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Book Reviews

Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

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DAY 25

Cover of "All Systems Red" by Martha Wells.
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: “As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

 

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All Systems Red was an excellent, fast-paced, captivating story with perhaps one of the best/unique main characters I’ve ever read. I don’t read sci-fi often and it’s rare to find a gem like what Martha Wells has created.

Could you ever imagine a robot built for mass murder turn out to be a socially awkward turtle who just wants to watch serials (media) all day? I couldn’t. Murderbot’s clients can be a hit or miss on the quality scale (not that it cares).

Murderbot is currently working as a SecUnit for a group of scientists studying an uninhabited and mostly unexplored planet. It does it’s job (for the most part) but keeps itself separate from the humans unless needed. The scientists view Murderbot in varying degrees, from a person with thoughts and feelings to an object/tool to be used as directed. As unknown danger mounts, it’s interesting how far it is willing to go to protect it’s clients (a curious thing for Murderbot to feel towards humans).

Murderbot has a fascinating personality despite it’s indifference and frankness. It is independent and has wants and needs, but stays within the human expectations of a robot. It is courteous in different ways towards humans to make it’s life easier and keep clients satisfied.

The ending was surprisingly emotional. I did not expect – even though I should have – Murderbot to make the choices it did. But I’m really intrigued about where Murderbot’s journey takes it next as it continues to discover itself. All Systems Red lived up to the hype and I would highly recommend it as well.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Wildfire Griffin by Zoe Chant

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DAY 24

Cover of "Wildfire Griffin" by Zoe Chant.
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: It started with a wildfire.

Things went downhill from there.

When firefighter Rory lays eyes on fire watcher Edith, he instantly knows she’s the one. His fated mate.

Now, to win her heart, he just has to protect her from:

1. A raging wildfire (actually, she’s already got that covered, thanks)

2. The lightning-throwing invisible monster that started it (um, the what?)

3. Killer bunnies (don’t even ask)

4. The appalling matchmaking attempts from his crew of misfit shifters (not only is this guy scorching hot, his dog is adorable too. And… weirdly smart?)

5. His own animal need to claim her. Now. (if only she could look him in the eye…)

Good thing that as a powerful alpha griffin shifter, he can handle anything… right?

There’s only one problem.

The last thing this autistic woman wants — or needs — is to be protected…

 

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A really enjoyable paranormal romance with a lovable cast of characters, an interesting and mysterious antagonist, and a riveting plot.

Edith is a fire watcher who longs to be on the ground battling wildfires instead of watching from afar. But she’s never been given the chance due to her autism. It’s left her feeling alone without a place to belong. So when griffin shifter Rory arrives on the scene after a strange lightning occurrence that causes a fire and a demonic hare tries to kill her, Edith finds herself presented with an offer to make her dreams a reality or be rejected once again.

I like that though Rory wants Edith because she’s his mate he also values her skills that make her an ideal and valuable wildland firefighter. He takes the time to get to know Edith and understand her way of communicating when others just brushed her off as odd and incapable. This allows Edith to slowly come out of her shell and start to believe in herself as a highly trained firefighter. Edith is such a lovely character and really shines bright in this story.

I love that Rory’s crew is a mix of shifters because it makes things more interesting and different in all the best ways. They’re such a lovable bunch who see each other as family. My favorite of the team is Fenrir, a hellhound. He added a lot of comic relief to the story. One thing that perplexed me though was how Rory could be recognized as their Alpha when they’re all different species. Rory has all the makings of a good leader, but they don’t really say how this is possible but there are kind of hints that point to something more. I’m hoping that’s explained in the books to come. I also can’t wait to learn more about each crew member in their own respective books.

I love shifter romances and books with fighters, so I had a great time reading Wildfire Griffin. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd

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DAY 23

Cover of "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room — to the picture of the three little bears sitting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one — the little bunny says goodnight.

 

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A classic that never gets old! Goodnight Moon is the ideal bedtime story to wind down the night with.

