Tag Archives: review

I, Eliza Hamilton

I, Eliza Hamilton Book Cover I, Eliza Hamilton
Susan Holloway Scott
Fiction
2017-09
400

In this beautifully written novel of historical fiction, bestselling author Susan Holloway Scott tells the story of Alexander Hamilton's wife, Eliza--a fascinating, strong-willed heroine in her own right and a key figure in one of the most gripping periods in American history. "Love is not easy with a man chosen by Fate for greatness . . ." As the daughter of a respected general, Elizabeth Schuyler is accustomed to socializing with dignitaries and soldiers. But no visitor to her parents' home has affected her so strongly as Alexander Hamilton, a charismatic, ambitious aide to George Washington. They marry quickly, and despite the tumult of the American Revolution, Eliza is confident in her brilliant husband and in her role as his helpmate. But it is in the aftermath of war, as Hamilton becomes one of the country's most important figures, that she truly comes into her own. In the new capital, Eliza becomes an adored member of society, respected for her fierce devotion to Hamilton as well as her grace. Behind closed doors, she astutely manages their expanding household, and assists her husband with his political writings. Yet some challenges are impossible to prepare for. Through public scandal, betrayal, personal heartbreak, and tragedy, she is tested again and again. In the end, it will be Eliza's indomitable strength that makes her not only Hamilton's most crucial ally in life, but also his most loyal advocate after his death, determined to preserve his legacy while pursuing her own extraordinary path through the nation they helped shape together.

 

Review:

“I, Eliza Hamilton” is a beautifully written historical romance about one of our favorite families.  While it is fiction, the historical aspects are well-done and thoroughly researched.  It felt as though you were right there with them as history happened.  While it’s listed as an adult novel, if you have an advanced middle school history buff they will enjoy it.  Highly recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

The Agony of Bun O'Keefe Book Cover The Agony of Bun O'Keefe
Heather Smith
Razorbill Canada
2017-03

Little Miss Sunshine meets Room in this quirky, heartwarming story of friendship, loyalty and discovery.

It's Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O'Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What she's learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun's mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John's, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother's house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family -- a family of friends who care.

 

Review:

I fully recognize that I am in the minority here, but I did not like “The Agony of Bun O’Keefe” at all.  The main character bothered me, even though she was supposed to be one I felt sympathetic toward.  There were good issues brought up, but there were way too many and it made the whole thing seem crowded and rushed.  The only things I liked about it was the character of “Busker Boy” and the diversity.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Situations, Child Abuse, Verbal Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Racist Language, Violence

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, Book 1)

Nyxia Book Cover Nyxia
Scott Reintgen
Young Adult Fiction
Crown Books For Young Readers
2017
384

Emmett accepts an interstellar space contract but learns en route that to win the promised fortune he and nine other recruits face a brutal competition, putting their very humanity at risk.

 

Review:

I’ll say right off the bat that “Nyxia” borrowed quite a few elements from other science-fiction and dystopian works.  That being said, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment.  It was a quick read that left me wanting more.  Emmett is complex, as are the secondary characters, and there are definitely deeper things going on that I want to know about.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait for the second book.  The cast of characters is extremely diverse.  This is a good setup to the rest of the trilogy that I can easily recommend to those who enjoy science-fiction or dystopian novels.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Black Bird of the Gallows

Black Bird of the Gallows Book Cover Black Bird of the Gallows
Meg Kassel
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Teen
September 5, 2017
300

Her love breaks his curse. But his love spells her death. A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. Angie Dovage can tell the mysterious new boy next door is more than he appears, but she can't imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. But when a grotesque, otherworldly man tries to attack her and Reece comes to her rescue, everything changes. Any minute, chaos could rain down on her town, on her family, on everyone she cares about. But that's only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

 

Review:

“Black Bird of the Gallows” was not a bad book, but it wasn’t for me.  I liked the backstory and the magical realism, but there seemed to be something missing in the actual execution.  I didn’t like the main character, so that was definitely part of the problem.  I can neither recommend nor not recommend it, so I suggest that if it looks good to you to give it a shot.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Animal Death

Blood and Ink

Blood and Ink Book Cover Blood and Ink
Stephen Davies
Young Adult Fiction
Charlesbridge Teen
September 19, 2017
224

Kadija is the music-loving daughter of a guardian of the library in the ancient city of Timbuktu, Ali is a former shepherd boy, trained by Islamist militants--and both are caught up in the war in Mali and on opposite sides of the stuggle to save the sacred Sufi manuscripts that the militants want to destroy.

 

Review:

“Blood and Ink” is a book that I can’t say that I enjoyed, but I did find it important and educational.  It covers the true story of what happened in Timbuktu in 2012.  The story is told in alternating points-of-view, one being that of a local resisting the invasion, and the other being that of a young fighter for a branch of Al-Qaeda.  It’s well-written and really made me think about what is going through the minds of those suffering in these situations.  Even though it takes place in our recent past, it’s just as important today.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Book Cover Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Melissa Bashardoust
Young Adult Fiction
Flatiron Books
September 5, 2017
384

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother. Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known...or else defeat her once and for all. Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story. “In Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust has given us exquisite displays of magic, complex mother-daughter relationships, and gloriously powerful women triumphing in a world that does not want them to be powerful. A gorgeous, feminist fairy tale.” —Traci Chee, New York Times bestselling author of The Reader “Melissa Bashardoust's debut novel is everything a fairy tale should be.” —Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane “Dark, fantastical, hauntingly evocative.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 

Review:

“Girls Made of Snow and Glass” is a unique and imaginative retelling of “Snow White.”  Both of the main characters were complex and there was quite a bit of heartbreak while I was reading it over the circumstances of the infamous stepmother.  Add to it the lgbtq diversity and you get a solid and original read.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

The Flintstones Vol. 2: Bedrock Bedlam

The Flintstones Vol. 2: Bedrock Bedlam Book Cover The Flintstones Vol. 2: Bedrock Bedlam
Mark Russell
October 10, 2017
144

Fred and Barney reunite for Mark Russell's modern take on Hanna-Barbera's most famous stone-age family! This second volume starring the first family of Bedrock (and civilization, really) tells the story of who we are and why we do what we do as if it all began with Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty and the rest of the citizens of Bedrock. Shining a light on humanity's ancient customs and institutions in a funny origin story of human civilization, Mark Russell (PREZ) blends modern interpretations with Hanna-Barbera's classic characters, bringing a breath of fresh stone-age air. Hanna-Barbera has created some of the most recognizable animated characters of all time. As part of DC Comics' reimagination of cartoons like SCOOBY-DOO, JONNY QUEST, SPACE GHOST and WACKY RACERS, these new series are infused with modern and contemporary concepts while keeping the heart and soul of the classic animation. Collects THE FLINSTONES #7-12.

 

Review:

I have trouble finding the words to express how much I LOVE The Flintstones reboot comics.  “Bedrock Bedlam” is an even stronger follow-up to the first volume.  The art is beautiful and the satire is biting.  They definitely are not the Flintstones of your childhood (or the childhood of your parents).

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

The Comic Book Story of Video Games

The Comic Book Story of Video Games Book Cover The Comic Book Story of Video Games
Jonathan Hennessey
Comics & Graphic Novels
Ten Speed Press
2017
192

A complete, illustrated history of video games--highlighting the machines, games, and people who have made gaming a worldwide, billion dollar industry/artform--told in a graphic novel format. Author Jonathan Hennessey and illustrator Jack McGowan present the first full-color, chronological origin story for this hugely successful, omnipresent artform and business. Hennessey provides readers with everything they need to know about video games--from their early beginnings during World War II to the emergence of arcade games in the 1970s to the rise of Nintendo to today's app-based games like Angry Birds and Pokemon Go. Hennessey and McGowan also analyze the evolution of gaming as an artform and its impact on society. Each chapter features spotlights on major players in the development of games and gaming that contains everything that gamers and non-gamers alike need to understand and appreciate this incredible phenomenon.

 

Review:

“The Comic Book Story of Video Games” is definitely not light reading, but it is entertaining and full of information.  I believe I learned something new on almost every page.  This is perfect for kids interested in engineering and technology, as well as adults.  It could also fit easily into a STEM curriculum.  Highly recommended for all of us video game nerds out there!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

The Creeps

The Creeps Book Cover The Creeps
Fran Krause
Comics & Graphic Novels
Ten Speed Press
2017-09
144

A follow-up to the New York Times best-selling Deep Dark Fears: a second volume of comics based on people's quirky, spooky, hilarious, and terrifying fears. Illustrator, animator, teacher, and comic artist Fran Krause has touched a collective nerve with his wildly popular web comic series--and subsequent New York Times best-selling book--Deep Dark Fears. Here he brings readers more of the creepy, funny, and idiosyncratic fears they love illustrated in comic form--such as the fear that your pets will tell other animals all your embarrassing secrets, or that someone uses your house while you're not home--as well as two longer comic short-stories about ghosts.

 

Review:

“The Creeps” is filled with cartoons depicting various fears ranging from the rational to far beyond the irrational.  I don’t think anyone can go through it without finding something they relate to.  Some of it is funny, some of it is horrifying, and I finished it having some creepy crawly fears I had never even considered before.  It’s an especially fun read for the Halloween season.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

The Best Kind of Magic (Windy City Magic, Book 1)

Windy City Magic, Book 1 The Best Kind of Magic Book Cover Windy City Magic, Book 1 The Best Kind of Magic
Windy City Magic, Book 1
Crystal Cestari
Juvenile Fiction
Disney-Hyperion
May 16, 2017
336

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate. Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match? The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

 

Review:

“The Best Kind of Magic” is a promising start to the new “Windy City Magic” series.  It has just the right blend of magical realism, suspense, the supernatural, and romance to make for a fun, light read.  It flows well and the sass of Amber kept me laughing.  It’s the perfect book for when you need a break from reality.  Good for grades 7 through adults.  Highly recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence