THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen & Thomas Docherty is an adorable children’s book aboutOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen & Thomas Docherty is an adorable children’s book about the mysterious disappearance of story books. The heroine Eliza Brown finds the culprit and hatches a plan to get the books returned and keep everyone happy – including the elusive thief.
This book is so much fun to read out loud. The rhyme scheme of the narrative lends the words a musical quality and is perfect for catching and keeping a child’s interest. I’ve already read this one to a grade one class and they had a blast figuring out who was stealing all the books (one bright kid guessed right away it was the Snatchabook who “flew into town”), spotting the little creature on different pages and then recommending their own favourite books that they could share and read out loud if they were ever visited by the Snatchabook.
THE SNATCHABOOK is graced with quite wonderful illustrations that set the mood of each page and really allow children to explore Burrow Down and easily follow the progression of the story. Helen and Thomas Docherty have crafted a picture book treasure that I will definitely enjoy sharing with any and all future students....more
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful mOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful middle grade series The Cupcake Club. Each books has focused on a different member of the club, and this time it’s Jenna, the official taste-tester of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
Along with the sweet recipes and hijinks that the club finds themselves in, each story deals with subjects and issues that students may find themselves facing on a daily basis. In ICING ON THE CAKE Jenna has to come to terms with her mother re-marrying. Jenna maintains her dislike of Leo and it’s only through her friends, the club and the love and attention of a sweet little puppy that Jenna starts to think differently. Of course, this is in the midst of Easter – the biggest cupcake holiday for the club – making her mother’s wedding cake and dealing with a last minute Elvis impersonator who has a request of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is a sweet story about family, friends, changes and learning to roll with the punches. Jenna has a lot of things thrown at her in the course of only a couple months but she doesn’t let them bring her down. She is, after all, an important member of Peace, Love and Cupcakes and she has her friends to keep her strong and proud....more
MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira is a whirlwind of a sci-fi ride through alternate universOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira is a whirlwind of a sci-fi ride through alternate universes and (not-so) alien invasions. Tanya is a fairly normal high school student until she finds herself sucked through the Membrane into an alternate universe where she meets her alternate self. Crazyness ensues!
It’s always fun to read books that take place where you live, since you get to recognize street names, places and events. So like Tanya, when she finds herself through the Membrane into a parallel Nova Scotia, I too was struck by the differences. Tanya has had a rough time of high school and the alternate universe experience doesn’t help her any. Tanya is kind, sensitive, a little anxious and depressed, but has a good head on her shoulders and ultimately really cares for others. She’s a quick thinker and helps get herself, her double (called P for Princess, and boy is she) and others out of sticky situations. P on the other hand, is quite opposite of Tanya. She’s very sure of herself to the point of arrogance at times, and while she can be cruel she is kind at heart.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of the alternate universes (Tanya visits two) and the Membrane that separates them. Tanya finds herself wrapped up in quite the mystery where an invasion may not be an invasion, and another may be going on behind the scenes. There is a wonderful “bad guy” who you can tell has secrets and agendas galore. While Tanya and P come from very close universes, the Others that are invading P’s world are quite different. I could have done without the numerous references to how beautiful they are, but other than that they were fascinating and the source of much of the worry and fear felt by P and Tanya.
I’m a huge sci-fi fan, and quite enjoyed MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira. While I found a few parts of the narrative a little jumpy and confusing at times (I’m still not exactly sure who the Fabricists are) the major plot points, resolutions and set up for a sequel (maybe? It’s certainly left open for one!) were all wrapped together rather well by the end of the book. Tanya had some good growth throughout the story, as did P through her interactions with Tanya and some world-shattering truths. MEMBRANE is engaging and unique, and I would be happy to recommend it to young adult sci-fi readers (and not-so young adult ones)....more
As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appealOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appealed to me in a number of ways. The beautiful illustrations highlight the story of Claire, a glasswing butterfly who finds herself separated from her family. She makes the best of her situation and everything turns out ok for Claire in the end.
The story of Claire’s journey is filled with wonderful tidbits of information on not just glasswing butterflies, but the role that butterflies and other animals and insects (like pigeons, ants and ladybugs) play in nature. So even though Claire has been whisked away from her family and home, she begins to create a new home around her, through new friends and a small abandoned city lot with a few flowers in it. It’s a nice story of making the most of a situation, maintaining hope and forming new friendships all with an educational background of environment.
Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven works perfectly with the curriculum in my area. Primary and grade one learn about habitats and life cycles, and many of the classes even hatch moths or butterflies. This story will fit in perfectly, and I can’t wait to read it out loud to them!...more
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell is the first book in an exOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell is the first book in an exciting new middle grade series. Discovering a ghostly boy who is all too real and brings unicorns in his wake at the school for troubled girls that Twig is sent to starts Twig on a path she never could have imagined.
Despite being sent to a school on a pony ranch that has five other girls at it, this story is really all about Twig, Ben (the ghost boy) and Wonder Light, the unicorn that is born in front of Twig. We get to see a bit of the youngest girl, Casey, but barely anything of the others. I’m hoping we’ll get a bit more of them in the sequel(s). Over the course of the book, Twig goes from a near-silent, worried, upset and unsure twelve-year-old to a confident, happy and protective thirteen-year-old. Not to say she still doesn’t have worries and concerns about her life before coming to the Murley’s ranch/school/home, but she’s learning to accept and cope with those problems. Ben helps a lot in that, the mysterious boy who cares for the unicorns on the island and has his own mystery about him that I am crazy curious about. He’s patient with, and kind to, Twig – and the unicorns. He helps show her what she’s capable of when she begins to doubt herself.
It is a bit curious that Twig is able to so easily sneak out of the house at night (for a year) without anyone taking much notice (especially after she did get caught once. You’d think that would make it harder in the future). I also found it strange that these girls are at the ranch for a year, with little mention of going home for visits or family coming to see them. The year does move very quickly in the smaller book (220ish pages) so I’m just assuming there are many moments we don’t get to see.
The unicorn lore in the book is quite interesting and the dark, angry herd leader Dagger a stark contrast to the light and joyous Wonder Light – the unicorn that Twig raises from its birth. Unlike the pure and good unicorns you usually see in stories or mythology (though not all!) Dagger is vicious, attacking other unicorns, the horses and ponies at the ranch and even people. Twig, Ben, Wonder Light, Ben’s unicorn Indy and others are out to stop Dagger and help save the herd.
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell brought me back to childhood. I loved unicorns when I was younger, and this is a book that I would have happily devoured and re-read many times. R.R. Russell mixes the fantasy of the unicorns and a parallel world wonderfully with that of Twig’s new home on the ranch, and her journey to finding her own true self, and her courage. I can easily see this book, and series, being a popular one in grades three through six classrooms – with a relatable character, a good mystery and the fun fantasy elements, WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST will definitely keep you reading....more
Where to start with HALF LIVES by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very liOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Where to start with HALF LIVES by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very little idea what to expect from this book, but I was hopeful, and it surpassed any expectation I could, or did, have. I was stunned and crying by the end of the book, and amazed at how Sara Grant managed to blend together two completely separate yet intricately linked story lines.
