.

Told through the diary entries of Millie, Stay is a moving portrait of a family in a time of crisis, whose pain is filtered through the thoughts and actions of an eleven-year-old girl, capturing the essence of what it means to grow up, confront your fears, support your family, and share in the wild optimism that only youth can harbour.

Never one to shy away from tough issues, and constantly experimenting with form, acclaimed Saskatchewan poet Katherine Lawrence shifts successfully and beautifully into juvenile fiction with this moving story-in-verse.

The Review

This was such a beautiful and heartfelt read. The way the author was able to craft such an emotional middle-grade read in such a short amount of time was brilliant. The imagery and the almost lyrical way the story flowed really helped elevate the emotions and instill the ever-changing atmosphere in a natural way. The themes the author explores here, from family and what defines it to the bond between a pet and its person and so much more, really helped engage readers in this narrative.

The thing that really stood out to me was the way the author was able to balance the character development of the narrative with the poetic writing style of the story itself. The way each chapter was broken up into a poetry-style system of letters from the protagonist to her late twin brother was so heartfelt to read, and the nuances and complexities of this family dynamic and relationship with one another really added a relatability and honesty that cannot be mimicked. 

The Verdict

Haunting, emotionally driven, and beautifully written, author Katherine Lawrence’s “Stay” is a must-read novel of family drama meets poetry. The heart and depth that the author captures while also crafting an engaging narrative for younger readers really highlights the subtle nuances and captivating imagery the author is able to invoke in this narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Never Mind is Katherine Lawrence’s third collection of poetry. The manuscript won the 2015 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award and the 2014 City of Regina Writing Award. Her previous collections have been equally honoured. Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Katherine chairs Access Copyright Foundation, and is a former president of the Sage Hill Writing Experience board of directors. She moved to Saskatchewan in 1982 and currently lives in Saskatoon with her husband.

http://www.katherinelawrence.net/

Lost Daughters of Avalon (Awakenings Book 2) by J. Lynn Else Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Four young women return to the magical land they helped save months earlier, finding it in total chaos as the fate of the lands rests in discovering their ancient lineage in author J. Lynn Else’s “Lost Daughters of Avalon”, the second book in the Awakenings series.

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The Synopsis

After not hearing anything from their knights in Avalon for weeks, the horrible Questing Beast breaks through into the world and attacks Genie, Beth, Mei, and Whit. Their magic stirs to stop the monster, but Beth’s attempts fail. Help from Avalon arrives just in time to remove the curse and reveal a woman inside the beast who claims to be Genie’s biological mother.

The four friends learn their knights had gone missing, along with one of Avalon’s queens, Viviane. An ancient evil runs amok in Avalon and the people blame the four friends, claiming they released Merlin to destroy their world. To clear their name and rescue their knights, the four friends must once again risk the dangers of Avalon.

Genie, Beth, Mei, and Whit must pull together and learn to combine their powers of air, water, earth, and fire to rebalance the world they might have thrown into chaos. If they fail, the worlds of Avalon and Earth could destabilize and end life as they know it.

The Review

This was a powerful and captivating read. The author did such an incredible job of finding new and creative ways of weaving classic Arthurian legends and mythology into the unique world of Avalon and finding a brilliant twist in how these four young women fit into the fantasy world so unlike their own. The balance of the iconic legends they know and love with the YA/children’s style storytelling devices made this story so engaging to read, and both the action and otherworldly settings really crafted some brilliant imagery in the reader’s mind.

The twists and turns this narrative took really elevated the cast of characters in this read. Getting to understand the women of the Arthurian legends and see them in a new light made this so memorable, and how it reflected the four young heroes who were learning about this world was so perfect to read and watch unfold on the pages. The theme of identity and lineage played such an important role here in this narrative, and readers are going to absolutely be shocked and in awe of the answers that come from this journey the women find themselves on.

The Verdict

Haunting, entertaining, and emotionally gripping, author J. Lynn Else’s “Lost Daughters of Avalon” is the perfect YA/Children’s mythology and fantasy read and the perfect second novel in a growing fantasy series. The heartbreaking revelations and shocking moments as the final moments play out in this read will have readers hanging on the author’s every word, and the need to read more of this captivating narrative will be so strong in the reader’s heart. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J. LYNN ELSE is an award-winning author from Minnesota who’s self-published two historical fiction novels set in ancient Egypt, “The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen (2013),” which was named an Indie Editor’s Choice book for 2016 by the Historical Novel Society, and “The Forgotten: Heir of the Heretic (2016)” as well as a sci fi novella “Strangely Constructed Souls (2018).” Through Inklings Publishing, she’s authored an Arthurian-influenced, female-driven fantasy trilogy, “Descendants of Avalon” (2018), “Lost Daughters of Avalon” (2019), and “Destiny of Avalon” (2021).” Her short story “The Girl from the Haunted Woods,” won 2nd place in the “Journey into the Fantastical” Anthology contest. In 2021, she became the Indie Reviews Editor for the Historical Novel Society. She believes in unicorns and practicing random acts of awesome.

http://www.teasippinnerdymom.com/

’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1) by Al E. Boy Review

A young reindeer seeking a life of excitement and adventure finds more than she bargained for as her adventures soon become more dangerous than she could have ever known in author Al E. Boy’s novel “’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1)”. 

The Synopsis

“I want some fun and excitement! I don’t care how dangerous it is!” Even if your parents are legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, life can still be pretty boring. Fawn is a precocious youngster who starts sneaking out of the stable every day looking for fun, excitement…and friends. She’ll find them all…but she’s also going to encounter more than her share of danger! 

