Apr 20, 2021

Baked beans, bog mutants and interdimensional travel are the ingredients in this hilarious middle grade debut novel by John Cusik. 

I listened to the audio version of the book, which I highly recommend.  The narrator, Gary Furlong, does a remarkable job of giving life to the full cast of strange and quirky characters with the added bonus of doing so with a British RP accent. 

The story begins in the 21st century.  Lola Ray, a typical, responsible older sister, is looking forward to a vacation away from the annoyances and hassles of her everyday life.  However, at the airport something

Apr 19, 2021

Shatter Me​, by Tahereh Mafi, is the first book in a YA dystopian series of the same name. In this novel, Juliette, a girl with the ability to kill someone with her touch, lives in a wasteland society. After being kidnapped by the son of a powerful man, Juliette, and her love interest Adam, must try to escape and reach safety.

I really enjoyed this book and its plot; however, I had some minor problems with a few of the characters. First off, this book is very well written; Mafi's concept is unique, and she employs a very poetic writing style that heightens emotions and perfectly depicts

Apr 18, 2021

Disney fairytales meet Gotham City in this crime fantasy drama! The story follows Mary Elizabeth, an intern at the Monarch City police department. Mary Elizabeth is a Legacy, those who once had magic before it disappeared in the Great Death. When the daughter of one of the most powerful businessmen in the Scar— the neighborhood where Mary Elizabeth lives with her Legacy boyfriend and best friend— goes missing, Mary Elizabeth is assigned her very first case! As Mary Elizabeth investigates, she discovers that this girl’s disappearance is part of a deeper, darker mystery. Can she solve it, or

Apr 16, 2021

For the first time in the game’s history, Caraval will be held twice in one year, within weeks of each other. Only this time, Tella will be playing. Unlike the others, however, Tella will not be playing for fun. She needs to repay a debt to a mysterious man that she bargained with and who only wants one thing: Legend’s real name. To get it, Tella must win Caraval.

When reading a series, I always prepare for the disappointment that is the second book. In my experience, it rarely measures up to the first and quite often, the author ends up writing ridiculous stories in an effort to keep

Apr 15, 2021

The School for Good and Evil​ is the first book in a series of the same name by Soman Chainani. This is a middle-grade fantasy novel that follows two girls in their early teens as they are taken from their hometown and thrust into a school to learn to become either good or evil. Although this is a middle-grade book, it has some more mature themes and insinuating moments in the dialogue.

Agatha is a great role model for young girls; she's loyal, brave, smart, dedicated, and good, but Sophie's character is worrisome. The overarching theme is to not judge a book by its cover, but Sophie isn't

Caraval by Stephanie Garber


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Apr 13, 2021

“Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or performance. It's the closest you'll ever find yourself magic in this world.”

Ever since Scarlett was a child, she had dreamed of going to Caraval. The fair is famous for its magic and mystery. Despite writing numerous letters to the game’s master, Legend, he had yet to send her tickets. Until this year. The only problem is that Scarlett lives on an island with her abusive father who will never let her or her sister leave. And she is supposed to be married off to a Count in just a few days

Four by Veronica Roth


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Apr 12, 2021

Four​ is a collection of short stories, including the first four novellas of the ​Divergent​ series, by Veronica Roth. The first part of the book is made up of ​“The Transfer​,” “​The Initiate​,” and “​The Son” and focuses on expanding on Tobias’ past and events prior to Tris’ initiation. These three stories were pretty good, but the first, ​“The Transfer​,” was the best of the group. The second part of the book highlights events that take place during Tris’ initiation. This section includes ​“The Traitor​,” a novella, and three short stories that are only a couple of pages long. ​“The Traitor

Apr 11, 2021

Following The Son, the fourth novella in Veronica Roth's Divergent series, The Traitor, is probably the best of the series’ first four novellas. This story is set during Tris' initiation, so a lot is unfolding, and we get to see Four's perceptions of and reactions to Tris. What was most interesting about this novella was the relationships it revealed; Four's relationship with Dauntless leaders, his semi-realignment with Evelyn, and his attempt to warn Marcus. I was also surprised to find out how long Four had known about the serum and Erudite's plan and frustrated that he couldn't put the

The Son by Veronica Roth

The Son

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Apr 10, 2021

Another novella in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, The Son, expands on Four’s relationship with Evelyn and his rise in the Dauntless hierarchy. This story takes place after The Initiate and is not the most exciting or essential novella of the series. I enjoyed the expansion of events that we only got a peek at in the main three novels, such as Tobias discovering that Evelyn is alive, but the overall storyline was boring at some points. Although I liked the broader view into some of the previously mentioned events of Tobias’ life, this novella wasn’t always very entertaining. 3.5 stars

Apr 9, 2021

Veronica Roth’s second novella in her ​Divergent​ series, ​The Initiate​, takes place after ​The Transfer​ and follows Four as he navigates becoming and belonging with the Dauntless. This story didn’t add anything to Four’s character or introduce anything new about his background; he’s just in the process of becoming the Four that can be seen in ​Divergent​. However, this book did add depth to Four and Eric’s relationship. ​The Initiate​ provides some explanation for Eric’s motives and hatred towards Four. Although I enjoyed this novella, I can only give it four stars because it didn’t add

Apr 7, 2021

The Transfer​ is a novella in Veronica Roth’s ​Divergent​ series. This novella highlights a different side of Tobias as Roth provides more insight into who he was before becoming Dauntless. While no new information about his past was presented, this story really emphasizes how much Tobias grew from the time he transferred from Abnegation to ​Divergent​. Rather than showcasing the same reserved yet assertive demeanor that he has in ​Divergent​, Tobias is smaller and doesn’t quite know how to manage his fear yet. Furthermore, it was interesting to see Tobias begin to take control of his life

Apr 4, 2021

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride​, Cary Elwes' account of the making of the iconic film, ​The Princess Bride​ warmed my heart. ​The Princess Bride​ is one of my all-time favorite stories, so knowing that the movie's cast enjoyed making the film as much as I enjoy watching it is charming. The small excerpts from other actors and directors were interesting to read as they provided different sides to the stories Elwes was retelling. Perhaps the most touching entries were about Andre the Giant; I believe he was truly the favorite of all of his castmates and

Apr 2, 2021

Mara is one of the last countries in the world that has not been conquered by the Karensa Federation. As Karensa grows ever stronger, Mara is left relying on the Strikers, a group of elite warriors who would die to protect their country, as its last line of defense. Talin, a refugee who fled to Mara after Federation soldiers destroyed her home in the country of Basea, is one of these Strikers. One day, a mysterious prisoner is dragged back to Mara from the front lines, but no information can be extracted from him and an execution is planned. Talin, however, senses that this prisoner is no

Mar 24, 2021

Ever wondered what happens after "And they all lived happily ever after"? Emma Theriault is here to tell you in her 352 page novel that combines the tale as old as time of Beauty and her Beast with the French Revolution. At a time when Europe is on the brink of civil war, following America on the path of revolution, Belle must qualm the fears and fury of her kingdom while rooting out treason within her own royal circles.

I was very intrigued by the idea of reading on after the "fairytale ending" and seeing princesses come into their power. This felt like a Disney princess story for young

Mar 18, 2021

The Dark Tide is a book with excellent characters, amazing storytelling, and a plot that'll make you never want to put it down. In a setting where mundane people and magical events collide, once you start reading you won't be able to stop.

While in the moment, the impending threat of the tide and the obvious mischief Marcin was up to kept me from wanting to stop reading in the moment, the worldbuilding behind the book was the part that kept me coming back when I put it down. Having a self-consistent world with its own mysteries, secrets, and history isn't something I see done well often in

Mar 15, 2021

For me, the most compelling part of the book wasn't the existence and secrecy of magic itself, but the lack of acceptance around it. While normally the world of a book having magic isn't something too impressive. The way that this book had magic exist but villanized by the general public was a unique twist that I don't normally see and I was really intrigued to see how it turned out.

The one thing I could say is that there was a bit much exposition - you have to go 50 pages into the book before you even beet the only character given a name in the synopsis. I was initially very confused on

Mar 8, 2021

The storyline gave me Alice in Wonderland vibes and I enjoyed it very much. I appreciated the story and the tale and I liked it very much.

Plus, I liked the peaceful and calming tones of the book cover. It was very compelling to me as the reader and I was intrigued and enjoyed the book.

Mar 4, 2021

        I didn't read the first book, but Last Pick: Born to Run was gripping and beautiful. It checked all of my boxes: murderous aliens (and more importantly, a not-so-murderous one), people banding together to find hope in the dark times, empathy, and, well, two friends falling in love. I was disappointed that it ended.

Feb 22, 2021

The Bird and The Blade is set in the ancient Mongolian empire. Jinghua, our protagonist, is a slave in the Khipkhak Khanate, that is, until the kingdom is taken over by enemy forces and the only people able to escape are the Khan (King), the prince, and Jinghua. Together they journey across the kingdom, fleeing pursuing forces. With no other options, Khalaf plans to marry Turandokht, the cunning and beautiful daughter of the Great Khan. Easier said than done. Around 20 men that had similar intentions are already dead, killed by Turandokht’s riddles. There are three of them in total and each

Feb 21, 2021

Loki: Where Mischief Lies expands off of the popular character from the Marvel Universe, following Loki in his misadventures on Midgard (or Earth, as we know it) far before the events of the first Thor movie and The Avengers.

