The Familiars by Adam Epstien and Andrew Jacobson

From Goodreads: After three young wizard apprentices are kidnapped by the evil queen of a distant land, it is up to their familiars, their magical animal companions — a street smart alley cat, a precocious blue jay, and a bumbling tree frog — to save them.

Lately I have been in love with Middle Grade fiction. I have made it my mission to learn more about the genre and to incorporate that knowledge into Bookalicio.us to offer a more wide variety of kid lit for my readers. In the past two months I have had three successful MG reads and The Familiars ranks at the top of my favorites.

I used the Familiars with my brand spanking new book club at Hicklebee’s my local indie bookstore that I am partnered with. I had tons of kids in attendance and they had so many questions for me. Adam Epstien and Andrew Jacobson had visited earlier but some of the kids had missed the author signing. These kids are in luck because the authors gave me their email to give to the kids and I think several of them will use it!

Before my review here are what some of the kids had to say:

Hannah age 13 “I loved this book even more than the Chronicles of Narnia.”
Annora age 10 “I really like that this book is about animals who can do magic instead of humans.”
Jake age 8 “I really like all the magic.”

It was unanimous we all loved this book.

We follow Aldwyn who is your every day alley cat in the city of Bridgetower as he is trying to grab a fish to eat. He is caught and pursued by the towns most awesome pest hunter named Grimslade. Aldwyn jumps into a magic shop window and runs into a cage to avoid being captured and that is where his story begins.

Jack and his wizarding teacher Kalstaff come into the shop to find a familiar as young Jack has come of age. He chooses Aldwyn who immediately begins freaking out because he is just your everyday garden variety alley cat. Aldwyn travels back to the woods with Kalstaff and Jake and meets the other two students and their familiar. A bird named Skylar and a frog named Gilbert.

When the Queen shows up and kidnaps the young wizards it is up to the familiars to set out on a journey to get them back.

The Familiars is full of fantastical magic, and is completely plot driven. Never have I seen such personality given to animals. It was easy to forget these weren’t human characters. I was completely transported and kept in the dark until the very end. I had no idea what the end of the story had in it’s pages for me and all the guessing I did was futile.

I will anxiously be awaiting the next book in this series and am hanging on the edge of my seat for movie news. Adam Epstien and Andres Jacobson have my attention as up and coming Middle Grade writers.

If you love Harry Potter or The Warriors you will adore The Familiars.

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Review: The Turning: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis

From Goodreads: Mary Richards is a normal sixteen-year-old girl living in Manhattan. Well, almost normal. She goes to private school on the Upper East Side, having been saved from a life of squalor by an adoptive family. But she’s also slowly transforming into a cat.

Struggling to hide her physical metamorphosis, Mary discovers that she isn’t alone. A whole race of cat people prowls the streets of Manhattan at night, including Mary’s long-time crush, Nick.

Aside from heightened feline senses, hanging out with Nick is the best thing about discovering her inner kitty. But Mary’s transformation is special and could decide the outcome of a citywide turf war. She must decide whether to embrace her powerful feline side and become a pack leader or go back to being a normal teenage girl. Can she land on her feet or will curiosity be her downfall?

Curiosity is killing me with this latest release from Sourcebooks Fire author Helen Ellis. I expected this book to be full of camp, wrongness, and silly paranormal prose that I would mock. What I got was a kick in the pants thriller with a strange plot line that had me thinking “wow”.

I met Helen Ellis at BEA and she asked me are you domesticated or stray. I chose a button that said domesticated and told her I am sassy but not feral. After reading the book I know I made the right decision. Mary is a foster child from a neglectful family. Her and her adoptive sister Octavia go to a great school in New York City and are picture perfect children. Until Mary starts turning into a cat.

Octavia happens to see the whole thing, and she has some really dark reasons for being afraid of members of the feline persuasion. Not only do we see Mary struggle with what she is becoming we see Octavia struggle to handle it.

Characters are well fleshed out. You have Ling Ling the mean girl, Nick the boyfriend, Yoon the second possible love interest, Ben the nerd and so many more. I love how the library plays a big part in the role of these teens fighting to figure out what is going on.

If this plot has you saying wow this can’t be good, just remember that we all said that about Rampant and Killer Unicorns as well. If you like Diana’s book you will love Helen Ellis!

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