Fury

Fury by Rachel Vincent is the third and final book in the Menagerie series.

Pregnant and on the run with her fellow escapees, Delilah Marlow is determined to bring her baby into the world safely and free. But the odds are against them as more and more cryptids are being caught and slaughtered. Delilah, her protector and the father of her child, Gallagher, the shifters, sirens and other cryptids with her must hide their identities or risk being separated or worse.

But the noose around them seems to be tightening as mass killings pop up closer and closer to where they are hiding and of course, they are being blamed. This rag-tag family must work together to stay safe and figure out what new evil it is they are actually up against.

Will Delilah be able to bring her child safely into the world? And if so, is it a world Delilah even wants her daughter to be a part of?

I really wish I could have read the un-edited version of this story. It felt like there might have been a few sections edited out because the ending really needed another 20 pages to really flush out the conflict and it’s solution. The part of the story we wanted, the answers to those questions we had, felt really rushed and I think so much more could have been done. There were also a few unfinished plot holes that could have been solved with just a sentence here or there. The whole thing just started slow and then ended quickly and could have used a better balance.

All that being said, I did really enjoy this series. It was unique and dark; it was a world you wanted to witness but never be part of. This series was really built up in three parts. The first book set the stage, the second gave you all the brutal injustice and conflict, and the third was the resolution.

I’m glad I stuck it out with this series even if the ending left me wanting. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Boy Bites Bug

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck is a middle school juvenile fiction book for 4th-6th graders.

Will didn’t intend to eat a stinkbug, but when his friend Darryl calls the new kid, Eloy Herrera, a racial slur, he didn’t think he just acted. Now will is Bug Boy and he kind of likes it.

Intending to keep up his notoriety and title as Bug Boy, Will talks Eloy into helping him get his classmates to eat bugs. But the more Will learns about Eloy and entomophagy in general, the more sincere he becomes about his project. For Will, eating bugs is no longer just a joke but everyone sees it that way. And what’s worse, he really likes Eloy and is afraid he may have ruined this budding friendship.

What can Will do to make everyone understand his real intentions when all anyone can see if a joke?

I thought this was a really great read for middle schoolers about friendship and understanding and realizing that people change. This book is also about accepting peoples cultures and not treating them differently because of it.

One of the things I loved about Will was that he would get back feelings when he wasn’t entirely sure how he should act or behave. This was really great because a lot of the time people, especially kids, aren’t a 100% sure about what is OK to say and do and what isn’t. Because of this, I found Will to be a really realistic and relate-able character.

This book could be a really good book club book because it is filled with STEM-y goodness about entomophagy, the environment and bugs in general. If I were to use this one in my STEM book club, which I can’t because we don’t own enough copies, I would totally pair it with a Hexbug challenge. It would also be great because the themes are something that should really get the kids talking.

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Iron Flower

The Iron Flower is the second book in the Black Witch Chronicles by Laurie Forest.

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only trying to do what was right but what’s right has brought them head to head with the Gardnerian’s. The Gardnerian’s are quickly gaining power and every day it seems like a new law or rule is being enforced to pure the world of the “evil one”–non Gardnerian’s.

Elloren has found herself caught in the middle of a world on the brink of war. Her heritage as a Gardnerian and granddaughter to the Black Witch, may have bought her a certain amount of safety. But at what cost? Her friends are in danger, her family is being torn apart and her heart is weighed down by her powerlessness.

Will Elloren find the will to fight for what her heart tells her is right? Or will the brutal weight of her peoples might, suppress any hope she may have?

Wow this one was hard to summarize… with or without spoilers. Phew!

I’ve been sucked into this series. Despite the controversial reviews, I have to know what happens. So, I am here for the long haul. And I will admit, The Iron Flower sucked me in just as much as The Black Witch. I love the relationships that have been built or are building and I like that they are not easy–that there are major conflicts and hesitations. And not just the relationships between “lovers” but also the relationships between friends, enemies, allies, etc.

I’m still a little mehhh that this is a teen book. The characters feel very teen-y but boy, does a lot go down in this book. It is harsh in some respects. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, prejudices, arranged and forced marriages… those are just a few of the triggers this book will hit. But it also feels realistic to me, which is also very, very sad.

It’ll be interesting to see where this one is going. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Kingdom of Ash

Kingdom of Ash is the 7th and final book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

In this final book, we pick up where we left off. Our allies have been thrown to the four corners of this world, all working in their own ways, toward defeating Erawan and bringing about a better world. But with Aelin Maeve’s prisoner, the missing third key and an army sweeping the land, will there be anything left to save?

And we did it! We reached the end of this massive fantasy series. That in itself is an accomplishment. Way to go Maas! And double kudos for keeping to a deadline and not leaving us hanging forever.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book. It wrapped up everything that I wanted to see and there were no glaring threads left hanging. The first 3-4 books will still be my favorite but I was impressed that these last books were able to keep everything straight and actually address each plotline, especially with so many characters. Because goodness, there were so many characters!

**Potentially spoiler-esq but not really** So many pairings and I didn’t know how Maas was going to be able to end this series with any, let along all of them intact. I swear, after the ending of the last ACOTAR book, which, lets be honest, was a magical ending where everyone lives happily ever after… I really, really thought we were in for a hell of a lot more heartbreak here. I also enjoyed the nod to ACOTAR toward the end there.

