The Palace Library ★☆☆☆☆

16284783It’s pretty much Narnia, and I don’t feel like it’s good Narnia.

Three children stumble upon an extraordinary library in an old house. Armed with magical books, and accompanied by an enchanting deerhound, they leave through a door that takes them to a world in the past.

Beyond the door, a kingdom is in crisis. The Great Sword of State has been stolen and destroyed. The Queen reveals an ancient prophecy that says only children can replace the Sword and she sends them on a journey that takes them beyond the world’s end.

The children must unlock the secrets in their books as they face storms, fight traitors and tackle dragons. Without knowing who they can n trust, can they succeed?

-NetGalley

One of my favorite quotes about children’s literature comes from C.S. Lewis. He says, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

I think this book is really missing a good editor. It has potential. I wouldn’t have requested it if it didn’t sound interesting, but it just wasn’t written well and it felt too targeted.

The tricky thing about children’s literature is that you don’t want to sound like you’re writing for children and the writing in The Palace Library felt just like that. Sentences were too simple, things that were special had way too much attention drawn too them, and, of course, it was the youngest child who knew the most instantly about this crazy world within the wall.

It just didn’t feel like Steven Loveridge really knew how to write for children. Writing for children also means writing for adults and I, an adult though some deny it, didn’t feel included in the story.

A Thousand Nights ★★★☆☆

athousandnights_cvrIt’s dense, it’s slow, it’s beautiful, and well thought out. Language alone makes me think it’s not Young Adult. That’s not to say that YA Books can’t be beautifully written, but the writing in A Thousand Nights does not capture the YA voice.

Every Day 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

13262783Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

-Back Copy

REVIEW: Undertow ★★☆☆☆

22924235Seventeen-year-old Eila Walker’s new home has defied the brutal Atlantic for over 160 years. Abandoned since her 4th great grandmother Elizabeth vanished, the town legend declared that she drowned.

Unbeknownst to the town and Eila however, is that someone does know what really happened to Elizabeth and he has returned to the Cape, determined to protect the last surviving Walker from a history of violence. A soulless killer himself, Raef will attempt to keep Eila, safe from his own kind who murdered her grandmother so long ago.

But what starts out as a quest for redemption evolves into something more and soon Raef is forced to reveal the truth to Eila.

My official verdict on Undertow is: Meh.

We open with the instant friendship formula followed shortly by “Oh, gee, who is that mysterious stranger?”

That mysterious stranger who is not really mysterious at all. Maybe I would feel differently if there weren’t the prologue in the beginning. To be honest, I was more intrigued by the prologue than I was by chapter one, and I wish I had read Elizabeth’s story and not Eila’s.

Eila was just too… boring? Is that the right word? She wasn’t above or below her age range but if I were a teen I wouldn’t be friends with her. I’d probably wave at her because I knew her from class, but as for hanging outside of school? Nah.

I stopped reading halfway through. Which I hate doing but I simply wasn’t enjoying it enough.

I will say that I enjoyed the premise. Hence the second star in my rating. I’m a sucker for a good ancient family mystery drama, but I just don’t feel like Conway took me along the right path in Undertow.

Lydia’s Enchanted Toffee ★☆☆☆☆

cover72812-mediumPlanet Plenti is a most extraordinary place, a world of incredible edible delights; of confectionery minerals, fizzy pop springs, forests and jungles full of delectable plantlife …

And yet, for children in the land of Likrishka, life is less than ordinary, and mostly very grim – as the Likrish population lives under the watchful rule of Stannic, a tin-skinned tyrant, a Master Chef who commands an army of robot waiters.
Thus nine-year-old Lydia faces a future slaving away in a factory camp – but the girl was born with a mysterious power over metal (when she eats a special type of toffee) …

One eventful day, she meets a gang of other girls with strange sweetie powers: the deadly Bull’s-Eye, razor-toothed Jawbreaker, fire-breathing Peppermint, super-fast Hazel Whirl; there’s Marshmallow, Ice Lolly, Sugar Cube, Dolly Mixture, Cocoa and Marzipan … and together, they must travel across the robot-controlled Candi-Lands, on a treasure hunt for magic sweets that will help to defeat the villainous Chef … and return their world to its sweetest, once more.

