Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race

Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein is the third book in the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series.

Mr. Lemoncello and his fantabulous library is back for another adventure filled with riddles, fun, facts and of course books. After escaping the library and competing in the Library Olympics what else is there for Kyle Keeley and his friends to do? Race of course!

Mr. Lemoncello is on the verge of revealing his new fabulous fact-finding frenzy game and in Lemoncello fashion, he is asking his friends of the library to compete in a race to see who will tour the libraries of the world and debut his new game. Of course Kyle and his friends can’t wait to compete!

But the race ends up being about more than just a game. Kyle Keeley and his friends find themselves in a race of another kind… a race to the truth.

It is just so much fun uncovering clues and reading/hearing quotes from books you’ve read. It’s like “Hey! I’ve read that book too!” People love that and Grabenstein is constantly referencing popular books and authors. This is definitely a series for book lovers.

The Lemoncello world is a world I want to visit. I’d love to ride around in book mobiles and race across the states to find clues and solve riddles. And the library just gets cooler and cooler with each book. Please take me to this library!!!

My only criticism of this one is that all of the Lemoncello books feel very familiar. Yes, the plots are different but the contests and fact finding games are all very similar. It is still a lot of fun though and I did enjoy that this one focused on doing research and not taking shortcuts.

Overall, this was another entertaining read by Chris Grabenstein. Grabenstein really does write some great children’s books. This one gets a high 3.5-4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

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Before The Devil Breaks You

Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray is the third book in The Diviners series.

It’s 1927 in New York City and the jazz age is in full swing. After facing sharp-tooth ghouls and a terrible sleeping sickness, the diviners are ready for the truth. Evie, Memphis, Ling, Sam, Isaiah, Theta and Henry and their non-diviner friends Jericho and Mable are more determined then ever to discover the truth behind their powers and the evil forces threatening their city.

As the diviners uncover clues and come into their powers, they find out that terrible forces are at work. A mysterious entity–The King of Crows–has power over the dead and is working to cause a breach between the world of the dead and the living. Together the diviners must work to reveal secrets that could endanger them all.

Will the diviners be able to uncover the truth before it is too late?

This wasn’t my favorite of the diviner series so far. I don’t know why, but I have a problem with series that get longer and longer with each book. Yes, I understand that the plots get more complicated as the story progresses but sometimes the also get more convoluted. We aren’t quite there yet with this series but I sort of feel like we might be heading in that direction. There were some plot lines that almost feel thrown in and some scenes that I just didn’t feel we needed.

I will say, I love the era the author has chosen to write in. The Jazz Age mixed with the supernatural is just wonderfully done. I love all the lingo and our characters have some really wonderful expressions and characteristics that wouldn’t work well in another time period. This book makes me want to go around using the lingo and of course get crazy looks from everyone!

On top of crafting an atmosphere that perfectly represents the 1920’s, Bray also doesn’t shy away from the political climate of the age. She addresses themes like racism, prohibition, eugenics, gender equality and more. Our cast of characters each face these themes in their own way.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I will be interested to see how Bray wraps everything up. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao is the first book in a new fantasy, fairy tale retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White.

From the moment she was born, eighteen-year-old Xifeng has been told that she was destined for great things. Beautiful beyond measure and raised to be smart and cunning, Xifeng has been waiting for her destiny to begin. She is no longer willing to wait and decides to leave her cruel, broken home and embrace her future.

All her life, Xifen has been raised by her Aunt, a cruel woman who does not spare the cane. She beats Xifen for any little infraction and uses her dark magic to get her way. She was born a peasant, without a Mother or Father and yet her cards say that she is destined to become Empress of Feng Lu. But to do so, she must give up all she holds dear and embrace the darkness that lives within her.

Will Xifen give in to the darkness or will she allow herself to settle for a life of love and happiness? Who is she willing to step on to get her way and how far is she willing to go?

A lot of people gave this one a mediocre to high rating but I just couldn’t do it. I just could not get into the story and Xifeng was probably one of the least relatable characters I’ve ever read — wow that’s harsh but I could not stand her.