Icie narrates a good half of the book, telling her story of how she is given cash and supplies and told by her parents to find a mountain outside Las Vegas where an abandoned toxic waste bunker that was never used will hopefully keep her safe from an imminent viral attack. On the way, she encounters a cheerleader, Marissa; a twelve-year-old wanna be rockstar, Tate; and mysterious Chaske. Together in the bunker, with no idea how the outside world is faring from the attack, Icie and the others try to survive. Icie is so much stronger than she thinks. She goes through crazy heartache and horror while trying to keep herself and the others alive, and wait for her Mum and Dad to come find her as they said they would. And while she may be terrified and has no clue what she’s doing, she keeps it together and survives as best she can.
The other half of the book is narrated generations in the future, primarily by Beckett, the teenage leader of a society that lives on the mountain that Icie fled to, but also by a few other characters who help flesh out the action and Beckett’s story. Surviving on the mountain, Beckett’s people fear the terrorists of the outside world, the broken city they call Vega just on the horizon both helping them survive and a source of worry. Beckett is the direct link to their god, the Great I AM, who once walked the mountain and gave the society their Just Sayings, their Facebooks and the hope of one day that Mumanda will come to save them all. The chapters are interspersed with each other and I was always so excited to see something that Icie and the others did become the direct influence of the language and culture of Beckett’s society. By the end of the book I was a mess of tears at all the pain Icie, Beckett, Marissa, Tate and everyone went through, but also because of revelations that Beckett has that nearly broke my heart, and the hope Icie still held. I am just in awe of how the two story lines blended together, and how much I came to care about these characters.
HALF LIVES by Sara Grant is a book about one girl’s journey to save herself in the face of impending disaster, and how choices she makes affect the lives of hundreds throughout the coming generations. It’s about finding strength in yourself to continue on, about making the hard decisions but also the right decisions, about confronting your fears and believing in your faith (whatever it may be). It’s about love, and sacrifice, about realizing what matters in the long run and discovering yourself through hardship. HALF LIVES is also about the threats we face every day through fear, weapons, secrets and lies. It’s about change and growth and the human need to survive and live. All tinged with an innate humour of how culture and language can change and reflect a caricature of words, phrases and things that what we have today in our society. Guys, I want nothing more than to dive right back in to HALF LIVES and live it again. I love this book like crazy, and I hope you do too....more
BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff turned out to be something I was not expecting – in aOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 star rating.
BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff turned out to be something I was not expecting – in a pretty good way. A teen assassin, “Ben” through most of the book, is sent on yet another mission by his handlers at The Program, but this one is different. With a timeline of only five days to get close enough to the mayor of NYC in order to kill him, he has to act fast. But the daughter, Sam, complicates his mission. As well as some unexpected followers, most certainly enemies but who and why? I was unsure through most of the book how I felt about it, but the ending saved my opinion. It went in a direction I was not anticipating at all from the synopsis. It was awesome.
So the book takes place over a very short time period – five or so days – in which Ben, our Boy Nobody, goes through a mini-crisis over his role in The Program and what happened to his life and his parents, and whether he wants to continue or go back to a normal life away from all things killing. Meeting Sam kind of starts pushing him in that direction, enough that he hesitates to complete his mission to kill her father. Ben is very cold and driven, since he’s been conditioned that way, but you get to see glimpses of the boy he must have been before The Program. Lets say that his morals start to shine through a little bit. While he manages to keep mostly on track for his mission (mostly), he does start to go beyond The Program’s back a little bit, firstly and mostly by enlisting the aid of a teen hacker. Ben’s starting to plan a way out, methinks. The action was swift and intense, and I loved the descriptions of NYC, especially places I knew. But even if you’ve never been, it is very descriptive and easy to paint a picture of places and events.
Most of BOY NOBODY is spent with Ben figuring out how to complete his mission, finding out who the people following him are, and quick flashbacks to a past that start to tell us why he may be having second thoughts about his “career choice” (as well as a visit from an…old friend). The book is like a quick snapshot into his life, and while there is a very fast romance start-up (two days?) it went in no direction I ever thought it would. The ending kind of comes out of left field (kind of) and is very awesome in the sense that it fits the feel and tone of the book and I am so glad it happened (but sad). I think anything different would have been disappointing, honestly. BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff is a fairly quick, entertaining book that I think will definitely appeal to mystery and thriller readers, and anyone wanting to step into that genre. I’m interested for the sequel!...more
My opinion is definitely the minority on this one, but THE CAMP by Karice Bolton –Originally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
My opinion is definitely the minority on this one, but THE CAMP by Karice Bolton – while having an interesting premise and solid writing – just did not really work for me. It certainly delivers on the synopsis, and I had no problems with Karice Bolton’s writing style, but there were things that did not add up and the book was very quick, plot-wise.
First and foremost, I enjoyed the premise. Emma is sent to ReBoot, a camp for juvenile delinquents, even though she is not one – let’s just say a wicked step-father and uninterested mother comes into play here. While at the camp, Emma finds romance and danger in spades. The book had some very creepy moments and some very swoon-worthy moments. But what ties them all together had issues. At the beginning is the question of why this camp of juvenile criminals is co-ed. That right there seems to be a bad decision (as is shown by a moment of sexual assault near the beginning). Likewise, how did Emma who has no criminal record get sent to this camp? Wouldn’t that be something the people who run the camp look into? Questions, I has them.
Insta-love is not my thing. While I have no problems with a dive-right-in romance if it’s well-formed, insta-love with no real explanations as to why makes me frown. Emma and Liam don’t even really know each other. For all Emma knows, Liam’s a criminal and for all Liam knows, Emma is! And when she says she is not, they all believe her immediately and Emma kind of joins the camp leaders. It isn’t long after the romance begins and the stage is set that the creepy stuff starts happening. Emma seems to be being stalked by an un-known guy (camper? Leader? Someone else all together?) and though Liam and two of the other guys catch the creep the next day, people start being injured or disappearing, so you know there’s someone else still around. And I was creeped out! Very well done intense moments.
Even though I liked the horror-movie creep factor, I didn’t enjoy it as well as I could have because there were just too many characters, not enough face time. Outside of Emma, Liam, camper Chelsea and camp leader Steph, I had issues keeping everyone straight. I had a hard time remembering who was a camper, a leader and how many people were actually at the camp. That makes it hard to know who’s left when people start disappearing. And then there were little things – like, Liam mentions at one point that someone knew bought the camp, but shouldn’t he know this person’s name? Wouldn’t interviews for camp leaders been done? (this also goes back to Emma even going to the camp – that, thankfully, is explained later but the fact that Liam and Steph never clued in to the owner is odd) I was also confused as to why some people lived and some died – I mean, I’m glad people lived, but I don’t understand the motivation. Same goes for the final reveal. The whole camp thing seems like an awful lot of work and murder for something that could have easily been done another way (I’m sorry if this is really vague, but I’m trying not to spoil things).
In the end, I think THE CAMP by Karice Bolton showed promise but could have benefited from being a longer book. Everything felt rushed, from the creepy guy, to the disappearances, to the romance and the conclusion. There are some good intense horror moments and the romance does turn up the heat at points, enough so that I was kept entertained throughout my reading of the book. I would definitely suggest that if the synopsis sounds like something you’d enjoy, dig in! ...more
FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman is a hilariously ridiculous story about a dadOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman is a hilariously ridiculous story about a dad who steps out to buy milk and takes quite a while about it. When he returns and his children ask where he had been (talking to a neighbour, most likely) their father spins an amazing tale of aliens, dinosaur police, a volcano god, pirates, wumpires, ponies, piranhas, and a hot air balloon.
