Warriors: The Last Hope (Omen Of The Stars 6) By Erin Hunter [Book Review]

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Book Review | Warriors: The Last Hope (Omen of the Stars 6) by Erin Hunter | Middle Grade | Fantasy | Fiction | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I got the book as a gift for my birthday.

Summary:

The end of the stars draws near. Three must become four to battle the darkness that lasts forever…

After countless moons of treachery, Tigerstar’s Dark Forest apprentices are ready to lay siege upon the warrior Clans. As the Clan cats seek out their allies and enemies, Jayfeather, Lionblaze & Dovewing search desperately for the fourth cat who is prophesied to lead the Clans to victory – and who may be their only hope for survival.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comAs soon as I picked up this book, I knew exactly who the cat on the front cover was. And I cried. I had spoiled something for myself a while ago and, with the content of the Omen of the Stars books, I knew something was coming. The title alone says it all.

Plot | RachelPoli.comThis is the final book in the Omen of the Stars series. This particular series of Warriors has been my favorite so far because it had so many Harry Potter vibes. I’ve been with these characters since I was 11-years-old and this plot wrapped everything up so nicely and punched me right in the gut.

This would have been the perfect ending to the series as a whole. Of course, there are three series (at the time of writing this review) after this one. So, this book serves as an ending and new beginning.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book, as I said earlier, punched me right in the gut. I don’t even know how to write this review because of spoilers… though, based on my blog audience, I’m not sure how many of you will actually go read these books. Still, I took out the character section due to spoilers because I don’t know what to say.

I cried throughout the majority of this book – that’s how good the writing is. I’m still crying even while writing this review.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was a wonderful ending to a new beginning. I’m glad the series is still going, but I would have been satisfied if this was the final book in the Warriors series. I’m looking forward to reading a brand new generation of Warriors.

Warriors: The Last Hope (Omen of the Stars 6) by Erin Hunter gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“I would have taken your place if you had let me.” -Erin Hunter, Warriors: The Last Hope (Omen of the Stars 6)

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Wagging Through The Snow (Melanie Travis 21) By Laurien Berenson [Book Review]

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Book Review: Wagging Through The Snow (Melanie Travis 21) by Laurien Berenson | Cozy Mystery | Fiction | Holiday Reading | Book Blogger | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I got it as a Christmas gift.

Summary:

Melanie Travis needs a little peace from her busy life this Christmas. But the usual holiday hubbub is a joy compared to the killer surprise she finds tucked underneath the tree . . .

With a demanding teaching job at Connecticut’s elite Howard Academy and five poodles scampering around the house, Melanie barely has energy for the upcoming Christmas rush. But she unwraps an unexpected challenge when her brother and ex-husband, elated by the recent success of their country cafe, make a spontaneous bid on a dilapidated pine tree farm. Although the ten-acre lot had been a popular seasonal destination while the original owner was still alive, it’ll take some sprucing up–and a small miracle or two–before the neglected place is in shape for December.

Unfortunately, the impromptu business venture goes cold when the group discovers a purebred Maltese whimpering in the snow-covered grove–right beside a dead body. Pete, a squatter who camped out on the land, apparently met his end after a fallen fir tree branch knocked him on the head. But as Melanie and Aunt Peg investigate Pete’s history and the terrible habit that cost him everything, it’s clear his death was no accident. Now, Melanie must run through a flurry of likely suspects and muzzle a dogged murderer in time–or she’ll be next on someone’s deadly list.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover is adorable with a Maltese dog stealing the show wearing a Santa hat. While the dog isn’t a huge part of the story, it’s still a piece of it and it matches the title pretty well.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI got this book as a Christmas gift. This is book number 21 in the Melanie Travis series, but it’s book number one for me. Thankfully, the books don’t have to be read in order, but I’m sure the characters are well established by now.

Plot | RachelPoli.comMelanie’s brother and ex-husband own and run a country cafe together and, when her simple-minded brother decides to go to an auction, he ends up with a Christmas tree farm. With Christmas around the corner, they decided to put the new business to the test – only to find a dead body in the woods behind the house.

