ARC Mini Reviews: City of Thirst, The Blackthorn Key, etc.

ARC Mini Reviews: City of Thirst, The Blackthorn Key, etc.
City of Thirst
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publication date: October 13th, 2015
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

When the magical waters of the Pirate Stream begin flooding Marrill's world, the only way to stop the destruction is to return to the Stream and find the source of the mysterious Iron Tide. Reunited with her best friend Fin--who has been forgotten all over again--Marrill, her disbelieving babysitter, and the Enterprising Kraken crew must make the treacherous trek to the towering, sliding, impossible world of Monerva and uncover the secrets of its long-lost wish machine. Only there can Fin wish to finally be remembered. Only there can Marrill wish to save her world and all the people she loves. But to get everything they've ever wanted, Marrill and Fin may have to give up on the most important thing they already have: each other.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

When I read The Map to Everywhere last year, I fell in love. I am the kid who loves adventures. I grew up reading about kids who go on adventures and I love being an adult who reads about kids going on adventures. The follow-up to The Map to Everywhere however, was not about an adventure. Did I still enjoy reading it? Yes. Did I wish it were an adventures. Yes. Would I change the book if I could? I honestly don’t know.

I think this instalment is important in the grand scheme of things but at the moment, the only thing that really makes sense to me is that without this instalment, Marill and Fin wouldn’t have been reunited and we wouldn’t have been introduced to Remy, Marill’s babysitter and an awesome secondary character.

You would think that being as awesome as they are, Fin and Marill have nothing left to learn but Ryan and Davis prove us wrong and show that there is always something to learn. No one is perfect and neither are these two awesome main characters.

I may not have been happy with the fact that these characters weren’t still travelling but the world of Monerva, the place this book is set in, is SO well built. It also happens to be utter nonsense but then again, we were warned that continuity wouldn’t be guaranteed.

Fin and Marill pair up again to save the day, or more specifically save the Pirate Stream from the Iron tide and I loved being reunited with everyone.

I had loads of fun with the book and the only thing I’d change about my experience is that I’d read a little more slowly so I could enjoy those little details that I find so charming even more. This series is a whole lot of fun to read and I can only hope things will get even better as we go on.

4 Stars

ARC Mini Reviews: City of Thirst, The Blackthorn Key, etc.
The Blackthorn Key
Genres: Mystery, Historical, Young Adult
Publication date: September 1st, 2015
by Aladdin

Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”

Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.

But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Do you like things that go boom? I like things that go boom. Do you like books that feature alchemists? I like books that feature alchemists. Do you think you’ll like this book? WELL I DID.

I knew this book was one I needed to read after I saw that one of the quotes for the book was from the author of Artemis Fowl. I mean, it really doesn’t get much better than Artemis Fowl if you are looking for a series with great world building and incredible adventures.  And I agree with was Eoin Colfer said, “I LOVE THIS BOOK.”

This book is well written, has fantastic world building and is one of the better middle grade novels I’ve read lately. It’s perfect brain candy. There are so many little details in it that make me want to jump up and down with excitement.

The main character, Christopher is also great. He suffers  so much over the course of the book but he is also a smart kid, and who doesn’t love smart kids? He takes control and finds ways to deal with the situation he is. He panics a little too but in the end, he comes out on top of everything and he is BADASS.

So why didn’t this book get a higher rating from me, you ask? For one, I kind of wish there were more females in this book. I also wish that all the awesome alchemy details came up earlier in the novel so I could have been flailing a lot earlier on.

That said, this book is such a fun read and I hope that this isn’t the end of it. I hope I’ll get to hang out with Christopher again in another grand adventure. In any case, you lucky bastards who haven’t yet experienced this book yet, enjoy getting to read this book for the first time.

3.5 Stars

ARC Mini Reviews: City of Thirst, The Blackthorn Key, etc.
The Girl Who Could Not Dream
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult
Publication date: November 3rd, 2015
by Clarion Books

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

Sophie loves the hidden shop below her parents' bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend—a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster—she must decide whom to trust with her family’s carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

This book is the cutest thing ever and I knew I would love it as soon as I read the title of the book. I mean a book about a Girl Who Could Not Dream? COUNT ME IN. By the time I got around to reading the blurb of the book, I learned that there was a dream shop in the book; a place where one could buy or sell dreams. I practically fell of my chair because I was flailing too hard.

