Book Review: ‘Defy the Night’

Defy the Night” by Brigid Kemmerer

Source: Bloomsbury in exchange for honest review

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Summary:

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even

Read More »

Book Review: ‘The Woods Are Always Watching’

The Woods Are Always Watching” by Stephanie Perkins

Source: Penguin Teen in exchange for honest review

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Horror, Thriller

Summary:

Bears aren’t the only predators in these woods.

Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest.

Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

Read More »

Book Review: ‘Dark and Shallow Lies’

Dark and Shallow Lies” by Ginny Myers

Source: Penguin Teen in exchange for honest review

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery

Summary:

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World–and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something–her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou–a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history–Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent–and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Read More »

Mini Middle Grade Reviews: “A Boy Called Bat” and “Murder is Bad Manners”

A Boy Called Bat” by Elana K. Arnold

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Summary:

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.


Very cute! I loved the real tone of the book. Having just listened to a few of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, it reminded me a bit of that. A kid just being a kid. Not what an adult might “imagine” a kid might feel or think like.

I can’t comment on how accurate the autism representation is. I did like how I felt like I understood Bat’s thinking about things. He’s not trying to be difficult. His brain just works a bit differently.

I really appreciated how the story wasn’t an autism book. It was the story of a little boy who desperately wants to raise a skunk and the boy just happens to be on the autism spectrum. We need more casual representation like this. 


Murder Is Bad Manners” by Robin Stevens

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Mystery

Summary:

1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.)

But then Hazel discovers the body of the Science Mistress, Miss Bell – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls have to solve a murder, and prove a murder has happened in the first place before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally),

But will they succeed?

And can their friendship stand the test?


I always love a good mystery. This was a favorite series of a tween library patron so I knew I needed to give it a try! [She also told me that First Class Murder (which takes places on the Orient Express) is her favorite. I’ll need to come back to the series so I can get to that one.]

I didn’t love that it was a bit Americanized. I totally forget that this wasn’t even set in the US at times. I hate that publishers assume readers can’t pick up on things. Yes, I understand there’s language differences between two countries that speak the same language. Just add a glossary to the front or back like you do with a fantasy novel or a few extra words to explain if necessary.

Other than that, the mystery was fun! It felt appropriate for the age of the protagonists & intended age of reader.

I loved that there were little updates as Daisy & Hazel learn more information. They add or remove suspects and other helpful information. It felt like they were actually investigating.

Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | BookTok | Classics in Bookland | Support the Blog

Book Review: ‘They’ll Never Catch Us’

They’ll Never Catch Us” by Jessica Goodman

Source: Penguin Teen in exchange for honest review

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery

Summary:

Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and she keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life and she won’t let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course.

The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers’ lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can’t help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie’s been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong–she’s someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she’d never be: distracted.

With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won’t let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.

Read More »