Tag Archives: Book series

Review: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

YA book review of Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer, #1)Goodreads Blurb

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA book is about a girl brought up to kill her mother’s nemesis.

All her life, our heroine craves the love of her mother, who hardly sees her and on the rare occasions when she does, plays with her affections. Without warning, her mother sends her away to be selected as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven. If this was not traumatic enough, her mother’s parting words were strict instructions to kill the prince as soon as she gains his trust.

It is very easy to root for our heroine who, on one hand craves her mother’s affections and on the other, wants to be true to her conscience and not kill the innocent prince. The concept of the Council of Eleven is unique.

If you enjoy dystopian fantasy, check out this one. 3/5

Review : The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

YA book review of The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)Goodreads Blurb

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA book of time-travel, sea adventures and history has a great opening line and scene that pulls you right in.

Our main character is the daughter of the captain of the time-travelling ship. They travel round the world and through time to acquire rare and mystical artefacts, especially maps.

I part-listened to the audio book and part-read the paperback. In each destination, I enjoyed learning about the time and place. The author has done a great job giving us a feel of the places and the eras. I got to know the characters and really liked the Kashmir. The author has also taken pains to sneak in nautical terms in the narration, reminding us that our heroine grew up in a tall ship. 3.5*

Review : Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

YA book review of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)Goodreads Blurb

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.

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA fantasy is about a down-trodden magical tribe under the dictatorship of a cruel king.

Our heroine has inherited her late mother’s magical powers. Together with her non-magical brother and father, they eke out a living as the maggots of society. Fate takes a turn when brother and sister go to the city to make a trade. There Zelie gets entangled with the runaway princess and a stolen scroll that could bring magic back to these maji and diviners.

The story is told in 3-POVs: our heroine, the runaway princess and the crown prince who is trying to stop them. The author has done a brilliant job with both the plot and the characters. There is tension in every scene, and I felt for every character. It felt slow to begin with, as world-building takes time. But once this is established, the story just sweeps you along.

A brilliant read. 4.5/5

Review : Rendezvous in Russia by Lauren St. John

Middle-grade book review by Rendezvous in Russia by Lauren St. John

Rendezvous in Russia (Laura Marlin Mysteries, #4)Goodreads Blurb

The fourth Laura Marlin mystery from the Blue Peter award-winning author of DEAD MAN’S COVE

When Laura Marlin’s Siberian husky, Skye, saves an actress’s life in Cornwall, she and her best friend, Tariq, receive a surprise invitation to work as extras in a film about an art heist in St Petersburg, Russia. But what promises to be the coolest holiday ever quickly turns deadly as a series of accidents threaten both cast and crew, and Laura finds herself at the centre of a deadly game.

Meanwhile, the Straight-A gang are dead set on revenge and Laura is at the top of their hit list. As the doors open on a lavish film party at the legendary Hermitage Museum, Laura and Tariq have to decide who and what is real. Could art be about to imitate life?

My Thoughts after Reading

This middle-grade mystery is about a two friends’ adventure in Russia when their pet husky is selected to star in a movie.

Laura and her best friend tag along as extras on the set and enjoyed the experience of the world of movie-making, even if all is not as glamourous and exciting as it seemed. There are little clues that all is not right, but Laura had promised she would not go looking for trouble. However trouble came looking for her.

I liked both the Russian setting and the story being set around making a movie. The characters are likeable and who wouldn’t fall in love with a three-legged husky? The pacing in this story is good; the writing is easy to read, hence turning the pages to find out what’s next comes naturally. 3/5

The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly

Middle-grade book review The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly

The Lost Twin (Scarlet and Ivy, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts after Reading

This middle-grade mystery is about a girl taking the place of her twin sister at boarding school.

Ivy wasn’t good enough to get into boarding school, her sister Scarlet was. Scarlet died a month ago and Ivy receives a letter from the school inviting her to take her sister’s place. She hadn’t realised they meant it literally. She had to call herself Scarlet and try to behave like Scarlet. Then Ivy discovers her sister’s old diary with a cryptic message and go about looking for clues to piece together the events leading up to her death.