The story of how the father winds up captured by aliens and then time traveling with Professor Steg, a dinosaur of some intelligence, in a hot air balloon all while avoiding nefarious pirates and wumpires and other nasties by aid of the milk (the milk is always there to save the day it seems) is extremely entertaining. Punctuated by remarks from his children that seem to both question and help further the story they’re being told, and accompanied by amazing illustrations that help you visualize the father’s journey, FORTUNATELY, THE MILK is very much a tale of “believe it or not.”
At the end, we’re first immediately aware (through the children’s observations) that the story is completely made up. But than the father produces the milk and the last illustration makes you really think twice about whether the father was actually on this amazing journey. FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman is a perfect bedtime or classroom story. Even without the aliens and pirates and everything else, the dinosaurs alone would make this story great. Dinosaurs are always a good choice. This is one book that can definitely be enjoyed by anyone and everyone – I loved it!...more
I had so much fun reading Amanda Sun’s debut novel INK. Set in Japan, INK followsOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
I had so much fun reading Amanda Sun’s debut novel INK. Set in Japan, INK follows Katie as she meets and falls for Yuu Tomohiro, finds out kami (gods) are real, and that she has more to do with everything than she thinks.
There are so many aspects of INK that worked for me. I’m going to break it down and talk about a few reasons why. First, characters. I loved Katie. She’s very smart, determined and capable of looking after herself (with a bit of help sometimes, but everyone needs help sometimes). Katie is incredibly curious, a little awkward, sad (understandable, considering the reason she is living with her aunt in Japan is because her mother passed away) and even a little lonely. Throw in Tomohiro who is mysterious, protective, artistic and caring with a dash of angry loner boy thrown in and there is some awesome scenes and interactions between the two. The pacing of the book works very well with a mix of quieter moments and action packed, breath-catching ones. There are some secondary characters that throw quite a wrench in things, and really help flesh out the mystery and mythology of the story.
Which leads me into the love I have for the setting and mythology of INK. I’ve always had a fascination with Japanese history and culture (it’s the history major in me, that I love old cultures, I swear) and I feel that INK delivered a descriptive and engaging, though brief, glimpse into Japanese society. Amanda Sun herself lived in Japan for a time, so I felt comfortable trusting the picture she is showing us. Language is used wonderfully, and there is a glossary in the back for the Japanese words and terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. The mythology that Amanda Sun created around the kami is very well developed and intricate – and though I’m still a little confused where some of the ink that is a sign of the kami comes from, I still quite enjoyed it!
INK by Amanda Sun is a slow-burn romance that winds its way through Yakuza thugs, gods in human flesh, high school, mysterious pasts, secret societies and family. There is a wider threat to Tomo and Katie that comes because of Tomohiro’s connection to the kami, and this first book only touches the tip of it. The out of control powers and the interest from the Yakuza are only the beginning. I am very excited to see where the sequel takes Katie, Tomohiro and the others involved. Should be an interesting ride!...more
TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts is a story about the end of the world thatOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts is a story about the end of the world that doesn’t really revolve around the end of the world. Told from the point of view of three teenagers, the story is one of family, friendship, love, lose and surprisingly, new beginnings. When you know your way of life is about to end, maybe permanently, how do you spend those last few days? Zan, Sienna and Caden each go through an incredible journey over the course of the novel.
All three characters are living on the same island and while their stories never really intertwine, they do cross paths at moments to create a cohesive end to the story. Caden lives with his sister and their alcoholic mother, and while he doesn’t have any spectacular plans for his last few days before the asteroid hits, that all changes when his father shows and takes Caden away to the mainland for very sketchy reasons. Caden’s point of view was probably my least favourite, mostly because a lot of the motivations didn’t make sense to me, and it was very removed from the tone of the rest of the book. Zan’s scavenger hunt for a girl her deceased boyfriend Leo had a phone number written down on a receipt for was my favourite storyline. Along with Leo’s best friend Nick, Zan takes off for Boston to see if she can locate this girl and put to rest the question of whether Leo had been cheating on her. It’s an interesting view on questioning every thing you had known, and not being able to get answers from the person involved. It talks about trust, moving on, guilt and love. Sienna also has an interesting story, revolving more around family and what it means, and young love. I definitely felt she and Owen, a boy she knew from when her family used to summer on the island, fell in love extremely quickly, but Sienna is a teenager, and it’s the end of the world. Why wouldn’t she think she was in love. Usually I’m very against insta-love in books, but this time it made sense and worked.
The idea that an impending asteroid hitting the earth could wipe out life as we know it creates an intriguing background for a story that deals with a lot of tough themes; from depression, alcoholism, love and kidnapping to trust, what it means to be family, and kindness. Caden, Sienna and Zan all have a moment where their lives cross near the end of the book and then the last day before the asteroid is supposed to hit and everyone on the island comes together in moments of solidarity and hope and fear and waiting. I was extremely happy with the ending and even though some may not like the ultimately unresolved nature of it, I felt it fit the book perfectly and couldn’t have been done any other way.
TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts is a quiet sort of disaster book. Focused more on the characters and how they choose to spend their possibly last days, the ideas of forgiveness, togetherness and hope in the face of despair really underline and highlight this slice-of-life story. Zan, Caden and Sienna all have wonderfully distinct voices that draw you in to their predicaments, decisions and lives. I couldn’t help myself from wondering what I would decide to do with my time if I knew the end was mostly inevitable. Who would I surround myself with and what would I do? What would you do? ...more
WINNER BAKES ALL by Sheryl and Carrie Berk is the third book in the very fun middleOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
WINNER BAKES ALL by Sheryl and Carrie Berk is the third book in the very fun middle grade series The Cupcake Club. The series follows four friends (Kylie, Sadie, Jenna and Lexi) who start a Cupcake Club in fourth grade, that slowly turns into a business. While book one was from club founder Kylie’s point of view, WINNER BAKES ALL is narrated by Sadie (and the girls are now all in fifth grade).
Despite not having read book two, I was easily able to read WINNER BAKES ALL and still highly enjoy my reading experience. It’s great that the series tells each book from a different characters point of view – I liked getting to know more about Sadie. From her fear of ever understanding math (I can relate!) to worries about how much her parents have been fighting lately (divorce??) and the fact that Peace, Love and Cupcakes is slowly making less money, Sadie has a lot on her mind and plate. But she handles everything wonderfully, and is able to help kick butt in the Battle of the Bakers competition that the club enters. I got a laugh out of the descriptions of the competition, the judges and the cupcakes they had to make. And I loved the little nod to Buddy Valestro, the Cake Boss!
This book, and series, is wonderful in how it portrays strong friendships. The girls help each other through their ups and downs and have so much fun. They rely on each other and make a great team. The worries about divorce and learning disabilities like dyslexia in WINNER BAKES ALL (and topics like bullying from the first book) go a long way in helping make the series appeal to a broad range of readers, who will find something and someone to connect with in the stories.
