Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

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Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell’s fans will be thrilled with her latest novel detailing the crazy life of Simon Snow as he tries to finish theWatford School of Magicks, fall in love, and save the world.  Simon and his roommate and arch enemy Baz started off as fictional characters in the writer’s 2013 Fangirl.  Simon, his best friend Penny, his sort-of-ex-girlfriend Agatha and Baz join forces to combat the powerful Humdrum which is trying to steal all the world’s magic.  The story may remind readers of the Harry Potter stories, but Rowell’s twists on the genre and strong characters and setting make this title hard to set aside.  I recommend to fans of fantasy, Harry Potter, romances and Rainbow Rowell.

If you’re an an author geek, here’s an interview with her from Book Expo last June.

fangirl               eleanor and park

Click on the book covers for our reviews of her other books.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Crooked Kingdom  by  Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs gang in the fictional city of Ketterdam, plots revenge against those who cheated him of payment for a dangerous and scary robbery job and kidnapped a valuable member of his gang in the first book, Six of Crows. Using the unique talents and abilities of each member of his crew, Kaz makes meticulous plans against both the criminal leader and the outwardly respected merchant who double-crossed him.  Each person in the gang knows only his or her job and even then is not aware of the ultimate purpose. Almost like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces, Kaz moves ahead, even when it seems his enemies have thwarted him. Without giving away any of the details and ruining the mystery, I can say Crooked Kingdom lives up to the suspense and excitement Bardugo generated in Six of Crows. Readers will find themselves rooting for Kaz and each person in his gang, worried when they seem to be in danger and hopeful that their audacious scheme will destroy their enemies and make their future lives more secure.

 

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Click book for our review of the first book.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

In the city of Ketterdam in the country of Kerch, society is strictly divided between classes, with rich merchants at the top and various criminal groups and gangs at the bottom. Upper classes, business and trades people, tourists and those coming to Ketterdam for its busy trade and markets all want to visit its gambling houses and other shady businesses in a designated part of the city. The law allows the various enterprises to operate as long as they do not disturb the status quo and those in power. Among the criminal gangs is the Dregs, run by an enigmatic young man named Kaz Brekker. Kaz has gathered young people with unique talents, including a sharp shooter with a gambling problem, a runaway from a merchant family who’s good with explosives, a young woman gifted at spying and with her knives, among others. When a new drug appears that amplifies magical powers of a group known as Grisha, Kaz and his crew are hired to kidnap the scientist who developed it. The challenge is that the scientist is being held captive in an impenetrable fortress in a well-guarded city. Kaz plans the job so each member of his gang’s special skills play an essential part in the plot. Suspense builds as they face unexpected obstacles. The book ends on a cliffhanger; I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I have loved reading fantasy for as long as I can remember and never cease to be amazed at the worlds, characters and plots authors invent. Leigh Bardugo has used her imagination to give readers a gift of believable people who possess magical abilities in a plausible world.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

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Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

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Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

What a roller coaster of a ride this book is!!!  If you love science fiction-action movies, this is the perfect choice for you.  Zoey Ashe is a normal teenager living in a worn down trailer with her mom, who hardly talks to her.  She barely even knows her her biological dad is, some rich guy she’s seen twice in her life who her mom says is a major douche bag mafioso type.  When he dies and leaves everything to Zoey, her world crashes in.  Suddenly, all the crazies in the world are after her for the $5 million dollar bounty on her head.  Of course she is kidnapped by her father’s henchmen immediately, but then becomes a media star because the whole thing (which took play in the subway) was streamed live on the internet using Blink, a GoPro type device almost everyone wears.  She’s immediately taken to a lawless city called Tabula Ra$a, which is like Las Vegas on steroids.  Here chaos ensues, with Zoey trying to trust the “Fancy Suits,” who are her father’s closest advisors and don’t really seem to be on the up and up themselves.  They’re fighting against a genetically altered crazy man, think Robocop, for control of the city and the future of mankind.

This was a super fun book which I could hardly set down while reading.  I want to give readers a warning that there is some extremely graphic violence which was difficult for me, but I have trouble stomaching “The Walking Dead” zombie show on TV.

I would recommend this to readers who like high action books and movies, and those who like fast-paced adventure stories.  If you love the Matrix movies, Ernest Cline the Maze Runner books, this is your perfect next book.

Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

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Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

This unusual historical fiction story takes place in Iran (Persia, then) in the 1500’s.  When the Shah dies without leaving a specific heir, chaos breaks out and his favored daughter, Princess Pari, tries to wrest control of the country.  She had been taught to rule at her father’s side, but knew she would always have to do it behind the scenes, through a male “puppet” shah.  This book is the story of her trying to gain control in a royal court full of intrigue, manipulations and even murders.  Her only true ally is Javaher, a eunuch who is wise to the ways of the court, but also has his own secret agenda

I found the book to be completely exciting, and loved seeing a woman trying to take control when her whole world was against powerful women.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you will especially appreciate that this title is not set in the usual European or early American time periods.  I would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and readers who enjoy stories about the Middle East.

Review by Ms. Provence

Into the Volcano by Don Wood

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Into the Volcano by Don Wood

This graphic novel tells the story of Duffy and Sumo Pugg, brothers whom their father pulls out of class at school. He introduces them to their cousin, Mr. Come-and-Go, who takes them to the island of Kocalaha for ten days while their mother finishes research in Borneo. They fly on a private plane to stay with their Auntie Lulu on Kocalaha, which bears a strong resemblance to the Big Island of Hawaii.  Shortly after they arrive the boys are taken on an expedition with their cousin and other family and friends, on a dangerous boat ride to hike through lava tubes to an unknown destination. Their adventure is shrouded in mystery and filled with danger, especially when Duffy and Sumo become separated from everyone else. Sumo has been less energetic than Duffy, but when Duffy is hurt, Sumo has to figure out what to do to get then both to safety.

The story of this novel is totally implausible but great fun. The artwork is vivid and really brings the characters to life. I really enjoyed this imaginative story and the distinct personality of each character. The way the layout varies, with different size panels on the pages, adds more interest. Even people who are not regular graphic novel fans will find this a great introduction to the genre.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The hardback edition of this title intimidated me a little, since it’s a heavy book to carry around. However, once I started reading it I was so enthralled I carried the book everywhere, even to the grocery store so I could read a few pages while I waited in the check out line. Lonesome Dove tells the story of Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call, former Texas rangers who have decided to drive their cattle from their ranch in Texas, the Hat Creek Cattle Company, to Montana in the late 1800s.

In those days, travelers had only themselves for support. There was no reliable source of food, supplies or help on the trail. The best anyone could hope for was finding towns along the way for supplies or medical attention.

Having made their decision to go ahead with the plan, Gus and Call enlist their ranch hands and acquire others from the area who want to go with them.

The adventure includes death and disaster. The characters are so vivid they seem to walk right off the pages into the world. I grew to care deeply about them all, wanting the heroes to succeed and the villains to face justice. I didn’t even want to finish the book because the story had hooked me so completely I didn’t want it to end. Imagine how glad I was to find out McMurtry has written both a sequel, Streets of Laredo, and a prequel, Dead man’s walk. Streets of Laredo picks up several years after Lonesome Dove ends, catching up on many of the characters. Dead man’s walk introduces the early years of Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, from their first mission to their brutal treatment after being captured by the Mexican army and further adventures.

Even though there are violent episodes in all three of these books, the characters and adventures overwhelm any negative affects. I enjoy recommending these books to all readers who love realistic adventure and unforgettable characters!

Review by Ms.Goldstein-Erickson

streets          deadman