Tag: 5 stars

Book Review: Naomi’s Room by John Aycliffe

Naomi’s Room
John Aycliffe

Published: November 21, 1991
216 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Charles and Laura are a young, happily married couple inhabiting the privileged world of Cambridge academia. Brimming with excitement, Charles sets off with his daughter Naomi on a Christmas Eve shopping trip to London. But, by the end of the day, all Charles and his wife have left are cups of tea and police sympathy. For Naomi, their beautiful, angelic only child, has disappeared. Days later her murdered body is discovered.

But is she dead?

In a howling, bumping story of past and present day hell, Jonathan Aycliffe’s haunting psychological masterpiece is guaranteed to make you sink to untold depths of teeth-shaking terror.

Kim’s Review:

First time ever: A book gave me nightmares.

Normally, I’m pretty good about compartmentalizing when I read horror. And even when I don’t, I turn Netflix on and drown out the silence! But this one? I wasn’t even expecting it because the little bit I read was dark, but I wasn’t too freaked out. Then I went to bed and I dreamed some scary stuff! Then I finished the book the next day and stayed pretty creeped out through the whole experience! Naomi’s Room does a great job of mixing paranormal horror with some interesting psychology. I also liked how it wasn’t really implied horror; Aycliffe simply told the story and added a lot of action and description so I wasn’t left guessing at what was going on. The story and character were unique; I felt like I hadn’t read any of it before. Overall, it’s a brilliant book that all horror fans should read!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review; Ground Zero: A Story of 9/11 by Alan Gratz

Ground Zero: A Novel of 9/11
Author: Alan Gratz

Published:  February 2, 2021
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 29- September 4, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

It’s September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-year-old boy, goes to work for the day with his dad . . . at the World Trade Center in New York City. When two planes hit the towers, Brandon and his father are trapped inside a fiery nightmare as terror and confusion swirl around them. Can they escape — and what will the world be like when they do?

In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an 11-year-old girl who is used to growing up in the shadow of war, but she has dreams of peace and unity. When she ends up harboring a wounded young American soldier, she and her entire family are put in mortal danger. But Reshmina also learns something surprising about the roots of this endless war.

Jessica’s Review:

It just seems hard to believe that it has been 20 years since 9/11 happened and our world changed forever.  It’s even harder to believe that there are those who will not have a memory of it and will just learn about it in the history books. Ground Zero by Alan Gratz is a book every middle schooler must read. Really everyone out there must read. 

We have two time periods with two children the focus: 9-year-old Brandon on September 11, 2019 and 11-year-old Reshmina on September 11, 2019.  The same day 18 years apart that end up being connected together.  Brandon was suspended from school and is going to work with his father as dad cannot afford to take time off of work.  Where Dad works is Windows on the World- a restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center…  Reshmina and her twin brother Pasoon live in a small village in Afganistan and nearby there is a battle and Reshmina finds herself helping an injured American solider thus possibly putting her family and village in terrible danger.

Initially, I was more interested in Brandon’s story of experiencing that day from inside one of the towers, But soon I became just as entranced with Reshmina’s story. And when a common connection is realized, the reader feels so much more emotion.  The short chapters alternate between Brandon and Reshmina and they each tend to end on cliff hangers which keep you reading.

Ground Zero is a powerful novel that brings back memories and emotions of that day. There is a 14-page author’s note that must be read as well.  The author explains that there are a few liberties made for the story- but this is historical fiction and not non-fiction.

Gratz mentioned he tried to write a novel about 9/11 but it was never right for him. This novel was published earlier this year, in time for the 20th anniversary and I think it came at the perfect time. We must never forget what happened on that day 20 years ago and share the history for future generations, while Reshmina’s story shows what happens if events are never told.”

Though Ground Zero is written for the middle grades age group, everyone must read this book. Even both the front and back covers can bring out emotions. The front showing the destruction of the towers with a boy standing there and the back showing a picture of the twin towers before 9/11.   

Ground Zero is very highly recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Audiobook Review: AfterMath by Emily Barth Isler

Author: Emily Barth Isler

Narrator: Emily Barth Isler
To Be Published:  September 7, 2021

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 14-17, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

After her brother’s death from a congenital heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy is not prepared to be the new kid at school–especially in a grade full of survivors of a shooting that happened four years ago. Without the shared past that both unites and divides her classmates, Lucy feels isolated and unable to share her family’s own loss, which is profoundly different from the trauma of her peers.

Lucy clings to her love of math, which provides the absolute answers she craves. But through budding friendships and an after-school mime class, Lucy discovers that while grief can take many shapes and sadness may feel infinite, love is just as powerful.

Jessica’s Review:

AfterMath is the third book I have read this year that has dealt with a school shooting before or after the fact. AfterMath is a middle grades novel by Emily Barth Isler and the title has multiple meanings.  The idea for AfterMath came to Isler after the December 2, 2015 shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino, California.  She had a baby and a 4-year-old at the time. 

Each chapter of AfterMath begins with a Math problem. Our main character is Lucy who is twelve years old and dealing with the death of her younger brother from a rare congenital heart defect.  Dealing with the loss, Lucy’s parents decide to move.  They move to where her parents have a shorter commute, but they also move to a town that has not had new members to the community since there was a school shooting four years earlier.  Not only that, but Lucy is also the age of the students who were victims of the shooting.  The house they move into was also the home of a girl her age who died in the shooting. 

Lucy’s adjustment to a new school in a unique situation at an awkward time of life is our story.  There are so many important issues addressed in this book with loss and grief being at the forefront.  PTSD in various forms is also addressed along with bullying.  For one particular student we see the effects of how the sins of one person affect another who had nothing to do with said sin.  We see how everyone experiences their grief in different ways, and the way Lucy does this is not telling anyone at her new school about the recent loss of her brother. 

I really liked Lucy and how we see her love of Math despite having problems with learning the concept of Infinity.  We see how she grows over the course of the novel. We also get to know Avery through Lucy, a girl whom everyone at the school avoids. We also see Lucy’s home life with her parents and mysterious math jokes appearing in her room.  Lucy has a good relationship with her math teacher who also teaches her after-school mime class. 

This is a great book for those in the middle grades age group.  I listened to the audiobook version which the author also narrated.  She brought a special voice to the novel.  I received an arc copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

AfterMath is definitely recommended for the middle grades ages readers. 

Pre-order Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK