Review | Snapdragon

Snap’s town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online–after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic–and a connection with Snap’s family’s past.

I wasn’t completely sure what to expect with this one going in, but just the cover and the blurb drew me in. I absolutely loved this story and it’s progression, even when it took turns that I was not expecting at all. The cast of characters are varied in their personalities and the diversity is wonderfully written and portrayed without being forced. I so enjoyed Snapdragon’s journey as she not only started to learn who she herself was, but also found new friends and relationships along the way.

The art style and color palette that Kat Leyh used perfectly fit the story and the setting, with the perfect amount of whimsy to go along with the touch of paranormal. As the story progresses you can’t help but root for Snap, her mom, Lu and Jacks as they all change and grow.

Happy reading!

Review | Awkward

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

I absolutely loved this little graphic novel. I would say it pretty perfectly captures some of the feelings people have at middle school age, feeling such as isolation, having a hard time making friends and fitting in and just how competitive cliques/groups can be.

So many of the characters were able to be identified with and there were some real issues that were discussed, as well as some humorous subjects that kept what could be heavier topics, refreshingly light.

I really loved the artwork as well, as it gave the story vibrancy and made sure that every setting was more than just a background.

Awkward is currently available on Kindle Unlimited so be sure to check it out. Happy reading!

Review: Skycircus

When a travelling skycircus arrives in Brackenbridge, Lily and Robert can’t wait to step aboard… But there’s something sinister about the hybrid children who appear as part of the act. And before Lily and Robert can do anything, they’re captured by shadowy figures and whisked off in the mysterious flying circus to somewhere far, far away…

Treachery, tight-ropes and trickery combine in this incredible third Cogheart adventure…

I have thoroughly enjoyed both Cogheart and Moonlocket, so I had high hopes for Skycircus and it did not disappoint. Bunzl takes us on another thrilling adventure that didn’t have so much to do with a mystery as it did with people that had certain motives.

As always I so enjoyed the recurring characters and their personalities. Each book tends to see growth in both Robert and Lily as they face every challenge that comes their way. Their reactions and responses to certain situations are valid, but they also still have a lot of that impulsiveness that goes along with youth. Also, I always adore Malkin’s attitude juxtaposed against theirs.

The circus was written masterfully and was rife with danger and creepiness. It was a great setting that was perfect for the adventure. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 4!

Skycircus is out now, so make sure to pick it up with Cogheart and Moonlocket – happy reading!

Review: The Witch Boy

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

I’ve heard great things about this graphic novel and am so glad I finally picked it up. It’s so wonderfully diverse in so many ways, without being in your face about it. When looking at diverse reads I really look for it to just be natural instead of purposely pointing out every little bit of diversity and this one perfectly showed how that can be done. I fell in love with so many of the characters and really enjoyed the progression of the story and how things were resolved. Also, while this could have easily been a stand alone I’m eager to check out the next volume.

I really enjoyed the artwork style and the vibrant colors were perfect for the age group this is aimed at, but I think it’s a great read for all ages. I really want to check out all of Ostertag’s work now and look forward to what comes out in the future.

Happy reading!

Review: The Crowns of Croswald

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

This book was such a fun adventure! I hesitate to compare any books to Harry Potter, because I know that such a suggestion can bring certain preconceived notions to mind, but if you’re looking for something about a magical world including a school setting then this will definitely fit the bill.

I love that a good chunk of this book is world building and that special attention was paid to fleshing out different aspects of the magic system. I’m super excited about the future books and getting to learn even more about the history of this world and its magic and creatures.

Ivy as a character is very impulsive, but driven by an inner purpose. Her moments of vulnerability are understandable and fitting for her situation. While she didn’t always full think through her decisions, she knew that there was a reason for the things she had to do and let herself be led by her instincts, which was both bad and good. While only a couple other characters were truly fleshed out, most of those who had a voice were distinct and individual.

All in all this was a great adventure full of twists and turns and I can’t wait to read more from this series!

Thank you again to Stories Untold and D.E. Night for sending me a copy of this book. D.E. Night’s books can be found on Amazon, or purchased through her website at DENight.com.

Happy Reading!

Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

Anyone who knows me knows that anything based on mythology will pique my interest, so when Rick Riordan started the Rick Riordan Presents line I was super excited. I finally got around to picking this one up and was not disappointed.

Chokshi’s writing is beautiful and the personalities she creates for her characters are very individual. Aru grows a lot in this book, but she still has flaws and still has things she needs to work on. This is something I really appreciate as it keeps her more human and easier to identify with.

I can’t wait to get to the second book and see how the characters grow even more. I have a feeling even more backstory will be revealed and we will learn more as the series goes on.

Happy reading!

Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this story and it’s mixed cast of characters. We are following multiple perspectives in this story and the way Barnhill weaves each of those perspectives together is beautifully done. Each character has a purpose and a different journey that they must take which is leading them to the climax of the plot. All of the characters are wonderfully sketched out and easily recognized, at least when talking about the main characters.

The world building and backstory was revealed in bits and pieces, which at times could be frustrating, but in the end all came together. There were definitely points where I wanted a little more, but it’s a wonderful coming of age story that addresses many aspects of mob mentality, fear and other difficult topics. The fantastical setting helps to soften these subjects and make them more digestible to a younger audience.

Happy reading!