The Crowns of Croswald

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Title: The Crowns of Crosswalk
Author: D.E. Night
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Stories Untold Press
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Ivy Lovely was a scaldrony maid. The scaldrons are dragons that cook the food in the kitchen of the castle. When one of them gets sick, Ivy is kicked out of the castle. Then, she finds that her belongings have been left outside for her, along with a note from her friend Rimbrick, a dwarf. He is sending her to the Halls of Ivy, a school for royals and scrivenists. Ivy will be a scrivenist, a person who writes and works for a royal family. They have some magic in them, but not as much as the royals. When Ivy arrives at the school, she realizes she has always dreamt of this place. She knows things that others don’t. She is able to remember things that everyone else has forgotten. Ivy has to use her special powers to save the Halls of Ivy and all of Croswald.

This book is a lot like Harry Potter. Ivy had a unique upbringing in a place that did not welcome her. Then she suddenly found out she had special powers and was sent to a magic school. Unlike Harry Potter, Ivy doesn’t know her family history, so it remains a mystery for the reader too.

I found it hard to get into this book for the first couple of chapters because there were so many strange things, such as the scaldrons and the hairies (creatures that create light). But once Ivy went to the school, it started to make sense.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a great start to a new series.

Gotham Academy Volume 3: Yearbook

Title: Gotham Academy Volume 3: Yearbook
Author: Brendan Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

The kids of Gotham Academy are back just before the end of the semester. A new girl shows up, who Olive has to show around the school. Maps gets really excited when they discover Riko, the new girl, is a “Robin.” That is, until Riko gets arrested. When Maps isn’t allowed to join the yearbook club, Olive gives her a personal yearbook where they can write down all their adventures. One day, Robin comes into Maps’s room. Pomeline finds him just as he steals Maps’s yearbook. The “Detective Club” have to solve one last mystery of the semester to find the yearbook. Finally, Olive gets sick after seeing the chapel catch fire. They have to figure out who destroyed the chapel. Was it the new visiting professor, like Colton thinks it is? Or is Pomeline right when she guesses it is a vampire?

This graphic novel is filled with lots of short stories of their adventures. These stories are all from Maps’s yearbook. There is also the overarching story that follows Maps’s obsession with the Robins, as well as another potential villain who knows Olive.

Each separate flashback from the yearbook was written and illustrated by a different artist, so they all looked different. At first, I didn’t like all the different styles of art in the book. But it really differentiated between the stories and the main storyline, so it worked well.

The next installment in the Gotham Academy series comes out next week. I’m so excited to read it! You can find my reviews for Gotham Academy Vol. 1 here and Gotham Academy Vol. 2 here.

Royal Replicas


Title: Royal Replicas
Author: Michael Pierce
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: ParousiaSix Press
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

This review is part of the blog tour from YA Bound Blog Tours. 

Victoria Sandalwood lives with Duke and Duchess Ramsey. She has lived with them all her life, but she has never been treated as a daughter. She has been banished to the cellar and is constantly punished for silly things, resulting in her being beaten by Master Ramsey. One day, she gets a message from Queen Hart that says she is her daughter and must return to the castle to marry a prince. Victoria is shocked at this news but also happy to leave her painful life. However, when she arrives at the castle, Victoria meets six other girls who look just like her. She must compete with these other girls to win the Prince’s heart. 

This book is very similar to other popular YA dystopian series right now: The Selection, Red Queen, The Lunar Chronicles. But this one has a clever twist involving genetics. 

Every time I thought I had figured out what was happening, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. The twists were surprising and the pace moved quickly so I was never bored. 

The ending left the story open to a sequel, which I look forward to reading. 

Dollface Volume 1


Title: Dollface Vol. 1
Author: Dan Mendoza
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Action Lab
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Rating: ★

Ivan and Emily created Lila using a 3D printer and the book of the dead. She’s a doll they brought to life. They wanted to create a lifelike sexdoll and make a fortune selling it. But they didn’t realize she would have the soul of a real girl who lived four centuries ago. Lila came with a lot of baggage too. She was killed by a witch, who she meets in the modern world. Lila the dollface and her friends go on a witch hunt to find the book of the dead. 

