Author: Julie Berry
Published: March 5, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.
I almost adored this book. I wish I could say that I loved everything about it, but unfortunately, I can’t. It all started great; Aphrodite as a narrator was brilliant and gave the story such a fascinating edge. The “trial” Hephaestus put Ares and Aphrodite through was interesting and I couldn’t wait turn the page and learn more. The story sucked me in from page one. The setting and characters were engaging and I was emotionally hooked from the beginning. I was prepared to give the book 5 stars without a single complaint, until all the “woke” themes started. It nearly ruined the entire book. I have no problem discussing America’s past of racism and the reasons for the Civil Rights movement. I’m a historian, I don’t believe in revisionism in anyway.
But when the South is villainized unfairly, I’m gonna complain about it. Thankfully, Berry put in small phrases that acknowledged a black man’s plight even in the progressive and Yankee city of New York. But when every single Southerner is turned into an insufferable jerk all because of the color of another man’s skin, it overshadows how beautiful this story could have been. And it’s so sad that this is literally the only problem I have. I cannot say enough good about the rest of this book. I couldn’t put it down and this cover is sooooo beautiful!!!!! I still want to rate it as high as I can and I absolutely recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction.
Author: Sophie Siers
Illustrator: Anne Villeneuve
Published: April 4, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: June 16, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Sam has a problem. He has to share a room with his older brother and things aren’t easy. When Sam sees the president on TV talking about `the wall’ he realizes a solution is at hand! But who knew that planning a wall could be so tricky? The letters that follow invite conversations about the question of living with others in times of conflict. The voice of the young boy shows adults something of the nature of peace and good relationships.
It does not matter your stance, but it is a sad time in our country when political issues become children’s picture books. Fortunately, this will somewhat help small children to understand about the proposed ‘wall’. Please note that if you are a Trump or wall supporter then this book will not be for you.
Sam and his older brother share a room and like true siblings, it causes issues between them. One night Sam sees the President on tv talking about building ‘the wall’ and it sounds like a great idea to him! In fact he starts writing the President about his situation. Sam believes in one position about his wall and by the end of the book he is of the opposite opinion.
The book shows how communication and getting along is important to solving issues, even one as small as sharing a bedroom (which would actually be a huge deal to the children involved!)
It was cute to see Sam’s letters to the President evolve the way they did over the course of the book. I would have loved to see what the author’s interpretation of ‘the President’s’ responses would have been to Sam’s letters in this story, but that would have made the book even more political.
The book also teaches children about some real walls in the world: The Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall in England and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The pictures throughout the book definitely add to the story!
I tend to stay away from politically charged books, which this appeared to be, but the fact that it was a children’s picture book had me curious as to how this story played out. I am glad I had the opportunity to read and review it.
I received a copy via NetGalley from the publisher.[Top]
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Published: February 26, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
How do you kill a god?
As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.
This is a great, simple fantasy story and I really enjoyed it. In a world of the same YA fantasy themes flying around, reading something unique is a treat. This book is a treat. There weren’t too many bells and whistles and that’s something I like about it. I also enjoyed the practicality of the details.
When Rasmira is sent into exile with an impossible task, she never once questions whether or not she can do it. She observed the problem with intelligence and objectivity. She is the perfect combination of faith and fact. My only real issue with the story is her absolute obsession with boys! I get it, she’s a teenager, of course she’s gonna be looking at boys. My issue is that in the middle of her life falling apart, an impossible task in front of her, her very survival at stake, all she can think about is boys.
Fortunately, Levenseller spins that obsession into a more selfless practicality; unfortunately, there was enough of the annoying stuff to affect my rating. I will say that this is a very good book for high schoolers and I think even those who don’t like reading would probably like this story. Very good good and a beautiful cover!