T5W – “A Happy Child is a Child Reading a Good Book”

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Children’s Books! Now, I love me a good children’s novel, so I’m going to do a bit extra in this post. Instead of just 5 books, I’m going to give you 5 more recent novels and 5 older novels. 🙂 — To keep things a bit shorter, I’ll just give you the descriptions from Goodreads by themselves instead of adding a personal review, but I have read each of these books and would recommend them all highly!

Recent Novels

Circus Mirandus (Cassie Beasley)

circusmirandusMicah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle.

The Island of Dr. Libris (Chris Grabenstein)

islandofdrlibrisBilly’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life!

The Book of Storms (Ruth Hatfield)

bookofstormsEleven-year-old Danny’s parents are storm chasers – which sounds fun and exciting, and it is, so long as you aren’t the son who has to wait behind at home. And one night, after a particularly fierce storm, Danny’s parents don’t come back. Stranger still, the old sycamore tree in Danny’s yard seems to have been struck by lightning, and when he picks up a fragment of wood from the tree’s heart, he finds he can hear voices … including that of next door’s rather uppity cat, Mitzy. The stick is a taro, a shard of lightning that bestows upon its bearer unnerving powers, including the ability to talk with plants and animals – and it is very valuable.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse (Chris Riddell)

gothgirlMeet Ada Goth. She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with. Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for.

The Wishing Spell (Chris Colfer)

wishingspellThrough the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, Alex & Conner leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Older Novels

The Children of Green Knowe (L.M. Boston)

greenknowe“Tolly” Toseland 7 is rowed up to great-gran Linnet Oldknow by servant Boggis – there has always been a Boggis at Green Knowe. The real “castle” is over 900 years old. Gran tells old family stories, and songs. Over the generations there have been many who can see, hear, and feel the ghosts, evoked by white-on-black illustrations. Toby 14, Alexander, and Linnet 6 linger after the Plague, as does the cursed topiary Green Noah.

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)

wrinkleintimeMeg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

(From 1st novel) With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic – and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home.

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Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (Brian Jacques)

7997A boy and dog trapped aboard the legendary ship, the Flying Dutchman, are sent off on an eternal journey by an avenging angel, roaming the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need.  Their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy nineteenth century village whose very existence is at stake.  Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved.  This will take the will and wile of all the people-and a very special boy and dog!

Canyons (Gary Paulsen)

canyonsCoyote Runs, an Apache boy, takes part in his first raid — the one that will usher him into manhood. He is to be a man for but a short time….More than a hundred years later, while camping near Dog Canyon, fifteen-year-old Brennan Cole becomes obsessed with a skull that he finds, pierced by a bullet. He learns that it was the skull of an Apache boy executed by soldiers in 1864. A mystical link joins Brennan and Coyote Runs, and Brennan knows that neither boy will find any peace until Coyote Runs’ skull is returned to an ancient sacred place.


What are some of YOUR favorite children’s books?

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Obscure Kid Lit

Hey guys! Atlas Obscura has declared this week to be Children’s Literature Week! They are celebrating by asking everyone to send in submissions answering the question “What are the books you remember reading as a kid that have stuck with you, but that hardly anyone else seems to remember?” (go to their article here)

Sounds like fun, right? Well, I’ve been a bibliophile for a LONG time and have WAY too many books to submit, so I’ve decided to share them with you instead! 😀

Note: Descriptions in italics are all from Goodreads or Amazon.

One Shots

Fatso Jean the Ice Cream Queen (Maryann MacDonald)

6-12-2017 1-27-43 PMChubby nine-year-old Jean lives in a neighborhood where the children thrive on doing wheelies on their bicycles, performing backdives from the diving board, and deciding who belongs to the Hot Shots, the Normals, and the Nerds. Jeans considers herself a Nerd, since the only thing she does well is eat ice cream. Even though the other children call her Fatso Jean, the Ice-Cream Queen, she can’t give it up. She does, however, turn the craving into a way to earn money to go to Fat Camp. In the process, she loses weight, makes friends, and gives her money to Jimmy, a young diver headed for the Special Olympics. — This was probably the first book that really impacted me. Being a chunky/nerdy gal myself, it was nice to have someone to identify with and inspiring to see her pull herself up and out of victimhood.

