Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 6-8, Sunshine State 2018-19

A Crack in the Sea by H. M. Bouwman

Review: owlowlowl

This book is a bit complicated. The story is told through the tales of three sets of siblings: Venus & Swimmer escape from a slave ship in 1781 and end up in the Second World, Kinchen & Pip live in the Second World, and Thanh & Sang are trying to escape Vietnam with a few relatives, in the First World in 1976.

When Pip is taken by the Raft King, Kinchen must find and protect her younger brother. At one point, other characters tell the story of Venus and Swimmer and their journey. Then we learn about Pip’s experiences on Raftworld. Other characters are sprinkled throughout and we eventually meet Thanh & Sang and follow their adventure.

This book combines fables and magic with historical fiction. The Vietnamese family is trying to escape what is left of their country after the war in Vietnam. The original colonists of the Second World are escapees from slave ships who used magic to find a portal through from the First World. Inhabitants of the Second World include a large group of people who live on a group of connected rafts, islanders, sea monsters, people who can talk to sea creatures, and others who can walk through water.

I found this book overly long and it had difficulties keeping my attention. The child characters are too similar and I found myself forgetting who was who. The story will appeal to some kids, but I don’t think it will be overwhelmingly popular.

Recommended to:  Middle School students who enjoy complex tales with multiple characters and a bit of magic.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Adventure, Audiobook, Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 6-8, Sunshine State 2018-19

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

Review:

owlowlowlowlowl half

The dreamer controls the dream.

Imagine having a friendly monster as your best friend and protector. Sophie’s parents own a dream shop in the basement of their bookstore where they secretly sell liquid dreams. Sophie’s best (and only) friend is a cupcake-loving monster named Monster, who she once pulled out of a dream. Monster is a bit sarcastic and a lot overprotective, but he would do anything for Sophie. Then, Mr. Nightmare arrives, the shop is robbed, and Sophie’s parents go missing. With the help of Monster, some new friends, and some fierce, but friendly creatures, Sophie just might be able to find and save her parents.

This is an enchanting and quirky story that reminds us it’s okay to be different. And our most courageous friends may look all fluffy and cute on the outside, but they have fierce hearts.

I listened to the audio and the narrator was excellent. I loved the voice she used for Monster. I highly recommend the book and the audio.

Recommended to: Ages 9-13, fans of fantasy and adventure stories.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Adventure, Book Review, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sunshine State 2018-19

Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park

Review:

owlowlowlowl

This is an enchanting adventure that kids are sure to love. There is magic, talking animals, danger, friendship, and by the end Raffa realizes that choices (and people) are not always what they seem to be. The plot is unresolved at the end (which makes sense because this is a trilogy), but all three books are already released so it’s easy to continue with Raffa’s adventure.

Highly recommended to students in grades 4 and up, fans of fantasy, magic, and adventure.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job.

 

 

Original post:
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Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Young Adult

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

Review:

owlowlowlowlowl

This is book 3 in the Young Elites series. Beware of spoilers if you haven’t read The Young Elites and The Rose Society.

Is being Queen worth losing everything and everyone you ever loved?

Adelina supposedly now has everything she wanted. She is Queen and she’s as ruthless and as cruel as ever. Even though she is now queen, she can never have enough power. Her darkness feeds on the power and it’s taking over. Adelina has lost so much, but now it seems the whole world is at risk. Her Rose Society must join with the Daggers and make an unforgettable journey to the realm of the gods. If they can’t work together, there is no hope.

This was an amazing series and Marie Lu is an impressive and talented writer. I also loved the Legend series. Adelina’s journey is heartbreaking and difficult, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Favorite, Young Adult

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Review:

owlowlowlowlowl half

If you haven’t read The Young Elites, this review may contain spoilers related to the original story.

How can you be good when everything within you is dragging you into darkness??

After losing Enzo and being rejected by the Dagger Society, Adelina is on a path of vengeance and violence. Her powers are fueled by hate and fear, and they’re growing beyond her ability to control. She has found a new group of Elites, but she has difficulty trusting them, and she is constantly doubting who she is and questioning her own decisions. She is now known as the White Wolf, a symbol of power, violence, and death.

This book is even better than the first. As the reader watches Adelina’s descent into darkness, we feel for her and in a way even understand the decisions she makes. She has spent most of her life living in fear; who can blame her for wanting to feel powerful and safe. This doesn’t take away from the horror of her actions; she is no hero.The real question is, will Adelina ever find happiness or even recognize it if she does.

