Review of The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau

Lina is an artistic girl that lives in the city of Ember, going about her normal life as twelve-year olds do in the city, working at her newly assigned job.

She lives at home with her Granny and her baby sister Poppy. All is well, until the city of Ember takes a turn for the worse.

Only when the blackouts begin happening, more and more frequently, Lina decides that something should be done. She knows that Ember won’t last forever, and she believes there’s another city, at least in her mind, out there somewhere . . .

When she finds a document of mysterious instructions, she knows it means something. So with the help of her friend, Doon, they decipher the instructions, bit by bit, in hope of escape.

Rating: 4/5 stars. This book was interesting and made me think: could there possibly be a city like this constructed in the future? I liked Lina as a character and how determined and curious she was. However, the book was boring at the beginning for me, though you might think differently! I am definitely the type for fast paced stories. Also, I felt that the story didn’t tie up some loose ends that I was curious about.

Ages: 9-13. I would definitely reccomend this book to younger readers.

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Prince Charming’s Search (Charming Academy #3) – Review

Prince Charming’s Search is the third book in the Charming Academy Series, by Jessica L. Elliot. This book centers on Jacobi and Clarissa’s quest. I’ll go over some of the things we know about the two based off the first book.

Clarissa:

  • Very sweet, but is not as large of a character in the first book.
  • not very good at dancing
  • Was in the year younger than her prince, like Allegra was.
  • Struggled along with Allegra to help Leticia after Eleanor’s death.
  • In the second book, we learned from her interactions with Allegra at the beginning of their last year of schooling that she was in lots of servitude classes. Huh, Cinderella?

Jacobi:

  • Was good friends with George, Kaelan, Adrian and Lucian.
  • Was also (very) not good at dancing,
  • Okay, to be honest, we really know the least about Jacobi and Clarissa from earlier books. That is probably why I felt like the beginning of this book dragged a little, because Elliot had to try and establish both the plot for this story and simply who the characters were.
  • Oh yeah, Jacobi was funny. He often tried to lighten the mood, though less comically than Adrian would. He was just good. He wanted everyone else to also be happy.

*Spoilers*

I enjoyed this book because it was a very creative retelling of Cinderella. I feel like the Cinderella story is a classic, and it, as with many other fairytales, (I’m not ignoring them, I just particularly enjoy Cinderella), can be retold so many cool ways. I also particularly loved how just good Clarissa and Jacobi are, they are sweet and loving and they try. Some may interpret Clarissa based on her words during servitude that she was spoiled, but it was the exact opposite of everything she had grown up in and she did want to change things not only for her, but for all servants in general who were treated as horribly as she and Angel were.

Which leads me to Angel. Oh, how I loved her. I thought that having Angel work along side Clarissa was a fantastic way to bring in the Fairy Godmother character. She was so kind and I really liked the background story she made, though it was false, and her constant care for Clarissa.

There were some other really interesting characters in this book. The ghost people and queen that Jacobi met were interesting, and how Jacobi got himself a new pet after he so selflessly gave Patches to Jezzie. The baker who was in that scene was also entertaining and a very practical addition.

The family that Clarissa is serving had some very interesting dynamics as well. The Master and Mistress were definitely not kind, and Cynthia is ridiculous. Jezebel tried so hard to please. Toby was just mean, but I really appreciated the character development surrounding him and those around him that occurred later.

I think it is really interesting how all of the books have lines that cross over from the other books that blend the quests together. Many of the mysteries resurface in other books and I find it really cool how Elliot brings the information together. This book did drag a little at the beginning but became an intriguing read where the questions continue, some the reader knows may not be answered even in later books. The twist on Cinderella was very well done and creative.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