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of creating a wholly unique and original Middle Grade Action/Adventure story that incorporates both new characters and classic fairy tale and holiday characters readers will know and love. The story focuses on the power of friendship, family and the pros and cons of seeking adventure and a life outside of the one you know. It also highlights the struggles of youth to connect with others and the natural rebellion many children face when they become their own person. 

A mixture of a middle grade action/adventure story that explores the innocence of youth and a rich setting filled with magic and wonder, this story does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and creating a story that both naturally feels like a holiday read and yet could be enjoyed any time of the year. 

The Verdict

A story of exciting adventures, shocking twists and turns and a magical ending that speaks to the nature of this wonderful tale, author Al E. Boy is a natural born storyteller who does a great job of creating fresh new takes on classic characters. With a whole new cast of characters for readers to fall in love with, this is a story you won’t want to miss, so be sure to grab your copy of ’Til the Last Snowflake Falls by Al E. Boy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Through almost 40 years as a Santa Claus, Al E. Boy developed quite a repertoire of tales to explain and answer the many questions children ask about Santa, the North Pole, his reindeer, and his friends, the elves.

It was this collection of tales which prompted him to begin writing The Adventures of Fawn. Through the young daughter of legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, he’s been able to weave an exciting, colorful, imaginative world which will delight readers of all ages!

Mr. Boy not only hopes you enjoy these tales, but make reading them part of your Christmas traditions, as well.

Additional info: ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls was awarded the Bronze Medal in Dan Poynter’s 2017 Global E-book Awards, is listed as ‘Recommended Reading’ with The US Review of Books, and was awarded an Honoree Medallion by indieB.R.A.G.. In addition, it has garnered a number of favorable reviews.

Links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NRZO920

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36291145-til-the-last-snowflake-falls

http://aleboysnowflake.wixsite.com/fawn

Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/The-Adventures-of-Fawn-740272912731782/

Why A Book Series Is So Good For Non-Readers | Guest Blog Post by Fiona Ingram

What many of us take for granted is reading, being able to read properly and fluently, and the availability of books. I am sure most people never even think about how they learned to read. For many people, including myself, it seemed that you just ‘knew’ how to read. How many people can remember growing up with books and more books and still more books in the house. I remember shelves and shelves of books, and I still have many of those beloved old friends with me.

What many parents don’t realise, however, is that the enjoyment of reading is not automatic; it is learned by association. When a parent reads with a child, that feeling of togetherness, that special time, creates in the child a sense of enjoyment that they then associate with reading, and thus as they grow up, reading is associated with pleasure.

However, for several reasons, a child just might not ‘click’ with reading. It can be disappointing when your child expresses absolutely no interest in reading. But, you can change that by coming up with new and interesting ways to ‘package’ the art of reading. Reading is a skill, just like any other skill. It has to be introduced, nurtured, and developed. A wise parent will pique their child’s interest in reading by taking the time to find out what kinds of stories interest them. There is so much on offer these days that it shouldn’t be hard to find a book series that your child will relate to.

  • So why do children love an exciting series? In a good, entertaining children’s series, children will suddenly discover a hero they can relate to and whose actions keep them riveted. Isn’t it wonderful when a child begs, nay, commands its parents to go out and buy the next in a favorite series because they ‘absolutely must know’ what is going to happen next.
  • A gifted author will be able to create characters that readers can relate to, and either love or hate. Young readers get to know the characters well as the action evolves and, as each book comes out, can explore something new about their heroes. If they ‘bond’ with a character such as a young hero/ine, they’ll be eager to continue reading the series as each new book comes out. Three of the most popular that spring to mind immediately are Chronicles of Narnia, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter. You can cement this enthusiasm by buying hard cover books for your child as ‘collectibles’—something to be cherished and read again and again. Movies (even better) and merchandising such as T-shirts, mugs, badges etc. keep the enthusiasm going.
  • Most successful book series have websites with interesting aspects to explore. Is the series set in a real or fantasy place? Do the characters have important choices to make? Don’t be afraid to let your child get onto the computer and read all about the series, the author, the movie, the actors, the settings, and the characters. Ask your child questions about what they have learned and praise their research.
  • Characters become friends to the avid young reader, who shares in the hopes, dreams and choices the characters make. Readers are amazingly loyal to their favorite characters, even though they may often disagree with the character’s choices. A good writer will explore these further, enabling young readers to begin to make their own choices, especially in a moral dilemma or emotional conflict.
  • Parents who make the time to read with their children, or who are interested in their children’s book choices, will be able to discuss these issues further. It’s a great way of dealing with ‘sticky’ issues because the discussion is less focused on the child and more on a fictional character. It may be easier for a child to express an opinion if discussing a topic via a character’s choices.

Books remain an integral part of boosting a child’s chance of a fuller, more imaginative and successful life. So, don’t be frugal when it comes to the printed word. A series is a great way to keep a child’s interest in reading alive. If you have kids, splash out and get them all the books their hearts desire!
The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is available to purchase on Amazon.com. 

About the Author

FionaIngram.jpg (1)

Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers. She has now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in her middle grade adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book,

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and one already for Book 3! She also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and she finds that very satisfying. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, theatre or ballet. She loves doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little dogs called Chloe and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.

You can find Fiona at –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/secretofthesacredscarab/

Website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn

Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com

Blog: http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2868182.Fiona_Ingram