Blog Tour: Knife’s Edge by Hope Larson, Illustrations by Rebecca Mock

Genres: Adventure, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade

Welcome to the Knife’s Edge Blog Tour! Today is my stop on the tour and I am so excited to share with you my thoughts on this exciting and fun duet series. (You can follow the whole blog tour here).

 

Knife’s Edge
by Hope Larson
Illustrations by Rebecca Mock
Read: June 4-5, 2017
Published: June 27, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Finished copy from publisher (Thank You!)
Category: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Twins, Adventure, Ships
Series: Sequel to Compass SouthFour Points Duet 2/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

 

Book Description: Twelve-year-old twin adventurers Cleopatra and Alexandra Dodge are reunited with their father and realize that two family heirlooms reveal the location of a treasure that is their birthright. When they set sail with Captain Tarboro on the Almira, they know they’re heading into danger—the ocean is filled with new and old enemies, including their nemesis, the infamous pirate Felix Worley.

But like a coral reef that lurks below the surface of the waves, trouble is brewing between the siblings. Alex is determined to become a sailor and is happy with his role aboard the Almira, but Cleo—the only girl on the ship—is tired of washing dishes in the galley. In an effort to find her own purpose, she begins studying sword fighting with Tarboro, but neither Alex nor her father approves.

Can the twins remain close as they pursue different goals and dreams, or will their growing differences tear the family apart before the treasure can be found?


In this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Compass South, Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock once again create an outstanding seafaring adventure.

 

My Review:

After reading Compass South, I couldn’t wait to continue on the journey with Alex and Cleo in Knife’s Edge.  I would recommend reading Compass South before diving into Knife’s Edge, only because it will give you a fuller reading experience to know the background story. Between Hope Larson’s engaging narrative/dialogue and Rebecca Mock’s beautiful and detailed illustrations the story truly came to life.

In Knife’s Edge, twelve-year-old twins, Alex and Cleo, along with the help of family heirlooms and the crew of the Almira set sail on another thrilling adventure in search of lost treasure. Upon setting sail with Captain Tarboro, they know they are heading to danger, as their nemesis pirate Felix Worley is also on the hunt for the same treasure.

 You can’t help but cheer on for our two heroes, Alex and Cleo, as they use their wits, cleverness and family heirlooms to solve the riddles and puzzles throughout their journey.

If danger and peril weren’t enough to worry about, the twins must also overcome their “growing pains”, as for the first time in their lives, it becomes clear to them that they’re different genders will cause them to be at odds with one another.

Alex is ready to take up the life of a sailor, but Cleo struggles to find a place for herself in a mainly male dominated world. I am glad the author did not shy away from putting some sibling tension in her story, as it made the characters seem more realistic.

The underlying theme of “finding oneself” and “identity” is subtle but comes off loud and clear.  I enjoyed the parallel between the twins seeking treasure while at the same time  “seeking” themselves and their own way in the world.

Reading graphic novels is a relatively new to me. I am so very glad I decided to start reading them on a more regular basis. Knife’s Edge had a little bit of everything, from pirates, to family drama, adventure, danger, and even a little bit of (innocent) romance too.

Readers of all ages should enjoy this quick, fun read. Everyone should be able to relate to the theme of “finding yourself and your place in the world”.  I highly recommend both Compass South and Knife’s Edge for middle grade readers and anyone who loves pirates and adventure books.

 


 

 

Follow the Tour: 

6/26 — Love Is Not a Triangle
6/27 — Here’s to Happy Endings
6/28 — Never 2 Many 2 Read
6/29 — Librarian’s Quest
6/30 — The Windy Pages
7/3 — The Plot Bunny
7/4 — Undeniably Book Nerdy
7/5 — The Novel Hermit
7/6 — The Hiding Spot

Blog Tour +Giveaway: Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Published by Aladdin Genres: Contemporary, GLBT, Middle Grade

 

 

I am thrilled to be participating in the Star-Crossed blog tour today. Today I am joined by author Barbara Dee and she will share with us the 5 qualities she admires most about her main characters.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

 

GoodReads * IndieBound * Amazon * Barnes & Nobles * Book Depository

 

 

GUEST POST:

Five qualities that you admire about your main characters

Mattie’s bravery. It takes her a little while, but I admire how she embraces her feelings for Gemma, and also challenges herself to shine onstage.

