Genre: YA


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

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Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
The Unicorn Quest
Kamilla Benko
Series: The Unicorn Quest #1
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Publication date: February 6th, 2018
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

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Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor... until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.

There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other. The beloved unicorns have gone, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes, it will take all of Claire's courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns' greatest secret.
-A copy was provided by Bloomsbury USA Childrens for review-

I love middle grade novels and I love discovering new ones. As far as I can see, The Unicorn Quest is shaping up to be a major middle grade release this year and it synopsis sounded up right up my alley. The vaguely Narnia vibes along with unicorns sounded like it would be an enthralling read.

Here is what I can tell you. The Unicorn Quest is an adventure of the best kind. We get sucked into a new world from the get-go and like the MC, we kind of have to assimilate to the new world we find ourselves in. This is great because we experience the world alongside the MC which allows us to form a special bond with her but it also means that it takes longer to get used to the world. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing in general but it did impact my reading experience a little bit.

But, right from the get-go we know not everything is what it seems and that tension builds. I am not entirely sure what I expected when I dove into the book but I came out feeling thoroughly satisfied with the adventure we were taken on.

Wow. So like, I realize everything I’ve said thus far is SUPER vague but I don’t really know how to use words to convey what The Unicorn Quest is like. I know, I say that every time and maybe I am just making excuses because that’s who I am, okay?

Not to sound like a cheese machine but The Unicorn Quest is partly about sisterly love. Claire Martinson almost lost her sister once and will go to unimaginable lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Every part of the quest Claire goes on is tinted with this fear of losing her sister and the trauma of almost having lost her in the first place.

Luckily, Claire doesn’t have to go on an adventure by herself, she gets to have friends. Some human-like and some not. It’s great. And everyone knows going on an adventure on your lonesome is no fun. A crowd is always better.

Plus, Arden really is a well crafted world and I loved exploring its landscapes and discovering its secrets with our fab trio. Clearly though, this is just the beginning and the book is building up to something much greater. I cannot wait to see where the sequel(s?) will take us and learn even more about the backstory of this world.

Overall, The Unicorn Quest is a fun, delightful read if not a particularly distinct one? The kids will devour it and if you’re an adult who reads middle grade, you’ll probably devour it too. It’s hard not to immediately get grabby hands about books with secret worlds discovered in closets, or in this case, chimneys.

3.5 Stars
3.5 Hot Espressos

Review + Giveaway: The First to Know by Abigail Johnson

Review + Giveaway: The First to Know by Abigail Johnson

Posted by on 02/06/2018 • 12 Comments

Abigail Johnson is a new-to-me author so I had no idea what to expect but The First to Know blew me away. It’s a heartfelt family drama and totally worth it.

Dana Fields just wants to do something nice for her dad for his birthday. What starts off as a heartwarming gesture soon turns into Dana’s worst nightmare. In her search for her father’s family, Dana discovers that she has a half-brother her age that no one knew about.

When she confronts her half-brother, he wants nothing to do with her. With no one she can really turn to, she does what she really shouldn’t, she turns to her half-brother’s cousin (she and the cousin aren’t related by blood.)

I know, I know. This all sounds like…

Didn’t Love: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Didn’t Love: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Posted by on 02/02/2018 • 3 Comments

American Panda was one of my most anticipated novels of 2018 so it is truly unfortunate that I did not, in fact, love it. I do want to start off by saying that I don’t intend to discourage anyone from reading the book in this review, just convey my experience with it. We are at a point in time where even though there is a large influx in diverse books, we still don’t have nearly enough. Stats show that the number of diverse books published by diverse authors every year is so dismal. I hope that this book will allow many many many kids to see themselves reflected in the story and that they will be able to cherish it.

That said, my biggest issue with the book is not…

A Fairy tale about Fairy tales: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

A Fairy tale about Fairy tales: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Posted by on 01/30/2018 • 4 Comments

I think it’s fair to say there has been some mild hype surrounded The Hazel Wood. I mean, that gorgeous cover and the synopsis are kind of hard to resist so it makes sense. BUT, is the book worth it? This is a slightly complex question to answer because I ~know~ this book won’t be for everyone. To be honest, I also kind of avoided reminding myself what the book was about before I read it because I dreaded the hype getting the better of me and my tastes. I came out pleasantly surprised.

The Hazel Wood is part urban fantasy, part fairy tale and part a book about stories. If someone had told me that before I read the book, I would be intrigued but also nervous because…

Complex and Feel-Good: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Complex and Feel-Good: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Posted by on 01/24/2018 • 9 Comments

Let’s Talk About Love surprised me. I went in expecting good vibes and it still blew my expectations out of the water. It is NOT a perfect book, I am nitpicky and its hard for books to be perfect for me, but Let’s Talk About Love is damn well a fantastic read that is worth your time.

Do you love a feel-good romance that will sweep you off your feet? Do you love reading about friendships that have true-to-life complexity? Do you love some angst (the good kind)? Let’s Talk About Love is an ode to not just romantic love but all kinds of love, it explores the complexities of all kinds of relationships and it’s just a GOOD BOOK.

So why am I a nit picky bastard? Well because…

An Avalanche: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

An Avalanche: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Posted by on 01/19/2018 • 4 Comments

I am behind on the times because this is my first time reading a book by this dynamic duo. To be fair, These Broken Stars has been on my tbr since 2012 and we’re just going to ignore the fact that 5 years later (or 4 years since it came out,) I still haven’t read it. BUT, I WASN’T GOING TO LET THAT HAPPEN WITH Unearthed. If I remember correctly, at some point it was pitched as Indiana Jones in space. I also got serious National Treasure vibes from the synopsis and I  am garbage for anything that involves a treasure hunt and secrets.

For those wondering, yes Unearthed 110% lives up to those comparisons. Unearthed is a fantastically written book that you WILL gobble up because it is…

Truly Clever: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Clever: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Posted by on 01/17/2018 • 6 Comments

I somehow missed that Maureen Johnson had a new book coming out this month and only found out like a month or two ago. That shows you how I’ve been doing on keeping on top of all the new releases. Spoiler alert, its not good.  I actually had not read any Maureen Johnson prior to reading Truly Devious but had heard so many good things about her other books. Plus I am absolute garbage for books that have boarding schools and this one even had a fun murder mystery involved. I am going to be a spoilsport though and start off by focusing on the bad because I really enjoyed the book and would rather end on a more positive note.

Ellingham academy sounds amazing but… I felt like it…

‘Stranded in an Airport’ Story I’ve Been Waiting For: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

‘Stranded in an Airport’ Story I’ve Been Waiting For: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Posted by on 01/12/2018 • 6 Comments

The first discovered Jessica Brody with 52 Reasons to Hate My Father. She immediately had my intention and I really wanted to read everything she wrote but I quickly found out that perhaps everything she wrote wasn’t for me. Which is unfortunate because I really enjoyed her writing style. But then I came The Chaos of Standing Still, a book that demanded my attention.

At 403 pages The Chaos of Standing Still is not a short book but don’t let it fool you. Those 403 pages FLY BY. There are books I’ve read where even 300 pages feel like they are too fucking much but Jessica Brody knows how to pace a story well. In fact she probably deserves an award because there have not been many times in my…