A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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1 Stars (1 / 5)

Time Quintet #1
This is going to be a hard review to write, and I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I just did not like it. It took me sooooo long to get through, and I just flat out did not want to read it after a time. This book is praised as a ground-breaking fantasy novel, but the plot was so disconnected that I just couldn’t engage with the story. The fantasy elements are not purposeful, but instead seem to be thrown in to make the world flavorful without adding any substance. We skipped and hopped our way through the universe, and I don’t feel like I really got to explore anything.

And the characters just felt so flat. Meg started out strong and independent, but by the end just became a whiny kid. Charles Wallace was interesting at first, but even his “genius” became boring and redundant after a time. I’m still not totally sure why Calvin even had to come along. And Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whasit just seemed to serve as an element of “strangeness” without actually being necessary to the plot (except as a means to an end).

I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on this one, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe things would have been different had I been younger. Maybe then I wouldn’t care about the cool science concepts of the beginning that are basically abandoned for boring fantasy thereafter. And maybe things would have been different if I didn’t have all the great fantasy novels to read that I do now. Maybe…


Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

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4 Stars (4 / 5)

Akata Witch #1

“I’d seen the end of the world in its flame. Raging fires, boiling oceans, toppled skyscrapers, ruptured land, dead and dying people. It was horrible. And it was coming.”

This book is so different that I knocked it up from 3.5 to 4 stars just for that. I know practically nothing about African mythology, which made this novel feel so fresh and new. There is not a lot like this out there, and I can’t help but love when something new and different comes along.

Akata Witch is set in Nigeria, where Sunny learns that she is a Leopard Person, someone who is in touch with her spirit-self and can use juju to work magical feats. She discovers a whole hidden world of learning and magic, one that embraces the differences between people instead of scorning them. Sunny, along with her cohorts Chichi, Orlu, and Sasha, is tasked with defeating a great evil and saving the world from destruction.

I’m not sure how much of this book was based in real Nigerian myth and culture, and how much was Okorafor herself, but everything felt so genuine I have to applaud it either way. Some of the aspects of the story were a little hard to swallow, but that could be my unfamiliarity with african culture (grown men beating each other to death was a little hard for me to digest). The style and pacing of the novel put me off at first, everything seemed to feel a bit superficial, but once I realized this was a Middle Grade novel (and not YA as I originally thought), my annoyance bled away and I was able to fully engage with the story (apparently my expectations can have a lot more to do with my enjoyment of a book than I realized).

All and all a very interesting and unique story. I will definitely have to check out the sequel!


The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

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5 Stars (5 / 5)

The Trials of Apollo #3
Damn Riordan, I was not expecting that! The Burning Maze is a game changer, and one that I definitely did not see coming. Now that I think back on it, Riordan’s always seems to throw a curveball in book 3 (at least in his 5 book series). I can’t really say much else about this without spoilers (for this book and his other series), so we’ll leave it at that.

As always, you can’t help but love Apollo’s wit and self-deprecating attitude. He’s not a hero, but is constantly thrown into these heroic situations. His character and relationship with mortality has grown in leaps and bounds through this series, and his development is just so heartwarming to see. The events of The Burning Maze are likely to change Apollo forever, and I just can’t wait to see where this series ultimately takes him.

As always, I loved getting cameos from some of our favorite characters from past series: Grover, Piper, Jason, and even Coach Hedge make a comeback in this one. It’s always great to catch up with our old friends and see what they are up to.

I’m not sure how I’m going to make it till next Fall for the sequel!


The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

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5 Stars (5 / 5)

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3
Great conclusion to the series! I think what I love most about Magnus Chase, is he is not your typical hero. He’s not very good at fighting (his animate sword Jack takes care of most of the fighting for him), he’s not a brilliant strategist or master planner, and his “demigod” powers include healing and “The Peace of Frey” which blasts the weapons from everyone’s hands (his allies included). But above all Magnus is caring, loyal, and determined – and he surrounds himself with a group of powerful and resourceful allies.

Many of our side character’s get the highlight in The Ship of the Dead. Mallory and T.J. in particular get a great spotlight. And Alex Fierro has become one of my favorite character’s ever! As a gender fluid character, she/he is probably the most unique character I’ve seen in popular literature and really put a “face” to an identity I was basically unfamiliar with. Thank you Riordan for challenging our beliefs and presenting such diverse characters to our children. I really believe that it’s books like this that will help to breed more understanding and inclusive generations.

Religion is also handled so well in this series. The dichotomy between Muslim Samirah and Atheist Magnus is handled with tack and understanding, and projects such a wonderful message of inclusion that it warms my soul. Not to mention mixing this with a world where the Norse gods are real and coexist with these other faiths.

Overall, a great ending to the series. Though we are finished with Magnus and friends for now, I have no doubt that they will pop up at some future point in Riordan’s writing (Percy Jackson does make an appearance in this book after all). As always, looking forward to more from my favorite Middle Grade author.


The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

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3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #1
A fun and spooky read, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding was a great novel to read on around Halloween time. Braken’s mythology of fiends and magic is slowly built as we get to know our young hero Prosper and the fiend Alastor residing inside him. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Prosper and Alastor, and am a bit awed at how calm Prosper seems to stay during everything. And Alastor’s character is just what you expect him to be and then not at the same time.

My one complaint about this book is the pacing. After some break out action in the beginning, things slow way down as Prosper is put in a bit of a holding pattern. It’s during this time that we get to explore Prosper and Alastor as characters and get to learn more about what makes them tick, but it also puts quite the damper on the anticipation built with the shenanigans of the beginning. Because of this sudden slowdown in pacing, I had trouble getting into the novel and didn’t really start to feel engrossed until about the last third of the book. But the ending was quite explosive and unexpected and leaves you wanting more (which partially made up for it). This is definitely the prologue to a larger tale, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.