Never Miss a Beat

Middle-Reader Kidlit for Fans of Ancient History and Other Worlds

Does your young reader love other worlds?




As I mentioned in previous posts, sometimes, as readers and reviewers, we get so caught up in the “newest and best” releases that we forget about the goldmine of exceptional kids’ books that already exist!


The following are MORE books the Audrey Press Team has read over the last 4+ years that they feel are worthy of a fresh look.


This summer reading booklist is dedicated to advanced readers who love a good, edgy novel.



Runemarks by Joanne Harris



All of us know about the ancient Greek and Roman Gods. We read about their magical world both in school and for pleasure.


But now a new realm of Gods has been introduced—the Norse Gods.

Maddy Smith is a unique, chaotic girl in a plain, orderly world. The age of the Æsir—Odin, Frigga, Thor, Tyr—is long gone. 500 years gone to be exact, after Ragnorak, the changing of the worlds. Now the Order rules, under the guidance of the Nameless, and anything that is seen as demonic or different is cleansed.


But in Maddy’s little town of Malbry, she is no more than hated by the rest of her simple villagers. Until One-Eye comes along. This mysterious traveler tells her stories of old age and confirms that she does, in fact, have powers, powers of the Gods.


But old One Eye only tells Maddy half-truths, only trains her in what she needs to know. She does not understand what is happening beneath the Middle World or at the End of the World where the Order congregates.


Life changes drastically for Maddy when One Eye sends her on a wild goose chase for something called “The Whisperer.” All she has to go on is that it will call to her and that it is very important that she trusts no one and bring the whisperer back to Maddy.


But forces are at work against Maddy and her old friend. The Order has now become suspicious of the town of Malbry and the paranormal activity occurring there. And One Eye’s old friend, Lucky, isn’t quite as dead as One Eye hoped he’d be.


In her journey through the tunnels of the underworld, Maddy uncovers the truth about her birth, her friends, and what is truly going on in the nine worlds. The Æsir are rising, but the Nameless has other plans for the nine worlds. After hearing the first prophecy in five hundred years, Maddy must figure out how to save her friend, herself, and the Nine Worlds from the Chaos that rests in the bottom of the world.


Runemarks is full of Norse history and an exciting new tale to the old Gods. Her exciting tale of a nearly unknown world summits interest from the very beginning—from the curious Runemarks to the alternative use of the word faerie, to these new, powerful Gods that we will soon get to know as well as we know Athena and Zeus. May the Greek Gods rest in peace, and may we welcome the Norse Gods with open arms! Be sure to finish out the series with Runelight and The Gospel of Loki.


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke



The beauty of a book’s adventure is that you must go no further than your couch to experience it. A good story can help you escape, make new friends, and even give you a thrill or two.


We love our books and the experiences they give us. But what if these stories become a reality? What if the villains we love reading about come knocking on our door? How much do we love the adventure then?


Meggie and her father Mo Fulchart, love books beyond what anyone’s word can express. As a living, Mo is lovingly called a book doctor who cares for and fixes discarded and dilapidated books, and he has passed along his love of books to his daughter.


But there is more to Mo’s connection with books than meets the eye, even more than Meggie knows. Mo has the most magical voice that can pull characters out of their world and place them in ours. This “power” unfortunately leaves Meggie without a mother, Mo without a wife, and a few particularly nasty villains following Mo’s every step.


Another character from this world of villains comes knocking on Mo’s door one night, asking for a particular book and a particular favor that Meggie cannot decode. Warning of the danger of the mysterious “Capricorn,” Meggie, Mo, Dustfinger, and his pet marten Gwin take off to a small village where Eleanor, Mo’s aunt-in-law lives. Eleanor’s vast library will be a good hiding place for Mo’s book and a nice cover for Meggie’s sudden absence from school.


This arrival sparks a domino effect of events that one cannot even imagine. Characters being readout of their worlds, Meggie being held hostage, Mo being threatened, escapes, new friends, self-involved authors, and a new ending to a story that was starting to look very dim.


This story illustrates the amazing power of the written word, since “Writing is a type of magic,” as Mo says. I have read many books in my time, and I started way before I read Inkheart in my sixth year of school. But Cornelia Funke’s powerful words made me want to create powerful words of my own. Her characters are so very real and her story so very vivid that for a week, I lived in the adventure of Inkheart right along with Meggie and Dustfinger, and Mo. I got lost in the words, in a good way.


During this second reading, I stretched out my time with the story, thoroughly enjoying it again. And in ten more years, maybe I’ll pick it up again and rediscover its magic. Inkheart is a timeless tale that will never be forgotten.


The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman



In the world of Jordan College at Oxford, Lyra Delaqua’s life is more than simple. She shares many adventures with her daemon Pantalaimon and her best friend Roger.


She occasionally learns from the scholars, but only when she’s in the right mood. She’s neither a peasant nor a noble child. However, this simplicity only lasts until she catches the Master of Jordan trying to poison her nobleman uncle, Lord Asriel. This sets off a series of events that wrenches Lyra from her careless life at Oxford.


Lord Asriel is the first to introduce the aspect of Dust to her, something that he believes can only be found in the north, the place she desires to go more than anywhere else on the planet. Thoughts of the great, white north race through her mind daily.


This could be her chance—to travel to the north with her scholarly uncle to help him discover this so-called dust.

