Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman

Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman

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Book Review of Girls Who Code: Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman

I have a 13 year-old daughter that loves coding. She’s taking a creative coding class at school and loves it! So I have been thrilled to be able to review the books in the Girls Who Code series. I’m so glad they’re putting an emphasis on girls and coding. The books, if nothing else, are great at spotlighting some amazing things that coding can do. They make it seem so fun and “cool” (Does anyone even use that word anymore, or am I dating myself here?). These girls are normal, cute girls who play softball, dance karaoke, have real problems, and love to code. They do such fun things with coding! I hope you enjoy my book review of Girls Who Code: Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman.

Blurb:

“Erin knows that she is a star, and this could be her big break. With the talent show coming up at school, she will have the chance to take center stage with a stellar performance and help behind the scenes, too, with the coding that will make it all happen.

But Erin has a secret: She has anxiety. And when things start piling up at home and school, she has a harder time pretending that everything is okay. Her friends from coding club have always been there for her in the past, but she has never told them what is really going on. With the spotlight on coding club and more pressure on the team than ever before, will this be their final blow?”

My Book Review:

This is a really cute book. I seriously love how fun and awesome they make coding sound! And they also make it sound fairly easy. I mean, if they can do such fun stuff in junior high, then it must not be too hard, right? I don’t know coding at all. At all. I know as a blogger I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true! So I like that it makes coding a little more accessible in my mind. I think it will have the same effect on the YA girls reading this book.

The book is well written. I like the writing style and the character development. Erin, especially, is well developed and realistic. She thinks things I know I thought way back in junior high. I like how realistic she is. She definitely has her struggles, and I think that’s great for the girls who will be reading this to see. I especially like the focus on anxiety.

Over the past year and a half I have come to know a lot about anxiety in teenagers, and I know it’s a lot more common than most people think it is.  It’s high past time that we talk about it and get it out in the open. Maybe a YA girl reading this book, who has anxiety, will seek help when she sees Erin getting help. Or maybe she’ll at least gain the confidence to talk to her parents about it. I really liked that side story of the book because it is so pertinent to these kids.

The story is realistic with a school-wide talent show. I think it’s a fun back drop to talk about amazing things that coding can do. I loved how all the technology came together, and I could totally see a high school coding class putting something like this together. What a great learning experience for the girls in the coding club! I love how they all put their personal touch on everything.

This is such a fun series, and I am glad there is a focus on girls and technology. I think a lot of girls will benefit from this book and series. Hopefully it will spark an interest in coding in some more girls!  

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There are a couple of places the girls say, “Ohmygod,” which is a swear word in some homes. There is a homosexual character, and it is briefly discussed.)

Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2RMSecX

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! (Book #3) by Jo Whittenmore Girls Who Code: Crack the Code by Sarah Hutt  
 

Book Review of Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

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Book Review of Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

I have worn glasses since second grade, and contacts since seventh grade. Pretty much, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t need glasses to see. I’ve never been made fun of or teased because of my glasses, thankfully, but the cover of this book totally had me curious! I loved Mustaches For Maddie, so when I saw that Squint was written by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown I knew I needed to read it. And I’m so glad I did. They have become quite the duo!

Blurb:

“Flint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the ‘Find a Comic Star’ contest. He’s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus—an eye disease that could eventually make him blind.

McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy they call ‘Squint.’ He seems nice and really talented. He draws awesome pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time?

McKell has a hidden talent of her own but doesn’t share it for fear of being judged. Her terminally ill brother, Danny, challenges McKell to share her love of poetry and songwriting. Flint seems like someone she could trust. Someone who would never laugh at her. Someone who is as good and brave as the superhero in Flint’s comic book.

Squint is the inspiring story of two new friends dealing with their own challenges, who learn to trust each other, believe in themselves, and begin to truly see what matters most.”

My Book Review:

What a great book! As I stated above, I love the way that Chad Morris and Shelly Brown write together. The voice in their stories just draws you in. It’s so real. It is full of emotion, expectations, and energy. It’s easy to read and understand, and yet it has an underlying depth to it. Although it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, it has such a positive feeling to it. The voice fits the characters and situations in the book perfectly.

