Thursday, December 14, 2017

reviews by Saleena 12/14/17

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is by the same author as Witch's Boy; which is a book I adored.  I had high hopes for this title and Barnhill more than met them.  I love her mix of voices and the way it reads like a familiar fairy tale yet it truly is an original story.  This story is about a witch who collects the babies a village abandons in the woods every year.  She has no idea why, but she takes them to neighboring villages and makes sure they are taken care of; and they become "star children" and the day is widely celebrated as a day of joy.  Meanwhile, within the village, they leave their children because they are told that a horrible witch will punish them if they don't--and those in power don't really care if there is a witch or not, it is a useful thing to keep the populace under control and afraid of those in power--and the village is a sad place and the day is called the Day of Sacrifice.  Then things begin to change; one woman fights to keep her child and is locked in a tower; her child has inherent magical abilities and when the witch finds her she accidentally feeds her moonlight instead of starlight (meaning she will be a powerful witch) and so is adopted by the witch to be her apprentice; and one of the powerful Elders has a reluctant apprentice, who is so appalled by the practice of sacrifice that he dedicates his life to figuring out a way to end it.  These three differing stories are incorporated into a tale that takes place over 13 years....and yet it is a fast and enjoyable read.  This was such a good book!

This historical fiction book takes place during the Iran hostage crisis and the main character is Iranian and is anxious to fit in.  She renames herself Cindy and approaches middle school with trepidation but hopeful that she will find her place.  The author intentionally begins the book well before the crisis to show the issues in the neighborhood and the relationships between characters and families both before and after all the negative news stories and resulting racism.  This is a hopeful story partially based on the author's life; and it is really nicely done.  This is not a story trying to be the next bestseller, just a quiet book looking back on the story of one family and how the revolutions and environment of the times affected them.  Very nicely done

I love nonfiction comics...sometimes they aren't as fun as you hope they will be; but nonetheless, I try.  This book is, in spite of the subject matter, a bit on the dry side (though it might be because I don't know all of the game systems discussed).  It is a quick way to peruse the history of video games and technology and it provided lots of information.

Binti is the story of a woman from a remote village who goes away to University....but this story takes place far in the future; and University requires travelling through the stars.  Binti's people prefer to be remote but she is determined to see the universe.  Once en route, the ship encounters the Meduse, an alien race that is at war with the humans.....can Binti survive the encounter?  Might she make a difference, being the first of the Himba tribe to venture out this far?  This story was amazing, and I listened to the audio version which just added in accents & emotions even more.  I truly felt like I was listening to her diary.  Okorafor is one of my favorite authors, if you don't know her, read this book or any of her will see why, and fall in love also.

In an unspecified future where thinking robots are everywhere; one gets lost on an island in a storm; and begins to learn about the animals around....and develops more than just facts but heart and a family.  Roz adopts a baby goose and through that, becomes a part of the animal community and a mother.  This was a very cool story that I found quite fun (though the ending was open-ended a bit sad....)  I shall have to read the next one to see what happens.  I didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did; it's very young (probably for young middle school/upper elementary aged students)....but Brown created a story that caught me in his net.   Nice.

