Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Sword of the Spirit (Spirits Book 3) by Rob Keeley

29747379. sy475 The Sword of the Spirit is the third book in the middle grade Spirits series sent to me by the author. When Ellie and her mom are relocated to Holiley Castle for the digging of the mythical St Merrell Sword. One afternoon, Ellie literally ran into a knight- Sir Francis from the medieval times, transported into the future. When the sword is recovered, dark secrets from the past and an evil is unleashed, requiring the help of Sir Francis and others in his time to defeat the demon.

One thing I enjoyed was how funny Sir Francis was with his reactions to modern day items like forks and carrots! Many of these funny instances reminded me of the 2001 movie Kate & Leopold. It is also interesting to notice his character development of honesty. The Sword of the Spirit proves that those who make bad choices are not bad people, and that there is the possibility for redemption no matter how great your crime. The biblical references and interpretations of vague myths were intriguing.

Here, Ellie becomes further invested in the spirit world and helping ghosts and spirits from the past, despite a direct order not to interfere. In The Sword of the Spirit it becomes clear that the kind-hearted decision to help someone can cause significant damage to both worlds. When torn between saving the world and saving her friend, both have lasting consequences that Ellie and her family will have to live with. In this book readers also see Ellie become even braver and willing to take bigger risks. There the suspense was strong and I loved the climatic fight at the end!

I highly recommend this book! I am excited to read the fourth book in this series, High Spirits!

See my reviews of the first and second books in this series!

Title: The Sword of the Spirit (Spirits Book 3)
Author: Rob Keeley
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd
Pages: 128
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 5
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Esme's Gift (Esme Series Book 2) by Elizabeth Foster

The Magic of Wor(l)ds – Pagina 5 – Free bookreviews and other free ...Esme's Gift is the second book in the middle grade fantasy series that was sent to me by the author. Fifteen-year-old Esme Silver has saved Aeolia by protecting the pearl. However, rescuing her mother is not as simple as she had hoped, as her Gift is trapping her in the past. With the help of a new mentor, Esme must learn to control her time-traveling powers to find the ingredients of a powerful elixir that can awaken her. But this adventure also uncovers a shocking secret in Aeolia's history and puts her directly in the path of Nathan Mare.

Suspenseful and magical, Esme's Gift is even better than the first book! The sequel increases the intensity and delves further into the people and relationships that exist in Aeolia. The twists of new, astonishing revelations kept me hooked and fascinated. What we thought we knew about the motives behind the main villains, like Nathan Mare and Alexander Mann. Almost every character in this book has a dark side, as well, providing a mystery and an intriguing premise. Esme's Gift has a significant number of new characters, and I enjoyed that each one was distinctive in their own personality.

I enjoyed watching Esme make friends and start school as an "otherworlder". It reminded me of Keeper of the Lost Cities, especially when it came to Esme's power. I loved Esme's internal struggle on how to control her Gift and deal with the fact that it was experimented upon. In the beginning, her Gift has almost total control over Esme, and she worries about facing the same fate as her mother. But over time, her Gift becomes a true gift rather than a burden, and I loved watching Esme grow to become stronger. Esme's ability to travel back in time through the water was vividly descriptive, as was the personification of the water embracing her, controlling her, and helping her.

I highly recommend this book!

See my review of the first book in this series, Esme's Wish, here!

Title: Esme's Gift (Esme Series Book 2)
Author: Elizabeth Foster
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Pages: 304
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Land of the Purple Ring by Deborah J. Natelson

52773031Sent to me by the author, the fantasy book, The Land of the Purple Ring, is one of the most creative, witty books I have ever read! The clockwork man is held bound to Time, a slave built by the Clockmaker. But he refuses to remain a slave, and escapes, venturing on a journey across the universe to discover imagination, magic, and the strength to create a true name for himself as a living being.

The clockwork man's perspective on ordinary objects was intriguing. In fact, almost a whole page was simply him pondering types of chairs, and why many are designed for decoration and less for practicality. His confusion of the importance of eating and puzzling thoughts over men who drink until they must stumble home was refreshing. Also creative was how some of these objects were alive, like lampposts, clocks, the magical lakes of cheese and dancing shrimp. One must wonder how the author even came up with some of these bizarre elements! The names of some of the creatures in the story- like "Forsoothians"- was entertaining and curious at the least. If you read it before bed you'll have quite the interesting dreams!

The so-called "clockwork man" had a large amount of character development as he struggled to find an identity. First, he was just Boy, a slave, even taking on the name of his "father" (The Clockmaker) before discovering a true name and soul that defines him as a living being of art- not simply a manikin of clockwork. The one complaint I might have is that sometimes it felt like there was too much going on at once, and I did not see any clear stages of plot, but rather felt more as a collection of short stories.