This book feels similar to Wonder by R.J. Palacio. There are some similarities there as well. Flint, the main character, has a disability and the kids at school make fun of him, tease him, and stay away from him. Then someone is brave enough to look past the thick glasses and quirky habits. McKell wants to fit in with the popular crowd, but she doesn’t like how they treat Flint, also known as Squint. Her brother gives her these challenges to do, and since she’s afraid that the popular crowd will make fun of her for doing them, she asks Squint to accompany and help her.

Squint is not used to people actually paying attention to him and being nice to him. At first he doesn’t trust McKell because he expects it all to be a prank. But then it’s not. She genuinely wants to be with him. Now, she may still want to also be a part of the popular gang, but she makes it clear to Squint that she doesn’t like how they treat him. She’s nice, caring, talented, friendly, and kind. She has the ability to look past the glasses and quirks to find the real Flint.

Flint is also a great character. He used to be normal like everyone else. He played football, had friends, and could see perfectly. Then one day he began losing his eyesight. The diagnosis was keratoconus. It’s an eye disease. This is how Flint explains it in the book:

“It’s called keratoconus,” I said. “It’s not like super rare or anything. There may even be someone else in the school with it, but mine is pretty bad. Well, really bad. My corneas are getting thinner and thinner, and that makes my eyes bulge. It’s like the windshield of my eye to too weak to hold its shape ball…It makes everything look a bit like a funhouse mirror.”

I won’t complain about my poor eyesight after reading about Flint’s disease!

I think it’s great how Chad Morris and Shelly Brown use their books to bring attention to different situations in people’s lives. The more we talk, the more we realize how similar we are. The more books kids can read about how being different is ok, the better. If kids can read more books on how to treat people, the better off we’ll all be. We like to think we’re different. We’re unique, for sure. But we’re the same. We all want to fit in, have friends, be loved, and not be made fun of or teased. I think everyone wants to feel safe and acknowledged. It’s the relationships and the connections that matter.

I love books that teach such valuable lessons in such a great way. It’s a great reminder for readers of all ages that how we treat people is important. Everyone has a story. Everyone is fighting a battle. Some battles are front and center while others are more hidden. Learning to look past differences and see the real person behind the façade is a skill we can all improve in. Learning to accept and love despite differences is also something needed today. Also, there are always two sides to every story. Many times we get caught up in our own thoughts and feelings, and forget that others are involved, and they have feelings too. Thank you Chad and Shelly for writing stories that inspire, teach, and uplift!  

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean, but there is some minor violence with fights, mean words, and bullies.)

Recommendation: Middle Graders (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2y9OCsu

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

mustaches for maddie Wonder by R.J. Palacio  the hundred dresses
 

Review of Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack

Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack

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Book Review of Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack

I always get excited when I hear that Josi Kilpack has another book out! She has such a fun writing style, and is good at allowing the reader into the hearts and minds of her characters. She has written about a wide variety of characters in different settings, and they always seem to become some of my best friends. When I heard about this new book I may have done a little happy dance. The cover art is beautiful, the title is fun with alliteration, and I couldn’t wait to meet the characters and delve into this world of primroses. So what did I think? Find out in my book review of Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Lord Elliott Mayfield has done his best to take care of his family, first his siblings and now his nieces and nephews. Unfortunately, he sees this new generation moving in the same direction of bad matches and scandalous relationships as the last. In hopes to change their course, he establishes a ‘marriage campaign’ to motivate them to improve themselves through making respectable matches. With his heart in the right place, what could possibly go wrong?

Peter, Elliott’s eldest nephew, thinks the entire idea is ridiculous. A widower with two young daughters, he simply needs a governess, not a wife. Julia Hollingsworth certainly has the credentials and the experience, but is altogether too young and pretty for such a job. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?

Julia loves working as a governess, despite the objections of her mother, Amelia. And as it turns out, Amelia has a lot to say about the Mayfield men—none of it good. But Julia dismisses the rumors of ruined reputations and instead concentrates on helping Peter with his children and his fledgling business in canine husbandry. His kindness and gentleness is endearing—and increasingly attractive.

But Amelia, whose heart was broken thirty years ago by none other than Elliott Mayfield, is determined to prevent any relationship from blooming either between Peter and Julia—or between herself and Elliott.

Hearts and history collide as both couples must face their pasts and decide if risking it all is worth the promise of new love and a new future.”

