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ARC Review – The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

17987501Title: The Forbidden Library

Author: Django Wexler

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy. When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within. It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

Huge thank you to Kathy Dawson Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review: 

Ever since I saw the cover for The Forbidden Library, I knew I had to have it. I love library adventures, and when a book is set in a library or is about uncovering ancient information, or it just has a lot of humor in its approach, I just get giddy on the inside. Django Wexler’s The Forbidden Library is fairly dark at times for a children’s book, but there’s a lot of mystery and intrigue, just as their is courage and crazy.

Alice is a solid protagonist. She’s plucky, quirky, adventurous and lovable. Her narrative is very engaging, and her curiosity often gets the better of her. She’s paired with a fantastic ensemble cast, from Ashes, the talking cat, to sweet, adorable Isaac. The main mystery within the story is that Alice loses her father to a mystery shipwreck and is forced to move in with her Uncle Geryson and his talking cat. To survive a shipwreck is unlikely, but Alice believes that considering the bizarre circumstances of how it happened that he could have potentially survived.

Wexler writes beautiful prose and description. There’s an exquisite amount of detail in how he describes Alice and the world that surrounds her. The prose is really what kept me completely sucked into the story, and I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to uncover each and every one of the mysteries that is within the novel. In a lot of cases, this book is a mystery, wrapped in another mystery, wrapped in an enigma. There’s always more questions than answers, and as answers begin to form, more questions appear. It makes for a fun and engaging read a lot of the time, and Wexler definitely went in some directions I didn’t entirely expect him to go.

Not only is this a fantastic middle grade novel, but it’s one that I think a lot of adults would equally enjoy because the layering of narrative is just so strong. There’s so much adventure and exploration, and sometimes that’s what you need in your life (at least, I know I do!). If you love middle grade or libraries, this is a book worth your attention.

ARC Review – Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

18106481Title:  Nearly Gone

Author:  Elle Cosimano


Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

Huge thank you to Kathy Dawson Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Ughhhhhh, I wanted to love this SO MUCH MORE than I did. I was DYING for this book and so excited when I got an ARC. It sounded so dark and edgy and fast paced and weird and it just… fell so flat. Basically, the romance killed it for me. Nearly Boswell is a brilliant girl living in a trailer park, her mother is a stripper, and her best friend is in love with her (but he has his own mental issues to deal with) and SHE CAN TOUCH PEOPLE AND FEEL THEIR EMOTIONS. This aspect of the story should have been SUPER IMPORTANT right? But it felt like it was just this random thing that sometimes benefited her but like… it was never really IMPORTANT. She has a rule not to touch people and then I thought she’d be out there using this ability to figure out who the murderer was and… it was just such an afterthought the entire novel. So that was a bust.

Then Reece, this bad-boy-new-guy who becomes her newest mentee (after all of her previous mentee’s get KILLED) and she’s all I WILL NOT TUTOR YOU one minute and then the next she’s busting into drug deals to save him and having to ‘pretend to be his girlfriend’ to keep the local drug dealer off their back and in order to do that she has to basically check off a list of annoying tropes that have wormed their way into YA. He dresses her for school? CHECK. He makes her ride his motorcycle? CHECK. He finds random times to touch her even though she ~totally~ doesn’t want to be touched? CHECK. He dressed her AGAIN (this time for a rave) CHECK. He forces himself on her in school? CHECK. Just… ugh. All of her interactions with Reece felt SO CONTRIVED. Nothing felt natural, nothing flowed, and while it wasn’t insta-love she DID end up falling in love with him and I was just like WHY????

The mystery WAS pretty cool though. I will give this book credit for a suspenseful and creative mystery. I didn’t see the killer coming and I didn’t even SUSPECT him/her from the beginning. So that was cool. I just wish that the actually mystery would have been more of a central focus than her relationship with Reece and how he could make her do dumb stuff to force them together.

And I really liked a lot of the characters. Some of them were surprising, and I even think that Lonny was my favorite (which is quite questionable self…)