BOOK REVIEW : Words in A Deep Blue By Cath Crowley BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : Words in A Deep Blue
By Cath Crowley
I broke my promise. I read another contemporary. Fortunately, Words In a Deep Blue is one of the bearable ones.
When you go to goodreads and read the synopsis, you might be surprised that I somewhat enjoy this book. I will say, however, the synopsis makes the book sound sappier than it really is. Besides, if you don’t focus on the drama and relationship between characters, you might see where I am coming from.
Rachel and Henry have been best friends and inseparable, or so they thought. When Rachel realizes she is going to be moving away, she decides to come clean with Henry, and she is further motivated by this new girl who is becoming closer to Henry. The night before she leaves, she puts a letter expressing all her real feelings for Henry ( guys bear with me ) in his favorite book from Henry’s family bookstore, certain that he would see it. But Henry doesn’t see it, texts her he overslept ( this is the morning that Rachel is leaving ), and Rachel is understandably devastated, angry, and determined to keep Henry out of her life. In the three years she is away, she ignores all of Henry’s attempts to call her and oblivious Henry is left to wonder why his former best friend is so mad.
The book introduces us to a three-year later Rachel who  is finally forced to go back to her first home after her brother drowns. She is struggling to cope with her loss and seeing Henry again just adds onto the stress. Rachel still refuses to talk to Henry, until she is forced to accept a job at his family’s bookstore. Henry is dealing with his own set of problems, including divorced parents constantly fighting, the possibility of having to close the family bookstore, and trying to get Amy ( that stupid new girl from before ) to get back with him so they can happily go on a trip through Europe he spent almost all of his money on.
Before I become the all captious reviewer I am, I need to address the amazingness of Henry’s family bookstore. This place has this thing called the Letter Library, a collection of books where people leave personal letters or little notes within the pages or margins. Can I just say - that is the best idea ever. This is ( to any bookworm ) the best form of communication discovered. I really wish a library like this actually exists.
(UPDATE : I have just searched this up and sadly, I cannot find anything like this in real life  *sadness* )
I do not feel too much for the characters. Word in Deep Blue has diversity and it really does highlights issues that are real, like coping with a death in the family. While these elements are smoothly incorporated in the novel, they do not make up for the  slowness of the plot. Rachel’s character is probably the one done best. Her dealing with Cal’s death is perfectly written. To the author’s credit, when Rachel comes home after three years, she does not automatically like Henry again - exactly the opposite, actually. This is refreshing because Rachel does not change because of her previous feelings for Henry; she warms up to Henry slowly and deliberately as a result of the time they spend together.
The side characters all have some awesome things going on while Rachel and Henry’s story unfolds. Henry’s sister George has her own situation and exchanges in the Letter Library, along with Henry’s parents’. But let me just address Amy. Amy is Henry’s ex-girlfriend, and the latter is frustratingly obsessed with her. As stupid as this may sound, I do not feel like it is Henry’s fault, but more Cath Crowley’s. Yes, the author is pretty much responsible for everything in their book, so I feel like Crowley deciding to make Amy this annoying obsession in Henry’s life is not really meant for Henry. It contrasts with his character at other moments in the novel, which make it seem forced. At the same time, Henry is constantly oblivious to various things throughoutWords In A Deep Blue, so maybe it is necessarily not forced. I also understand that not all characters are perfect, and that Henry’s constant need to impress and please Amy might just be proof of his imperfection. I guess it just depends on how you look it at. For some, it may be a nuisance. Other might see it as a practical flaw.
“We are the books we read and the things we love.”
“Sometimes science isn't enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”
“A dry, bookless world. It's too bleak to even imagine.”
“It’s like he’s picking up parts of the world and showing them to me, saying, See? It’s beautiful.”
Feeling in the mood for a book about an old, yet new,  friendship?
Check out Words in a Deep Blue  at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 3.5/5

Saturday, December 02, 2017

12/2/17--Reviews from Saleena

Accidentally read part 2 before part 1 (they didn't identify differences that I noticed on the catalog, but then when I went back....was right there....)
However, I enjoyed it and am now on hold for the first's a story with characters from Jack and the Beanstalk, but told in a totally new way.  Really fun.

The Boy on the Bridge is a companion to The Girl With All the Gifts (so you could read them in any order); and because it's a companion, it's different...but definitely in the same universe.  I like the angle of the genius boy on a science expedition and M.R. Carey really does a good job of telling a story you can see visually...must be all those years of writing comics.  Really well done and an enjoyable zombie apocalypse tale with a totally different ending than the one you were expecting (unless you read the other, and even then...not predictable).

Was in the mood for a Christmas story and this one is perfect as it continues the story of Dash and Lily from Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.  This picks up a year later where both of them are experiencing life and it's changes....and also how much more work it is to stay in love than to fall in love.  Really fun and romantic story set in NYC. 

Garvey's Choice is a story in verse, which I love...and also is a story about a young man trying to find his own way even if it doesn't match what his father or the world thinks is the right choice.  I really love how Grimes brings Garvey's life so quickly into view and pulls at your heartstrings as he finds himself through the arts instead of through sports.  Great story aimed at middle school aged students but able to be enjoyed by anyone.