My Book Review:

Hahaha! Can you imagine your uncle coming to you and proposing that he will give you a very large gift (money or something else) if you decide to settle down and get married to a respectable person? I have to admit that it might be tempting–as long as I already had a fiancée. It might be a little weird otherwise. People just don’t talk like this anymore. Of course parents want their children to marry good people, but thankfully it’s not the same as it used to be. Again, thankfully, women have a lot more options now than they did back then. I’m so glad that times have changed on that one!

I love Julia’s character. She’s so sweet and tenderhearted. I loved how cute she was with the little girls in the story. It was fun to read about the tea parties, the games, and the love she had for them. I liked that she thought independently, she didn’t care what her mother thought, and she did what she thought was best for herself. After learning about Julia’s mother, I don’t blame her for wanting to get out from her mother’s thumb.

Peter seems like a good man. He may be a little too blinded to see what’s important sometimes, but I think he has good intentions. It was interesting learning about the dogs and some of the care that went into them. I know that scandals in families still happen, but thankfully, I don’t think they affect the whole family for generations like they used to. Peter worked very hard to prove himself despite his family’s reputation, and I liked that he put that effort into rising above his circumstances.

I liked the easy-going writing style of this book. It’s well written, has great character development, and is a sweet story. I did think it was a bit predictable and a little cheesy in parts, but honestly, that’s what I want in a romance. Right? Love stories need a little cheese and a few “awwww” moments! It’s fun and entertaining, and I enjoyed it. I liked how it all came together, and how the characters fit together in the story. It’s a fast, easy read; I read it in a couple of days, and loved that I could get sucked into this fun world of promises and primroses.    

Content Rating GContent Rating: G (It’s clean! There’s no profanity, violence, or “intimacy,” except for a few brief kisses.)

Age Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Promises and Primroses Blog Tour

 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2QO44D2

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack  Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack
 

Book Review of The Caseroom by Kate Hunter

The Caseroom by Kate Hunter

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Book Review of The Caseroom by Kate Hunter

Wow! Two books about 19th century Scotland in two days! And to make it even better, it’s also two strong, female Scottish women in two days as well. After reading these two books I know more about the situation of women in 19th century Scotland than I ever thought I would. These two women live very different lives, but their fight for women at that time makes them one in cause. Once again, I’m thankful for women like Iza and Jess that paved the way for the rights women have today. What was Iza’s story? Find out in my book review of The Caseroom by Kate Hunter.

Blurb:

“Set in the thick of workers’ lives in Edinburgh’s thriving print industry, The Caseroom follows Iza into the arcane world of the caseroom where she learns the intricacies of a highly-skilled trade.

As one of some 800 Edinburgh women who for a few decades did so, she becomes a hand-typesetter, work that had been, and was to become once more, a male preserve. Despite hostility to the cheap labour that women represent, Iza persists in work that allows her to feed her imagination on books. But holding on to her trade means hardening herself to the needs of those she loves. And when the men’s union moves to eliminate women from the caseroom and a We Women movement forms to oppose them, there is no middle ground. Torn between class and gender loyalties and embroiled in a bitter labour dispute, Iza must choose sides.”

My Book Review:

In all honesty, before I read this book I had never heard of a caseroom. I had no idea what it was or what it was used for. Oops! You’d think someone who loves to read and proofread would know some of the history of printing. But, no. Everything about the caseroom was new to me. I didn’t know what any of the tools were or what they were used for. The names of the different jobs there were also brand new to me. Needless to say, I learned a lot from this book.

I liked the writing style of the The Caseroom, and I thought it was well written. Most of the characters were well developed and seemed realistic. I couldn’t decide how I felt about Iza. Sometimes I liked her a lot, and sometimes she bothered me. That sometimes happens in real life, though, I suppose. I did admire her for her bravery in standing up for women’s rights. Just working in the caseroom was enough to make some of the men angry, including her brother. She persevered, though. Even without her brother’s blessing she went to work. I loved her determined attitude.

Iza’s family seemed, for the most part, like a good family. They had their problems, but seemed to usually work them out. Each of the family members brought a unique angle to the story.  I also liked her co-workers Netta and Margaret. Roddy Mac was a character that I never trusted or liked, for some reason.

I liked that this story was based on “the author’s father’s family history.” The story happens to be “based on real events and features some actual historical characters.” I think that it’d be fun to write a story about my ancestor’s lives.

