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

Mini Book Reviews: March 2020 – Part 3


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olypians #1) by Rick Riordan, Pet by Akwaeke Emezi, The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin, & Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School #1) by Svetlana Chmakova


» The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olypians #1) by Rick Riordan


add-to-goodreads-button5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» The Lightning Thief is a compelling adventure story filled with mythology and humor that will appeal to even reluctant readers.

» I adored that this series features a main character with learning disabilities!  Being a mother to a son that has a visual processing disorder and ADHD, I appreciated the representation.

» I really enjoyed the “Camp Half Blood” setting, and was my favorite aspect of the story.

» I loved the dynamic between Percy, Annabeth, & Grover.  I’ve always been a sucker for a great crew of friends working as a team.WhatIDidntLike» While I love a good adventure story where the characters go on a quest, this one jumped around a bit much.  The quest portion of the book felt a bit jarring and did not have great flow to the story.

» I wanted more time at Camp Half Blood.  To me, this was the best part of the book.  I wanted to see more of the camp & the campers.OverallI can definitely see why this series is so beloved by so many.   I know I would have adored this book as a kid.

› Recommended to ⇒ reluctant readers; fans of mythology; Harry Potter fans

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling


» Pet by Akwaeke Emezi



5-Star Rating System

I read Pet because it was a 2019 National Book Awards for Young People finalist, so I felt compelled to see what the fuss was about…WhatILiked» This was a powerful YA fantasy story that centers around identity, justice, and evil.  This is definitely not a light-hearted read, but rather a harrowing story that gave me a pit in my stomach as I was reading it.

»  For me, the main message in Pet was that it is not always easy to do the right thing.  Sometimes doing the right this means we need to have uncomfortable conversations.  Also, evil takes many forms, and is not always obvious.

» Pet was such an interesting character.  I enjoyed watching Pet as the catalyst for Jam’s growth & development throughout the course of the book.

» There was zero romance in Pet!

» I loved all the representation included in Pet.  Representation includes a trans teen with selective mutism and a polyamorous relationship.   The LGBTQ+ representation was not a plot device nor was it used as a means to cause drama/tension in the story, but just a matter-of-fact.

But unpleasant things must be done for unpleasant purposes out of unpleasant necessity.

WhatIDidntLike» I feel like the world building in Pet was lacking.  I never got a clear sense of the world and its culture & history.

» Coming in at just over 200 pages, Pet could have definitely been expanded upon.

› Recommended to ⇒  those looking for a short book that packs a punch

Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexual abuse

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


» The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin



5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars*WhatILiked» This is the second book I’ve read that centered around Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria.  This portrayal varied vastly from the last book I read, which was an interesting juxtaposition.  Whereas the previous book I read cast Sisi as a victim of circumstance, this novel cast her more as self-indulgent and cold.

» Charlotte was a compelling main character.  While she was naive in many regards, I loved her intelligence, determination, and kindness.

» I enjoyed the photography aspect & learning about what photography looked like in the 1870s.

» I think the audiobook was well narrated.  I am not sure I could have gotten through this book in print form.

WhatIDidntLike» The synopsis is a bit misleading.  It really makes you believe that this book centers around Sisi, Empress of Austria, but this book is more around Captain Bay Middleton & Charlotte.

» Captain Bay.  Barf.  I would like to state that Captain Bay is an asshat, and Charlotte deserved better.  The author tried to make him out to be a sympathetic character, but I didn’t buy into it.

» I don’t typically say this, but I think this book could have worked better with an additional perspective, Sisi’s perspective.  As much as I did not care for Sisi (at least in this portrayal) I think having her perspective could have made the story feel more complete.  We also might have seen some motivation for her demeanor and actions.

» The pacing of this book was on the slow side.  Slower pacing, paired with 470+ pages made for some sluggish parts of the book.

» I was not a fan of the ending.  I cannot exactly state why because of spoilers, but I wish things hadn’t panned out so nicely for Bay.

› Recommended to ⇒ historical fiction fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ infidelity

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Sisi: Empress on Her Own (Sisi #2) by Allison Pataki


» Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School #1) by Svetlana Chmakova



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked

» Much like Brave, I adored Chmakova’s portrayal of middle school in graphic novel format.  It brought back memories from my own awkward middle school years.

» Chmakova has a wonderful way of creating relatable characters that I adore.  Peppi was a great main character.  While Peppi makes mistakes, she does learn from her mistakes and works towards fixing them.  I enjoyed watching her growth over the course of the book.

» I adored the diversity in the characters.  There was a great mix of races, abilities, and family dynamics.

» Awkward includes themes like fitting in, friendship, forgiveness, and bullying.   All of which are very relevant to a middle grade audience.

» I adore Chmakova’s illustrations.   I love how she uses a muted color pallet.

› Recommended to ⇒ those looking for a graphic novel centering around the struggles of middle school

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ bullying

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson




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

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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