image of book cover of Divergent

The book series called Divergent is an interesting one. It is the first book in a three-part series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant). This was a book recommended by a friend who has a similar taste in books. Overall, I enjoyed this book, though some parts were questionable.
Divergent is about a future Chicago where everybody is split into factions. There are 5 factions with different attributes associated with it. There is Abnegation (Selflessness), Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Truthful), Dauntless (Brave), and Erudite (Smart). When you turn 16 you go through a test in which you are given a faction that is mostly likely one that you would be placed in based on what you pick in the test. There is then a ceremony where you must pick where you live, work, and do everything for the rest of your life. There are tests to get into the faction and if you don’t pass you could become factionless. However, there are people called the Divergent. These people can do things like manipulate the tests and be aware that they are in a simulation (whereas normal people can’t).
Beatrice Prior (Now known as Tris) was born and raised in Abnegation where everything they do has to be selfless, whether it means eating the simplest food or letting other people get on the bus before you. When she takes her aptitude test to see which faction she is fit for, the person administering it stops and says she is Divergent. She says this is dangerous, not to tell anyone, and then manually logs the data saying Tris is Abnegation. When the ceremony comes around Tris must make a hard decision. She picks Dauntless, where they are all about being brave. She has a large amount of experiences, losses, and rivalry along the way. She also meets a person named Four (Tobias Eaton). They start to have a romantic relationship but must keep it a secret. They then discover a plot against the Abnegation, started by the Erudite who want power, and powered by the Dauntless because they have skills in combat. They are being controlled by a serum that had been injected unknowingly. Since Tris is Divergent she is not affected. She needs to save her friends and stop the Erudite from killing all the Abnegation.
I overall enjoyed this book a lot. The only parts I didn’t like were when she was talking with Four. The way that it was described and, the way that they communicated seemed inappropriate for 16-year-olds. Besides that, and the fact that some parts are sad. It was a very good book and I would recommend it, especially if you are into books such as The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter.
I would rate this book a 9/10.

 

Review of “The Unwanteds” series, by Lisa McMann

two children fleeing from a winged giant cat

 

“The Unwanteds” was a very entertaining series, and I had a fun time reading the books.

Alex lives in Quill, a land that hates and fears creativity of any kind. On a specific day every year, Quillens celebrate the Purge. The Purge is a holiday that separates out the thirteen-year olds of their country, picking out the Wanteds (the people designated to be the future leaders of Quill and who have some life in them), the Necessaries (the people to keep the population of Quill alive and are drab and lifeless), and the Unwanteds (the creative people who will be sent to their death. I know, morbid, right?).

Alex, unfortunately, is deemed Unwanted, whereas his identical twin brother, Aaron, is a Wanted. Alex is sent away to be killed, to the place where they end the Unwanteds, the Death Farm, but miraculously, he doesn’t die! He is sent to a magical world called Artimé by the Death Farmer, a mage named Marcus Today.

Alex befriends other Unwanteds named Lani, Samheed, and Meghan, and together they make dicoveries, learn magic, and go on adventures.

Rating: 4/5 stars. The issues I found with this series were that 1) it was too romantic (at least for me, but if you like romance you’d love it), 2) the battle scenes (especially the one in the last book) were way too long, and 3) I found that the plot line got a little bit repetitive in the final books. Other than that, it was good. This series was great, but I’m hard to please when it comes to books.

Ages: 12-15

The Seven Deadly Sins(Season 1and 2): TV Show Review

Cover image features characters from the show The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins is about the country of Britannia in what seems to be set during the middle ages. The princess, Elizabeth stumbles upon the Boar Hat Tavern after running away from the kingdom. She ran away because the Holy Knights, who are the “supposed” guardians of Liones (kingdom in Britannia), attempt to overthrow the king. Elizabeth’s quest is the find the Seven Deadly Sins, the group that went rogue and murdered tons of Holy Knights in Liones only ten years ago. In the Boar Hat, Elizabeth finds Sir Meliodas, the captain and most powerful of the Sins. Little do they know that, the leaders of the Holy Knights Dreyfus and Hendrickson are attempting to bring back the legendary demon race by tricking failed Holy Knights into drinking Demon Blood. This not only makes them stronger but if their hate grows too strong, they will become a demon as well. Therefore, Meliodas, Elizabeth and the Seven Deadly Sins must take back Liones, the kingdom that framed them for a crime they didn’t commit, before the Grand Holy Knights can summon the demon race and end humanity.

Pros: This anime had a great story, which not only included great plot twists but also had loveable characters and a great sense of humor that anyone could adore.

Cons: Even though the story was fantastic, there are almost too many plot twists to keep up with.

Rating: 9/10

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

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The Cruel Prince, written by Holly Black, is a modern fantasy and a first book in the duology. The second book, The Wicked King, was recently released. It follows Jude, who along with her twin sister Taryn and her half-sister Vivienne, was taken to the fairy world by Vivienne’s true father.

