Reviews

ARC Alert, and the clock is ticking down! Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Rick Riordan presents for an ARC of this book. Below is my honest review.

Chokshi, Roshani. Aruh Shah and the End of Time. Rick Riordan Presents, 2018. Hardcover $14.64, ISBN 978-1-36801-235-5

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!! NOW IMMEDIATELY GO READ IT … well, okay, read it when it comes out! Its book birthday should be March 26th 🙂

Genre: Fantasy, and Mythology retelling!

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first of a new series!

Book Summary:

Aru Shah struggles a bit with the truth. Maaaybe she exaggerates things sometimes, but when your mom is always off at museums or dig sites or historical conventions and you live in a museum and everyone else at your new school is super rich and connected, maybe YOU would fudge the truth a bit, too. Fast-forward to Aru needing to light a cursed lamp that she’s been forbidden to light just so three bullies won’t expose her lies to the entire class. Well, turns out the lamp was cursed! The Sleeper has been released, and if Aru doesn’t stop him in 9 days, Lord Shiva will dance the world to its end. Cool.

Enter a pigeon guide, a new soul sister, and a thrilling adventure through the Otherworld, Kingdom of Death, and more. Can Aru stop the Sleeper?

Reader’s Comments:

WHAT THIS IS SO GOOD. Unsurprisingly, it’s a great pick for Percy Jackson fans, but it’s also just straight up a great book. Humor, great references (was that a Doctor Who reference I spotted?), gross jokes, and quick wit. Such a great read!

Grade Level: 3-6

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Reviews

Enchanting: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Townsend, Jessica. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. Read by Gemma Whelan. Little, Brown and Company, 2017. 665 pages/11 hours. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-316-50888-9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? YES GO IMMEDIATELY NOW

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first of the new Nevermoor Series.

Book Summary:

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Like, actually. She’s on the Cursed Children’s Registry and everything. So whenever something bad happens, people blame her. To top it all off, she’s going to die at age twelve on Eventide night. Or, wait. No. She’s going to die on her eleventh birthday, as Eventide’s arrival surprises everyone by happening a year sooner than predicted.

Morrigan is, understandably, annoyed. Perhaps a bit upset. Imagine her surprise when she receives actual bids on bid day — patrons who want to help shape her future. What future? She’ll be dead before any schooling can actually happen. Additionally, Mr. Jones (representative of Ezra Squall, one of her prospective patrons) literally disappears before she can answer him. Her birthday dinner-and-last supper is interrupted by Jupiter North, another patron, who promises to whisk her away to a land called Nevermoor and a Wundrous future. Can Morrigan outrun her curse? Could her life be full of Wunder?

Reader’s Comments:

SO AMAZING. This book has received many comparisons to Harry Potter. That is precisely why I picked this up. Or, however, a comparison I heard quite a bit was that this wasn’t reminiscent of Harry Potter itself but rather that reading this one feels like reading Harry Potter for the first time. While some of the story’s elements are familiar to those of us who love the Boy Who Lived (unloved child with a miserable life is whisked away to a magical hidden world, there’s an ages-old evil that may return to power, there is a school for special children, there’s an eccentric mentor and a wild best friend, not to mention the snooty rival!!), the way that Townsend uses those elements AND TONS OF OTHERS that are in no way Potterish is STUNNING. Morrigan’s bitingly funny, and her sarcasm is a delight. Jupiter is tons of fun, and Hawthorne sounds like the ideal best friend. The trials are interesting, and the book has twists aplenty. I definitely recommend this one to your fantasy fans.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Publishers Weekly starred, 07/31/17

School Library Connection starred, 10/01/17

School Library Journal starred, 07/01/17

Reviews

Friendship to the max! Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Tamaki, Mariko. Unicorn Power. Illustrated by Brooke A. Allen. Amulet Books, 2017. 239 pages. Hardcover $12.89, ISBN 978-1-41972-725-2

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure Fiction

Part of a series? Yes! This is the first Lumberjanes novel; it draws heavily on action that has happened in the comics.

Book Summary:

One day the Lumberjanes find themselves face to face with UNICORNS! While Ripley is stoked beyond belief with this find alone, April notices a HUMONGOUS mountain that is recorded on zero maps. April knows she can earn a super-rare badge … and if all of them explore, they will all earn it together! But there’s a weird broken sign on the ground that nobody reads, and some weird weather, and … well, will this mission go smoothly? Or is this bound to turn out like a campfire tale?

Reader’s Notes:

I read Beware the Kitten Holy, so I’m familiar with the Lumberjanes, and I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun romp through the wacky woods outside their camp for hardcore lady-types. I’d absolutely hand this off to a Lumberjanes fan.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 08/15/17

Reviews

Some YA –> BRB, I’m AFK: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Doctorow, Cory. In Real Life. Illustrated by Jen Wang. :01 First Second, 2014 (Square Fish rereleasing 2018). 175 pages. 2014 PLB $22.96, ISBN 978-1-48984-753-9; 2018 PLB $17.66,  ISBN978-1-54901-903-6; 2018 TR $11.09; ISBN 978-1-25014-428-7

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!

Genre: Realistic Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

When a visiting speaker informs the class about Coarsegold Online, a massively-multiplayer role playing game, Anda gets her parents’ permission and begins to play. She loves the game, her guild, and her missions. Soon, however, she meets a player who is a poor kid in China. This other kid works to harvest gold in the game that players can pay to access. Gold farming is against the rules in the game, but is everything as black and white as Anda previously believed? Can online games have real life repercussions?

Reviewer’s Notes:

This story goes by quickly but is a really gripping one. Wang’s art keeps us flowing from real life to game and back. Anda reads as a real kid — she makes choices that aren’t the best, but she tries to do better. I really enjoyed this book and would absolutely hand it to my students who are interested in MMORPGs.

Grade Level: YA

Reviews

ARC Alert: Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly

Connolly, MarcyKate. Shadow Weaver. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018. Pages TBD. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-49264-995-3

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first in a series

Plot Summary:

Emmeline has been a loner for as long as she can remember. Her family is disturbed by her Talent (bestowed by a comet with certain properties, properties that give newborns Talents every 25 years) for weaving shadows. Well, perhaps it isn’t the shadow weaving that others find objectionable — it might be that she claims that she can speak to her own shadow, Dar. Servants avoid Emmeline and fear her. Dar is Emmeline’s only friend; fiercely protective, Dar is Emmeline’s cheerleader, confidante, and support. When a mysterious man comes to take Emmeline away and train her talent out of her, Dar acts quickly to protect Emmeline. The next morning, the man is in a coma. Dar promises Emmeline that the coma is reversible … if Emmeline helps Dar regain her physical form. Can Emmeline help her friend? Is her friend really being honest with her, or does Dar have secrets of her own?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book has already received rave reviews from readers. I’m not quite as sold on the book. I wouldn’t actively turn kids away from it, but I wasn’t captivated. The book feels as though it is set in the past, perhaps in an Edwardian vein. Cars, phones, and other modern luxuries are absent. That said, the language feels anachronistic — people are “brought up to speed” amongst other modern turns of phrase that ring oddly. Furthermore, Dar seems evil from go, and Emmeline’s repeated moments of doubt and then “pushing” the thought of Dar’s creepiness out of her mind gets grating. Students looking for a good gothic read would perhaps be better off picking up Elizabeth and ZenobiaMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, or Doll Bones.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a at this time

Reviews

Gaming gone bad in a YA World: Warcross by Marie Lu

Lu, Marie. Warcross. Read by Nancy Wu. GP Putnam’s Sons, 2017. 353 pages/11 hours and 46 minutes. Hardcover $16.29, ISBN 978-0-399-54796-6; hardcover (library binding) $24.99, ISBN 978-0-399-54796-6

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!! For older readers

Genre: Science Fiction 

Part of a series? Yes — this is the first in a series.

Book Summary:

Emika Chen does her best to make ends meet as a bounty hunter; she pursues gamblers who owe money after betting on Warcross games. A frequent player of Warcross herself, Emi knows how to find people who are trying to stay hidden — whether they’re hiding in real life or in Warcross, the virtual reality world. When Emi tests one of her hacks and accidentally glitches herself right into the opening game of the Warcross championships, she catches the eye of Hideo Tanaka, the young founder and developer of the global sensation. Now, Emi’s part of the Warcross championships looking for someone who is bent on destroying the game. Will she be able to find the mysterious hacker? Why does everything seem more sinister with each new development?

Reader’s Notes:

This book is amazing. The VR and AR of Warcross are immediately interesting and believable. Characters discuss the ethical implications of who has access to this technology and how access affects society. Emi’s a fun character to be alongside because even though life has been hard, she’s quick thinking and resourceful. Nancy Wu does an amazing job narrating the audiobook.

Readalikes?

This feels like a blend of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. IT’S MAGICAL.

Grade Level: YA

Reviews

Weaving together the truth: Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. First Second, 2017. 161 pages. Hardcover $18.84, ISBN 978-1-62672-088-6; PLB $22.06, ISBN 978-1-54900-469-8; TR $14.49, ISBN 978-1-62672-087-9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? Not at this time.

Book Summary:

Priyanka (or Pri, at school) loves art, her aunt and uncle, and her mom. She butts heads with mom occasionally, especially when she won’t talk about Priyanka’s dad. Priyanka is worried when she learns that her aunt and uncle are expecting a baby, particularly when it’s made clear that some of their weekly rituals will need to be put to an end. When the baby is born prematurely, Priyanka feels guilty and refuses to visit, instead staying home and puzzling over a gorgeous pashmina from her mother’s old suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, Priyanka is taken straight to India, and it’s more beautiful than any travel brochure. Her mother finally lets Priyanka travel to India for real, but she must go alone, as her mother refuses to ever go back. Will India be what Priyanka expects? And what kind of power does the pashmina possess?

Reader’s Notes:

This is a really beautifully done novel. Priyanka struggles a great deal with many things — bullies at school, secrets kept by her mother, a desire for family and for things to stay the way they are. The artwork itself is also gorgeous. This is a highly recommended read!

Grade Level:5-8

Awards and starred reviews:

Publishers Weekly starred, 09/18/17

School Library Journal starred, 09/01/17

Reviews

Is this the real life? WHERE FUTURES END by Parker Peevyhouse

Peevyhouse, Parker. Where Futures End. Kathy Dawson Books, 2016. 289 pages. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-8037-4160-7

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes, for older readers

Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Dylan has what he calls a vorpal, a way that he can influence how people perceive him. He also believes that he’s been to a mystical other world, and while his own brother refuses to agree that they’ve gone, Dylan is sure that there’s a way back. Indeed, there are two worlds, and as citizens of each pass across the border, each world is changed. Four other teens in future points explore their worlds as they are as magic and technology advance at hyperspeed.

Reviewer’s Notes:

This book feels so much like a young adult Cloud Atlas. It’s weird, fascinating, and gripping — it was so hard to put down. Definitely one to hand to your strange-format fans.

Grade Level: YA

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 12/01/15

School Library Journal starred, 01/01/16

Reviews

Readjustment blues: Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee

Dee, Barbara. Halfway Normal.  Aladdin, 2017. 247 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-48147-851-9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!!!

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Norah’s cancer finally appears to be in remission, meaning Norah can FINALLY return to school after two long years away. That said, jumping right back into middle school is a little bit scary, especially considering that she wants to be just-Norah, not “The Girl Who …”, especially especially considering that none of the adults will say the “c-word” (cancer) and that kids only see her as the girl who got sick. When she hits it off with new kid Griffin, she’s more desperate than ever to be a “normal” kid who just happens to have had cancer. Can she blend in as she wishes, or will her teachers’ insistence on how cancer must have shaped her and her parents’ overprotectiveness give her away?

Reader’s Comments:
Norah is such a delightful character. She’s sassy, she’s worried, she’s sweet, and she’s just an all-around great seventh grader to follow through this novel. I definitely recommend this book about what happens when a student survives cancer and needs to return to school.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 06/15/17

School Library Connection starred, 11/01/17
School Library Journal starred, 08/01/17

Reviews

Horrible house party: The Gathering (Shadow House 1) by Dan Poblocki

Poblocki, Dan. The Gathering. Scholastic, Inc., 2016. 215 pages. Hardcover $11.19, ISBN 978-0-545-92550-1; PLB $16.99, ISBN 978-1-33809-127-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Horror

Part of a series? Yes; this is book one of the Shadow House trilogy

Book Summary:

Several children from different circumstances receive a summons to Larkspur House; each summons is different, but each also succeeds in luring the children to the house. Shifting hallways, disappearing doors, and mysterious figures are found aplenty in the building…any exit or help is not. Will the children make it out alive?

Reader’s Comments:

This book was borderline too scary for me … but I am a big scaredy-cat anyways. 🙂 The creepiness just keeps on coming, and the action is nonstop. This unputdownable horror fix is perfect for your hardcore middle grader who wants a scary read.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a