The Jamie Drake Equation

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge is a 4-6th grade science fiction book.

Jamie Drake is your average boy with one big exception, his dad is an astronaut on the international space station and he is part of a big mission to find life in outer space. Jamie is very proud of his dad but he misses him a lot, especially with his birthday coming up and his dad missing it.

When Jamie stumbles upon a rouge scientist at a dilapidated space observatory, he accidentally downloads something to his phone and starts receiving weird signals. Where could this signal be coming from? Could it really be aliens?

With his dad gone, Jamie doesn’t know who to turn to and decides to investigate himself. But when something goes wrong with his dad’s mission, Jamie knows it is up to him to save his dad from space and all of it’s dangers.

The Jamie Drake Equation was one I was considering for my 4-6th grade STEM book club. It was a good read and would have given us a lot to talk about but I just didn’t think we had enough copies in our library system to make it work.

That being said, this book was full of fun STEM-iness. We learn about the Jamie Drake Equation, we learn about the fibonacci sequence and more space science. But there is also the sci-fi element of the alien’s and Jamie’s interactions with them.

This book is very emotional for a middle school read. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s this almost Armageddon feel to the end and I really don’t want to make the kids cry! We also deal with serious themes like divorce and separation, moving, fear and more.

This is a read I would recommend a caregiver reading with their child. But I think any 5th-6th grader could get through it alone. In terms of being full of STEM goodness, this one rocks!

I think this one gets a 3.5 from me. Good but not quite what I was expecting/looking for.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

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Two Dark Reigns

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake is the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series.

We pick up only a few weeks after the end of One Dark Throne. Katherine is the Queen Crowned. Mirabella and Arsinoe are in hiding on the mainland with Billy. And Jules is in hiding on the island, dealing with the repercussions of being legion born.

But the island isn’t done with these girls. The mist is rising, causing panic and fear. It has a life of it’s own and it takes whomever it wants. As the undead queen, Katherine’s rule is threatened, not only by the mist but also by a renegade band of rebels who want to end the line of the queens and rule the island as it has never been ruled before.

While Katherine tries to hold on to her thrown, Arsinoe and Miabella try to forge a new life away from the island. But a dark shadow threatens and refuses to allow the past to lie.  Nothing is settled and this story is far from done.

Two Dark Reigns started out pretty slow for me. There was a lot of talk and very little action. It wasn’t until two-thirds of the way through the book that things start to actually happen. Some background was needed in the beginning to build up where the story is ultimately leading to but I just felt that we could have gotten to the point sooner.

Some things happen really slowly in this series, while others go almost too fast. There were pockets of action in this book that could have be dragged out a little more, whereas several discussions could have been chopped down to a page max.

That being said, I do love this world that Blake has built up. And it’s just gotten more interesting with the legion curse and the history being revealed. I am also loving how the mist, the islands protector, seems to be turning on the island itself.

I am excited to see where this last book will take us… who will survive and who will not. Mostly, I want to know what is instore for the island. Will it survive the mist or will this be the end of it altogether?

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Mirage

Mirage by Somaiya Daud is the first book in a new YA science fiction series.

In a section of the galaxy, a brutal race rules with an iron fist. And on a quiet planet in this system is an eighteen-year-old girl named Amani, who loves poetry and dreams of signs from the god Dihya. When Amani is kidnapped by the Vathek, she has no clue that her life is about to change forever.

Amani looks identical to the young princess, Maram, next in-line to inherit the Vathek empire. Because of this, she is forced to become Maram’s body double. She must sound like Maram, walk like Maram, act like Maram or else she will die.

Forced into this new role, Amani finds herself exposed to a world she could never have imagined. But beneath the beauty is fear. Will Amani succeed in impersonating Maram?And will she lose herself to this role? Or will she fight in her own way to maintain her life–her freedom?

This was an entertaining read. Not stellar, but I think we are going to get there. Mirage was pretty average for me until the second half, then we start to see more of the politics and we get that world building that was lacking in the beginning. I can see the sequel doing a lot for the series as a whole.

This was a sci-fi, space odyssey, without feeling like science fiction. That is one of the major props I give this book. It will appeal to a reader even if sci-fi isn’t in their wheelhouse. I loved how you could see elements of futuristic, space-travel, but the world still felt… almost Middle-Eastern in setting. At least that was the impression I got.

One thing I seriously struggled with in this book is the fact that Amani’s family wasn’t brought into it sooner. Not once, does Amani say she fears for the safety of her family–not until the end. All the way up to that point, her driving force for complying with being a body double was her own personal safety. I just found this a little hard to believe. I just didn’t believe that Amani, as a character, would have given in, in the first place, just to protect herself.

This is one that I have high hopes for. Hopefully the sequel will live up to my imaginings. This one get’s 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is a new tween science fiction and fantasy series.

Cassidy Blake has never lead a normal life, what with her parents being super success paranormal writers who call themselves: The Inspectres. But her life took a turn for the even weirder when she died. Well… almost died. Ever since this near death experience, Cassidy has been able to actually see ghosts, including her best friend Jacob.

Now her parents have decided to turn their successful novels into a TV show and they are all off to Edinburgh, Scotland–the city of ghosts. What Cassidy finds in Edinburgh will change everything she knows about who she is and what she can do. But there will be danger and the information she learns may just tear her world apart.