Loki has always known that either he or his brother, Thor, will be chosen as the next king of Asgard and the Nine Realms. In order to be chosen, Loki must prove himself worthy, but all his attempts to do so land him in trouble, while his brother is lauded for what should be considered failures. Loki befriends Amora, a sorceress in training, but when one of their

Feb 18, 2021

The second book in Veronica Roth's ​Divergent​ series, ​Insurgent​, is good, but it's underwhelming compared to its predecessor. As a war between the factions surges, Tris must make harsh decisions to save the people around her. This book was a rollercoaster, and while it wasn't boring by any means, it didn't quite capture my attention as ​Divergent ​did. I enjoyed Tris' realness; she is filled with flaws, but she is also brilliant, caring, and brave. Furthermore, I appreciated how realistic Tris and Tobias' relationship was; they had their fair share of ups and downs and share a significant

Feb 14, 2021

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a companion book to Holly Black’s Folk of the Air series, this time following High King Cardan, one of the series’ more compelling characters. The timeline of this book spans from events before The Cruel Prince to events occurring after The Queen of Nothing, so it’s necessary to read all three books in the series in order to understand the events of this book (and avoid spoilers, of course).

Off the bat, this book stands apart from the rest of the series. Not quite hitting 200 pages, the book is significantly shorter than the main three

Caraval by Stephanie Garber


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Feb 11, 2021

Scarlett has dreamed of attending Caraval, a performance of sorts, for her whole life.  Unfortunately, her abusive father has not only forced her to remain on her home island but will soon require her to participate in an arranged marriage.  Shortly before said marriage, Scarlett receives a letter from Caraval Master Legend himself, inviting her to the upcoming Caraval.  With her sister, Tella, and Tella’s boyfriend, Scarlett runs away from home to attend the event.  However, as audience participation is quintessential, her sister is stolen upon their arrival.  Scarlett is left to determine

Feb 9, 2021

In 1893, witch trials are rampant, especially in the town of New Salem.  Juniper, Agnes, and Bella are three sisters bound together by magic after years of separation.  While having to work through buried conflicts with themselves and each other, these sisters realize how magic and witchcraft are on the brink of extinction.  Together, these sisters work with witches in the town of New Salem to combat the misogyny and anti-witch attitudes that dominate New Salem society, all the while learning the value of their own witching abilities and womanhood.

The most compelling aspect of the book was

Feb 8, 2021

Veronica Roth’s ​Divergent​, the first series in her trilogy of the same name, is a young adult dystopian novel. At this time, society is split into five factions, each based around a core value. Beatrice Prior’s initiation ceremony is arriving soon now that she’s sixteen, and she’ll have to choose between remaining in the faction she was born into or joining one of the others. After making her choice, Beatrice, nicknamed Tris, must navigate training, initiation, and relationships with her peers and family. On top of everything else, Tris must keep a dangerous secret as the world she has

Jan 27, 2021

Anna Bright’s The Boundless, the sequel to The Beholder, is an amazing finish to Selah’s adventure. Selah’s stepmother sends her across the seas to find a husband, and now she is not only worried about finding love, but also helping the resistance to defeat the tsarytysa. Her next stop is the Shvartsval'd, a kingdom inside the Imperiya, to meet Prince Fritz. After betrayal from Bear, falling for Torden, and mixed feelings towards Lang, Selah’s emotions have been strung out, but her main focus is avoiding attention from the evil tsarytysa and then making it home. Tensions are high between Selah

Jan 26, 2021

The Beholder by Anna Bright has the perfect hints of familiar fairy tales scattered throughout her book, but also has elements that make The Beholder an original adventure story about a girl named Selah. Selah is in line to be the Seneschal of Potomac, but her stepmother sends her away to find a husband without giving Selah much of an option, and her sick father doesn’t really have a choice either. On her adventure across the sea to her suitors’ countries, Selah wants to get this unpleasant and embarrassing experience done as quickly as possible, so she can make it back home to her father, but

Jan 25, 2021

American Born Chinese,​ written by Gene Yang, is a graphic novel about a high school boy, an annoying cousin, and a king who doesn't accept himself. Jin, a high school boy, always struggles with racist stereotypes as he is from Chinese background. He meets a boy, Wei Chen, who is also Chinese, but he is considered a FOB (Fresh off the Boat). Jin first judges him, but sooner than later, they become best friends.

Chin-Kee, the annoying cousin, has a personality based on multiple racial stereotypes. He visits his cousin every year and attends his school for that amount of time. Danny, his

Jan 18, 2021

The Gilded Wolves​ by Roshani Chokshi is the story of a unique and talented group of teenagers and the eclectic leader who holds them together. The characters are already a seasoned group of treasure hunters by the time the story begins, but the mission that the book sends them on is an important one. The acquisition of this ancient artifact has the power to alter each of their individual lives for the better. The story is set in 1889 Paris and Chokshi takes full advantage of the lush setting, with prose that paints a picture of a world as beautiful as it is harsh. The characters and their

Jan 13, 2021

There is a breakout from Azkaban! Sirius Black is on the loose, and he is trying to find Harry Potter, for Black was a supporter of the Dark Lord. Sirius Black is also known for killing thirteen people with a single curse. Because of Harry Potter’s defeat against the Dark Lord, there was a downfall for all the dark wizards, including Sirius Black. Azkaban guards heard Sirius Black saying “He’s at Hogwarts...He’s at Hogwarts,” which happens to be the place Harry studies at. Even though Harry is protected by spells and Professor Dumbledore, he is not safe. Read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of