Thursday, July 30, 2015

Children's Review: The Galaxy Pirates: Hunt for the Pyxis

{on Goodreads}
Emma Garton's days have always been dependable: a mom that never does anything unexpected or exciting, a best friend with an overactive imagination, and weekends out on the pacific ocean learning to sail from her dad. All of that changes on the day that her parents are kidnapped by strange men  demanding a mysterious object called a Pyxis. Emma and her friend Herbie are there to witness the unbelievable scene but manage to hide from the kidnappers. Afterwards, they follow the kidnappers' trail down to the water, where they commandeer Emma's family yacht and begin a chase that will lead them to places they could never have imagined existed. There's something Emma's parents have been keeping from her, and it might just be the biggest secret of all time. It turns out that there exists an entire galaxy of creatures and people separate from Earth, and that they're all looking for a princess-turned-pirate named Halifax Brightstroke, a woman who escaped death and defied her queen. If that isn't enough to take in...this woman is Emma's mom, and now everyone is after Emma too. This is where the book first hooked me: the world building in the story is incredible and full of imagination. It reminded me a bit of Treasure Planet in that it places the adventurous character-types (pirates, evil queens, etc.) that we're familiar with in completely unfamiliar territory. This adventure is fast-paced and wildly inventive and definitely one that I'll recommend to future students. There are two things that I wished for when reading the story: first, that it was illustrated. I cannot say enough good things about Ferraris's ability to world build and I think that illustrations would have really complemented that ability throughout the story. Second, there was very little character development outside of Emma and her parents. Now, there was a whole lot of information to convey to the reader in order to introduce them to this new galaxy, and Ferraris managed to do so without making it feel like an info dump, but I feel like all of that effort was spent on the setting and, as a result, the character's backgrounds were set aside. There were certain characters that I was desperate to know more about: the queen, Captain Lovesey of the Argh, and Emma's new friend Santher. I felt a bit detached from the characters while reading because I knew nothing about them, so I'm hoping that's something that will be improved upon in the next installment. And speaking of next installments, I actually yelled "Nooo!" after reading the last sentence, because holy cliffhanger! I cannot wait to see what happens next. There are so many threads left to be tied from the ending of this first book and I am eager to not only find some resolution from the climatic action at the end, but also to read more, because it's clear that Emma's adventures have just begun. This is one trilogy that I would love to see as a bookclub pick for middle-grade readers, and one that I'll be looking to buy for my classroom library. I'd recommend for any and all fans of the fantasy genre.

This book will be released on August 4, 2015.

Bottom Line Rating: 4/5
Recommended for 8-12 (Grades 3-7)

Title: The Galaxy Pirates: Hunt for the Pyxis
Author: Zoe Ferraris
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Price: Pre-order the hardcover for only $12.74 on Amazon!
ISBN: 0385392168
Format: E-book
Source: Advanced Reader Copy provided by Net Galley

Top Shelf Text was provided with advanced reader copies of these texts for review from the publisher.
All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Children's Review: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree & Too Much Good Luck

{on Goodreads}
Piper Green may just be my new favorite character in children's chapter books. She's a spunky little girl navigating the everyday with all of the humor and sass that can be so exasperating and endearing in children. She lives on Peek-a-Boo island, which is the first thing that I love about this story. She and the other children who live on the island ride a lobster boat to school each day, and it's on the first day of second grade that Piper's whole world is turned upside down. Instead of the teacher she's expecting, Piper has a new teacher, who seems like a princess at first but actually has a bad attitude and a penchant for calling Piper's parents. I love that Potter has created a character that's just so real; she's not a perfect little girl, or a mermaid, or a prodigy, she's just an ordinary kid who says exactly what she thinks and views the world through a quirky lens. Just when Piper thinks that this whole year is going to be a bust, her neighbor Mrs. Pennypocket lets her in on a little secret: there's a fairy tree in Piper's front yard. The cast of characters around Piper (including the fairy tree) help her to come to terms with the new changes in her life and in the end, she thinks that second grade might not turn out to be so bad. Besides Piper, my favorite character of the whole book has to be her little brother, Leo, who thinks he's married to a post-it note named Michelle. This is one book that I'll be sure to have on my classroom shelves, and I have more than a few little friends in mind for gifting it to when it comes out on August 4th.

