Posted in backlog reviews, Recommendations, Reviews

Making Friends Review

Making Friends is a very cute graphic novel for the middle grade set about a Danielle, who is having issues with friendship ever since she got got to middle school.

Summary

Danielle needs a perfect friend, but sometimes making (or creating) one is a lot easier than keeping one!

Sixth grade was SO much easier for Dany. All her friends were in the same room and she knew exactly what to expect out of life. Now that she’s in seventh grade, she’s in a new middle school, her friends are in different classes and forming new cliques, and she is totally, completely lost. What Dany really needs is a new best friend! So when she inherits a magic sketchbook from her eccentric great-aunt in which anything she sketches in it comes to life, she draws Madison, the most amazing, perfect, and awesome best friend ever.

The thing is, even when you create a best friend, there’s no guarantee they’ll always be your best friend. Especially when they discover they’ve been created with magic! And this isn’t the only problem magic causes Dany is going to need all the friends she can get to save her school and her friends from a sketch gone wrong.

Amazon: Making Friends

Review

This is a really cute book you can understand Dany’s troubles whatever age you are, given the power of a magic sketchbook. It would be hard to limit yourself on this power. I love some of the group of friends Dany makes along the way and the conflict between Dany and her newly created friend who has to establish herself away from Dany. It’s a good example of boundaries and independence which is always good when show in work for this age group. I like the fact that the group in the end can be interdependent but no co-dependent. Also the Sailor Moon/She-Ra-eque fight at the end was lovely and that’s the kind of content I need in my life. Very good graphic novel, can’t wait to read the rest in the series. 5/5

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Tea Dragon Tapestry Review

The whole Tea Dragon Series is a beautiful tale of love and friendship, so it would only make sense that its ending volume would be the same. The finale of the series shows the growth of the characters from the first book, and brings in old friends so we can enjoy seeing them again.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry

Summary

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.

Amazon: The Tea Dragon Tapestry

K. O’Neil

K. O’Neill is an Eisner and Harvey Award-winning illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. They are the author of Princess Princess Ever AfterAquicorn Cove, The Tea Dragon seriesand Dewdrop, all from Oni Press. Their books reflect their interest in tea, creatures, things that grow, and the magic of everyday life. Also look at the way O’Neil’s art style has improved since the first book isn’t this beautiful.

Review

This book was just a joy to read. I read it quickly. O’Neil’s books are always like pieces of candy something you finish quickly and is beautiful and shiny. But in another way they are like a cup of tea, you have to read it again and go back for a second slow look at all the details you missed. The plot itself was great Minette dealt with her past in a way she’s been needing to since book 1 and Greta found some confidence in herself she’s been needing since book one. Also I loved the surprise visitors and their relation with everyone. Overall, this book was great but then again I’m a huge K. O’Neil fan so I may be biased. I can’t wait to see more of their work.

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Hide and Don’t Seek Review

Hide and Don’t Seek was a great spooky anthology book, some stories were spookier than others but they were all pretty scary for the age group. I enjoyed reading this book back in September when it came out, I think I may have read all the spooky books too early because now not many are coming out in October.

Hide and Don’t Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories

Hide and Don't Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories by [Anica Mrose Rissi]

Summary

A contemporary collection of original short stories by Anica Mrose Rissi that is sure to elicit chills, laughs, and screams, even from the most devoted fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!

A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long…

A look-alike doll makes itself right at home…

A school talent-show act leaves the audience aghast…

And a summer at camp takes a turn for the braaaains

This collection of all-new spooky stories is sure to keep readers up past their bedtimes, looking over their shoulders to see what goes bump in the night.

So if you’re feeling brave, turn the page.

Amazon: Hide and Don’t Seek

Review

As I said before I think these were pretty scary stories for the age group for which they were directed (8-12). It was compared to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I’d agree with that comparison but I’d also compare it to Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces Quartet. They definitely aren’t slasherly just psychological horror. Which may be good depending on what you’re looking for.

I had a couple favorites the school talent show one was very good. And the Hide and Seek one were both good. Anyway if you are looking for some short reads for and a good anthology. Check out Hide and Seek and Other Very Scary Stories. It’s definitely worth your time and a good read for the season

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Not Your All American Girl-Backlog Reviews

So I’ve been reading pretty seriously to try to catch up with my shortage earlier in the year. Thanks again broken ankle, we all love you, not. But I’ve been reserving no time to write up these book review meaning I have reviews going back to August. I’m going to try to remedy that by posting at least one backlog review a week. This book was a great one from Scholastic. I know Scholastic has been under fire lately but I trust the brand and will continue to support them here.

