The Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

wintersmith.jpgWell, I’ve finally finished the Tiffany Aching trilogy. How sad. I wish there were ten or fifteen more to go. In Wintersmith, Tiffany is thirteen and still the favorite young witch of Granny Weatherwax. But other people are starting to notice Tiffany now, too, like Roland, the Baron’s son, who pens letters and sends watercolor paints in the mail. Love is in the air, although Tiffany refuses to admit it to Granny Weatherwax, Mrs. Treason, Miss Tick, or any other overly curious old witch. Complicating these innocent flirtations is the Wintersmith, the spirit of winter, powerful enough to freeze the world over with a few frosty breaths. Because of an innocent mistake, Tiffany catches the Wintersmith’s attention, and he’s suddenly acting very…well, strange — fashioning snowflakes in the shape of little witches and sculpting ice roses in Tiffany’s garden. Who knew the god of winter was such a romantic? Tiffany is flattered (after all, this is no small conquest), but she’s also afraid, and with good reason. The Wintersmith isn’t supposed to be in love with a human girl, and his feelings are throwing the seasons out of balance. Summer might never come again. The lambs on the chalk might starve. Everybody might die. How can Tiffany get the Wintersmith off her back without breaking his ice-cold heart? Can her little blue warrior friends, the Nac Mac Feegle save the day? And what about Roland? Has he actually grown up enough to help her out of this mess, or is he still the pudgy, spoiled little boy from The Wee Free Men? If you haven’t given this series a try yet, please do. Thanks to Mrs. Pruchnik for recommending it to me!

The Big House by Carolyn Coman

bighouse.jpgWhen Ivy and Ray’s parents are sentenced to 25 years in prison, the kids are sent to live with Marietta Noland, the wealthy, child-hating old woman whose testimony landed their parents in jail in the first place. On the bright side, Ivy and Ray’s new home features limousines, butlers, luxurious bedrooms, and a mansion filled with dark passageways and mysterious corridors. At first, Mrs. Noland leaves the children to explore the estate in peace, but before long, she tires of their antics and threatens to send them away to separate boarding schools. Desperate to free their parents from jail, Ivy and Ray begin an investigation into Mrs. Noland’s life, certain she’s guilty of something — they just don’t know what. This is a spooky and wacky mystery with all the usual elements: shrouded portraits, secret intercom systems, midnight meetings, and a hidden document that everyone is frantic to find. Nobody in this novel is innocent, not really; but who’s the biggest villian?

Camilla by Madeleine L’Engle

camilla.jpgLife has always been easy for 15-year old Camilla Dickinson. She receives good grades at her private Manhattan high school, visits the MOMA and Central Park on weekends with her best friend Luisa, and is adored by her handsome father and beautiful mother. But nothing perfect can last, including Camilla’s dreamy childhood. Suddenly, things around her start crumbling; her parents begin bickering, her mother falls into a depression, and her father threatens to send Camilla to boarding school. In the midst of this turbulence, Camilla falls in love with Luisa’s older brother Frank. The young couple walks hand-in-hand through the streets of New York, talking about life, family, God, and war. These are the most grown-up days of Camilla’s life, and she wonders if the world around her has really changed, or if she’s only looking at it with new eyes. Once again, Madeleine L’Engle delivers a realistic portrait of what it’s like to be young and waking up to the promises and realities of life. My favorite thing about the novel, though, is its description of 1950’s New York City. How lucky Camilla is to spend her days in nights in such a romantic, exciting place! It made me quite wistful, actually, and sorry that I’ll never get a chance to visit.