But wait, that's not even the best part! Not only is Piper Green and the Fairy Tree coming out on August 4th, but the second in the series, Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Too Much Good Luck is also being published on that date. I am doing a happy dance, because you guys, this second book was just as perfect as the first. 

{on Goodreads}
In this book, Piper's world is expanded a bit more as we are introduced to more of her friends from school.  Piper is devastated when she finds out that their class pet, a rabbit name Nacho, has to be removed from class because of a new student's allergies. At first, Piper isn't the most welcoming, but with the help of the fairy tree, she eventually makes friends with the new girl. Potter does a great job conveying Piper's inner conflicts without turning Piper into a "mean girl." It's pretty clear that consequences don't always occur to Piper before she acts, and that's part of what makes her character so realistic for this age group. I can see Piper Green becoming a popular character in elementary classrooms and can't wait to follow this series in the future.

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5
Recommended for grades 2-4 (ages 7-9)

Title: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree & Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Too Much Good Luck
Author: Ellen Potter
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Publisher: Random House Children's 
Expected Publication Date: August 4, 2015
ISBN: 0553499246 & 0553499270
Format: #1 in hardcover and #2 in paperback
Price: You can get the pre-order discount on Amazon
Source: Advanced Reader Copies received from Net Galley

Top Shelf Text was provided with advanced reader copies of these texts for review from the publisher.
All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Middle Grade Books on Top Shelf Text

Happy Monday to you!

Today marks my plunge into three of the busiest weeks of my graduate year, and I am buzzing with energy and excitement! There's something so gratifying about diving headfirst into the things that you love (i.e. education) and despite my current (and future) exhaustion levels, I am ready for the challenge.

I have just a few quick notes today, but come back tomorrow for a new review!


Introducing a new section here on Top Shelf Text: my Middle Grade bookshelf! You can explore all of my favorite middle grade titles (for readers ages 8-12) by clicking the tab above. It's no secret that I adore middle grade books, so I expect that this section will be growing as I add more of my "old" favorites and gush about new finds. I know I've said this before, but I am actually going to add more books to these bookshelves in the future as I expand the blog. I am so lucky to be student teaching in fourth grade this year, as it will give me great access to all of the best chapter and middle grade books! Expect to see lots of content inspired by my new students. 

Also, this photo above is an example of why I delight in middle grade novels. I mean, look at that artwork! I just love the way in which creativity flows through authors of this age group. I haven't read this particular book yet but it's at the top of my list. You can find more gorgeous bookish photos like this on my Instagram (@topshelftext).


My dear friend Lorraine just started her own book blog and it took about thirty seconds for me to become completely infatuated with it. She is equally in love with the world of education and her recommendations are top-notch for those of you with littles in your life. Her latest "Books for Grown-Ups" review is about the book that inspired my current favorite show, The Astronaut Wives Club, and her children's literature reviews are perfect for both parents and educators. Take a peek at her blog when you get a chance!


I'm off to be productive (aka do a million hours of homework), but I'll be back tomorrow and Thursday with two new reviews, and trust me, these are books that you don't want to miss!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beatrice and The Book

In my junior year of college, a professor asked us to raise our hands if we considered ourselves to be readers. (My hand shot up faster than Hermione's in potions class-- no surprise there.) But then she asked us if we also considered ourselves to be writers. My hand wavered and then slowly made its way back down to my lap. I used to, I thought to myself. When I was younger I would spend whole afternoons crafting stories; I entered poetry contests and wanted desperately to be a writer when I grew up. The professor looked around and shook her head as the hands continued to fall. "If you're a reader, you're a writer," she said with conviction. And I believed her, enough to chase that dream into being through senior year and my honors thesis. I fought hard for the chance to write my own manuscript. At the end of two semesters of championing my idea, I found two professors willing to bet on me. I had the forms signed and in hand: three credits of my last semester, dedicated strictly to writing (and finishing) a book. 

And then spring semester began, and I thought, Wait, I have to actually write a book?!? For the next few weeks, as I struggled to find my footing (and even more, to sit and write distraction-free), I pretty much stayed in that panicked mindset.

But then things changed. My characters became their own people. I spent months debating their names and defining characteristics, but ultimately, they came alive all on their own. At a certain point, all I had to do was wait for the words to come. No thinking, no worrying, just acting as the vessel for this world I had created to construct itself on the page. It felt like this place had already existed, and I had just happened upon it with the simple purpose of describing what I saw there. 