-Goodreads

Perhaps I was hungry for more with Lydia’s Enchanted Toffee. The synopsis sounded so cute and, if I’m being honest, I love a good pun so the fact that the prologue is called the Appetizer made crack up.

But then it just stopped working. It felt almost juvenile. The dialogue didn’t seem real and after a few pages the amount of food descriptions was just too over the top.

Bakery became Baykari, which I ended up pronouncing Bay-CAR-ree because of its spelling. The Winelands are France and Italy is Nooga

And the whimsical language is incredibly difficult to stay with. Every sound–I mean EVERY sound–has onomatopoeia, like the craa-craa cries of the gulls and the shug-a-shug-a-shug of the snakes (and I’m not even sure that’s the right sound for snakes to be making).

There are also illustrations but… well they aren’t that amazing… and since the world is made of candy, don’t you think I know what candy looks like?

Ultimately, I didn’t finish Lydia’s Enchanted Toffee. I couldn’t put myself through it. And I hate doing that, but it would take me too long to push myself through this book.

If you see it out in the world, leave it where it is.

The One and Only Ivan 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

In contrast to Mean Margaret, The One and Only Ivan had wonderful characterization. We can see how Ivan sees Stella’s treatment drives him to understand that his “domain” is really a cage. I enjoyed that Ivan’s vocabulary had a tinge of the business man, especially when he talked about his paintings being sold at steadily increasing values (with a frame). It showed how long he’d been at the Big Top Mall and how much he’d interacted with Mack, whose only goal was to bring in money.

The most powerful moment for Ivan is when he begins to recognize his predicament and corrects Ruby when she mentions his domain. But in that moment, Ivan is not defeated, rather he is inspired to aide Ruby, and the other animals at the Big Top Mall.

On a bigger scale, it raises the point that we all have the responsibility to look after each other. Ivan cares about Stella and Ruby the elephants, Bob the dog, and Julia and George the humans all in the same way. He treats them kindly and has hopes that they all find happiness and a home. He recognizes that he does not have a lot of power but he uses what little influence he has to bring attention to the treatment of the animals at the mall.

Even though Mack neglected the animals, Ivan still felt bad for him, and somehow responsible for him since Mack had adopted Ivan when he was younger.

Mean Margaret ★★☆☆☆

mean-margaret-9781481410144_hrQuestion: What do a pair of newlywed woodchucks, a squirrel, a testy snake, a skunk, and a couple of bats have in common with a family of pudgy human beings named Hubble?Answer: Their lives are all turned topsy-turvey by a tyrannical toddler named Margaret.

Question: Will Margaret ever realize that there’s more to life than being mean? Answer: Read this touching comedy and find out.

-Goodreads

Fred, a neat, tidy, and prejudiced woodchuck, vehemently doesn’t want anything to mess up his life. But then he dreams about being married and begins to crave socialization.

This arc within Fred growing from an isolated bachelor to “normal” was aggravating to me. I felt like we spent too much time learning how neat and tidy he was, as it was literally chapters. Then we spent even more chapters looking for a wife while we learned how judgmental he was (note the lines about how stupid and sloppy rabbits are).

Learning about Fred made it feel more like I read two books. One about Fred finding Phoebe and one about Fred with Margaret (who doesn’t appear until midway through the book).

And although I was expecting the character change in Fred at the end, I wish it had been shown earlier. Fred talks about how the kids are Babbette’s responsibility, how filthy humans are, and how stupid other animals are, but he—at least for me—never really atones for it. He just decides to move into the cave with the other animals at the end and never acknowledges what a bigot he’d been and how being with the animals in the cave helped to change him.

I don’t think he ever really saw how horrible he was—and while I am happy that he changed at the end, I don’t really understand why he did.

Awake by Natasha Preston ★☆☆☆☆

9781492618522_35ba1Scarlett Garner doesn’t remember anything before the age of four—but a car accident changes everything. She starts to remember pieces of a past that frighten her. A past her parents hid from her…and a secret that could get her killed.

Awake has a lot of problems. Let’s start here: