Posted in Adventure, Book Review

The Golden Tower (Book 5 – Magisterium series)

Review:

The Golden Tower - Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

Audience: Middle Grade

For the first time in Call’s life, the house he had grown up in looked small.

– first sentence

I’ve missed the Magisterium; I didn’t realize how much until I started reading this book. It has been a while, so I went to the Book Series Recaps website and read the summaries of the first four books. Call and his friends have been through a lot in the past 4 years, and the final year of magic school isn’t any easier, in fact, it may be the toughest year yet.

Call is full of doubt and flaws; he wants to be good, but he has reason to doubt who he is at his very core. He questions his actions and decisions constantly, but his intentions are always good. He wants to protect his friends and the school, he wants the girl to like him, he wants to please his father and impress his teachers. He insists he isn’t a hero, he is just left with no choice. But he never runs from danger, in fact, he seems to find it more than most.

In this final year at school, Call isn’t the only one who doubts his intentions. Most of the other students fear and resent him and his connection to the Enemy of Death. Many of his friends aren’t exactly his friends anymore. He feels alone, except for the voice in his head that is (I won’t explain this because I don’t want to spoil it).

This book is fantastic. My only complaint is that this is the final book in the series. I keep hoping the story might continue when Call and his friends go to the Collegium, but the summary refers to this as “the monumental conclusion to the Magisterium series,” so it seems like I’m out of luck.

I highly recommend this book (and the series) especially to grades 4-8.

Original post:

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Posted in Book Review, Young Adult

The Belles – audiobook

Review:

The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton, Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

Audience: Young Adult

We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.

– opening lines

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In this world, Belles control Beauty and Beauty is a commodity. People are born gray and will pay anything to be transformed. The society is fixated on Beauty – there are even rules to prevent people from going to extremes. For example, a Belle cannot make your proportions so outrageous that they don’t look like the natural human form. Camellia (and the other Belles) wants to be the favorite and live in the palace. But, in this world, nothing is as it seems and danger and betrayal are everywhere.

So, I think this book was trying to make a statement about how much our society reveres beauty. And how dangerous this could be when taken to the extreme. There are many issues tackled in this book including gender equality, male privilege, the way woman warp their bodies to be “perfect,” and the idea that beauty is not just what we see on the outside. It does a good job of raising the issues without seeming preachy.

Camellia is fixated on being the Favorite and being the best and she can’t handle the idea of failing. But she is naive and doesn’t see what is happening around her – the deception and danger. I found the evil character to be very obvious and couldn’t believe that Camellia wouldn’t see right through her. She often walked right into a trap that a blind person would have seen coming.

The world is interesting with the teacup size elephants, giraffes, and dragons. But some of the descriptions are a bit much and I found it distracting. When describing a scene or a place, the author used a lot of imagery and flowery language – too much really. It stood out to me and it shouldn’t – I should be able to picture the scene in my head without thinking about how many similes or metaphors the author is using.

The audio was very well done. I enjoyed the narrator’s accent. I read the first couple of pages on the Amazon preview and I was glad I listened to the audio. There are many words that are hard to figure out how to pronounce. Not having to think about that allowed me to enjoy the story more. 

I did enjoy the story and when the ending was more than a bit of a cliffhanger, I was looking for the next book in the series. It doesn’t come out until some time next year. If it had been available when I finished this book I probably would have read it, but I don’t know if I will still be as interested when it finally comes out.

Original post:

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Posted in Book Review, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult

The Last Star

The Last Star (The 5th Wave) - Rick Yancey

Audience: Young Adult

This is my body.

– first sentence

It’s been a long time since I read the first book of the 5th Wave series. So long in fact, that I had to re-read the second book. But it was sooo worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it was a fitting and heartbreaking conclusion to the series.

Throughout the series, the characters have never been sure who the enemy is. In the end, it’s about who you can trust, who you are willing to sacrifice for, and how much you are willing to sacrifice. Cassie stays true to herself until the very end; she is strong and never gives up trying to protect her family. It was fun to see Cassie and Ringer (who are complete opposites) working together to save someone and to finally get their revenge.

There are some twists here that I didn’t see coming and some I did. I’m enamored with Yancey’s writing and storytelling ability. I will happily read anything else he writes. I noticed that this book is to be made into a movie (or maybe it already was). It is perfect movie material if they do a good job.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Audiobook, Book Review, Mystery, Young Adult

This is Our Story – Audiobook

Review:

This Is Our Story - Ashley Elston

 

Audience: Young Adult

A ten-point buck and a dead body make the same sound when they hit the forest floor.

– opening sentence

This story revolves around the mystery of what happened at River Point when five friends went hunting and one was killed. Afterward, the “River Point Boys” decide to stick together and say that none of them knows who fired the shot that killed their friend. Kate is interning at the DA’s office and she is determined to get justice for Grant. But it isn’t clear who killed Grant and without evidence, the DA could succumb to the pressure from the powerful families of the boys to sweep the incident under the rug.

The story is well-written and seems realistic, except for the fact that Kate is the only one who can find evidence to solve the crime. Adults aren’t always as inept as YA novels make them out to be. But, I get it – Kate is the intrepid sleuth (ala Nancy Drew).

The plot was slow at times, but I always wanted to keep listening to try to figure out who the killer was. Most of the book is told from Kate’s point of view with periodic sections from the POV of the killer (without giving away who it is). I enjoyed hearing what the killer was thinking and planning. I had a hard time keeping the names of the boys straight but that may have been a factor of listening to the audiobook. There are two narrators and they both did a great job. The plot twists, including one that reminds us how technology can hide the truth, make up for the slow parts of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to YA mystery fans.

