Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Amari and the Night Brothers

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1) (Balzer & Bray, 2021) by B. B. Alston is like a cross between Men in Black and Harry Potter at summer camp.

13-year-old Amari Peters struggles with anger against those who think she doesn’t fit in since she’s a scholarship student and black. It’s worse since her older brother Quinton has been missing. Many believe he is dead, but Amari knows he’s alive. A chance to tryout for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs this summer may help her find out where Quinton is. But again in a world of magic, there are those who don’t think she belongs. Amari must stand up for herself and learn all she can about this new world to have any chance of finding her brother.

This was B.B.’s debut novel. The books have been published in over 30 countries and a movie is in the works! Wow! Here’s the Spanish version, Amari y Los Hermanos de la Noche. The third book in this trilogy is expected out this summer.

Awards:

  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books, 1995-2024. Commended, 2022. (Association of Library Services for Children)
  • Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Award, 1997-2023. Selection, 2022. (Children’s Literary Assembly)
  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1997-2024. Commended, 2022. (YALSA)
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011-2024. Selection, 2022. (YALSA)
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year, 2010 – 2023. Selection, 2021. (School Library Journal)

Read about this NY Times bestselling author here.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Coyote Queen

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Coyote Queen (Greenwillow Books, 2023) by Jessica Vitalis is a fascinating story of one girl’s experience with poverty, domestic violence, and magic.

Twelve-year-old Fud, Felicity Ulyssa Dahlers, and her mom have always been on their own. Until Larry. Who makes the rules. And has an uneven temper and is super easy to anger. When the new neighbor girl tells her about a beauty pageant where the prize money is enough to get them away from Larry, Fud knows she has to apply and win.

Read the compelling first line: “Before the coyote stuff happened, I would have told you that magic didn’t exist.”

The story is set in Wyoming where Fud sees, and experiences, coyotes in a very unique way. The book just came out, but already it is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Inspired by some experiences when Jessica was a child, this is her third book. Read about her other books here. And check out her fun facts on Jessica’s about page here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Moongarden

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I enjoyed Plotting the Stars 1: Moongarden (Pixel+Ink, 2022) by Michelle A. Barry very much. A girl who doesn’t fit in, a hidden room, unexpected friends including an old robot, shortsighted adults, and magic. All on the moon. (And isn’t the cover gorgeous?)

Myra Hodger is attending The Scientific Lunar Academy of Magic, but is not the Number Whisperer her parents expect. The tattoos aren’t developing, so she hides her forearms with long sleeves. Then she stumbles across a hidden lab with a secret garden. As she learns about the plants, Myra wonders if her newfound magical gift could help solve the food shortage problem the government is trying to hide. But will anyone let her?

Just out this month is the sequel, Seagarden. I’m looking forward to it, too.

This book was the author’s debut and has been called an update to the book The Secret Garden. Read about Michelle here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Accidental Apprentice

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Author Amanda Foody has successfully ventured from the YA books to middle grade fantasy with The Accidental Apprentice (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021). I’m excited to see there’s already a sequel planned in the Wilderlore series for next year.

Orphan Barclay Thorne is happy to be an apprentice to the village mushroom farmer. But when he is scared off the path into the Woods he meets a Lore Keeper looking for the same mushroom he needs. The girl is trying to bond with a Beast but it goes horribly wrong and Barclay is bonded with a Lufthund. Driven away from home, Barclay’s goal is to break the bond so he can return home. To do so he must journey to the city of the Lore Keepers who think these monsters are their friends and pets. But does he really fit with his rule-laden village?

Read about Amanda and her other books here. Enjoy several interviews with her about this book here and here.

The cover illustration is by Petur Antonsson–see more of his art here.

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Uprooted

uprooted.jpegThe first book I read in 2016 was appropriately a Christmas gift. It’s not technically a YA, however, the main character is 17, so I’m putting it in that category for my readers.
Uprooted (Del Rey, 2015) by Naomi Novik captured me from the opening sentence: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.” This time Agnieszka and the whole village know that her best friend Kasia will be chosen since she is so special. And Agnieszka hates the wizard for that future action. It doesn’t matter that he protects them from the Wood. Or that this happens every ten years as payment. But Agnieszka is wrong about what will happen.
The book was hard to put down, and had believably scary monsters. This fantasy will stick with me and I’m hoping the author will write a sequel.
Naomi Novik is the author of another series, the Temeraire novels. I’ll have to check them out. Read more about the author and her books at her site.