The one thing that was hard for me with this book was the language. The author uses terms for things that I’m assuming were appropriate for the time period. I guess it’s a good thing, but consequently, I didn’t understand a lot of the book. Even my Kindle couldn’t define the words, so that’s not a good sign. I think it would be a great story for people who know the language a little better than I do.

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. A couple of characters died.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Pk6tnz

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod The Lost Family by Jenna Blum  A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner
 
 

The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod

The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod

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Book Review of The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that takes place in 19th century Scotland. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a woman during that time. It would be so confining to not have control of your life. Why anyone would think that a woman should not be able to choose her own path is beyond me. Reading this book made me especially grateful to live where I live in this day and age. It also made me thankful for all the women that went before me that have gotten us to this point. I hope you enjoy my book review of The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod.

Blurb:

North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 1848

Jess MacKay has led a privileged life as the daughter of a local landowner, sheltered from the harsher aspects of life. Courted by the eligible Patrick Cooper, the Laird’s new commissioner, Jess’s future is mapped out, until Lachlan Macdonald arrives on North Uist, amid rumours of forced evictions on islands just to the south.

As the uncompromising brutality of the Clearances reaches the islands, and Jess sees her friends ripped from their homes, she must decide where her heart, and her loyalties, truly lie.

Set against the evocative backdrop of the Hebrides and inspired by a true story, The False Men is a compelling tale of love in a turbulent past that resonates with the upheavals of the modern world. 
 

My Book Review:

I haven’t ever been to Scotland, but I’d like to go! It sounds like such a beautiful place. The author did a good job describing the setting. I could totally picture the layout of the land with the homes and farms. The descriptions made me want to go there; so I think they did their job!

I liked the writing style of this book. It was a little hard to figure out what was going on in some places because I’m not familiar with the language, but the more I read the easier it became. The writing is engaging and full of heart. Jess’ heart. She should have been born in the 21st century because she was a bit much for everyone else in the 19th century to handle. Jess believed that she could make a difference, and women didn’t really get that opportunity at that time. She thought she should be able to make her own decisions about her future, and that wasn’t really a thing either.

What Jess decided to do surprised me, and it took the book in a whole different direction than I thought it would. Jess is a great character. She is strong, opinionated, a bit crazy, and full of heart. Her character is well developed and realistic. It’s too bad she just didn’t fit in her time period. I’m sure it was women like her that got the ball rolling, though. I thought that all of the characters were well developed. Patrick, Catherine, and Lachlan were especially well developed, along with Jess’ father.   

Overall, I liked this book. I loved traveling to Scotland via The False Men Express. Maybe someday I’ll be able to actually travel there, but for now, I’m good reading about it.  

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and discussions about it. Violence including fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2wpd7lz

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak the nightingale by kristin hannah  The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack
 
 

Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos

Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos

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Book Review of Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos

I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels. Or comic books. I have to admit that I haven’t read many of them because they just don’t interest me. My kids, however, like them a lot. In an effort to be a good example and try a new genre, I offered to join the blog tour for this book. So what did I think? Did this book change my opinion of graphic novels? What about my kids? Did they enjoy it? Find out in my book review of Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos.

Blurb:

In this funny, action-packed graphic novel adventure, a science-obsessed girl finds herself in the middle of one of her favorite monster movies. Can she invent her way out of disaster while also saving the monster who has become her friend?

Zoe’s favorite thing to do–besides invent and build robots–is watch classic monster movies. She has never been comfortable with kids her own age, and so she pretends she doesn’t need friends while inside she’s longing for connection. And then one day, Zoe finds a mysterious ring on her way home from school. She puts it on, gives it a twist, and–FRZAAKK! There’s a massive burst of light! The next morning, a familiar monster appears at Zoe’s window. He’s from one of her favorite kaiju movies, and he likes Zoe–he wants to be her friend. Has her secret wish been fulfilled? But it turns out that Zoe’s ring has brought more than just this friendly monster to life. More monsters have arrived, and they are hungry! Now she’ll need to reach out to other people to help her save her town from destruction. Good thing she’s a robotics genius!

My Book Review:

Well, I have to say that Monster Mayhem is actually a pretty cute book. The main characters are super cute. Zoe is a darling character. I love how smart she is! She will be a great example to all the girls that read this book. Unfortunately, Zoe is dealing with something that is all too common: not having any friends. And then when she finally does make a friend, she gets hurt. Ouch! I think we all know how that feels. So, emotionally, she just shuts down.