I like to read educational works sometimes, so grabbed this on a whim. 
Meltzer does a good job of bringing Hawthorne's life into focus; but unfortunately the edition I read had so many editing mistakes it really detracted from the book.  Hopefully subsequent editions have fixed the errors because it was really rife with obvious mistake made throughout the book.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


BOOK REVIEW : Wintersong
By S. Jae Jones

To be honest, I got this ARC with some high expectations. I followed up on Wintersong’s release information and reviews on Goodreads constantly and was very excited when I got my hands on it. Wintersong, however, proves to be extremely slow and very little happens. Also, while it is officially classified as YA, the novel is rather mature.  But ALAS, I got through.

Wintersong is a retelling of “Labyrinth”. For those of you who don’t know what “Labyrinth” is, it is a film that came out in 1986 about a girl who travels a maze in order to save her brother from the evil and sinister Goblin King.

( SIDENOTE:  I would watch this movie, but I feel like they would make the Goblin King look like Werewolf Michael Jackson from his “Thriller” music video and I shudder at the thought ).

( UPDATE : this is the real Goblin King :

Whattup David Bowie. Seriously, though, it is not any better. I implore you to, however, erase that image from your head because OUR Goblin King is waaay different. In a good way : )

Wintersong does an amazing job with its characters. Liesl, our MC, is overlooked by her family when compared with her beautiful sister and incredible musician of a brother. And yet it is Liesl who proves to be most important in her family; Liesl is the one to encourage her brother in his art and keep her foolish sister in line. While there are times where Liesel did something stupid and I would just shake my head, I do not hate her whole character for it. She is NOT perfect because no one is perfect. If she had been beautiful and as musically talented as her siblings, she would not have been real, and I find characters like that to be frustrating and simply unreachable ( *COUGH COUGH NOAH IN THE MARA DYER TRILOGY* ).

I adore hate to love relationships because they almost always bring out the best in the characters and creates character growth that makes a book all the more interesting. Liesl becomes so much more confident and strong towards the end of the novel and most of that is thanks to her experiences in the Underworld with the Goblin King. The same can said about the Goblin King.

I simply love the Goblin King’s character. A “Goblin King” immediately gives readers a dark vibe, and that is certainly applicable to the whole tone of his character in this book. But the dark atmosphere the Goblin King and his Underworld bring to this book actually makes it charming in its own way. The Goblin King is sarcastic and haughty and mischievous and tries to be cruel, but it is clear even halfway through the book that he is just as beautiful and mysterious and thoughtful as he is wicked.

I mention before that this book probably should not be classified as YA. Towards the middle and end, the content becomes significantly more mature than most YA books I have read in the past. If you are anything like me, you like to read all types of YA, even if you are just in middle school. However, after reading this as an eighth grader ( Hey there eight-month procrastination ) I would say it was a little too mature for my innocence : ). I am just going to throw warning out there.

SO IF you’re a high schooler who loves themselves a dark, poetic story about a girl who will do anything to save her family, and a mysterious Goblin King who is not as wicked as he seems, FIND WintersongUnfortunately, this book is so captivating ( if we ignore its slow pace ) that you will read it in one sitting and waste a lot of precious time that could have been spent on your Notes Assignment for English,  like me : ).


There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort
of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.”

― S. Jae-Jones, Wintersong

“What would you do, if you were a free man?”
“I would take my violin and play. I would walk the world and play, until someone called me by name and called me home.”

“She was the sun and he was the earth waking from a thaw.”

“I am not a saint; I am a sinner. I want to sin again and
again and again.”

A dark, poetic story about a talented yet overlooked girl and a wicked Goblin King who is that and so much more.
Check it out at the library and Goodreads :


Review of It by Stephen King ----Tanay Somisetty

Review of It by Stephen King
Tanay Somisetty

The movie, It, was an amazing film and a must watch for all lovers of horror. This movie prompted me to read the novel by Stephen King that it’s based on. Upon picking up this massive book, I was initially intimidated. My edition (pictured above) was over a thousand pages, but I was committed to delving into the adventure waiting for me. As a first time reader of Stephen King, I was amazed. I finally understood all the praise surrounding this author. In this novel, King created not only a story, but an entire world. He left no stone unturned by explaining every motive and exquisitely detailing every scene. Every character, even the most minor ones, were well extremely well thought out. This resulted in every character to feel real and feel like an essential part of the world King had created. I had a remarkable time reading It and I feel it deserves as spot among other great classics.

