Book Review: A Handful of Magic

A Handful of Magic by Stephen Elboz
A Handful of Magic
by Stephen Elboz

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Kit is full of mischief and unruly vandalism, until his misconduct results in his best friend, Prince Henry being bitten by a werewolf. As Kit works to save Henry from the werewolf’s poison, he uncovers a deadly plot to cripple all of England while children are used as slaves to work in underground mines. To save his friends, Kit must learn to use his magical abilities for good, instead of for foolish pranks.

Full of steampunk magic and mythical creatures, this book creates a world where magic is at war with new scientific discoveries like the electric light and telegraph. Kit’s father, a prominent wizard-adviser to Queen Victoria, worries that magic is becoming obsolete in the face of new scientific inventions, and Kit is determined to prove that magic is just as relevant and necessary as it ever was.

I didn’t quite like Kit and his friends at first, because of their foolishness and vandalism, but they began to grow and learn, and their good hearts and generous spirits began to show through, so in the end, I liked them all and was cheering for them through their adventures. Continue reading

Book Review: Horns and Wrinkles

Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson
Horns and Wrinkles
by Joseph Helgerson (Author),Nicoletta Ceccoli (Illustrator)

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Claire lives along a stretch of the Mississippi river where magic is still alive, where trolls sit under bridges, and blue-winged fairies weave spells. When her cousin Duke bullies her, his nose begins to grow into a rhinoceros horn, and Claire is misled into a bargain with river trolls to cure him.

The world-building and magic system are quite imaginative and fanciful.
I liked the twisty plot and the odd characters.
The writing style is good, painting a vivid picture of freakish creatures and bizarre magic.

However, the book is much too long. The plot drags on and on with long scenes and lengthy dialogue that take forever to get to the point. I got bored with it, and then something new would finally happen and it would spark my interest again, and then it would drag on and on again, and I got bored again until the next new plot point finally got going.

Book Review: The Magic Half

The Magic Half by Annie Barrows
The Magic Half
by Annie Barrows

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Miri is the only single child in a family of twins. When she is whisked back in time, she meets a girl from 1935 named Molly, and the two embark on a mission to save Molly from her abusive aunt and cousins. But the magic that allowed Miri to travel through time is unpredictable, and it will take a special perspective for Molly and Miri to unravel the mysteries of time before it’s too late.

I liked the plot and the adorable characters! Miri is so relatable and sweet, and Molly is quite brave in the face of her terrible relatives.
The plot is not amazingly mind-blowing, but it kept my interest and I liked the interesting magic system that allowed Miri to travel through time. Continue reading

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: Crown of Earth

Crown of Earth by Hilari Bell
Crown of Earth (The Shield, Sword, and Crown, #3) 
by Hilari Bell (Goodreads Author), Drew Willis (Illustrator)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Prince Edoran races across the countryside to save his friend Weasel, who has been kidnapped by traitors to the crown. Joined by the fiery Arisa, Edoran faces cruel bandits, pirates, and mysterious priests, as they search for any trace of their friend Weasel. As he comes to terms with his own inadequacies, Edoran finds that the life of the common people, working for a daily meal, and living in a community all speak to his heart in a new way. In the midst of the political struggle for the magical Sword and Shield, Edoran and his friends discover the true nature of the magic bequeathed with those royal symbols.

I LOVE this ending!!! Such a good ending to the trilogy, and all those loose ends came together wonderfully. The big reveal is the true meaning of the Sword and Shield, and how they work together with the Crown. I was so surprised and happy and delighted with that plot twist!  Continue reading

Book Review: The Language of Spells

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-...
The Language of Spells 
by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-Weyr
Katie Harnett (Illustrations)

3 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book about a dragon under an enchantment and the little girl who gives up everything to save him and his fellow dragons!

Grisha is still a young dragon when an evil sorcerer freezes him into the shape of a small teapot. Trapped within the teapot for decades, Grisha dreams of being free once more, but as soon as a friend breaks the enchantment of the teapot, Grisha is trapped in another kind of prison. The cruel bureaucracy of Vienna keeps a close watch on the few dragons allowed to remain in the city, and every aspect of Grisha’s life is locked between rigid rules and regulations, even restricting his thoughts and words. Continue reading

Book Review: Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just as good as the first time I read it!

Jake and Kady’s parents were archaeologists, lost and presumed dead in the jungles while they studied ancient Mayan pyramids. When Jake and Kady use an artifact their parents found, they are transported to a mysterious world of dinosaurs and lost tribes of people. They’ve barely had time to explore and make a few friends, when the lost civilization comes under attack from the evil Skull King. Jake and Kady must choose between searching for a way home, and defending the strange world they’ve been dropped into.

Magic crystals, strange alchemy, ancient tribes and traditions, extinct animals, and archaic festivals; this adventure has such a beautifully imaginative world! Continue reading

Book Review: Seven-Day Magic

Seven-Day Magic
Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this last book of the series, a whole new set of characters take center stage for another magical adventure! These children love visiting the library every week and checking out piles of books, and when Susan finds a mysterious old book without a title, she opens it to discover that the book is all about her and her friends making wishes and going on adventures! The children take turns making their wishes on the book with mixed results. Wizards and dragons are not all they seem to be, and when they begin mixing the magic with other books and modern-day events, things get out of hand until the children can learn to follow the magical rules and find their own happy endings.

Yet another wonderful book in this series! The winsome and wild writing takes you to a new world of magic and fantasy, every page drawing the reader into the story. The characters are complex and delightful, making you truly care about each of them.

I love how there are many many references to classic books like Robinson Crusoe, the Wizard of Oz, and countless others. As always, Edward Eager highlights several children’s books by Edith Nesbit, which these characters have all read, of course!

Reading it for the second time was just as entertaining as the first!

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Well-Wishers

The Well-Wishers
The Well-Wishers by Edward Eager

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The five children are back for more magic from their wishing well. But this time the magic is including all sorts of unsuitable people in their adventures, and the children aren’t sure if they can accept these new people encroaching on their magic business.

Can the school bully really be reformed by the magic, or does he deserve to be punished for his previous schoolyard crimes? Will the children try to help an extremely annoying opera diva, or will they avoid her like the plague? And what about the crazy witch-lady from the local insane asylum? Surely, the magic wouldn’t expect them to make friends with a dangerous witch! But somehow the magic pulls through, the children find the courage and resourcefulness to overcome every obstacle, and they spread some good magic around their neighborhood while still having fun! They learn that anyone can become a friend if only you show them acceptance and kindness. Continue reading