Tag Archives: HMH Books for Young Readers

Book Review: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

HMH Books for Young Readers
Published July 4, 2017
388 Pages

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind. 

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up. -Goodreads

I’ve been sitting on this book for a while, unfortunately,  so when I actually began reading it, I was very pleased.

The Disappearances started off really well. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time for you to get to some big points in the novel. However, the first thing I noticed was how Aila acted. Although she is 17, her actions, the way she speaks and interacts with everyone makes it appear she is younger than what she is. It isn’t until she starts school… high school that you have a confirmation on her age. From there, how she interacts with others and what her own actions begin to shift. It was interesting to read because I thought she was 12 when I began the book.

Beyond that she was an alright character. I didn’t dislike her nor did I like her. I felt that she was one of those neutral characters that only saves the day because of how it affects her and her family and not necessarily because it may be the right thing to do or because she has that spark in her.

The love interest didn’t have enough chemistry for me to feel that it was truly genuine, which is unfortunate because it would have been nice. Half way through the book things staled a little as not a whole lot was really really going on. When some things did happen, it wasn’t the big explosion the book or even the summary made it seem it was going to be. It was disappointing the say the least.

But I kept reading the book even though my excited for it was dwindling. I couldn’t put it down because the author was very creative and it reminded me a bit of a movie I watch on Netflix called Perfect Sense (2011) featuring Eva Green and Ewan McGregor. It’s a decent watch with a lack luster ending, which surprisingly is exactly how I feel about the ending of this book.

Overall, I didn’t think it was a bad read and for the most part I enjoyed this book. But there were misses in the plot, backstory, romance and twists (the twist is not shocking at all). This book could have been amazing but for the most part, it was a nice between read.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Beauty’s Daughter by Carolyn Meyer

Hermione is the daughter of Helen. . Helen of Troy. Yes, the impulsive, beautiful Helen, who falls in love Prince

  HMH Books for Young Readers      Published Oct. 8, 2013            352 Pages
HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Oct. 8, 2013
352 Pages

Paris and runs away with him. What we don’t know is that when Helen left she told her son, who looks like her, and left her daughter that takes after her father.

Hermione is distraught and convinced that her mother was actually kidnapped and the rest of the story goes the Greek army declare war on Troy for kidnapping the Queen and not returning her. Hermione goes with her father and from a side line point of view prays to the gods and goddesses to end the war and reunite her with her love.

I love Greek mythology for those who are new here. And there are not many stories about Helen but this story I like because it shows a more personal side.

Firstly, I didn’t like Hermione. For a leading character I don’t believe she did much in the story. I can’t even say that because of the time period she was in there wasn’t much she can do because she really just didn’t do anything. When she found her mother was gone and with her brother she was hurt and upset and pissed off. But she did nothing about it. I think that the author was trying to keep true to the original story of Helen leaving with Prince Paris and didn’t want Hermione to interfere with that. I understand this but at the same time I don’t feel the story should have been written from the daughter’s point of view then. It should have been from the father’s viewpoint.

However, although I didn’t like Hermione I did love Helen. What was the most beautiful woman in the world like? Selfish, vain, impulsive, self centered, money hungry; she was everything I assumed she would be and I liked how the author gave Helen a voice in the story so you can have an idea of who she was. There was no assuming.

The story itself was good but confusing. For me, Hermione’s love came out of no where and it really wasn’t necessary. He wasn’t there is the beginning of the book, so we really didn’t get to see a history between them. When the war was coming to a close that was when he was constantly in the story. What I did like was the author spilt it in sections; before the war, the war, and after the war. However, by writing a story in this way it feels stretched.

The direction of the story wasn’t to my liking. There was no need for a love interest and there should have been more confrontation between Hermione and her mother, since she did leave her only daughter behind (which Hermione was more upset about anyway). Overall, the book gets 6 out of 10. I loved the war, and intensity of the writing. But the characters fell short and the story didn’t stay its original course.

Love, Pickles.

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer (The Chronicles of Kazam #1) by Jasper Fforde

Jennifer Strange is 15 years old that runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians. Back in the day magic was

    HMH Books for Young Readers        Published Oct 2, 2012                287 Pages
HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Oct 2, 2012
287 Pages

easy to get by but now magic is fading and modern technology is cheaper than using a spell. But one day visions and rumors begin the spread; predicting the death of the last dragon. The trick is no one knows who this dragonslayer is but what truly is know Jennifer is involved and everything is going to change.

I thought this book was whimsical and extremely creative. You begin the book of knowing about magic; knowing that Jennifer is in charge of many magicians and that things are complicated and they are broke. You understand that Jennifer is very collected and cool and a lot there are a lot of things going on, she is taking it pretty easy. She was also sarcastic, honest and just warming.  I liked that about Jennifer and I appreciate what Fforde did. She was a likeable character. . . . actually all the characters were.

The story itself wasn’t predictable. However, you weren’t left in the dark either. I wouldn’t also say there are completely blown away scenes either but that doesn’t mean the twist and turns weren’t good either. Was the book a bit slow because of it? Yes, but I am going to let that pass because it wasn’t a killjoy.

Overall this book gets 9 out of 10. I consider this book more for children 12- 14 than for young adults. Even though the main character is 15, two weeks away from 16, there was still a very “childish” feel to it. Not in a bad way it just was there.

Love, Pickles.