Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bookanista Review: The Familiars, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

I can't believe it's already Thursday (*shakes fist at time goblins for stealing my week*)--but at least that means it's time for another Bookanista Review! And this time I'm focusing on a fabulous middle grade fantasy: THE FAMILIARS, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson.

Awesome cover, right?

Here's the official blurb from the publisher:

Is the kingdom's fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn's always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so—and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

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 powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure—an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor—is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.

Sounds cool, right? Well...IT IS!!!!

Imagine if Harry, Ron, and Hermoine got captured 100 pages into Harry Potter and Hedwig, Scabbers and Crookshanks had to rescue them. It's like that--but better, because these animals have magical powers too! It's such a cool concept, and I can see why it's already being made into a movie by Sony Animation.

I mean, I'd fully expected to love this book. It's middle grade fantasy with a CAT for the lead character--it's like it was written for me!!!! So yeah, I had high expectations. And it definitely lived up to them.

Kids will love this book. The plot is action packed. The characters are funny and lovable. And there's so much to wonder about and worry about that it's definitely the kind of book that's hard to put down. (I know for a fact this would've been one of those books that as a kid I would've snuck out of bed to read by my nightlight. I would not have been able to sleep until I knew how it ended!)

But there's plenty of adult appeal too. Middle Grade at its best is like a Pixar movie--fun for the whole family. And THE FAMILIARS is an excellent example. It's available now, so get thee to your favorite bookstore or library and pick up a copy for you or your kids. You won't regret it.

Want to learn about more awesome books? Check out what the rest of The Bookanistas are up to today:

Elana Johnson Tells Us About TORMENT


Christine Fonseca Moons Over MATCHED

Shelli Johannes-Wells Marvels over Middle Grade 

Kirsten Hubbard Woos Us with WITHER

Myra McEntire Beholds the British Special Edition of the TWILIGHT SAGA


Carolina Valdez Miller Is Moved By MARBURY LENS

Megan Miranda Swoons Over STOLEN


  1. I love your analogy to Harry Potter! That puts it into perspective and now I am curious about this one. Thanks so much, Shannon!


  2. I REALLY want to read this one! I love book with animals for the main characters and I love cats and fantasy so I think I'd really enjoy this book! Glad to hear that you loved this one and I can't wait to get to read it for myself. Great review! :D


  3. You just sold this book to me! Crooskhanks, Scabbers and Hedwig saving Harry, Ron and Hermione... that would have made an excellent sequel ;)

    I love cats! Especially mine! Cats who lead the charge??? AWESOME

    *** I scrolled down and this is funny, my verifictaion word is champ. SO TRUE

  4. Awesome review Shannon! I've been reading this book to my kids at school and they actually boo me when we reach the end of a chapter and have to stop. Love the Harry Potter analogy!

  5. that looks like a great book. I don't know why, but the cover totally reminded me of Harry Potter. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I LOVE the Pixar movie analogy...and yes, now I MUST read it!

  7. Thank goodness they're animating it. It always feels wrong when they try to do live action talkin animals.


  8. I've heard of this one--might consider picking it up some time.

  9. This looks so fun! I'm taking notes. I've never read a lot of MG. so I think what I need is a Middle Grade Book Binge (I'm just gonna go on amazon and order up five or six highly recommended Mg reads) Thanks for sharing so much about them here!

  10. Great way to put it re: Harry Potter! I'll definitely tell my husband about this book. Although he doesn't like animals as MC's, his kids might.

  11. I LOVE animals as main characters (Charlottes Web, Mrs. Frizby, Watershipdown *sobs*, all favorites)

    I even love the cover. I'm all over this book!


  12. I like the title and book cover. Great review Shannon! Thanks for sharing about the book.

  13. It's got a super duper cat in it - I'm sold! LoL! Thanks for the review - hope you're feeling better! Take care

  14. What fun! Thanks for another great review Shannon.

  15. This sounds fantastic! It's just gone on the list for the November-it's-my-birthday-I-can-spend-if-I-want-to book buying frenzy. Thanks for the review!

  16. I've heard great things about this. Now I really have to read it.

  17. I think I'm going to pick this one up. I love the idea of the animals having to save the wizards! And a Cat! YAY!

  18. That HP reference put it all into perspective. Sounds like a great read!

  19. "Imagine if Harry, Ron, and Hermoine got captured 100 pages into Harry Potter and Hedwig, Scabbers and Crookshanks had to rescue them. It's like that--but better, because these animals have magical powers too."

    Okay, that is awesome! What an excellent analogy, and a perfect way to entice! Your enthusiasm shines through in this sparkling review, Shannon!

  20. I hadn't heard of this book but it looks awesome! Thanks!

  21. I am totally smitten. I must read this book. I MUST read this book. Oh, hurry up, payday.

    ~ Yaya

  22. This book is adorable. I'm giving away a copy over at my crit group blog. :) Adam also left a video there if you want to go see. :) I can pm the address if you'd like to see it. I don't want to spam your comments with link, lol!


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