Time for another round of Yvonne’s Shorties! Since I have a huge pile of backlog reviews of the books I read during my break, I will be featuring an extra book in my shorties posts until I’ve caught up. This time a MG fantasy I enjoyed, a sci-fi thriller that blew my mind and a romance turned mystery that sadly failed to impress me.
Title: Serafina And The Twisted Staff
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: MG, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: July 12th 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: January 20th 2022
“She realized now that her life wasn’t just about who she was, but about who she would become.”
I read the first book of this series years ago (2016), and even though I enjoyed it somehow I never actually picked up the sequel. I was looking for some middle grade titles to read this year when I stumbled across Serafina again, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally continue and finish this series. Serafina And The Twisted Staff takes place a few weeks after the first book ended, and it was easy enough to pick up the thread even though I didn’t remember much about the first book. One of the things that stands out in this story is the historical setting and the creepy, almost gothic vibe the author is able to create without it being too scary for the target audience. I really like his writing style in general, and I was able to fly through this one. I loved the focus on animals in general, and the shapeshifters angle adds a little something extra to the story on top of the magic and fantasy elements. I do have to say that I guessed everything about Rowena very early on in the story, which kind of put a damper on things… But I did love Serafina’s development and everything wrapped up nicely in the end. I definitely won’t be waiting long before I read the next one!
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
There was just something about the blurb of Five Minds that made me want to read it instantly. I’m normally not that big of a sci-fi fan, but the blurb of this sci-fi slash crime thriller slash speculative fiction read turned out to be simply irresistible. And wow, my mind was completely blown away by this story! It’s such a clever, fascinating and mind-boggling idea and I was hooked as soon as I started reading. The dystopian reality where our time on earth is limited depending on how we decided to spend that time and the limited resources is so intriguing and I simply cannot imagine what it would be like to live as one of five minds inside a commune. On top of this, we also have the Death Parks and people dealing with time as currency… It’s such a fascinating backdrop for this story and I was all for it. Five Minds uses a multiple POV structure as we follow the different members of the commune as it’s their time in the ‘spotlight’. There are also flashbacks to the past involved which help you build a better picture of what is going on in the present, and the many descriptions of the Death Park and the games really enhanced the reading experience. There are also plenty of twists, secrets and surprises along the way to keep you on your toes, and I definitely didn’t guess how everything would end. SO clever, mindblowingly good and definitely a new favorite!
“When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re angry, everything looks like a target. There are a lot of angry people in the world. And these days, they’re all online.”
This book was EVERYWHERE when it first came out, and in the end I couldn’t resist getting a copy even though I wasn’t sure if it would be for me. I read one of her books years ago (2014) and it sadly was a total fail, but I didn’t really read romance back than so I had hopes my second experience with her work would be more positive. Now that I’ve read Big Summer, I’m kind of on the fence on how to feel about this story. It has points in its favor including the plus size body rep, the social media angle and the fact that it’s not just another romance. Especially the last was a surprise, as I definitely didn’t expect a full blown mystery/investigation twist… While I did enjoy this shift in focus and genre, I do also think that the plot as a whole suffered from a lack in cohesion as a result. The first part felt so different from the rest of the book, and it’s almost like you are reading two completely different books at the same time… Drue was also such a despicable character, and she kind of put a damper on things while she was in the picture (especially since Daphne’s behavior when she is around becomes so frustrating). Nick’s character turned out to be such a cliche as well, and I definitely could have done without the sexy scenes. All in all not my favorite, but I do get why so many people did enjoy Big Summer a lot better.