You could tell that that author was really trying to make Xifeng seem like she struggled with her decisions and her destiny but this didn’t come off for me at all. She was wishy-washy and I could not believe she never got called out on some of her blatant lies. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vicious, manipulative female protagonist but Xifeng was too fake for me, she didn’t embrace the darkness like some of my favorite dark females, instead she put on a show. Some of the reviews I’ve read, said that they loved that Xifeng chose ambition over love but she was never going to choose love. From the beginning the lust for power ruled her.

The first half of the book, when Xifeng was travelling to the Imperial City was just so boring and most of her time in the palace was slow as well. The only time the book picked up for me was toward the end when Xifeng’s true character peeks out… for about a second.

Okay, I don’t normally like to bash books so I am going to stop here. This one gets 1.5 maybe 2 stars from me. Not a favorite.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Poison Dark and Drowning

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess is the second book in the Kingdom on Fire series.

At the end of book one we leave Henrietta pretending to be the sorcerers chosen one, when in fact she is only half sorcerer, half magician. Henrietta is supposed to be the savior of magic, the one meant to put down the Ancients and stop this brutal war. But Henrietta isn’t the chosen one and pretending to be so has put her and those she loves in terrible danger.

As Henrietta digs into the Ancients past, hoping for a way to defeat them, she stumbles upon terrible secrets and dark truths that upend her world and risk ruining everything she’s fought for. With her friends in tow, Henrietta will risk everything to make things right. Will Henrietta be able to wage a war built on a field of lies? And what will she do when the cards are stacked against her?

Sigh. I have this problem… If I start a series, I have to finish it no matter how lackluster I feel about it. Kingdom on Fire is a prime example of this. It’s not a bad series, I just wasn’t overly interested in the first book and, unfortunately, that feeling has carried into the second. I kind of like the politics of the magicians vs the sorcerers and their fight against the ancients but that’s about it. Again, in no way is this a bad read, I am just not into it.

There are a few things that could make this better for me… First and foremost, the Rook/Henrietta plot line. I hated this doomed relationship in the first book and it did not get better in the second book… at all. I kind of got annoyed every time Rook even showed up. Harsh, I know.

I also don’t know why every male character has to be in love with Henrietta. Even after they agree to be friends… wait! I still love you. And she like has separate, potential love, connections with each of them. If it were me, I’d be like can’t a girl just be friend! Just too much romance drama in this book for me.

And Blackwood! He was actually one of the characters I really liked and I was sort of rooting for him and Henrietta to get together because they were friends and have a bond and their wasn’t this wish-y wash-y-ness about their relationship. But his character does a complete 180 after about the first 50 pages or so. This almost irked me as much as Rook.

Sorry if it seems like I am bashing this series. It just isn’t my cup of tea. I gotta give it 2.5 stars. Better then the first book but not by much.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is an adult fiction novel that would probably be considered a thriller or whodunit.

No one in Lydia’s life knows much about her past and that is just the way she likes it. Lydia has spent her whole adult life running from a violent childhood horror. She has carefully crafted this life of books and acquaintances and has cut out all other reminders of her past, including her father.

When Lydia finds one of the bookstore’s eccentric regulars, hanging dead from the the bookstore’s ceiling, she finds herself caught up in the mystery of his death. Drawn into the deceased Joey’s life, Lydia finds a photograph of herself as a child in his pocket and her carefully crafted life starts to unraveled.

Now Lydia must uncover clues about Joey’s life by unraveling secret messages left for her in cut up books bequeathed to her upon his death. But the clues only lead to more questions. Why did Joey commit suicide? What does he know about Lydia’s childhood? And what ghosts from her past will Lydia have to face in uncovering the truth?

This was one I picked up solely because it had the word bookstore in the title. Yup, I can’t help myself–take note publishers. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the book was actually a bit of a thriller, not my usual genre but one I like to get to occasionally.

First, can I randomly gripe about a few things… What type of bookstore–thriving in this day and age, that is not a chain–is open past midnight, has multiple floors, and has a staff of what seems like it is in the double digits? And in Denver, Colorado to-boot. I know I am being picky but I’d love to know if the author based the bookstore off of a real one.

Now that I am done with that, this wasn’t a bad read. I wasn’t overly invested in the characters but it did keep me guessing until about halfway through the book, which I generally consider a successful thriller. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt and I wondered about what became of some of our side characters but for the most part the loose ends were tied up.