It’s a slow, gentle, peaceful descent, grounding the reader into the story. It’s incredibly engaging as the cute, little bunny says goodnight to various things and sounds. I like how the story pretty much gives a room tour to the reader and allows the reader to take in every detail of the illustrations. My favorite lines: “Goodnight stars/ Goodnight air/Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Goodnight Moon is a must-have for one’s personal library.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb, Illustrated by Suzie Mason

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DAY 22

Cover of "I’ve Loved You Since Forever" by Hoda Kotb, Illustrated by Suzie Mason
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: I’ve Loved You Since Forever is a celebratory and poetic testament to the timeless love felt between parent and child. This beautiful picture book is inspired by Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb’s heartwarming adoption of her baby girl, Haley Joy.

With Kotb’s lyrical text and stunning pictures by Suzie Mason, young ones and parents will want to snuggle up and read the pages of this book together, over and over again.

 

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This book was really well illustrated. I was blown away by the art and colors from the very first page. It’s a visually appealing and beautiful story about a parent/guardian/care-giver’s deep love for their child. The tone is relaxed, gentle, and peaceful. All the animals were so cute but I have a deep love for pictures of a starry night sky. Really enjoyable story!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Dragon’s Breath by Michael Gordon

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DAY 21

Cover of "Dragon's Breath" by Michael Gordon
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: What happens when a Dragon doesn’t brush his teeth? Well…we all heard about the ”dragon’s breath’’. That’s why learning proper dental care is really important for a little boy and his friend Dragon Joe.

 

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A delightful story that teaches young readers the importance of dental hygiene in a fun and creative way. It’s a creative take on the idiom “dragon’s breath” by having a dragon as one of the main characters. Dragons are awesome so I found myself very interested in the story. The story is short and to the point, which I liked.

I wish George (the boy) was a little less blunt about Joe’s (the dragon) bad breath as teeth insecurity (such as braces, gaps, crooked alignment, etc.) impacts one’s self-esteem. So I personally connected with what Joe was feeling having felt the same growing up. But I do like George’s solution to help his friend Joe.

Dragon’s Breath was a good story. The illustrations were nice and I liked that it rhymed. I think it will encourage kids to build healthy habits in an accessible way.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Awakened by Moni Boyce

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DAY 19

Cover of "Awakened" by Moni Boyce.
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Oracle Chronicles #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.

Willow Stevens dreams of stardom are eclipsed by the real nightmares of a sinister man haunting her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Eli Walker, her hot but snobbish co-worker, may know the reason nightmares plague her, but their history shows he is more prone to reject her, than help her.

Then Willow passes out at work only to wake in Eli’s apartment. There she has her chance to learn more about her heritage. But, knowing why the vampire king stalks her doesn’t make the nightmares disappear. If anything, they become more real as she now faces off against a slew of creatures she’d always believed were myth.

That Eli is one of those creatures is just her luck. Secret witch guild or not, his natural ways are casting spells her heart can’t escape. As a Protector his only focus should be her safety. Anything else is forbidden. He plans to stay in task, but some women break a man, or tempt him to break the rules.

Can Eli keep Willow alive and safe from the vampires long enough for her to grow her own powers or will both cast aside rules for a reckless passion that will only lead to danger?

 

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Awakened was a good start to this series full of supernaturals, a bit of romance, and action.

Willow’s life is upended when she learns she’s an oracle being hunted by the king of vampires who has been haunting her dreams for many years. Her Protectors – a group of witches and a werewolf – must keep her safe and her powers out of the wrong hands.

I like Willow and how she begins to evolve as she learns more about her past and powers. She’s been alone for a long time, so I like that she kind of finds a place to belong again with the Protectors. Sometimes she did come across as flat, so I’m hoping we get to dive deeper into her character more in the next book.

Eli is also an interesting character. As the leader of the Protectors, he’s torn between his duty and his feelings for Willow, which becomes a major source of contention.

The world building was good and easy to immerse within. I did wish there was more action happening because there were times that I was bored. But since this is the first book of a series the minimum shown was fine.

I really wish Killian, the vampire searching for Willow, had more presence. I wanted to know more about him from Killian directly rather than what other characters say about him.

