February End of the Month Book Reviews

February End of the Month Book Reviews

It's that time of the month again. Book round-up time! I just know you've been waiting on the edge of your seat since last month to see what deep and exciting thoughts I have about the books I've read since the last post. (Just kidding. Probably.) Anyway, let's get the reviews.

Best Books

The Toymaker's Apprentice- Sherri L. Smith

My Rating: 5 stars

What I Liked:
• The plot. It was well laid out and even if this book was kind of big, it kept me turning the pages. It also had consistent back and forth chapters between the humans and the animals. I like when you know what POV to expect in the next chapter.
• The world. It was set in Germany and included all sorts of talking animals like mice, rats, and squirrels. The world reminded me of a Disney movie, but for older kids. It would also fall under clockpunk to me as it includes lots of clocks and clockwork.
• The characters. Stefan, the main character, was easy to relate to, the rat tutor was fun, and the Mouse King was interesting, as each of his heads had a different personality.
• It was a re-telling of "The Nutcracker". And not the ballet either. The original story the ballet was based off of. I read that one once, and when I read this book it brought those memories back.
• Morals. Each side in the fight had to do things that weren't exactly good. The mice, who were the bad guys, certainly did the worst things, but Stefan and his uncle didn't do the best things all the time either. It was nice that everything wasn't black and white.

What I Didn't Like:
Nothing. That's why this book got five stars.

Charmed, I'm Sure- Sarah Darer Littman

My Rating: 4 stars

What I Liked:
• The main character, Rosie. She's the daughter of Snow White and her prince, and throughout the story she's trying to figure out how to be her. She has a great negative character arc, not something you find a lot in a middle grade novel, and in the end, she learns to be herself.
• Theme. The theme was you are beautiful the way you are. I think it's an important message for all girls to learn.
• Fairy tale characters in New York City. While modern fairy tales is common, I've never read one set in New York. Rosie even goes to school with other fairy tale legends' kids.

What I Didn't Like:
• Rosie's mom. She grated on me. But I think that's more of a personal thing.
• Fairy tale characters in New York City. The thing I didn't like about this aspect was that it didn't explain how they got there. And if Snow White and her prince married when bows were still in use, how old are they and how do they still look young? It didn't answer enough of my questions, so the worldbuilding left me unsatisfied.

Worst Books

Lucky- Rachel Vail

My Rating: 2 1/2 stars

What I Liked:
• Um, the cover. That dress is gorgeous. But that was about the only thing I liked about this book.

What I Didn't Like:
• Phoebe, the protagonist. She was a whiny, spoiled brat. This whole story is based around her not getting a middle school graduation party and the dress she wanted. How shallow is that?
• The characters were in middle school. This was shelved as a YA book in my library. So why the middle school characters?
• Every character in this book. All the girls Phoebe hangs out with are just as shallow and act twice their age. I felt like reaching into the book and slapping them.
• The whole plot. As I said, it revolves around her family falling on hard times. That I could understand, if it weren't for the fact that her family is one of those rich ones that lives in a community. For them, falling on hard times means they can't blow a thousand dollars on a middle school party, keep a housekeeper, or buy Phoebe a Vera Wang dress. I just can't relate. In the end, Phoebe gets everything she wanted, and doesn't really learn anything. This book annoyed me so much.

Everland- Wendy Spinale

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

What I Liked:
• The re-telling of Peter Pan. It took the original and used it as a jumping-off point to create a whole new story. The names give clues to fans of the original as to who is who. I'm glad she didn't simply repeat Peter Pan's plot in a different setting.
• Page turner. The plot is high action, though with enough calm scenes to balance it out. The ending especially made me keep turning the pages.
• Bella. She was supposed to be Tinker Bell, except she was much spunkier. And she had these awesome steampunk wings that enabled her to fly. No clue how they worked, though I would have liked to. I want a pair.
• The Lost Boys. There were about a hundred of them, and though you don't know them all, they were cute in the scenes they were in.
• Gwen's name. Gwen Darling. You don't see a lot of characters named Gwen, and it was a nice play off of Wendy.

