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Late to the Party ARC Review – Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Title: Ban This Book

Author: Alan Gratz

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library–by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.

Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I enjoyed Ban This Book. It’s the story of a girl whose favourite library book has been removed from her school’s collection on the challenge by one parent. This parent then uses her power of the school to have other popular titles banned so that they cannot be enjoyed by others.
Our heroine, Amy Anne, tries to go to a school board meeting to speak out against this decision, but she afraid and in the end doesn’t. Mad at herself for not fighting back in that instance, she begins to hide popular banned books in her locker for the students at her school to check out. It’s a story about trying to make changes and have other’s make formulate their own opinions before books should be challenged.

Ban This Book has a lot of charm to it as Amy Anne and her friends are very cute, and you gotta love their gusto about preserving and sharing books regardless of content. I will admit that parts of the writing style did annoy me at times (especially any time ‘she wanted to say this, but instead didn’t,’ which is mentioned far too many times). However, despite my gripes, I love how this book was a love letter to banned books, and it was great to see a history of popular banned items shared throughout the story. I also loved that it shows such a level of love and respect to library workers and what kinds of complicated feelings go into collections and ensuring that everyone has equal access to materials.

I believe that Ban This Book has a wonderful and important message about censorship and the freedom to read. It’s a great middle grade novel that will introduce readers to so many books that have been banned or challenged, what the reasoning was and how people come together all in the name of literacy.

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ARC Review – The Dark Talent (Alcatraz, #5) by Brandon Sanderson

26114421Title: The Dark Talent (Alcatraz, #5)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary–known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders–the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was dreading reading this book. Mostly because I didn’t think I’d ever actually get to read this book. This is a story of failure, cowardice and family, and it should be what one comes to expect when reading the Alcatraz series. I got to say, for the last book in the series, Sanderson really threw down his gauntlet and the amount of surprises? Well, they were plentiful.

There’s not a lot I can talk about with this book because it relies so heavily on the events of the previous books. The surprises in this story are many, and characters who didn’t receive growth in prior novels definitely got much more developed this time around. There’s always such a strong focus on family in this series, and this installment really truly reminds you if how fragile Alcatraz is in a lot of ways, and how his relationship with his parents isn’t the most solid of foundations. There was a good amount of twist and turns, though I will say the excessive footnoting started to grate on me at times.

Also the artwork in this novel? It’s pretty fantastic and I look forward to seeing how it looks in a finished copy, as a lot of what was in the ARC were mainly sketches. There’s a lot of movement and personality in the artwork and it really does a great job of highlighting what a fun and cheeky seriesAlcatraz is.

Of all of Sanderson’s series, Alcatraz has always been my favourite, and it’s a series that I think deserves more recognition than it actually receives. It’s fun, crazy, and just a heck of a ride, and this ending does a great job of coming full circle and showing why this series is such a great read. I definitely urge readers that if they haven’t checked out theAlcatraz series to do so, and I hope you’ll find the ending as satisfying as I did.