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: Birdwing

Birdwing by Rafe Martin
Birdwing 
by Rafe Martin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodREads


Ardwin is the youngest in his family, cursed with one arm that is a swan’s wing. He is feared and reviled by the world, and sets out to seek an adventure that will lead him to his true home. But he will never find peace until he learns to accept himself, wing and all.

This is a continuation of the fairy tale of the brothers who are transformed into swans and saved by their sister who weaves shirts of nettles to break the curse. One little brother’s shirt is unfinished, missing a sleeve, and that arm remains a swan’s wing.

I loved Ardwin’s character! He’s a very deep thinker, and he puzzles through many ideas about identity, instinct, belonging, love, and hate, and forgiveness. There are so many wonderful themes that he wrestles with, but he ultimately finds where he truly belongs.

The plot is wonderfully fantastical, full of wizards, enchantresses, talking animals, deep earth magic, and impossible plot twists that kept me guessing and wondering and perfectly in awe. 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: 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

Book Review: Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows

Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen
Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows 
by J.M. Bergen

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Thirteen-year-old Thomas is sure that magic is real, and he goes searching for proof in every dusty old bookstore he can find. One day, a mysterious bookshop owner lets Thomas borrow the magical Book of Sorrows, and Thomas discovers a secret family history and a world of magic and myth that takes him on a dangerous adventure.

I enjoyed this book so much! The magic system is marvelous, the plot is brilliant, and the characters are deep and endearing. Continue reading