Book Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

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I love middle grade fantasy books. In fact, that’s what I’m hoping to publish by the end of May, 2018. It makes sense, then, that I would enjoy this ALA Quick Picks Top Ten book that focuses on magic and growing into one’s self.

Summary: Callum is a young boy who is known for making trouble and giving smart-alec remarks to teachers. He lives with his dad and suffers from the loss of his mother. There is a Magisterium and they are holding trials to see who will be accepted and trained as a mage. Callum’s father does not want Cal to be trained in magic and encourages him to fail the tests. Despite his best efforts, though, Cal is chosen and leaves his father to go train. Together, he trains with Aaron and Tamara. At first their training is boring, as all they do is sort sand. He deals with a leg that holds him back and gives others a reason to taunt him. Despite this, he learns magic and begins to make friends just when you start to think he won’t.

My Response: Spoilers. It has been compared to Harry Potter, but the world is vastly different. I really enjoyed the lizard, Warren. Bringing animals and such alive are really fantastical and a joy.  Towards the middle of the book, his dad sends a letter to the school asking that they bind Cal’s magic, as seen here, “You must bind Callum’s magic before the end of the year” (Black, Clare, pg. 139). That would be very intriguing and hard to understand. I like how the book starts out with Cal being denied full access to his magic, as most teens are denied most privileges of adulthood. The revoking of privileges, or rights, as also reflected by Cal’s dad trying to bind his magic. Obviously this lends itself to mystery, but it also reflects what youth face today and resonates with readers. The twist at the end of the book reminded me of Lord Voldemort and lived off of Professor Quirrell as well as being the last Horcrux in Harry Potter. The fact that Cal has a part of The Enemy in him is super neat, but not too original. It was neat, too, how he had a messed up leg in that there are flaws in every person, and this too, resonates with readers.

Audience: Middle and high school libraries. Ages 10 and up.

Links: Here is a link to writing advice from Cassandra Clare.

#CassandraClare #HollyBlack #TheIronTrail #middlegradebooks #bookreviews

Book Review: “Saints” by Gene Luen Yang

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I have a page now dedicated to book reviews, but I really enjoyed this one, so I decided to put it in my feed.

Summary: Four-girl is a young girl who lives in a small village that is anti-Christian. She, unlike her three other siblings, survived, and for some reason, instead of being joyful, her grandfather hates her for this, as he claims that he’s seen too much death. He calls her a devil (Yang, pg. 9) and because of this, Four-girl (being the fourth baby) decides to become the best devil there is. She comes across others speaking about foreign devils; Christians, and wants to learn to be one of them, not understanding in the least what this means. So, she finds a man and his wife who are excited to teach her how to be a Christian. Meanwhile, she’s really just trying to get back at all of those in her family who have shunned her. Oddly, she meets a raccoon who seems devilish himself, and urges her to be as horrible as possible.  Throughout the story, we see her year after year as she slowly changes. Meanwhile, the tension is getting stronger between the Christians and those who look to destroy them.

My Response: Spoilers: Four-girl runs away with her teacher to a Christian village and takes on the new name, Vibiana. She also has visions of a martyr, Joan. Throughout the novel, Vibiana tries to determine what the will of God is for her, as she later becomes a Christian in the story. She takes heart from Joan and from a guy at the village that she had flutterings for, who was a murderer in the past and decides to become a female warrior to protect the Christians in her camp who are under threat. At the very end, an invasion takes place, killing many. Vibiana is told to renounce her faith, but instead she leaves her attacker with a prayer, and is killed. In the end, Vibiana is a martyr herself. I fully enjoyed this book, as there were several moments where I laughed out-loud, and others where I’m sure my face was crinkled in deep thought. This graphic novel really deals with coming of age as well as becoming a person who can morally think for themselves. This book allows for others to live vacariously through Vibiana; those who are also trying to figure out their purpose in life. The ending, however, made a big statement about life, about how everyone believes they are important and meant to make a difference but life is cruel, and while people think better is to come, they never get it; they die. It shows the harsh reality of life. Now, at least I’m pretty sure Vibiana died, because it was the last page before the Epilogue – the reason I might be a tad unsure is because the book had a few loose pages.