Overall, this plot was one typical of a cozy mystery. Something good happens to the protagonist, they stumble upon a dead body, and then they investigate. The majority of this book was Melanie running around and talking to people to figure out who this man was, why he was out there, and how/why he died. Once it was revealed, there was a quick, tense scene at the end. That was all. So, this book was “cozy” at its finest.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI enjoyed all the characters. I felt they meshed well together and there was a good amount of personality. I certainly loved Melanie’s Aunt – she stole the scenes for me while reading. She had a fun, boisterous personality. I also loved Melanie’s brother – I love a good risk-taker.

Melanie’s ex-husband and husband were just kind of okay to me. Her husband especially didn’t seem to be in the book as much. I loved the pack of Poodles they own though. That was definitely a nice touch.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book is just shy of 200 pages. It’s a quick read and the words flow from one page to another. The pace was even throughout and while I would have liked to see more action, it was a relaxing read. The investigation was easy to follow, though I didn’t know who it was until the ending when it was revealed.

Overall | RachelPoli.comWagging Through the Snow was a pretty good read. I don’t think I know the characters as well enough as I should, but I think I’ll look into getting the first book sometime.

Wagging Through the Snow (Melanie Travis 21) by Laurien Berenson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Life changes everyone. Some people learn to roll with the punches. Others fall down.” -Laurien Berenson, Wagging Through The Snow

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Be sure to take a look at the other Book Reviews I’ve done!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Even Salt Looks Like Sugar By Yecheilyah Ysrayl [Book Review]

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Book Review: Even Salt Looks Like Sugar by Yecheilyah Ysrayl | Novella | Fiction | ARC | Book Blog | RachelPoli.com

I received an ARC from the author.

Summary:

Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt that Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI love the cover to this one. The title is the main focus and the color choices work well together.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI’ve read a lot from this author so I was eager to give this one a read when it came out.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This novella faces some tough dilemmas. Wanda is in a foster home with Miss Cassaundra as her foster mother. Miss Cassaundra is only in it for the money taking more and more children in. Wanda takes a young girl, Abby, under her wing and devises a plan to free them both.

A lot happens in these short 60 pages but there is a clear beginning, middle, and end of the plot. It was well done and the plot was engaging and interesting.

Characters | RachelPoli.comAll the characters are well done. I loved the dynamic between Wanda and everyone else in her life – Abby, her best friend Rose, and even Miss Cassaundra. While I’d like to know more about them, I think there was a good amount of information about them for the story. Still, I definitely want to know more about Miss Cassaundra’s story.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This was certainly a quick read at 60 pages. Despite the length, it was easy to read this in one sitting. I sometimes get tripped up by the voices used for the characters, but it’s authentic and diverse so it’s certainly not a complaint.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was another great read from this author. I’ll be looking forward to her next one.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar by Yecheilyah Ysrayl gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“You may not have a mama. But you smart. You can do anything you want.” -Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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The One And Only Ivan By Katherine Applegate [Book Review]

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Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate | Middle grade | Fiction | Reading | Blogging | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

My mom borrowed it from her work’s library.

Summary:

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover is cute. I like the art style and the spotlight on Ivan and Ruby is sort of a metaphor in a way.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comThis is a book I’ve thought about reading so many times, but I’ve never picked it up. After reading Wishtree, my mom and I were talking about this book. So, she brought Wishtree back to the library and picked up this one.

Plot | RachelPoli.comIvan is somewhat happy in his “domain” at the circus. He draws a lot which sells at the gift shop. He has his friends Stella the elephant and Bob the stray dog. They’re as happy as they can be living within closed walls at the circus.

Ruby, a baby elephant comes along. Mack, the circus owner, buys her for the show in an attempt to get more visitors. Ruby is afraid and sad. She misses her life in the wild with her family. She makes Ivan remember what happened to his own family. Then they plan the escape.

Told through Ivan’s eyes, this is a heartwarming story and really opens your eyes to animals in the circus and even at the zoo. It’s true to life with poaching involved and will make you shed a couple of tears. This was a good plot with a nice message though.

