Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

 Title: Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures 

Authors: Jackson  Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater (also the illustrator)

Published: April 28th, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads

From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.
Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.

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The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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Title: The Orphan Queen

Author: Jodi Meadows

Published: March 10, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars (subject to change with full reading)

 Goodreads:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Review:

Although I may not have been aware that this was going to be an excerpt when I started it, I still ferociously enjoyed reading the twelve chapters offered. Wilhelmina was a perfect heroine for this story. Unlike so many before her, she has set her first priority to reclaiming her country instead of focusing on a boy. This is something I truly appreciate because although I enjoy reading romance, it sometimes has a bit too strong of a place in books defined firstly as fantasy. In “The Orphan Queen” everyone does a really good jog of remembering what their fighting for, and they have a tight knit group that helps to remin anyone who loses track. Among this group is Melanie, a particularly interesting character. Wil’s bestfriend, Melanie is either one of my favorites of the characters or the one I will end up liking the least. She’s very mysterious, kind and protective to Wil and the other orphans. So she comes off a bit like a mama bear at times, but it doesn’t seem like she’s entirely trustworthy at the point in the story at which my sample ended. (which of course just makes me more anxious to read the entire thing) The Black Knife is just the icing on the cake, but I won’t give away the little bit that I know about him. It’s more enjoyable to find that out for your self.

*A review copy of the first twelve chapters was provided on Edelweiss by Katherine Tegen Books.*

I Recommend… Anne McCaffrey and The Harper Hall Trilogy

Those that know me well are likely aware that I love dragons. I read books about the creatures somewhat obsessively, as well as watch shows including them and collect objects involving them.

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But of course, I love some dragon books more than others, just as I favor some authors above others. And since I’ve recently reread the book for what must be the third or fourth time, it seems only natural that I speak about The Harper Hall Trilogy and Anne McCaffrey. These aren’t all of the books that McCaffrey has written, certainly not all of the ones about dragons, but I continue to find myself pulled back to them, the first two in particular. They aren’t even exactly about dragons, to be truthful, but the creatures that dragons came from. The main focus is on the fire lizards. What all dragons would have remained if the humans of Pern had not genetically engineered them to grow bigger and fight off the deadly Thread that falls from the planet’s Red Star on occasion. But these mini dragons are just as interesting to me as their larger and more highly focused on counterparts.

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My copy of the first book in the series is proof to that, as it has become largely mangled and torn from various rereadings as well as its age (it was published in 1976).

So why do I like it so much? The short answer would have to be the main character. Her name is Menolly and I love her. Menolly is a bit younger than most YA protagonists at fourteen, but this doesn’t stop her from being just as awesome as any of the more well known YA protagonists.

At the start of the novel Menolly lives with her family in the Sea Hold. This wouldn’t be much of a cause for trouble for most, but Yanus, Menolly’s father, makes everyone work with the fish and do other sea related chores, and sees music as pointless at best. Menolly prospers even among these conditions, and manages to leave the hold and Impress nine fire lizards. Basically I find her very impressive, especially since practically everyone in her original home is prejudiced against girls. I’ll leave it at that, so that anyone who wants to read Dragonsong can discover for themselves how she finds the lizards and survives without her hold. It really is amazing.