Zoe’s parents and teachers express the importance of friends, and she won’t have anything to do with friends. She’s so anti-friend that she creates a robot to be her companion. And then the monsters start showing up. Oh no! Through a series of events (sorry, I’m not going to tell you what happens), Zoe learns some great lessons.

The illustrations in Monster Mayhem are so fun! They are bright, colorful, and well done. I particularly love the facial expressions of each of the characters. There are different fonts and font colors to distinguish the characters, so it’s easy to figure out who’s talking. I love Zoe’s goggles! As a mom, I know that sometimes you have to pick your clothing battles! Whether it’s the cowboy boots, the princess dress, or the goggles, you just have to roll with it.

This is a fun book! I did enjoy it, and I especially liked the lessons that Zoe learned. Two of my kids read this book as well. Here are their thoughts:

I liked the drawings and the moral of the story.

            ~15 year-old boy

The illustrations are adorable, cute, and sweet. It was a little strange at times, but still cute. I liked that the girl learned that friends are important.

            ~10 year-old girl

Girls will especially like this book, but boys will like it too! For those kids who are into comic books or who don’t like reading, this book will definitely be a great option for them! I still don’t love the graphic novel format, but this book opened my eyes to the potential of graphic novels. It’s a fun story with colorful illustrations and a great moral—what else could a mom or teacher wish for?

Content Rating PGRating: PG (Clean! There are some monsters, and they might scare some very small children, but they aren’t too scary. There’s some minor violence when they’re fighting the monsters.)

Recommendation: As a silent read: 2nd-3rd grade, as a read-aloud: K and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2nYHRVN

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Golden Plates 1 Adapted by Michael Allred Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl  Mr Poppers Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
 

Book Review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War by RF Kuang

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Book Review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

I had heard a lot about this book from other book bloggers, so I put it on hold at the library. It took awhile, but I was finally able to pick up the book. This book had such high ratings from everyone, so I was excited to read it. What did I think? Did it live up to the hype? Check out my book review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang to find out.

Blurb:

“When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to study at the academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who always thought they’d be able to marry Rin off to further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was now finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in the Nikara Empire—was even more surprising.

 But surprises aren’t always good.

Being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Rin is targeted from the outset by rival classmates because of her color, poverty, and gender. Driven to desperation, she discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over her powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For even though the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied the Nikara Empire for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people in the Empire would rather forget their painful history, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away.

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god who has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her her humanity.

And it may already be too late.”

My Book Review:

So, what did I think? Well, honestly, I have very mixed emotions. I kept reading. I kept turning pages, so that means something. The writing style is engaging and it sucks you into the story. I thought the character development was really good. The characters come to life on the page, and that always makes a book better because you’re invested in the characters. At the beginning, especially, I found myself routing for Rin. I understood why she wanted to do well on the test.

I’m not sure why I didn’t put this book down. It was intriguing, but more in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way. There were many things in the content that I just didn’t like; I especially didn’t think they were appropriate for teens to be reading. While Rin was studying she would harm herself; she said the pain helped her. As a mom, I definitely don’t want my daughters or sons reading that and thinking it’s ok to self-harm. No, no, no, no.

I got that it was a military training facility, and so I understood the fighting and practicing, but what I didn’t like was the use of opioids (hence, The Poppy War). We have enough trouble right now with people being addicted to opioids; I don’t think our teens need to see fictional characters using them to find gods. I just didn’t like that whole premise, and it’s a huge part of the story.

When I read Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, I finished and felt sick to my stomach. I just felt yucky. That is also how I felt when I finished this book. It’s not happy or inspirational–it’s dark and disturbing. I was intrigued, but it didn’t live up to the hype. I especially don’t think it’s appropriate for YA. This book definitely wasn’t for me. However, if those things don’t bother you then you’ll probably enjoy it.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including dozens of “f” words. There isn’t an “intimacy.” Violence including war atrocities, rapes, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of many characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 2.5/5

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2OM3tQF

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Jade City by Fonda Lee Twisted Prey by John Sandford  DEAD OF NIGHT by Michael Stanley
 

Book Review of Dead of Night by Michael Stanley

DEAD OF NIGHT by Michael Stanley

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Book Review of Dead of Night by Michael Stanley

I don’t know anything about rhinos! I’ve seen them at the zoo, and I know they live in Africa. That’s about it. Oh, and I know they have horns. I know that people take elephants’ tusks for the ivory, but I didn’t realize that rhinos’ horns are also in demand. Who knew that rhino horns could be sawed off and regrown? Interesting, right? I hate to admit that I learned a lot about rhinos from this fictional story! It’s quite the story too! I hope you enjoy my book review of Dead of Night by Michael Stanley.