I came to believe in my ability to write a good story. That doesn't mean that I don't expect criticism, or that I don't fear my readers not liking it, but it does mean that I'm proud of my work. I could have cried at that moment when I finally held it, printed and bound, with the knowledge that I actually wrote this

The book is titled Beatrice and The Book, and it's a fantasy children's novel for readers age 8-12. I wrote it with an educational purpose in mind-- for it to serve as a resource for conversations about empathy and individual differences. It's inspired by the fairytales that permeated my childhood bookshelf. It's full of classic fairytale elements, but my characters were crafted with a more modern audience in mind, meaning I've abandoned that classic assumption that female characters should be damsels in distress. In this, Beatrice is just as (if not more) powerful than she (or anyone else) could have predicted.

I learned some valuable lessons in the time it took to write this book: about self-discipline, about self-confidence, and about what it takes to actually write a book. I'm not sure whether I'll pursue publication, or whether I'll write another one, but I sure came away with a renewed sense of admiration for those who make writing their life. It's demanding, a little lonely, and a whole lot of hours spent hoping that someone might like what you've created. It was absolutely worth the effort though, because I think, through this process, that I became both a better writer and a better reader.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Children's Review: Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret

{on Goodreads}

Archie Greene is just an ordinary boy who lives with his grandmother, until his twelfth birthday, when a mysterious package is delivered to him. Inside the package is a book, and like most things in Archie's life, this book is old. Archie (who does not care for most things that are old) is intrigued by the book, and soon finds himself in an entirely different world and with a very big destiny to fulfill. When the book arrives on Archie's doorstep, his grandmother is forced to reveal the secrets that she had been keeping for his entire life: that he belongs to a well-established family of Flame Keepers, a group of trusted individuals whose job is to protect ancient magical books from forces of dark magic. That is where this book first shines: Everest's world-building is really unique and has relatively good execution, though I felt that the book could have been fleshed out in at least one hundred more pages, to allow the elements of this magical world to unfold more naturally. Archie soon moves in with his eccentric aunt, uncle, and two cousins, who introduce him to this strange new world. His extended family make up my favorite characters in this story: an aunt who paints the entire house shades of purple and bakes cakes with sardines as her secret ingredient, an uncle who always greets others with "What-ho!", and two cousins that are intelligent, fearless, and unfailingly loyal to Archie throughout the trials of the book. As Archie settles into his new role of apprentice, things start to happen at the Museum of Magical Miscellany, the place where all of the magical texts are kept safely tucked away. As secrets unfold, Archie comes to find that he plays a much large role in the future of the museum-- and of magic. Though I did enjoy the story (and managed to finish it in one sitting), I found myself a bit unimpressed by the level of writing. This book is intended for an 8-12 year-old audience and readers of that age can handle very complex plots and pick up a lot more subtle hints than you might guess. Everest failed in his execution here because he didn't seem to trust his readers to catch on to the big secrets and clues within the plot: it felt as though things were being dumbed-down or blatantly said when they were already obvious to the reader. This disappointed me because many of these obvious observations came from Archie himself, and I felt that his character profile was considerably weakened because of it. In addition to that, there was a lot of straight info-dumping at the beginning of the book. Here was a incredibly intriguing imaginary world, and it was all being explained too quickly for the reader to appreciate. The plot could have been made a bit more complex and secondary characters outside of Archie's family more fleshed out within the span of (at least) one hundred more pages, then this could have become one of my favorite fantasy series for this age group. On the author blurb, Everest mentions that he found writing a children's book to be difficult and that this one "almost killed" him, and I think that struggle is evident in the way that the book fell a little flat. However, despite all of that I will continue to follow the series (no word yet on the next one), as I am always keeping an eye out for books with male protagonists for my classroom library. I feel that I could recommend this to my students as a rather easy read with the hope that the premise will come through more naturally in the next installment. 

Bottom Line Rating: 3/5
Recommended for readers age 8-12 (Grade 3-7)

Title: Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret'
Author: D. D. Everest
Publisher: Harper Collins 2014
ISBN: 0062312111
Format: Hardcover
Source: Public Library

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Max the Brave Trailer!

Just a quick note today to let you all know that the trailer for Max the Brave is out and that it is going to have you running to the nearest bookstore to pre-order your copy for its release in early September!

