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

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

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

Scary siblings: SPIRIT HUNTERS by Ellen Oh

Oh, Ellen. Spirit Hunters. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. 276 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-06-243008-3; PLB $18.56, ISBN 978-1-54902-786-4

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

Genre: Horror

Part of a series? Yes; the Spirit Hunters series is to be continued after this one

Book Summary:

Harper reluctantly moves to a new town and into a new house with her family. Her big sister won’t give her the time of day, and baby brother Michael begins to act strangely. Weird happenings and sudden migraines plague Harper, but she knows better than to mention anything to her mom. ANYTHING out of the ordinary sets her mom off … and with their new proximity to Harper’s grandma (a person that Mom has been avoiding for years), it’s all too easy to upset Mom right now. Is Michael in danger? And is there anything Harper can do about it?

Reader’s Comments:

SO SCARY. I’m terrified of ghost stories, and I almost needed to put this one down 🙂 That said, it’s a delicious story with super spooky elements, and the characters are superb.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 05/01/17 

Publishers Weekly starred, 05/08/17

Reviews

Imagine that: MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Thank you to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain for an ARC of this book! Below is my honest review.

Morris, Chad, and Brown, Shelly. Mustaches for Maddie. Shadow Mountain, 2017. 245 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-62972-330-3

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Maddie is a fun, energetic girl with a great imagination. She also wants to be friends with Cassie, a super-popular girl in class. Unfortunately, Maddie’s arm has a habit of curling up weirdly, and Maddie is a little clumsier than she used to be; Cassie doesn’t like these things, so Maddie does her best to hide them. Maddie’s parents are concerned, and a visit to the doctor reveals the startling news that Maddie has a brain tumor. Readers follow Maddie as she deals with this news and what comes next … and how this will affect her standing in the social hierarchy of the classroom.

Reviewer’s Notes:

This is a really sweet book that acknowledges the scariness of cancer without turning the book into a tragedy. Maddie’s liveliness and inner strength are important elements of the plot, making this book a good pick for collections that also need stories that do not focus on the sadness of this kind of diagnosis.

Readalikes? Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

Reviews

Here for a reason: GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead

Stead, Rebecca. Goodbye Stranger. Read by Kimberly Farr, Meera Simhan, and Kirby Heyborne. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015. 289 pages/6 hours and 59 minutes. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-375-99098-4; hardcover (library binding) $19.99, ISBN 978-0-375-99098-4; PLB $13.06, ISBN 978-1-53791-774-0; TR $6.84, ISBN 978-0-307-98086-1

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Bridge survived a catastrophic accident when she was little, and she can’t get the following words out of her head after a nurse remarks upon her survival, “You must be here for a reason.” What reason could that be? That’s a tough enough question without taking into account that this year Bridge and her best friends Tab and Em are starting seventh grade. While they’ve sworn on a Twinkie that they’ll never fight, will seventh grade and all of its trappings test the bonds of their friendship?

Reviewer’s Notes:

I really enjoyed this book. Bridge sounds like a seventh grader — she wants to be older, but she also misses the simpler days before all of the politics and intricacies of being twelve. Her friends are distinct characters, and the changes in point of view from Bridge’s present-day, Sherm’s letters to Nono Gio, and an unnamed character on Valentine’s Day keep the story moving nicely.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 05/15/15
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred, 09/01/15
Horn Book Guide starred, 04/01/16
Horn Book Magazine starred, 07/01/15
Kirkus Reviews starred, 06/01/15
Publishers Weekly starred, 05/11/15
School Library Journal starred, 05/01/15
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred, 08/01/15

Reviews

Mysteries, Magic, and Munch: Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley

Beasley, Cassie. Tumble & Blue. Read by Kirby Heyborne. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. 390 pages/8 hours and 18 minutes. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-525-42844-2

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

Genre: Magical Realism/Fantasy

Part of a series? No

Plot Summary:

Every hundred years, a mystical alligator appears in the Okeefenokee swamp. Whosoever finds this alligator has the chance to have their fate miraculously improved. Two hundred years ago, a Montgomery and a Lafayette arrived at Munch (the name the Montgomerys have given the gator) at the same time. When it became clear that one could not best the other, they asked to split  the fate … thereby cursing their families down the generations. Now, Munch is set to reappear…can Blue Montgomery fix his fate so that he is no longer condemned to lose? And will Tumble (Lafayette) Wilson — a girl determined to be a hero no matter what life throws at her — be able to help her friend reverse his fate? And what will they do if the other Montgomerys get to Munch first?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book is delicious! Beasley’s writing is delightful, and Heyborne’s narration is amazing. Munch’s voice is wonderfully wicked, and Blue and Tumble are always easily distinguishable. Each cousin has a different voice, and none of the girls’ voices go into the obnoxious “Girl Voice Falsetto” that some narrators in the audiobook industry use. The story is totally engaging, and the magic of Munch’s appearances is really well done. Each Fate is also fascinating; in all, I highly recommend!

Grade Level :3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 06/01/17
Kirkus Reviews starred, 06/01/17
Publishers Weekly starred, 06/12/17
School Library Journal starred, 07/01/17

Readalikes?

Holes by Louis Sachar

Reviews

Friendship on the Field: Braced by Alyson Gerber

Gerber, Alyson. Braced. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017. 281 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-545-90214-4

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

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Part of a series? No

Plot Summary:

At the end of her vacation before seventh grade, Rachel finds out that her scoliosis has progressed to the point where she must wear a brace. She is fitted for her brace and prescribed a 23-hour-a-day routine. Rachel has big plans for seventh grade — making starter offense on the soccer team, getting to know a guy from class better, and generally being awesome. A brace for her scoliosis has no place in her plans, but her mom refuses to let Rachel spend extra time out of her brace. Can Rachel still rock it on the soccer field in her brace? Will her teammates support her, or are they just laughing at her?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This is a great book. The author draws on her own experience of having to wear a brace as a teen, and Rachel’s voice comes through super clearly and realistically.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred02/01/16

Kirkus Reviews starred12/15/16