Gemma’s charisma. For the premise to work, Mattie needs to be as smitten with Gemma as Romeo is with Juliet. I do think Gemma has a magical quality that makes it possible for Mattie to be hit by a “thunderbolt.”

Lucy’s loyalty. She gently prods Mattie to own her feelings, all the while reassuring her of her support. True friends want you to be your best.

Tessa’s wit. I loved writing her–yes, she could be a bit obnoxious sometimes, but she always cracked me up!

Mr. Torres’ endurance (he’s exhausted, but not burned out) and dedication to his students (“And the thing about bring a teacher, you never bet against your students. You always give them a chance to do their best.”)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Barbara Dee is the author of seven middle grade novels all published by Simon & Schuster, including TRUTH OR DARE (Sept. 2016) and STAR-CROSSED (March 2017). Her next middle grade novel, HALFWAY NORMAL, will publish September 5, 2017. Barbara is one of the founders and directors of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. She lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.

 

 

Website   *   Twitter   *   Facebook

GIVEAWAY:

One signed copy of STAR-CROSSED, USA only
Rafflecopter Link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Book Tour and Giveaway: The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner

Published by Steel Page Press LLC Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Welcome to The Blue Moon Narthex Book Tour! Today is my stop on the tour hosted by Irish Banana Tours and I will be sharing my review of The Blue Moon Narthex. This is a great new series for middle-grade readers and is sure to capture their attention.  Remember to enter the awesome giveaway at the bottom of the post! You don’t want to miss it!

 

The Blue Moon Narthex

Author: N.J. Donner

Publisher: Steel Page Press 

Pub. Date: Feb 7th, 2017

My Rating: 3 Stars

AMAZON

GOODREADS

B&N

 

 

ABOUT THE BLUE MOON NARTHEX:

The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen-year-old… Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.

 

A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.

 

With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

N.J. Donner is the author of the new Karmanic Sovereign Legion books. N.J. loves to explore. The world fascinates him and he wants to figure out why and how things work, including Karma.

College adventures took N.J. far from his small Nebraska hometown to the southern hemisphere and the inner city. This was the beginning of his wanderlust and today he loves to travel with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

N.J. became the first person to graduate with a minor in international affairs from Nebraska Wesleyan University and spent the years right out of college building a successful steel company.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

 

MY REVIEW:

The Blue Moon Narthex is a middle-grade fantasy is made for readers who enjoyed the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. It is filled with adventure, friends, mystery and even a bit of magic. Were there moments and certain things about the three main characters that reminded me a little (maybe a bit too much) about the Harry Potter series- yes. However, since this is the first book in the series I still believe there is time for it to become more defined, and hold its own with future books. Now that we got that over with, let’s move on to how fun this book is to read. My advice is that if you are a grown adult (like myself…most days) please keep in mind this book is meant for Middle-Grade readers.

 

Thirteen-year-old Cole and his two best friends Britten and Sasha are suddenly thrown into a secret world they didn’t know even existed. The world of the Karmanic Sovereign Legion is dedicated to fighting evil. This is the world Cole’s father was involved with before he died. Cole inherits the Blue Moon Narthex stone which leads him and his friends to the Coreseum. The Coreseum is a school where the kids are divided into groups depending on their talent and given a role to master as part of their education.

 

Hopefully, as the series develops the main characters will come into their own voices. Though they are likable, they do read a bit “younger” than 13. I also feel that their personalities need to be a bit more defined and individualized. Then again, when was the last time you met a 13yr old that was completely self-confident and sure of themselves? There were also times that their immaturity turned me off a bit, I do love the friendship between these characters and how they are always there for each other.

 

Though the characters need a bit of work, the world building is fantastic in The Blue Moon Narthex. While reading the book I felt like I could “see” the Coreseum, the Narthexes and the “sliding”. The author did a wonderful job describing and explaining these places and things in detail. Though I would have liked to see the “real” world and WWI appear or factor in a bit more into the story. The war is only mentioned a few times but not enough for such a huge world event. But then again, maybe the author was avoiding it on purpose. After all, we dive into fantasy to get away from “reality”, and placing the war more prominently would have taken away from the fantasy.