The premise of this novel is similar to the movie. Bill Denbrough’s younger brother is murdered by a mysterious, other-worldly entity and he seeks revenge with the help of his close friends all while running from bullies and experiencing the many exploits of childhood. Before starting this book I was hesitant to read it because I already watched the movie. I wondered how long it would be before I got bored since I already knew the story. However, upon reading I found that the movie excluded many parts of the book. It almost felt like the novel was an entirely new experience because of the many parts of the story left out from the film. I was captivated throughout the entire book. If you enjoyed the movie or simply enjoy reading rich and well thought out stories, I recommend this book, assuming you’re up for an adventure.

My Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Saleena's reviews 11/14/17

Feeding my biography love is this fun graphic novel on the life of Agatha Christie, nicely done and well researched.  I found a lot of things I had no idea about, she really was an interesting person.

This book broke my heart, and it was an AMAZING story.  A boy is kidnapped, a young man named Dylan; and he is non-verbal boy with severe Autism.  When the police find him, they find another boy, Ethan who was kidnapped 5 years ago.  Ethan is not the same person he was when he was kidnapped at age 11; and he really isn't sure who he is or what to do with himself.  Ethan meets Caroline, Dylan's sister, when she comes looking for answers and they form a friendship.  Throughout the story, you see both Ethan and Caroline's views (alternating speaking in each chapter) and also see what they are going through individually.  Ultimately this book is about the journey through horrific circumstances of both characters, and it is definitely a journey that requires a lot of tissues.  I would encourage everyone to read this.

Gen and Ava are best friends, going to colleges on opposite sides of the country.  They are both determined to maintain their friendship and that "nothing will change"....but of course things do.  The whole story is told through emails and texts they send to each other.  I really like how different each character is and each person's journey is handled well.  As a reader you cringe when the character does something you know is a bad idea; but the author's show the reasons why and explore the consequences of those actions.   This is a book about college, so probably not appropriate for a young teen unfamiliar with life; but it's a quick and interesting read for older teens and could start some great conversations.

Mackenzi Lee has written a fascinating story with a fun premise; what if a young man who likes girls (but prefers boys) were a member of the upper class in England in the 1800s?  What would life be life for him?  The entirety of the novel takes place on Monty's "tour" where he is supposed to explore life and learn new things and then come home and be a proper lord and follow his father's orders.  What actually happens is that Monty and his sister and his friend (whom he is in love with) stumble onto a plot that has them running for their lives.  Lee balances serious topics with comedic moments and really gives you insight into the characters.  I love that all of the characters are fighting their own battles and the added danger elements just made the book more interesting.  I admit, I wasn't sure about this book as I thought it would devolve into a farce with a lot of prat falls and it really didn't.  A really interesting book that is well worth the read.

I have to admit, I listened to this story rather than reading it; and I'm kind of glad I did as it made the characters more real (different actors for each character helped).  However it also prevented me from skipping to the end when I got frustrated, so......
One of Us is Lying is a classic "whodunnit" book, with four suspects, one victim and the title that tells you someone is lying.  As a reader you are really trying to figure out what really happened and suspect everyone, but you won't figure it out (or maybe you will because you're smarter than me).  I wasn't surprised by the ending; but I was a whole "of course" moment that I felt that I should have anticipated (but I won't give it away as that would be cheating).  Anyway, highly recommended to read or listen to.

Friday, October 20, 2017

more reviews from Saleena 10/20/17

I really wanted to like this, it looked fun and sweet for a middle school reader; however the author really tried to do too much.  There is the angst of transitioning from child to teen; there's the sister away at college; there's the over-protective parents; there's the bullying older student; there's the best friend who has changed; there's the best friend who has a boyfriend; and finally there is the classic "I will turn this nerd into someone cool and fall in love with them" theme.  That is A LOT for one book and it gets very jumbled.  Sometimes I forgot that the characters were so young, because they acted and talked more like high school than middle school and the "absentee teacher" in an afterschool middle school....well, it is hard to believe given that every middle school I have seen seems to treat the students like bombs about to explode if they aren't watched and monitored every second of the's the high school students who get that kind of leeway most often; and again, it was like the author kept switching from middle school to high school with problems, language, and situational handling of things.  Overall, I just don't think this is a great book, but tell me what you think.

