The Silent Deal Book Review

The Silent Deal (The Card Game, #1)The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

14-year-old Viktor lives in Aryk, Russia. There are three laws — no playing cards, no graffiti, no firearms. Males work in mines, and females in textile mills, unless you’re chosen for the three-year school program, like Viktor. Their lives are controlled by a reclusive Russian overlord that lives in the haunted Staryl Castle. When Viktor sneaks into a large gathering in town square, he’s horrified when he witnesses a man hang to death for possession of a playing card. The hanging haunts his dreams and Viktor is left with burning questions about the cards and a past no one will talk about. The cryptic card graffiti in town seems to be the only clue left about the mysterious past of the playing cards.

Things take an unexpected turn when an orphaned boy of the forest – Romulus, shows up on the first day of school wearing feathers in his tangled hair and a fur coat made from animal pelts. Viktor and his friends are shocked when Romulus shows them a card — an illegal playing card. From there, an unlikely friendship is formed between Viktor and Romulus. Together, they embark on a search to uncover the truth about the cards and what happened to Romulus’s parents. Sprinkle in some fun stuff like Romulus’s homemade weapons that have cool names like Orange Split, Blackbirds, and Fire Wire, some Gypsies that help them piece together the town’s past, and you get a wonderful tale that ultimately leads back to the book’s catchy title, “The Silent Deal”.

A unique, creative story for all ages…Wonderful debut.

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The Geography of You and Me – Book Review

The Geography of You and MeThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so excited to read this after enjoying “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight”. It just didn’t have the same punch and because of that I was slightly disappointed.

The Geography of You and Me is a contemporary love story of two teens Lucy and Owen. They have a chance meeting one night in a stalled elevator during a blackout in New York City. They make a quick connection, but soon after, end up in different places with completely different lives. The rest of the book follows their separate journeys with both of them struggling to forget about the other. This gives the story a kind of melancholy feel. You experience their attempts to move on with other people, their continuous moves to new cities, Owen and his father grieving for the loss of Owen’s mother, and Lucy’s life which mainly centers on hands-off parents who jet set around the world without her. The classic rich girl, poor boy.

The premise is cute, but the characters didn’t pull me in. I found I didn’t love them or hate them. I think the reason I couldn’t fall in love with these characters was twofold. One, it felt like their connection was more like a friendship of kindred spirits. And two, they were pretty much miserable the whole book. That made it hard to want to turn the next page. The fact that they were apart for most of the book also made it difficult to make the romance believable because there was nothing there for them to build upon except for that one night.

I did appreciate one literary tactic used near the end of the book where chapters got shorter and shorter in order to convey emotion. That was rather brilliant.

I also love the fact that Jennifer E Smith writes clean teen fiction. She’s found a wonderful niche for young, hopeless romantics that are waiting for their own great love story.

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Jackaby Book Review

JackabyJackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Move over Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and say hello to R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook. Instead of London and Scotland Yard, this eccentric detective and his sidekick are in Fiddleham, New England with one annoyed Inspector Marlowe.

The story begins with Abigail Rook, a young girl with a heart for adventure and discovery. When her misguided decision to abscond her university tuition and join a sketchy expedition for dinosaur fossils fails, she decides it’s easier to go to America than return to her disappointed parents in England.

It’s not long after Abigail lands in Fiddleham that she has her first encounter with Jackaby. Dressed in a long, brown coat with overstuffed pockets and equally long wool scarf, the man with the unruly, dark hair, shows up next to her at a tavern. He quickly relays specific details of Abigail’s trip to her. It doesn’t take Abigail long to realize that he is a detective of the unusual sort. Like that oh so famous Scotland Yard detective. Jackaby disappears into the night, and Abigail thinks nothing more of the strange encounter.

Desperate for work, Abigail scours the town but is unable to find a position. That’s when she finds an advertisement in the post office for an assistant for investigative services. When she shows up at the given address, she discovers none other than R.F. Jackaby. And that is when the game begans. She stumbles after him down the streets of Fiddleham as he rushes to the scene of a murder. Jackaby now has his Watson.

Here’s the fun part – Jackaby is not your average detective — he’s a seer. He has a special sight that allows him to see things that others can’t. Supernatural things, like ghosts, domovyk’s, goblins. Things that seem like legends and fairytales to others are very much alive to Jackaby. Now, there’s been a brutal murder in the city and Jackaby suspects the unnatural is involved. The inspector finds Jackaby an annoyance and his theories ridiculous. Even so, Jackaby relentlessly pursues the killer and Abigail finds herself in an adventure she never expected.

The spin on this book involving the supernatural is simply fantastic. If you take James Dashner’s flair for the curiously gruesome, and Madeleine L’Engle’s for the mystical, then add a dash of humor, you have William Ritter. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I’m thrilled that Ritter has found a way to give us a new detective to love. I simply cannot wait for more Jackaby adventures. If you are a Sherlock fan, like mysteries with a supernatural-fantasy element, you’ll love this book.

I’m also happy to report that it’s clean teen fiction. Outside of a few mild swear words that seem appropriate for the setting, the book contains nothing inappropriate for teen readers.

Favorite line from the book: “DO NOT STARE AT THE FROG”

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Book Review – Perfume Princess

Perfume PrincessPerfume Princess by Kristina Miranda

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Charming and downright fun!
Lily is just an ordinary fifteen year-old girl living a simple life in Texas with her father. So, spending the summer in New York with her perfume mogul mother, Hya Laroche, and her top model sister, feels an awful lot like Cinderella with no date to the ball. She takes comfort in the fact that she will at least get to go back to Texas to spend her 16th birthday with her dad. But, even that is in jeopardy when Lily is unexpectedly thrown into the spotlight with heartthrob, Chase Donovan, the star of Laroche cosmetics new ad campaign, and her sister Jasmine’s crush. Things quickly spiral out of control for Lily. Especially, her feelings for Chase.

“I tell myself he must be a jerk. Has to be, right? But what an adorable jerk.”

The author does a great job of making you feel like you’re immersed in the glamour of New York and then Paris as the characters become caught up in Laroche cosmetics latest perfume campaign. In the midst of all that, we watch Lily struggle with trying to please her mother and sister and just wanting to be herself without fear of being judged.

It’s the perfect book if you just want to escape for a weekend, or need a great beach read. If you’re a fan of Jennifer E Smith (i.e. The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love), you’re going to love Perfume Princess. I had a hard time putting it down!

*Bonus – This book receives my “Clean Teen Fiction” seal of approval.

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Ender’s Game Review

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thing you need to know about Orson Scott Card is that you cannot understand the mind of Orson Scott Card. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. You’ll know what I mean if you read the book.

Ender’s Game is about Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. Earth has been through two world wars with an alien race called the “buggers”. They are now preparing for the war to end all wars. Take out the “buggers” before they take care of Earth. In order to prepare for this final battle, an international fleet (I.F.) battle school has been created to train young children to command their fleet of space war ships. These children must have super intelligence, with some aggressive tendencies. The children are chosen by making them wear monitors on the back of their necks in order to determine if they exhibit the leadership qualities needed for battle school. Ender has had a monitor since he was three. Continue reading

Dystopia Mania – Three Reasons Why It’s So Popular

If you haven’t noticed, dystopian fiction has become the latest mania in young adult fiction. Works such as Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner have helped fuel the current trend. Fans can’t seem to get enough of the futuristic societies gone bad. Continue reading