 

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

The Heir – audiobook

Review:

The Heir - Kiera Cass

Audience: Young Adult

I could not hold my breath for seven minutes.

– opening sentence

I read The Selection series and found it delightful. Granted it had problems, but it was fun. I found this book on my shelf and realized it has been sitting there for a while. I wanted to finish some of the series that I started but never completed, so I decided to start with this one.

Two of the things I enjoyed about The Selection were the main character America and her romance with Maxon. And the whole caste system and related prejudice were intriguing. But in The Heir, the main character is irritating and has a terrible personality. Princess Eadlyn is America’s daughter, but she is a spoiled brat who thinks the world revolves around her. It is really difficult to listen to her whine and judge people through most of the book. Other than that, it’s not a bad story. I like Cass’s writing style and the book moves along quickly. The ending actually came faster than I expected and was a total cliffhanger. I should have expected it since I knew there was at least one more book, but I wasn’t thinking.

I will not be reading any more of this series. I should have stopped with the third book.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Book Review, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Infinite Sea – audiobook

Review:

The Infinite Sea: The 5th Wave, Book 2 - Ben Yannette, Rick Yancey, Penguin Books Australia Limited, Phoebe Strole

Audience: Young Adult

 

The world is a clock winding down.

– opening sentence

 

This was a re-read for me to prepare for reading the final book in the series, The Last Star. I read a recap summary, but I felt like I needed more information.

I enjoyed revisiting Cassie, Ben, Evan, Ringer, Nugget, and the rest of the gang. There is a lot of confusion in this series about who the good guys and bad guys are and how exactly the aliens are achieving their destruction of the majority of the human race.

This is a fun book with a few unexpected twists and a lot of action, danger, and drama.

 

Original post:
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Posted in Uncategorized

Swashbuckling Adventure with an Enchanting Twist

Review:

Daughter of the Pirate King - Tricia Levenseller

 

 

Audience: Young Adult

 

We’re outnumbered. Outgunned. Seven of my men lie dead on their backs. Two more jumped overboard as soon as they saw the black flag of the Night Farer on the horizon.

 

opening paragraph

 

Seventeen-year-old Alosa is not only the daughter of the Pirate King, but also a captain of her own ship, and a powerful fighter with more than a few tricks up her sleeve. She allows herself to be captured in order to complete a mission for her father – to find one-third of an ancient map which leads to a legendary treasure.

 

Alosa is a strong, smart, fierce fighter, and she has a secret which can bend any man to her will. I like her character, but she seems a bit cocky at times and I couldn’t figure out why (until the reveal). I love that Riden (the first mate of the pirates who unwittingly take Alosa prisoner) is clever enough to see through most of Alosa’s tricks. Their rivalry makes it impossible for them to even imagine liking each other, but they can’t deny they are both clever and strong-willed.

 

Alosa is easy to root for. Her relationship with Riden sometimes seems a certain disaster and other times seems meant to be. This book is well-written, exciting, and filled with action and unexpected twists. Even during the last battle, things happen that you won’t see coming.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a high seas adventure with a strong female lead – young adults and adults too.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Adult, Audiobook, Book Review, Halloween Bingo 2018, Horror

The Woman in Black – audiobook

Review:

The Woman In Black - Susan Hill

It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.

-first sentence

This is a dark, gothic, ghost story. The narrator, Arthur, recounts his experience at Eel Marsh house with the Woman in Black and how it changed his life forever. The story has haunted him for years and by writing it down, he hopes to be able to forget.

Arthur goes to Eel Marsh house to settle the estate of a reclusive old woman. At first, he tries to find reasonable explanations for the noises coming from the empty marsh. Then he realizes that what he hears is an echo of something that happened years before.

This is a slow moving story that gradually builds suspense and fear. The house is isolated on a marsh that can only be reached at low tide (it reminded me of The Elementals in that sense). As in that story, the isolation makes Arthur’s experience even more terrifying.

The audio is well done and I enjoyed listening. At 4 hours and 33 minutes, it is one of the shorter audiobooks I’ve listened to, but it didn’t exactly fly by. It’s a good story, but a bit on the old-fashioned side for me.

 

Original post:
readingismyescape.booklikes.com/post/1806082/the-woman-in-black-audiobook

Posted in Adult, Book Review, Halloween Bingo 2018, Horror

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Review:

Ghost Story - Peter Straub

What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?

– first sentence

This is a terrifically terrifying story. I love the way the tension builds slowly. We know something terrible happened in the past, but we aren’t quite sure what. We also know something even more terrible is coming. The feeling of claustrophobia grows as the story continues and the town is closed off from the outside world. The evil is frightening and stays with you even after you put the book down.

The prologue was a bit confusing, but it made more sense once I got to the end of the book. I actually went back and reread the prologue and understood it much better.

 

 

Original post:
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Posted in Adult, Audiobook, Book Review, Halloween Bingo 2018, Horror

100 Fathoms Below – audiobook

Review:

100 Fathoms Below - Nicholas Kaufmann, Steven L. Kent

Without a doubt, the most insidious dangers were the ones that hid in plain sight, camoflaging themselves inside the minds of rational men.

– first sentence

 

At 100 fathoms, sunlight no longer penetrates the ocean. This book combines the tension of being in a US submarine inside Russian borders during the cold war and being trapped in a submarine with deadly supernatural creatures.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The audio is well done and I spent most of my spare time this past weekend listening to it. The tension starts early and doesn’t let up. The worst (best) part is, the reader knows there is something creepy hiding on the sub while the crew is clueless and just thinks a couple people are sick or maybe someone is losing it.

 

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