All posts by C. J. Milbrandt

About C. J. Milbrandt


#amreading Fascination

Fish is sent away from the family farm to work for an uncle in the city, but while running an errand, he becomes mixed up with a shipful of unpapered privateers (translation: pirates). Loved this adventure from beginning to end, especially the puzzling clues our treasure-hunters struggled to solve. Ghost is a boy from a rough neighborhood who mostly tries to stay out of trouble. But when he sees a track team strutting their stuff in the park, he can’t resist showing them that they’re not so fast. He knows how to run (and for good reason), and in proving he can, he earns himself a place on the team. And I’ve been working my way through the Amulet series of graphic novels. Volume 2 is The Cloud Searchers.

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#amreading Dangerously

In An Unexpected Adventure, Harley and his friends are looking for thundereggs (the state rock of Oregon) on the coast when they stumble across a large egg. Confiding in their science teacher at school, they agree to hide and protect it … and the dragon that hatches … from a suspicious lurker claiming to be a university professor. In Chasing Helicity, a young girl has always been fascinated by weather. When her hometown in Michigan is torn apart by a tornado, she’s in a unique position to capture the devastation. Her photos bring her to the attention of a storm-chaser who’s willing to become Helicity’s mentor. The Legend of Sam Miracle is a trilogy-starter. Sam is often a little lost in his own head, where memories seem so real, even if the don’t make any sense. But then a strange guy comes to the Arizona farm where he lives with a passel of other fostered boys, threatening to cut out Sam’s heart. A smart story that mingles intensity (heaps of action) with introspection (thoughtful, often lyrical prose), two reasons Wilson is one of my favorite authors.

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#amreading Tragedies

In The Secret of Nightingale Wood, Henry’s family moves to a big house in the country so that her mother can recover in peace and quiet from the shock of losing a child. A wistful story with a helpless sort of tension. Her family has lost so much, and yet there is so much more to lose. Well told, with a satisfying finish. In the same vein as Jungle of Bones, Touching Spirit Bear is a survival story. Cole is an angry, defiant boy, always in trouble with anyone in authority. His misdeeds escalate until the day he beats a classmate into the ground. Prison is inevitable. The courts want to try him as an adult. But his patrol officer steps in with a suggestion, a Native American tradition that has long been used to help and heal. Their decision puts Cole on an island off the coast of Alaska, where he must survive alone for a year. Montmorency has an interesting setup, but my overall reception was so-so. A burglar falls through a glass roof into the gears of a machine and is horribly mangled, so he spends much of his prison life in the infirmary, undergoing a long series of surgeries, then in lecture halls, undergoing the humiliation of being on display. All the while, he plots. One day, he wants to be a fine gentleman. And to do this, he’ll become an even better thief.

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#amreading Epics

Wonderstruck has so many illustrations, it’s an easy read. After the death of Ben’s mother, he finds a clue to the possible identity of his father. So he runs away from his aunt’s house in northern Minnesota and takes a bus to New York City. Alongside Ben’s story, Selznick presents a parallel storyline through his illustrations, about a runaway girl who also finds her way to New York City. Overlapping and intersecting, their stories complete each other. The Search for Wondla is another illustrated adventure. Sci-fi this time. All Eva Nine has ever known is the Sanctuary and Muthr, her robot caretaker. But when an alien hunter breaks in and makes Eva his prey, she’s forced out of her home and into a world that doesn’t match anything from her lessons. And in The Door to the Lost, two exiles trying to eke out a living in a world that resents their existence run into a mess of trouble when a simple mistake exposes their existence to the authorities. Portal fantasy, anyone?

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#amreading Adventurously

The Wingsnatchers is the first in an exciting new series that mingles sleight of hand with the magic of the seelie courts. Carmer is a magician’s apprentice (the sleight of hand variety) and a dabbler in invention, so he has trouble believing his eyes when he meets a one-winged fairy named Grit. In The Voyage to Magical North, two orphans run away from their employer, only to be captured by pirates. Fanciful world-building and little comedic twists. An ensemble cast who are vividly themselves. And just enough temptation and peril to keep the voyage zinging long nicely. And I finally got around to reading the much-acclaimed Amulet series of graphic novels. When Emily’s family moves to the middle of nowhere, to live in a house that’s been in the family for years, she discovers a strange amulet, which triggers a startling series of events. Monsters in the basement. The entrance to another world. A confusing legacy. A dangerous rescue.

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