A great addition to the trilogy. On to book 3: The Midnight Star

 

 

Original post:
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Posted in Adventure, Book Review, Fantasy, Grades 6-8, Sunshine State 17-18

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Review:

owlowlowlowl

 

Yes. There is a witch in the woods. There has always been a witch.

– Opening lines

 Magical babies are dangerous babies, Glerk tried to remind himself, day after day. When he wasn’t cradling Luna. Or singing to Luna. Or whispering poetry into her ear as she slept.

-Chapter 5

A story can tell the truth, she knew, but a story can also lie. Stories can bend and twist and obfuscate. Controlling stories is power indeed.

– Chapter 38

Knowledge is powerful, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.

– Chapter 38

The village has always known about the witch, and about the sacrifice. Once a year, the Council of Elders takes the youngest baby and leaves it in the woods to appease the witch. But… the witch (Xan) has no idea why they leave the baby, so she takes it to the village across the forest and gives it to a loving home. Except for Luna… The witch accidentally feeds Luna moonlight (instead of the starlight she usually feeds the babies). The moonlight makes Luna magical. Luna grows up with Xan, Glerk (the swamp monster), and Fyrian (a Perfectly Tiny Dragon who thinks he is a Simply Enormous Dragon).

With characters like Xan, Glerk, Fyrian, and Luna, how could this story fail? The characters are amazing and the world is magical. People have been recommending this book to me all year, but I kept putting it off. I don’t know why, but the cover just didn’t appeal to me. Once I started reading it, I loved it.

Recommended to: Grades 5 & up. Fans of magical stories or fairy tales.

 

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Posted in Audiobook, Book Review, Fantasy, Favorite, Young Adult

Everfound – Audiobook

Review:

owlowlowlowlowl

 

“We can lie to ourselves, saying we believe one thing, and sometimes we convince others it’s true, with the hope that by convincing others, we can convince ourselves. Wars are often waged not because of what we believe, but because of the things we want others to believe.”

Book 3 in the Skinjacker series. I love the series, the characters, the ups & downs, basically everything about it. I am now a huge fan of Neal Shusterman. This is the second series I’m reading by him and I’m now ready for the next one.

This book is amazing. It takes the characters on surprising and unexpected paths that end up in quite unusual ways. No characters are just plain evil or good. They all take personal journeys and look at the world in different ways. I felt for all of them at different points in the book and I cringed at their actions at other points.

 Recommended: Grades 7 & up. Fans of fantasy or dystopian novels.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Young Adult

Everwild by Neal Shusterman – Audiobook

Review:

owlowlowlowlowl

If you haven’t read Everlost, then you probably shouldn’t read this review. But more importantly, don’t read the synopsis of this book (Everwild) on Amazon as it gives away an important plot point that the book doesn’t reveal until at least the 65% mark.

Everlost is populated by children who died and didn’t find their way to the light. They are basically ghosts, who can’t be seen or interact with the living world (with one interesting exception). Places (dead spots) and things also cross to Everlost, but only those that are truly loved by someone. The children in Everlost are called Afterlights, because they have a glow about them. Afterlights will sink to the center of the earth if they stand in one place for too long, unless they are on a dead spot. In the first book, we learn that large dead spots are rare, but can be found in places that were considered important to a lot of people, such as the Twin Towers in NYC. In Everwild, Allie, Nick, Mary, and Mikey continue their journeys, although their paths have changed. Some secrets have already been discovered about Everlost, but still more questions remain unanswered.

Shusterman is a magnificent writer and I love losing myself in his worlds. There is no black or white, no flat good and evil. The “good” characters make mistakes or wrong choices, and the “evil” characters have motives that might have started out as good. There is a constant struggle within each character to understand their own feelings and deal with all the craziness Everlost throws at them. Over the course of this novel, all of the characters (even the secondary ones) develop, grow, and change. There is an overarching theme of “how do we stop the evil trying to destroy the world” and yet each character has their own feelings, hopes, and dreams to deal with.

The instant I finished listening to this book, I began the next (and final) book in the series. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering my similar reaction to the first Shusterman series I read (Unwind).

I’m recommending this book to grades 7 and up. Some of the actions of the characters are a bit callous in their disregard for the living world, but there are also beautiful parts that stuck with me. Fans of the Delirium or Divergent series will enjoy this one.

 

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