Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Title: Ban This Book
Author: Alan Gratz
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 256 Pages
Publication: September 5, 2017 by Starscape

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library--by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, 
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That's when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate's mom thought the book wasn't appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.


Ban This Book was a wonderful surprise. Then again, when a book is about books, you can’t go wrong with it. And in this case, fourth grader Amy Anne discovered her favorite book of all time got banned from the library which prompts her and her friends to take matters into their own hands by launching the B.B.L.L. (Banned Books Locker Library); to make sure that their first amendment isn’t being restricted and that books are readily available to all those that want to read it.

I don’t read many middle grade books due to the target audience and when I do, they’re normally sci-fi or fantasy. However, like I said when a book is about a book, you just don’t pass it up. And I’m so glad I read it because the characters were realistic and the book had important messages. Which is, no one should tell you what you can and cannot read and to stand up for what you believe in. Both I wholly agree with. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Amy Anne at the start of the book. She was very timid and never spoke her mind. The first third of the book was riddled with what she wanted to say but never did. And at first it was kind of funny, but after a few pages it just got tiring. Thankfully Amy Anne learned to voice her opinion, and even challenged the school board. And in voicing her opinion and for standing up for what she believed in, she and her fellow classmates were able to overturn the rule on the banned books! The ending was definitely my favorite scene in the entire book, when she pulled out that old library cataloging card!

I really enjoyed Ban This Book. It had me smiling throughout and I even shed a little tear at the end. While this book is targeted for readers age 13 and younger, I think it will appeal to adults and teens as well. I am very much way out of the target group but found myself liking it more than I thought I was going to. Ban This Book should be a reading requirement in class and should be in every single library. You’ll like this one, I guarantee it!



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Title: The Last Magician 
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Genre: Young Adult
Series: The Last Magician #1

Hardcover, 512 Pages
Publication: July 18, 2017 by Simon Pulse

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
 


The Last Magician has been on my radar since the cover reveal months ago. After seeing it and reading the synopsis I knew it was going to be one of 2017’s most wanted/anticipated novels. And it certainly was, staying on the NYT Bestseller List for weeks! The Last Magician had a lot going for it involving magic, politics, societal issues, time-traveling, heist/con, well-thought out world building, great characters and so much more. Unlike most YA novels on the market, The Last Magician was pretty hefty in terms of page number and had a complex world-building. I thought Maxwell did an amazing job capturing New York during the 1900’s. The vivid imagery/details clearly showed the amount of time and research that went into the story. I truly felt as if I was there and that the characters were realistic, made whole/fleshed as if they were alive. I love the whole Gangs of New York feel with Magic (Yes, I know the movie is set in the 1800’s)!

At a glance, you’d expect or assume The Last Magician to be some sort of boarding school novel with magical users dealing with adolescent issues. Nope. The Last Magician was more dark, gritty and it had a whole lot of street smarts involved. I loved Maxwell’s take on magicians and the magic system. Maegus, are those born with magical powers and are feared by the common man who put up a magical/aetheral barrier “The Brink” to severely damage/kill those who posses any hint of magic because they believed it to be evil and feral. I liked that the majority of our characters are also approximately eighteen-years-old to late twenties, and back then the times made one grow-up even quicker than they wanted to. Our heroine, Etsa is seventeen but from a young age she was taught to be a weapon, using her training and ability to make her a undetectable and uncatchable thief. I adore Etsa, she’s independent, a quick thinker, resourceful and smart. Dolph’s crew was an eclectic bunch, all Maegus of varying abilities with the common goal of taking down the order, bringing magic back to it’s former glory and to protect those that cannot protect themselves. Each member was distinctly unique and had an interesting back story that I wouldn’t mind exploring more of like; Jianyu and Viola, both related to rival gangs, but find themselves in the employment/gang of Dolph Saunder, an enigmatic character (it’d be awesome to see his rise to power, I see a story or novella in the future!)

While The Last Magician is part time-traveling, the majority of the story is set in the past in the year 1901. Which I didn’t mind, I am quite fond of this century. All in all, The Last Magician lived up to the hype and was way better than what I expected. I love everything about this book. I am so glad this is part of a duology because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters.Despite the book clocking out at over 500 page, it was a quick read that had me from the very first page! The beginning was a bit confusing jumping back and forth from the past and present, but it was a good surprise when all the thread came together. And that ending! I was so engrossed into what was happening that I didn’t even see it coming, talk about a shocker! Loved it! If you haven’t read this new series starter, go out and get it now. I highly recommend it!