Blog Tour: Penumbras

(Middle School Magic #2)
by Braden Bell
MG Paranormal/Fantasy
July 9th 2013 by Sweetwater Books

Conner Dell didn't meant to blow up the school bus.
Or the bathrooms.

In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens.

But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around.

Conner Dell wants to be good--he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What's worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal.

My Review

I didn't know exactly what to expect when I picked up Penumbras.  I hadn't read the first book (although I've started it and will be finishing it soon - I ran out of time) and hadn't heard of the author, but I have read some of Cedar Fort's books before with mixed results. I have to say that I am so glad I was invited to participate in this tour because I really loved this book!

From the first chapter, I knew Penumbras was going to be good. You can just tell these things sometimes. The author immediately grabbed my attention and not just by what was actually going on - believe me that is pretty intense on its own, but also by the smooth writing and the way the characters were introduced. The reader is given some information about what happened in the first book, but it isn't so much or too little to be distracting. It also showed who all the characters were and their relationship to each other.

The characters and their actions and feelings felt realistic to me. You have Conner, his sister, Lexa, and their friends: Melanie and Pilaf. There are also teachers and others who play roles as well, especially those villains. I thought the way Lexa worried about losing her friend to Conner was definitely something that would occur, especially at that age. Conner and Melanie's relationship was also very sweet. Overall, I liked each of the main characters and what they brought to the story.

I liked how Conner wasn't just left to fend for himself either. He chose to sometimes, but the teachers and others consistently tried to help him. Some books I've read take the adults right out of the story and it always feel too unrealistic to me because in real life would they just step back and say, "Here, kids, you go deal with all that and fix everything. We're going to stand back and disappear even though we are better capable of handling the issue?" No. They wouldn't, so I like how the adults are kept in the picture.

I also wasn't sure where trouble was going to come from and when. I like it when a story can keep me guessing and engaged and this one definitely did that. I don't read books in the Middle Grade genre too often, but this one had enough action, adventure, and romance for even a YA audience. I highly recommend it!

To read the first three chapters and see the book trailers, go to Penumbras' website.

Content: Clean.
Source: Copy from author, which did not affect my review in any way.

The Kindling
(Middle School Magic #1)
by Braden Bell
MG Paranormal/Fantasy
July 10th 2012 by CedarFort Inc
All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens, but when a run-in with the school bully ignites strange powers inside him, Connor's normal teenage life goes up in flames. Now he'll need his new powers to defeat the Darkness that's coming for him. Fast-paced and original, this book's guaranteed to keep you guessing!
About the Author

Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and graduated from Davis High School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith live  with their five children on a quiet, wooded lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private school. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog. 
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