Characters | RachelPoli.comAll the characters were well done. This book doesn’t have a big cast. There’s Ivan, Stella, Bob, and Ruby. Mack owns the circus, George is the janitor, and Julia is George’s daughter who hangs around the circus. She draws and often gives Ivan paper and crayons to color with.

All the characters are great and serve their own purpose. Mack is the “bad guy” of this story, though I sympathize with him. He wasn’t necessarily a bad man, but didn’t go about certain things the right way.

Overall, I loved all the characters.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book was very simple to read. It wasn’t written in blocks of text but blog-style. I think it was simple because it was coming from the voice of a naive gorilla who only knew the circus and his domain. This book is 300-pages long, but I got through it within a day. It was that quick and that good.

Overall | RachelPoli.comOverall, this was another great read. After reading two books from Katherine Applegate now, I’m looking forward to reading more by her.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Memories are precious… they help tell us who we are.” -Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Cracked Open By Megan O’Keeffe [Book Review]

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Book Review: Cracked Open by Megan O'Keeffe | Poetry | Blogging | Book Blogger | Reading | Poetry Collection | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

A collection of love poems.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI think the book cover is very pretty. I like the colors and it certainly looks like exactly what the title suggests – something is cracked open.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI’ve read my fair share of poetry collections so I was more than happy to give this one a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.comCracked Open is about the narrator getting over her lover. And… that’s pretty much it. There is a happy ending but it took a while to get there. This collection tells a story through its poetry from start to finish yet I didn’t feel as though there was a beginning, middle, and end.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI don’t have much to say about the characters. There are no names and not many gender pronouns used either. I could relate with the narrator since I’ve been through a break up before. I have to say, that part was captured nicely and accurately despite each of us going through it in our own way.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The poems in this collection were just okay for me. They were free verse – most of them not really having much rhyme or rhythm. With that said, the poems didn’t seem to flow well for me. I felt as though I was reading a letter written by the narrator to her ex instead of poetry. The words felt a little flat rather than poetic and while the emotion was well captured, it felt as though the narrator was just complaining to her ex rather than fully letting go of her emotions in a rhythmic poem.

Overall | RachelPoli.comCracked Open wasn’t a bad read. It’s short and sweet. I couldn’t connect with the poems that much though I did sympathize with the main character, whoever she may be. With that said, this was just an okay read for me.

Cracked Open by Megan O’Keeffe gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“We are not a love story
and we are not a lesson.
We were just two people wasting time
Comfortable in the in-between
hiding from our truths.”
-Megan O’Keeffe, Cracked Open

Buy the book:

Amazon

About Megan O’Keeffe

Megan O'Keeffe | Author | Cracked Open | Poet | Poetry Books | Book Blogger | Blogging | RachelPoli.comUp and coming Poet, Megan OKeeffe has been writing poetry for the last decade and has made the leap to publish her first collection. The love and support Meg received from her blog Debatably Dateable encouraged her to make this next step in her writing career. When she’s not writing, Meg is binging Brooklyn 99 or walking her dog Maverick. You may spot her touring the newest spot on Long Island, NY with her sisters and boyfriends.

Be sure to check out other Poetry books I’ve reviewed!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery 4) By Carol J. Perry [Book Review]

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Book Review: Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery 4) by Carol J. Perry | Cozy Mystery | Paranormal | Fiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I received a free paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

A killer takes a spin through Salem . . .

Lee Barrett has agreed to attend a storage auction with Aunt Ibby–even though she suspects the forgotten rooms will yield more junk than treasure. Her skepticism vanishes once the two win a bid on an overlooked locker and uncover a trove of beautiful curiosities, including a stunning wooden carousel horse with gentle eyes and fading paint. But just before Lee leaves the fairground relic at a local repair shop, the sight of a silver samovar awakens her psychic abilities and conjures visions of murder.