 

Being given a thorough background on the mythology of the world, and details on how Karmanic Matter is discovered and used kept me intrigued and fascinated. It also made the world of the Karmanic Sovereign Legion come to life for me. The concept of “sliding” into different dimensions is what I really loved about this book. It’s one of my favorite things to read about in science fiction/fantasies because I would love to be able to do it myself.

 

Overall, I believe that the Blue Moon Narthex will captivate younger middle-grade readers and transport them to an exciting new world, filled with mystery, friendship and even a bit of magic.

 

*I received this book in a promotional package from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

 

GIVEAWAY: 

Enter for your chance to win a Blue Moon Narthex Swag Box

(US ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

FOLLOW THE TOUR

Week 1:

2/6: Swoony Boys Podcast – Review

2/7: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Q&A

2/8: Kara the Redhead – Spotlight

2/9: Young Adult Rocks – Review

2/10: books are love – Top 10

Week 2:

2/13: Such A Novel Idea – Q&A

2/14: Book Stacks Amber – Excerpt

2/15: Books Buying Beauty – Review

2/16: Red House Books – Guest Post

2/17: Basic Book Blog – Review

Week 3:

2/20: The Irish Banana Review – Review

2/21: Lisa’s Loves – World Building

2/22: Pondering the Prose – Review

2/23: Who RU Blog – Novel Secrets

2/24: The Plot Bunny – Review

 

Educational and Fun Gifts for Readers and Teachers

Published by National Geographic Kids Genres: Adventure, Middle Grade, Science

Today I will be reviewing for some fantastic educational books I received from National Geographic Kids. These books would make great gifts for the little readers who love exploring and science. Or how about gifting them to your child’s teacher? If you still have some shopping to do and are stuck on ideas for the perfect gift for a special reader, here are some awesome books to consider.

For The Ocean Lover:

Ultimate Oceanpedia (A Complete Reference) National Geographic Kids by Christina Wilsdon

(ages 7-10)

Do you have a little one who is fascinated with fish and all the strange and interesting creatures of the sea? This book is jam packed with colorful photos, incredible facts, art, and diagrams. Readers go on a magical journey deep under the sea learning about whales, dolphins, turtles, crustaceans, a variety of fish, and my personal favorites sharks. Weather patterns, currents, water temperatures are also discussed and how all of these things affect our ocean and the lives of everything in it. The breathtaking photos are clear and detailed so little eyes won’t miss a spot or a fin. I love that there are special tips about how we can all do our part to help keep our oceans clean and thriving with life. This wonderful book is sure to entertain (and educate) young readers for hours on end.

For The One Who Always Asks How? Or Why?

How Things Work (National Geographic Kids) by T.J. Resler

Ever wonder how things work? I know I often did as a child. That inquisitive nature has always been a part of me. I know there are lots of children and adults out there that feel the same. How Things Work is the PERFECT gift for anyone on your list who enjoys seeing and learning about how things “work”. It captivates from the start as it explains how hoverboards and hoverbikes work. Who wouldn’t be fascinated just by that alone?

Other topics range from iPods, roller-coasters, simulators, cloaking devices, tightrope walking and so much more. The pictures are bright and engaging. The typology throughout the book keeps changing, which helps keep your eyes focused and interested. I love the section where you can “Try this” which gives you the opportunity to run your own experiments at home or in the classroom with the kids. How Things Work will not only keep your kids busy and entertained for days (months even!) but you might find yourself reading along too.

For The Space Explorer

Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More! by National Geographic Kids

(Ages 8-12)

The Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More! By far is not your average science book. Though it might feel intimidating due to the 304 pages, it really is fun. National Geographic Kids did a fantastic job making sure to show how science incorporates into our daily lives. Because of this kids will be more prone to appreciate science as it is directly related to them somehow. From the food we eat to computers, TVs and even the air we breathe, science is a part of it all.