Awakened was a good first book. I absolutely love the cover; it’s gorgeous! I think this series is heading in a good direction plot-wise and has a lot of potential.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: We Are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

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DAY 18

Cover of "We Are (Not) Friends" by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Series: You Are (Not) Small #4
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can.

 

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What happens when a two-friend group becomes three? I really liked this book because friendships change and grow or cease to be as you get older, and this can be a hard life lesson to cope with and navigate. You can see how the main characters have a difficult time playing altogether with a third fuzzy friend. They feel sad, unsure, and left out. But things come together nicely in the end. I like how much movement there is to the illustrations. The art is fun, delightful, and expressive. A good addition to a kid’s personal library.


More by Anna Kang

You Are (Not) Small
You Are (Not) Small (#1)
I Am (Not) Scared (#2)

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Book Reviews

Book Review: I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

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DAY 17

Cover of "I Am (Not) Scared) by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant.
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Series: You Are (Not) Small #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Two fuzzy friends go to an amusement park. They try to convince each other that there are much scarier things than the roller coaster. Hairy spiders! Aliens! Fried ants! They soon discover that sometimes being scared isn’t as “scary” as they thought. With expressive illustrations and simple text, this giggle-inducing tale about (not) being scared features the endearing characters from the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small.

 

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Our two fuzzy friends don’t want to admit they’re scared to ride a roller coaster. Right away I connected with these two because roller coasters scare me. I will (maybe) go on very small ones (maybe). Sometimes it’s easy for the mind to blow our fears out of proportion. I like how the two friends work through their fear together, discovering that it’s okay to be scared, which is a nice message for young readers to learn. As simple as they are, I really like the illustrations, especially when they are on the roller coasters. Overall, a good read.


More by Anna Kang

You Are (Not) Small
You Are (Not) Small (#1)

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ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Garden We Share by Zoë Tucker, Illustrated by Swaney Julianna

25 Days of Book Reviews logo.

DAY 15

Thank you NorthSouth Books and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! The Garden We Share is set to be released March 22, 2022.

Cover of "The Garden We Share" by Zoë Tucker, Illustrated by Swaney Julianna.
Image via NetGalley

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: To everything there is a season in this beautiful story about gardening, seasons, and treasured memories.

This inspiring picture book written by Zoë Tucker and illustrated by Julianna Swaney—the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines—celebrates the friendship between a young girl and an elderly woman as they plant seeds in a community garden alongside friends and neighbors, waiting for the seeds to flower. By mid-summer, the friends welcome a rainbow of color in the garden and picnics in the sun. At harvest, the young girl’s elderly friend is bed-ridden, but jubilant as they share baskets with red tomatoes and snap peas amid the sweet smell of lavender. When the last leaves fall, everything is different. But in the spring, hope arises anew.

 

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The Garden We Share is a touching story about a little girl and an elderly woman who have formed a close bond as they care for a community garden.

I like the quiet, peaceful atmosphere the story has. I like the illustrations and all of the pretty flowers and crops grown. You see how much love and care the people of this community give to the garden as the seasons change. There’s a strong connection with nature and what they’re growing. The book is rich in color, flowers, and crops galore.

When things changed it was a punch in the feels, but I think it shows kids one way they can cope with loss, honor those they love, and the comforting power of memory. The cover is so beautiful, the colors inviting – a total cover buy!

I enjoyed reading The Garden We Share. It’s the perfect story for springtime and would make a great addition to a child’s personal library.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

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DAY 14

Cover of Red: A Crayon's Story
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!

 

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The emotional depth of this story is astounding!

A crayon was made/labeled red but he doesn’t feel like a red crayon. Instead, he feels blue. But the other crayons think there’s something wrong with him because he can’t draw/color things that are red like a red crayon should be able to. The crayon feels sad he’s not living up to others’ expectations. But once he stops being what people say he should be and begins to start drawing blue things does this crayon truly shine.

I love how the author used crayons to talk about the struggles to fit the one’s we’re born with and finding one’s identity that makes them feel like their true authentic self. I felt a great empathy for the main character and definitely could relate to his struggles.

Red: A Crayon’s Story is whimsical and heartwarming; worth the read.