January End of Month Book Reviews

January End of the Month Book Review

This is a new monthly post. In it, I'll talk about the two best and worst books I read this month, plus any notable mentions, and have a list of everything I've read at the end. If you'd like to see more of my reviews, you can follow me on Goodreads. (Which means I really should get better at writing reviews.)

Best Books

The Ruins of Gorlan- John Flanagan

My Rating- 4 1/2 stars

What I Liked-
• Awesome fantasy setting. It may be a bit cliche to have a medieval fantasy setting, but I can't help but love it. Knights, lords, castles- how much better can it get? (Unless it was medieval and set in space. Excuse me while I jot that down.)
• Will and Halt. Will is great, showing that size isn't everything. And am I the only one who thinks Halt must be laughing on the inside, even if he doesn't show it?
• The friendship between Will and Horace. I liked how their original animosity didn't keep them enemies forever. Instead, they become friends.
• Rangers. Super awesome, Aragorn type people. Their cloaks are the best.
• Bows and knives. Realistically too.
• Plot. It was a little slow, but when the action came, it was fast paced. It kept me turning pages the whole way through.
• Tug. That horse has so much personality, and he can't even talk.

What I Didn't Like-
• Head hopping. This is one of my pet peeves in books. Switching POVs between paragraphs annoys me so much.
• Creatures. This is probably just me, but I couldn't picture the fantasy creatures in my head.

Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X.- Frank Beddor

My Rating- 4 stars

What I Liked-
• Hatter Madigan. He was one of my favorite characters in the original story, and I loved having a whole book about his younger self.
• A band of misfits. I always have a soft spot for misfits and outcasts. Hatter and his unlikely friends were a highlight of the story.
• Wonderland! While this Wonderland is harsher and more twisted than in some re-tellings, I think he captured the spirit of Lewis Carol's well.
• The school. Hatter is going to the Millinery Academy, where he and other Milliners are being trained. But at the school, no emotions are allowed, meaning Hatter is bullied because he has a big heart. I liked how it talked about how emotions are powerful, rather than weak.

What I Didn't Like-
Nothing that I can think of. This book was great. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was because I save those for only the best of the best.

Worst Books

Lemonade Mouth- Mark Peter Hughes

My Rating- 3 stars

What I Liked-
• Suspense. While I didn't like this book a lot, it kept me turning pages. That's one of the reasons I gave it three stars instead of two.
• Underdogs. As I said, I love a good set of people that are unlikely heroes.
• The cover. It's so eye-catching. My sister and I had a whole discussion about what made it that way.
• Mo+Charlie. Spoiler alert: in the movie, they don't get together. In the book they did. That made me happy, because I didn't understand why Mo went back to Scott in the movie.

What I Didn't Like-
• It wasn't the movie. (The movie was better.) I can't really place my finger on what made the movie better, but I just didn't like the book as much.
• The band instruments. Um, who ever heard of a band with congos, a trumpet, a ukulele, and a double bass? It was supposed to be unusual, but I felt it was too much so.
• The ending. I wanted them to keep playing like they did in the movie. They didn't.

I think I didn't like this book mainly because I fell in love with the movie first. I might not have even tried the movie if I read the book first. You might enjoy this, but I couldn't.

Between Worlds- Skip Brittenham

My Rating- 2 1/2 stars

What I Liked-
• Magic. There was some cool magic done with words and drawing symbols. It felt solid and well defined.
• The illustrations. They were full page and in color, so pretty sweet.
• Page turner. Even though I didn't like it, I did have a hard time putting it down, so the author did something right.

What I Didn't Like-
• Both main characters had names that started with M. Mayberry and Marshall. It got confusing quickly.
• More head hopping. The POV kept switching between Mayberry and Marshall without warning.
• Bizarre. And not the good type either. Nith, the world, was full of weird creatures all over the place. A good example why you should not let your imagination go too crazy.
• No motivation. There was nothing driving the plot forward. Kids get taken to another planet, then have to survive, then have to save their friend. There was no over-arching goal.
• Author bio. It's a picky thing, but the bio didn't give me a lot of information. It told me about the awards he won and how he's part of some film legal thingy, but not anything useful. Just mentioning.

Notable Mention

Outlining Your Novel- K. M. Weiland

I've been meaning to get this book for a long time, but recently decided to actually do it when I decided to re-outline and re-write Return To Wonderland. I also got the workbook to go with it. It was so helpful.

Even if you don't consider yourself an outliner, read this book. It is amazing and will help you write a better book.

Other Books Read

The Conjurer's Riddle- Andrea Cremer
Deep Blue- Jennifer Donnelly
Skylark- Meagan Spooner
The Slippery Slope- Lemony Snicket
The Grim Grotto- Lemony Snicket
The Penultimate Peril- Lemony Snicket
The End- you guessed it, Lemony Snicket. (I was trying to finish the series before the Netflix series came out. Which I did.)
The Boy Who Knew Everything- Victoria Forester
Echo the Copycat- Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (Yes, this is a middle grade novel. And yes, I've read all 21 books in the series. I regret nothing.)
Calliope the Muse- Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Pallas the Pal- Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

*   *   *   *

Also, you'll notice I've updated my blog's look! What do you think of it? I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.

What have you read this month? Do you read middle grade novels without shame? Let me know in the comments.


Popular Posts