Darkwing: An excellent middle grade book

Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel

My nine-year-old son recently read Darkwing, an older book by Kenneth Oppel, and has been after me to read it myself because he thought I’d enjoy it and because he wanted to share the experience and talk about it. I’m glad he kept on me, because Darkwing was one of the best middle grade books I’ve read this past year. My son clearly thought so as well, since he had me read it aloud to him (including a two-hours-straight stretch) from the halfway point on, even though he’d just read it a few weeks earlier. That’s perhaps the best recommendation I can give.

Before Darkwing Oppel had already penned a contemporary fantasy series with bats as characters: Sunwing, Silverwing, and Firewing. One could call Darkwing Read More

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: A doorstop

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

The one where Harry takes part in the Tri-wizard Tournament. The one where hormones start flying. The one where Voldemort grows ever stronger. The one where J. K. Rowling decided everyone needed more doorstops...

I want it said right from the beginning of this review that I adore the Harry Potter series in its entirety, but I do feel that some books are stronger than others. And this is one of the weakest in the series in my opinion.

For some reason, Rowling decided that she could no longer write her story in a few hundred pages. Instead, we're presented with a positive brick of a book that stretches on for many hundreds more than I felt it should be. If all of the books had been written with the tight plotting and efficient writing of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of ... Read More

Briar’s Book: A fantastic YA read

Briar's Book by Tamora Pierce

Briar's Book, the last book in the Circle of Magic quartet (also published as The Healing in the Vine) is perhaps one of Tamora Pierce's best novels. Unlike her other series, which deal with battles, magic, fantasy creatures, revolution and politics, Briar's Book centers something very mundane by comparison: a plague. Yet Pierce incorporates within the story all her powerful themes of love and friendship, pain and suffering, grief and hope, and humanity's capabilities for both good and evil that make her one of the best YA fantasy writers out there.

Briar Moss (who is unique among the cannon of Pierce's books considering he is her only male protagonist thus far) has spent almost a year at Discipline Cottage, Winding Circle and out of all of the young mages gath... Read More