Book Review: A Bag of Moonshine

A Bag Of Moonshine by Alan Garner
A Bag Of Moonshine
by Alan Garner

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


I loved this collection of fairy tales, rewritten from the folklore of England and Wales. The author has an uncanny ability to mimic the story-telling style of old folk tales, with whimsy and ingenuity.

The black and white illustrations add to the ghoulish atmosphere of the tales, and they are true to the art style I see in so many old fairy tale books from the late 1800s.

The enchantment of these stories lies in the excellent word-craft, and the weird and eccentric characters who populate the world of magic and mayhem. Full of changlings, witches, ogres who spin gold, and the clever youngest brother named Jack, these stories captivate the reader with the magnetic words and witty narrative style.

Book Review: Far Traveler

Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
Far Traveler 
by Rebecca Tingle

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Ælfwyn is a shy, bookish maiden in Anglo-Saxon England, caught in the middle of her uncle the king’s political plots. When the king forces her to choose between marrying an old man or becoming a nun, Ælfwyn runs away to become a singing bard on the open road. But circumstances drag her back into her uncle’s clutches, and desperate men try to use her position in the king’s family for their own political gain.

I really identified with Ælfwyn’s character, because she loves to read. She is shy, and is frightened to ride the large and powerful horse her mother gives her. For most of the book, she depends on other people to tell her what to do and where to go, but when it really matters, she makes her own decisions, discovering courage and resilience from deep inside.

I liked the writing style in this book. It really pulls you in to the story, painting a picture of Old England with a few settings, people, and events drawn from real history. I especially liked the scenes when Ælfwyn is on the road, singing her songs and telling stories from her books to entertain the common people.  Continue reading

Book Review: Queste

Queste by Angie Sage
Queste (Septimus Heap, #4) 
by Angie Sage

4 out of 5 stars

A disgruntled old ghost has rigged the Questing Stone draw, sending Septimus on a suicide mission against the rules of Magyck Apprenticeship. No matter what Septimus does, he cannot escape the deadly Queste, and he ends up dragging Jemma and Beetle along with him through dangerous forests, and across deadly cliffs, to face the dreaded Foryx monsters and find the secrets of Time.

The world-building gets more and more phenomenal with each book in this series, as we discover further depths of magic and fantasy.
I love how twisty the plot is, where every small detail can have a huge impact on the story. I love the interesting and complex characters and how they all interact.
I am growing to love Beetle’s character more and more through this series, and I loved that he played a more central role in this book.
Jemma and Septimus are fantastic characters, as always. Nicko and Snorri also make an appearance from the depths of Time, and magic surrounds everything they do.

Loving this series!

Book Review: The Evil Wizard Smallbone

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
The Evil Wizard Smallbone 
by Delia Sherman 

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Nick runs away from his abusive uncle, only to fall into the hands of an evil wizard! Nick is forced to become Smallbone’s apprentice, but the old man refuses to teach him any magic. Unraveling the secrets of the Evil Wizard Bookshop and the mysterious town of Smallbone Cove, Nick will have to outwit his master before an even more evil wizard, Fidelou, terrorizes and destroys the entire town.

I am delighted with this whimsical tale of wizardry! I love the enchanted town of Smallbone Cove and the rich history of the people there. I love how grumpy and enigmatic Smallbone is, because we slowly discover that he has a heart of gold underneath. I love the twisty plot with all kinds of weird surprises. I like the writing style too! There’s a lot of dry humor and snappy dialogue.  Continue reading

Book Review: Fire Bringer

Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies
Fire Bringer 
by David Clement-Davies (Goodreads Author)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

As a little fawn, Rannoch is born with an oak leaf mark on his forehead that signals the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. When his father is murdered on the very night of his birth, Rannoch must be hidden and kept safe from the eyes of the tyrant deer lord, Drail. As Drail gets closer to discovering Rannoch’s true identity, Rannoch and his friends must flee to the North, propelling them on an epic journey towards freedom and healing for all the deer in Scotland.