I wouldn’t hesitate to hand WINNER BAKES ALL by Sheryl and Carrie Berk to any of upper elementary students. Most would read it just because a kid like them helped write it! The smooth and descriptive writing, relatable characters and situations and the fun of a group of fifth graders running their own business make this book very approachable. The cupcake recipes found at the end of the book are so tempting to make and a nice touch. A series that combines reading and baking, my two favourite things – how could I not like it? I’m looking forward to book four!...more
Every now and again I get the craving for a fun adventure through a fantasy wOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
Every now and again I get the craving for a fun adventure through a fantasy world and POISON by Bridget Zinn filled that craving very nicely. Running with Kyra as she evades capture for trying to kill the her best friend – and Princess – Ariana, had me entertained and intrigued throughout the entire course of the novel.
Despite not having the most elaborate world-building or rules to the potions and magic, POISON still manages to deliver a strong and engaging fantastical mystery with some side romance, great characters and the cutest pig (yes, pig) that I think has existed since Wilbur. The reader enters the story after Kyra’s attempt at assassination had already happened – we don’t know why, or even really who Kyra is except for a 16-year-old Potions Master. As the journey unfolds, so too does the back story. Each detail adds together to eventually tie up the story while setting the stage for the spot-on twists and reveals that appear. I was honestly surprised at some of the bigger plot reveals, and loved the ending. The romance was also slow and sweet, which I am a huge fan of.
I quite enjoyed the main characters of Kyra, Ariana and Fred – the traveler that Kyra comes across while on the run and can’t seem to shake. Kyra is extremely talented, capable, determined and strong, but also vulnerable and lonesome and a little bit worried, though she tries to hide it. I mean, who wouldn’t be nervous after attempting to kill their best friend and future ruler? Fred is just delightful. Funny, sweet, confident and full of surprises, while Ariana is boisterous, head-strong, kind and a little bit sneaky. The three of them play off each other very well and despite the seriousness of what Kyra has done, they find time to joke around and enjoy being in each others company. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and memorable, creating a wonderful cast to populate Bridget Zinn’s debut fantasy novel.
POISON by Bridget Zinn is one of those fantasy novels to pick up when you want something fun, twisty, magical and engrossing. I’d frequently lose track of time while reading, trying to solve the mystery of why the Princess is a danger to the kingdom, why Fred keeps showing up wherever Kyra is, how Kyra knows what she does and eventually trying to sort out who the main villain really is. It’s a perfect case of, “just one more chapter, I need to know what happens!” And I dare anyone who reads this book to not want more of Rosie the pig. A character in her own right, I never thought I’d think a fictional pig is adorable, but I do. Fantasy fans? Definitely pick this one up. It’s well worth the read!...more
MIRA'S DIARY: HOME SWEET ROME by Marissa Moss is book in a fun middle grade sOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
MIRA'S DIARY: HOME SWEET ROME by Marissa Moss is book in a fun middle grade series about a girl who learns she can time travel and must help her mother who is stuck in the past trying to make right the future. I quite liked the first book, Lost in Paris, and fully enjoyed this one as well.
Mira receives another note from her lost-in-time mother and she, her father and brother Malcolm are off to Rome. Mira’s not long in Rome before she time travels to the 16th century, meeting painters, cardinals and more (including the Watcher from the last book who is set to stop both Mira and her mother, and Morton, who helps Mira be where she needs to go). Despite the relatively short time between her first experiences with time travel in Paris and now, Mira seems more confident in herself to figure out what her mother wants her to do and try to succeed in that task. It’s a bit different this time, and will take the reader on an interesting ride.
Mira’s father and Malcolm offer support (emotional and research) in her present when she travels back to them, and are very helpful and understanding. Mira is still a fun character, full of determination and strength that makes her suitable for the task of time traveling. She’s getting quicker at thinking on her feet, and isn’t getting too attached to the people she meets in the past. Like in the first book, the secondary characters are there more to highlight historical figures and provide Mira information and a mission to complete. In HOME SWEET ROME she spends much of her time with a cardinal Del Monte, the painter Caravaggio and his servant Giovanni, and the man she’s meant to help, Giordano Bruno.
The sketches scattered throughout the book are a wonderful addition to the story, and I continue to be inordinately pleased with the author’s note and bibliography Marissa Moss includes at the back of the book. MIRA'S DIARY: HOME SWEET ROME is a quiet historical mystery that has the reader diving right in to old Rome and the Inquisition. I’m definitely still seeing this as a must-have series for the classroom, and could happily put it into the hands of young readers. Time travel, mystery and history? All three awesome things right there....more
EARTH-SIM by Jade Kerrion is a short book with grand ideas. This review is most likOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
EARTH-SIM by Jade Kerrion is a short book with grand ideas. This review is most likely going to be all over the place, because my feelings for the book are all over the place! We’ll start by saying I generally quite enjoyed the majority of EARTH-SIM – the concept is fantastic and the writing engaging. But I almost felt like I was reading an excerpt from a much larger book!
The story starts fairly abruptly, with Jem settling in to her first day of SIM-709 – a university graduate class in which she is one of only two undergraduates. The other, Kir, becomes her partner for the simulation. The class, as we learn, is to use skills in all fields to create and maintain a functioning planet and society. Only this simulation deals with real people and planets (which is very cool and has great potential). I can’t help but wonder, though, if Jem is not only from another galaxy and planet (she is) but also a completely separate universe? Are they creating and maintaining planets just in different galaxies (which means the planets and the people could eventually interact with their own galaxy, planets and people) or is this a universe within a universe type deal? A minor-detail annoyance, but for a reader like myself, one I can’t help but latch on to.
The characterization and interactions are slow and quiet, but it works. Jem’s history is revealed in small pieces throughout the story and she has a completely separate plot line surrounding her – not just the one of her and Kir playing God to their sim-planet. I found her boyfriend Rio to be mostly off-stage in his interactions with Jem and you don’t get much sense of their relationship. Jem’s and Kir’s relationship is nice. It starts off as almost-enemies and evolves into steady friendship and a wish on the reader’s part for more than that (especially since Rio is almost non-existent in the narrative). Kav, Kir’s little brother, is adorable and his interactions with Jem very sweet. Unfortunately, the secondary plot that surrounds Jem isn’t really noticed until halfway through the story and is then both wrapped up and left wide open very quickly. It didn’t feel like there was even a semi-solid conclusion at all – I can only hope there is a sequel planned to deal with said plot.
The actual interactions of Jem and Kir with their sim-planet (Earth, of course) are so good. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the planet from before the dinosaurs to modern day. There are events happen that replicate moments from the Bible, and the religious aspect of the idea of God (or Gods, as Jem and Kir seem to be) influencing the planet in a very direct sort of way is nicely offset by the scientific aspect of evolution and direct manipulation of the planet from an outside source. There are a few pop culture references that jarred me out of the story that I didn’t really expect to see amongst the historical facts, but other than those, the narration of Earth’s influenced history (and how a bit of it ties into Jem’s mysterious history and plot) is very fun and engaging.
