ARC Review & Giveaway: The Princess and the Page by Christina Farley

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review

***I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author and Scholastic

The Princess and the Page is a magical mystery that combines an intriguing glimpse into French history with imaginative sleuthing skills fit for any modern day Nancy Drew. 

I don’t normally review children’s or middle grade books on my blog, but when I heard that Christina Farley had one coming out, well, she’s one of my go-to authors. Somehow she always manages to put a twist on history, folklore, and culture to make it captivating for any reader, i.e. her Gilded series, which is AMAZING. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to review this book that is sure to be a favorite of any tenacious young girls and boys with a knack for mysteries and a love of writing. 

The Princess and the Page is a blend of history, fairy tale, and fantasy. The castle and historical events are real and the author does a wonderful job discussing the history and her own experience visiting the castle at the back of the book. The way the history swirled into the mystery made me ask questions and dive into the history mentioned. I loved the tragic unhappily ever after aspect of Gabrielle and Henry IV. It was gutting and yet, balanced with Keira’s heroic efforts to change the past.

The concept of Word Weavers is awesome. I love the idea of bringing fantasy to life with words and altering history. It truly shows the power words have from the page first and how they resonate into real life, spreading from reader to reader, and everyone the reader came into contact with. Words have power. They can alter perspectives, change lives, and sometimes destroy them. Keira learns this the hard way, she makes mistakes, and puts people in dire situations with her reckless use of her power. Honestly, I thought this was the best part of the book. Teaching kids that what they say, what they write, and how they use their words in every manner has consequences.

The mystery was compelling. Keira uses her Nancy Drew-channeled detective skills to make observations, find clues, and uncover mysteries. She has lists of suspects, thoughts, and ideas that guide the reader and force them to come up with guesses of their own. The story is super interactive.

Characters, down to the fleeting secondaries, have loud and memorable personalities. Bella has so much sass and confidence, it’s remarkable. She’s mature, goal-oriented, and still feels like a little girl with big dreams. Though I have my doubts that any adult would give her that much power with a credit card. Chet is devious, playful, and always getting himself into trouble. He lives for adventure and leaps into danger. He livened up the story and won over my heart. 

Some of the plot points were a little oversimplified and resolved quickly, but that may be usual for books geared towards a younger audience. 

Overall, the story is didactic, inspires courage, confidence, and never giving up. Keira makes mistakes, she faces challenges, and she continues to fight for her dreams. That’s a heroine anyone can get behind. 

 
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author

CHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the bestselling Gilded series. Prior to that, she worked as an international teacher and at a top secret job for Disney where she was known to scatter pixie dust before the sun rose. When not traveling the world or creating imaginary ones, she spends time with her family in Clermont, Florida with her husband and two sons where they are busy preparing for the next World Cup, baking cheesecakes, and raising a pet dragon that’s in disguise as a cockatiel. You can visit her online at ChristinaFarley.com.
 
 

CONTINUE THE BOOK TOUR

Mar. 23th – Ana Loves Books
Mar. 24thYA Book Madness
March 25th – Literary Rambles
March 27th – Twinning for Books
March 28th – Mundie Kids
Mar. 29thAll Things Christine
Mar. 30thYA Book Divas
Mar. 31stWord Spelunking
Apr. 3rdMine of Books
Apr. 4th The AP Book Club
Apr. 5th Middle Grade Ninja



giveaway

 
One (1) lucky winner will receive:
 
$25 gift card to their favorite book vendor. Giveaway open internationally. Enter below or HERE.
 

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

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synSubhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.

review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Disney-Hyperion

Sometimes a great book is balm for the soul, and other times, a book wakes you up. Sometimes the darkness in this world is too much that it’s easy to look away and selectively forget the atrocities that happen every single day to people who seek nothing but peace and a place to call home. The Bone Sparrow reads like a folktale. With a blend of lyrical storytelling, startling bursts of horrific reality, and two children from different worlds even though they live footsteps apart, The Bone Sparrow brings those who don’t have a voice and are cast aside like a dirty little secret to vibrant life. 

Subhi is dreamer. Caught up in his world of stories and a father he’s never met, his hope is a burst of light and longing that fights hard against the injustice that surrounds him. Cushioned by his child-like wonder at the simple magic of dreams, words, and legends, Subhi is a captivating character. His words are innocent and full of loyalty. He holds those he loves so high as protectors and the good. What others see as negative, he sees as okay because he’s never known any different being born in the refugee camp. Kids find truths and say them with such simplicity that it’s both profound and enlightening. So many times, I had to pause and reread. What initially seems light and offhand is actually jarring in its insight. After witnesses something truly despicable and triggering, Subhi’s world is no longer Night Seas and whales who sing to the moon, it’s starvation, pain, and abuse. It’s a letdown he never expected. This awakening is heartbreaking and crushing. This perfect little spirit who lived the world on a cloud and reveled in simple happiness broken and downtrodden. Seriously, it sucks the life right out of you. So powerful and emotional.

Friendship is everything in this story. It’s a hero, it’s a savior, it’s hope and longing and love. This unlikely pairing between a motherless girl with just as much yearning as Subhi, clinging to a past that she refuses to let go, is so special. 

Some parts of this story are graphic and dark. This book is categorized as MG on some sites and I’d really consider it before sharing with young kids. Though the protagonists are 10, the subject matter is more mature. The violence might be a bit much, especially one scene in particular. 

The pacing was so-so. The build up far less and later than I would have hoped for to create the right amount of tension and anxiety. 

