Review: Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

3 stars (would be increased to 4 if I’d read the actual book rather than the audiobook, I think).

Snow & Rose cover (link to Goodreads)

This is the perfect book for kids who love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. It gets the feel just right. There’s enough woodsy darkness without being too scary for young children. There’s a tricksy gnome, a mysterious bear, a missing father, a woodland cabin, and a magical library without books.

I sometimes found myself a little bored as I listened due to a scattered plot and poor pacing at times, but I ultimately enjoyed the book, and it’s not long. I can’t be sure, but I think if I’d had the illustrations to enjoy, I would have been more patient with the book’s flaws, and the scales may have tipped more toward delight. I mean, look at this:

Snow & Rose would be a good read-aloud, even for very young listeners, since they’ll have pictures to look at while you’re reading. The illustrations really are part of the full experience of this book, so don’t be like me. Get the physical book.

Review: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians: The Scrivener’s Bones by Brandon Sanderson

4 stars (I really liked it).

Scrivener's Bones cover (link to Goodreads)

I am going to start with a series of confessions. I read the first Alcatraz book years ago and didn’t like it much. Sanderson’s sense of humor doesn’t really match with mine, so when he goes all zany, as he does, he loses me. I decided then not to read the rest of the series.

My 13 year old son has read the first three books and liked them, but the wait was so long before book 4 that he got too old for them and can’t remember now what happened in the first three and doesn’t care enough to reread them so he can finish the series.

A few months ago, I was able to read an advance copy of book 6 of this series. I remembered enough of book 1 to muddle through, but . . . it was a lot more interesting than I remembered. And suddenly I wanted to read the rest. So those are the confessions: I didn’t think I would like this, and I’ve read most of book 6 and you haven’t. So there.

Okay, so now on to the review. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I was never bored, and the humor worked for me. I liked the characters and the twists. It’s short and sweet, so I finished it in a day or two. I’m definitely reading the next one.

Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

4 stars (I really liked it).

Children of Blood and Bone cover (link to Goodreads)

If you haven’t heard of this book, you haven’t been paying attention to book hype the last few years. As a west-African-based fantasy about systemic oppression, it is an important book, a book that is doing what few other books are. And for the most part, it does it well. The plot clips along at a good pace, the writing is strong, the conflict is compelling. I had issues with the romance, though I might come around to it in a sequel or two . . .

For me personally, it was a bit dark and violent. But lots of people like dark, and I’m not opposed to it in small doses (like, reading one book but not diving immediately into the sequel, for example). I’d probably recommend this to older YA readers and adults for this reason.

I listened to the audiobook, and Bahni Turpin is as amazing in this as she is in The Hate U Give. Her versatility is unbelievable.

Review: Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

5 stars: It was amazing!

Bob cover (link to Goodreads)

I love when reading a middle grade novel feels like hanging out with real kids. I love when middle grade is funny and heartfelt and earnest and exciting. This one ticked all the boxes for me. I didn’t miss that this is the second book by Rebecca Stead that I loved, and I noticed after reading that Wendy Mass is the author of a book my oldest son loved and read twice. I guess that’s going on my to-read list! This book would be appropriate for pretty much any kid old enough to listen to a novel.

Review: Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


4 stars: I really liked it.

The Raven Boys cover (link to Goodreads)

The fandom for this one is super devoted, and I can see why. It’s well written, mysterious, and full of colorful characters with weird names. Blue, the female main character, is a non-psychic in a family of psychics (reminds me of my friend Christine Amsden’s series a bit), but when she’s around, she enhances their abilities. She has been told she’ll one day kill her true love with a kiss. One day she sees a boy named Gansey  on a specific road at a specific time, meaning he will die in the next year. She doesn’t usually see anything, so the fact she does probably means either he’s her true love or she’ll kill him, which . . . yeah. Intriguing. When she meets Gansey in person and finds him insufferably arrogant, it turns into a fun enemies-to-lovers story with a deadly twist. Or so I thought.

Actually, Blue starts falling for a different kid in Gansey’s group of friends, and I really like that romance a lot, and I’m not sure how I feel about the whole love triangle with Gansey thing, and the intriguing vision at the beginning doesn’t pan out in this book, so that was kind of annoying, and maybe I’ll read more of these but maybe not.