The pacing in this story is good. The author drops hints and reminders so I know where the story is going. Clues crop up regularly moving the story along. For this I rate it 4*.

Much as I enjoyed the book, throughout the story something didn’t sit well with me surrounding her twin’s death. Her parents were significantly absent during what would have been a very traumatic time for the family. For this reason I read it with a certain detachment. I thought it was a major plot-hole until I finished the book and read the back-matter. What had been bothering me will be addressed in the second book. I was very pleased to see this. Nevertheless, there ought to have been a stronger hint of their part in the story. For this reason, overall I rate this book 3.5*.

Goodreads Blurb

This is the story of how I became my sister…

A spine-tingling mystery set in a creepily atmospheric boarding school. Ivy must uncover the secrets behind her twin sister Scarlet’s disappearance before it’s too late.

When troublesome Scarlet mysteriously disappears from Rookwood School, terrifying Miss Fox invites her quiet twin sister Ivy to ‘take her place’.

Ivy reluctantly agrees in the hopes of finding out what happened to her missing sister. For only at Rookwood will Ivy be able to unlock the secrets of Scarlet’s disappearance, through a scattered trail of diary pages carefully hidden all over the school.

Can Ivy solve the mystery before Miss Fox suspects? Or before an even greater danger presents itself

Review : Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Sea Dragon by Sally Gardner

Middle-grade book review of Mr. Tiger, Betsy, and the Sea Dragon by Sally Gardner

Mr. Tiger, Betsy, and the Sea DragonMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts after Reading

The ebook I read is in blue ink. The colour and font was easy to the eye.

This is a whimsical book. Imagine our female protagonist as a child of Han Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, that is, the happy ending version. In this story, the girl has a mermaid mother, who still has her fishtail. Her father is human. He carries their mother when she needs to go about the house. She either sits in a bucket or in the bathtub. If you enjoyed watching Little Mermaid 2, you will like this book. If you have read the middle grade book Ingo by Helen Dunmore, this book is the chapter book version.

The words in this book are well-chosen and bring the story to life. Humour is sprinkled in every page. The characters are adorable, like the pastry-chef working in the ship’s galley. This is the perfect read for lower primary children, a popular age for pirates, dragons and mermaids. And this book has them all.

Goodreads Blurb

Award-winning author Sally Gardner delivers another whimsical tale about the daughter of a mermaid and an ice cream maker, a mysterious talking tiger, and a search for a sea dragon’s magical underwater orchard in this second book in the Mr. Tiger series.

From a magical world of well-dressed animals, talking toads, and bossy princesses comes a fresh tale of Mr. Tiger, Betsy K. Glory, and a wicked pirate in search of golden apples. A rare egg has gone missing and a very unhappy sea dragon wants it back. It’s time for Mr. Tiger, Betsy, and the Gongalongs to set sail on their second adventure.

Review : Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Book review on Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts after reading

This is about a dystopian world that came about because of the world we live in now : overpopulation, over-eating and climate change. Climate change resulted in flood and droughts until food-producing places failed to produce for three years. Factory have to stop producing indulgent food like crisps. Meat is frowned upon. To curb the population families can only have two children.

Our main character is the third child. As such he is illegal. Formally he has no identity. He has to stay hidden all day. If the population police discovers him, he could be killed, or his parents punished.

In a way, this book reminded me of A Handmaid’s Tail. It’s about a previous world so bad things had to change drastically. In this case food scarcity resulted in population control, which is not too dissimilar to China’s previous one-child policy or Singapore’s previous Two is Enough policy.

Even though the protagonist is twelve, this dark theme means it is more suited for young YA readers or at the very least, old MG readers. 3.5 Stars

Goodread Blurbs

SHADOW CHILDREN Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows — does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford “not” to?

Review : The Iron Trial by Holly Black

Book review of The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts after Reading

If you like Harry Potter and are looking for something similar, this book is for you. Unlike Harry Potter, the children audition to get into the Magisterium. It’s compulsory to go for these entrance exams, otherwise, our main character would not have gone. His father is dead against the magic school.

Despite his best efforts to fail, not only does our hero get in, but he is placed under the tutelage of the most revered magician with another two students. It’s hard not to get behind it as he was separated from his father without any goodbyes nor luggage. Thoughout the story, we see his inner conflict as he tries to reconcile his father’s viewpoints with his experience in the school.

The concepts of this magical world is different. The magisterium is waiting for the arrival of a Chaos mage. No one know who that might be until they manifest. On this note it reminds me of Keeper of the Lost Cities, where the elves manifest a talent around puberty.

A good read!

Goodreads Blurb

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. To succeed at the Iron Trial and be admitted into the vaunted Magisterium school would bring bad things. But he fails at failing. Only hard work, loyal friends, danger, and a puppy await.

Review : Legacy by Shannon Messenger

Book review of Legacy by Shannon Messenger

Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities #8)My Thoughts after Reading

This is book eight of the Keepers of the Lost Cities series. After the disappointment of the previous book, I was not too hopeful. But having read the each book faithfully when they came out, for the sake of completion, I read it. My expectations are higher now that we are in the eighth book.

This book, like all the other books in the series, is a thick book of nearly 800 pages. The novelty of Shannon’s style has worn off. I found myself bored with some of the banter. It is no longer fresh so it’s only mildly funny. At times, I felt it was slowing down the pacing of the book. There are several unnecessary padding moment; some of the dialogue or descriptions could have been cut out. Saying that though, the part about English biscuit did amuse me. I also feel I am reading the same things over and over again for the eighth time, the characters haven’t changed much. Those whom I was unconvinced by their relationship previously, I am still unconvinced. For example, I never felt Sophie’s connection with Edaline and vice versa. There were several moments of “I love you, Mom” or “I love you, Sophie” or “I’m always here for you.” but these are just words for me. I couldn’t feel the connection at the start of the series, and even now I still can’t. For this, I rate the book 2*.

Thankfully there was plot development in this book. The second-half of the book was more interesting. This means that I still had to go through the first 400 pages of the book before I felt it was worth my time. There were some novel concepts like the connection between lies and heartbeats. For the plot development, I rate it 3.5*.

I would add that, if a middle-grade reader has just started out on book one, they will enjoy the books in succession. But for someone who, like me, has had to wait a whole year for the next instalment, the experience is less satisfactory. Overall, for me personally, I rate this book 2.7*/5.

Goodreads Blurb

Illusions shatter—and Sophie and her friends face impossible choices—in this astonishing eighth book in the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Sophie Foster wants answers. But after a lifetime of lies, sometimes the truth is the most dangerous discovery. Even the smallest secret comes with terrifying new responsibilities.

And Sophie’s not the only one with blank spots in her past, or mysteries surrounding her family. She and her friends are part of something much bigger than they imagined—and their roles have already been chosen for them.

Every clue drags them deeper into the conspiracy. Every memory forces them to question everything—especially one another. And the harder they fight, the more the lines blur between friend and enemy.

Gathering Blue – My Thoughts after Reading

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet, #2)Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read The Giver a few years ago and only remembered the gist of the story. I don’t often read beyond the first book in a series because there are too many books to read out there and too little time. So I was in two minds about this one.

In the end I gave it a go when it was the book of the month of my reading club. I needn’t have worried. You can’t really see the link. It’s like two separate books. The era is different, so are the characters. If I looked hard enough, the most I can say about the similarity is the judgement of children’s future. I like this one better than The Giver. Even though the author’s style is relatively detached, I feel more warmth here. Newcomers are accepted and supported. Friendships are formed. I liked the hint of magic and special talents amidst traditional hunter-gatherer setting. Yet amidst this I could sense something wasn’t quite right.

I’m glad I read it. It’s good. I even feel inclined to complete the series.

Goodreads Blurb

Six years later, she ushered readers back into its mysterious but plausible future world in Gathering Blue to tell the story of Kira, orphaned, physically flawed, and left with an uncertain future.