What I Didn't Like:
• Gwen and Pete. Not that I didn't like them together. I just didn't like their characters very much. Gwen was okay, but not stellar. And Pete was Peter. No offense, but I never liked him in the original story. Too finicky and self-centered.
• The worldbuilding. This book was supposed to be a steampunk Peter Pan, I think. Instead, it came off feeling more dystopian. There were zeppelins, guns, and Bella's wings, but other than that, not much.
• The plot. The whole series of events leading up to the story and the story itself felt slightly unbelievable. And Gwen was conveniently the only person immune to the virus in the whole of Everland (what used to be London). Her blood is the magic cure to the virus. Cliche, right?
• Hook's chapters. The book alternates between Gwen and Hook (though most of it is Gwen). Every time a Hook chapter came up I almost wanted to skip ahead just to get back to Gwen. I think the author wanted you to feel sympathy for Hook. I didn't. He annoyed me. And I couldn't get into his head like I could Gwen's. (Both are told in first person.)

Not to say this was a bad book, exactly. I had some problems with it, but it was a fun story to read and I do suggest it for Peter Pan fans.

Notable Mentions

Red Queen- Victoria Aveyard

I've heard about this book for a while, and finally got around to reading it. How could I resist with a cover like that? It was good, but had some problems.

Good Stuff:
• The powers. Loved them. Superpowers and dystopian? It can't get much better than that. Unless it's fantasy, because fantasy is always better.
• No chosen one! Mare turns out to be one of many Reds like her. I was so happy to see this.
• Worldbuilding. It was quite well done, and the society well thought out.

Bad Stuff:
• Mare annoyed me. She was arrogant, impulsive, and headstrong, but none of those in a good way. Maybe I would have felt the same in her place, but it still made me roll my eyes sometimes.
• The plot was a big jumble of lots of many plots. Some Hunger Games, some Divergent, a splash of The Selection. She could have put some more effort into it.
• Every boy in the book, except her brothers, were in love with her. Cal, Maven, and Kilorn. That annoyed me almost more than a love triangle.
• The big twist didn't surprise me. I'd heard there was a big surprise at the end, but when it came up, I was disappointed because I wasn't shocked. It just seemed to make sense. Though, when they were all yelling at Maven about how he betrayed them, this was the line running through my head.

My biggest problem was that I came into this book expecting a high paced dystopian novel, something like Divergent. Instead, it turned out to be more of a political drama. If I had known that from the beginning, I would have looked at this book differently. That said, I liked it somewhat, and will continue the series keeping what I've learned in mind.

A Study in Charlotte- Brittany Cavallaro

As you know, I love Sherlock Holmes re-tellings. This one did not disappoint, mostly. My three big problems were:
1) Lots of drug use. Charlotte uses drugs, and that makes me sad. Just because Sherlock did, did Charlotte have to as well?
2) They dissed the original stories. How dare you disrespect the originals? Maybe they weren't 100% realistic, but do you have to point it out?
and 3) Cussing. So much cussing. (Hint: it doesn't make you sound grown up. More like childish.) This quote accurately describes me the whole book.

Also, isn't this like the best part of the movie?

Other than that, I loved it. I totally adore Charlotte+Jamie. Her commentary on the end made the book, as did Jamie's dad's guide to caring for Holmes. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before? You have to read this book.

Other Books Read

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency- Douglas Adames- 3 2/3 stars
The Bronze Key- Holly Black and Cassandra Clare- 4 stars
The Burning Tide- Jonathan Auxier- 4 stars
The Looking Glass Wars- Frank Beddor- 4 stars
iPhone Millionaire: How to Create and Sell Cutting-Edge Video- Michael Rosenblum- 3 stars
Cryptid Hunters- Roland Smith- 4 stars
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear- Elizabeth Gilbert- 3 stars
Tentacles- Roland Smith- 4 stars
A Boy Called Christmas- Matt Haig- 4 stars
House of Many Ways- Dianna Wynn Jones- 4 stars
The Wolf Princess- Cathryn Constable- 3 stars
Etys-preneurship: Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Homemade Hobby into a Thriving Business- Jason Malinak- 5 stars

Let's talk. What books have you read this month? Have you ever thought a book would be one genre and it turned out different? Tell me in the comments.


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