The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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Book Review: Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce (2nd Read)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Protector of the Small, book 4
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
In the final thrilling installment of Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series ( First TestPage, and Squire), our sturdy young heroine, Keladry of Mindelan (a.k.a. Kel), has finally been knighted. Never one to rest on her laurels, Kel champs at the bit, ready to tackle the horrific magic killing devices she was shown in the Chamber of the Ordeal during her knighthood initiation. The huge, insectlike machines, “made of iron-coated giants’ bones, chains, pulleys, dagger-fingers and -toes, and a long whiplike tail,” feed on the souls of dead children and are systematically killing off the citizens and warriors of Tortall.

Thoroughly disgusted to discover that not only is she not going to be assigned a combat post, but she has been placed in charge of a refugee camp instead, Kel, in her usual noble, stoic way, swallows her disappointment and sets out being the best refugee camp commander possible. Of course, destiny has a way of sneaking up on a young woman like Kel, and soon she is fulfilling the ordeal the Chamber set out for her… and then some.

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My Review:
Lady Knight was just as wonderful and action-packed as the first time I read it.

Kel is a natural born leader even if at first she doesn’t think she’ll do a good job at commanding a refugee camp. The way she handles the obstacles thrown at her is admirable – you can learn a lot from her brand of leadership.

I loved all the characters – even the less than desirable ones. But of course, animals are what really stole my heart. There’s Jump (Kel’s dog), Peachblossom and Hoshi (Kel’s horses), the sparrows, and cats. They were cute already but then their intelligence magically increases to human understanding – then they’re just amazing to behold.

A story, in my opinion, is successful when both the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) are unique, well-developed, interesting, and elicit a response from the reader. As with all her novels, Tamora Pierce really accomplishes that with Kel, her friends, the machines, and other main villains.

Lady Knight is a fitting conclusion to the Protector of the Small series and Kel’s story. An emotional rollercoaster for both the main character and the reader. It’s one of my favorite books and I’m so pleased to have gotten to read it a second time. This story is just another reminder of why I read, why I write, and why I spend too much time fantasizing about books.

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Book Review: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 4
Rating: 3/5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
*part of official Goodreads summary

…Hal and his fellow Herons have returned home to Skandia after defeating the pirate captain Zavac and reclaiming Skandia’s most prized artifact, the Andomal. With their honor restored, the Herons turn to a new mission: tracking down an old rival turned bitter enemy. Tursgud—leader of the Shark Brotherband and Hal’s constant opponent—has turned from a bullying youth into a pirate and slave trader. After Tursgud captures twelve Araluen villagers to sell as slaves, the Heron crew sails into action . . . with the help of one of Araluen’s finest Rangers!

In this fourth book in the Brotherband Chronicles, a new battle unfolds as old rivalries are renewed, peace treaties are put to the test, and the action builds to a pulse-pounding finale…

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My Review:
This part of the series felt like an interlude to what might be the overall plot of the series. Hal and his band’s presence are requested by the King Duncan of Araluen but this is interrupted by the focus of the book: the kidnapping of Araluen citizens by the renegade Skandian Tursgud.

The beginning is really good and started things out on a high, humorous, note. However, once the main characters had set sail things kind of dulled out by way of uneventful scenes and dialogue exchanges I was hoping we’d be past. This continued even when the core conflict arose and after as Hal and crew – along with an old welcoming character (I totally fangirled when he showed up) – tried to figure out how to rescue the Araluens before they could be sold into slavery.

And then we come to the “main battle” which is one very long continuous event that switches scenes to show you everything that is happening as it is taking place. This takes up much of the second half of the book and all the way until just before the last chapter. It’s a pretty cool scene albeit a little too long for my attention span.

There’s a lot of uncertainty that keeps the tension high during this particular (above mentioned) scene. One particular character is given a lot of character growth – it was good to see him really shine in this book. And I kind of even enjoyed the ingeniousness of the main “antagonist.” He was rather surprising. However, where Tursgud is concerned I’m surprised by his lack of presence in the book and where things end up with him – it’s a little scary but disappointing.

