Shuri – Book Review

Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone

Synopsis:
An original, upper-middle-grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone. Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.

For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t save them. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.

Review:
I was a big fan of Shuri, after watching the Black Panther movie. She’s genius-level smart and an inspiring young woman. This story follows the comics more than the film, but that’s a good thing when a favorite, classic X-Men character makes an appearance. And several other characters and timelines differ.

Shuri and her friend travel across continents to discover the cause and cure for the dying Herb. There are several fun characters, some new (to me) and some familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced adventure with plenty of suspense, mystery, and drama. I hope this series continues, and we get to see more of Shuri’s technical prowess as well.

Girls with Sharp Sticks – Book Review

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Synopsis:
The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardian, they receive a well-rounded education that promises to make them better. Obedient girls, free from arrogance or defiance. Free from troublesome opinions or individual interests.

But the girls’ carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations Academy will learn to fight back.

Review:
Mena is a bright girl who has been taught to act and behave a certain way. She is abused and degraded by her teachers, but she has been abandoned at the boarding school by her parents. The way the girls acted, it immediately made me think of the Stepford Wives and Handmaid’s Tale.It’s very creepy and claustrophobic. I couldn’t relate at all, as I could only be pushed so far before I would push back. Granted, I’m strong and pushing six feet, so I’ve never felt as helpless as these girls do. And they only know one way of life. They are literally reprogrammed when they step too far out of line, and Mena is terrified of it. Even though she doesn’t remember the procedure.

Girls with Sharp Sticks is the first in a trilogy. The suspense is intense. And it’s easily one my favorite reads this year, so far. It’s not just an exciting story; but it pulled me in and grabbed my emotions as well. Often, I forget the details of a book I read a year ago, by the time a sequel comes out. But I can tell I won’t forget much of this thrilling and captivating story with engaging characters. I’m eager to pick up the next in the trilogy as soon as I can.

Storybound – Book Review

by Emily McKay

Synopsis:
I’ve lived in nine towns in the past six years. I know my mom feels bad about it, but I don’t mind. Who wants friends anyway?

All I’ve ever needed are my books. I’ve lived a thousand lives, had adventures I couldn’t even begin to imagine. To me, the places I discovered between the pages of a book are as real as the world I live in.

When I walk into my favorite bookstore, the last thing I expect is to walk out onto the pages of the kingdom of Mithres…or that the book boyfriend I’ve loved more than life, Kane the Traveler, really exists. And he has no clue the fate that awaits him in book five…

Now that I know the truth, I have a chance to save Kane. But if I change the story, will I ever find my way home?

Review:
Edie (“Cupcake”) is a relatable girl in that she LOVES books and reading more than just about anything. Her favorite series is coming to an end, and with it – her favorite fictional crush, Kane. But when she discovers it’s all real, her life – as well as the characters she’s grown to love – are all in danger.

I got sucked into this story right away. Though when Edie crosses over into her “fictional” world, I had to suspend a lot of disbelief on how this kid would react. It reminded me of Galaxy Quest when the geeky boy was told his favorite TV show was all real, and he just replies “I knew it!” It’s cute just the same. My biggest hang-up was that everyone calls Edie “Cupcake” – because of the shirt she’s wearing. It was funny for a few pages, when I discovered why they were calling her that. But it got old REALLY quick. In fact, I totally forgot her name halfway through the book. I had to go back and look for it. I just find cutesy nicknames condescending and annoying. Maybe it’s just me.

But the story itself was fun and fast-paced. I enjoyed the unique worldbuilding. And several of the minor characters were enjoyable. Kane grows more likable as the story goes on, though he’s a bit rough around the edges when we first meet him. The book ends with some clever twists and a bit of a cliffhanger. Teens who enjoy a little romance mixed in their fantasy stories should check this out.

Catalyst – Book Review

Catalyst by Sarah Beth Durst

Synopsis:
Zoe named the kitten Pipsqueak, because she was so tiny, and promised to always take care of her. Then the kitten grew. And grew. Now she’s bigger than a horse—and talking as well! Fleeing into the woods to escape the curious eyes of the Internet, Zoe and her best friend, Harrison, must keep the giant cat hidden as they desperately search for a way to return her to normal size. If they don’t succeed, Pipsqueak may never be safe again. But why did she grow so large in the first place? And what if trying to change her back leads to even greater danger?

Review:
This is a very fun standalone fantasy for children – especially animal lovers. Zoe loves animals and brings home injured ones all the time, but her parents let her finally keep this latest tiny kitten. Unfortunately, the kitten grows at an exponential rate and Zoe is afraid she’ll be taken away if anyone other than Harrison finds out.

There is plenty of humor and heart in this unique story. I love the family dynamic. The characters (other than the fantastical animals) are relatable. And the animals were irresistible. And while I knew the direction the story would take, I was still pleasantly surprised with a fun twist at the end. This was an exciting adventure with suspense, mystery, and magic.

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