Posted in book games, Booklikes

Snakes and Ladders Update #1

1. Author is a woman – Grump by Liesl Shurtliff

Landed on:
9. Author’s last name begins with the letters H, I, J, or K – ooh this fits perfectly with the audiobook I just started: What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz. At 12 hours, 24 minutes, it fits the length requirement. 🙂

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Posted in Book Review, Fairy tale retelling, Grades 4-6, Grades 6-8

Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White & the Seven Dwarves


Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - Liesl Shurtliff

Audience: Middle Grade
Format: Hardcover/Library Copy

I was born just feet from the surface of the earth, completely unheard of for a dwarf, but it couldn’t be helped.
– first sentence

The dwarf’s name is Borlen and his nickname is Grump. This story is set in the same world as Rump, Jack, and Red and written by the same author, Liesl Shurtliff. I really enjoy this series and I am always happy to see a new book come out. The series takes fairy tale retellings to a new level. The characters are all part of the same larger world and I love the way Shurtliff weaves them all together.

Borlen is obsessed with the surface even though most dwarves are terrified of it. He always feels like a bit of an outsider. When he finally finds himself above ground, his first friend is Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.). Readers know she is the Evil Queen, but Borlen is fairly naive and thinks she is his friend (his only friend). And so, Borlen gets caught up in the Queen’s plot against Snow White.

I loved the characters in this story and the story itself. Grump is so complicated and conflicted but also very clever. At first Snow White seems like a self-centered, spoiled brat, but later we find out she is more complex than that. The crew that Borlen is a part of consists of seven dwarves – of course, one of whom sneezes a lot – go figure.

I highly recommend this book to readers in grades 4 and up, especially fans of fairy tale retellings. I read this as part of the Goodreads HA A-to-Z Challenge and for space #1 in the Snakes and Ladders game (book with a female author).

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Posted in Book Review, Fairy tale retelling, Young Adult

Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale


Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover/Owned

What if Ariel hadn’t defeated Ursula? Hmmm…. Well, Ursula would be married to Prince Eric and in control of the kingdom. Triton would be gone and Ariel would be the queen of Atlantica. Ariel also wouldn’t have a voice. The book opens 5 years after Ursula wins and she has Eric and the kingdom under a sort of hypnosis.

I have a confession: I love fractured fairy tales. I love the way authors take these stories that everyone knows and turn them into something different and in some cases, wildly entertaining. And this was definitely one of those cases. It was fascinating to see how the responsibilities of being queen changed Ariel; she is no longer the flighty young girl who fell in insta-love with a human.

I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the rest of the Twisted series (A Whole New WorldOnce Upon a Dream, and As Old as Time all by Braswell; and Reflection by Elizabeth Lim).

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Posted in Adult, Audiobook, Book Review, Sci-Fi

The Boy on the Bridge


The Boy on the Bridge - M.R. Carey

Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook/Owned

The bucks have all been passed and the arguments thrashed out until they don’t even bleed anymore.
– first sentence

This book is a prequel set in the same world as The Girl With all the Gifts. A group of soldiers and scientists are traveling in the Rosalind Franklin (an armored motor home set up as a mobile research station); their mission is to find data that might lead to a cure for the Hungry plague. In addition to the soldiers and scientists, there’s a teenage boy genius, Stephen who seems to be on the autistic spectrum. He developed the e-blocker that keeps the hungries from smelling humans in both this book and GWATG.

If you haven’t read Girl With all the Gifts, you should definitely read it first. This book isn’t quite as good but I still enjoyed it. The scope of this book is much smaller than GWATG, and we already know some of the information that this team is gradually discovering. But it was interesting to see what happened to leave the Rosalind FrankIin where the team in GWATG will eventually find it. I loved listening to the audio because of the narrator’s British (?) accent which fits in perfectly with the story.

The epilogue was a bit jarring. I don’t want to give anything away, I just didn’t get why Carey would go there with the ending.

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Posted in Adult, Audiobook, Book Review, Horror, Sci-Fi

Alien: Cold Forge


Alien: The Cold Forge - Alex White, Michael Braun

Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook/Owned

Dorian Sudler knows he shouldn’t smoke.
– first sentence

This is a dark story, but that isn’t different from the other alien stories. It focuses on corporate and human greed and the evil greed creates. Weyland-Yutani had a backup plan if Hadley’s Hope (Aliens) didn’t give them the specimen they craved. They created an isolated scientific research station called The Cold Forge and transported eggs there to be stored for future research. Blue is a scientist who suffers from a debilitating genetic disease but she is also a genetic researcher. Her condition has declined to the point where she is bedridden, but she is able to function by transferring her consciousness into an android body (Marcus). Blue and the other researchers are using chimps to gestate the aliens from the eggs and produce xenomorphs. Dorian is a Weyland-Yutani hatchet man whose job is to find ways to save the company money. He is at the Cold Forge to figure out why the scientists haven’t produced results yet.

Dorian is a despicable character that you will enjoy hating. I spent most of the book hoping he would die, and die painfully. Marcus is an interesting character who manages to generate sympathy despite being an android. I understand Blue’s need to find a cure, but she doesn’t care who or what she hurts to do it. She isn’t exactly likable, and I often questioned her decisions.