On the whole, EARTH-SIM by Jade Kerrion is a very imaginative and attention grabbing story. A quicker read, I was interested enough to read it in one sitting. Though a bit indifferent to the characters at the beginning, I was more attached by the conclusion of the story. There are some very clever moments wrapped around Earth’s basic history and an intriguing look at religious aspects of that history (and what certain events in the Bible happened because of). So while I did basically like the book, I just wish there had been more! I feel like there was so much more information and potential story that could have been presented to help flesh out what is there. ...more
THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne M.Originally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne M. Valente has to be one of the best books I’ve read lately. I am in complete awe of this story and cannot believe I waited this long to pick it up. September’s adventures in Fairyland are seared in my mind and I reveled in every second spent journeying with her from the moment she makes it passed customs to when she finds herself traveling the seas to a Lonely Gaol at the bottom of Fairyland.
Our heroine, September, is a breath of fresh air – twelve-years-old and still Somewhat Heartless (as most children are), she of course excepts an offer from the Green Wind to hop on a Leopard and go Adventuring into Fairyland. She leaves behind her life and her mother (and father) with hardly a thought and goes off to see what awaits her in Fairyland. And oh September…what Adventures you do have! Throughout the story, despite the hardships she endures (since all good Adventures inevitably have hardships) she manages to prove over and over again what a smart, resourceful, capable, and kind person she is. September makes many of the decisions she does in order to help her friends, or do what she thinks is right. The decisions may lead to trouble, but she makes them anyway. Her friends are wonderful as well. The Wyvern A-Through-L that is born of a Wyvern and a Library (he’s a Wyverary!) and the Marid Saturday – a blue boy who grants wishes but must first be wrestled with and lose. Then there is also the Marquess, the seeming villain of the book who rules over Fairyland, and my favourite – the omniscient narrator who keeps us informed of subtle goings-on.
Fairyland is full of the kinds of fantastical creatures you expect to find in Fairyland and some new ones – like a pack of wild bicycles and items that you find in every day life like lanterns that have reached the age of 100 and become fully sentient. There are quests for a spoon and sword respectively, a grand city, a journey across the sea and a kidnapping. there is wonderful lore for changelings and a back story of a kind Queen who all believe killed by the newer Marquess who is but a young girl herself and slightly cruel (though her backstory is heartbreaking). And all of this is made so real through the magnificent writing of Catherynne M. Valente. It has been ages since I have read a book that wrapped me up in its words so completely. They’re lyrical and wonderful and absolutely perfect for emotion and description. Gorgeous.
THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne M. Valente is one of those rare books that comes along and changes the way you read. Topics of family, friendship, politics, identity and more are woven throughout one young girls fantastic adventures in a strange and beautiful land not her own. THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING deserves to be re-read at any opportunity because I just know this is one book you will only grow to appreciate more the more you visit it. ...more
Elizabeth Best has a fairly normal life – school, cheerleading, night classes at thOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Elizabeth Best has a fairly normal life – school, cheerleading, night classes at the local college. Except Elizabeth Best is really Lizzie, Betsey and Ella. Three girls, sharing one life. They divide their day into thirds and pretend to be one single girl…not triplets. Not clones. THE ORIGINALS by Cat Patrick showcases a unique take on the self-discovery genre. Our narrator, Lizzie, isn’t just going through a self-discovery but learning to separate herself from her sisters (clones) and becoming an independent whole. Not just a third.
I really enjoyed the characterization in THE ORIGINALS. Even with Lizzie being our main focus, there is a strong sense of who Betsey and Ella are as individuals and you manage to feel like you really get to know the characters. Except Sean – Lizzie’s insta-crush, we don’t really know much about him outside of Lizzie likes him, he’s a nice guy, fairly smart and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He certainly manages to help Lizzie, Betsey and Ella out in a couple sticky situations. The build up in the plot centers around Lizzie (with Betsey helping her along the way, and then Ella comes around in the end) trying to find out just what her mother is hiding from them and working towards regaining separate lives. It’s a slow build, until we finally get to the high point – and then it’s an intense moment of “what just happened?” followed by a quick resolution that takes little time at all and is very conveniently solved. There is a good explanation for what happened, but it was a bit of let down, really.
I see THE ORIGINALS as a contemporary with sci-fi elements, and it works in the end to create an interesting story. Despite my misgivings about how the climax and ending resolved itself, I did quite enjoy reading The Originals by Cat Patrick. Like I mentioned above, it is very much a coming-of-age story with some twists that give it a unique edge. I was hooked from the beginning to Lizzie, Betsey and Ella’s story and was pleased with the eventual outcome of the plot if not completely with the way it arrived there. Worth a read!...more
This series makes me all kinds of happy. THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the sequel to The False Prince and what a sequel it is! Picking up right where book one left off, Jaron is king of Carthya and not all is well. From assassination attempts to plots to put a steward on the throne until Jaron is of age, his reign has been pretty rocky so far. Realizing that the only way to avoid war between Carthya, the pirates hired to kill him four years previous and Avenia is to approach the conflict head on, Jaron leaves Carthya and ventures to the pirates where, of course, crazyness ensues.
I still absolutely love Jaron. He gets character award of the year, seriously. He cares so much for the people around him he would do most anything to keep them safe. Even when it hurts (emotionally and physically). I mean, he rushes off with hardly a plan to keep himself safe but he’s tricky and witty and wise beyond his years – it gets him through! He’s also fairly sneaky, which helps in making what little plan he does have work. It’s hard to tell who’s friend or foe in this series which keeps the reader on their toes. As do the number of fights, hijinks, plots and intrigues. There are a few moments that are kind of like “what, really? Well, ok, cool.” and you need to just go with it, but they are few and far between and just help add to the amazingness that is Jaron.
THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer A. Nielsen is one of those sequels that just makes you more and more excited to continue reading a series. The first book introduced Jaron, the world he lives in and the problems facing his country – and did it wonderfully. This book successfully continues Jaron’s tale and digs deeper into the fight for Carthya and the politics between it and its neighbouring countries – and does it with all the adventure you could ever want. I can’t wait to see where book three will take Jaron, and us....more
LINKED by Imogen Howson is a debut sci-fi novel that takes place not just in the fuOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
LINKED by Imogen Howson is a debut sci-fi novel that takes place not just in the future, but on another planet – and I was hooked from the beginning. Elissa is having very creepy and dangerous visions that actually result in physical harm. From the start, I had ideas that the doctor Lissa sees to try and get answers knows more than he’s letting on. As must her parents.
When Elissa finally realizes what her visions mean, and meets her twin Lin, the action really takes off. There are some very suspenseful scenes running from cops (all while letting the reader explore a very nifty new planet and technology) and some moments where I thought that was it for them. But Elissa’s dad gives some surprise help, as does Caden – Elissa’s brother’s best friend (her brother, by the way, seemed to be a very throw-away character. We hardly see him at all, and it feels like he was there so Caden wouldn’t have to be a stranger to Elissa, but someone she already knows and can hopefully trust). The pace of the story unfolds at a good rate with some crazy fight scenes, space travel and surprising reveals. I felt the main characters of Elissa and Lin were very well developed to the point that I was often frustrated with their decisions, proud of their choices, scared for them and excited for them throughout the course of the novel. With Caden, we get a fairly good sense of who he is but what we see of him is through Elissa’s perception and so his personality fluctuates a bit depending on her feelings for him at the time (it is easy to see that he is level headed and dependable in an emergency though!). The idea behind Elissa’s visions and connection to her twin Lin is really neat and quite unique. I definitely wasn’t expecting some of the reveals in the end.
was definitely swept up in LINKED by Imogen Howson, from the action to the mystery of Elissa and Lin, to the sci-fi aspects of the novel and the small beginning romance between Elissa and Caden. The end was left wide open for the sequel, of which I’m ridiculously happy because despite being engrossed in the story I definitely had some questions about how the link between Elissa and Lin (and all twins, apparently) works and their mysterious power, as well as some confusion about the final explanation/solution/twist/reveal at the end that I’m dying to discuss but don’t want to spoil for you! Final verdict? Solid read (even with leaving me with questions) from a promising debut author – I’m excited to read more in Elissa and Lin’s universe....more
I don’t think I could be anymore intrigued than when I started reading ALTERED by JOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
I don’t think I could be anymore intrigued than when I started reading ALTERED by Jennifer Rush and immediately encountered four boys in cells in the basement of main character Anna’s farmhouse. What a way to make you want to read the book!