The House on Parchment Street (Patricia McKillip)

267715While staying with her cousin in England, a young girl helps him find a way of helping the troubled ghosts inhabiting the cellar of the house. — I LOVED this novel when I was a kid! A spooky mystery set in England with a girl protagonist who is spunky and doesn’t back down from a challenge? Yes please! The mystery in this one was pretty decent for a middle grade book. I pick it up from time to time (yes, I still have it) and always find it a pleasurable read.

Space Station ICE-3 (Bruce Coville)

890838Rusty McPhee has discovered a dead body being dissolved in the Waste Converter Tanks of Space Station ICE-3. But the body is fully converted before he can show it to anyone, and no one will believe his story–because all 25,000 people on board the orbiting colony are accounted for and safe. Rusty isn’t willing to let the mystery go without answers. — This was probably the very first murder mystery that I ever read. Unfortunately I got rid of my copy ages ago, so I can’t recall all the details, but I DO remember that it was very exciting. Mysteries are still my favorite genre today, so thanks for the intro, Mr. Coville! 🙂

Series

Wayside School (Louis Sachar)

563859(Description from the 1st novel) There’d been a terrible mistake. Wayside School was supposed to be built with thirty classrooms all next to each other in a row. Instead, they built the classrooms one on top of the other … thirty stories tal! (The builder said he was very sorry.) That may be why all kinds of funny things happen at Wayside School … especially on the thirtieth floor. You’ll meet Mrs. Gorf, the meanest teacher of all, terrible Todd, who always getss sent home early, and John who can read only upside down – along with all the other kids in the crazy mixed-up school that came out sideways. But you’ll never guess the truth about Sammy, the new kid … or what’s inside for Wayside School on Halloween! — This series was hilarious to me as a child; so much so, that I recently bought it for my niece. (Yes! They still sell it!) This is a fun little series and I highly recommend it for elementary kids.

My Teacher is an Alien (Bruce Coville)

823706(Description from the 1st novel) Sixth grade is just out of this world… Susan Simmons can tell that her new substitute teacher is really weird. But she doesn’t know how weird until she catches him peeling off his face– and she realizes that “Mr. Smith” is really an alien! At first no one will believe her– except Peter Thompson, the class brain. When Peter and Susan discover Mr. Smith’s horrible plans for their classmates, they know they have to act fast. Only they can get rid of their extra-terrestrial visitor– and save the rest of the sixth grade class from a fate worse than math tests! — This one was actually decently popular with my age group, so some of you might remember it too. 🙂 I started this series on the second novel by mistake (My Teacher Fried My Brains), so I read the entire thing out of order. It was still awesome. If your kid has an interest in aliens and you don’t want to chance giving them something iffy, this is a good series to start them on.

AI Gang (Bruce Coville)

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(Description from the 1st novel) When their scientist parents are assigned to a top secret project on a small, remote island, the five members of the A.1. Gang have to come along, and find themselves trying to stop a spy from destroying the project. — Can you tell yet that I really liked Bruce Coville? 😉 This was a really great series; in fact I loved it so much that I still have my original copies! A good mixture of action and realistic sci-fi, though maybe a touch out of date for new readers considering they were written in the 80s. 😉

Flying Dutchman (Brian Jacques)

7997(Description from the 1st novel) A boy and dog trapped aboard the legendary ship, the Flying Dutchman, are sent off on an eternal journey by an avenging angel, roaming the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need.  Their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy nineteenth century village whose very existence is at stake.  Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved.  This will take the will and wile of all the people-and a very special boy and dog! — I will admit, I probably first picked up this book because of the hunky boy on the cover, but boy am I glad I did! This is one of my all-time favorite series from when I was a child. All of the books are very thoughtful, with interesting plots and nice characters. But what else would you expect from Brian Jacques, right? 😉

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

circle

(Description from the 1st novel) With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic – and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place where they’ve ever been accepted? — This series is actually really well known, so I don’t know if it counts, but it was one of my favorites (and still is), so I’m adding it anyway. 😉 I really enjoyed reading about these kids and watching them grow into their powers. Plenty of action, but a lot of heart too. A great introduction into the fantasy genre!