From the publisher:

“Are You My Mother?” meets “I Want My Hat Back” in the hilarious new picture book, Max the Brave, by author and illustrator Ed Vere. Follow fearless Max as he encounters every other creature except the one he’s searching for…mouse.

Check out the trailer below! I love the colorful (yet simple) illustrations and the mystery to be solved. I think Max will quickly become a character both recognized and beloved for classroom read-clouds and bedtime stories alike!

You can find out more about Max on his website, print an activity kit here, follow the fun on social media with #maxthebrave, and find educator resources here!

Just a Note:
This promotion is published on Top Shelf Text on behalf of Sourcebooks Publishers. 
Top Shelf Text received an e-ARC copy of this book for review. 
All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review: The Glass Sentence

{on Goodreads}

If you're a fan of fantasy novels, drop everything and go find this book. I picked up S.E. Grove's The Glass Sentence on a whim in my local bookstore over the holiday weekend and it's turned out to be one of my favorite reads this year. Our main character, Sophia, lives in a world that's very different from the one that we know today. Almost a century before Sophia's present day, the Great Disruption shattered time and cast different parts of the world into different ages. The United States was torn apart by two ages: the western half of the country becoming The Badlands, while the eastern half was cast into the 19th century and renamed New Occident. Sophia was born and has lived in Boston her whole life, and when the story opens, it's the year 1891. Sophia, whose parents went missing while out of a rescue mission in another age, has been raised by her beloved uncle, Shadrack Elli, who just happens to be the world's most renowned cartographer. Mapmaking is perhaps the single most important academic pursuit in Sophia's world, as maps help people to navigate the many different ages while traveling. Maps come in all different forms, and just as Sophia is being introducing to cartography, Shadrack is kidnapped. Sophia soon finds herself relying on a band of very unlikely friends as she pursues her uncle and the truth behind the world's greatest secret. While reading, I fell quickly into Sophia's world and, in particular, loved every one of the characters. They were fantastically imagined, with such distinguished features that it was easy to see them in my mind, and with just enough mystery left to them that I want to know more about their histories. I also have to commend Grove on the world building in this book. It was the best (in a children's/young adult series) that I've encountered since Harry Potter (yes, that good!) and it was astonishing to me how many little details were so naturally introduced to the reader. The Great Disruption is really one of the more creative ideas that I've seen in the fantasy genre and it so uniquely brings together elements of fantasy, mythology, time travel, and adventure. I loved reading this story so much that I immediately went online and wasted no time pre-ordering the second in the trilogy, which came out this week and which I am so looking forward to reading this weekend! The book is YA, but in the same way that Harry Potter appeals to all ages, I think that readers both younger and older than the target YA audience will enjoy this trilogy.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5

Title: The Glass Sentence (The Mapmakers Trilogy #1)
Author: S.E. Grove
Publisher: Puffin Books, 2014
Format: Paperback 
ISBN: 9780142423660

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Children's Review: May I Bring a Friend?

{on Goodreads}

Over the next few months, I'll be adding reviews here on Top Shelf Text of a series of books that are my favorites from childhood. I thought I'd kick off the series today with May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. This upbeat tale is narrated by a little boy who finds himself invited to tea by the King and Queen. He asks permission to bring a friend, and shows up to Sunday's tea with a rather unusual guest-- a giraffe! The King and Queen are cordial as ever and welcome the pair inside. The boy receives invitation after invitation, and each time he brings another surprising guest. The tale is told through a series of rhymes and is brought to life with gorgeous and vibrant illustrations (as you can see from the cover here). It makes a great choice for a bedtime story or for a lesson in rhyming, as the rhymes here are so well done as to bring to life the surreal events in the book. May I Bring a Friend? won the Caldecott Award in 1965 and in my opinion, still deserves a spot on every child's shelf!

