Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Children's Book Review and Giveaway: Sword in the Stacks by Jen Swann

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook and excerpt, free of charge,from Sourcebooks, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

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And now another book in our series for kids, who need new reading material this Summer!

ninja librarians sword in stacks cover


Now that Dorrie’s an apprentice, she has the power to save Petrarch’s Library—or destroy it.

Shelve This Book Under “D” for Dangerous. (Also daring, dramatic, dashing, daft, and dazzling!)

After stumbling upon the secret society of time-traveling ninja librarians, Dorrie has finally joined Petrarch’s Library as an apprentice! One day, she’ll actually go on missions to rescue people whose words have gotten them into trouble. For now she’s taking some interesting classes:
-           First and Last Aid: When Nobody Else is Coming
-           Spears, Axes, and Cats: Throwing Objects with Precision and Flair
-           Codes, Invisible Inks, and Smoke Signals: Keeping Secrets 101

But on a training mission to 1912 England, Dorrie finds herself dangerously close to a member of the Stronghold – the Library’s biggest enemy. This is her opportunity! Dorrie can spy on the enemy, find the missing key…and become a real Lybrarian!

But if she makes a mistake, Dorrie could lead their enemy right to the very place she’s trying to save…and everyone she cares about.

Book Excerpt:
How to introduce this excerpt? Let’s see… in this part of the story, Dorrie and her best friend Ebba have learned that Dorrie’s older brother, fleeing heartbreak, has landed in a dangerous place – a coffeehouse known as the Inky Pot run by a proprietor with a reputation for treating apprentices as…disposable. Enjoy! – Jen Swann Downey

Dorrie wasted no time. Sprinting across the room, she swatted at a pastry Marcus had lifted to his mouth, sending it sailing across the table and onto the floor.

He stared at her, outraged. “What is wrong with you?” He reached for another.

“You can’t!” said Dorrie, trying to bat that one away as well.

>“Cut it out!” he hissed, fending her off. “You are a guest in a civilized establishment.”

“You don’t understand!” Dorrie hissed back urgently.

Marcus took an enormous bite. “What? That Fedya’s baklava is delicious?”

“No!” whispered Dorrie. “That Fedya is trying to poison you!”

At Dorrie’s words, Marcus’s face went slack. The rest of the pastry dropped from his limp hand onto the plate. His eyes rolled back in his head, and his back arched.

“Marcus,” cried Dorrie, wondering if she should punch him in the stomach.

Marcus’s fit stopped as abruptly as it began. He shook his hair out of his eyes, reached for the pastry again, and stuffed the rest of it in his mouth. “You kids. With your crazy stories. I’ve been eating these all day. Fedya thought they might help my ennui.”

“Your what?”

Marcus stared out at the darkening sea through a nearby window. “My ennui, my feeble  zestlessness. I’m withdrawing from humanity.”

Dorrie snorted. “What are you talking about?”

Marcus took another bite of the baklava, showering the newspapers spread all over the table in flakes of pastry. “Fedya’s given me some books. I’m exploring a life of non-attachment.”

“You look pretty attached to that baklava.”

“Please. Me and my shredded heart have turned our backs on the world.”

“I,” said a hulking lybrarian in a feathery headdress who was sitting nearby, without looking up from his mud tablet. “I and my shredded heart.”

Marcus shot the lybrarian a dirty look and then looked back out the window. “Marcus and his shredded heart are going to spend all our time here from now on. We’ll drink coffee, breathe, maybe write a short poem now and then, stare at things.”

He looked farther out to sea than Dorrie had thought possible.

“What is a wave?” Marcus said hoarsely.

“I hope that’s not your first poem.”

Marcus glared at Dorrie. “You should get a job writing sympathy cards. Really. You have a knack.”

“Look, I’m sorry about Egeria having a boyfriend. But she was way too old for you anyway. She’s sixteen!”

“I’m almost fifteen!”

“Marcus, your birthday is in eight months.”

“Bang!” Marcus said in disgust, crossing his arms and sinking back into the cushions.

“With his hair and his shoulders and his face!”

“He can’t really help having a face,” said Dorrie.

