Posted in backlog reviews, Reviews

The Brave

The Brave is meant to be a lovely novel about overcoming health issues of the mind and body. It’s also meant to be about Native American ways of doing things. However it relies deeply on caricatures and the idea of Native American spiritualism.

The Brave by [James Bird]

Summary

Collin can’t help himself—he has a unique condition that finds him counting every letter spoken to him. It’s a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies, and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father.

When Collin asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he’s never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition.

Collin’s quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda’s help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.

Review

To quote the The Circle a publication of Native American News and Arts ” How closely did they read? Granted, the story is make believe and brimming with magic and mystery and ghosts, but this magic and mystery depicts wooden caricatures in a fake reservation setting. Insight into why adults do what they do is rarely offered. All we learn is that one drinks too much alcohol, another is always getting into or out of her truck, and a wise, spooky grandmother appears and disappears.” They go on say of The Brave ” He is also welcomed by a next door neighbor – Orenda – who spends most of her time in a treehouse. Orenda, wise beyond her years, teaches Collin to be brave when faced with adversity. Sick with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Orenda predicts that one day she will turn into a butterfly. As Orenda loses strength, Collin gains strength both mentally and physically. With the help of some kind of medicine man and after turning into a wolf and killing a boogeyman, or dreaming that, Collin is mostly free from his OCD.

I personally can’t speak to another spiritual tradition but Collin losing his OCD just seemed too easy as someone with OCD myself. Feel free to argue with me in the comments. While the book was an attempt to be a book about improving oneself. It came off as putting Native American caricatures and the over used idea of Native American spiritualism.

Amazon: The Brave

Additional Reading

“The Brave” is compelling, but could do without the stereotypes

Posted in Orillium Readathon, Reviews

Goddess in the Machine Review

I’m reading The Goddess in the Machine to do a second character on Magical Readathon. But I’m glad I came across it anyway, The book was published last year and I’m reading the sequel now, it. The sequel the Devil in the Device is also a great sci-fi story from what I can tell so far. I loved the Goddess in the Machine for its twist and turns, mix of future tech with past tech, and just the way that the overall society was structured.

Goddess in the Machine by [Lora Beth Johnson]

Summary

When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.

Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists–including her family and friends–are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.

Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne–if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.

With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?

Review

Andra dealing with what she is the the focus of the book, and it should be, she works past labels put onto her by Zhade, the people of Eerensed, and even by her family 1,000 years ago to find out what she truly is she’s the one who takes us on the journey through this confusing future world. Sometimes she isn’t the best guide and is betrayed but all and all she finds a way in a world beyond her time and when she finds herself with powers beyond her imagining. She solves layer after layer of mystery with the help of some modern friends to reveal that the future is much more complex than it seems and that saving herself, might require saving the the planet and that’s more complicated than she ever dreamed.

Even with the ‘help’ of the two goddess before her with Andra be able to save herself and Eerensed before she catches a killing blade?

Amazon: The Goddess in the Machine

Posted in Challenges, Orillium Readathon, Reviews

Ghost Girl Review-A New Spooky Book

So my readathons have been going well, I’m trying to combine them as much I can, for example, I got Humans as my prompt on Day 1 of Bookoplaton, and Humans were the main characters in Ghost Girl but the book also fulfilled my prompt for Ruin of Skye where I needed a book with supernatural characters. Anyway, I’m doing great with all the extra reading so far and can’t wait to start my next book.

Ghost Girl by [Ally Malinenko]

Summary

Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.

It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.

When she tells her classmates, only her best friend Elijah believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl.

But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways.

To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.

Review

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while and I wasn’t disappointed, Zee was a great protagonist. I knew I liked her from the moment she was up in the middle of the thunderstorm. She’s a great role model for every girl who has been cast out for not liking girly things or shunned for their interest in the macabre. The way the three main characters must face their fears at the end is a scary scenario even for adults.

And the villain is a unique blend of demon, ghost, and unknown creepy being. He’s especially creepy because you don’t know exactly what he is, and what his powers are, or how far they reach. The book is well-paced with many scary moments throughout that keep the reader interested and the plot going. Also, I really love the ending, I’d totally read another spooky book from the author.

Amazon: Ghost Girl

Posted in backlog reviews, Reviews

Infinity Courts: A Sweeping Fantasy

The Infinity Courts swept me away I seriously got annoyed when I learned the sequel wasn’t out till next April because the book was THAT good. Also the cliff hanger was great but what I’m saying is I need more of this story stat.

The Infinity Courts by [Akemi Dawn Bowman]

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen of Infinity, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

Review

Bowman definitely does a good job creating a whole different world. The part of the world we spend the most time in Victory is very well fleshed out. The different lands that are threatened are also hinted at just enough to be ominous but still mysterious. As for the characters the entire rebel group is well flesh out. I especially liked how reluctant Nami was to help the group, she tried to shy away from conflict sometimes to her own detriment but she wasn’t going for that Chosen One role, she just happened to be the only one who could do a job and struggled deeply with having to do it, the book also has a couple major plot twist especially the one at the end that I liked and I can’t wait to see how they play out in the sequel.

If you want surprise, morally grey characters, and a really beautifully thought out world give The Infinity Courts a try

Posted in backlog reviews, Recommendations, Reviews

Baseball and Salty Snacks: A Summer Adventure

Summary

Much Ado About Baseball by [Rajani LaRocca]

If you loved Midsummer Mayhem you’ll love this companion novel about the salty side and sports-based side to Lady Titania and Lord Oberon’s summer wager where baseball plays an important part.

Twelve-year-old Trish can solve tough math problems and throw a mean fastball. But because of her mom’s new job, she’s now facing a summer trying to make friends all over again in a new town. That isn’t an easy thing to do, and her mom is too busy to notice how miserable she is.

But at her first baseball practice, Trish realizes one of her teammates is Ben, the sixth-grade math prodigy she beat in the spring Math Puzzler Championships. Everyone around them seems to think that with their math talent and love of baseball, it’s only logical that Trish and Ben become friends, but Ben makes it clear he still hasn’t gotten over that loss and can’t stand her. To make matters worse, their team can’t win a single game. But then they meet Rob, an older kid who smacks home runs without breaking a sweat. Rob tells them about his family’s store, which sells unusual snacks that will make them better ballplayers. Trish is dubious, but she’s willing to try almost anything to help the team.

When a mysterious booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives in her mailbox, Trish and Ben start to get closer and solve the puzzles together. Ben starts getting hits, and their team becomes unstoppable. Trish is happy to keep riding the wave of good luck . . . until they get to a puzzle they can’t solve, with tragic consequences. Can they find the answer to this ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most?

Review

I’ve been waiting for this book since I finished Midsummer Mayhem came out. I LOVED Midsummer Mayhem and I loved this book as well, I thought I couldn’t find a protagonist as interesting after Mimi since I’m a baker myself. But Trish and Ben stole my heart along with their teammates and the entry of the faries and Lord Oberon was especially well done. I especially loved how the faries responded to the ‘mistakes’ in Midsummer Nights Dream. Oh, and Ben’s dog was a sweetheart. Overall, I wasn’t sure that Midsummer Mayhem could be followed up but I’m glad I was wrong. This book is charming and the character development is on point and the story leaves the characters better than it found them. 5/5

I love most anything Rajani LaRocca touches, so more of this, please.

Amazon: Much Ado About Baseball

Posted in Reviews

Creepy Thriller: The Companion Review

The words "The Companion" on a cream colored background along with a silver old fashioned spoon that has sewing pins in it. In small print it says "The lies pile up and then they bury you."

Summary:

In this creepy thriller everyone thinks that protagonist Margot is lucky. The other orphans say Margot is lucky.
 
Lucky to be the only one to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.
 
Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night from horrible nightmares she can’t escape.
 
And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.
 
But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home.  Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha–and getting to know her handsome younger brother–seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.  And her luck may not be what it seems as things turn dark at the Sutton estate.

Review

This gets major thriller points, the book is long and the author paces it well, so every time you think something is going to get the characters it seems like will but it doesn’t leading to more tension. The Sutton estate is creepy as soon as we are introduced to it, it’s got haunted house written all over from the moment Margot steps in. What’s something about the family isn’t right, rigid and old fashioned Laura is a puzzle Margot can’t figure out but doesn’t want to cross.

And at first Margot thinks that Agatha the girl she’s going to companion is almost creepy at first, and is simply catatonic, things become more complicated when Agatha begins to show in small ways that she’s aware and she’s trying hard to tell Margot something but what, when Margot meets the other sibling Barrett they soon grow close and begin to uncover family mysteries that go deeper than either of them expected. Things that maybe shouldn’t be disturbed, family secrets that could shake up everything about life at Sutton Hall.

Margot worries soon that things are getting much too serious for her and it might be time for her to leave, even if that means going to the State Intuition, but she may not be given the the chance as she may have inadvertently fallen into a web of secrets and danger she might not be able to escape.

This book was great the pacing was on point and the character development even of characters who weren’t able to speak, was excellent. Also you find yourself questioning the narrator just as much as she questions herself. This is a five out of five and I hope I find more spooky reads like this.

Amazon: The Companion

Posted in Reviews

Improv Activism: Ava Andrews Review

I tried listening to this book at first an it didn’t stick, but once I tried reading it I got through it very quickly. Five things refers to an improv exercise that is of some importance in the book. There is also some disability representation.

