Friday, May 26, 2017

Magonia student book review by Nicole


Aza Ray has been different her entire life; the subject of a mysterious disease, she is left on earth struggling to take a breath of fresh air and live like a normal teen. When she sees ships in the sky, she is left to believe that it was just a hallucination due to her heavy medication. That idea is proven wrong. Aza is swept into the world of Magonia, a world where she is dead to earth but can live and breath normally for the first time in her life. Torn between her past family and friend Jason, Aza desperately clings to survival in her new life, trying to hold true to what she knows. Aza is challenged through the discovery of talents and powers she has unlocked through her canwr and her true mother’s pushes for lessons with Dai. Furthermore, through discoveries of Magonia’s new culture Aza finds the true reasons for issues between the Magonians’ and the “drowners”, or people living on earth; Earth has forced the Magonians to steal their food by taking their precious Magonian epiphytes and hiding them in the seed vault.

Through trial and error both between Aza in Magonia and Jason on earth, they reunite to protect the fragile balance of peace between Earth and Magonia. Magonia is a wonderful premier book to the new series by Headley. Only lapsed by a few swear words not suitable for younger audiences, this book is suitable for the young adult fantasy genre. In my opinion, the dual perspective of both Aza and Jacob was executed in a professional manner, always leaving the reader on the edge of their seats. Each character had their own personality that shined, allowing for a variety of perspectives to the multitudes of events on the novel.

 Relationship wise, the connection between Aza and Jacob was not over done but at times their thoughts of each other balanced on the thin line of cheesy and profound. Headley’s writing style is so unique and amazing to both read and analyze. She not only creates a feeling like the reader is within the head of her characters through casual diction but the structure of the physical words reflects the true emotions of these events. In that case of structure, the words at times are bolded, replaced by symbols to represent a greater meaning of loss of words, dragged throughout the page utilizing new paragraphs and white space, and many more creative styles rarely seen in many books. The structure’s creativity is truly what sets this book apart from most YA fiction novels. A literary analysis of the structure is a great place to start but additionally the analysis can focus upon the motif of being able to breathe and an overarching question of what creates true family and friends.

 A key aspect of this novel, review wise, to be noted is that this is an Epic Reads member book. To gain more information there are videos on their YouTube channel with a synopsis and a DIY that may be watched. I agree with the selection of this book becoming apart of the Epic Reads community as it suits the main goals and overall theme of the books Epic Reads normally promotes and advertises for (the popular YA audience).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde book review

This is the 3rd book in the Chronicles of Kazam series.  I recommend reading the books in order as these are not really stand alone books.  We’re back with Jennifer Strange, a 16 year old orphan who is the manager of Kazam Mystical Arts and Court Mystician for the Kingdom of Snodd.  Jennifer is in high demand - from the Queen to Once Mangificent Boo to the Mighty Shandar.  She is about to go on an adventure (because Quests need to be approved).  In this story we meet Addie and lose a few characters along the way.  Jennifer has been sent to find the Eye of Zoltar in the Cambrian Empire.  She doesn’t have much to go on, but she does think it will save the dragons.  The land they travel to is very dangerous.  People go there as “jeopardy tourists” and sometimes they do not make it back.  There are many perils along the way and they are not all solved because the story ends with a major cliffhanger...with a promise from the author that there is more to come.


I have been enjoying this series and I highly recommend it to fans of Harry Potter.  The setting is sort of an alternate reality of Great Britain and magic is not kept secret.  If readers like magical fantasy, dragons and epic journeys, this book is for them.  I think it would be a good purchase for a middle school or high school library.  This particular book is a little bit darker than the first two.  There is violence during the scenes with the Hollow Men, but nothing out of the ordinary for a fantasy novel.  Some of the dialogue is quite entertaining when the characters are being light-hearted.  There are many quirky personalities and Jennifer embraces them all.  Readers will learn quite a bit about economics from the princess.  Some readers may decide that economics is cool ;)  Overall, this is a great series and I am always recommending the books.  

Also, this:

It's Not Me, It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm book review

I choose the book because I enjoyed the other books Stephanie Kate Strohm wrote.  I think this was her first released hardcover as the other books were released only in paperback.  Avery Dennis has been dumped just days before her senior prom.  Avery has never been without a boyfriend and decides this is the perfect time to find herself.  She also wants to figure out why none of her many relationships have lasted.  Avery is considered one of the popular girls.  She is cute, athletic and smart.  She takes her studies seriously and it’s one of the things the other popular girls make fun of her for.  She’s had the same science lab partner for years and they are at the top of their class.  Avery has an oral history project due before graduation, so she decides to explore why her past relationships have failed.  Her teacher tells her this is not the intent of the oral history project, but Avery sets out to prove her wrong.  This is a romantic comedy and has a happy ending.

This book may actually seem pretty fluffy on the outside, but any historian will see the components of writing up an oral history and setting out to interview your primary sources.  The author also sets up sort of a historiography.  The topic of finding out why your relationships don’t work out is fun and funny, but I really think the underlying methodology would help some readers see that history can be fun.  Readers will also enjoy the romance and the jokes throughout the story.  The story may be difficult for some readers to follow as it is written in an interview format, with varying perspectives.  But it will be no problem for stronger readers. There is also some diversity among the characters.  One review labeled it as stereotypical, but I don’t agree with that.  I think it reflects the diversity in many high schools today.

I enjoyed this book.  It is a fun, quick read in terms of the content.  But it could be used by a history teacher to illustrate that oral histories can be fun and not all topics have to be super serious.  The example in the book may not be ideal for a school project, but a reader could transfer their new found knowledge to a more history content oriented topic.  I would recommend it as a purchase for a high school library.  I would do a readers’ advisory recommendation to a not super serious history buff or a student looking for a romantic comedy.