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: The Wizard Test

The Wizard Test by Hilari Bell
The Wizard Test 
by Hilari Bell (Goodreads Author)

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Dayven hates wizards, believing the rumors that they are sly and dishonest, but he is required to take the Wizard Test to find out if he has any magical ability. When Dayven passes the test and the magic inside him is revealed, he must choose where his loyalties lie, and discover the true meaning of destiny.

I enjoyed reading this book, and loved the magic system! Nothing and no one is quite what you expect, because we see the world through Dayven’s eyes, and he has only known rumors and propaganda. He believes the enemies of his nation are stupid barbarians, and we are just as amazed as he is to observe that they have an elegant and vibrant culture. He believes that all wizards are selfish deceivers, and we are just as astonished as he is to realize that the wizards are compassionate champions of justice. I loved going on this journey of discovery with Dayven as he explores the truth of his world.

I loved the characters, and how they are described in just a few words that gives you a rich picture of who they are. I immediately connected with the main characters, and was pulled along in their emotional story. Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: Fake Blood

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner
Fake Blood 
by Whitney Gardner 

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


A.J. likes a girl.
A girl who is obsessed with vampires.
Conclusion: A.J. must become a vampire. Or at least, dress up like one.

Haha! I knew right away that this would be a funny graphic novel, and I was NOT disappointed! A.J. has a crush on Nia, and pretends to be a vampire to get her attention. But he gets the wrong kind of attention, because Nia dreams of becoming a vampire slayer, and comes after him with a stake!

Oh, I almost died laughing, this was so funny!
I loved the dynamic between A.J.’s two best friends. I loved the sweet flirtations between A.J. and Nia. I loved the colorful cartoony artwork. And I loved the hilarious plot and relatable characters. Continue reading

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: The Mozart Season

The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff
The Mozart Season 
by Virginia Euwer Wolff

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Allegra is a violinist entering a prestigious Mozart music competition. At 12 years of age, she is the youngest finalist in the competition, and works closely with her violin teacher to be prepared. But as she memorizes the Mozart concerto, other things in her life begin to affect her music.
Her mother’s emotionally wounded friend, Deirdre, who is a genius vocalist, makes Allegra wonder about how pain can find a voice through music. Allegra’s grandmother, who escaped the Nazi death camps, urges Allegra to embrace her Jewish heritage, and Allegra reflects on her identity as a musician. And there is a mysterious homeless man who haunts all the local concerts in the park, dancing by himself in the back and searching for a song he can’t remember.

As a musician, I enjoyed this story so much. The writing is quite accurate about how one feels about learning music, and embracing it, and connecting with the composers; how you can make yourself crazy practicing too much, how your nerves will go haywire before or after a performance, how music shapes everything you do and everything you are.
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: Falcon’s Feather

The Falcon's Feather by Trudi Trueit
The Falcon’s Feather (Explorer Academy, #2) 
by Trudi Trueit 

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Cruz and his friends are searching for clues left behind by Cruz’s mother, on a quest that will take them to Norway and Iceland. The team stops along the way to do some underwater diving, help some whales in trouble, and tour the beauties of Norway in between their Academy classes and explorer training. Cruz and Emmett soon discover that there are spies on board the Academy’s flagship, Orion, and they don’t know who to trust. When Cruz’s diving equipment fails and puts his life in danger, it only makes him more determined than ever to find some answers.

I didn’t think it was possible for this book to be even BETTER than the first one, but WOW! I am so crazy impressed with this series.

The plot is non-stop action with tons of wonderful adventure, mystery, puzzles, spies, betrayal, high-tech gadgets, and of course, the fascinating characters.

Continue reading