It took me awhile to get into the flow of the story. There are far too many characters, some of them with similar names, making it difficult to remember them all, and the writing spends way too much time explaining boring details ad nauseum. But once the story began to move, I enjoyed the adventure, the characters, and the world-building of the deer herds and their culture. But then I was disappointed in the ending. It needed more flair, and it didn’t deliver quite the epic conclusion I was looking for.

A good read, but not amazing. The writing could have been more polished, and the plot needed better pacing to keep the story moving forward.

Book Review: Saturdays at Sea

Saturdays at Sea by Jessica Day George
Saturdays at Sea (Castle Glower, #5) 
by Jessica Day George 

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Celie and her family are far away from the Castle in the land of Grath, preparing for Lilah’s betrothal celebrations, and overseeing the construction of a Ship with components from the Castle. The Ship appears to have many of the same magical qualities that the Castle has, but can the Glower family trust that the Ship will protect and guide them, or does the Ship have its own agenda?

I adore the entire Glower family, and Celie is just as spunky and adventurous as always. I was interested to see this new side of the Castle-magic infused into the Ship, and the magical development in the story is wonderful! The plot drags a little bit at first, with lots of betrothal parties and parades, but once the Ship is at sea the adventure truly begins.

I really loved the mystery of the lost unicorns, and how that influenced so many of the characters and their decisions. I was especially interested in the differing reports they received about the history of the unicorns and why they were lost in the first place, which served as some interesting red herrings in the plot.

I only wish there were more books in this series! It’s a good ending, but I want more!

Book Review: Jennifer Murdley’s Toad

Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Bruce Coville
Jennifer Murdley’s Toad 
by Bruce CovilleGary A. Lippincott (Illustrations)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Jennifer wishes she could be beautiful, but feels ugly and dumpy. When she buys a talking toad at the Magic Shop, her entire life changes, and she is whisked on an adventure where she will have to choose between pursuing beauty or saving her friends.

I loved this hilarious story, and read it all in one sitting! The madcap plot is full of surprises, and the snappy dialogue makes every page interesting. I enjoyed the magic system and how it interacts in strange ways with the modern world.

I thought Jennifer was sweet and REAL and beautifully awkward. Her family is quirky and weird, and her friends are peppery and unreliable. The best part of the book was Jennifer’s various relationships with her parents, siblings, and school friends, and of course, her magical talking toad.

I adored every chapter! Can’t wait to read more from this series.

Book Review: Wizards of WaterFire

The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire by Iain Reading
The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire (The Wizards of Waterfire, #1) 
by Iain Reading (Goodreads Author)

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Memphis and her friends are wizards, using elemental power over Water and Fire to create a unique magic. But the rules of their magic guild are very clear; each guild must have exactly five members, no more, no less. When a member of their guild dies, Memphis scrambles to find someone to fill the empty place before their elemental magic spirals out of balance. Flynn seems like the perfect candidate to join the WaterFire guild, and Memphis senses a strange connection to him from the beginning. As the wizards work together to keep the balance within their guild, they must face ancient mysteries, and travel to the headquarters of the WaterFire elders to uncover the dark secrets of the deepest elemental power. Continue reading

Book Review: Tehanu

Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin
Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4) 
by Ursula K. Le Guin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Tenar is living as a poor farmer’s widow in the valleys of Gont, and adopts a disfigured child who was beaten and burned. When Ged, the Archmage Sparrowhawk, comes back into her life, Tenar must face the mystery behind the magic that has followed her all her life.

As with most of Le Guin’s books, I’m not quite sure what to think. It’s masterfully written with truly beautiful prose, and a deep story full of meaning and emotion. But it’s just so strange and other-worldly and odd. There are so many questions and few definitive answers. The best thing about her writing is that it makes you think about things… really think and ponder.  Continue reading