These are all books that I thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger and would recommend to anyone now, young or old…

The Sister’s Grimm by Michael Buckley

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Synopsis:

In this first book in the series, orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their recently discovered grandmother, Relda Grimm. The girls learn that they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous tome of fairy tales is actually a history book. The girls are pitted against a giant, who has been rampaging through town. But who set the giant loose in the first place? Was it Mayor Charming (formerly Prince Charming), who has plans to get his kingdom back? The Three Not-So-Little Pigs, now working as police officers? Or a giant-killer named Jack, currently working at a Big & Tall store?

My Thoughts:

This was one of the series that originally got me into reading. I was absolutely obsessed with these books when I was in middle school. The fun spin on the original Grimm Brothers fairy tales is the initial hook for this series but the good writing and captivating characters are what keep you reading. Although these books are meant for a younger audience, I think the story resonates with all ages.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

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Synopsis:

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.

My Thoughts:

This is such a fun series and is totally underrated. The characters in these books are amazing. I could never decide which one was my favorite, which is a good dilemma to have. The books were written with an attention to the little details and the reader is encouraged to try to solve the mysteries right alongside the characters.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

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Synopsis:

In a city that runs on a dwindling supply of magic, a young boy is drawn into a life of wizardry and adventure. Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery’s pocket and touched the wizard’s locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Nevery finds that interesting, and he takes Conn as his apprentice on the provision that the boy find a locus stone of his own. But Conn has little time to search for his stone between wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who—or what—is stealing the city of Wellmet’s magic.

My Thoughts:

I loved this series when I was in middle school. The familiar trope of the underdog rising from nothing to become something, while cliche, just worked so well for this story. The magic in this world was handled in an interesting way that made it feel unique in a sea of other magical stories.

Spellfall by Katherine Roberts

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Synopsis:

Natalie thinks she is an ordinary girl until she sees a spell in the supermarket car park. She soon discovers her mother came from Earthaven, a place of breathtaking wonder where unicorns roam and giant trees talk. Her father is a Thrall who sells spells across the boundary between worlds. And Natalie has inherited powers the exiled spellmage Lord Hawk needs if he is to take his revenge on the Spell Lords who banished him.

Snatched from her family and forced to choose sides in a magical battle between two worlds, Natalie’s only hope is to join forces with her captor’s son, the young spell-caster Merlin. Can they discover Hawk’s evil plans in time to save Earthaven and its magic?

My Thoughts:

I loved this book when I was younger. There was just something about the main characters that drew me in and had me hooked from page one. With magical creatures aplenty and a dangerous enemy this book was an adventure.

The Familiars by Adam J Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

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Synopsis:

When Aldwyn, a young alley cat on the run, ducks into a mysterious pet shop, he doesn’t expect his life to change. But that’s exactly what happens when Jack, a young wizard in training, picks Aldwyn to be his magical familiar.

Finally off the tough streets, Aldwyn thinks he’s got it made. He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the telekinetic cat he claims to be. But when Jack and two other wizards in training are captured by the evil queen, Aldwyn will have to use all of his street smarts, a few good friends, and a nose for adventure to save the day!

My Thoughts:

This popular series focuses on three familiars, animal companions of wizards. The plot is a fast paced rollercoaster that takes you on a wild ride. The inner conflict between the main characters creates tension and makes the book all the more interesting. Not only is this a fun read but it also teaches important lessons about friendship and loyalty.

Warriors by Erin Hunter

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Synopsis:

For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their ancestors. But the warrior code has been threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger. The sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying—and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

My Thoughts:

If you haven’t heard of the Warriors series then you are totally missing out. As a kid I thought these books were the coolest things in the world. Warrior cats in the forest! I mean who could ask for anything better. The premise of the story was just plain fun but it was the characters and the lessons learned throughout their journeys that made this book truly captivating.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Synopsis:

At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…

Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse forever.

My Thoughts:

If you like fairytales you will most likely enjoy this book. From the very first page the book is full of intrigue and we follow the main character Ella on several exciting adventures. The story plays with multiple well known fairy tales, including Cinderella. Of course you can’t have a fairytale without a prince charming, and the prince in this book is certainly charming. The story also teaches the reader some very important lessons along the way.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

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Synopsis:

Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
 
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
 
Until now.
 
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world . . . a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is true—what they do can change history, and it’s up to them to set things right.

My Thoughts:

I remember reading this book in middle school and thinking I’d never find another book quite like it. This book manages to be both a fun and easy read as well as an intense, edge of your seat, thrilling ride. While the plot is interesting it is the characters and their relationships that truly keep you reading.

Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan

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Synopsis:

The blue jays and cardinals of Stone-Run Forest have turned against each other. According to legend, only Swordbird, son of the Great Spirit, has the power to conquer evil and restore peace to the land. But is he real or just a myth? Can Swordbird arrive in time to save the forest . . . or will it be too late?

Twelve-year-old author Nancy Yi Fan has woven a captivating tale about the birds of Stone-Run Forest and the heroism, courage, and resourcefulness in their quest for peace.

My Thoughts:

The characters in Swordbird are all, as the title suggests, birds. Making characters animals seems to be a recurring theme in this post but that’s because it really works. There is something about this trope that just resonates with a younger audience. Books with animals were some of my favorites growing up and this one is no exception. Filled with bravery, sacrifice, and battles, this book kept me emotionally invested from the first to the very last page.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

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Synopsis:

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.

Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret–behind the mirage of the “death farm” there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.

But it’s a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

My Thoughts:

This was a very popular series a few years past and for very good reason. The books blended magic with modernity. While magic in and of itself is not a new concept in books, the way this world handled magic was new and inspiring. The cool magic would have been enough to keep me reading but this book managed to hook me on the characters as well. Their relationships and conflicts were compelling and kept me on the edge of my seat to the very last page.

Final Thoughts:

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and maybe have a few more books to add to that to be read pile. Go give these authors some love and buy their books. They totally deserve it!

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