Blurb:

“When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But, within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything.
 
Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it…
 
Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent…”
 

My Book Review:

Wow! What a ride! I got sucked into this book from the very beginning! Crys is one tough chick! And she’s brave…or stupid. I’m still not sure which. When she doesn’t hear back from her hopefully-more-than-friend Michael, she starts to worry. She calls into National Geographic and they haven’t heard anything either. So she goes to Africa to finish the story and to hopefully find Michael.

She should have stayed home. Going to Africa proves difficult, and puts her in a lot of danger. She has some amazing adventures, and then she has some terrifying experiences. Crys is a great character. She’s written and developed well, she’s relatable, and mostly realistic. Crys tends to act and then think, which proves detrimental in many instances, and it made me cringe. I like that she’s a strong female character. She’s smart and tough.

When she gets to Africa many other characters are introduced. They are also well written and well developed. Most of them have a hint of uncertainty about them; you’re constantly wondering if they’re the good guys or the bad guys. Sometimes they may even be a bit of both! I liked that, though. It adds a hint of mystery and tension that keeps you reading. Just be prepared—the bad guys are scary!

One of the things I liked most about this book was learning about the situation with the rhinos. I’d never really thought about rhino horns being sold on the black market. And I had NO idea that you could saw a rhino horn off and it would grow back! I learned a lot! I don’t know how much is true and how much is fiction, but it did shed some light on the topic for me. It’s sad how integrity is lacking in some people. They’ll do almost anything just for the dollars attached.

This book is fast-paced and action-packed. Crys gets herself into several sticky situations, and somehow she always ends up where the trouble is. I liked the writing style a lot; I enjoyed the descriptions of the African landscape, and thought the dialogues were realistic and unforced.

The thing I didn’t like in the book were the torture scenes. There was one scene that was brutally graphic. It was disgusting, and reading it made me sick to my stomach. I skipped some of it because it was way too graphic and detailed for my taste. There was at least one other torture scene, but it wasn’t quite as bad.

I couldn’t put this book down! It may or may not have been the wee hours of the morning when I finished this book. One.More.Chapter. I’m not sure if we’ll see more of Crys, but I hope we do! And as a side note, the authors are male. Many male authors do not write good female characters. I didn’t feel that way in this book; I thought they did a good job.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. “Intimacy,” including innuendos and references to rape and specific male body parts . Violence including graphic murders, fighting, a graphic torture scene, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Dead of Night blog poster 2018 (3)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2vxtxI6

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Jade City by Fonda Lee Twisted Prey by John Sandford 
 
 
 

Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

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Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

I graduated from Utah State University—Go Aggies!—which is located in beautiful Cache Valley, Utah. It really is beautiful. There are mountains on both sides of the valley with many fields and lots of open space. It has grown significantly, even since I attended school there. My husband and I wish we could have stayed, but there weren’t enough jobs. When Ryan Nelson contacted me earlier this year about reading his book, I had a long list of books I had already scheduled to review. Knowing it was about Cache Valley, though, I couldn’t resist. It’s taken me awhile, but I finally read it. I hope you enjoy my book review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson!


Utah-State-University-aerial-small  Utah-State-University-Old-Main-vertical-small  

 

Blurb (from Goodreads.com):

 

“When FBI Agent Alex Travis receives an anonymous phone call on a September morning in 1954, with a tip concerning the now cold case of the Cache County Bank robbery, it has his undivided attention. The tip leads Travis to the top of the secluded Green Canyon in Logan, Utah, where a young man named Jack Pepper proceeds to tell a story. It spans the two years from the time of the robbery, when he and his girlfriend, Kate Austin, stumbled upon the crime of the century for the Cache Valley. Travis must decide if he is dealing with the suspects or the victims of one of the largest bank robberies in U.S. history.

To get the answers, it will take one more trip up the canyon, to the entrance of the Spring Hollow Mine, where the daylight ends and the cold dark begins.”

