The Train to Impossible Places

Looking for a rollicking new adventure that’s sure to keep both you and your children up at night? Look no further than The Train to Impossible Places by P. G. Bell.

The Story: Sometimes the craziest things can come out of the blue, just like the Impossible Postal Express, which comes rolling into Suzy’s living room one night. Though Suzy knows it’s likely against crazy, she decides to take a chance and hop aboard, earning her a one-way ticket to the most unlikely mad-cap adventure she’s ever heard of. On the family-owned, troll-operated Postal Express, Suzy is deployed by the current owner of the train Wilmot to deliver something to the Lady Crepuscula, an assignment that turns into a much bigger adventure when the package begins to talk to her. Suddenly, Suzy is swept up in a grand escapade that involves pirates, a magical snowglobe, and a cursed prince! It’s time for her to find her courage if she is to save the Postal Express.

My Thoughts: This was a wonderfully paced fantasy story that will excite readers. Besides the fact that it’s a humorously original idea, The Train to Impossible Places is wonderfully written. P. G. Bell manages to craft a story with descriptive language that caught my interest immediately. Plus, the colorful cover is definitely one that is fun to display on your bookshelf. A remarkably good read and one I highly recommend!

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter 3

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

To read chapter three, click HERE.

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My Year in the Middle

If you’re looking for a book that is both an enjoyable read and is also a rather thoughtful look at race, friendship, and what it means to be yourself, you might want to read My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver.

The Story: Lu Olivera knows several things. 1. When running, save your strength for the home stretch. 2. Her Mamá and Papá are some of the best people in the world. 3. Life is not always as black and white as it seems. In 1970s, Alabama, segregation has been overcome, but that doesn’t mean the racism is gone, especially for a school like Lu’s where there are only a few black kids for the very first time. Lu herself is not exactly sure where she stands in it all, being in the middle row and from Argentina. With everyone inside and outside of school taking sides and a big race coming up, Lu just wants to keep her eyes on the prize to become a great runner. Can she really accomplish her goal? And does Lu have even more strength to decide what kind of a person she wants to be?

My Thoughts: I’m going to level with ya’ll. Personally, I’m a little sick of the way politics has been creeping into children’s books. Don’t get me wrong; I think kids ought to know about this kind of stuff, but it seems like I can hardly pick up a fiction book without seeing the agenda behind it. That having been said, I think My Year in the Middle manages to make its point rather eloquently without having to shove the issue of racism down your throat. At its core, this is a story about Lu Olivera, the girl who wants to become a runner someday, but it also deals with both sides of the racial issue in the 70s. Without spewing too much hate or being particularly biased, this is a good read that allows kids to think and make up their own minds.

Parental Advisory: There are mild racial (one could call them “racist) jokes throughout, though they are generally pointed out for what they are. Otherwise, a clean read.

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter Two

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

See chapter two HERE.

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Smoke and Mirrors

If you’re looking for a new middle-grade read that combines the struggles of being the new kid with magic and mystery, K. D. Halbrook has a magical new read titled Smoke and Mirrors that is perfect for you.

The Story: For as long as she can remember, Sacha has grown up in the Cirque, a magical place where her parents are trapeze artists and Sacha’s imagination can take flight. Here, she is at home with her brother Toddy and all of the others who make up the circus. Unfortunately, Sacha will soon have to leave this idyllic world behind for the much more foreign land of school. She knows it’s going to be great for her and her little brother – that is, until she gets on the bus and discovers that the Islander kids are a lot meaner than they seemed at first. Life seems to be going from good to bad at an alarming rate and it is on one of these horrible days that Sacha makes a wish for everything to change. And change it does. When the Smoke comes and takes away her parents, Sacha realizes that she must face her fears if she is to save the people that matter most to her in the world.

My thoughts: This book is pretty different from a lot of what I’ve read. It reminds me a little of an Alice in Wonderland genre story where nothing is as it seems and a lot of odd happenings occur that never get a huge amount of explanation. Don’t get me wrong; I like the characters, especially the quirky caretakers that Sacha and Toddy find themselves stuck with after their parents disappear. I am just not sure that this is the story for you if you’re a super detail-oriented individual. Either way, Smoke and Mirrors is a pretty enjoyable read that takes you on a magical ride.

Parental Advisories: None! Mention is made of children swearing, but no language is to be found, though there are some mild depictions of schoolground violence and bullying.

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When Things Get Old…

So there was this idea.

An idea that all the best fairytales in the world could be mashed up, brought into one world, and interact together in a unique and fun way.

Sound familiar? Perhaps right now you’re thinking about the hit TV show Once Upon a Time, the ever popular book series The Lunar Chronicles, etc., etc. If you’re tired of it, I’m sorry.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Because today, I’d like to introduce you to the first ever book I ever wrote, The Silver Woods, a fairytale mashup written expressly for my little sister. If you’ve been here for a while, you probably remember reading some of the excerpts I posted once upon a time (eh, eh? Okay). Anyway, this was when I was about eight or ten before Once Upon a Time was ever really a thing back in 2009/2010-ish. My sister was/is obsessed with fairytales and I wanted to write a story that was meant for my family – one that my siblings could see themselves in, but could also learn from and would have familiar elements.