Sophie is such a fun character to read about. She is awkward and lonely and her best friend her loyal pet named monster (who is also a monster.) She is also a smart kid and super nice to the people around her. When her parents go missing, she thinks she is by herself but Ethan, her new found friend, refuses to leave her side (after all, what are friends for.)

The world this book is set in is well developed and so interesting to be in. Who doesn’t want to be in a world that features shops where you can buy dreams, monsters and a cupcakes (yes there are cupcakes in this book.)

I also loved the mystery and the way Ethan and Sophie got to the bottom of things. They are smart kids and know when they are defeated but they always ended up finding ways to defeat the odds (whether it be by befriending a unicorn or summoning an army of ninja rabbits.)

This is definitely a book I would recommend to all lovers of urban fantasy and books that feature dreams. After all, there *are* cupcakes to drool over…

4 Stars

ARC Mini Reviews: City of Thirst, The Blackthorn Key, etc.
Genres: Contemporary
Publication date: September 1st, 2015
by Puffin Books

Format: Paperback


Amazon | Book Depository

In middle school, nothing is more important than friendship.

When Truly is invited to sit at the Popular Table with the group she has dreamed of joining, she can hardly believe her luck. Everyone seems so nice, so kind to one another. But all is not as it seems with her new friends, and soon she's caught in a maelstrom of lies, misunderstandings, accusations and counter-accusations, all happening very publicly in the relentless, hyperconnected social media world from which there is no escape.

Six eighth-graders, four girls and two boys, struggle to understand and process their fractured glimples into one another's lives as they find new ways to disconnect, but also to connect, in Rachel Vail's richest and most searching book.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I love middle grade but I think we can safely say that middle grade novels focusing on middle school drama are not really my thing (although, never say never.) I went into this book kind of expecting a Mean Girls story but that wasn’t exactly what I got. The book is about a girl who dumps her friend for the popular crowd and the popular crowd doesn’t turn out to be bad. Her best friend however…

I could get behind this, I could, but Truly’s (who is the main characters) ex best friend is part of that popular crowd, her ex best friend who dumped her two years ago. Do you see where I am getting with this? It’s a cycle that never endssss (okay, I don’t *really* know that.)

My problem on top of everything else was that the writing didn’t do it for me. The book was definitely geared more towards middle schoolers and I didn’t click with the voices of all the characters. I also felt like the writing was too ‘tell-y’ as opposed to ‘show-y.’ We were constantly being TOLD things rather than shown and I was like… nope.

But does that mean this book was bad? I personally think of it as a case of me not being the right audience for it. I think that for middle schoolers, this is a great book. It is realistic in its portrayal of the complications of growing up. It deals with cyberbullying, it deals with ALL the things that middle schoolers these days will be able to relate to. I am no longer in middle school though (it’s been a LONG time) so I guess this book and I just weren’t meant to be.


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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    I am pretty bad at MG personally. I just… I can’t. I don’t know why, especially since I am not quite the audience intended for YA either (unless we are being VERY lenient with “young” hah), but for some reason, MG and I have never gotten along. That last one… yeah, I would have DNFed too. It might be okay for actual MG-aged kids… I guess? Though I really hate to think that this is what we’ve boiled down to as a society (even though it probably IS quite realistic, I don’t have to be happy about that!) The Girl Who Could Not Dream DOES sound cute… but more like “I will buy this for my kids in 10 years” cute. I am glad that you enjoyed most of these!!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Shuddersome Stories (and Other Halloweenish Things)My Profile

  2. says

    OMG LOOK AT THAT CAT CREATURE ON THE COVER OF THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM! *dies* It’s so cute with its enormous eyeballs! Also? I want a pink bunny for my very own. Sounds like a couple of these were winners, but it’s too bad Unfriended was a bit of a fail for you Rashika. I sometimes have to remind myself when reading books geared toward younger readers (of which I am not ;-) that I’m not the intended audience so I need to go a little easier in my review, but then I was also not the intended age group for Harry Potter and that sucked me right in. Fantastic reviews!
    Jenny @ Supernatural Snark recently posted…Friday Flourish: Rafe Ryder + The Well of WisdomMy Profile

  3. says

    Those covers all looks so cute. I especially like the sound of City of Thirst, I don’t read as many MG books, but I like to pick one up when I am in the mood for a good adventure as MG books often seem to have more focus on the action and adventure and less drama, which can be great if you’re in the mood for that. I love well done world building, so that definitely sounds like a win to me. Great Reviews!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Flipped for Murder by Maddie DayMy Profile