Ravage the Dark

Ravage the Dark by Tara Sims is the second book in the Scavenge the Stars duology.

For so long,  Amaya Chandra’s only goal was to be free of the debtor ship and it’s cruelties. But freedom is no longer enough for Amaya. She wants revenge and to reveal the truth behind the sickness sweeping across Moray.

For Cayo Mercado, revenge would be sweet, but more important is the health of his sister, which is slowly deteriorating, no thanks to his scoundrel of a father. Penniless and without hope, Cayo is lost and can see no way forward.

Though their relationship began with betrayal, can Amaya and Cayo work together for the greater good? Or will they be too caught up in their emotions and each other to help anyone at all?

This book was OK. It didn’t hold my interest even nearly as much as the first book. I missed the intrigue of book one. This one felt more like a tie up of loose ends and not a conclusion to the story.

What really soured this one for me, was the ending. All these things are happening and Amaya and Cayo just stay behind? They are hellbent on revealing the truth throughout the first and most of the second book and then it’s like they just didn’t care any more, which made me not care.

For me, this book ended up turning into background filler. It didn’t keep my attention and I found I didn’t miss, missing something when I was listening to it. For that reason, this one gets 2.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks is a standalone juvenile fiction book about a girl who loves to bakes journey to get to know her convict father.

When Zoe Washington receives a letter from her biological father on her twelfth birthday, she isn’t sure what to write back. Her father is a convicted felon, serving a sentence for a horrible crime. She has never met him and he has never met her but he says he’s innocent and Zoe can’t help but being curious.

Secretly, Zoe begins a correspondence with Marcus and becomes all but obsessed with discovering whether he is guilty or innocent of his crime. That, and convincing her parents that she’s ready to audition for the Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge, Zoe Washington has a busy summer ahead of her. But can she do it?

This is a prime example of a misleading title. I saw a colleague recommend this book and picked it up purely from looking at the cover. So I was quite surprised when it had absolutely nothing to do with journalism or writing for a newspaper or anything. I totally missed the cookbook, cupcake and cake poster in the background, but the girl on the cover just screamed “journalist” to me. All that being said, this was a good book and a really good audio book.

I was almost lost toward the middle-end of the book, when I kept cringing knowing the “uh oh” moment was coming. And I did find Zoe a little naïve here and there but overall, I liked her as a character.

The baking elements of this story where really great. I loved Zoe’s internship at the bakery and her Fruit Loop creation. Yum! There was also a really good balance, in terms of believability, with Zoe’s relationship with Marcus.

Overall, this was a fun read and would probably appeal to both boys and girls around 4-6th grade.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Across the Green Grass Fields

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire is the sixth book in the Wayward Children series.

Regan loves horses more than anything, almost as much as she loves following the rules. She knows what is expected from her at school and at home and she tries to meet that expectation at all costs. So when she finds out something about herself that isn’t “normal,” her world comes crashing down.

As her world begins to unravel, Regan is thrust through a doorway marked with the words, “Be Sure.” But Regan is anything but sure when she finds herself trapped in a world full of centaurs, kelpies, and other magical horse-like creatures. Especially, when she is told that a human in Hooflands always means something bad is about to happen.

As Regan accepts Hooflands as her new home, she comes to learn that being a hero can mean many things and being true to herself is the most important thing of all.

Man, I wanted to like this. I wanted to like this just as much as I’ve enjoyed almost all of McGuire’s Wayward books. But I just didn’t. Where was the magic and mystery? Where where my familiar tie-ins to book one? With the exception of the doorways, this book just felt so different from the series I know and love.

Ultimately, this book was slow. It’s only 175 pages and it felt like I was reading it forever. Not a lot happens. Usually, these tiny books are quick reads with a lot of action and a lot of heart. But this one didn’t give me that feeling. And the ending felt as lackluster as Regan felt at finding out what her “destiny” truly was.

Not too much else to say about this one. It was OK and that’s not what I expect from McGuire. This one gets a 2.5 womp womp stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Game of Fox and Squirrel

A Game of Fox and Squirrel by Jenn Reese is a juvenile fiction book for grades five and up.

After something happens to shatter their family, eleven-year old Samantha and her older sister Caitlin are sent to Oregon to live with an Aunt they never knew existed. Sam wants nothing more than to go back home and to the way things were before the “incident.”

When Aunt Vicky gives Sam an unusual board game called “A Game of Fox & Squirrels,” she becomes fascinated with the game, even more so when the characters start showing up in the woods around her aunt’s house.

But Sam is soon wrapped up in a game she wasn’t prepared for. As the stakes get steeper, the line between what is real and what isn’t is blurred and Sam could lose more than just the game.

This was a really wonderful audio book. I am always hesitant to recommend titles with tough themes, especially when it comes abusive parents, but this one is done so well. The author doesn’t spell everything out for the readers, nor does she talk down to them. She assumes that they are smart enough to “get” what is happening and doesn’t shy away from the truth.

But what really makes this book shine is how Sam deals with the issues in her family through fantasy. When the foxes “eyes go dark,” you can almost see Sam’s Dad getting angry and there are several examples of this throughout the book. I thought this was a great way for the author to have Sam work through her feelings.

This book has a lot going for it. It was well written, the theme is handled beautifully and the character relationships seem authentic. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalai is a juvenile fiction book, steeped in myth and folklore, probably best for 5-7th graders.

“Strong’s keep punching.” Is the family motto of the Strong family and seventh grader, Tristian Strong, feels like doing anything but punching after he losing his first boxing match, while dealing with the death of his best friend, Eddie. In the hopes of “getting his mind off of things,” Tristan is sent to live with his grandparents for the summer, working in the fields and getting away from any reminders of Eddie.

All Tristan has left of Eddie is a beaten up journal where he wrote down old stories. On his first night in Alabama, a sticky little doll sneaks into Tristan’s room and snatches to doll. When Eddie chases the creature down, he and it let loose an evil spirit and they all fall into another world–Midpass.

Burning seas, bone ships, mechanical monsters and more greet him, along with black American gods like John Henry and Brer Rabbit. In order to get home Tristan must ally with these gods and save Midpass, but what can one lost teenager do?

I enjoyed this book a lot and I think it will have a lot of appeal to fantasy fans of myth and legend. The book gives you glimpses into folklore and myth from West Africa and these samples make you want to go out and learn more about the original tales.

Although Tristan is a great character and will be relatable to many, I think the side characters really shine in this book. Gum Baby, John Henry, High John and the others were so fun to read. I loved “seeing” glimpses of them throughout the story and hope the come in to play more in the next book.

It’s hard to believe that this is a debut book for Mbalai because it has memorable characters, a storyline that pulls you in and some pretty good worldbuilding. Overall, I think this will be a great read for kids who are looking for something similar to the Riordan books but with a new feel. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-