I did really like this idea of the BookFrogs; bookstore regulars who aren’t necessarily homeless but are regulars and fixtures in the store, each with their own eccentricities. I would have loved to glimpsed a few more of them throughout the story, as they were each unique and wonderful.

This book was fairly middle of the road for me. I would recommend it to my patrons but it was neither great nor a bad read. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu is a futuristic–but not too futuristic–young adult novel for all the gamers–and non-gamers–out there. <<how’d you like that description 🙂

Millions of people across the globe log into their Warcross accounts every day. Warcross isn’t just a video game, it’s virtual/augmented reality that is literally hooked up to almost all aspects of life. People make a living off Warcross–playing the game, selling items and in the case of teenage Emika Chen, as a bounty hunter.

Emika works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But bounty hunting isn’t easy and desperate and in need of some quick cash, Emika risks hacking into the opening ceremony of the international Warcross Championships and after accidentally glitching herself into the game, becomes an overnight sensation.

Thinking she is going to be arrested, Emika is shocked to be offered a job by the Warcross creator, Hideo Tanaka. Now Emika is working undercover as a player in the Warcross Championships, searching for a dangerous hacker known only as: Zero.

Can Emika catch Zero without being caught herself? And what will she do when Emika learns that this final bounty comes with real life risks and complications that she wasn’t prepared for?

I really liked this one. Talk about taking virtual reality to the next level. Warcross takes place in a world where virtual reality has basically taken over everything. The world looks normal without your Warcross glasses but with them on, everything is augmented–signs are animated, you can get data about buildings and people, you just get more. I pretty much compare it to living life without glasses and then one day putting them on to find out that that green blob was actually a tree.

Warcross is techie without being intimidating and could easily be read by both digital natives and digital immigrants. There was just this perfect balance between the gamer/hacker side of things and the characters themselves. And even though our main character is female, I think this is a book boys and girls would enjoy equally.

There’s a little something for everyone in this book. A bit of romance, fighting and action sequences, suspense, puzzles, assassination attempts and at one point there is even an explosion. There is also so much to build upon, what with the Warcross underground and the conflict introduced at the end. Also, Emika is just a cool character.

This was just a unique and really entertaining read. I give this one a very high 4.5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Origin

Origin by Dan Brown is the latest in the Robert Langdon series. It’s been quite a while since we’ve gotten a new one of these and honestly, I felt like this one came out of the woodwork–I had no idea it was coming until a few months out.

Robert Langdon is back and this time he is running around the Guggenheim Bilbao and the rest of Spain. When Robert is invited to an event at the Guggenheim for a presentation that will “change the world,” he can’t pass it up. Edmond Kirsch, a futurist, billionaire and one of Robert’s first students claims to know the answer to two of mankind’s greats questions: where do we come from and where are we going?

The night begins with a bang and suddenly is halted when Kirsch is attacked. Now it is up to Langdon and Ambra Vidal, the museum curator, to find out what Kirsch’s discovery was and reveal it to the world. But helping Kirsch will place them in terrible danger.

Can Langdon and Vidal uncover Kirsch’s password, release his revelation and stay alive when religious fanatics, police and the public are after them?

You can’t deny that Dan Brown as a way of combining history and fiction that is intriguing. You really do get a glimpse into history, architecture and more that you might not have otherwise seen. In this sense, all of his books are great. But for me, the story here, was a bit lackluster and not at all up to the suspense and thrill of his first two books.

I found the story quite slow actually. If you think about it, not much actually happens. The novel is book-ended by two giant chunks of text where the characters are basically stationary and nothing happens. I actually felt like I was being talked at quite a bit and it just felt like some of the prose when on and on. Don’t get me wrong, some of the theory was interesting, but it could have been condensed and still achieved the same goals.

I also hate to say it but the book was predictable. Believe it or not, but I called the ending and almost all of the character reveals after about two hours of listening to the audiobook. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t quite get into the story but there wasn’t as much wow, mystery as I expect with Dan Brown’s books.

This wasn’t a bad read but not one I would read again. Although, I will see the movie if it comes out–I love me some Tom Hanks! I hate to do it but this one only gets 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-