Lee prays the intrusive ESP episode was just a glimpse into the past–until her policeman boyfriend reports a dead man outside the repair shop. Apparently, the unknown victim had been hot on Lee’s trail since the auction. And with the horse found dismantled, it looks like he was up to no good. What’s the story behind the antique equine, and could a strange bubblegum-chewing woman with fiery hair have something to do with the crime? Guided by her gift and O’Ryan, her wise tabby cat, Lee’s set on catching the murderer . . . before she’s sent on the darkest ride of her life.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The cover is keeping with similar colors like the previous books. It really matches the series and the plot of the book well.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

This is a great series and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to read through it all.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Lee and her aunt Ibby find themselves in the middle of yet another murder once they buy a storage locker filled with antique goodies at an auction. A key piece is a carnival-like horse.

This is what I love about the plot of this book and the ones before it – they’re all unique and fun. The evidence isn’t exactly what it would seem and you don’t necessarily know what any of it has to do with the rest until more people talk. It’s a great story and mystery to figure out.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

As always, Lee, Aunt Ibby, Pete, and River are wonderful. I still think they’re a great cast of characters. There are always characters who you’re not sure about either which is always a thrill.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The author’s writing is as beautiful as ever. The dialogue is spot-on, each character having their own unique voice, the description of the people, places, and actions are all well done too. This book is almost at 400 pages but it’s a quick read. You can’t put it down.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This is yet another great mystery for the Witch City series. I’m looking forward to reading book five.

Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery 4) by Carol J. Perry gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Strangely enough, it makes me think of a carousel, going around and around, with none of the horses ever catching up with the one ahead of him.” -Carol J. Perry, Murder Go Round

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Look Both Ways (Book 3) By Carol J. Perry [Book Review]

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Book Review: Look Both Ways (Witch City Mystery 3) by Carol J. Perry | Cozy Mystery | Paranormal | Fiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I received a free paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In Salem, Massachusetts, there are secret everywhere–even in the furniture. . .

When Lee Barrett spots the same style oak bureau she once had as a child on the WICH-TV show, Shopping Salem, she rushes to the antiques shop and buys the piece. Just like the beloved bureau she lost in a fire, this one has secret compartments. It also comes with an intriguing history–it was purchased in an estate sale from a home where a famous local murder took place.

The day after the bureau is delivered, Lee returns to the antiques shop and finds the owner dead. The police suspect the shop owner’s unscrupulous business partner, but Lee wonders if the murder is connected to her new furniture. At least part of the answer may be revealed through a mirror in the bureau, tarnished and blackened, allowing Lee to tap into her psychic visions. Using this bureau of investigation, Lee may be able to furnish her policeman beau with the evidence needed to catch the killer–before the next one to be shut up is her. . .

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

As usual, I think the book cover is great. The colors are well done as is the font for the title. It really conveys what the story entails.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I read and enjoyed the first two books in the series and was excited to read on.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

The plot around this one revolves around an old murder sort of due to a piece of furniture Lee buys. I think that’s a pretty unique thing to fixate on. There were a lot of questions asked straight from the beginning and is slowly revealed throughout the story, which is great.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

It’s always fun to revisit Lee, Aunt Ibby, Pete, and River North. They’re one of my favorite group of characters to follow. Even the side characters, suspects and culprits were some of my favorite characters in the series so far. They were all so interesting.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This is written in 3rd-person limited with Lee as the POV character. What I love most about reading the story through her is that she doesn’t actively investigate. She’s curious but she doesn’t go looking for trouble and it all plays out naturally.

The dialogue is great and I absolutely love the description, especially for the setting. This is certainly an easy book to read and hard to put down.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

Book three of this series did not disappoint. I think this was my favorite one out of them… so far. If you’re in paranormal cozy mysteries, please do give this one a try.

