Paul’s review of The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

the-family-romanov-candace-flemingSurrounding the mystery of the shooting of the last Romanovs, this book delves into the personal and political background of the Czar Nicholas II’s family’s murder in 1918, and beyond. Written almost like a diary with daily entries of important events, Fleming follows the daily life of the Russian royal family, their activities, interests, personalities, and problems, using multiple sources including people who actually worked for them. In addition to a description of the pivotal events of the Russian Revolutions of 1917, the major social causes are documented, showing the desperate situation of the peasants and city workers in imperial Russia, as well as the disastrous involvement in the Great War. Even to this day, scholars continue to figure out what happened to the last Romanov family, but this book brings some sense of closure to their case.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great historical mystery, and a detailed description of the Russian Revolutions and seeks a greater knowledge of the Romanov family, as this book only covers a few years in depth, including many images. It is quite helpful in understanding what happened and why. I was quite surprised how the author was able to paint a detailed picture of the shooting, even explaining who died when and where, showing the collaboration with forensic scientists. This book is actually quite an easy read because of its story- and journal-like structure, so there is no need for a degree in history to comprehend the language used in this book.

Paul rates this book 5/5

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Review: The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason

23565495In the third book of the Clockwork Scarab series, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker are asked to become bodyguards for Lurelia, the princess of Betrovia, who is carrying a letter that has important information about the whereabouts of a chess queen that has been lost for centuries. Later on, when the princess is attacked and kidnapped, she reveals that someone has been blackmailing for the letter about the chess queen. As part of a scheme to find out more about the blackmailer and Pix’s shady dealings, Mina and Evaline go to a men’s club. Although the girls do not find Pix, they learn that he has been kidnapped and make plans to find him. The girls find Pix strapped to a chair connected to electricity by the Ankh from book one of the series. Will the girls save Pix and discover the secret of the chess queen? Or will they fall into the trap that a devious enemy set for them with the help of someone who they considered their friend?

I would recommend this book to readers interested in fantasy and who enjoy plot twists. Before reading this book, check out the Clockwork Scarab and Spiritglass Charade, Book 1 and 2 of the series.The book has paranormal elements such as time travel and vampires, and parts of romance. Though the book is filled with many plot twists as people who were thought to be friends reveal their true image, the ending of the book is perhaps the biggest plot twist of all as it goes against the entire story. However, the identity of their enemy from Book 1 is still not revealed, despite Mina’s firm conclusions.

This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5

Cassandra’s review of The Reader by Traci Chee

25064648“If anything could be a book, there was no telling what you could learn, if you knew what to look for. Smooth river stones spelled out across a mossy floor. Lines drawn in the sand. Or inscribed on the side of a fallen log, half-obscured by twigs and mulch: This is a book.” The Reader by Traci Chee begins with Sefia, who escapes to the forest with her aunt Nin after her father is viciously murdered. The two of them are able to survive in the wilderness together until Nin gets kidnapped. Suddenly on her own, Sefia will do anything in her power to rescue Nin. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object left behind by her parents, something she comes to realize is a book. Sefia slowly learns how to read, unearthing the Book’s secrets, which could explain the cause of all of her misfortune. With the help of legendary pirates and a boy-soldier, Sefia sets out on a dangerous adventure to rescue her aunt. Through the journey, she learns more about the world around her and the power she has to change it.

I loved The Reader!!! It took me a while to get into it (especially when the point of view switched from Sefia to Lon), but after I got through a slight reading slump, I breezed through the book. The characters are wonderful! Sefia is a tough girl with a strong moral conscience. I loved how there are multiple story lines that run through The Reader, which eventually intertwine in a plot twisting way. The balance between character development (the “slow” moments) and action was perfect. Also, it is hard to pinpoint an evil character, because you get an idea of how everyone is thinking [omniscient narration]. I would recommend The Reader to anyone who likes fantasy. (The Reader kind of reminds me of Six of Crows.) I can’t wait till the second book comes out!!

Cassandra rates this book 5/5

Natalie’s Review of Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

24737347A slightly magical girl disguises herself as a man in order to reclaim her magical emerald. She turns out to be more resourceful than the men around her believe her to be, but her affection for a man she meets hinders her successful recovery of the gem.

I recommend this book for people who enjoy historical fiction involving magic and a sweet romance. However, those who enjoy mystery might be disappointed by the book’s anticlimactic resolution that’s atypical of mystery novels.

Natalie rates this book 3.5/5

 

Review: Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

41f0anc74bl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker are not as different as they seem. Although Mina possesses mind blowing powers of deduction and Evaline is constantly searching for new vampires to kill, both are committed to discovering the connection between the mysterious death of two girls and Egyptian scarabs even if it means putting their own lives at risk. As they reluctantly join forces to solve this mystery, both of them develop romantic interests in two extremely intriguing men. The plot of this story is filled with a few twists and can be interesting to the reader. I liked that the female characters had desirable traits such as courage, passion and even empathy. However, the ending did not reveal the true identity of the woman who had referred to herself as the Ankh and who had been highly involved with the mystery of the Egyptian Scarabs.

The Clockwork Scarab is the first in a series of four captivating books. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy mysteries with some elements of romance. Although some romance is involved, the mystery and the setting is the main focus of the novel. Details of Evaline’s encounters with a man named Pix and Mina’s encounters with Dylan are smoothly integrated into the plot of the story.

This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

7766027This book is about a young teenager trying to make a name for himself in a world where many people are wary of him because his father was a serial killer. Jasper, or Jazz, as he is mostly called in the book, was a witness to most of the crimes his father committed and hence knows how to commit a murder. When a serial killer returns to their little town, Jazz is forced to solve the mystery – and prove his innocence to the town and himself.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy murder mysteries or mysteries in general. It is a very thrilling book – I could not put the book down! If you are a Sherlock fan, this is a wonderful book to read with a healthy dose of emotion. If you are not a fan of violence or blood, this may not be the book for you.

This reviewer rates the book 4/5

Natalie’s Review of A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

51elwm-u2nl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Evelyn is the nurse to Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. Together, they hide from society, combat social prejudice, and try to solve a ghostly mystery.

This book is for people who enjoy reading about social issues and the supernatural. However, those who like mystery may be disappointed by the ending.

Natalie rates this book 3/5