It Looks Like This is a coming out story that includes conflicts with a very religious family and being sent to conversion camp.  The protagonist is young, early part of 9th grade and new to town.  As he finds himself attracted to a particular boy, he also finds friends who accept him before he can accept himself.  There is a lot to handle in this book, and yes, it's another "coming out" book; but it brings in a peek at a conversion camp and it's trauma which isn't seen as much.  I am not sure I buy the quick turnaround of the mother at the end, but it is technically feasible so I'm willing to give it a pass.  All in all a solid addition to LGBTQ literature.

Not having read the first book, Bluescreen, I nonetheless quickly caught up on the world building Wells had done.  This future dystopia has everyone with implanted devices and corporate greed run amok.  The main story involves a group of teens who play an online game and have managed to land a coveted spot in a tournament.  Marisa, the main protagonist, finds herself determined and in a position to take down one of the corporate giants that is threatening her family's livelihood through monopolies and buyouts in addition to a chance at winning her favorite game and making a name for herself.  There is a lot of excitement and suspense in this novel and I love that it is not only multi-cultural but international because the girls live across the globe but are best friends due to online connections.  This was a fun ride.

Evangelista has written a true romance that just happens to have two boys falling in love.  The real conflict isn't the "I'm attracted to a boy" thing, but the "do I lose my best friend if we become more" idea; and she does a great job.  No Holding Back is a quick romantic read that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes those.

Ryan Quinn is a sort of Alex Rider character but he has been training his entire life, moving around the world with his family and their cultural connections through their lives as ambassadors.  When his father goes missing and his mother is kidnapped, of course he manages to find a way to go rescue's a given.  McGee makes a rousing and adventurous story that is a fast and exciting read.

Shuffle, Repeat is a standard romantic tale of two opposite who fall in love.  There is nothing bad about it, however, there is also nothing outstanding about it. 

Ashlee Vance really likes Elon Musk.  You can see the admiration on every page of this biography.  Maybe it's more obvious due to it being a "young readers' edition" but perhaps not.  Either way, it's a well written and topical biography with lots of photos and interesting stories.  As a librarian and a skeptic though, it's hard not to wonder what else might have been told if the author weren't so attached to her subject. 

American Street was a book I did not expect to like.  It has been highly touted by everyone and that usually indicates a book that is "literature" and I just like good stories.  However, Zoboi DOES give a good story.  She tells us about Fabiola who has ended up alone in Detroit with her mother's sister and her cousins after a lifetime spent in Haiti.  She was supposed to be emigrating with her mother, but ICE detained her mother and had to let her go due to being born an American citizen.  Fabiola is a smart girl and has a good heart, and figuring out how to handle things is part of the journey, so I don't want to spoil it....let's just say, things get exciting and crazy and you might cry a bit....but it will be worth it.  I love the interactions and the connections Zoboi makes and the characters she has built in this story really stick with you. 

I wanted to read this book before I watched the movie, and it was really good.  I have a feeling that the movie will not have quite as much information on the history and the connections between people; but I will enjoy it for having had the information prior to watching it.  Definitely a book to read for everyone and very well done indeed.

Clash of Empires finishes out the alternative history begun in Rampage at Waterloo.  Now the author can lose the historical accuracy and just dig into the story and it gets really good very quickly.  This is another surprisingly dense but quite enjoyable historical alternative fiction feels like historical fiction but reads like SF...really nicely done.

Mesrobian tells us a story of a girl who's been determined to be "easy" but isn't sure she agrees.  Rianne likes boys and sex, and isn't ashamed of enjoying a good time.  She does however hate the reputation and the awkwardness of being THAT girl in a small town.  This story is really just an exploration of the character of Rianne, and it is well done.  I'm not sure I agree with the ending, but the fact that I wanted to argue with Rianne's choices says a lot about how realistically written Mesrobian's character is.

Tess is forced to move in with her sister in Washington, D.C after it is discovered that her grandfather has Alzheimers.  Tess ends up at an exclusive school full of movers and shakers and finds out that her sister has a reputation as a "fixer" or the person you call when you need something fixed.  Tess doesn't realize it, but she is well on her way to being the junior version of the same thing....and all she really wants to protect her friend.  What she gets is caught up in a political mess that ends up revealing corruption and murder...with implications that go all the way into the White House.....and leave her knowing way too much.   Barnes does a great job of telling an intense story with a strong character that you really root for. 

Vengeance Road is a classic Western tale of I expected to hate it...but I couldn't help admiring the gumption of Kate Thompson who is determined to do whatever it takes to bring vengeance to the gang who killed her father.  She is an amazing character and the writing is really well done.  There are parts that are a bit far fetched, but it's all in good fun, so enjoy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

reviews from Saleena 9/22/17

Here we go.

I'm not sure how to feel about this book.  I like the back and forth-ing and the character development.  Mike and his friends aren't specifically any group, just guys with a sort of band and they kind of hang out and do lots of nothing.  Then Mike starts to realize a few things, and yes, part of it is liking guys; but my problem is not that, it's that Mike says "he guesses he's bi now" and everyone sort of takes that as an excuse; like when are you really going to tell us you are gay?  So I was waiting for the author to throw in moments of "nope, I like guys and girls" but instead, he actually does have the character come out as gay.  The reason I bring this up is that being bi-sexual is so many times relegated to someone who just won't "pick a side"; and I was hoping that this would actually fill in some gaps instead of playing to the stereotype.  Other than the issue raised above, it is pretty well done.  Mike has a supportive family and his struggle is really figuring out if his friends will still like him (a valid concern for a teen); and if the boy he likes is worth all the aggravation of coming out.  Goslee does a good job, and I like the solid and supportive environment he provided and the characters felt spot on.  I just wish the bi issue hadn't been mentioned, or had been addressed at all, instead of as a place holder status until the character was ready to admit he was gay.

Ok, I admit that the cover pulled me into this one.....and I think, for the right reader, this would be a good book.  For me, it was rough, for a number of reasons.  The action is good, the main characters nicely written (if a bit predictable); but my sticking point was the constant references to "the great creator" and lessons about the nature of god and creation (it felt like a church lecture); and also, the massive amounts of math/geometry references.  I really struggle with geometry and spatial relationships, so it pulled me right out of the story every time they referenced "divine geometry" or whatever other terms they used.  I did like the bird-like "geniuses" that somehow magically focused your talent; but....why focused on MATH?  SHAPES?  For someone who is looking for a more intellectual fantasy with puzzles and such; this might be good...for someone looking for a fun escapist adventure; definitely not.

Cloud and Wallfish was NOT one I expected to like, but I genuinely fell in love.  Wallfish is actually Noah, who is pulled unexpectedly out of school one day and told that he is going along with his parents on a grand adventure, to East Germany (this was set during the time just before the wall came down and Germany was unified).  He has been given a new name, Jonah and he has a whole bunch of rules to follow, because they will be spied on and they don't want anyone to think they are spies.  But ARE his parents spies?  It's alluded to, but not specifically addressed, because this is Noah's story.  In East Berlin, he has no friends (because he stutters and he is an American Spy); but meets Claudia and due to pronunciations, they become Cloud and Wallfish (the German word for whale sounds like wallfish to Noah).  Claudia is struggling because her parents have disappeared and her grandmother is a mess, paranoid and falling into a depression.  We are told her parents died, but Claudia is convinced that they are in "heaven" which is West Berlin and they just abandoned her.  The two of them are pulled into the intrigues and tension of the times and Noah is struggling to figure out the world, his parents, his role and how to be Claudia's friend and supporter.  I really love this book.  I think what made it even better is that every so often a "secret file" would interrupt the story to explain what was going on, or provide outside detals none of the characters knew. All of those details really helped place the reader right there and understand what was happening, even more fully than the characters.  Check this one out, it's worth the time.

