Book Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke // east berlin, untold stories, and magic balloons

Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon

Author: Katherine Locke

Published: September 1, 2017

Pages: 256

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

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Ellie grew up hearing the stories of the magical red balloon that saved her late grandfather from a German WWII concentration camp.

When she took a school trip all the way to Berlin from the USA, Ellie expected to practice her German while she finally explored Germany—a country her grandfather never forgave for all his heartache. Instead, her life turned on its axis after she noticed and latched onto a floating, red balloon reminiscent of the ones from her grandfather’s tales. In a blink of an eye, she was flung back and trapped in 1988 East Berlin where the past, present, and future were fantastically more entangled than anyone knew.

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Audiobook Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman // another (hilarious) favorite by Neil Gaiman

Title: Anansi Boys

Author: Neil Gaiman

Published: September 26, 2006

Length: 10 hours and 5 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

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Neil Gaiman is two for two now.

Once upon a time, a *lonely middle schooler randomly plucked The Graveyard Book off the shelves of her school library. It was by an author named Neil Gaiman, the same man who wrote the scariest movie she had seen in her pubescent life, Coraline. The girl was temporarily transported to a cemetery in England where she fell in love with the ghosts, witches, and other mystical creatures who walked the grounds. The book became one of her most beloved memories.

For years, she told herself that she would visit further stories by the man who penned her favorite quote, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” Finally, after a few years shy of a decade, she clicked play on an audiobook by the author in discussion and was once again immersed into a fantastical story that begun this time in… Florida.

*Lonely middle schooler was totally not me. I had level 10 people skills by the age of eleven that did not include hiding in the library during lunch 😬.
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Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian // the ash princess carries the story

Title: Ash Princess

Author: Laura Sebastian

Published: October 31, 2017

Length: 13 hours 18 min

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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Ash Princess is the first book in its title series following Princess Theodosia.

Ten years before the start of the story, Theodosia’s mother, The Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes by the Kaiser—and her kingdom fell to the tyrant. For a decade, while her people were slaughtered and enslaved, Theodosia lived as a prisoner in her own palace, beaten and looked down upon by the Kaiser and his court. But after a traumatizing event, Theodosia’s heart is set aflame with vengeance for her mother and kingdom.

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Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier // two stars for fantasy and time travel


Title: Ruby Red

Author: Kerstin Gier

Published: May 10, 2011

Pages: 324

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction

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Ruby Red is the first book in the Edelstein series. It follows sixteen year-old Gwyneth who unexpectedly replaces her cousin Charlotte in a secret time travel society when it’s discovered that she has the female time traveling gene, not Charlotte. After being kept out of the loop of the society’s mysteries all her life, Gwyneth has to learn what the rules are of time traveling and her duties as a time traveler. She’s not alone in learning as she has Gideon, the obnoxious male equivalent of Gywenth from another family, to help her learn the ropes of time travel.

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Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo // better than Six of Crows

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Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 27, 2016

Pages: 536

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

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Goodreads Description: 

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.


Crooked Kingdom retained all of the elements that I loved in Six of Crows—strategic scheming, morally ambiguous characters, strained romances—and expanded on them. 

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Book Series Review: The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson // fantastically written, but not without its faults

Welcome to my first series review!

Writing this review was an interesting experience for me. For starters, it encompasses my thoughts and feelings for three different books instead of one. I also wrote it well after finishing all the books so my memory of them is kind of fuzzy. Usually, I jot notes while reading books I’m going to review, but I had no intention of making this post until I was almost finished with the third book.

Here’s to firsts!

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Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo // deserves the hype

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Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 29, 2015

Pages: 462

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

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Goodreads Description: 

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.


I’m probably the last person under the sun to read this book.

Despite it seeming like everything I wanted in a book—a heist, clever thieves, angsty romance—it never felt like the appropriate time to read the book. I still can’t say that I finally read it at good time. I picked this book up after reading The Final Empire, another fantasy book that revolves around a heist and one that I love dearly. I couldn’t help but compare Six of Crows to it. That, combined with all the hype surrounding the book, was a recipe for disappointment. However, I still really enjoyed Six of Crows

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Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab // the monsters were an interesting concept, but not enough

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Title: This Savage Song

Author: Victoria Schwab

Published: July 5, 2016

Pages: 464

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

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Goodreads Description: Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.


This is the first book in the Monsters of Verity duology written by acclaimed author Victoria Schwab.

I almost didn’t read this book because, in my experience, I found Schwab’s books to be over-hyped. However, the concept really interested me, so I decided to give the author a second third chance. I’ll try not to spoil too much in this review because I feel like the less you know about this book, the better.

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Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani // a surprisingly packed middle-grade story


Title: The School for Good and Evil

Author: Soman Chainani

Published: May 14, 2013

Pages: 488

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

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Goodreads Description: This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?


I had heard great things about this book since it was published a few years ago, so I was especially excited when a friend lent it to me to read.

I’ll admit that the first fifty pages had me thinking that this was yet another over hyped book, but I was thankfully proved wrong. 

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Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black // needed more sword fights

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Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Author: Holly Black

Published: January 13, 2015

Pages: 336

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

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Goodreads Description: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?


To be completely honest, the synopsis of this story didn’t particularly interest me.

I  was about to dismiss this book when I realized that it was written by one of the co-authors of a favorite childhood series of mine, The Spiderwick Chronicles. I decided to give The Darkest Part of the Forest a chance in the hopes that it would possess similar elements to the aforementioned series.

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