The book is well-written and the characters are fully developed though not all are likable. The threat of the aliens is constantly there, but the characters (as usual) don’t see it. The reader, on the other hand, is waiting for them to escape and kill everyone. The book brings up the question of animal suffering for the sake of research, and even questions whether it’s ok to cage the aliens and cause their suffering.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it to fans of the Alien universe.

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Posted in Book Review, Grades 4-6, Grades 6-8

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani


Audience: Grades 4-8
Format: Graphic Novel – Library Copy

Priyanka! Watch out for that tree!
– first sentence

Priyanka (Pri) has a lot of questions. Why did her mother leave India for the U.S.? What was it like there? Who is her father and what happened to him? But her mother doesn’t want to answer any of these questions. Pri is dealing with typical teen issues, learning to drive, dealing with bullies, and trying to figure out who she is. She finds a pashmina in a suitcase in the closet and it transports her to India in her imagination. This only fuels her desire to travel to India, but will her mom let her go?

I enjoyed this book. Pri is a multi-dimensional character – she has flaws but is still relatable. She is trying to figure out her identity while trying to fit into two different worlds. Her journey of self-discovery is heartwarming and her determination is inspiring.

The magical element to the story adds another dimension. The panels are black and white until Pri puts on the pashmina when they become full of color. Indian culture is woven through the story beautifully.

I highly recommend this book and it would be a great addition to any library serving elementary or middle school children.

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Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 3-5, Sunshine State 2018-19

Zoey & Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows


Audience: Grades 1-5
Format: Hardcover – Library Copy

“What is it, Sassafras?” I crouched down and ruffled my cat’s fluffy fur.
– first sentence

This book is a fabulous early chapter book. Zoey and her cat Sassafras both love bugs and science and when Zoey discovers that her mom secretly takes care of magical creatures, she is eager to help. Zoey, a budding scientist, wears her thinking goggles on her head when she needs to concentrate. And when she finds a baby dragon, she uses the scientific method to determine how to help him.

So, not only is this book fun, but it also explains the scientific method (including a glossary at the end). It is much more meaningful than I thought it would be. With a strong female lead who happens to be African American, and all the science thrown in, it goes above and beyond what you expect from an early chapter book. The entire series is a must-have for any elementary library collection.

Highly recommended.

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Posted in Adult, Audiobook, Book Review, Horror, Sci-Fi

Alien series from Audible Originals

Alien: Out of the Shadows - Tim Lebbon Alien: River of Pain - Christopher Golden Alien - Sea of Sorrows - James A. Moore

River of Pain –
I really enjoyed this performance; the story, characters, sound effects, and music all came together perfectly. I felt like I was listening to a movie. The atmosphere is amazingly scary and claustrophobic. And as others have said, the woman who voiced Ripley was perfect. I liked how they created a brand new story that took place between Alien and Aliens (the movies) and I liked the explanation for it. Overall a very entertaining listen that will be fun for any fans of the Alien universe.

Out of the Shadows –
The overall production of this one was great with the same claustrophobic, scary atmosphere as the first. But I didn’t love the story or the characters as much.  Still entertaining, but just not as original or interesting.

Sea of Sorrows –
This was my least favorite of the three. I just didn’t buy the distant descendant of Ripley having a psychic connection to the xenomorphs. I also didn’t like any of the characters. I didn’t connect with any of them and found myself waiting for them to die.

All that being said, I flew through these books. I found myself always wanting to listen to them, even though they are all basically the same formula:
– Humans go where they shouldn’t or mess with things beyond their understanding
– The humans are somehow connected to Weyland-Yutani (which is greedy for money, power, or both, without regard for human life)
– An android works against the humans in service of Weyland-Yutani or in rare cases helps them
– The xenomorphs come and the humans underestimate them
– There is a lone survivor (or maybe a select few)

Anyway, if you are a fan of the Alien movies, these stories are a fun revisit to the universe – and might make you want to watch all the movies again (like I did last weekend).

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Posted in Book Review, Young Adult

The End of Oz


The End of Oz - Danielle  Paige

Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover (Owned)

The first time I flew, it was under very different circumstances.
– first sentence

It was just my luck to find the person of my dreams in a war-torn world where I was in danger of losing him any minute, I thought.
– Chapter 17

This is the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series (not including the prequel and other world enhancing novellas – I think there are nine now). But, you can read the four main books and totally enjoy the series without them.

This final book is full of action and twists, and I loved the ending. There is a bit of a cliffhanger, but just enough to let you know that there will always be strife in this magical world. (Some reviews mentioned an epilogue in the hardcover version, but there wasn’t one in the kindle version, so *shrugs*.)

Some chapters are from Amy’s point of view and others from Dorothy’s. Seeing Dorothy’s pov didn’t make me despise her any less, but it was interesting to see her reasoning. It seems like she started out with good intentions, but the magic corrupted her to the point that she isn’t even slightly recognizable as the girl from Kansas we all remember. Even so, she seems to have no redeeming qualities left. So, I felt fine about hating her character throughout the book.

Most of the characters are not all good or all evil. They do what they have to in order to survive and protect their friends and family. Sometimes their actions are shocking and sometimes completely understandable.

I think the end may bother some people, but it made perfect sense to me and I loved it. If you like retellings or fantasy, give this series a shot.

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