Category Archives: Algonquin Young Readers

Book Review: Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Algonquin Young Readers
Published March 24, 2020
288 Pages

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window.

A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.- Goodreads

TW: Death

I seem to do better with heavy emotion books when there is some magic in it.  For me it makes the blow easier. This book is as heavy as it can get.  It is told through each sister’s POV and I am super thankful for that. You have Iridian, who is angry and trying to escape in her writing. Jessica, who is a walking ball of sadness and responsibility and Rosa, who is trying to be spiritual and magical at the same time. Although all of them were dripping with grief and depression, being able to read each of their POV made the book’s topic easier to read.

I can’t say that I liked any of the sisters but I enjoyed reading Iridian more. There was a very defined personality despite her grief and she was honest with what was her truth and I enjoyed reading that.

I have to say that if you are going through something right now in your life or recently went through the motions, you might want to put a pause on this. Ana’s death is described with clear imagery. You know what happen. You know the rumors around her death and you know what lead to it. If you are struggling with grief, I can’t recommend this book to you.

However, if you are not and love an emotional family read then this is for you.  Mabry, the author, does a great job telling this story. The pace is wonderful and the book is detailed. The way the magic in this novel is written is a mix of creepy and realistic. You feel it and I think that is what the author was going for.

Overall, this was a solid book that changes the way magical realism in YA is done.

3.5 Pickles 

 

Book Tour: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Algonquin Young Readers
Published Oct. 1, 2019
336 Pages

Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all? – Goodreads

This book cleared up my reader’s block in the most adorable coming of age way possible.

I love it when books focus on children wanting to go their own paths and/or seeing that there is a different path to take. The literal wonder in their eyes, speech and movements just builds an excitement like no other.

When you first begin the book, you know that Clementine wants something more. Shoot, I was genuinely surprised that by chapter three, there wasn’t a mention of a mother. The book is literally dripping in Clementine wanting more than the life she already has and that kept me interested throughout the entire read.

Clementine herself is an interesting character to read because she is trying so hard to follow what is “right” in her world but at the same time she is constantly conflicted if she is strong enough to do what is “right”. I loved her drive and her curiosity to explore and at the end of the day the love she has for her father.

The pace of the novel was a bit slow but I am okay with that because it is a lot of build up. The author gets you emotionally invested. Also this book is told in different point of views. Transitions are not in the middle of the page like other novels and it fits. Having the different points of views really works in this novel.

Overall, I was not expecting the emotional aspect to this fantasy read and if you are not paying attention you might miss it.

4 Pickles 

Book Tour: Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers

Image Courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers

Beloved author of, The Girl in the Well is Me, Karen Rivers is set to release a new book for middle school readers called Naked Mole Rat Saves the World on October 15th (2019).

Kit-with-a-small-k is navigating middle school with a really big, really strange secret: When she’s stressed, she turns into a naked mole rat.

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP Oct 15, 2019
304 Pages

It first happened after kit watched her best friend, Clem, fall and get hurt during an acrobatic performance on TV. Since then, the transformations keep happening—whether kit wants them to or not. Kit can’t tell Clem about it, because after the fall, Clem just hasn’t been herself. She’s sad and mad and gloomy, and keeping a secret of her own: the real reason she fell.

A year after the accident, kit and Clem still haven’t figured out how to deal with all the ways they have transformed—both inside and out. When their secrets come between them, the best friends get into a big fight. Somehow, kit has to save the day, but she doesn’t believe she can be that kind of hero. Turning into a naked mole rat isn’t really a superpower. Or is it?  – Goodreads

My Thoughts: A coming of age story that is deeper than an accident but provides a twist, to keep readers on their toes. Naked Mole Rat Saves the World, gives readers two viewpoints through children’s eyes of an event that changes not only their lives but the lives surrounding them.

An interesting read that will make you think and you should check out the excerpt below and let me know what you think ^_^

NAKED MOLE RAT – Excerpt

Book Tour: The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP: Sept. 3rd, 2019
272 Pages

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.- Goodreads

Shout out to Algonquin Young Readers for allowing me to be part of this book tour. I have been itching for this book and hoping I can be apart of the marketing/promotion for this. So actually being selected means a whole lot to me.

Corinne is still Corinne but much more paranoid. Well paranoid isn’t the word. She is much more worrisome than she previously was and she has every right to be. She is half Jumbie and she has been fighting for not only her family but the island she lives on for a while now. She knows something is coming but not exactly sure what and how.

When things do come, Corinne doesn’t exactly ask the right questions. She is for the most part a bit full of herself, so within this book she gets knocked down a few pegs and becomes humble. WHICH I am so glad for because she really needed it. Like the two previous books, this one contains a lot of themes about family, the different types of family, acceptance and sacrifice. Sacrifice is the biggest theme within this novel because a lot of it happens.

But what I really enjoyed about book three was how Corrine was not the focus. Yes, she is the main character, however, this story isn’t just about her and how she (with the help of her friends) save the world. She isn’t the only point of view and she isn’t the only one that has a hand in why the world is the way that it is.

I loved and I cannot stress this enough I loved the fact that the author brought everything from book one and two together in book three. It is the perfect set up to either an epic final or a spin off.

My only concern about this book and possibly the next one is what else is there? Book three, although was good, felt stretched. It wasn’t as detailed as the previous books and without giving it away there is a scene that happens in the book that I am still scratching my head on. I do not understand why the author did this thing and just left it there. This is one of the points where I felt the book was being stretched.

Also book three is not as creepy, insight full or the lack of better term, shocking as the previous books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The pace was great, loved seeing the gang come together and grow and loved seeing the community and their bond as well as respect grow.

If you haven’t already read the first two books, you should do that. Despite the fact that this book is for middle school reads, adults readers, both mythology and fantasy lovers will love the heck of it.

For those that have read the first two books, take a look below for a sneak peak into book three.

Jumbie God’s Revenge Chapter 1

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Changeling by William Ritter

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP July 16th, 2019
272 Pages

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong.

After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic.

 The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.- Goodreads

 

How freaking perfect was this book?! I probably just start off by saying anything William Ritter writes, I will read it. If you haven’t taken the time to read his Jackaby series, you are missing out. Seriously missing out. But this book review isn’t about Jackaby but about the new series called Oddmire.

As a disclaimer, you need to know that this book is for middle school children; however, there are adult themes that a child may miss but you will not. This book with all its magic and fantasy holds on very tightly to family, different types of family, traditions and most importantly love and its different forms.

The book is told in different point of views; the brothers, Tinn and Cole, the Mother, Annie, Kull and another person that I will not mention at this time. The different perspectives adds this layer that clearly separates the emotions the author wants you to feel. However, one emotion that is not present at all in this book is excitement; specifically Tinn and Cole. They not exactly excited for the adventure and rightfully so. This somber mood does not change at all in this book, however, the really cool thing about it is it doesn’t bring you down. You have that hope that everything is going to be alright when there are moments you strongly believe things won’t be alright.

I wouldn’t say that this was a slow read. It is very detailed without it feeling as if the author is reaching or dragging you along. You are invested because there is something new being added to the story (tastefully being added) and you don’t feel overwhelmed. Everything is connected and the ending although a little lackluster was a pretty decent way into the second book.

Overall, if you like fae, magic, etc but don’t necessarily enjoy the violence or the protagonist trying to fight tradition, this would be a good book for you even if you aren’t a child.

4 Pickles

If you don’t believe me how good this book is, take a look at the prologue below ^_^

The Oddmire – Prologue Excerpt

Impatiently Waiting For: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP: Aug. 22, 2017

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham,

New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.- Goodreads

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers Published April 25, 2015 240 Pages
Algonquin Young Readers
Published April 25, 2015
240 Pages

Corinne La Mer doesn’t fear anything; not even Jumbies in the forbidden woods. Jumbies are simply made up stories that parents use to keep their children out the woods, but Corinne knows better. 

But when Corinne notices yellow eyes staring at her at the edge of the woods. She begins to doubt her fearlessness. And when a beautiful stranger shows up at the marketplace and then her home with her father, Corinne knows that danger is near. 

Using her courage, the help of her friends and a ancient magic, she had no idea she possessed, Corinne must save her home and everyone in it. 

I really have a hard time finding good fantasy books for children (maybe YA) written by African-Americans. So, I jumped on this one purely based on the author and I wasn’t disappointed. This book was written extremely well that I would even recommend it for YA readers.

Firstly, characters. You knew from beginning and end that these were children. However, you didn’t feel the immaturity, even when the kids were acting a fool with each other. Corinne and her friends had a sense of wisdom about them that I didn’t feel was out of place. It fit them. They were kids but not reckless children trying to prove a point.

I loved how the author seamlessly tied mythology into the story without feeling like a history lesson. It was part of the culture, part of everyone’s lives and I loved how relevant it was in the beginning and end of the story. Also the author added something in there regarding history and I liked it. I was very surprised but thought it was perfect.

I enjoyed the pace of novel. However, at a certain point, the constant movement hit a plateau and I was stuck wondering if this was going to be end of my enjoyable ride. But it wasn’t. The pace began to build after this point and it did well til its descent at the end. Speaking of the end, it was great but it was a hard reality to swallow. I liked how the author did not shy away from the outcome because it is true. In real life and in every fantasy story, where the hero proves to be different it happens.

Would I consider this story horror? No, there is nothing exactly scary about it (even from a kids perspective) but it is deeper than just a fantasy story. You see how much a myth or a fable affects communities/cultures no matter what the generation is.

Overall,

4 Pickles