The story starts right off into the mystery and action. Anna works down in the basement of her farmhouse with her father…the lab. In the lab are four boys locked in cells. Anna and her father are constantly testing the boys who have been genetically altered and are victims of amnesia. But for what purpose does the Branch – those who altered them – want the boys? The reader is quickly swept up into the action when two head honchos from the Branch come to visit and our boys – Sam, Nick, Cas and Trev – manage to pull a Houdini and escape. Taking Anna with them and killing not a few people in the process. And then we’re in for one wild ride through a couple States, following clues inked and scarred into the boys skin and hidden in different locations, trying to figure out why they were altered, why they have no memories and what they are wanted for.
I really enjoyed going on this chase with Anna and the boys. Anna is incredibly capable, kind hearted, very practical, scientific, can kick butt and is more involved than she could have ever guessed. Even the boys, though they don’t get as much page time as Anna (well, Sam gets quite a bit of time) are nicely fleshed out. Sam is the leader of their group. Tough, smart, kind but not without his major issues. You know he’s the important one in all of this, and somehow tied to Anna. Nick is a bit of a dick when it comes to interacting with Anna, but he’s loyal to the group and a good fighter. Very smart and capable. Trev and Cas a the ones we see the least of, but still get to know their personalities. Cas is the funny one, always cracking jokes and thinking of his stomach. Trev is quiet, and Anna’s closest friend of the four.
There is a lot of the unknown in ALTERED. It is very much a mystery book and all the little pieces wrap together to form a picture of what the Branch wants with the boys and Anna, who they were before the amnesia and living in Anna’s basement, and what the mysterious Alpha Program is. There is a veritable truck load of action and suspense present in the storyline, and a crazy rescue scene at the end that was right out of an action movie.
ALTERED by Jennifer Rush is a unique debut with a fun premise. Though some parts were a bit rushed with all the action, there is a great mystery to solve and some very interesting clues and reveals. I enjoyed the characterization and storyline, and would love to read a sequel sooner rather than later!...more
Not going to lie, a big reason I purchased this audio book is because James MarsterOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Not going to lie, a big reason I purchased this audio book is because James Marsters narrates. And because I’d always heard good things about the series and had been meaning to try it for a while now. James Marsters was just that last little push I needed. STORM FRONT by Jim Butcher is the first book in a series following Harry Dresden, wizard, as he gets himself into the worst possible situations by helping solve murders and mysteries in Chicago.
I adored Harry Dresden. The books are written in first person, so the reader really gets to see inside Harry’s head and learn who he is and what makes him tick. While not always the nicest or best of people, Harry has a pretty good moral code going on. He’s a generally and genuinely decent person who uses his skills as a wizard to act as a Private Investigator and help out the Chicago PD in any cases that seem to be because of supernatural means. Karrin Murphy is the head of the Special Investigation unit and kick-ass. It’s nice to see a strong female cop leading the way. Harry’s got a great wit to him, and there’s just something about the way he views himself and the world that I really liked. It helps that Jim Butcher’s writing style plays to the old type PI storyline and characters very well. Throw in a mix of vampires, the White Council that governs magic, and some pretty crazed magic users causing gruesome murders and STORM FRONT is an intense first book.
Trying to figure out how all the characters and pieces fit together was great. Jim Butcher drops hints throughout the book and we solve the case as Harry himself is solving the case. There are some bloody fights and even bloodier deaths, a very cool introduction to the background of magic in Harry Dresden’s version of the world, and hints as to a darker past for Harry. Also a wee bit of romance, which you know is going to show up again in later books (hopefully, at least). Harry gets beat around quite a bit but he always bounces back and kicks major butt. STORM FRONT by Jim Butcher is a great start to a series, and James Marsters voice does wonderful things for bringing Harry Dresden to life!...more
TIMEKEEPER by Alexandra Monir begins right where Timeless left off and divesOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
TIMEKEEPER by Alexandra Monir begins right where Timeless left off and dives right into the mystery of how Philip is in the future. We also get the reasons why her grandparents seem mysterious and tumble head first down the rabbit hole with Michele’s father and find out why Michele can travel in time.
I really enjoyed the background story we get in this book about the time traveling and the mysterious Time Society. Alexandra Monir has interspersed passages from the Timekeeper Handbook with the chapters, as well as entries from Irving’s (Michele’s father) journal. These passages add the background we need without having the characters talk it out in dialogue, which I liked. The villain of TIMEKEEPER is Rebecca, a creepy character who comes from the past but has dire effects on Michele’s 21st century present. And while I did enjoy how diabolical Rebecca is as a character,I found her timeline confusing! I’ve so far been able to keep Michele’s, Philip’s and Irving’s timelines in order, hers I just found odd, and the ending scene when the same event seems to play out in multiple times really made me scratch my head for a moment.
Michele definitely does a bit more growing up through this book, though the action is still so fast paced that I feel we really don’t get to see as much of her inner characters as I’d like. Philip’s presence in Michele’s original time is a great mystery to solve and I liked the explanation for it. Caissie, Michele’s friend, also has a bit of a bigger role to play this time around and lends a new facet to the whole Rebecca plot line and unwittingly manages to help Michele discover more about her father, her time traveling, and some answers to the big old “why me” and “what’s happening”.
TIMEKEEPER by Alexandra Monir is one of those sequels that really pick up from the first book and keep the ball rolling. Everything is changing for Michele, and not always for the better. There are hints of things to come that could be very bad, and I definitely don’t think we’ve seen the last of Rebecca. I’ll be interested to see where the series goes in relation to Michele’s time traveling and her relationship with Philip. And while I’m not a fan of the insta-love, at least Michele’s and Philip’s relationship has some obstacles to overcome in their course of true love. I’m looking forward to a book three....more
THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab was everything I was expecting, and more. I love thOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab was everything I was expecting, and more. I love the idea of a library of the dead, where all your memories and emotions and stuff that makes you you lives on in receptacle that looks like you.
However, sometimes these copies wake up and escape the Archive. They find themselves in the Narrows, an odd corridor like place that exists between the Archive and the waking world. Mac is what’s called a Keeper. Keepers police the Narrows and return escaped Histories (the walking embodiment of all you were in life) back to the Archive before they get through to the real world. Mac’s job was fairly quiet and normal until moving into the Coronado apartment complex. Suddenly Histories are waking quicker than ever and chaos is descending in the Archive. Thankfully Mac gets some help!