I recommend this book!

Title: The Land of the Purple Ring
Author: Deborah J. Natleson
Publisher: Thinklings Books, LLC
Pages: 201
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads

Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Summer Taken (Council of Friends Book 1) by Jason Milgram

A Summer Taken is the first book in the Council of Friends series. This YA realistic fiction book was sent to me by the publisher. It is 2041, and 14-year-old Julia must return to Camp Auctus to write a speech honoring her cousin Lizzie, who was shot two summers ago shortly after leaving the camp. But Julia is still struggling with her shyness and feels lost without Lizzie beside her. This summer, Julia will find the words to express the vast range of emotions bottled inside her and find the strength to speak for change.

I enjoyed the story and Julia's character development over the course of the novel. Readers see her initially shy and reclusive, torn apart over her cousin's murder to being an inspiring force for change in gun violence laws. Milgram was skilled at depicting the stages and the complicated range of emotions one experiences while grieving a loved one, like anger, guilt, numbness, and sadness. The added element of Julia's struggle with anorexia only made it more insightful. A Summer Taken also explores common obstacles that occur in friendships. This book could teach one to become a better friend. I was impressed with the level of detail and imagery in some of the flashback scenes, and how the book still had a nice flow despite alternating from the past and present.

One of my concerns, however, would be that setting the book in 2041 was strange and somewhat distracting from the plot at hand. I understand that it draws attention to the fact that gun violence is still an issue and will still be for many decades, however there was not much in the story that made that year make sense. The only cue that it didn't take place in 2020 was one talking typewriter. I was hoping for more creative integration of the future setting.

Despite my issue with the setting, I do recommend this book! The second book, A Summer Remembered, will be released in October 2020.

Title: A Summer Taken (Council of Friends Book 1)
Author: Jason Milgram
Publisher: Gaby Triana
Pages: 129
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Amazon

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Dwarf Story by W.W. Marplot

53847677. sy475 Dwarf Story is a middle grade fantasy book involving Welsh mythology that was sent to me by the publisher. Eastward Manor, the fairies' world of all mythical and legendary creatures, is no longer pure, but made dark and war-torn by Gwyllion, the Old Woman of the Mountains. So they gather to America, emerging to befriend the last children in the legendary ancestry line to help them defeat Gwyllion and ensure the restoration of a peaceful home for all worlds. These children include Arty, Mary, Cry, Emma, and Ted.

The writing style was unique in the sense that it writes rambling but also controlled at the same time. The reader is thrown instantly into these children's heads with their (often strange) thoughts, dozens of rhetorical questions, and one or two word sentences. When it transitions to another chapter with a new narrator, they often speak very matter-of-fact and interrupt each other, like "I am Ted. You know what’s great about me? I can get involved in any story whenever I want" or "I’d rather have Emma handle this chapter, but I couldn’t find her." This structure initially put me off a bit, but eventually this narration grew on me to be very entertaining.

This was a very funny book, and I enjoyed the author's use of creative puns like "a pain in the axe". I was extremely curious to find out how these fantasy creatures emerged into the "real world" and why this group of teens were chosen. It did take much longer than I thought to find those answers, and the book could have been shorter. But alas, I was hooked to the end. The huge battle at the end was mind-blowing and exciting. The climax was worth the wait.

I recommend this book!

Title: Dwarf Story
Author: W.W. Marplot
Publisher: Waxing Gibbous Books
Pages: 388
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads

Friday, July 3, 2020

Reflecting on My Fifth Blogiversary

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When I started my blog on June 15, 2015, it was the summer before eighth grade. Blogging was the perfect way to combine my love of reading and writing. I set out to review 40 books that summer and met my goal! I remember I was so excited to share my blog with all my teachers! It was amazing to receive emails and compliments from former and new teachers. My seventh grade English teacher still subscribes to my blog and even printed out some of my reviews to keep in a special binder to show her students when they need ideas of books to read!

Now five years later, I am about to go off to college in Pennsylvania to be a science teacher. I plan to keep actively blogging throughout college, but my top priority remains my schoolwork. For the past five years I have done at least one blog post every week. This is my 370th post!

I remember being so excited to receive my first author request; now I receive so many more than I can accept! Also in the beginning I would be carrying stacks of around 12 books home from the library at a time, but in 2017 I got a Kindle. However, I still like to checkout several books. In July 2016, I started participating in Top Ten Tuesday, which has been a great way to connect with other book bloggers.

Some reviews are more memorable than others, and below are some of my most memorable reviews.

June 16, 2015
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger was my second review. What makes the first book special was that due to a fluke of noticing it on a library shelf I have fallen in love with this series and own all eight books. Five years later, this middle grade fantasy series remains my favorite series of all time!

