Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

I read this book in a day, oh my god, it was stinkin’ amazing. I tried to read this when I was around 8 or so, but it mentioned puberty and womanhood and was like ‘nope not appropriate’ and returned it to the library. And it was one of those books that just hung around in my mind until one day, about a year or so ago, I saw this series and all Tamora Pierce’s following series on the shelf, looked for the first book, couldn’t, and kept looking for over a year. Until I was at a huge book sale, found it, bought it, read it, and here we are.

This book follows Alanna, a girl who’d rather be a knight instead of a lady as is expected. And since her brother hates idea of being a knight and loves magic, she chops her hair and they switch. Now, she has to hide who she is, keep up with the grueling training, defend herself from bullies, and prove herself as a page. So you have a strong, genderbendy, determined, magic wielding entity of awesome, who still has weaknesses and fears.

So, I would say read this book. There’s some, but minor, violence, some brief mention of what happens when you lay with a man, and Alanna dealing with puberty. The last might make some a little uncomfortable if they’re prepubescent or don’t have a uterus. But, all those parts are brief, and this is still an excellent book. 11+. 

Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Sorry for the gap in posts, vacation week was hectic. I don’t usually rate sequels to books, but for this, I have to because this book was and is an amazing sequel. In this book, all our favorite and diverse characters are here with the addition of a feisty Alex Fierro, who’s gender fluid.

This band of heroes are now fighting against Loki’s plan to marry of Sam to a giant. They go on tons of adventures, trying to figure out a way to get her out of this while Thor’s hammer is also on the line, part of Sam’s nuptial gifts. 

The story stayed interesting, and awesome. Like seriously awesome. It’s definitely for older middle graders (at one point the make magical string out of a cup of blood and hair), but it’s definitely worth the read.

I especially love Alex Fierro’s character, who normalizes gender confusion and explains to kids. I find Alex a decent role model, and wished she was around when I was younger.

Probably 11+. Bit more violence and fighting, not mention some innuendo that’ll go over little kids heads. I recommend highly.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I finally read this book, after being pretty horrified after watching the movie when it came out when I was younger. Well, my aunt and mother did tell me I was too young. But this book was pretty dang awesome. It’s a short, quick read but doesn’t feel lacking. And it was so good, my mother read it after me and loved it so much she wants to read more by him.

It follows a girl named Coraline and her otherworldly adventures with her other mother and what a life there would be like. Coraline, as a character, is just great. She’s imaginative, creative, and adventurous.

I would say upper middle grade for this one, maybe younger if you don’t mind spooks here and there and creepy other mothers with button eyes. Great role model for young kids though. 11+, I think. But not just for kids, mothers too enjoy this book. And, if you or your family or whoever likes this book, be sure to check out Neil Gaiman’s other sorta multi genre and age novel, The Graveyard Book.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

A lot of books I rate on this blog are books I really, really like. This book is no exception. I loved this book, evident by me reading it in just 2 days. This author has also penned the Shatter Me series, but I haven’t yet read those. What I can say is that her first middle grade book was well done.

It takes place in a magical world where color is everything and magic is ranked. People have to go on adventures for the greater good of their land, based on how awesome your magic is. The main character is a bit of an outcast, since unlike everyone else, she’s colorless. The only spot of color is the occasional red tint to her cheeks and her eyes.  She also has a magic that no one else has, and she doesn’t like to admit. Her dad’s missing, and a boy she knows named Oliver gets tasked with finding him. And he needs Alice’s help. This is where it really gets fun.

They travel all over a fantastical world out of their town of Ferenwood, into Furthermore. Here, they face many challenges and have to work together, which is difficult since Oliver and her do not get along well.

I liked this book a lot. I liked the uniqueness and whimsicalness and the relationships. I loved the adventure of it. In books like these, in middle grade fiction, I like adventure and friendship and a sense of wonder. I feel like this book emulates that.