Mac is such a well-written character. She’s strong, sad, a little lonely, so very capable and incredibly fierce. I empathize with her so well in the area of losing her brother. I think if I knew my little brother was in a place I could still see him, I would never leave. I think it’s a testament to Mac’s strength that she can mostly resist the temptation. Wes, the help that appears just when Mac needs it most, is completely awesome. He’s laid back, kind, unique, helpful, playful and best of all he just wants to help Mac and be with her. No hidden agenda, no bad boy shenanigans – just a nice guy who can share in an area of Mac’s life that she cannot tell anyone about. And hey, two Keepers must be better than one! Even though she doesn’t get a lot of screen time, Mac’s best friend Lindsey is wonderful as well. I really liked reading about a friendship that lasts past one of the two moving away.
The mystery as to why so many Histories are suddenly waking up is handled very well, with Mac acting the part of detective and trying to figure it all out. There are people you know are involved but not sure how (Owen!), and at points you suspect everyone. No one is innocent until Mac proves them so. The action is faced paced, there’s a scene that nearly broke my heart, and the final reveal on everything is just wow. So good. Mac has a few moments of being stupid, but you can’t really blame her, what with everything that has been going on since she moved into the Coronado. She overcomes those moments quickly and more than makes up for them. Another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed were the flashbacks to when Mac was learning about the Archive and becoming a Keeper. They slipped seamlessly into the narrative and helped flesh out the backstory AND the present goings-on.
THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab is one of those books that catches your interest, pulls you in and then just doesn’t let you go. I was completely invested in these characters and this world – I was along for the ride and more than happy to see it through to the end. Victoria Schwab’s writing has a way of really capturing atmosphere and emotions to the point that this book is your new best friend for those all too brief moments you live within its pages. ...more
As an elementary school teacher, I’m constantly on the lookout for new picture bookOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
As an elementary school teacher, I’m constantly on the lookout for new picture books to be added to a classroom library that will not only entertain the students but provide a valuable source of life lessons (and beautiful artwork!). A FLOWER IN THE SNOW by Tracey Corderoy & Sophie Allsopp is one of those books.
Amidst beautiful, soft artwork Luna and Bear show the reader what it means to be a friend. When Bear finds a flower growing in the snow, he presents it to his best friend Luna. After it has wilted, Luna is deeply sad and nothing will cheer her up. Deciding that only another flower will do, Bear sets off to find one for his dear friend. He is gone for quite a while, and it is only once he has left that Luna begins to realize that it is not what Bear does or gives her, but Bear himself that is the real treasure of their friendship.
A FLOWER IN THE SNOW by Tracey Corderoy & Sophie Allsopp is a wonderfully told and beautifully illustrated story of what it means to be friends. I fully believe that not only will young children love listening to the story of Bear and Luna, but that parents, older siblings, caregivers and teachers will enjoy reading it to them. ...more
GRIFFIN'S STORM is book three in author Darby Karchut’s Griffin series – a series wOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
GRIFFIN'S STORM is book three in author Darby Karchut’s Griffin series – a series which continues to deliver on all fronts. Showcasing an original, engaging plot, relatable and intriguing characters and some darn good writing, this is a great series.
In this third book, we are once again flying high with Griffin and his mentor Basil as the two perform their jobs as guardian angels amidst recovering from his stint as a mortal, navigating Griffin’s love life with mortal girl, and neighbour, Katie and the threat posed by Griffin’s old mentor Nicopolis. Griffin is still awesome; tough, kind, funny and sweet. There’s a bit of trouble in paradise with Griffin and Katie in this book, and we actually don’t get to see a lot of Katie. This part of the series sees more of the angelic side of things, with Griffin and Basil on the run from Nicopolis who is worse than ever and targeting not just Griffin anymore, but all Earth and Fire Terrae Angeli. Sergei returns for protection detail, and his and Griffin’s relationship is as snarky as ever! I did enjoy seeing the growth in their not-quite friendship. Though still competitive they are slowly learning a grudging respect for each other and Sergei definitely lends a hand when Nicopolis comes calling. As do the new angels that are assigned to help protect Griffin.
There are some teary moments in this book, one unexpected at the beginning and a few slightly more expected ones resulting from some pretty kick-butt battles with Nicopolis and his recruited group of Wind and Water Terrae Angeli. So much interaction with Nicopolis has forced Griffin to kind of come to terms with how Nicopolis treated him – you can definitely see how Griffin is slowly healing old wounds, and the crazy moment at the ending will go a long way to helping him completely move forward from that time (I think anyway! And wow, hard to do no spoilers. Let’s just say I don’t think Nicopolis saw it coming).
GRIFFIN'S STORM by Darby Karchut sees a lot of changes and growth for Griffin and company, and some interesting new plot developments that I am anxiously waiting to see culminate in a book 4 (I hope so!). This book does a wonderful job in bringing events from books one and two together in a clash of the angels and the intense moments are very well done. Griffin and Basil face their hardest challenge yet in this one, and though they weather the storm, they don’t come out unscathed. This series has continuously entertained and enthralled me – you just can’t help but cheer for Griffin!...more
TIMELESS by Alexandra Monir is one of those rare time travel books that managOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
TIMELESS by Alexandra Monir is one of those rare time travel books that manages to keep my head from hurting too greatly. The concept is intriguing, well-done and suits the tone of the story. Michele Windsor, after a tragedy strikes her small family, is forced to move across country from California to New York City to live with grandparents she has never met. It’s there, in their breathtaking mansion, that Michele makes her time traveling discovery and has her world once again turned upside down.
I found Michele a tough character to get to know. Yes, she likes composing music, loves her family, is a kind person and seems genuinely nice, but that’s really all you know. You can tell from the beginning and meeting Michele’s grandparents that there are buried family secrets that will hopefully be revealed throughout the course of the novels. Michele’s absent father is one such secret, and the slow reveal for that one is tantalizing. The method of time travel is very neat, as are the descriptions of old New York and the fashions of the time. Music plays a huge part of the story and I liked reading the lyrics that Michele creates for Philip’s music – oh Philip. I think the one part of the story I was a little wary about was the Michele and Philip storyline (crazy, I know, since that’s really the main part of the book). It’s very insta-loveish which I am not a big fan of. As well, at one point Michele leaves Philip for his own good (being separated by time and all) and yet through time travel manages to still see him frequently in his future. It was all very quick. But thankfully, I liked Philip. Nice guy, musical, strong and marches to his own beat. H and Michele fit each other.
TIMELESS by Alexandra Monir is a love story that transcends time. Despite the family secrets, the mystery of how Michele can time travel and why, the base of the plot is a love story – how can Michele and Philip beat Time and stay together? Despite my hesitation of insta-love and a lack of deeper connection with the characters, I have to say – TIMELESS has one crazy ending! Talk about your cliffhangers. I was thankful I had a copy of the sequel to read right after because I needed it. This series is a relaxed, enjoyable and perfect to quench the need for some romance. ...more
What to say about FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes. I don’t know if it’s because I used to exclusively read high fantasy, but I had expectations goinWhat to say about FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes. I don’t know if it’s because I used to exclusively read high fantasy, but I had expectations going into this book and they were just not met. I’m going to try and break this down without getting too spoilery and explain what I liked, what I didn’t and how I felt turning the last page.
Honestly, the beginning and the end are the best parts of the novel. Right away as the book opens, we have intrigue, betrayal, magic and the promise of more to come. This is followed quickly by a murder that starts a young man on a quest for vengeance and you just know is going to lead to bigger issues. All promising, all interesting – but then I started getting that little crease in my forehead as I continue reading showing I’m troubled.
MIRA'S DIARY: LOST IN PARIS by Marissa Moss is a smart middle grade novel that containOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 rating.
MIRA'S DIARY: LOST IN PARIS by Marissa Moss is a smart middle grade novel that contains an interesting method of time travel, good character voice and a great take on history.
Mira’s mother has disappeared without a word, until a postcard arrives in the mail from France. Determined to find her, Mira, her brother and their father set out for Paris – where Mira finds her mother, but a whole lot of trouble as well. Transported back to nineteenth-century Paris, Mira finds herself befriending artists (like Degas), chasing her mother through both Paris streets and Time, and running away from another time travel who seems determined to stop Mira’s mission to put right a past wrong. But Mira’s a very down to Earth, reasonable and responsible girl, time traveling or no, and she won’t let someone stop her. I quite liked Mira’s determination and resourcefulness – she doesn’t panic in the face of something new, but rolls with it and tries to make the best of a crazy situation. I also liked that through the book she has a lot of uncertainty about what she’s doing, but perseveres. Unfortunately, I found most of the secondary characters to be fairly two dimensional, and outside of Degas, little explored. There was a brief almost-romance between Mira and a young helper to Degas, Claude, that I felt was not really necessary, but cute.
There are small sketches scattered throughout the chapters representing Mira’s own sketches and they really add a nice touch to the story and plot. I was a little confused on the subject of the other time travelers and what their actual purposes were,but they lent an air of suspense to the novel. Mira’s mission in the story is to try and right an injustice that was done to a Jewish member of the French army and her attempts and the information she gathers provide a nice lesson on the wrongs of intolerance, prejudice and antisemitism in a way that a younger teen will be able to easily swallow and understand. The author has provided a historical recap of the event that she uses in the story, as well as a bibliography which I found so refreshing – actual research and historical events! The history major in me grinned quite a bit when I saw that.
MIRA'S DIARY: LOST IN PARIS by Marissa Moss is a quiet sort of book. While it has some action scenes and a bit of suspense in regards to whether Mira completed her mission, the story focuses on Mira’s journey and history that she is seeing first-hand. And as with all history, there is no real epic conclusion – rather, there is a sense of Mira having complete what she time traveled to do, but the results were not seen right away, and people were still hurt despite her best efforts to save everyone. This book has a great message wrapped up in an entertaining story and I’m hoping to read more Mira adventures!...more
THE NIGHT HAS TEETH by Kat Kruger is a captivating and and suspenseful journey throOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE NIGHT HAS TEETH by Kat Kruger is a captivating and and suspenseful journey through werewolf lore, the streets of France and more than a little bit of mad science.
Right away, the prologue wrenches you into the story and keeps you interested. A primary (kindergarten) kid who bites another kid hard enough to draw blood? You have my attention! After that incident, Connor is sent to a French private school where he remains on the outskirts of school social life. It’s not until he receives a scholarship to a school in France that his life gets more interesting than he ever wanted thanks to some Canadian army brats, Madison and Josh, and his host family who don’t look old enough to play parents, really (Amara and Arden – and can I just say, I love their names). But Connor is a sensible sort, and doesn’t let all the ensuing crazyness go to his head – he doesn’t panic (well, a little bit, but who wouldn’t) when he finds out there are werewolves running around France, and indeed, the world, and he doesn’t blindly follow the instructions and wants of any of the wolves out to ensnare him. The only fault I had with Connor is that he doesn’t pester for information enough. He says he wants to know what’s going on, but then keeps letting himself be distracted or put off the question. If he’d been a bit more stubborn, he probably would have had answers sooner (but then we wouldn’t have had a book =P).
There is a really neat distinction and lore surrounding Kat Kruger’s werewolves; they are either born, or bitten. Born wolves are those that turn into actual wolves, while people who are bitten turn into the wolfman type creature from movies. And that’s where the mad science comes into play! The antagonist of the story, Henri Boguet, is a bitten werewolf searching for a way to find a cure for those people who are bitten, but of course he has ulterior motives and secret plans that will not be good for the born werewolf population. Connor is wanted by both Boguet and the born werewolves, but he has no idea why and no one will tell him. His journey for answers and trying to stop Boguet drags the reader through the story, not wanting to put the book down because the action, mystery and teen angst (does Madison like Connor or not?) never stops, and you need to know how it ends!
THE NIGHT HAS TEETH by Kat Kruger is an awesome beginning to a series. The writing is wonderfully descriptive in both character and setting (love that it takes place in France), and Connor’s emotions – confusion, as well as determination and fear – shine through clearly. While there are moments of reader frustration as the book continues and Connor still doesn’t know why everyone seems to want him, questions do get answered near the end and the final scenes and revelations are intense. THE NIGHT HAS TEETH is one of those books where Connor can’t trust anyone but himself, and he has good reason not to. It’s easy to see why this book won the 34th Atlantic Writing Competition, and I’m excited to see where the story goes in book two!...more
THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa starts another series in The Iron Fey world, this tOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa starts another series in The Iron Fey world, this time focusing on Meghan Chase’s little brother Ethan – who’s not so little anymore. Growing up being able to see the Fey, Ethan has become adept at avoiding their own unique brand of trickery, but not without some hiccups along the way. Quite a few schools later, and Ethan is sullen, broody and anti-social (with very good reason). This newest school will prove interesting, though.
I really liked that we get to see the Fey from Ethan’s point of view. He knows them as trickster, problems and more than a little mean and vicious. He’ll do anything to avoid the Fey and the Nevernever. That all comes crashing down with the intrusion of a half-breed Phouka, a girl named Kenzie and a new Fey that seems to be wrecking terror on any fey found in the mortal realm – exiles and half-breeds alike. Ethan gets dragged into the conflict against his will, and we get a story full of action, intrigue and lots of familiar faces! It’s so nice to see Ethan fleshed out and given more character. Yes, he’s broody, but he’s also loyal, smart, strong and determined. Ethan’s got a good head on his shoulders and he uses it. Also his kick-ass fighting moves.
Grimalkin is everywhere, and it was great to see Meghan and Ash from a different point of view. While in the land of Iron there are some new faces, particularly that of Keirran. Very mysterious, and you know he plays into things somehow. And how cool is it that Ethan has more to do with the Fey than he’d want – prince? Definitely! He can’t avoid Meghan forever, but he tries his hardest. There are some beautiful scenes in the book, especially the fairy rings in Ireland – amazing description, very vivid. Emotions flow through Kagawa’s writing and she can spin a mystery extremely well.
While THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa is a whole new chapter in The Iron Fey, it develops seamlessly from the first series featuring Meghan. With a fast-paced, interesting plot, well-developed characters, a good beginning mystery and wonderful writing, THE LOST PRINCE is an excellent addition to The Iron Fey series and a definite must read for any fan!...more