Title: May I Bring a Friend?
Author: Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
Illustrator: Beni Montresor
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1964
Price: $11.96 (Amazon Hardcover) 
Format: Hardcover (If you're buying, I recommend sticking with hardcover picture books!)
Source: Personal Collection
ISBN: 0689206151

p.s. You can follow this series on Instagram with #TSTChildhoodFavorites! And don't forget to follow along @topshelftext!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: In the Heart of the Sea

{on Goodreads}

Let me just preface this by saying that I am not typically a nonfiction reader. Which, if you're a reader of Top Shelf Text, you probably know by now. I have trouble getting hooked by nonfiction because I crave the types of stories that pull you in on the first page and keep you guessing (or holding your breath) the whole time. So not only is it unusual for me to be writing about a nonfiction book, it's even more rare that I am telling you to In the Heart of the Sea is the story of the shipwreck of the whaleship Essex, a captivating tale of survival and tragedy. Essentially, the story goes that the Essex set out from Nantucket in 1820, hoping to make a routine two-year voyage in which the crew would hunt whales. At the time, the oil from whales was a primary source of energy, and the reason why the island of Nantucket was growing richer while the rest of the country grew poorer. After 15 disappointing months of capturing only a few whales, the Essex was attacked by an unusually large sperm whale. There had never before been a report of a whale purposefully attacking a whaleship before, but this whale was clearly angry as he repeatedly slamming his body into the hull of the ship. The Essex sank in less than ten minutes, leaving the crew to drift at sea in three tiny whaling boats. What happens next is heartrending and tragic: starvation, survival, and yes, even cannibalism. Philbrick did an excellent job in both giving his readers information and a feel for how the crew of the Essex felt as they struggled to rescue themselves. The book read like fiction, it was captivating and suspenseful and full of great characters. I also loved how much I learned about the culture of Nantucket in the 19th century, which was brought to life through Philbrick's extensive research. I live in a small seaside town, so I felt a strong connection to these men, who spent their lives at sea, and their families, who spent their days with their eyes trained on the horizon. I would absolutely recommend this to both lovers of fiction and nonfiction, and especially to those who admire Moby Dick, as Herman Melville's early days as a whaler led him to the story of the Essex. His great whale was inspired by the very whale that sunk the Essex, and at least one of his characters was largely inspired by a member of the crew. In the Heart of the Sea is also set to be released as a movie this year! It's not coming out until December, but you can watch the trailer here. It's decidedly overdramatic, but I will definitely be in line to see it!

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5

Title: In the Heart of the Sea
Author: Nathaniel Philbrick
Publisher: Penguin, 2001
ISBN: 0141001828
Format: Paperback
Source: Local Little Free Library

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top Shelf Text on Instagram!

Hi all!
I hope everyone had a chance to relax and enjoy the holiday weekend! I went home for my intersession break and spent as much time as possible relaxing, reading, and catching up with friends; it was such a nice change of pace. This week I'm diving into two new graduate classes and I am so looking forward to both!

Today I'm pleased to announce a new extension of Top Shelf Text -- we are now on Instagram too!
If you're a fan of Instagram, follow along @topshelftext for gorgeous photos of your favorite reads.

Life is about to get a whole lot busier around these parts, so if you're an avid TST reader and want more content, I'll be posting more frequently on Instagram than I do here on the blog itself. There, you can find short notes about my current reads, recommendations, snippets from book reviews, and other content (such as pretty pictures). 

For those who prefer to read content strictly on the blog-- don't worry! I'll still be posting here twice each week and the content will remain much the same. You can, however, expect more children's literature content as the school year draws closer and I continue to prep for my year of student teaching. That's all for today, but check back on Thursday for a nonfiction review that's perfect for your summer reading list!

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Currently Coveting {July}

Summer is in full swing, and I have a long list of books for you today! I think summer is the perfect time to stack your "to be read" pile with both light beach reads and more suspenseful ones. A few summers ago, one of my favorite beach reads turned out to be Gone Girl, despite the fact that it is decidedly dark in nature. This month I've picked out of a few perfect thrillers, a few of my (favorite) historical fiction reads, and a new pick for younger readers. I'm looking forward to reading all of these soon!
Here's a peek at what I'm currently coveting:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz // I stumbled upon this book in the Eric Carle gift shop and fell in love with the cover design. It's the story of a fierce friendship between two young boys and has incredible ratings on Goodreads. It's recommended for ages 12 and up, so if you have a middle school-aged reader at home this might be a good one to read together!

The Misbegotten by Katherine Webb // You know by now that I love historical fiction. This one includes mystery, romance, and lots of deep, dark secrets. 

Orient: A Novel by Christopher Bollen // Published relatively recently, this novel features a mystery on a small Long Island town. What drew me in was the promise of culture clash between locals and visitors and that small-town proclivity for harboring big secrets.

