Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, Middle Grade Books

The Serpent’s Secret (book review)

by Sayantani DasGupta
Fantasy – Middle Grade (book 1) 

Before I get started on this review, let me just say a quick personal note. I realize our current state of things as we all deal with the coronavirus presents writers and bloggers with new topics. Perhaps posts about dealing with our isolation, or tips to stay creative, how to make a mask, but that is not me. If I had any answers of any kind in this world, my life would be much different. Suffice it to say that I have my own struggles and this simple easy post about the most recent book I’ve read is my way of getting back into my creative brain. Plus, let’s be honest, this blog is still more for me than any readers. I have yet to have any such “readership” for various reasons which no one cares about. 

So let us begin. Here is my very simple book review format:

My Synopsis:

Kiranmala (or just Kiran) lives in New Jersey with her slightly odd parents. She wishes her parents were more “normal” and wishes they’d stop calling her a princess. Not only does she dislike the idea of helpless princesses, but she also hates the color pink. Unfortunately for her, she is, in fact, a very real Indian Princess from a very real other-dimensional world. This reality crashes in quite literally when a giant (and gross) demon smashes her home and two princes from another world show up to help. She needs help because mostly she is clueless as to why her parents are missing, how the heck she’s supposed to get them back, and how she could possibly be an actual princess.

Why I picked this book: 

Last June I attended the Rutgers Writing Conference (oddly enough in NJ) and it was a fascinating weekend of learning and meeting new people. One of the classes I took was taught by Sayantani DasGupta and she was absolutely amazing in so many ways. I was inspired by her and of course, needed to have a copy of her book (which she kindly signed for me). For no good reason, I hadn’t actually read the book until now. Books I purchase often stay on my shelf as the ones loaned from the library get priority due to the time limit I have with them. So this was the first quarantine book I choose once the library shut down.

What was disappointing: 

Nothing really. I mean, sure it starts out in New Jersey and I live in Philly so nothing exciting there. But New Jersey isn’t meant to be exciting and we certainly do not stay there very long. Maybe a part of me didn’t want to like this character at first because she seemed to try to hard to dislike princesses, but she is unswayed in her opinion and the reader is not forced into predictable clichés that you may expect.

Why I kept reading:

This is usually the part where I explain why I kept reading despite my a) slow start because I always have trouble getting emotionally attached, or b) feeling that things are rather predictable. But this had a very quick start, and I can honestly say I had no idea what was going to happen one page to the next. This was very refreshing in that it really does take you on a new journey.

Takeaway:

The main character is twelve years old and most of the time I felt she was much older. That is not to say that the author did a poor job of depicting a 12-year-old. Actually, this character is very well rounded and has a nice balance of emotions perfect for that age, something I’m not used to seeing in books. There is also a lot of science in this book that was unexpected for me. By no means is this a STEM book and the author’s notes clearly state that this is NOT to be used as a reference for real science in any way. However, using scientific theories and ideas to back up a fantasy world was very interesting. It keeps with the tone the MC has about “magic worlds and princesses” in that she is always looking for some fact in all of the madness. Like if Alice actually questioned her trip down the rabbit hole with a bit more thought process than just “curiouser and curiouser”.  I don’t even need a lot of explanation while I read fantasy as long is it makes sense in that world, but this was a nice new way to be in a made-up realm.

Final Thoughts:

As a white female born in America, this was a very refreshing story. I have pretty much zero knowledge of the folklores and myths used for the basis of the author’s story so I had no idea what to expect from the demons or lands they encountered. Nothing at all was predictable for me and I LOVED that! New customs, new foods, new monsters, new everything – I was so happy to escape from the same familiar fairy tales and mythology so I highly recommend this book.  There are three books in this series and I am so glad for it. All the characters are well fleshed out and believable, the adventure and action is super fun, and yeah, Kiran is a great heroin that is much welcomed in the Middle-Grade Fantasy genre. I’m looking forward to the next two books that I’m sure will be just as endearing, funny, and action-packed!

Post-Script:

I failed at all the riddles and definitely would not have survived. 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, page challenge

Poppy Mayberry, Return to Power Academy

The Poppy Mayberry series is a Middle-Grade book written by Jennie K. Brown,  and “Return to Power Academy” is the second installment. I read this because her first Poppy story turned out to be so much fun. As I mentioned in a review, I was hesitant about the first book, but I dove into this one with few doubts. Continue reading “Poppy Mayberry, Return to Power Academy”

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, page challenge

The Land Of Yesterday

By K.A. Reynolds. (254 more pages towards my page challenge hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair)

I found this book on MG Book Village’s book club list. I was hoping to join their Twitter discussion but ended up not being available at that time. All I knew was that it was a story about dealing with death and ghosts. I purchased the book via Amazon and when it arrived I was crushing on the jacket art by Helen Musselwhite. It’s dark, lovely, and purple. Then, to my wonderful surprise, I notice the entire text of the book is printed in purple. There is a beautiful dedication at the beginning followed by a quote by C.S. Lewis;

“Courage, dear heart.” Continue reading “The Land Of Yesterday”

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, page challenge

Poppy Mayberry

Poppy Mayberry by Jennie K. Brown is my first 194 pages towards my Page Challenge from Book Dragon’s Lair. In case you didn’t read my previous post about this challenge, I’m only aiming for Bonsai Level which is 12,000 pages. So I just have to read about 65 more books this length. EEEK. Can I possibly allow myself this much spare time? I better! I signed up – I posted that I’d commit – I have to do it now. I’m much better at keeping promises made to others than to myself. So, another thanks to Book Dragons Lair for putting this challenge out there.

Poppy Mayberry, The Monday is the first book in Jennie K. Brown’s Nova Kids series. The kids from the town of Nova have a specific power based on the day of the week they were born. Poppy Mayberry is a Monday child. Sounds cool right? It is, only it took me a while to admit. I didn’t think I was going to like this book. So why do I own a book I didn’t think I’d enjoy? Let me flashback a bit. Continue reading “Poppy Mayberry”

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews

Prince Ombra

by Roderick MacLeish

In my previous post, I discussed one of three books that influenced me as a child. This book, “Prince Ombra” is the second. While the hero is a child, the enemy is unclear throughout the majority of the story. There is no one thing or person to defeat, just an ever-present evil that consumes the world if not fought back once every thousand years. When it comes, it challenges a single “hero” and does so by taking the form of the hero’s worse fear. This time, the hero is just a child named Bentley. That is probably the reason I initially picked up this book on my regular library visit that afternoon: great big evil vs 9-year-old child. We were allowed to check out 3-5 books each visit. I was probably not reading that much, I simply liked to pick out five so if I didn’t like one I had others to choose from. Turned out I really like “Prince Ombra”. Continue reading “Prince Ombra”