The book is drafted into two parts: Physical science (Matter, Energy, Electronics, Forces and Machines, and Life Science (Life on Earth, Planet Earth, The Universe and The Human Body). Throughout the book, you will find a variety of photographs, texts, facts and vivid colors that will keep the reader engaged. Most of the information given is suitable for 8-12-year-olds. It is explained in a manner in which the average reader will “get it” on a basic level. The Science Encyclopedia also has a section for “Try This!” with experiments you can try at home or in the classroom which is related to the topic at hand. I also quite liked that a glossary of terms is provided at the end. There are also suggestions on finding out more via websites, movies, and books. The Science Encyclopedia is sure to inspire all the little Einsteins in your family or classroom.

Not Every Invention Equals Success…That Doesn’t Mean You Stop Trying…

Famous Fails!: Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success! By Crispin Boyer

(ages 8-12, $12.99)

This is the perfect little paperback book to stuff into stockings. Kids will learn about strange and quirky inventions. As well as how they didn’t go as planned. Even though failure happens and things sometimes flop , this book will teach young readers the importance of messing up in order to finally getting things right. Filled with interesting facts, history and a good sense of humor kids are bound to be fascinated.

For the Art and Fantasy Lover:

Tales From the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love, and Betrayal by Donna Jo Napoli, Christina Balit (Illustrator)

(Ages 8-12)

Tales from the Arabian Nights is sure to please the daydreamer and adventurer in all of us. This beautiful book filled with stunning artwork and a variety of tales will delight the imagination of the reader (and listener). If read during bedtime it is sure to fill your dreams with vivid renderings of princesses, genies, princes and kings.

The lovely and colorful pages are filled with exotic illustrations depicting a variety of scenes from the stories. There are a variety of facts listed on the sidebars in the book, and many maps of the Middle East. Because of this, I believe this would also be a great teaching tool for any classroom. Especially those learning about Middle Eastern culture. Reader and listeners alike will be charmed by all the wondrous tales in this book.

 

Here is an extra little gifting tip:

 

Why not add a family membership or tickets for a day trip to either the Aquarium, Science Museum or Art Museum with one of these books? That way you can keep the learning going and the imagination growing.

 

I would like to thank National Geographic Kids for reaching out to me and sending me a copy of each of these vibrant, gorgeous and educational books to review. I was enthralled with each of them and would highly recommend adding them to your classroom or child’s library. Happy Holidays!

Middle Grade Book Review: If The Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid

Middle Grade Book Review: If The Magic Fits by Susan Maupin SchmidIf the Magic Fits (100 Dresses, #1) by Susan Maupin Schmid, Lissy Marlin
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on October 25th 2016
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Inside an enchanted castle, there’s a closet—a closet with one hundred dresses that nobody ever wears. Dresses like those need a good trying-on, and Darling Dimple is just the girl to do it. When she tries on Dress Number Eleven, something unbelievable happens. She transforms into the castle’s Head Scrubber! It turns out that each dress can disguise her as someone else. And Darling is about to have an adventure that calls for a disguise or two…or a hundred.

If the Magic Fits is the book every little girl who enjoys playing dress up and pretty gowns needs to read. Because in this story, elaborate and magical dresses have the power to transform the wearer into someone completely different.

Our heroine isn’t a princess, and wasn’t “born in a tower or a golden chamber”. Darling Dimple is a simple 10-year-old girl who works in the castle. Everything changes when she discovers a room filled with elegant and marvelous gowns. Upon trying one on, she realizes that they possess magic which transforms the wearer into someone completely different.

Darling is a believable and lovable character. The type of heroine kids can look up to. When one day Darling overhears a plot to release the stone dragons of the castle, she seeks out a way to use the dresses to stop the villains and save the kingdom.

Even though I am far older than the target audience for this enchanting book, I really like the story. I love fairy tales and this is the kind of tale I would have loved as a child. Younger readers who love fantasy, beautiful gowns, castles, princesses, and dragons will also enjoy this story.

Schmid does a lovely job creating a fun and descriptive world with her words. The writing will enthrall and captivate the reader. If not for the nearly 300 pages, this would be a perfectly well put together fairy tale. Due, to the length of this book younger readers, might feel a bit overwhelmed. However, older pre-teens should have no problem with the length.

If you are looking to regain a little bit of that childhood sparkle or have young readers that enjoy a well written and beautiful fairy tale, make sure to pick up If The Magic Fits

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an E-arc in return for an honest review.

three-half-stars