I really enjoyed this one. Totally a book that both kids and adults will enjoy. I didn’t even feel like I was reading a tween book but the content was definitely still appropriate for the kids. It wasn’t too scary but it will also keep a reader at the edge of their seat.

Cassidy and Jacob made a good team and yet there is this hint of what’s to come with their relationship. I really look forward to seeing Cassidy developing her abilities and how Schwab is able to do this while The Inspectres move from city to city. It’ll be interesting to get these haunted histories of different historical sites.

A fun quick read for an adult and a little spooky and an exciting read for 10+. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Endless Beach

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan is a Summer Seaside Kitchen book set on northern Scotland on a small island.

When Flora MacKenzie left her not-always-so glamourous life in London to return home the Mure, a small Sottish island, she didn’t realize how much peace she would find. Now, if only her American boyfriend could get his act together and open up, everything would be perfect.

Magical whale sightings, local community, scenery and a sense of belonging lull Flora into complacency. When superstition and terrible omens rear their heads, Flora will realize that the peace she’s found could easily be snatched away.

The Endless Beach is a chance for the reader to get back to Mure and fall back into the lives of the character’s they fell in love with in The Café by the Sea.

Well this was no Bookshop on the Corner or The Café by the Sea. It was the fluff, easy reading pick-me-up (sort of) that I wanted and in that it achieved it’s goal. I just didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I did in Colgan’s other books. The whole Joel, Flora back and forth was a bit annoying, although it was interesting to get into Joel’s head a little.

It also just ended. Yes, Flora and Joel’s story wrapped up nice and tidy but everyone else’s were just kind of left hanging. I mean what about Flinton? What about Sarif and Lorna? I almost wonder if Colgan plans on coming back to these characters; if she can’t let them go. I really don’t need another book set on Mure–give me a new story with new characters–but I wouldn’t mind getting a <100 novella to wrap up these other two stories.

Overall, this was an OK read. It didn’t impress me but I wasn’t bored. This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Poppy War

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is an adult fiction novel, that may actually be the first in a series.

Rin, a war orphan, was determined to leave her rotten life behind. Everyone was shocked when she aced the Keju, a test given by the Empire to find the most talented youth to train at the Academies. And Rin beat them all, gaining a spot at the most prestigious of schools. But getting a spot and finding a place are two very different things.

Being a peasant girl, without a lineage, from the South, ostracizes Rin from her peers. While Rin works toward the highest marks, in order to prove herself, she discovers a rare aptitude for the mystical arts. With the help of an inane, opium addled teacher, Rin will attempt to learn the extent of her powers.

With war at their doorsteps, Rin and her fellow classmates have no time to lose. War isn’t coming, it’s here and it will change them all.

Holy trigger warnings people. This book deals with a lot of dark themes–war, prejudices, drugs, physical and mental abuse, mental health, sexism, rape, torture, addiction–I could literally go on. If I entered into this series with all that in mind, I might not have been quite as disturbed by the book. But so much of it was just awful, in the cringe worthy sense. And extremely vivid. I usually have no problem with dark, awfulness but there were several times where I was like annnnd let’s get past this.

That being said, the writing and world building was amazing. This world of gods and war and opium fueled enlightenment was so well done, that it almost felt familiar. Not really knowing anything about the book, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. And what started out as an orphan tale, quickly morphed into something totally different.

This book is about war and all it’s gruesome parts. That is one thing you can’t deny about The Poppy War, it is intense. The author knows how to put tension into his writing and the reader feels it every step of the way. I think this may actually be why some of the more graphic violence seems so brutal, because the tension imparted in the scene is just that high.

When I finished this book, I immediately gave it three stars because of how brutal it was. But reflecting back on it, I have to bump it up at least a half a star if not a whole star because the author does achieve what they set out to do.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Smoke and Iron

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine is the fourth book in The Great Library series.

In this one we pick up where we left off. Jess is pretending to be his brother Brandon in order to destroy corruption within The Great Library from the inside. Morgan is back in the Iron Tower and attempting to liberate the Obscurist’s from their shackles, while not becoming trapped herself. Wolf is back in prison and the rest of the gang are on a boat, captive or guest, the lines are blurred. But one thing is for sure, no one is safe.

The battle for the Library has begun and what started out as a rebellion to rescue a friend, has now turned into an all out war. But who is fighting who and will the costs outweigh the benefits?

This is an interesting series. There are parts I love and then there are times where I am sitting there thinking, come on, lets go. It’s one, at this point, where I could probably take it or leave it but I ultimately want to know what will happen, so I am sticking with it.

One of my complaints about this series is that is runs in a circle. The gang realizes something or hatches a plan, then they either get caught or have to save someone, they get free, plans go awry and they are “captured” again. Yes, each time is unique and ultimately the story does move forward but for me, this circle needs to be broken.

I did really like that we get Khalila’s point of view in this one. She has a unique perspective. She has hardly any ulterior motives other than her devotion to the library and her hopes for it’s return to the pure entity it was meant to be. Where as Jess and Morgan believe in the library but their actions are also colored by their emotions and their past. There is also a lovely battle scene toward the end that I would love to see on screen if done well.

Ultimately, this was another entertaining read by Rachel Caine and I am ready to see how it will conclude in the final book, hopefully coming out next year. This one gets a solid 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-