Mirrored by Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn does it again!  With her signature retelling of classic fairy tales, Flinn brings a fresh voice and a new twist on the story of Snow White.  Mirrored opens with the story of Violet, an odd looking child, who is picked on relentlessly and called ugly, weird and is ostracized by all of her peers, with the exception of Greg who is quiet and studious.  Violet clings to Greg and is crushed when, after a summer away, he too snubs her in favor of her hated tormentor, Jennifer.  Greg and Jennifer date all through junior high and high school even when Violet discovers a powerful secret that allows her to change her appearance, Greg continues to be devoted to Jennifer.  Violet convinces herself that Greg is her one true love and that if she can’t have him, she doesn’t want anyone.  Part one closes on a heartbroken Violet.

In the next part, we meet Celine, the beautiful and beloved daughter of Greg and Jennifer.  She tells the story of her mother’s death and the beginning of her relationship with a kind and beautiful stepmother.  All too soon, the relationship sours when Greg mentions how beautiful Celine is becoming, just like her mother was.  Celine tries to deflect her stepmother’s jealousy by dressing in baggy clothes, and staying away from beauty products like makeup and curling irons.  The tension builds between Celine and her stepmother until the unthinkable happens and Celine is forced to go into hiding.

In the third part, Goose tells the story of finding Celine’s prone body and watching over her in the hospital desperate to find a way to revive her.  Facing increasingly difficult challenges, including boy scouts, fireworks, bodyguards, heartbroken T.V. stars and worst of all, heights, Goose makes the impossible happen by bringing a prince to resurrect his beloved.

In the happiest of endings, readers will relish this classic tale!


The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

When I reviewed Never Fall Down, I mentioned the importance of an individual story told to represent the larger historical movement.  The Hired Girl is written as a diary of a young farm girl with big dreams who embodies the strength and folly of coming of age during a tumultuous time in history when electricity is being introduced in modern upscale homes.  Joan represents the working class woman emerging in a new world.

Joan leaves home and travels to Baltimore with aspirations of earning a living, securing an education and becoming a teacher to fulfill the vision of her mother. Joan is smart, but she is also naive and much of her success is dependent on the kindness and understanding of the Rosenbach family who champion Joan’s thirst for knowledge and industrious spirit, even if she is a Gentile.

The author’s ability to present Catholicism and Judaism with a kind, yet even hand was impressive. The friendship between Joan and the old housekeeper, Malka, was sweet and well developed.  I truly enjoyed this story.  A recommended read for those who enjoy history with a dash of romance.


All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Delving deep into trauma from page one.  Romy’s story is not for the faint of heart.  I had a professor that used to say, “There are an abundance of children living stories we would not let them read.”  This is one of those stories.

Courtney Summers writes with sharp authenticity and painful metaphors that dig under your skin, leaving bruises of understanding in their wake.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Her thin lips twitch with disappointment before melting into all the other lines on her worn face. I don’t much like Coach Prewitt, but I like her lines. No one f*cks with her.” (15)

“I never told anyone about the move, but nothing stays secret long in Grebe. Word travels. Slurred in bars, murmured over fences between neighbors, muttered in the produce section of the grocery store and again at checkout because the cashier always has something to add. Cell phones don’t run as fast as the mouths in this town.” (17)

“Dad was thirsty, not given to great displays of affection, like his father and his father’s father before him. A long line of self-indulgent men who couldn’t give love but lived to take it, which isn’t the same as receiving it. They were all in so much pain and that’s always the perfect excuse.” (p. 195)

“I pick clothes that cover all the places of me that seem like an insult.” (p.266)

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Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Science and magic, friendship and love, familiar tropes and modern twists; Cornwell brings all of these things together in her retelling of the Cinderella story.

Nicolette Lampton is the daughter of a well known tradesman and a much less well know mechanical engineer.  Nicolette is taught by her mother both in scientific thought and in the faerie magic that can be imported and traded for steam-power and mechanical design. When her mother contract’s Faerie Croup and the cure has been outlawed because human and fe relations have broken down, Nicolette’s path is set.  She has been forged of strong stuff, and will not simply allow things to happen to her.  Cornwell’s heroine rescues herself through her own intelligence, kindness, and elbow grease!  This was a fun read and the story is poised to continue.

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Hexomancy by Michael Underwood (guest review)


James‘s review

Sep 15, 15
Read in September, 2015
Hexomancy concludes the events that started in the previous entry in the Geekomancy series, ‘Attack The Geek’ as well as the first arc in the (hopefully!) larger series overall. For those of you who have not read the series, it’s the story of Rhiannon Anna Maria Reyes, or “Ree” who discovers that she has magic powers granted by watching, reading or otherwise consuming geek media. If she watches a Spider Man movie, she can crawl on walls, for example. The first book ‘Geekomancy’ introduces the reader to this world and its rules while introducing the cast of supporting characters and setting up conflicts, both immediate and larger.

First and foremost, these books are FUN! Michael Underwood wears his geek cred on his sleeve, much like Ernest Cline who wrote Ready Player One and Armada. However, instead of just dropping geek references, he weaves our shared love of all these properties, characters and culture into the fabric of the engine which drives Ree’s powers. Lightsabers are fueled not by crystals but by the world’s collective love of Star Wars. The characters speak in geek, mixing in quotes and phrases from Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and so on, without explaining where everything is from. Now, if you’re not familiar with the references, that can be a little befuddling – I know I missed a reference or two, mostly because I don’t play CCGs, but you don’t need to know that Psychic Paper is from Doctor Who to enjoy these books. The action sequences are exciting, it’s easy to get attached to the characters and things don’t always happen the way you expect, even if he does fall into sticking too close to some classic tropes.

‘Hexomancy’ is structured differently than the previous novels. While the first two-and-a-half books told their stories in a very linear fashion, ‘Hexomancy’ jumps months at a time. To clarify, this doesn’t mean time travel, but the nature of the conflict ties to the seasons, so more time elapses during this book. The challenges Ree and her friends face are ever-escalating, like boss battles that increase in difficulty. I was concerned that some plot points that have been hanging since the first book would be unresolved but Underwood resolves almost all the major conflicts while leaving himself options to take the series forward. I’m very much looking forward to the next book and the next arc!

Full disclosure- I was given the opportunity to read this book for free via Netgalley. This did not influence me to give it a positive review in any way – I genuinely enjoyed this book!


The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The second book in the Magisterium series brings out more questions than it answers.  Callum Hunt’s story continues and the stakes are higher as he questions the motivations of everyone around him.  His biggest fear, however, is the overwhelming thought of how or if he can escape who he is.  Callum and his friends discover that trust, betrayal, intention and loyalty each have a balance within and no thing, be it person, elemental, or even the chaos ridden is wholly good or evil. One of my favorite parts of the book is also rather gruesome…the children are asked to solve three riddles by a grisly reminder of what can happen if you fail.


I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that I have several suspects.  :)  Happy Reading!