Look Both Ways (Witch City Mystery 3) by Carol J. Perry gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“That annoying ‘It’s A Small World’ song from Walt Disney World started playing in my head.” -Carol J. Perry, Look Both Ways (Witch City Mystery 3)

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Liked this review? You can read my reviews for Caught Dead Handed and Tails, You Lose by Carol J. Perry. Or you can check out all the Book Reviews on the site.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Sigil By Aidan J. Reid [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Book Review: Sigil by Aidan J. Reid | Mystery | Suspense | Reading | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

– EVERY VILLAGE HAS ITS SECRETS –

The sleepy Irish village of Ballygorm is shocked one bright summer morning by the tragic news that one of their own, a successful young builder and devoted family man has been found dead, hanging in an apparent suicide.

But Parish Priest, Father Tom Regan is sceptical. Inspired by his TV detective hero, Fr Regan uses his twin role as confessional confidante and the village’s religious figurehead to investigate the mysterious death and he suspects foul play.

Piecing the clues together, he finds that his outwardly pious and tight-knit community has been harbouring a murderer in a village where everyone is a suspect.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I do like the cover. I think the colors are pretty, despite the dark aura. It looks mysterious which is what this book is all about.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’ve read a few things from Aidan before and enjoy his books. Mystery is my favorite as well so I was eager to jump on this.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

I found the plot unique in the sense that a priest is solving the murder – well, he’s taken it upon himself to follow the clues while everyone else brushes the murder off as a suicide.

This was certainly an interesting way to do things, however it wasn’t as believable as I thought it would be. The victim was hung with his hands tied behind his back, which should have been a red flag to everyone in town. Still, it was interesting all the same to watch Father Regan piece it together.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed following Father Regan around though I didn’t feel as though I could get close to him or anyone else in the story. All the characters were well written and had unique personalities, which was great. Though the book is told in third person omniscient, which it’s my favorite POV to read. It was hard to guess what people were feeling when it was told to me through the narrative or Father Regan “assuming” how they felt.

With that said, the characters were good, but I was able to see right through them.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The book is well written. The POV is not a personal preference of mine so it was harder for me to read, but it was still done well. Some chapters were told seeing other characters – such as the culprits – which was interesting. One chapter in particular was strictly dialogue. It wasn’t long, but I enjoyed that bit.

The story was easy to follow along – for the most part. There are a lot of twists, but that’s a good thing and it was done well.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was a good read. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was written in a different POV, though that’s just my personal preference. Definitely give this a read if it sounds enticing to you and if you enjoy a good murder mystery.

Sigil by Aidan J. Reid gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“He was used to people changing their behavior when he entered the room. They seemed to quickly become the best possible version of themselves.” -Aidan J. Reid, Sigil

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Be sure to check out other books I’ve read and reviewed by Aidan J. Reid such as his ROT series!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Halfway Normal By Barbara Dee [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Book Review: Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee | Middle Grade | Realistic Fiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I bought the book at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

A cancer survivor must readjust to “normal” middle school life in this hopeful novel from the author of Star-Crossed and Truth or Dare.

Norah Levy has just completed two years of treatment for leukemia and is ready to go back to the “real world” of middle school. The hospital social worker warns her the transition back may be tricky, but Norah isn’t worried. Compared with battling cancer, how tricky can seventh grade be?

Very. Everyone is either treating Norah like she will break at any second, or acting weird about all the attention she’s getting. Her best friend, Harper, does her best to be there for Norah, but she doesn’t get it, really—and is hanging out with a new group of girls, leaving Norah feeling a little unsteady. Norah’s other good friend, Silas, is avoiding her. What’s that about, anyway?

When Norah is placed with the eighth graders for math and science she meets Griffin, a cute boy who encourages her love of drawing and Greek mythology. And Norah decides not to tell him her secret—that she was “that girl” who had cancer. But when something happens to make secret-keeping impossible, Norah must figure out a way to share her cancer story. But how do you explain something to others that you can’t explain to yourself? And then, once you find the words, how do you move forward with a whole new ‘normal’?

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed the book cover. It’s simple and even though it doesn’t seem like it at first glance, it shows a lot about the book and the main character.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

My sister found this book and bought it. I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to read it.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

To be honest, I forgot what exactly this book was about. I bought it awhile ago and didn’t read the summary again before diving in. Reading a book about a younger cancer survivor trying to fit in again and be “normal” is a great idea. Norah is in middle school as well, of all things, which makes life more difficult for her.