 

My Book Review:

This book hooked me from the beginning. Agent Travis of the FBI receives an anonymous phone call. The caller says he has a tip about the Cache County Bank robbery, which is Travis’ case. The caller doesn’t give any information except to tell him where to meet this mysterious person. Agent Travis is perplexed. Should he trust this caller? Does he need to take back-up or is he ok to go alone? In the end, he decides to go alone.

I like Agent Travis’ character. He seems like a good, hard working, decent guy. His character is well developed and likable. I did think the part in the beginning where he is telling his wife the history of Sardine Canyon (the canyon you drive through to get to Logan from Salt Lake City) was cheesy and unnecessary. When Agent Travis meets Jack, the whole thing is still a bit mysterious, which I liked. As a reader, you don’t know if you should trust Jack or not.

Jack’s character is a bit more mysterious to start off. As you learn his story, you begin to trust him. However, in the back of your mind you’re still wondering if you should trust him or not. I liked how he was written in that way. Then later, when Kate comes into the picture, you start to see more of the full story. I liked how the plot unfolded like that. I also liked Kate a lot. Her character is also well developed, likeable, and realistic.

The whole plot line seemed mostly realistic. There were a couple of parts that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but they made it more exciting to read. I liked how it all came together in the end; everyone kind of ended up where they should have.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about the canyons; it made me want to take my kids up there and do some exploring! And if you’re ever up on the USU campus, make sure you get some Aggie ice cream; it’s the best!!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There’s some violence, though. It includes murder, an almost-rape, fighting, and the death of at least one character.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2LTAsVt

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown  Twisted Prey by John Sandford
 
 

Book Review of Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City by Fonda Lee

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Book Review of Jade City by Fonda Lee

On Twitter a few weeks ago, I read a tweet by someone who said that Jade City was a life changing book. Wow! How could I not add it to my TBR pile? I want to read it if it’s life changing! So I pushed aside a few books that I should have been reading, and picked this up. I liked it, but was it life changing? Read my book review of Jade City  by Fonda Lee to find out.

Blurb:

“Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, someone on Twitter posted that they thought this book was life changing. That’s quite a statement. To me, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was life changing, and I find that hard to beat. But I thought I’d like to read it to see for myself. It starts off right in the action. A couple of boys decide they want to steal some jade off of a man in a restaurant. Right from the beginning you know how valuable jade is.

As the story goes on, you get to meet the main characters. Lan and Hilo Kaul, although brothers, are very different. Lan is the leader of the clan, and Hilo is the one who keeps the peace—pretty much by showing a strong arm of violence. There are a lot of characters, and it took me awhile to figure them all out. The names are not difficult, but different, and it would take me a minute to place some of them.

Lan and Hilo have a sister. Her name is Shae. She has chosen a different path than they have, and has chosen not to wear jade or be a part of clan leadership. There are other characters, but these are the most important characters. I thought the author developed the characters very well. They each had individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. You could tell they were family, yet they were their own selves. I liked that they each had their own voice.

The story felt a bit confusing at times, but overall it flowed well, was exciting, and very unique. I haven’t read a book with a similar story line, and I always like that. It does take a minute to figure out the workings of the clan and the layers of leadership, but once you figure it out you’re good to go. Although there was a lot of fighting, there was also strategy and smarts behind the clan’s actions.

Part of the story reminded me of a line in The Incredibles. It’s when Syndrome has Mr. Incredible cornered, and he says, “I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. ‘Everyone’ can be super! And when everyone’s super…’no one’ will be.” That same philosophy comes into play in this book—only with jade. If everyone can safely wear jade, then what will happen to the clans? Will they be needed or important? Will they still hold the power they now do? I found that aspect to be quite interesting and thought-provoking.

Did I find this book life changing? No, I didn’t. I did enjoy it though. I liked the characters a lot, especially Shae. Hilo was a bit too intense for me, but I also liked Lan a lot. Anden was also an interesting character. I felt bad for him, but I also didn’t. It was weird. He’s in a difficult place, but at the same time, he has a hard time accepting who he really is instead of where he’s come from. That whole thing was also quite thought-provoking.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. “Intimacy,” including scenes, innuendos, and prostitution. Violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered my rating from 4 because of all the profanity and graphic “intimacy” scenes.)

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Oujuvi

 

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the book thief by markus zusak   Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card