Audience: middle and high school libraries. Ages: 11- and up.

Links: Website plus a page for books and comics.

Another neat visual book review. Enjoy!

#graphicnovels #geneluenyang #saintsbookreview #bookreviews #middlegradebooks #yabooks

Book Cover Design

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So I found Cover Mint. They design book covers just like Damonza does, only, they’re a lot more affordable. They do e-book covers, as well as print covers with wraps. Not only will they do custom designs for you, but they also offer pre-made covers that look really nice, as well. If my current design fails, I will be coming to them for sure.

#bookcovers #bookdesign #selfpublishing

Book Review 10: Persepolis

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Doust thou likest graphic novels? En esta es para tu. Okay, so I never did get that Spanish degree…. not that this has anything to do with Spanish.

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Summary: Marji is a very young girl learning about the terror, rebels, and leadership that affects their political system. Her entire life is focused on her relationship with God and being a prophet. As she grows, she struggles to understand why people believe so strongly in someone only to change their minds. She tries to understand the distinct differences in revenge and forgiveness. Her everyday life is full of stories about men going to prison for their beliefs. This affects not only her growing beliefs and thoughts on how and what to believe, as well as how she interacts with others. As her life continues to change and she is introduced to more violence, her relationship with God slowly begins to change.

Reflection: I’m not really a fan of this book. The reason for that is simply that I wasn’t engaged. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an important book. This book does a good job of teaching others about a life that is vastly different than their own. It also does a good job in teaching empathy to others. I like it for that. I think it’s important to have educational books available to us and that memoirs do an exceptional job at teaching us.

Age group: I think high school students would be most appreciative of the book, while younger one’s might read it due to the variety of images which tell a story in themselves.

Here is an interesting article conducted by Emma Watson (former Hermione on Harry Potter).

Here is a review you might find interesting, as well.

Book Review 9: “A Great and Terrible Beauty”

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Summary: “A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray: Out of the books I have read so far, I think I enjoyed this one the most. This is probably because it is more fantastical/paranormal than the others. So here goes: Our main character, Gemma, lives in a time many many years before ours (1895) and has started having visions. Her very first vision comes just before her mother commits suicide. Thereafter, Gemma is forced to go to a type of boarding school where they are trained to be real ladies suited for marriage. Here, Gemma meets Pipper, as well as other girls who make a tight inner circle. Together, they learn about Mary, a girl from the past, who had a very dark secret. Gemma continues to have her visions, and soon finds that they link her to another world full of power and danger.

Reflection: This book did not properly end. I suppose that’s why there are two other books. It stopped 2/3rds through with a rushed book-mark-type of ending. For this reason, even though that is not cool, I’d like to read the other two to see how the story is resolved. I enjoyed the dynamics between the girls and their competitiveness to be in the “in-crowd.” I also enjoyed the roundness of the characters; they weren’t flat. There is a very down-to-earth teacher in the story who reminds me of that one person destined to positively impact a student’s life, as well as Gemma’s occasional note about the role of women that was interesting. Lastly, I absolutely enjoyed the audio version of this as the one reading made the dialect and tone completely come alive. It was gorgeous.

Ages: Middle school and high school library. I think both groups of students would enjoy it, but that it does lend itself towards high school a bit more in the fact that the characters is a bit older and readying for marriage.

What lasts: This is a timeless story that transcends through the ages; it is relateable and you genuinely begin to feel for each character. I will continue to look for these kind of stories – one’s that relate and that reflect the inner desires of the young, as well as societal boundaries put upon them.

Stars 4.5 out of 5.

Here is her FAQ page that looks highly entertaining as well as informative.

#amreading #libbabray #books #ya