Five Things About Ava Andrews by [Margaret Dilloway]

Summary

In her mind Ava Andrews is filled with ideas and plans, but only her best friend Zelia sees them. What’s worse Zelia has just moved away leaving Ava with people who think she doesn’t talk or is stuck up. What they can’t see are her invisible disabilities: anxiety and a heart condition.

Ava had hoped middle school would be a fresh start but with Zelia gone she’s not sure what to do, her Nana Linda encourages her to speak up about social issues that just sends Ava further into her shell. Until her writing is recognized by her teacher and impress her classmates and they invite her to join an improv group.

Ava is initially concerned she won’t be able to do it, but wanting something to challenge her anxiety she decides to try going to the group. With the group she discovers a whole new side of herself and a set of friends, and learns what it’s like to be on a team.

But as Ava’s self-confidence blossoms, her relationship with Zelia strains, and she learns that it isn’t enough just to raise your voice—it’s how and why you use it that matters.

Review

First this book did a great job showing the effects of invisible disabilities and how they often aren’t understood by those around the person. It also shows how important the arts can be for disabled people expressing themselves. It’s so important that disabled people are allowed to find their way to show what they have to say. I also loved the activism element of this book and how it shows how kids and teens can be involved in making social change in their communities. Overall, great representation and plot, 5/5.

Amazon: Five Things about Ava Andrews

Posted in Recommendations, Reviews

Finding Junie Kim Review: A Complex Book

This was a very impactful book it was written about the Trump era and it was written about communist history in the 1950’s in Korea. The Ellen Oh noted how personal it was for her to write this book. While I can never fully understand I can see how the issues thread through history and how things to come back around. While it is historical fiction it has elements of biography in it too. Just labelling Finding Junie Kim historical fiction would be oversimplifying this wonderful piece of fiction completely.

Finding Junie Kim by [Ellen Oh]

Summary

Junie Kim just wants to fit in and stay out of the way of her bullies who make fun of her for being Asian. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school and her friends want to do something about it, they just can’t understand why Junie wants to stay out of it.

Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents she learns about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime.

As the racism becomes more prevalent at school Junie learns through learning about her ancestors to stand up for herself and the rest of the kids being bullied at her school. She finds the courage to do what is right to help make real change and stand up to her own personal bully.

Finding Junie Kim is a reminder that within us all lies the power to overcome hardship and emerge triumphant.

Review

This is a fantastic book. I thought that before I learned how well it was researched at the end. I can promise you this book taught me more about the Korean War than I learned in school. I live in a state that is pretty far down the education list but still, it is informative on such a deep personal and interesting level that you want to know more every time she talks to her grandfather.

Her grandparents both help her with standing up to bullies and facing racism and are great role models for her throughout the book. Her grandfather also helps her understand that others have more issues in America with race than they do. Her grandmothers story is also a magnificent one and her grandmother shows her other forms of being powerful.

Also the amount of research that went into this book is mind boggling as well as the amount of putting oneself into it personally. I know Ellen Oh is already getting awards for Finding Junie Kim, but she truly deserves them.

5 stars.

Amazon: Finding Junie Kim

Posted in Reviews

Allergic: A Graphic Novel Review

Allergic: A Graphic Novel

Allergic: A Graphic Novel by [Megan Wagner Lloyd, Michelle Mee Nutter]

Summary

A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl who is allergic to most pets, but still wants to find her perfect friend.

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy to call her own is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!

Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet?

Allergic Author/Illustrator

With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd uses inspiration from her own experiences with allergies to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.

Review

The idea of being allergic-like Maggie would be so hard, but the allergies are just masking her larger problem which is the loneliness she feels in her family. But as she tries and fails at having different pets and her mom progresses in her pregnancy, she realizes she maybe has a place after all and that her role as a big sister is important, and that she doesn’t need a pet to fill the void, that her family is already there.

Amazon: Allergic

Posted in Reviews

How to Become a Planet Review

How to Become a Planet by [Nicole Melleby]

Summary

Named after a planet, Pluto for summer has always started with a trip to the planetarium to see her namesake planet. The trip is the launch of her favorite season into her favorite season which also includes visits to the boardwalk arcade, working in her mom’s pizzeria, and her best friend Meredith’s birthday party. But this summer, none of that feels possible.
 
A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything.
 
Pluto can’t explain to her mom why she can’t do the things she used to love. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city—where he believes his money, in particular, could help—that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again.
 
She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

Review

This book was a great representation for anxiety and depression. It also did a good time showing recovery from a mental break down, the fact that recovery isn’t linear and that some times things have to change not because you had a breakdown but because they were wrong in the first place. My absolutely favorite character is Pluto ‘friend’ Fallon. I also think that Pluto helping them completing their list. Really helped Pluto with her depression and in the end helped Pluto ask some hard questions she needed to ask of her parents.

Finally I love how certain things were just accepted and nothing was said about it and I wish we lived in a world like that.

Amazon: How to Become a Planet