Tag Archives: Candlewick Press

Book Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Candlewick Press
TBP May 5th, 2020
368 Pages

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.- Goodreads

There is a lot going on in this novel but happily enough the author broke down this book into different POC and sections. I loved that because it shows skills as a writer.

There is a lot of character building in this novel and it stresses the fact that not everyone is who/what they seem. I liked Flora. For everything that she had to do in order to live, to help her brother and Evelyn, she was honest with herself and that is oddly hard to fine in Young Adult books.  Flora was realistic with her environment and what she needed to do but she open minded and I liked that.

Evelyn, however, was alright. She was the typical I am not your average rich person. She played her role really well but there was nothing ground breaking about her. The aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the mermaid/the sea. I love magical stories even with realistic situations to them. I would have loved to see more history and details in this particular part of the story but I was entertained.

The pace of the novel was good. There were painstakingly slow moments, where nothing at all was going on but it was worth it. This is my first read by this author and I am looking forward to see what else she has in store.


3 Pickles

Book Review: The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Ryan Andrews (illustrator)

Candlewick Press
Aug. 7th, 32018
416 Pages

Twelve-year-old Lowen Grover, a budding comic-book artist, is still reeling from the shooting death of his friend Abe when he stumbles across an article about a former mill town giving away homes for just one dollar. It not only seems like the perfect escape from Flintlock and all of the awful memories associated with the city, but an opportunity for his mum to run her very own business.

Fortunately, his family is willing to give it a try. But is the Dollar Program too good to be true? The homes are in horrible shape, and the locals are less than welcoming. Will Millville and the dollar house be the answer to the Grovers’ troubles? Or will they find they’ve traded one set of problems for another? From the author of Small as an Elephant and Paper Things comes a heart-tugging novel about guilt and grief, family and friendship, and, above all, community. -Goodreads

Long read but definitely worth it. There were a lot of messages/themes within this book. However, the biggest one that bothered me the most or should I say affected me the most was how the adults treated the new families, specifically the children.

The whole purpose of those families moving into these crap houses, is to fix them up and bring business into a dying a community. But the town, which voted for each family, are fairly rude and disrespectful to new comers. This occurs throughout the entire book and it really bothers me. New comers to a town, school, work anything is very hard to deal with it. It is even worst when people generally don’t want you there. I felt so bad, mostly for the kids, who were being call the dollar kids by the adults.

The shooting of Abe is an important part of the book but it stays a bit in the back burner. It’s the elephant in the room that doesn’t exactly show itself all the time but you know it is there. When the truth comes out and that guilt is released, you exhale because its the tension within the novel and you’re just happy to let it go.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It is simple but then complicated (in a good way) with overlapping issues that push the reader’s involvement on a emotional level. You are able to connect to the characters, not just Lowen but to everyone in the family and that is a hard thing to do as a writer knowing that more than likely adults will read your book.

I would recommend this read, especially for kids who need to see grief play out and see a different way to deal with your past and what looks like your future.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

Candlewick Press
TBP July 10, 2018
352 Pages

They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside.

But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.- Goodreads

This book has been on my tbr 2018 edition since I heard about it last year. So when I got approved for an arc via Netgalley, I put everything down to take a stab at it.

Man, was I disappointed.

About 30% through the book, I couldn’t stand Lucie’s voice anymore. I understand her revenge and her wanting to see how the revenge plays out. I even understand her slight mercy. But she has this tone that becomes redundant. When she sees the beast changing and becoming the “person” she hoped the Chevalier would have been, she fights with herself to stay mad, to stay hateful. After what he did, it shouldn’t take a whole lot to state in hate mode. I actually was surprised by the change of heart. Yes, they were technically two different people but how Lucie was able to look at the beast and not remember what he has a human had done…. I have no idea.

The book moves fast enough. It doesn’t take a lot of time for you to see his transformation to a beast and to a likeable beast. The story begins off one way but then you’re literally disguised how quickly it turns left. The author wrote a very intense scene, that I had to put the book down for a moment to regain my composure. This is why I didn’t understand how Lucie was able to jump ship.

But what I really enjoyed about this book was how the author spun this retelling. The point of view, Lucie, is completely different from what I have read. She is literally the third party to the classic fairy tale and it was interesting to see her point of view. However, for a story about revenge, there wasn’t enough intensity and anger that I had hoped for.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read but it could have better.

2 Pickles

Banned Book Revisited: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Candlewick Press
Originally Published July 14th, 2003
244 Pages

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that’s before a shocking phone call — and a horrifying allegation — about her rugby-star brother changes everything. – Goodreads

Why was it banned?

Banned for sexual content, being anti-family, offensive language and being unsuited to age group. (Source)

I read this book when I was 15. Seriously. This was the rare occasion that I would read a YA because when I was a teen, it was nothing but Sandra Brown and Julie Garwood and Judith Mcnaught.

This book stuck so much to me that years later I remember everything. I was not as big as Virginia but in my eyes and compared to my friends, I was large. So I was able to relate to her in that sense. I loved her and her courage and her thoughts. She was a conflicted teenager, who wanted to be herself but at the same time be accepted.

There wasn’t really words for that when I was younger and now revisiting this book as an adult, the impact was deep. The story overall is really straightforward and fairly typical Virginia’s best friend goes away and Virginia turns to food in her loneliness, which touches on some other topics.

The author took more time with the emotional aspect of the book. You see self esteem issues, mental illness, physical abuse, family issues; the list can keep going. This seems like a lot but it isn’t over complicated.  The book is deep. So if you read this and are expecting the most dramatic of life changing events in the most dramatic way possible, you may not get that or for the most part understand it as an adult. 

Virginia could be your cousin, a student in your class, the girl in your neighborhood. She can be anyone. As a adult reading this, I think it is important for conversation. Extremely important for conversation.

Although this is a short review, I recommend this reading this banned book because it opens the door to discuss not only with a teenager but also with a adult who doesn’t know certain emotions or experiences a teen can go through.

4 Pickles

Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Seth is drowning. However, instead of meeting his maker, Seth ends up on a beach shore at his former England home naked, hungry, and

      Candlewick Press  Published Sept 10, 2013               480 Pages
Candlewick Press
Published Sept 10, 2013
480 Pages

thirsty. Not expecting to be here Seth must now not only face the tragedy that forced his family to leave for America but also find out if he is truly alone on this land.

I love the concept of this book. Waking up to find out that you’re not as dead as you think you are is pretty interesting. But as interesting as that was the book lacked luster and did nothing to keep me going. Seth was a dull dull boy who died very graphically even though he was drowning. After he is awaken on the beach he goes through the motion of trying to find food, clothes and most important where is he.

What I liked about the book was the care of details Ness put into the book. You felt the love and time he put into this book. The suspense was great almost unbearable because you want to know what truly happened to Seth before and after he drowned. You want to know what happened in the house he use to call home and most importantly you want to know where the heck was everyone when he was drowning/why was he alone.

When things begin to pick up it was a bit too late for me to truly enjoy it not because Seth spent more than a quarter of the book reminiscing and I just couldn’t get into it. Yes, it did make me (the reader) understand Seth more (Kinda sorta) but it didn’t grab me.

Overall the book was a decent read when it picked up it picked up you just have to follow through with it. The book gets 7 out of 10.