“And did you notice he chuckles? Who chuckles? And did you see the way he put his arm around her?”

“Well, she is his girlfriend.”

“Another great card in the making. How do you do it?” Marcus lifted another piece of baklava to his mouth. Halfway there, it jerked sideways out of his hand and plopped onto the table.

Ebba slid onto the bench opposite them, breathing hard, one hand clutching her slingshot.

“Don’t eat the—”

“Can a man not eat his ninth piece of baklava in peace?” bellowed Marcus, diving to recover it.

Ebba dove to intercept him.

“Cakes? Coffee for the newcomers?” said Fedya at Dorrie’s elbow, smiling pleasantly.

“No!” said Dorrie and Ebba far too loudly, their eyes wide and Ebba’s hands splayed over the plate of baklava on the table.

Fedya raised his eyebrows slightly.

“No…no…thank you,” gulped Dorrie.

Fedya bowed slightly and strode away whistling, doing a good job—Dorrie thought—of  hiding his dark intentions.

She turned back to Marcus. “You can’t just sit here for the rest of your life.”

“Even if it will be really short,” said Ebba.

“I’m not ‘just sitting here,’” said Marcus. He refocused his gaze. “I’m gazing out the window despondently.”

“That doesn’t even sound fun,” said Ebba.

“Plus, we all have to turn in our practicum registrations by eight o’clock,” said Dorrie. “If we don’t leave soon, we’ll be stuck taking library building maintenance!”

Marcus suddenly lunged for one of the newspapers on the table and held it up in front of his face. It was a copy of Gouty Ben’s Weekly Digest.

Turning her head, Dorrie saw that Bang, Egeria, and a couple other young librarians were seating themselves at another table.

A hole appeared in the newspaper page—and then Marcus’s eyeball. He rolled it toward Bang. “Is nowhere safe from him!”

“Um…Marcus,” said Ebba.

“Really?” came Marcus’s voice. “This is the time to shout my name?”

Dorrie saw that Ebba was staring at an illustration just below Marcus’s darting eyeball.

“Sorry,” Ebba said, “but I think you should look at this side of the newspaper.”

Marcus snorted. “Haven’t I seen enough already?”

Dorrie peered at the illustration. It showed a thin, mournful young Athenian man in a chiton holding a drum. She read the headline below it out loud. “Philosopher Cries Foul on Newfangled Music. Lawsuit Filed.”

“Disgusting!” said Marcus. “Bang totally meant to do that with his hair.”

“Did you hear me?” said Dorrie. “That drummer you taught how to play seventies rock music is in trouble.”

“He chuckled again!” choked out Marcus.

“Would you listen,” said Dorrie. “Charges of theft, assault, and hubris have been lodged against musician Timotheus of Miletus, currently a resident of the outskirts of Athens.”



This book is aimed at the 5th-8th grade middle grade level, but Miss Grace greatly enjoyed reading it with me this past week while we were on vacation, and she's going into 4th grade. I think kids who love Harry Potter type books will love this series, so if you have a 3rd or 4th grader who does, they will be at home with this series too.  To me it felt like the next level for the Magic Tree House series, as you have older kids, who also go on historic adventures, based out of library, instead of a tree, combined with the Librarians, from the TV show, but with kids instead. Miss Grace loves both of those, so it was no surprise that she loved the story line and begged me to get her the first book in the series too (always a good sign that she really loved the book!). I'm hoping the author will keep going with the series, giving kids this age a new book series to adore! If you've got bored kids this Summer, get them this book and its previous one (The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand)!

About the Author:

Jen Swann Downey’s nonfiction pieces have appeared in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Women's Day, and other publications. She’s never visited a library in which she didn't want to spend the night. Jen lives in Charlottesville, VA, with her husband and three children and feels very lucky they have yet to fire her. Visit her at http://www.jenswanndowney.com/ or on

flashing Win


 2 readers will each win a copy of Sword in the Stacks: Ninja Librarians 
(Runs June 1-June 30;  US & Canada only):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase the Book:

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/x4oJ300n0VP
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/6TRL300n16O


  1. I'd like to work for Lucy Maude Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  2. Janet Evanovich would be my choice!


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