I put off reading this for a long while.  Not because I don't like Garth Nix or the Abhorsen trilogy but because I LOVE them; and I was SO disappointed with Clariel that I thought this would be just as awful.  It wasn't, it was wondeful.  Goldenhand starts a few years after the events of Abhorsen and features Lireal (one of my favorite characters).  There is a new big bad, who is really the same one, that didn't really die due to sorcery.  Lireal finds out how to truly send Chlorr into death, and it's by finding her original body.  Can she do it with an army of barbarians on the way to destroy them all?
I can't wait to hear this on audio (it's not out yet); and I am so glad Nix put this book out, it was amazing.

Teen Hyde just looked like a fun creepy book....and it was.  Baker does a good job of explaining the two parts of the main character (Cassidy and Marcy).  There is murder and mayhem and is a fun, quick read for teens who enjoy horror stories.

I misunderstood this one, thinking it was giants doing smuggling (like really big pirates); but instead it's about a boy who finds a giant that is being hunted for his extraordinary DNA by evil scientists...and he has to smuggle the giant to safety and also the kids have to defeat the evil scientists.  This is a cute adventure that will definitely appeal to younger tweens and teens....a fun, fast read.

This is part two of the Devil's Engine series, and even though I didn't love the first one, I figured I would try the next section anyway.  Honestly, some of the issues I had with the first one, were dealt with in this issue, and the writing is strong.  Some parts of it were predictable, but it was creepy and interesting and well paced.  Not my favorite book series, but I think teens will love it; and that is who should love it.

Argos was my most disappointing book; because I was hoping that either Argos would have some adventures, or maybe he snuck along somehow and was there with Odysseus on his adventures.  Instead I have a dog who is at home, recounting the troubles at home, while hearing about the adventures of his master from birds he has scouting and looking for him.  It makes the adventures of Odysseus very dry (they are told second hand and in a very brief synopsis....from BIRDS); and the rather intriguing things happening at home became also boring ...lots of "I wish my master were here" moments...not the book I was hoping for.  On a side note, kudos to the cover artist, that dog looks AMAZING and truthfully was one of the main reasons I tried to love this book.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

book reviews from Saleena 9/9/17

Between my love of reading about Native Americans and my having lived near a town named after him (it's in upstate PA); I had a familiarity with who Jim Thorpe was; but Sheinkin really delved into his life as well as into the lives of those around him.  He took the time to explain who Pop Warner was and why he cared about football, along with other historical figures and happenings.  Sheinkin also carefully pointed out the racism of the times and how they affected everyone, but especially the impact they had on the life of Jim Thorpe.  This book was really well done, not too long, not too difficult but VERY informative.   Loved it.

I really wanted to love this has everything I love; fairy tales twisted up; some of my favorite authors....and they are short stories so, quick and easy read!   First of all, I DID enjoy the stories for the most part, and some of them really stuck in my head (especially the story about Ursula from Little Mermaid).  But the book, for me, felt ....not fun and just awkward with the long vignettes after each story, talking about where the story idea came from; why it was written, and on and on.  Some of them were written by the author, and were interesting; but some were written by someone else and seemed to have no bearing on the story....while others seemed like fictional companions to the story we had just read.  It was confusing....and honestly, it felt unnecessary.  Why not just have the stories, and if you wanted to give a bit of background, have an intro to each?   It just left a bad taste in my mouth for the whole thing, which is a shame because I did enjoy some of the stories, but the book was so hard to read and it was hard to figure out what to read and what I could skip or avoid.

Something light and easy was definitely called for; and in walks Chi.  I love these books, so adorable and fun...and if you've ever had a kitten, very true.
Can't wait to read the next one.

Flunked was suggested by a few teens and I thought, "why not"; since it was another story based on fairy tale characters.  Overall, it was a fine book, interesting use of fairy tales & characters if a bit formulaic....but if I were in 7th grade....I would have devoured this entire series.  So, if you aren't old and jaded and like simple fun with traditional tales; give it a try.

Now Alex Flinn KNOWS how to twist a fairy tale.  I absolutely adored this book.  It's sort of the character of the wicked stepmom; and sort of also encompasses Rumpelstitlzkin and East of the Sun, West of the Moon and a few others.  I found the idea of the long lived witch who is encountering these people while trying to find the love of her life and interesting way to stitch together so many disparate stories.  Really nicely done!

I am really not sure about this book.  I liked the frank presentation of the characters and the two points of vew; but there were so many moments of "really?" when each of them were dealing with each many nerdy stereotypes "popular vs nerdy"  "nerds must be awkward" really took away from the story.  And the twist ending, really kind of ruined it for me (also, it wasn't so much of a twist as a creepy wink and a "know what I mean, nudge nudge")  So overall, not horrible; but not something I would recommend either.

Given that I am not familiar with the TV show or characters that this book is very much a part of, it was difficult to figure out what was happening; however, I quickly realized that I didn't actually care was a very typical "teen novel" with all of the tropes and stereotypes that come with it.  A forgettable book that I am happy to forget.

Who Killed Christopher Goodman is really good.  The beginning that throws you in, and then the "let's go back and see how we got here" I was not a fan of; but the characters were well written, the time period (it's set in the 1970s) is accurate and the interactions of the kids in this very small town seemed real.  This is a mystery that isn't really a mystery but is also a book about grief and the guilt we all feel when someone we know if we could have or should have made different choices and that somehow, they wouldn't have died.  I highly recommend this book.

I really had never read a biography about Isaac Newton, so thought it was time.  Losure does a fabulous job of explaining the time period and the man as well as his interactions with the world.  A fascinating biography with lots of interesting photos and actual copies of some of his notes.

World Beneath is a difficult read.  It's set in apartheid era South Africa and really is the story of one boy who is caught up in things and what it does to his life.  This is an important book, as it really highlights the horrors of what apartheid and Jim Crow (in the US) laws did to people......but it is not an easy or a comfortable book.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : How to Keep Rolling After a Fall By Stephanie Garber BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : How to Keep Rolling After a Fall
By Stephanie Garber


I’m tired of the clique after clique in recent YA contemporary. I’ve never actually enjoyed the genre, but for some reason I could not stop reading it, no matter how stupid they were. This book has finally convinced me to steer away from contemporary once and for all.

This is a book about second chances. A book about a misjudged girl and a guy with a disabilities. I know, I know, you’re thinking “How on earth can she not like a book with such diversity?! She’s heartless!”  But please, hear me out.

This book was a stale and feeble attempt at a story about two characters in their period of self-actualization after making terrible decisions. I say attempt because it could have been so much more.

While reading the reviews for this book, I noticed a very interesting point. MC Nikki, who after a cyberbullying incident was solely blamed for almost causing a girl to commit suicide, never actually regrets doing what she did, even though it was not completely her fault. Instead, she regrets the consequences. I don’t think that’s exactly a good message to send from a book like this.

The author might have thought the romance was the selling point, but that just made it all the worst. It practically started at 10 pages into the book with a random guy she literally just meets.

I went so far as to give this book a star for its concept. It’s really nice to see so many YA authors focus on diversity, not just in race but in mental health as well. There are those books who just nail it and illustrate a perfect sense of what their character is going through. And then there are those who have the right idea but don’t entirely do it well. Guess what category this book falls into?

But without its diversity, this book is nothing. The romance is basically love-at-first-sight *CRINGE* and takes up practically the whole book ( well, I wouldn’t know cause I didn’t actually finish the thing, but it’s pretty accurate ). It honestly would’ve been so much better off without it. I didn’t know where this book was even going halfway into it. It had no plot, no characterization, nothing. It was boring and bland, like ( hey I’m fasting and like really hungry right now and thinking about food so blame the stomach ) spaghetti without sauce ( mentally cringing at the prospect ).

It shared themes and cliques, God even scenes that I have seen in so many other novels. I get that they were supporting each during tough times and I get that their lives weren’t easy, but that shouldn’t be the only thing drawing me to the book. While it had a great idea, it lacked creativity and an anticipation that I want to feel while reading any book.

“Fresh starts, okay? Maybe you're not ready to take it, but at least know one's here.”

Check it out at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 1/5 and DNF

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, review by Nina Soukhanovskii

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  A Quote to Consider: “With a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of...