Did anyone else feel like the writing in this one, read a little different? Maybe it was just me but something read a little differently then the other books in the series. I can’t put my finger on it right now.

Many will be sad to see Aelin and her snarky spark go but I think Maas did a good job of ending this series and satisfying fans who stuck with it until the end. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Virgin Blue

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier is an adult fictional novel with a historical feel.

Present and past collide when Ella Turner moves to France with her husband and begins having blue dreams. When Ella moved to France, she hoped to find a place and begin a family. But small town life and the French in general, don’t seem to agree with her. She feels out of place and watched; she no longer feels like herself. And worst of all are the dreams. Dreams, she soon learns, may be connected with her families past.

Isabelle du Moulin, 400 years earlier, lives a different sort of small town life. Persecuted because of her red hair and her love for the Virgin Mother, Isabelle finds herself constantly watched and judged. Superstition and fear guide this time period and that in itself can be dangerous.

What do Ella and Isabelle have in common? Secrets will be revealed and revelations made.

This is the book that was chosen for my next social book club. I will admit, I was kind of indifferent to it when picked, but I joined the book club to socialize and read outside of my comfort zone, so I gave it a try. This book was beautifully structured. The way the chapters go back an forth to reveal bits and pieces of the truth, was wonderful. The story itself didn’t wow me, it was good but that’s about it. But the trail the reader had to follow to get to the end was interesting.

I wasn’t so much into Ella’s character. I thought she could have been a little stronger. She had moments, I’ll give her that, but overall she needed something that I just can’t put my finger on. Isabelle was better and Jacob was really interesting. I really loved his cliff hanger at the end.

Another gripe I have was the French. If I was a more studious reader, I would have looked up the French and the book would have probably had a lot more meaning for me. But reading in bed or on my lunch, mehhhh. I would have liked to know what was being said sometimes, specifically instead of just inferred.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I breezed through it. It’ll be interesting to see what the rest of my book club has to say about it. This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Muse of Nightmares

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor is the sequel to YA novel, Strange the Dreamer.

We pick up right where we left off. Lazlo has learned that he is actually Mesarthim and can control their impervious metals; Sarai is dead and yet, still alive; and both of them are at the mercy of a vengeful young woman, trapped in the body of an eight year old. Minya has given Lazlo a choice, he must choose between the women he loves and the people he has sworn to protect.

Weep itself is in an uproar after the citadels fall and the confusion of finding out that not only are the Mesarthim still alive, but that their friend is one of them. Worlds that were once separate will now collide in this conclusion to Strange the Dreamer.

I thought Strange the Dreamer was a really great book. A different world from anything I’ve ever read and the story was really well told. Muse of Nightmares was equally as good, but I think there was a different feel, a different dynamic to it. There was this desperation throughout that didn’t really exist in the first book. The first book was full of revelation and discovery, magic and dreams. This one was shot through with conflict and frustration, despair and tension. And yet the two stories still fit together really well.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like the sister’s story in this one, but ultimately, I think it added another layer to the story and allowed it to progress. If the story were only about Lazlo and Sarai and Minya’s control over them, well, it would have been a novella instead of a sequel.

My only negative comment about the book, was that it ended too cleanly for me. For a book that was filled with fear and desperation from it’s characters, I expected a bit more trauma at the end. I don’t know if that makes sense but I felt like just about everyone got their happy ending and although that is nice sometimes, I would have liked a little more drama.

Taylor did a great job building these worlds. This one gets a high 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

See You In The Cosmos

See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng is a 4th-6th grade novel about growing up and finding out the truth.

Eleven-year-old, Alex is a space buff. He loves his dog, Carl Sagan, his mom, with her quiet days and his brother, who he doesn’t see very often. When Alex and Carl Sagan go on a mission to launch his golden ipod into space, Alex will learn that family comes in all different sizes and that life can be a lot more complicated than he thought.

And so a boy and his dog travel from Colorado to New Mexico, to L.A. and back again in this journey toward growing up.

Oh boy, this was not what I thought I was getting into when I picked up this book. I’m always on the lookout for a good juvenile STEM read for my book club and with this one having to do with rockets, space, golden ipod’s and Carl Sagan, I thought it would be book club gold. And maybe for some people it is but I think this book might be a little too heavy for my crew.

See You In The Cosmos was a quick read, what with the narrative being written in the form of recordings from a 11-year-old’s perspective. But this almost made the serious topics harder to read because as an adult, I knew what was going on but knowing it through Alex’s naivety sort of made me feel like I was “watching a train wreck coming.” And it made me wonder what middle school readers would and wouldn’t pick up–most of it I’m betting.

This is really a book about growing up and beginning to understand some of the grown-up truths we don’t always recognize as children. With that in mind, this book really succeeds. Alex, for a kid who has a rough life, is incredibly optimistic and determined. He is smart and has such a big heart.

Although this book wasn’t what I was looking for when I picked it up, I do think it is a great read that broaches some heavy topics with hope. This one gets a solid four stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-