This book was very highly anticipated, and people either loved it or hated it. I personally liked it. My favorite element was the school that Jude attended with the other fey her age; it gave a unique twist on a fantasy story that made it different from the others. Jude as a character was aggressive and impulsive, but I didn’t mind. I found myself thrilled when she kept fighting the bullying of Prince Cardan and his trio.

A problem many people seem to bring up is the romance between Jude and a certain character. In my opinion, there wasn’t a romance at all. At the end of the book the character confesses how he can’t stop thinking about her and then they kiss but for no reason? There wasn’t any reason for them to and they didn’t seem to enjoy it nor did they talk about it again so that was very strange. From what my friends and I can tell, there is no relationship between them because Jude doesn’t like him still and she betrayed him at the end, losing his trust and likely any romance they might have had.

I liked how the story brought out my emotions. I felt exhilarated while Jude argued with Cardan, sad when Jude complained about being mortal, and angry when betrayals occur. I loved how the mortal world was mixed in and how they would travel between realms, which added to the uniqueness of the novel. I did not like how the fey are as they are in every book: so incredibly perfect and beautiful that mortals can’t begin to compare. I don’t understand why this matters so much when writing about the fey, but it needs to end. This book would have been so much better if the world were expanded. How big is the realm? Is it only as small as the map in the beginning? If so, the author should have no trouble going in depth into all the places. I feel as though this depth would have made the story leave a more lasting effect on me. The writing style was very nice and easy to read, and the imagery was wonderful.

I would rate The Cruel Prince 8/10 dragons, for the unique twist on fey stories and the emotions it brought from me.

Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas

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Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas, is the sixth book in the seven-book series (not including the novella) Throne of Glass. I would suggest not reading this review if you plan on reading the series because it may give away important details. The book strays from our protagonist, Aelin Galathynius and instead focuses on Chaol Westfall, who in the previous book suffered a paralyzing injury that sent him off to Antica, in the Southern Continent. Once there, Chaol works with healer Yrene Towers to heal his injuries and recruit the Antica military in aiding the war effort against Maeve.

Most everyone was weary heading into this book. Chaol is one of the supporting characters who has been in the series since its inception, although certain events led to Aelin distancing herself from him, thus making the reader not care about him as much as they used to. I was surprised by Maas’ choice of making the novel from Chaol’s point of view, but as it was the seventh book, and I had to read it. It started off extremely slow because the reader was trying to understand Chaol again and find reasons to care about him. Around a hundred pages in, the book starts to pick up and became impossible to put down. Maas made a wonderful decision by making Chaol the protagonist because he was the one character that I felt I didn’t have a strong connection to, and by making this novel, Maas was able to make the readers like him again. It also gave important background to crucial characters such as Yrene and why the Antica kingdom decided to help the war effort.

Most people don’t read the Novella, The Assassin’s Blade, because they think they don’t need to, but I would highly suggest reading it before Tower of Dawn because you will get further background on Yrene and her interactions with Aelin and it’s a very fun book overall. Yrene is an incredibly lovable character, and her relationship with Chaol started off rough but evolved interestingly. I don’t quite understand what was going on between Nesryn and Chaol because I couldn’t remember from the last book, but they had a very strange relationship. The chapters from Nesryn’s point of view only got interesting in the last couple hundred pages, unfortunately. She’s a wonderful character but in the first 400 pages, she didn’t do much.

There was a lot of representation in race and sexuality in this book, which I know a lot of people have been waiting for. The whole Southern Continent is full of darker skinned characters and one of the princess’ is in a relationship with a woman. In her other books, there tends to be a lot of graphic scenes, but this one didn’t have many. There is little representation in body type, which is extremely annoying considering even the strong women who train vigorously every day still have no visible muscles and curvy waists, which doesn’t anatomically make sense considering how strong they are.
What I didn’t like was how Chaol’s personality changed. When I look way back to Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, I remembered him not so much the whiny, tough, and brooding man he is here. Unless I remember him wrong, his personality upset me a bit and just reminded me of a more watered-down Rowan Whitethorn. You might think this was because of character development, but the character felt almost foreign to me, which isn’t a good thing.

I feel as though, as usual, Maas could have cut down a hundred pages, because there were so many parts that seemed unnecessary. I feel as though she could have spent more time developing the world. I’m not sure if we will get to see the Southern Continent again, but the kingdom and the whole southern part of the continent have been left unexplored.

I would rate Tower of Dawn 7/10 dragons simply for my love of the series and the new developments. Negative dragons for the slow first 150 pages.