But events are set in place to keep this from happening. Children are disappearing from Oxford. No one knows where they go or what happens to them once they are gone. All they know is who is taking them—the Gobblers. But the gobblers are faceless, and day by day, more children and their daemons are disappearing worldwide.


After Lyra’s uncle has departed for his journey into the north, Lyra is introduced to the charming and graceful Mrs. Coulter, who intrigues Lyra so that she agrees to go with Mrs. Coulter and her eerie golden monkey to become her assistant, learn the ways of traveling, and venture into the north.

But before Lyra leaves Jordan College, she is called to the Master, who gives her a curious device called an alethiometer—a truth measurer. He gives her no information—not how to read, nor why he is giving it to her. He only emphasizes the great need to keep it secret.

Lyra’s life is drastically improved for the first few weeks with Mrs. Coulter. She dresses well, and bathes frequently. She learns about geography, cartography, and every other “ography.” But dark secrets are soon revealed—secrets of Dust, something called the Oblation board, and possibly what is happening to the children snatched up by the Gobblers. Lyra escapes from Mrs. Coulter just barely, and on her journey to find truth and her friend Roger, she encounters and learns more than she could ever imagine.


Lord Faa and Farder Coram of the water-bound gyptians, Lee Scoresby the hot air balloon pilot from Texas, Serafina Pekkala—queen of a tribe of witches–, and Iorek Byrnison, an exiled bear prince from Svalbard. Together this ragtag band of determined allies travel into the north, discover the secret of the Gobblers, and many more secrets that even the alethiometer kept hidden.


The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg



Candice Phee has a world of problems. Her best friend, Douglas Benson, is from another dimension and is extremely intent upon returning to his own dimension. Her fish is experiencing an identity crisis. Her mother is very sick, and her father is very sad. She is only eleven years old, but she believes she can solve her family’s problems. They will be happy again, and life will go back to as normal as it can be, like before her baby sister died.

However, nothing ever goes according to the plan, does it? To make her father happy, Candice must fix the rift between her father and her Rich Uncle Brian, also known as RUB.


Her first plan of action fails miserably. Now she’ll need the help of Earth-Pig-Fish, Douglas Benson from another Dimension, and any other troops she can muster. This is no small taking for an eleven-year-old girl. Everything does not fit into her perfect plan, and this is something she must come to terms with to accomplish her mission. She might even solve some of her friends’ problems along the way.


Candice Phee’s journey is incredible and wonderfully enjoyable. While not quite relatable, Candice’s quirkiness made me laugh page after page. She’s an amazing girl who may one day take over the world.


Who knows? I love her story; I love her ideas, and I love her quirkiness. You’ll fall in love with this girl and root for her unbelievable plans to work so that her categorical universe will again be right.


Zoe & Zak and the Tiger’s Temple Post



Zak and Zoe are back in the third installment of their adventure in India—The Tiger’s Curse.


Life is looking pretty good for this pair of friends. They just got back from a long Winter break and now their team has won the prize for delivering the most medical supplies to camps in the mountains. But something weird happens at their last delivery…a flaming bubble starts to follow them and suddenly…it explodes, blinding them momentarily.


But once they discover they’ve won the paradise beach prize, Zoe and Zak think no more of this unusual event. But then weird things start happening.


Doormat, their flying carpet, goes berzerk. The Lotus flower appears again. And then…Zak develops a stripe across his wrist and then falls ill.


After a miraculous overnight recovery, Zak and Zoe are back to normal, but not really. Strange things are happening…animalistic strange things. And there’s a new rich kid who’s getting more attention than they ever did their first semester, and there’s just something off about him. But then life gets really strange when they have a run-in with Durga, the Mother Goddess of Earth. She sends them on a mission to find the Second Noble Truth that will save the Tiger’s people.


They must first find the Sextant to find the Truth so that the stars can guide them.


Meanwhile, Zak’s stripes are growing up his arm. Durga warns that his time is running out since he now is connected with the Tiger’s people.

So they have a new mission. Find the Second Noble Truth before Zak’s time runs out. But his newfound power, the ability to control animals, proves more complicated than he thought.


Can Zak and Zoe learn how to control their powers in order to protect themselves and their school?


Can they find the Second Noble Truth to save Zak?


And can Zak manage to keep his mouth shut long enough in order not to make the most powerful goddess in the universe angry? Find out in their search to end the Tiger’s Curse.


Here’s another excellent series with villains your YA readers will love to hate!

Recipient of the 2017 IBPA Ben Franklin Awards-Children\’s/YA-New Voices GOLD Award!

Ascension by Hannah Rials



Enter this world of vampires, set in the south, and realize you are being pulled in more—and deeper—with each page.

Steeped in the mystery, intrigue, and rich history of New Orleans and the secretive world of the Deuxsang, teen vampire, Cheyenne, and her forbidden love, Eli, embark on a very different, and vastly more dangerous, journey as the net of betrayal tightens around them.


This intense and fresh novel is enchanting, engrossing, and impossible to put down right up to the cliffhanger ending. Remember, the end is not the end.


What an extraordinary debut novel with new and intriguing twists on vampires—a strong female protagonist as one. I already can’t wait for book two.-Jill Murphy Long, author of The Conduit


This book is by the far the BEST YA/Adult fiction that I’ve read in a very long while. So exciting!-Rebecca F


Get sucked in…

Grab your copy of Ascension HERE and visit Hannah on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website.