Not Your All-American Girl

Not Your All-American Girl by [Wendy Wan-Long Shang, Madelyn Rosenberg]

Summary

Lauren and her best friend, Tara, have always done absolutely everything together. So when they don’t have any classes together in sixth grade, it’s disastrous. The solution? Trying out for the school play. Lauren, who loves to sing, wonders if maybe, just maybe, she will be the star instead of Tara this time.

But when the show is cast, Lauren lands in the ensemble, while Tara scores the lead role. Their teacher explains: Lauren just doesn’t look the part of the all-American girl. What audience would believe that she, half-Jewish, half-Chinese Lauren, was the everygirl star from Pleasant Valley, USA?

From amidst the ensemble, Lauren tries to support her best friend. But when she is not bring herself to sing anymore, her spot in the play and her friendship are in jeopardy. With the help of a button-making business, the music of Patsy Cline, and her two bickering grandmothers, can Lauren find her voice again?

Review

This book makes great points about open casting, in this way it reminds of Chance to Fly. I especially loved a quote towards the end of the of the book where they are talking about how Alice in Wonderland is going to be their play next year and the teacher talks about how it’s always been done and Lauren says about the casting how about let them wonder. I love how Lauren found her voice through Patsy Cline and how she thought she was Jewish and I loved the interaction between her Chinese and Jewish grandmothers. The solution the cast found to play in the book was excellent.

Overall 5/5.

Amazon: Not Your All American Girl

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Backlog Reviews: Legacy

 The Keeper of the Lost Cities: Legacy

Legacy

So I’ve been meaning to put this review up but with Unlocked coming out in less than a month (don’t ask me how many copies I’m buying) I figured I’d better put this up so I’d have room to review Unlocked which I’m going to stay up and finish in like a day. 

This is the eighth book in The Keeper of the Lost Cities series. It clocks in at 789 pages so I’m not sure it’s the longest in the series but it’s one of the longest. 

The series focuses on Sophie Foster and her friends. This book specifically has Sophie and her friends reeling after one of their group is taken by the enemy, The Neverseen. In the book Sophie and her friends are finally seen as equals by the Elvin council after years of strife but what does all that responsibility mean, and will Sophie and her friends be able to stop the enemy’s plans and save their friend in the process.

Sophie wants to know who her biological parents are, but the Black Swan, who created her won’t tell her and it’s essential to the match, where elves are given lists of who they can marry, so its essential information if she wants to be with Fitz. But Mr. Forkle doesn’t seem to think so. He sees staying single for centuries as a solution which is why Sophie starts to investigate the issue on her own, with Keefe’s help.

Just when she’s about to start working on it, the Council offers her a unique position in the nobility, she will be a Regent and a leader of a team of her friends, and Stina Heks, her frienemy. They will be responsible for helping the council with some of the same concerns that The Black Swan has about the dwarves and their missing friend Tam’s ability as a Shade being used against them.

But Sophie isn’t the only one with blank spots in her past, Keefe’s mother, Lady Gisela the leader of the Neverseen, erased some of his memories and wants him to face up to something called his ‘legacy’. When their friend Tam warns he’s been ordered to kill Keefe, Sophie must do everything she can to keep Keefe out of the line of fire. But Keefe may be a part of something much bigger than Sophie can even imagine so keeping him out of the line of fire may be impossible.

Sophie is also trying to put together a plan to face the dwarves and figure out how to be the leader of her new team called Team Valiant. All while Keefe is throwing mind-bending ideas about who her biological parents might be and she is trying to be Fitz’s girlfriend.

Keeping everything in balance seems impossible especially when Mr. Forkle throws her new information about the fact that one of her abilities may be malfunctioning and she may have to risk her life to get it to reset, again.

But none of them can stop the showdown that is coming with the enemy, and Keefe’s legacy is coming for him whether he likes it or not, will Sophie be able to keep Keefe, herself, and her friends safe, or will everything fall apart?

This book may be long but it’s also one of my favorites and I can’t wait till book 8.5 Unlocked comes out in November! Less than a month from now but still way too long! 

