Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews: February 2020 – Part 4

*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren, The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White, The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice #1) by John Flanagan, and Compass South (Four Points #1) by Hope Larson


WhatILiked»  I love books that revolve around female athletes.  I am just such a sucker for a character that is passionate about a sport and we get to see the hard work and dedication that it takes to excel in a sport.  I also appreciated that the author tackled some tough issues of female athletes: double standards, sexism, sexual harassment, etc.

» Holland was an excellent female main character.  She’s hard working, confident in her abilities, strong, and not afraid to stand up for herself.

»  This was such a sweet romance story!  I think this relationship felt very realistic of a high school romance, which is not always true of many YA contemporaries that I’ve read before.

› Recommended to ⇒  fans of female athlete stories

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexual harassment, sexism, etc.

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Beartown by Fredrik Backman


» The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White



5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars*

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2019!  Did it live up to my expectations, not exactly, but I still think it is a worth while read.WhatILiked»  I’ve mentioned this before, but I love Kiersten White’s retellings.   I think she does such a wonderful job keeping elements from the original fairtytale/legend/myth, while creating a new & unique story.  When I found out that this was a retelling of King Arthur & Guinevere retelling, I was stoked.  I’m not surprised, but I really loved how White retold this Medieval legend.  I think the concept for this story was brilliant!

» I loved the LGBTQIA+ representation and am very intrigued on how things are going to pan out in the next installments.  I can’t really elaborate because of #spoilers.

WhatIDidntLike» I felt like I was just dropped into this world & story without proper development, which caused me to feel disoriented for much of the first half of the book.

» Because we were thrown into the story, I never really felt a connection to the main character, Guinevere.  Had White started the story sooner and introduced us to “Guinevere” before she travels to Camelot, this would have helped.

» The story felt very stunted for the majority of the book.  There wasn’t enough forward progress.

» Arthur felt very bland and underdeveloped.  We do not see enough of him, which in turn makes the romance elements feel forced.OverallDespite my various issues, I still enjoyed the story and am looking forward to reading the next installment.  I have high hopes that my issues with this book will be cleared up in the subsequent books.

Recommended to ⇒ retellings; medieval settings

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ And I Darken by Kiersten White


» The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice #1) by John Flanagan



5-Star Rating System

*4.5 Stars*

My mother-in-law actually recommended this book for my son, a reluctant reader.  WhatILiked» The Ruins of Gorlan is the story of a 15-year-old orphan that is training to become a Ranger.  I flew through this quick paced & action packed story.  There are some wonderful themes in The Ruins in Gorlan such as hard work, courage, good vs. evil, friendship, etc.

» Will was an excellent main character.  I enjoyed watching his growth over the course of the book.   I loved watching Will train & grow confident in his abilities under the watchful gaze of Halt.  I think it was wonderful that the author focused on all the hard work & dedication that Will puts into his training.

» I would also consider The Ruins of Gorlan a wonderful gateway book into fantasy.  If you are newer to fantasy or find fantasy intimidating, this is a good place to start.

» My mother-in-law was right, this book is an excellent read for reluctant readers.

WhatIDidntLike» My only criticism of the book was that I did not like when the book shifted into Horace’s perspective.  This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy his character, just that the POV switch felt off.  I think the story would have been better focusing only on Will’s story, and only seeing Horace through Will’s eyes.OverallThis is a wonderful fantasy story that will appeal to reluctant & avid readers alike.

› Recommended to ⇒ reluctant readers; new to fantasy readers

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ bullying

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan


» Compass South (Four Points #1) by Hope Larson



5-Star Rating System WhatILiked» Compass South is a exhilarating historic adventure story set in the 1860s.  Filled with gangs, schemes, pirates, potential treasure, and travels, this graphic novel is a wild ride from start to finish.  It gave me Treasure Island vibes, so if you are a fan of the classic story, you may enjoy this.

» I’d probably say this graphic novel will appeal to the 10 to 12-year-old age range.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of adventure stories

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson



Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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