MG Book Review – The Inquisitor’s Mark

While working on my MMGM post I realized with some disappointment that I never posted my review of book 2 in the Eighth Day series (even though it’s one of my most favorite series. What???) Anyways, I had to remedy that.

the inquisitors markBook Title:
 The Inquisitor’s Mark

Author: Dianne K. Salerni

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: January 27th 2015

Source: Personal copy.

From Goodreads: After the all-out Eighth Day war in Mexico, Jax, Riley, and Evangeline have gone into hiding. There are still rogue Transitioners and evil Kin lords who want to use Riley, a descendant of King Arthur, and Evangeline, a powerful wizard with bloodlines to Merlin, to get control over the Eighth Day.

So when Finn Ambrose, a mysterious stranger, contacts Jax claiming to be his uncle, Jax’s defenses go up—especially when Finn tells Jax that he’s holding Jax’s best friend, Billy, hostage. To rescue Billy and keep Riley and Evangeline out of the fray, Jax sneaks off to New York City on his own. But once there, he discovers a surprising truth: Finn is his uncle and Jax is closely related to the Dulacs—a notoriously corrupt and dangerous Transitioner clan who have been dying to get their hands on Riley and Evangeline. And family or not, these people will stop at nothing to get what they want.

With suspense, action, and intrigue lurking around every corner, this fast-paced fantasy series will be a welcome addition for fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

My take: In the first book, Jax was introduced to the world of Transitioners and the Eight Day. He had to learn the rules by making mistakes and some of them put the entire world in danger. It was amazing and unforgettable. Well, that’s what I thought until I read this book.

It’s a feat when a second book in a series surpasses the first book. Everything I loved back then was intact, plus more.

Jax is now torn between loyalty to his friends and the discovery that he still has family. He has an uncle and his family willing and hoping to take Jax in. One little hiccup though, they work for Jax and his guardian Riley’s enemy, the Dulac family. The emotions in this book ran so high I had a little book hangover after. New enemies, once only heard of, have now surfaced. Clans struggle to establish new alliances in the face of this new danger, while Jax has to make the tough decision of siding with the people he truly considers as “his” family.

It’s a challenge to gush about this book without spoiling the first. I loved the author’s writing, her world building skill and this special touch she has with dialogues.

A definite re-read for me. If you haven’t started this series yet, maybe consider giving it shot.

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – The Morrigan’s Curse

the morrigan s curseTitle: The Morrigan’s Curse
Author: Dianne K. Salerni
Publisher: HarperCollins

From Goodreads: In this third and final book in the series that VOYA recommends “for fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter,” the war over the Eighth Day continues—and there’s more at stake than ever before.

The battle between Kin and Transitioners that’s been brewing for centuries has come to a head. The sinister Kin have captured Addie Emrys, Evangeline’s sister and the Merlin descendant who will allow them to reverse the Eighth Day Spell and free themselves. Addie, who doesn’t realize the full consequences of her cooperation, is helping the Kin because they let her use her magic—something Evangeline never did—and the feeling of power running through her veins is impossible to resist.

Meanwhile, Riley, Evangeline, and Jax craft a plan to rescue Addie from her captors. But the Kin’s unstoppable magic, plus the fact that Addie may not go willingly, force Riley to reconsider whether saving Addie is worth sacrificing everyone who lives in the seven-day week. Jax won’t accept letting Evangeline’s sister be used as a pawn, so he risks it all in a secret mission of his own. With the Morrigan pushing both sides of the war toward annihilation, Addie must decide with whom to stand, while Jax, Riley, and Evangeline confront the possibility of losing Addie to save the world.

Adventure, action, and magic collide to create an unforgettable conclusion to the trilogy that Kirkus called “an inspired series.”

Why I recommend this book: In this third installment of the Eighth Day series, Kin and Transitioners go to war. One group wanting to preserve the Eighth day, the other wanting to break the spell.
Allegiances and loyalties are tested, people got hurt and some died. I was not disappointed at all by this book. However this being a third book in a series I can’t say much without spoilers.
The author’s writing is fantastic as usual, along with her plot and character development.
I hope to one day attend a writing class of hers.

If you’ve enjoyed the first two books and enjoyed them you will most likely enjoy this one as well.

You can find more awesome MG features on Shannon Messenger’s blog.
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MG Book Review – Hoodoo

HoodooBook Title: Hoodoo

Author: Ronald L. Smith

Publisher: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

Publication Date: September 1st 2015

Source: E-ARC received from publisher in exchange for my honest review.

From Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell. Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.

My take: Hoodoo Hatcher was born with a red mark under the eye, shaped like a heart. That led his grandma to declare he had powerful magic in him, which in turn earned him his first name. Unfortunately poor Hoodoo can’t even manage a spell. However, things started to change when a strange and unsettling man came to town looking for him.

This book felt like home away from home, the same way Bayou Magic did but much, much stronger.

The culture of mixing Christianity and Paganism is very common in Togo, including some of the beliefs about the dead and graveyards. I could tell more but I consider those details full of spoiler. My parents were very careful in their attempt to shield me from that aspect of my culture so even though I knew about people mixing folk magic with bible verses and such, this is the first time I got to experience it with so much detail.
Granted, it is fiction but there will always be that little voice in my head asking “what if it is not all fiction?”

The story was harsh at times but never lost the subtle humor that carried through the entire book. I laughed with Hoodoo, got angry with him and even got misty-eyed when he cried. I am definitely re-reading this gem of a book.

It is uniquely woven, the characters are believable, and it will give you the right amount of chill plus mystery all wrapped in fast paced action.

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MG Book Review – Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta

I am back (again) playing catch-up with reviews I still owe. Hopefully I will be done with them this year. ^.^

labyrinth societyBook Title: Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta

Author: Angie Kelly

Publisher: Astraea Press

Publication Date: May 27th 2014

Source: E-copy received in exchange for my honest review.

From Goodreads: When 12 year-old Mia Cornell is sent to live at the Tarpley Estate, her ninth foster home, she has no idea what she’s in for. Having a kind but mysterious foster mother and three quirky foster sisters is all well and good. Discovering that her new family is a secret society—they use a portal in their garden labyrinth to travel the globe seeking lost art, artifacts, and OSOs (objects of supernatural origin)—is something else entirely.

Mia barely has time to wrap her head around the truth when the Society’s latest job, tracking down Marie Antoinette’s necklace, goes sideways. Mia and her new siblings—Tomi, the historian; Devon, the hacker; and Lily, the muscle—must use their wits, plus a few cool OSOs filched from the Society’s vault, to stay a step ahead of a sinister enemy from their foster mother’s past. But just how far back does Mrs. Tarpley’s past go? And will Mia stand by her new family or cut and run when they need her the most?

My take: Twelve year-old Mia’s new foster family is anything but typical. She could tell they were hiding things from her. When she finally caught a serious whiff of those secrets there was no going back. She got thrown into a dangerous and supernatural world.

I couldn’t help feeling that this story was more young adult than middle grade even though the characters were all tweens. The overall voice including individual characters’ voices was strongly on the much older side. Parts of the story felt a bit shallow to me and some occurrences were too convenient.

I did like the fast pace of the story and all the mythology woven into the life of Marie Antoinette. The fact that most of the action happened in Paris was awesome (different setting). Now I’m so craving a cup of hot cocoa from a Paris cafe along with
Pain au Chocolat.

Overall this is a story that would have worked better for me as a young adult fiction with a bit more intricate plot line.

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