The plot of the story was interesting. It would make a good story for some people to create a doll but then she has the soul of someone else. With the popularity of 3D printing today, this would be a good story. 

However, I really didn’t like this graphic novel. There was a ton of nudity and swearing that was really unnecessary. I think the story would have been much more effective without it. 

Fitness Junkie


Title: Fitness Junkie
Author: Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza 
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Janey Sweet works with her childhood friend, Beau, at a bridal gown company called B. One day, he takes her out for breakfast and announces that she should take a break from the company because she’s gained too much weight. This was sparked by a photo of her eating at a fashion show. Janey had been going through a lot in the past year because both her parents died and she got divorced. Her best friend CJ set her up with all kinds of exercise classes and diets. But her life really started to change when she met Stella, a shaman. Stella introduced her to the exclusive Workout, that is invite-only. Along with CJ, Stella, and her cousin Ivy, Janey tries lots of diets and workouts with the goal of returning to her company. 

This book has just the right amount of humour and drama. Janet’s experience with all the fad diets and workouts were hilarious. She did everything from freezing her body to a free-the-nipple yoga session. It was very entertaining to read. But there were also serious twists to the story. Some women will literally do anything to be skinny. 

One of the scary things about this book is that these diets and exercises are real! I can’t imagine wanting to eat clay or freeze my body to lose weight. 

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a perfect summer beach read! 

Beauty and The Beast: The Beast’s Tale


Title: Beauty and The Beast: The Beast’s Tale
Author: Mallory Reaves
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga
Publisher: Tokyopop
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

The Prince had everything he could ever want. But he was not kind. When a beggar woman came to the castle, he turned her away. She cursed him and his castle, turning him into a beast and his employees into furniture. They would stay like that until the final petal falls on his rose. Then, they would all be doomed. Everything changed when Belle came along. She went to the castle to rescue her father, who the Beast had imprisoned for trying to steal a rose. Belle took her father’s place and stayed at the castle. The furniture immediately fell in love with her. They knew that if anyone could save their Prince, it would be her. 

I loved this graphic novel. It gives a fresh perspective on the Beauty and the Beast tale, since it only focuses on the Beast. Though his story is told in the movie, this manga focuses only on his side, so it is unique. 

I liked the way that the Beast’s emotions were demonstrated through the art. When the Beast was angry, sharp lines were used for shading. A few times, the Beast’s frame took up two pages, making him seem huge and intimidating. 

One thing that bothered me while reading this book was the order of the text on the page. In a manga, it is supposed to be read from right to left. But sometimes this one read from left to right, if the text was higher on the left. This was confusing at first. 

This is a really great graphic novel. It goes along with Belle’s Tale. My review for Belle’s Tale can be found here

Two Nights


Title: Two Nights
Author: Kathy Reichs
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Rating: ★★★

Sunday Night is an ex-cop and ex-military. One day, her friend Beau asks her to go see the wealthy Opaline Drucker. Opaline wants Sunday to investigate the death of her daughter and grandson, and find her missing granddaughter. They were killed in a bombing outside a Jewish school, and her granddaughter’s body was never found. Opaline is certain that her granddaughter is still alive because someone tried to access her bank account recently. Sunday starts her search in Chicago. Along with her brother, she is led on a hunt across the U.S., from California to D.C. 

Sunday Night is a very unlikeable character. She narrates the story, and is very blunt. Though sometimes unlikeable characters can be effective, Sunday was too negative and flat. 

The story moved slowly. There were also confusing chapters about a girl who was locked away in a house. It takes a long time to discover what those parts are about, and the outcome was disappointing. 

Sunday also did a lot of strange things throughout her investigation, that made the story move slowly. She didn’t explain any of her plans. She would repeatedly do things, which got tiring after a while. For example, she always got a second hotel room, and never stayed where she was supposed to. She didn’t explain the purpose of this and it got tedious after the first few times. Fewer repetitive details like this would have made the story move faster and more enjoyable. 

I really enjoy Kathy Reich’s other books about Temperance Brennan. There was even a reference to Bones in this story. I was excited to read this one too, but it was disappointing. It had too many details and not enough explanation.