Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Mini Review: Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen - 3.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Finding Baba Yaga
Genre: Fantasy Retelling
Author: Jane Yolen
Synopsis: 
A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate—a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…
You think you know this story.
You do not.
A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself....
A mythic yet timely novel-in-verse by the beloved and prolific author and poet Jane Yolen, “the Hans Christian Andersen of America.”
Publisher: Tor
Publication: October 30th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5

Whew, this was one weird book. It goes from a somewhat modern time period with Natasha who has a controlling father that she wants to get away from then it goes to the woods where she meets Baba Yaga. From there she meets another young woman but this young woman isn't as headstrong as Natasha and she lets a guy get into her heart and take her away to some castle. That is pretty much the gist of the outside story. 

The inside story is about Natasha trying to find herself in a world where she was constantly controlled by her father. Finding Baba Yaga helped Natasha find herself. The story is very whimsical and strange but it is also beautiful if you take the time to understand what is going on.

Side note: I would like to thank this book for reminding me about Baba Yaga. When I started reading another book series, Throne of Glass, there are some witches in the book that are described like Baba  Yaga with the iron teeth and nails, etc. Without reading this book previously before starting Throne of Glass I probably wouldn't have put those clues together.

Overall, I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

REVIEW: Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Razorbill/Penguin. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Rating: 4/5
Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, romance, slight mature scenes, sins, and slight gore)
Pages: 336

Synopsis: 

Taj is headed west, but the consequences of leaving Kos behind confront him at every turn. Innocent civilians flee to refugee camps as Karima’s dark magic continues to descend on the city. Taj must return, but first he needs a plan.

With Arzu’s help, Taj and Aliya make it to the village of her ancestors, home of the tastahlik—sin-eaters with Taj’s same ability to both battle and call forth sins. As Taj comes to terms with his new magic, he realizes there are two very different groups of tastahlik—one using their powers for good, the other for more selfish ends.

Aliya is struggling with her own unique capabilities. She’s immersed in her work to uncover the secret to Karima’s magic, but her health begins to mysteriously deteriorate. With the help of a local western mage, Aliya uncovers her true destiny—a future she’s not sure she wants.

As Taj and Aliya explore their feelings for each other and Arzu connects with her homeland, the local westerners begin to question Taj’s true identity. Karima is on his heels, sending dark warnings to the little village where he’s hiding. Taj will have to go back and face her before she sends her mostly deadly weapon—Taj’s former best friend, Bo.



I felt like for a sequel this book was well done. The writing was still as strong as it was in the first book and the plot was so interesting. I liked the relationships that were explored in this book and I liked how the characters are more developed in this book. I feel that this was a solid book and I would love to see more of this series.

However, I do feel that the ending was very rushed and it felt that there were things that were left unsaid. Some of the parts of this book could have used a bit more fleshing out. I also feel that this book had some continuation issues. It felt that there were some parts of this book that didn’t seem to line up with the first book.

Verdict: Overall, I think this is a solid read and the series is fantastic despite my nitpicking. Definitely pick up book 1 and 2 this Halloween season!


Saturday, October 27, 2018

REVIEW: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Razorbill/Penguin! Thanks! All opinions are my own!
Rating: 

Publication Date: October 31st, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, slight gore, sin)
Pages: 298

Synopsis: 

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.



I had seen this cover in like every bookstore and I’ve always been so intrigued by it. I will say that the cover very accurately matches the tone and the happenings of the book. The character development in this book is very well done and the plot is interesting throughout the book. I felt like this book was really well written and I think the whole plot was a very interesting concept.

However, I did feel that there were a lot of characters in this book, some of them with similar names, which made it hard for this reader to keep them all straight in her head. I also feel that this book was a tad too slow paced for me.

Verdict: Overall, a very well written and solid read! Definitely recommend.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

REVIEW: The Lantern's Ember by Colleen Houck - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
The Lantern's Ember
The Lantern's Ember
by Colleen Houck
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Delacorte Press
ISBN3: 9780399555725
Library

ABOUT:
Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos. (GoodReads)

RATING: 

REVIEW:
I really did like this book. It’s the rushed ending that forces me to only give this book 3 stars. I really thought this book was going to have a sequel…. but no…. the last 20-30 pages just rushes to an end that just wasn’t fulfilling. Sure all the characters’ stories have an end of some sort… but I wanted more. I really wanted an epic battle. Or at least more to the main story that made sense. It was like the author ran into a page limit and was just like “Ok I guess I’ll just smash something that could be a hundred pages into twenty”. This book could have been so amazing!

Despite the bad ending, the rest of the book was fun and entertaining. As a HUGE Halloween fan, it was great to see so many spooky character and places connections. Jack is a lantern (Get it? Jack O’Lantern!) and he guards a covered bridge and has a creepy ghostly horse and he likes to ride around with a lit pumpkin to scare people…. Does that description remind you of Sleepy Hollow at all? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. He guards a gate to the monster world. There were many gates that he’s helped protect in the past including one in Salem, Sleepy Hollow, and Roanoke (three “spooky” towns!!!). In the monster world we have vampires who stories connect to Transylvania, a man made monster who resembles Frankenstein, a mad scientist who owns an island like the island of Dr. Monroe and so many great connections.

Main character wise…. I loved our little witch, Ember, though she did act very naive sometimes. Jack was an interesting guardian, though I feel like his romance was a little too easy.  Finny was a good overall sidekick, but nothing super special. Dev was a decent vampire though his longing for Ember got tiresome. The love quadrilateral (yes there were four people instead of our usual three) was kind of odd and a bit pointless. I feel like it was rushed and in some ways just didn’t make sense. Many of the other characters in the book we interesting and cool as well, but I feel like they didn’t get enough attention. I blame part of that problem yet again on the rushed ending.

Overall, this was a fun quick read especially for the Fall/Halloween season. It’s a “clean” read so young tweens and teens of all ages can enjoy it. Give it to someone who’s a fan of horror connections. 

Image result for halloweentown meme

Sunday, October 21, 2018

REVIEW: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments


Disclaimer: I bought this book on my own accord. Yay me!
Rating: 


Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Recommended Age: 14+ (violence, gore, mature scenes, romance, magic, diversity!!!)
Pages: 525

Synopsis: 

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.



Holy hell what can I say about this wonderful book? It’s like Harry Potter level of addiction and it makes me happy inside! I love this book!! The characters are complex and developed. The plot in intriguing and there’s not an “easy way out” or “one simple solution”. The book has a lot to talk about in regards to racism and prejudice. The book has an excellent and unique magic system. The book is just WONDERFUL! I was intrigued throughout the book. I felt that the pacing was on point and the writing was well done. I also realized why there was so much hype about this book: IT’S FUCKING GOOD! It’s the diverse fantasy that I’m happy and excited to see in the book community and it’s the best thing to read when it’s rainy outside (I tested this so definitely do this).

The only thing I would nitpick on is that I felt it was a bit long. I feel like the book could have been broken up into two books and it would have still been just as good, so I’m wondering how long this series will be and if there will be enough material for all of those books.

Verdict: Diverse fantasy that we needed yesterday.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

REVIEW: Phantom Wheel by Tracy Deebs - Paige

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Little Brown Young Readers and The Novl. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Rating: 

 Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
 Genre: YA Sci-Fi
 Recommended Age: 14+ (hacking, the digital apocalypse, some language, some romance)
 Pages: 403

Synopsis: 
Believing they have been recruited by the CIA, six teen hackers arrive in LA for a hacking aptitude test with the promise of a college scholarship and a job with the CIA after graduation. But one of the teens, Owen, walks out, refusing to participate. The other five decide to stay and complete the tests. When they finish, they leave feeling equally accomplished and unnerved.
Then silence-until they receive a text from Owen: You’ve been played. He’s uncovered evidence that the hackers created “Phantom Wheel,” the most devastating virus ever made. Jacento, the corporation behind it all, plans to use this virus to gain unprecedented access to personal data. And that’s just the beginning of the devastation. Can the teen hackers stop Phantom Wheel-and protect their own secrets from being revealed-before it’s too late?

Ever since being with my husband I’ve developed a fascination with hacker novels. I love asking Ethan if stuff in the books are possible or not and what his opinions on things are and this book wasn’t any different. For the most part, I enjoyed the book. I loved the dynamic between the cast of characters, I loved how developed each of the characters were, and I felt that the plot was intriguing enough to keep me interested throughout the book. I felt that the pacing was level throughout the book as well.

The only things that concern me about this book are the time jumps. At times they seem uneven and awkward. The way the kids talk about different computer things and hacking items can be confusing to people who aren’t into that or who haven’t read books like this before. There’s no explanation to the stuff they talk about or do. There are also things the kids do that don’t have an explanation to them and the way their written can be confusing. For example, at one point the kids break into a building with a plan to gather something (trying to not be spoilery). The heist goes off like how it would in a movie, but there’s no prior explanation to the readers, which is a bit confusing at first. It’s like you’re an outsider looking in throughout this book and at times it works, but sometimes it really doesn’t.

Verdict: A excellent hacker novel that makes you want to binge.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

REVIEW: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
The Cheerleaders
The Cheerleaders
by Kara Thomas
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9781524718329
Library

ABOUT:
There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe. (GoodReads)

RATING: 

REVIEW:
A great murder mystery for the Fall Season. I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of American Football or Cheerleading. It is with huge relief that I tell you that this book has little to do with either of those. The only real connection is that all the girls who died were part of the cheerleading squad and now there is no more cheerleading at their school. The story revolves around Monica, the sister of one of the dead cheerleaders, and her search to figure out if her sister really killed herself or not. All of her sleuthing drags her deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that is all of the girls’ deaths. They’re all connected right…. Or are they?

The characters were all well represented in the book. I don’t want to give too much away with descriptions of them or their personalities, it might ruin the story. Our main character Monica though is a very strong and intelligent female and I loved seeing that in a Teen mystery story. I’m a little sick of the main female character’s storyline getting dragged through romances. Thankfully there is very little of that in this book.

This book was full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing. It’s a very dark read that deals with a lot of tough issues like suicide, grief, abortion, alcohol, murder and more. It’s defiantly for your more mature teen reader. Give it to older teens looking for a good, creepy, suspense mystery!

Image result for mystery meme

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