Enter The Silver Woods.

This book is a love letter to fantasy and fairytales alike. It is a love letter to my childhood passions, to Disney princess films, and to all the European history that I so indulged in. But mostly, it’s a love letter to my family, whom it was written for, about, and in some ways, almost by. This is my story, a story that will never be published because it is unoriginal by today’s standards. It’s not unique nor fresh and perhaps never will be. That’s okay; I had to get it out of my system.

So here’s what I want you to leave you guys with today: 1. Please, please, please do yourselves a favor and never give up on that story that you need to get out of you. Some stories are never marketable, but if you really love the craft and the tale, write it anyway. 2. I’d like to gift you guys with all three books of my trilogy. I’ll be posting them every week on Fridays. Please comment, let me know what you think, and critique. I want to know what is good about this and what is bad about this. I want to know what you loved and what you loathed. Most of all, I want it to show that I wrote what I loved.

(But also just so I can finally get it out there and prove that I did it first)

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter One

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

Click HERE for Chapter 1 of Book 1.

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Ogre Enchanted

If you were ever a fan of the original Ella Enchanted novel by Gail Carson Levine and wondered, “Hmm, I wonder whether there was ever a much more complicated story about a girl turned into an ogre by Lucinda pre-Ella who also runs into Ella’s parents and ends up being semi-involved in the set-up for that book!” then you’re in the right place. Today, we’re taking a look at Ogre Enchanted, a 2018 release from Gail Carson Levine that sets the stage for its predecessor, making it Levine’s first prequel.

The Story: Evie was happy where she was. Being a healer is her greatest passion and she loved serving others and spending time with her best friend, Wormy. But when Wormy unexpectedly surprised her with a proposal, Evie’s world was interrupted by one of the worst circumstances of all. Lucinda, meddling fairy that she is, appeared to ensure the happiness of the couple. The only problem? Evie’s not ready for marriage, not by a long shot; she’s too young and far too busy to even consider such a thing, but Lucinda won’t have it. Now Evie is an ogre, enchanted to stay that way unless she can find someone who is willing to propose to her and whom she can accept. What starts as a mission to find an alternative cure turns into an adventure of court intrigue and possible clashes between two different world as Evie meets the future Sir Peter of Frell, Lady Eleanor, and the true heir to the kingdom in a story where appearances are often the best mask for the truth.

My Thoughts: I’d never expected a sequel (or prequel) to Ella Enchanted, but was pleasantly surprised by this clever tale. Gail Carson Levine really outdoes herself in this book, spinning a charming narrative starring a clever heroine sure to make readers fall in love with her as much as Ella. I highly recommend you pick this one up!

Parental Advisories: None. This book is squeaky clean, unless you’ve got an objection to mild romance and/or mentions of eating humans.

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Lucky Luna

I really appreciate family stories, especially sister-sister tales or cousins, or whatever. Coming from a large Hispanic family myself, I recently picked up Diana Lopez’s latest book, Lucky Luna, which is pretty relatable and also tons of fun to read through.

The Story: Luna is one of many, many kids in her family, meaning she’s got a whole lot of primas. Most of them are older though, so it’s not exactly fun being one of the younger cousins, especially when she has to deal with goody-two-shoes, tattletale Claudia. To make matters worse, Claudia is going to be coming to Luna’s middle school soon, which means that she’s going to have to endure her ALL. SCHOOL. YEAR. Plus, Luna’s already upset because she can’t wear hats since her prima’s quince, which means the white streak in Luna’s hair – a birth defect – is going to be on display for everyone to see. Can Luna survive? And will she ever discover the true meaning of her abuela’s favorite saying, “La sangre es mas espesa que el agua.”?

My Thoughts: With wit, humor, and heart, authoress Diana Lopez manages to capture what it means to be part of such a big family, especially one that is Hispanic. I cannot tell you guys how many times I related to this book when reading through it. The only time I think I thought I was seeing my family more was when watching Pixar’s Coco! As for the story, I think middle-graders will enjoy Luna. She is a down-to-earth heroine who is easy to relate to, especially for those kids who feel just how annoying their families can get. For a good family story and a little bit of Hispanic wisdom, I’d advise picking up Lucky Luna!

Parental Advisories: None! Plus, this book is filled with abuelas, abuelos, and parents ready to tell both Luna (and by extension, the reader) the right thing to do.

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Happy New Year!

We’ve had an amazing year here at Little Reader Book Reviews & More. We’ve read a lot of amazing books and done a lot of amazing things. I certainly cannot wait to see all of the books waiting for me in the new year. There’s certainly a lot to read!

Wishing you all blessings and love,

Little Reader

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