Happy Book Birthday to The Memory Thief!

Memory ThiefHere’s what the publisher had to say about this great new middle grade read:

“Twin brother and sister Benji and Kelly wander off at the local county fair after witnessing their parents argue. When Benji runs into a group of bullies, he escapes into a tent called The Memory Emporium, where he meets a strange old man inside named Louis. The old man shows him a magically vivid memory of a fighter pilot, in the hopes of getting Benji to pay to see other memories Louis has collected from people over the years. Benji quickly realizes the ability to take memories could help his parents stop fighting with each other, and he asks Louis to teach him how to become a “memory thief.” But Louis isn’t the only person with the ability to show and manipulate memories.”

I gave this middle grade book five stars on Goodreads. It’s perfect for middle grade readers, full of the kinds of questions and yearnings that intrigue them. Read my review here.


Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

serafinaDisney Hyperion, 2015

Biltmore, the Vanderbilt’s fine mansion stands grand and tall in the mountains of North Carolina. Its halls are filled with fine furniture and art, its dining rooms with delicacies, but deep in the depths of the basement Biltmore has a secret. Serafina, the girl that no one knows about—no one, that is, except her father. Serafina’s father maintains the machines of the estate, including the new electrical system. Unbeknownst to the Vanderbilts, Serafina’s father doesn’t have a home to go to each night; instead, he and Serafina live secretly in the boiler room of the estate.

Serafina longs for friends and a more public life. She wanders the halls of the mansion at night and keeps the estate clear of rats. One night while she’s roaming the halls Serafina finds more than rats, she finds terror as she watches a man in a black cloak chase and absorb a young guest of the Vanderbilts. As more children disappear, Serafina must find a way to stop the black cloak.

Deliciously creepy, filled with mystery and magic, Serafina and the Black Cloak will keep you reading. It’s a shivery good story that includes both magic and a historical glimpse of life in the Golden Age.

Beatty built suspense throughout the story. It kept me reading and interested, though I found that in one mystery in the story the teases were frequent and the clues frustratingly thin. Overall a great read, suspenseful, creepy, and yet full of hope.

I read Serafina and the Black Cloak as an electronic ARC courtesy of Disney Hyperion and NetGalley.

Never Forgotten by Kelly Risser

Never ForgottenClean Teen Publishing, 2014

Meara’s only ever had her mom, no dad or siblings, no grandparents. Then, the summer before Meara’s senior year Mom finds out that her cancer is back and it’s everywhere. Now Meara and her Mom are leaving Wisconsin to live with Meara’s grandparents in Nova Scotia. Meara was born there, but she doesn’t remember anything about the place or the people. She hasn’t seen either since she was a baby. When Meara and Mom return, Meara learns that many of the things she believed about her family and her life were lies, and the truth about who she is–it’s mind blowing.

In Nova Scotia Meara finds the family and the home she’s never had. She finds friendship and romance. But in the end Meara will have to face the biggest decision of her life.

I enjoyed this story about good people and bad decisions. It’s easy to feel empathy for Maera who is thrust into so many new things at once and losing her only anchor. I loved the setting, too. Nova Scotia has long been on my list of places to visit. The weather and the sea and the people pervaded Never Forgotten. They made me feel as if I’d been there and that I’d like to go back again.

I read Never Forgotten as a digital ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Clean Teen Publishing.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

ShiverScholastic, 2009

Wolves dragged Grace off the tire swing, biting and worrying her skin, but she did nothing to stop it. She just lay there. It was the light wolf with the yellow eyes that stopped them. In the six years since the attack Grace has listened and watched for the wolves –especially “her” wolf, the one with the yellow eyes. The town has mostly forgotten the attack on Grace, but when the wolves attack and kill a high school student, Grace hurries to protect them from an angry mob. That’s when she learns a secret she only dared dream before.

Told in alternating points of view, Shiver is a love story between Grace and her savior, a werewolf named Sam. But now that they’re finally revealed to one another they’re in a race against time. The cold makes werewolves change and winter’s coming on. Grace doesn’t want to live without Sam — and this time he might never change back.

This is an interesting twist on the traditional werewolf idea. I enjoyed Stiefvater’s take on the change and on the challenges faced by the werewolves. I loved the sweet romance between two people who had been betrayed by those who should love them the most but who, despite everything, stood fast for each other.