Author: AmandaStheLibrarian

Read + Review: A Poison Dark and Drowing by Jessica Cluess

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This book continues the plot from the first book in the series (because yes, it’s a sequel). A series of monsters, Ancients, are threatening the queen, led by the Skinless Man. Henrietta Howel, the only female sorcerer, seeks to defeat the Ancients with her companions-backslash-love-interests, including Rook, Blackwood and Magnus. Eventually, she comes at odds with the dark faerie, which divides her and her fellows between two evils.

I found this book poorly written, syntax-wise and plot-wise. The dialogue in general felt forced, the character descriptions overdone (dark and brooding love interests, wizened and wise leaders, etc.), and most of the plot was stale. Most of the big reveals were guessable, and several lines in the novel were clichés that can be fund in most every modern young-adult fantasy literature. If you’ve heard the writing tips about reading, you know that it’s intended to broaden the writing style and inspiration of aspiring authors; Cluess seems to have confined her reading to only the genre in which she wanted to write, leaving her a stunted understanding of technique and examples of plot.

The most memorable aspect of the book is Maria, a new character who’s introduced in this book. While Henrietta misses the “empowered female heroine” mark, Maria most certainly fulfills it.


Reviewed by Addie, Grade 11, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review: The Fire Queen by Emily R. King

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Kalinda is on the run with Deven Naik, her guard and lover, after killing her tyrant husband, Tarek, who ruled the empire of Tarachand through fear. Now, an evil bhuta, a person with magical powers comparable to a god, warlord has invaded the capital city and is holding everybody in it hostage. Keeping her magical powers of being a Burner, a person who can control fire, secret to the empire to avoid an uproar, Kalinda must find Prince Ashwin to convince him to take back the empire. When she does reach Ashwin, a tournament is held to see who will be his bride. With the distance between Kalinda and Deven growing, she decides to enroll and represent the kingdom of Tarachand to help take it back from the usurpers by marrying the prince as she sees him as the only one who can take back the kingdom.

The book was unique. Not many books have been set in ancient India, the country I am from, so I admired how the author took a risk and executed it well. The traditions were nailed down, the names were impeccable, and the setting itself was set up perfectly. There was great character depth and no one felt shallow or stereotypical. The internal conflict in Kalinda was shown greatly and created drama that made the book more interesting. the pacing was also great although the beginning was quite slow but picked up quickly afterward.

The most memorable thing about this book was its setting. It is set in ancient India, my homeland, which is a unique setting that I have not really seen done anywhere before. I found that the author did a great job on the customs and traditions such as henna and saris which made it relatable to me as I am Indian.


Reviewed by Aswin, Grade 8, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Monster by Michael Grant

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Four years ago, the world everyone knew had changed. A meteorite had hit Perdido Beach in California, and a dome appeared. This dome was solid and impenetrable but hollow, and the kids inside had to survive on their own. Only, some of them had developed impossible powers, creating a dangerous world where nothing could remain stable.

Eventually, it came down, but a new threat has appeared. The meteorites have been falling all around the world, but instead of creating more domes, the people who ingest parts of those alien rocks develop terrifying powers – more than anyone has ever seen before. But as various people aspire to the role of heroes, others find their joy in chaos and destruction. A precarious war between good and evil is emerging, but the monsters in between may be the ones that tip the balance.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel, which was filled with action and adventure. The characters were developed carefully with widely-varying personalities and characteristics. One major aspect the author emphasizes is the hesitation the characters have concerning what they choose to become. I also liked the writing style, which provided details without burdening the audience in any way. This was mainly a serious book with an overarching theme of science fiction, but the lack of humor did not detract from the plot. The different events kept me on the edge of the seat and waiting for the end so that I would discover the final results. Ultimately, this was an entertaining read that I would recommend to others.

Much of this book was memorable, but one aspect particularly so was the description of each individual’s powers. Their transformations are extremely unique and described elegantly through imagery. I find this abundance of imagination and creativity to be the source of this author’s success.


Reviewed by Shivram, Grade 10, Gayton Library

Read + Review: Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman

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This book takes place in ancient times following a surprising number of characters through Macedon (Greece), Persia (Iran), and Egypt. Reign Of Serpents is the third novel in the series Blood of Gods and Royals, so I would recommend reading the first two, as the characters change and develop throughout the series. While this book follows numerous characters from their point of view, I believe the main characters can be stripped down to Kat, Alexander, Heph, Jacob, and Cynane. Kat, Alexander, and Heph are all allies, and since Alexander is crown prince of Macedon, they support Macedon and its well-being. Jacob is deeply in love with Kat, but he is an Aesarian Lord, a man who banishes magic, even though Kat herself is a wielder of magic.This is a fact unknown to him, but in the end he uncovers something that causes him to leave the Aesarian Lords for the benefit of others. Cynane, on the other hand, is evil to the core, and she will do anything to become the ruler of Dardania, another part of present day Greece. She was deceived by Olympias, the evil queen of Macedon, but her desire to become Smoke Blood (a unique and very powerful magic wielder) still lingers.

Overall, I found this book very interesting, with a boat load of plot twists and intriguingly complex characters. I must say, though, that the constant switching in the characters’ points of view made following their stories more difficult than it should have been. Since every chapter switched characters, by the time the cycle came back to the same character, I had already forgotten most of the previous events. However, the author was able to incorporate more cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter this way, so the book was kept interesting. As for the characters I enjoyed, the character Kat who faced murder, imprisonment, and life-shattering news with courage and determination. Alexander was also an inspiring character who handled the empire of Macedon in his father’s absence, but was possessed in this novel by a supernatural force, stopping his plans for Macedon’s welfare.

From this particular book, I found Alexander’s mind-control memorable because of how much the thoughts and actions of one man in ancient times impacted the whole empire and surrounding lands. With modern-day governments, one person would never have the power to do what Alexander did. Coupled with the constant violence in ancient Greece, it shows how much people have progressed over time!


Reviewed by Isabella, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

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This story follows two very different girls who find an unlikely friendship in each other. Kat is a shy “new kid” who finds it hard to make friends, and Meg is her complete opposite; an outgoing social butterfly with ADHD. When they become partners for a science project, these two tenth graders discover common interests and form an unbreakable bond. This book explores many of the issues girls face through adolescence, such as discrimination, love, family problems, and anxiety. Though Kat and Meg’s journey is not an easy one, nor is it a smooth one, they are always there for each other in times of need. Told from the point of view of both Kat and Meg, this book is an unforgettable read.

I thought this book was an engaging read, with very real characters and an interesting plot. There was a lot of emotion in this book, from laugh out loud humor to heartbreaking sadness. The characters were very genuine; I felt like I was living their life right along with them. Perhaps the only thing I disliked about this book was the amount of internal dialogue. The internal dialogue of both the main characters is very important, and gives insight into the personality and thought process of the character, but as I continued to read the book, it got a bit tiring.

One memorable thing about this book was the amount of emotion the author conveyed through the character during each scene. My heart leaped along with Meg’s, and I panicked along with Kat. I really enjoyed how Meg and Kat didn’t become friends at first sight, and that they didn’t have a perfect friendship. The flaws just made everything more real.


Reviewed by Sanjana, Grade 8, Twin Hickory Library