How about you? What are some of your old school favorites?

 

T5W – Fave Sci-Fi/Fantasy!

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday! This week, in collaboration with the BooktubeSFF Awards, we’re exploring favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy books! This is a genre near and dear to my heart because, though I’m more of a mystery gal nowadays, I grew up as a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic. I’m going to forgo the most popular books in this list, since most everyone already knows about Harry Potter, Doctor Who, etc, and you don’t really want to read the same lists over and over. So here are a handful of books that you may not of heard of, but should really give a try! 😀

Long Way to a Small, Angry Plant (Becky Chambers)

27213244.jpgI just finished this book a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing! The amount of world (universe) building that went into this novel is insane. The book starts out focused on a woman named Rosemary who is joining a spaceship that creates wormholes for the public to travel through space. Once on board, you get to learn about each of the members of the crew: their personality, their family/friends, their homeworld, and you learn about the universe as a whole. The author has created a universe as detailed and diverse as Star Trek or Doctor Who in a single book. I highly recommend this one.

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

I LOVED this series as a child and I still love it today. It’s four of only a handful of books that I still reread from time to time. The books are about four young children who discover that they have unique magical skills. This was one of my first ever “misfit realizes they are special” books, so it really affected me at the time. It also was one of the first series where I liked every single character, which was VERY helpful in encouraging me as a young reader.

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Redshirts (John Scalzi)

Have you ever seen that movie, Galaxy Quest? This is kind of like that,13055592 only reversed. Here the crew of a starship find out that the reason all this wacky stuff keeps happening to them is that they are actually characters in a TV show. Star Trek fans will LOVE this one; I know I certainly did. It gets a bit mind-bendy towards the middle, but if you can stick with it, you will end up really enjoying the book.

Leven Thumps (Obert Skye)

214856This is a wonderful series! Fourteen year old Leven Thumps finds a gateway to the magical land of Foo and has to help save both worlds from the evil Sabine. This one is kind of reminiscent of the ‘His Dark Materials’ series by Philip Pullman, but with a completely unique cast of characters. What’s extra nice about this series is that the teenagers are actually believable AS TEENAGERS. For some reason, it seems very difficult for the average author to write a believable teenager. I haven’t finished the entire series, but this seems like a great one for the young adult fantasy nut!

NPCs (Drew Hayes)

I LOVED this book! For those of you who don’t game (that includes22088245 myself, though I am a bit of a gaming voyeur, I suppose), a NPC is a Non-Player Character in a role playing game, like Dungeons & Dragons. Basically anyone who isn’t played by a real person, like the pub owner or the guy selling cabbages, is a NPC. In this book, the NPCs in a game end up having to take over a quest for the actual players in order to save their hometown from being destroyed by the king. The humor is great, the characters believable, and the world building awesome. There are a lot of inside jokes for gamers, but anyone who likes fantasy will enjoy this as well.

Honorable Mention:

Welcome to Night Vale (Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor)

We’re only supposed to do five and this isn’t technically a book (though they DO have a novel now so I’m counting it), but I can’t resist adding in my favorite podcast, ‘Welcome to Night Vale’. My favorite description of this podcast is that “it’s like Steven King and Neil Gaiman made a Sim City together and left it running for a few years”. Yeah…it’s THAT GOOD!

WtNV is a community radio program for a city (called Night Vale, obvs) where pretty much every conspiracy theory you’ve every heard of is true. The characters and story lines are all really off the wall, but somehow still completely believable. The fan base is amazing as well, welcoming to everyone regardless of age, gender, anything (and you should see their fanart, wow!), probably because the podcast itself is so welcoming (as long as your name isn’t Steve, lol). You should all definitely check it out!

WelcometoNightVale

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Well, there you have it, my less well-known list of recommendations for sci-fi and fantasy lovers. I tried to get a mixture in there for you, so I hope you found something that sounds interesting!