I believe this is fiction inspired from a few real life people, but the plot was mainstream, heartfelt, and an important message.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I liked all the characters in this book, even the “mean” ones because they were exactly like how some middle school kids act. I wasn’t sure about Norah, the protagonist, a first, but after realizing she was 11 I understood her more.

Griffin, a new friend of Norah’s, was awesome too. He had little parts but they were important and made a difference to the story and to Norah herself.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The story flowed well and went at a nice pace. It was easy to read and quick at 243 pages. Though, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t have minded reading more.

The author used italics a lot – for thoughts and emphasizing words – which is fine, but the characters emphasized words a lot. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

I really enjoyed this book and it touched my heart even if it is fiction. I think the author did a great job portraying the characters and their woes. I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee gets…
5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“I couldn’t tell myself that only good things will be in my future, because how could you be sure of that, anyhow?” –Barbara Dee, Halfway Normal

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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The White Giraffe By Lauren St. John [Book Review]

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Book Review: The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John | Middle Grade | Reading | Mystery | Fiction | RachelPoli.com

I bought it at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

When Martine’s home in England burns down, killing her parents, she must go to South Africa to live on a wildlife game preserve, called Sawubona, with the grandmother she didn’t know she had. Almost as soon as she arrives, Martine hears stories about a white giraffe living in the preserve. But her grandmother and others working at Sawubona insist that the giraffe is just a myth. Martine is not so sure, until one stormy night when she looks out her window and locks eyes with Jemmy, a young silvery-white giraffe. Why is everyone keeping Jemmy’s existence a secret? Does it have anything to do with the rash of poaching going on at Sawubona? Martine needs all of the courage and smarts she has, not to mention a little African magic, to find out. First-time children’s author Lauren St. John brings us deep into the African world, where myths become reality and a young girl with a healing gift has the power to save her home and her one true friend.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I love the cover. There’s something mysterious about it and I think the white giraffe and the night blue background contrast nicely.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

Fun fact: my favorite animal is the giraffe. I’m pretty sure my mom bought this book for me a few years ago simply because it was about a giraffe. Of course, this is the first time I’m reading it now.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Martine’s life gets thrown upside down when both her parents die in a fire that started in their house. She even lost the house. At only 11-years-old, she’s shipped to go live with her grandmother in Africa. That’s where she learns a lot about her family, herself, and the legend of the White Giraffe.

This plot had a lot of potential but, in my opinion, it wasn’t executed well. A lot of things happen that’s not really explained. There was a lot of build up but when the White Giraffe was in trouble, it just didn’t seem as intense as I think it was meant to be.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I felt as though I couldn’t get close to any of the characters. Martine’s grandmother had an awfully fast change of heart, Martine sometimes acted her age and then other times acted as though she was a lot older. Until her age was mentioned almost halfway through the book, I had trouble pinning her age down.

I really enjoyed Tendai though. He worked with Gywn, Martine’s grandmother, and he was kind to Martine and helped her along the way. I felt as though I learned more from him than anyone else.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This is a middle-grade book so the writing is fairly simple and easy to read. Aside from Martine not really acting her age at times, this was well done.

However, my biggest problem was the description. Everything looks, feels, sounds, and smells “African.” I have no idea what that means and as someone who’s never been to Africa, I feel as though this was a missed learning opportunity for me – especially since the author states in her bio that she grew up there.

Other than that, the writing itself wasn’t bad. The pace was a bit too fast at times, but the plot was laid out and was there.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was just an okay read for me. There was a lot of potential and missed teaching moments culturally from the author, but it was still pretty well written and the idea of the plot was interesting. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the series, though there may be some younger kids out there who would enjoy this.

The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“No, little one, animals might scratch you, or bite you, or even rip you apart in hunger or fear, but only a man can crush you inside, in your heart, for no reason other than the color of your skin.” –Lauren St. John, The White Giraffe

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Sign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com