February 15, 2015
I also have to mention Five High School Dialogues by Ian Thomas Malone. This was the first book I ever received from an author. I remember literally jumping for joy because the email was so surprising and made me very happy! I could not believe that a tiny new blog like mine could have attracted the attention of an author. Now, I receive so many requests every week that I have to be selective in what I can accept.

December 15, 2017
This is when I reviewed Monster by Michael Grant, the first in the follow-up series to Gone! I LOVE the Gone series, as well as his Front Lines series. It was also the most amazing time jump book I have ever read. Monster is a prime example of one of the reasons why we learn history in school, to prevent history from repeating itself. It was very interesting to see how the past impacts the character’s decisions. Unfortunately, Grant writes more books than I can keep up with (especially since they are so long)!

February 9, 2018
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is memorable because of how much I disliked it. It took all my strength to finish it, and the only reason I did was because I was excited to vent in a review! I remember every detail of this book, simply due to how much I couldn’t care less about it! All the Light We Cannot See won the Pulitzer prize, and this was the first book I read where my opinion was the total opposite than most. With this book, I really felt the importance of writing reviews and expressing unpopular opinions.

July 3, 2019
I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz is important to me because I plan to be a teacher, and I will aspire to follow in her footsteps, learn from her mistakes, and use her strategies. Some of her tips and tricks I never would have thought of using. In fact, I plan on bringing her new book, I Wish For Change, with me to college!

Other notable reviews include Audacity, Anger is a Gift, and The Wave. I am excited to witness the growth of this blog in the next five years! Five years from now, I will be a teacher!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA New Releases in Late 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. One of the most exciting things is discovering new books to read! The theme for this week is Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020. The following releases that I look forward to the most are in order of release date.

1. Loveless by Alice Oseman
Release Ddate: July 9, 2020 (Postponed from April 30)
As Georgia goes to college with her friends, she is excited to finally have a chance at love. But her plan goes awry with hilarious mistakes, Georgia realizes that she is asexual, incapable of sexual attraction. In Loveless, Georgia works to discover who she is and accept herself.
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2. The Game by Linsey Miller
Release Date: August 4, 2020
It is tradition that the seniors at Lincoln High School play the stragety game Assassin, where in teams they try to kill each other with water guns. Lia is stoked to play this year, but soon the game is no longer fun, as students start being murdered. Lia will risk everything to stop him before she is next.
The Game

3. Cut Off by Adrianne Finlay 
Release Date: August 11, 2020
The new virtual reality show CUT/OFF (a high-tech version of Survivor) places a group of teens in the wilderness. Whoever can go the longest without "tapping out" wins a million dollars. But when tapping out doesn't work, the teens horrifying realize that nobody is coming to save them; they are trapped in this alternate reality.
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4. Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Release Date: August 11, 2020
Based on Hindu mythology, Sheetal is the daughter of a star and a human, struggling to keep her starlike powers a secret. But when she loses control and severely injures her human father with her fire, she must go to the heavens and find a star to heal him. But before she can save her father, she is thrust into the competition to decide the new ruler of the heavens.
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5. Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
Release Date: September 1, 2020
One night, Amal Shahid, a teen artist and poet, gets into an altercation with other boys that ends in tragety. Amal is then sent to prision for a crime he didn't comit- because he is black. Told in verse, Punching The Air tells of the biased justice system and Amal's dedication to expose the truth.
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6. Legendborn by Tracey Deonn
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Her first night on college campus, Bree Matthews witnesses a flying demon attack students and the secret society of Legendborn students (magical decedents of King Arthur) who defeats it. When one of the students tries to erase Bree's memory of the attack, they find out that she has unique magic of her own, which could be connected to her mother's death.
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Release Date: September 29, 2020
A Deadly Education is the book I am most excited to read! At Scholomance, a school for magically gifted teens, there are no teachers, grades, or friendships. But there are monsters lurking in every corner- literally. One graduates when they defeat enough monsters. But for El, who's dark powers are extremely strong, graduating might mean accidentally killing all of the other students, too.
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8. All This Time by Rachael Lippincott and Mikki Daughtry
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Kyle wakes up in the hospital with a brain injury after a car accident and learns that his girlfriend died. Then he meets Marley, a girl struggling with loss of her own. Together, they face the past and move on to the future before another catastrophe arises.
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9. The Truth Project by Dante Medema 
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Seventeen-year-old Cordelia Koenig's senior genetic project is supposed to be easy. But when her DNA sample comes back and reveals that her father is not her father, Cordelia must figure out who she is and try to forgive her mother.
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10. The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Cousins Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah are estranged and barely know each another, not to mention ever met their grandmother. When each receive a letter to join her grandmother on a private island for the summer, their original surprise and curiosity reveals something more sinister about their family.
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