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman // I love those dual-perspective stories that blend contemporary and historical lives and this one looks particularly captivating. 

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne // Last but certainly not least, this thriller is high on my list but already making me nervous to read it. I really haven't explored whether or not I can handle true thrillers (I'm that person that wants to watch a scary movie but then regrets it afterwards and stays up half the night with wide eyes and the covers pulled up to my nose), so I'm going to give this one a try.  Click on the title link to read the description, which has to do with a family moving to an isolated spot after a tragic accident -- perfect elements for the horror that follows. 

What's on your reading list for this month?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review: The Kingdom of Little Wounds

{Click here to view it on Goodreads}

While reading this book, I thought to myself that it was going to be rather difficult to describe it to my readers in a simple but effective way. When I finished reading the story (which had me in total thrall, by the way), I read through the author's comments at the end. In her comments, Cokal described her own story as "a fairytale about syphilis." And I think that's a pretty fair description. But let me also say this: The Kingdom of Little Wounds may just be the best book I've read this year, and I almost didn't even read it. I took it off the shelf in the library on whim, because of the first sentence:

"It is while I stitch together the Queen's gown, on the night her eldest daughter is to die, that I first sense an easy power."

That sentence got me, but despite my interest, I let this book sit on my shelf and almost returned it without reading it. I let it sit there because I'm not typically a fan of Young Adult fiction, but I am into fairytales, so I picked it up again one night and fell head-over-heels into this strange and dark fairytale. It's the story of three women who live in the Scandinavian city of Skyyggehavn: Ava, a needlewoman on the Queen's staff, Midi, a dark-skinned maid from a foreign land, and Queen Isabel. The tale is so complicated that it's hard to explain, but there are twists and turns, secrets, spies, poisons, and the supernatural. It's set in a time when power was negotiated through spymasters and the futures of kingdoms rested in the cribs of infantile princes and princesses. This particular royal family is one of the most unique that I've encountered; I loved the way that Cokal filled the roles of the King and Queen with these characters that are so incredibly flawed but are worshipped by a society in which their subjects care more about their bloodlines than their leadership. Ironically enough, it was their bloodline that became the fatal flaw of the family, and as the three women narrate their perspectives, they must each strive to survive the terrible power struggle that takes place in the castle that they call home.
This book is full of intrigue, of shame and dark secrets and of manipulation. It's a fantastic creation and a nod to the grim and violent tradition of classic fairytales. (Did I mention it all starts with the prick of a needle? -- I loved that detail.) I felt so many emotions while reading this book: indignation at the things these women had to endure, disgust for the social norms (and hygiene), pity for many, hatred for a choice few, and just plain old bafflement and admiration for these extremely well-made characters. I loved everything about it: the adoration for the royal family, the lurking villains behind the mask of the seemingly innocent, the reverence for and fear of the heavens, and the crippling superstitions and customs.
I couldn't find a single thing to criticize about the story itself, but I will say this: I have no idea who decided to market this book to a YA audience, but that was a very poorly made decision. This book is way beyond anything I would recommend to a typical YA audience (which starts at age 13). This is not for readers under the age of 16 (or maybe even older, in my opinion) because it deals with all sorts of violent, graphic, and revolting matters that I would not put in the hands of young teens. It's just too inappropriate.
I do have one last thing to say, and I think it's important because it has to do with the nature of loving a book. I think we get caught up in reading books that teach us something: strategies for being an effective human, manuals for raising the perfect child, memoirs of those who have gone out into the world and done great things. We get caught up in reading things that make us better people, but sometimes it's okay to read a book simply because you love it. Sometimes I get caught up in trying to pick books that I think you (my readers) will find interesting too, so when it comes to stories like this, I hesitate, because I wonder how many others will feel the same way. I love books about magic and princesses and gothic themes, and I know those aren't for everyone. This book didn't teach me anything, it didn't make me feel like I need to change the world, and it wasn't a story about people that I can relate to.  I want to applaud Cokal for her imagination, research, and ability to put pen to paper in a way that had me captivated and sad to turn the final page. It's not a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece of fiction, sure, but it's an incredible story, and that makes it enough for me.

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5

Title: The Kingdom of Little Wounds
Author: Susann Cokal
Publisher: Candlewick, 2013
ISBN: 0763666947
Format: Hardcover
Source: Public Library