Image by Jalyn Bryce from Pixabay

Amazon: Legacy

Posted in Recommendations

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Flashback

Though this book has it’s moments that I like I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites in the series, maybe because it spends a lot of time focusing on characters I’m not super duper fond of. I like some of Sophie’s growth in it and some of the side characters.

Flashback

Summary

Sophie and her friends are out of their depth, the Neverseen have injured her and Fitz and they got them good. They used something called shadowflux which even their trusty psychician Elwin had no idea about. Thankfully their Shade friend Tam was able to rescue them by pulling this poison like substance from their bodies.

What clear is they’ve got a long recovery ahead of them as the shadowflux did some damage to their bone, muscles and bodies, even to their minds. Fitz is sedated for until they can figure out how this shadowflux is messing with his heart. Sophie meanwhile has a monster haunting her dreams that may have something to do with the Neverseen’s attack.

So they can be taken care of they are staying at Foxfire Elwin, but Sophie can’t help thinking they were taken out for a reason, Keefe tries to keep her cheerful, and Sophie has to make an unusual new agreement with Sandor in order to get her bodyguard to stay.

But even after the Foxfire slumber party is over things don’t exactly feel right either both Fitz and Sophie still have echos ( shadows of the attack) which bother their mind (in Sophie’s case) and their emotions (in Fitz’s case.)

Not only that Fitz is having to play nice with his formerly murderous older brother, Alvar. Fitz and Sophie try everything they can to get Alvar to regain his memories but it seems like he truly is a blank slate is that even possible?

Then there are the feelings Sophie had a crush on Fitz since forever and it’s always been the wrong time to tell him but…

Finally Silveny, Sophie’s pregnant alicorn friend may be in danger and Sophie may have to enter a risky alliance to stop her from losing the baby for good?

Most risky of all to stop her friends from falling into the Neverseen’s big plans she may have to trust an old enemy to down a new one.

Review

I love the pacing of the book. I love the emotional beats of the time the characters spend in the healing center. I also really enjoy Sophie’s new army of body guards and how this book leads up to the next book, however compared to the next book it isn’t my favorite. I think perhaps it’s because of one of the characters that the book is so focused on. I love the reappearance of an old enemy just because he’s cool.

Amazon: Flashback

Photo by Tommy van Kessel 🤙 on Unsplash

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Keeper of the Lost Cities: Nightfall

This is one of my favorite books in the series. I’m not exactly sure why, Sophie has to go through a lot of trouble in this book, maybe it’s because we find out more about old characters and the the new ones who are introduced are either really cool or cool villains.

Nightfall

Summary

The Neverseen have taken many things from Sophie Foster over the years, but have they finally taken too much, she is struggling and grieving and her friends are scrambling for a solution to these new problems.

But will they be able to find one? The battle is far from over but Sophie realizes they may have missed details right from the beginning, to win she may have to trust people who she thought were her enemies.

All paths lead to Nightfall, a door only seen in Keefe’s memories, with an unknown purpose. Sophie and her friends must strike a risky bargain with someone who has lied to them before to get where they need to go.

But nothing can prepare them for what they find and how it’s going to change the world forever. Sophie and her allies must be forced to make choices they have never faced before in challenges set by unimaginably wicked new villians.

Will Sophie and her friends be up for the challenge? Or will the burden of history and their mistakes be too much for the group?

Review

I love Messenger’s world building on this one. I also love how the plot was made personal for the protagonist as well as the return of some familiar characters who hadn’t gotten much page time in past books. Lot of small events in other books had lead up to bigger events in this one so I think that’s part of why it’s one of my favorite books. Completely biased opinion.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Amazon: Nightfall

Image by Martin Str from Pixabay

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Backlog Reviews: Loadstar

Spoilers for Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 5

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Lodestar (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 5)

Lodestar (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 5) by [Shannon Messenger]

Summary

After her banishment in the last book, Sophie and her friends are finally free to return to the Lost Cities, but everything isn’t perfect, because not all of them have come back. Keefe left his friends to join the Neverseen, claiming he was the only one who could fix the problems his mom had caused.

Now Sophie and her friends are reeling from betrayal, but when it turns out they may not have lost Keefe after all and may have a voice on the inside. It seems like it could change everything, that is if they can trust him?