So this part of the series was okay (perhaps, meh) all in all but I am very curious to see what will happen in book 5, Scorpion Mountain, as the back of book four tells that the worlds of Brotherband and Ranger’s Apprentice will collide – how exciting!


Brotherband Chronicles
The Outcasts – book 1
The Invaders – book 2
The Hunters – book 3

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years
 The Tournament at Gorlan – book 1
The Battle of Hackham Heath – book 2


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Book Review: Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Series: Mouse Books
Rating: 4/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Mr. Slinger has big news.
He’s getting married.
Married!

Lilly has big plans.
She’s going to be the flower girl.
(Lilly has always wanted to be a flower girl.
Even more than a surgeon or a diva or a hairdresser.)

But what’s the biggest,
the best,
the most perfect thing of all?
You’re invited to the wedding — so start reading!

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My Review:
I’m a big fan of Kevin Henkes’s books. He’s a very talented storyteller and artist. Lilly’s Big Day was a wonderful and funny read. I just adore Lilly’s character and how determined she is to be the best flower girl ever. Once she gets an idea in her head she doesn’t let it go – no counterargument can dissuade her. And it’s funny how she seems to be more excited about the wedding than Mr. Slinger (her teacher). Her excitement about the occasion is very infectious. I couldn’t wait to read what would happen next.


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Book Review: The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
The New York Times bestseller that celebrates the dreams, acceptance, and love that parents have for their children . . . now and forever!
 
From brave and bold to creative and clever, Emily Winfield Martin’s rhythmic rhyme expresses all the loving things that parents think of when they look at their children. With beautiful, and sometimes humorous, illustrations, and a clever gatefold with kids in costumes, this is a book grown-ups will love reading over and over to kids—both young and old. A great gift for any occasion, but a special stand-out for baby showers, birthdays, and graduation. The Wonderful Things You Will Be has a loving and truthful message that will endure for lifetimes.

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My Review:
Wow. I felt so many emotions from the very beginning. This book was so cute and precious and emotional. The words reminded me of birthday cards I’d gotten from my parents, so I felt really connected to the story. I love the illustrations too – they’re so sweet and lovely and sweep across the pages with such gentle vigor. Not to mention all the babies are so cute! I also love the message of unbridled love and hope the parent has for their child and their future. Using rhymes to tell the story makes the author’s words much more effective than if rhymes hadn’t been used. The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a perfect book for all to enjoy; definitely need to add this to my bookshelf. There are so many good things that can be taken away from this wonderful story.


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Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!? But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.

For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just make her magnificent thing — “she tinkers and hammers and measures, she smoothes and wrenches and fiddles, she twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

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My Review:
Not exactly what I expected. The use of present progressive to tell the story was jarring for much of it. But all the verbs and adjectives used to describe the main character’s actions I think will be really beneficial for child readers to learn. I also liked how the author lays out the illustration on and across the pages – that’s always a fascinating part of picture books. I kind of wish the main character had a name but I get that the focus was on the magnificent thing she was trying to build. The biggest win for me for this book was the main character’s determination and ingenuity. She kept trying again and again to achieve her goal even when things seemed hopeless – that is an important lesson kids should learn.


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Book Review: The Pigeon Wants A Puppy! by Mo Willems

Image via Scholastic

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Series: Pigeon
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
He really, really, REALLY wants one. He’ll take really good care of it! What’s the matter–don’t you want him to be happy? The latest book in the best-selling Pigeon series is the funniest one yet.

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My Review:
Fun. Interactive. Surprisingly hilarious. Reading this book was like watching a cartoon for really little kids where the characters break the fourth wall. The main character – the pigeon – addressing the audience in such a way made the story really enjoyable to read – and yes I did respond back to a 2D pigeon. I love how the pigeon uses so few words but has super expressive facial expressions and body language. My favorite line was when the pigeon said, “I’m a puppy-lovin’ pigeon” – such a funny and sassy line. I also like how the book ends with a humorous implication of what is likely to occur after the story is over. A great picture book overall.