Jimme is an outside oblivious to what is really going on behind the fence or to how detention centers work. She’s heard rumors of how lucky the refugees are, how much food they get, and her curiosity makes her fearless. Jimmie doesn’t have a care in the world besides her desperation to preserve the last vestiges of her mother through her mother’s journal. Like Subhi, she doesn’t understand what she’s looking at and no one takes the time to explain. Those who are part of the situation and don’t explain the gravity are just as culpable as those who ignore. Jimmie’s ignorance is hurtful, but full of heart. She adores Subhi and their friendship is cute and full of instance love. Through stories, they grow to trust and rely on each other. 

The story of Burma, the conditions in refugee camps, detainment centers, how those seeking asylum are treated are all brushed under the rug unless it is brought to international headlines and even then it disappears after a while. What happens to these people? How are they living? Who is helping them? Are they getting help at all or are they worse off? These questions and many more are addressed and examined in this book. They shouldn’t be forgotten and unfortunately, it takes perseverance and willingness to care, and compassion to make change. 

Insightful reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

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syn

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Some reviews take a while to write, not because the book was a struggle, but because there’s too much to say too soon and it wouldn’t do the book justice to spit out a review for the sake of time constraints. This review has been a long time coming and hopefully worth the wait. 

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a Middle Grade book. The last time I’d read one of those was probably when I was MG age…apart from Harry Potter, of course. But when I saw Megan Shepard, I had to have it-she’s one of my go-to authors.

Don’t be scared of the MG label, this book is stunning, truly and utterly beautiful, whimsical, and full of this dazzling hope in a world of tragedy. 

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill will enchant and bewitch you. You know that giddy, magical feeling you get when you feel something wonderful is on the verge of happening? The entire book is made of that feeling. If you love The Chronicles of Narnia, Bridge to Terabithia, The Golden Compass, or even Spiderwick add this to your TBR stat.

The horses are like a secret-glorious and majestic, they flit through the mirrors playful and observant, taking sneaky sips of tea or peaking around corners. Curiosity and anticipation reign as Emmaline scrambles to uncover their true purpose and convince the rest of the too serious children that they are hiding in reflections, just out of sight. Who are they, why are they in the mirrors? Questions will plague you and keep you guessing as the mystery and an epic quest pops up. 

Megan Shepard is insanely skilled at blurring the lines between historical and fantasy. The world is seamless and fits so well together it’s crazy because it really shouldn’t. There’s a World War going on, bombs are on the horizon, and the children grow more sick everyday. These are real circumstances that actually happened and if you’re into history you’ll feel that hunger to learn and research. Read the notes at the end, it’s fascinating. 

Emmaline is adorable. She’s suffered so much, lived through horrific events, and yet, that childish wonder is stronger than ever. She can be spiteful, she can be mean, but she has so much heart and this multidimensional personality makes her all the more real. 

Friendship, loss, and hope when all seems lost and the world is fading as the darkness of death closes in-that’s what this story is truly about. Magic is found in the darkest of places and the bleakest of times. I don’t have children, but when I do, I definitely plan on reading this with them.

Some parts were a little predictable, but overall it was certainly an adventure. 

The cover. OMG. Seriously, I’m taking down that name because it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: Omega City-Diana Peterfreund

Coming this April 28th, Diana’s first book for readers eight and up is a thrilling adventure story, perfect for people who like their books with a side of rocketships and hidden treasure. Find out what secrets are hidden beneath the Maryland countryside in…

OmegaCityGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

cooltext1889161239 copyGillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War-era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced the family to move to a cottage in the sticks, but Gillian knows he’s right, and plans to prove it.

When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Unerberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle–a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off into the ruins of a vast doomsday bunker, deep within the earth.

But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. Now Gillian and her friends must race to explore OMEGA CITY and find the answers they need. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried…forever.

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

“With seamless writing, a thrilling plot, lots of engaging science puzzles, and remarkable characterization, Peterfreund’s exciting tale keeps the adventure solidly in the foreground. Young readers looking for a page turning quest should get into this planned series on the ground floor.” — Booklist *Starred* Review

“Peterfreund’s focus on character development is complemented by the equal attention she gives to the vast underground city itself. Gillian’s instincts to protect her friends and clear her historian father’s tarnished name are admirable, but Peterfreund gives every character the opportunity to grow, revealing themselves for who they really are.”Publishers Weekly

“With nonstop action, sly humor, and nothing short of the end of the world at stake, Omega City is the alpha book in a new series that mashes up mystery, scifi, and action/adventure into a thrilling novel you’ll want to devour in one sitting. I did, and I can’t wait to read what comes next!”Peter Lerangis, New York Times Bestselling author of the Seven Wonders series

“Peterfreund’s boundless imagination takes on a new and exciting adventure!”Jessica Day George, New York Times Bestselling author of Tuesdays at the Castle”

“Diana Peterfreund takes us to an underground city that’s utterly mind-blowing, yet disturbingly possible. A knockout of a story that will have readers cheering straight through to the final, shocking, twist.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman

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DPeterfreund-smallpicDiana Peterfreund has published ten novels for adults, teens, and kids, including the four-book Secret Society Girl series (Bantam Dell), the “killer unicorn novels” Rampant and Ascendant (Harper Teen), For Darkness Shows the Stars (a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion), and Across a Star-Swept Sea (inspired by the classic series The Scarlet Pimpernel). Her newest novel, OMEGA CITY, is a contemporary adventure novel for younger readers set in a secret bunker city somewhere under modern Maryland.

Her works have been named to the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list, the Capitol Choices (metro DC-area) reading list, and the Texas Lonestar List, as well as having been named to Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. In addition, she’s written several critically acclaimed short stories and a variety of non-fiction essays about popular children’s literature. Diana lives outside Washington D.C., with her family.

Website /Facebook /Twitter

Keep reading,

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