But Keefe isn’t her only worry, Sophie and The Black Swan’s Collective have discovered a symbol in Prentice’s memories that may help find the Neverseen, but it will take all the efforts of Sophie and her friends working together to figure out what it means and how it works.

But the Black Swan isn’t the only one with a plan, and when Keefe warns that her family may be threatened Sophie springs into action, but even with the help of her friends it may not be enough. Will Sophie be able to save everything she cares about or will it all come crashing down around her?

Review

Definitely one of my favorites of the series, it kept me guessing up till the end. It also featured a lot of new places and gave page time to characters who I thought deserved attention but didn’t get it. I’ve probably read it at least 6 or 7 times and some of the stuff in here dovetails really nicely with some of the stuff later in the series. Messenger definitely has her plotting down.

Five Favorite Things

  1. Edaline getting more page time
  2. Keefe’s reappearance
  3. Sophie and Prentice talking
  4. Fintan’s appearance
  5. Keefe showing up when he did.

Amazon: Loadstar

Photo by Egor Kamelev from Pexels

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Backlog Review:Aquicorn Cove

I read Aquicorn Cove awhile back, maybe the middle of last year, but somehow I missed reviewing another one of Katie O’Neill’s masterpieces.

Aquicorn Cove

Spoilers for Aquicorn Cove
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A deeply emotional story, Lana and her father return to the town her late mother called home after a hurricane effects it to help Lana’s aunt and the town recover. While Lana is walking the beach, remembering how much she misses the ocean and her mom, she finds a mysterious injured creature.

As Lana soon finds more of the creatures she discovers that they are Aquicorns, small magical seahorse-like creatures that live in the coral reef. With her aunt’s help, who has had experience taking care of the creatures before, Lana starts helping the injured creature back to health. 

But Lana’s curious, how does her aunt know so much about the Aquicorns, and what other mysteries is the town hiding? But when a second storm threatens the town and conflicts that happened years ago come back to haunt both the town and her aunt.

Lana realizes she may have to defy everyone if she wants to settle things peacefully, so her home and the ocean can co-exist side by side. 

Review

This book is a great example of how to talk about environmentalism without being preachy. It’s also a book about taking what you need and not what you want and being in balance with nature, like everything Katie O’Neill does it respects the old ways. It’s another beautiful piece.

Five Favorite Things:

  1. The sea queen lady
  2. The ocean palace
  3. The aquicorns
  4. Lana’s aunt
  5. The memories of Lana’s mother.

Overall I’d give this book a 5 like I give everything from Katie O’Neill.

 

 

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Backlog Review: Amina’s Voice

One of my favorite Hena Khan books, Amina’s Voice is one of those books I re-read at least every couple of months, it’s so positive and sweet.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Pakistani-American Muslim girl Amina isn’t sure about all the changes middle school is bringing. Amina doesn’t like the spotlight, she’s got stage fright from a past experience on stage and despite wanting to sign up for a school concert she can’t get past it.

It doesn’t matter what her best friend Soojin says about her voice is better than most everyone in the school. Soojin is one of the only ones who know she can sing and Amina wants to keep it that way.

Amina and Soojin have a bond over shared experiences they are used to be the only ones with names no one can pronounce and who have different cultural backgrounds from the students around them.

But with Soojin’s family’s citizenship ceremony coming up. Soojin is talking about changing her name to something more ‘American’ and Amina isn’t sure how to feel about that, she likes Soojin as Soojin. Plus if Soojin is changing, does that mean she should be too?

Plus Soojin starts to let a ‘cool girl’ Emily hang out with them at lunch. Emily and her friend Julie had been mean to Amina and Soojin in the past so Amina isn’t sure why Soojin is now willing to look past those old wrongs.

If all that isn’t enough her uncle is coming to visit from Pakistan, the visit is very important to her father so he wants Amina and her brother to be on their best behavior, and he’s staying for three months! But when her uncle arrives it is clear he doesn’t share some of her parents’ beliefs, especially about music. This makes Amina wonder if her love for music is wrong.

When Amina accidentally reveals one of Emily’s secrets it drives a rift between her and Soojin and Emily that Amina doesn’t know how to fix.

When her local mosque is vandalized it puts everything in perspective, but will Amina be able to solve the rifts in her personal life and use her voice to bring together her community?

This OwnVoices novel is by multiple award-winning author Hena Khan author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns and More to the Story.