This book would be great for middle grade kids. Probably 6th grade up, catch my drift? But I’m sure younger kids would like it too, though it is a bit longer than some, at around 400 pages. I know when I was younger, it would take a special book for me to read it, if it was on the longer side. I have a feeling that I would have liked this book, had it been out when I was younger.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I am not always bright, and the main reason why I wanted to read this was because my mom told me that I couldn’t. There were other reasons, like the fact that three good friends liked this series, one of which whom whenever recommends a book I drop everything to read it. So, finally, my folks let me read it, even though I had already read a good part without them knowing. And, where my mom hated this book, I liked it. A lot. I mean, so much that I finished that giant books, finished the 1000+ page sequel, and am now nearly halfway through the 1000+ page 3rd book.

This book is pretty well loved, and has received mixed reviews. A lot of the negative reviews come from people who didn’t agree with the praise laid on it as unique, or who thought the writing was crap, or thought the plot was too confusing. I can’t really say too much on the uniqueness of this novel, as I don’t usually read this type of fantasy. The writing wasn’t the best, but it was better than some of read. And, to be honest, this book is pretty confusing.

This book follows a crap ton of people, mostly if not entirely nobles, as they deal with the prospect of the throne of this land. The current king hasn’t been on the throne for very long, and is the first of his lineage, so everything is pretty rocky. Some people in this book are all about honor, some are about power, and there’s also a lot of viewpoints from children which vary in what they want. This book is filled with fighting and political danger and decisions, which I liked.

Another thing I liked was how different all the characters are, which must not have been to easy as each book contains half a dozen or more point of views, and too many side characters to keep track of sometimes. But all the main characters are unique, from looks to personality. Also, even though this book is set in a time period where women are seen as property, all the female characters, which there are a lot of, are depicted as fleshed out and strong in some way. I liked that.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Scenes are pretty brief, but there is some pretty graphic stuff. Rape is described, beheadings, murder, semi-graphic sex scenes, rape of children, characters frequent brothels, a large amount of very vulgar language, some detailed incest, and more. I can’t really stick an age on this book. I would recommend it, though, for more grownup teens and adults, and people that aren’t too bothered by this stuff. I know people who started this series at age 14 and were fine, and full fledged adults who couldn’t handle it.

If you are interested in this book series, I will tell you that the first 100 pages are the hardest. There’s a lot of characters and plot points and stuff to wrap your head around. Also, DO NOT GET ATTACHED TO ANYTHING. PEOPLE, ANIMALS, AND EVEN OBJECTS.  Pretty much, everything dies or has horrible stuff happen to them. Also, you’ll want to punch Joffrey. It’s okay. We all do.

 

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

There’s a used book store near where I live, and that is where I got this book. My friend read the back, handed it to me, and said, “you should read this.” So, I picked it up and did. And I loved this book a lot, devouring it in a few days.

This book takes place in Britain at the beginning of World War II, and follows David. After the death of his mother, they move to a house of his father’s new wife in the country side. His room is basically a library, and he falls into the world of books, with struggling to death with his new step mother and half brother. Then, he starts seeing things. Then, he gets trapped in a magical world.

There are a lot of things nicely done in this book. The imagery is wonderful, and it blends and mixes fairy tales in a way that is new and I just really, really loved. This book is written for adults but in a way that appeals to them and teens. I made my mother read this and she said at first it felt a little young but then she fell in love with it.

There is fantasy violence, some dark themes, and other content similar. I would say 13+. I highly recommend.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Wow, it’s been a while. Let’s start with a favorite author of mine.

I have a long standing love for Rick Riordan books. The Percy Jackson series got me out of a pretty low place, and never fail to amuse me. The Heroes of Olympus series I didn’t like as much, but then there was this book. The Sword of Summer. I really, really, really liked this book. And, it was back in first person.

This follows Magnus Chase and his adventures into the world of Norse mythology, with some clear similarities to Percy Jackson. Others weren’t a huge fan of this and rated this poorly because of that, but I didn’t mind to much. I found the new mythology interesting enough to look past that. I also love, in this book, how their was more diversity in the characters, from religion, to skin color, to disabilities. It was nice reading that.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s fast paced, interesting, and was totally worth the Barnes and Noble gift card I used on it. It’s a little on the thick side, and deals with the usual fantasy violence. Probably good for 10/11+.