Publisher: Bloomsbury


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

A Powerful Novel about Grief: The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano

A Powerful Novel about Grief: The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano

Posted by on 06/30/2017 • 2 Comments

Back in the day, everyone would rave about DeStefano’s YA series but I never really got around to reading the Wither series. Years later, here I am raving about DeStefano’s middle grade series. I honestly cannot imagine if her YA books could be any better or honestly, if any YA book could even tackle grief the way DeStefano does in every single one of the middle grade books I’ve read by her.

So probably there is some book out there that does grief better BUT THATS NOT THE POINT OF THIS REVIEW. The point of this review is so that I can sing The Girl with the Ghost Machine praises because series, this book hits you right in the fucking feels.

Emmaline Beaumont’s father starts building a ghost machine when her…

The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by on 06/16/2016 • 3 Comments

Do you like Scandal? Do you like political thrillers? Do you like mind games? WELL. YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. But also, go read book one which is called The Fixer and is amazing.

So, if The Fixer made you swoon and made your heart beat faster and nearly killed you, I have some real bad news for you. It all gets worse in The Long Game. I had my feels shredded, my OTPs stomped on and my heart set on fire. I hope Jennifer Lynn Barnes at least feels a little bad about what she did to me.

Tess is still as amazing as always if a little more nosy than she should be. She thinks she is nothing like her sister but we all know…

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

Posted by on 10/01/2015 • 2 Comments

This book was all sorts of fun to read. The characters were interesting and so was their story. What I love the most about middle grade books is that even if there is a bit of child romance, that is not the focus. Instead, the focus is more on what is happening or a building friendship. Initially I was thinking, “Oh boy, another ghost story.” but although it does have ghosts, it didn’t wear on me or feel like every other ghost book out there. There was a bit of creepiness to the story, and a lot of thrills. This is a great story for younger ones leading into Halloween season or anytime.

Pram is a very smart little girl who lives with her aunts. Her mother died when…

Review: The Doublecross: And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy by Jackson Pierce

Review: The Doublecross: And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy by Jackson Pierce

Posted by on 04/29/2015 • 3 Comments

OKAY, THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST ADORABLE AND FUNNIEST SPY-KIDS NOVEL I HAVE EVER READ.

Sorry for the all-caps, but seriously, I never thought a premise involving elite spy kids… or, err… pseudo-elite spy kids… would be in the same sentence as “cute” and “adorable”. In less than 3 hours, I finished from A-Z and I was like, “I NEED MORE SPY KIDS IN MY LIFE.”

Heroes don’t always look like heroes, and villains don’t always look like villains.

I had to work out who was who. I had to work out the truth.

Meet Hale Jordan – the son of two of the most elite spies of the SRS and the brother of a possible spy prodigy – a young soon-to-be-and-still-in-training spy who could not be anymore “unfit” for the role….

Review: Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Review: Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Posted by on 04/10/2015 • 8 Comments

This… was an interesting read, indeed.

The blurb talks about how this is a powerful thriller, but a more apt description would be a “quiet” thriller that sends ripples of emotions to the reader in frequent, yet small doses. This is actually the first time I’ve read something like it, because when I see THRILLER, I expect SUSPENSE! MYSTERY! TWISTS AT EVERY CORNER! But Last Good Day of the Year is anything but. The first 90% is all backstory, and the actual “thriller” part comes almost at the very end.

That doesn’t mean to say that it didn’t work, though, because I found myself liking the overall touch. When Sam was seven years old, she witnessed someone go inside their house and kidnap her four year old sister, Tabitha (nickname: Turtle)….

Review: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Review: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Posted by on 04/01/2015 • 21 Comments

This is probably the first time in a long while since I’ve gotten this infuriated and angry and just fuming over a book. I chose to read this novel expecting great things (especially with such a title as romantic as that), but I ended up putting the book down at certain times and pacing around the room just to cool off the steam coming out of my ears. I was that seething. 

(And I’m not the only one. I buddy read this with Aimee and we kept ranting about the book to each other.)

I don’t even know where to start with this thing. It had so many factors that could have given us an amazing story – underground family-syndicates that deal with black market organ transplants, a heroine who has an autoimmune disorder, assigned guardians…

Review: Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers

Review: Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers

Posted by on 03/06/2015 • 7 Comments

This book was a fun read. I liked the whole aspect of the tests that the family had to go through to try to win the inheritance. It was especially great, because things were not always as expected. Each test that they go through has to do with the family history and traits that their ancestors had. Pretty much all of the family are entitled shits who think that they deserve everything. Most of them annoyed me to no end, but it was all what made the overall story so good.

Avery is kind of a bit of a trouble maker. I don’t really blame her though. Abandoned by her father to live with her grandmother, she is pretty sheltered. She isn’t allowed to go hang out with friends…