Review: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

4 stars (I really liked it).

Liesl & Po cover (link to Goodreads)

I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie The Box Trolls, but this reminded me of it in ways. Mainly the setting and the feel: vaguely Victorian England, where almost all the adults are horrid, almost everything is bleak and gray and depressing, but the children are bright lights in all of it, plucky and courageous and smart and wise.

Liesl is a little girl who is locked in her room by her evil stepmother. Po is the ghost who haunts and then befriends her. Meanwhile, an alchemist’s apprentice, who is being terribly abused as well, makes a big mistake, and things start to unravel for all of them. It’s twisty and darkly humorous and well written, and I did enjoy it a lot. This isn’t my favorite setting, honestly, but the story sucked me in despite that.

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

3 stars

Doll Bones cover (link to Goodreads)

Three kids, who love roleplaying and acting out stories with action figures, have a bit of a falling out. One of the girls in the group claims this creepy antique doll her mom keeps in a cabinet has spoken to her, begging her to bury her in the cemetery a few towns away. It’s unclear for most of the book whether the girl is telling the truth (and this is truly a ghost story) or if she’s just making everything up to try to keep the group together, or a mixture of both. Anyway, the kids have adventures and misadventures before the end, and of course they make up. It dealt with some good, deep issues, but I felt like some aspects were kind of cliche or old-fashioned, which was odd for a book published in 2013. Also, the writing didn’t wow me in general.

Review: Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells

4.5 stars

Nothing Left to Lose cover (link to Goodreads)

The conclusion to the series, this did what it needed to to end everything on a high note. My only regret is that it wrapped up with too much of a happy ending. I don’t know what else I wanted. It is bittersweet, but John is so messed up that I kind of wanted something more like the end of Hunger Games. Which I hated at the time I read it. I don’t know. I’m conflicted. Anyway, I liked the book a lot and you should read the series, or your kids should if you’re not into YA.

Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

5 stars

Coraline cover (link to Goodreads)

Full disclosure: I really don’t tend to like books by Neil Gaiman. I’m pretty sure it’s a personal thing, since lots of other people love his work. I read Stardust after loving the movie based on it, and I preferred the movie almost from start to finish. I tried to read The Graveyard Book, but I couldn’t get into it. And I didn’t get even a chapter into Good Omens before deciding it just wasn’t for me.

That said, I loved Coraline. It’s cute, fun, and just the right amount of creepy. Quite a lot like the movie, if you like that.  Very short, so it’s easy to read in a single sitting.

Review: Over Your Dead Body by Dan Wells

3 stars.

This is book 5 in the John Cleaver series, which I’ve already said I LOVE. So much of this book felt like one thing happening, then another, then another, rather than a cohesive plot arc. That was necessary to make the twist work, but I wasn’t really surprised by the twist, since nothing else in the book had seemed important. Then things got really twisty, but it just felt like chaos. I still really like the characters and the ethical conundrums they face, so it wasn’t a total loss, but this definitely is the low point of the series for me.