Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Information: December 2, 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Series Information: Book one in the Anna and the French Kiss series
Format: Hardcover, 372 pages
Source: Bought for my personal library
Recommended For: Fans of contemporary novels, or most importantly, fans of English/French/American boys who have perfect accents and perfect hair and often use phrases like, “Yeah, that was pants.” Instead of “Rubbish. Crap. Shite.”
You guys probably know by now that I am not a big contemporary reader…so even though I was gifted Anna and the French Kiss, and was told that I would definitely enjoy it, I will still wary to start. Let me tell you guys my opinion of Anna and the French Kiss in a word: SWOON. SO MANY SWOONS. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book and the relationship between Anna and Etienne. Though I found some parts to be predictable, I still loved this novel very much. Well, as you can see we are featuring Anna and the French Kiss as our On the Same Page pick this month! Since there were so many swoony moments in Anna and the French Kiss, and because you guys know that I love quotes so much, I decided to make up some nice graphics to go along with my favorite parts. Enjoy!
Title: The Witch’s Boy
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publishing Information: September 16th 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure
Series Information: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Recommended For: Readers looking for a middle grade novel filled with self discovery and friendship with a perfect blend of darkness and hope.
When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.
In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?
There is so much to be said about The Witch’s Boy, right from the beginning I was hooked in the story that was reminiscent of old tales being told over a campfire. Kelly Barnhill managed to weave what felt like a very old story into the life of Ned and his (now dead) twin brother. It was a different way in which the author portrayed our main character, as he was not one, but two boys merged into one by their mother’s love and magic. Ned is described as “the wrong boy” who lived when an accident struck he and his brother. But somehow, Ned manages to grow to mirror his mother’s strength, taking control of the increasingly pushy magic that flows through him. It was a novel filled with different stories that flowed together to tell a very important tale. Overall, the novel was unique and refreshing in the way that the author portrayed the characters and their combined flaws and strengths.
The best things about The Witch’s Boy were the characters and their relationships with one another. I loved Ned for his courage and ability to move forward for the love of his family. I loved Aine for her strength, wit, and the choices that she makes when faced with adversity. Don’t even get me started on the wolf and his loyalties to this pair. Aine’s father had a great backstory that broke my heart a little, which brings me to the second thing that I loved about The Witch’s Boy, the fact that Kelly Barnhill doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff.
If you are familiar with some of my other reviews of middle grade novels, you will remember that the one thing that will make me love a novel geared toward children is the ability to not brush over those “tough” subjects. I’m talking about grief, pain, death, and so on. I have to be honest and say that I was pleasantly surprised while reading The Witch’s Boy because the author does a perfect job of serving the reader a plate of bitter heartache which is then followed up with just enough light and hope to keep one going. I am completely in the mindset that these so called “children’s” novels are often darker than young adult or adult novels because the kids can handle it. Much respect to the author for perfectly blending darkness and light, for showing the reader how to hope and move forward through all sorts of trials.
An added bonus to loving this novel was that I actually met Kelly Barnhill at the Kids Author Carnival a few months ago and she was wonderful. Honestly, one of the nicest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Shelf Talker: The Witch’s Boy was everything that I wanted it to be. It was a beautiful and wonderful story about love in all forms. It had adventure, coming of age, a perfect blend of darkness and hope, and elements that reminded me of the fairytales I read as a kid. In truth, I loved it, and I think you all will too.
Author: Garth Nix
Publishing Information: Published September 30th 1995 by Harper Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure
Series Information: Book 1 in the Abhorsen series
Format: Hardcover, 292 pages
Source: Received as a gift for my personal library
Recommended For: Readers looking for an adventure story with a likable heroine, a powerful and less than harmless feline creature, and a young man haunted by his past.
Ever since she was a tiny child, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into the nine Gates and Precincts of Death. Though her journey begins alone, she soon finds companions: Mogget, whose seemingly harmless feline form hides a powerful-and perhaps malevolent-spirit, and Touchstone, a younger Charter Mage imprisoned two centuries in a wooden ship-head, still trapped by painful memories. With threats on all sides and only each other to trust, the three must travel deep into the Old Kingdom, toward a battle against vicious Hands, Mordicants, and the evil Kerrigor.
Confession time, my friends! My grandmother bought this book for me over ten years ago and you know what? I didn’t read it because the cover looked boring. SHAME ON ME! It wasn’t until I moved into my new apartment and was putting it on the shelves that I remembered that Garth Nix was writing a fourth book (and that it would be available at BEA) that I decided to maybe try it out. I was still a little put off by it for some reason and then I found out that Tim Curry narrates the audiobook! Well, I love Tim Curry in all things and I immediately started listening to Sabriel on audio. It took some time for me to fall into the story but once I decided to read the book in print and listen to it I really fell for the storyline. Continue reading
Title: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Author: Claire Legrand
Publishing Information: August 28, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror
Series Information: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 343 pages
Source: Purchased for my personal library
Recommended For: Reders looking for a book that doesn’t shy away from the dark and rough patches of growing up. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Adam Gidwitz, and Tim Burton.
One of the things that stuck out to me while reading The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls was the way in which Claire Legrand doesn’t shy away from the so called “dark” elements. In fact, those were my favorite parts of the novel. Legrand writes a story about a very clever and strong girl. She writes a story about the importance of learning that it’s what inside that counts and ugliness can come from within. Most importantly, she writes a story about friendship, and the importance of never giving up. With that in mind, for this month’s On the Same Page post, I am going to focus on themes in The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls that are also found in some other excellent middle grade novels so you can add some awesome read-alikes to your radar! Continue reading