Book review: Heartless, Marissa Meyer

Meyer, Marissa. Heartless. Feiwel and Friends, 2016. $19.99. ISBN 9781250044655. 453 pgs. Ages 12 and up.  P9 Q9

In a world where talking rabbits and ravens are commonplace, Caroline’s baking has touched the king’s sweet tooth, and he has decided he wants her to marry him. But, Caroline wants to open a bakery with her maid – a plan she knows her parents will not agree to. When the king hires a new joker – Jest– Caroline falls instantly in love with him and loves sneaking out to hang out with his motley crew of dormice, caterpillars, and a particularly talented haberdasher named Hatta. Caroline’s and Jest’s love can only happen if they are able to escape the kingdom, but no king, no matter how short, foolish, and insipid, is going to allow himself to be cuckolded.

Verdict: This original backstory of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland is a richly written love story in a fantasy world with relatable characters. The reader sinks into the story, enjoying the rich tapestry of characters, setting, and adventure.

March 2019 review by Sudi Stodola.


Book review: Gifted, by H.A. Swain

Swain, H.A. Gifted. Feiwel and Friends, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9781250028303. 327 pgs. Ages 14 and up. P7 Q7

In a world where genetic modification creates artistic prodigies among the rich and privileged, Orpheus Chanson, son of elite “Plute” Harold Hanson, who holds the copyright for Acquired Savant Abilities (ASA) surgery, has no interest in being modified, so he runs away. Orpheus finds himself outside the city, where the “plebes” scratch out a living working for the delivery factories that supply everything to the cities. Just order online and it arrives at your door. He meets Zimri, a plebe with an amazing voice. With his connections and her talents, they could just change the world!

Verdict:This sci-fi tale is the classic “star-crossed lovers from across the tracks” theme with a dystopian twist. Told in alternating first-person narrative, the stories of each character unfold smoothly. The pacing is good, and the depiction of an all-too-possible future will capture the interest of teen readers.

March 2019 review by Sudi Stodola.

Book review: Greetings from Witness Protection!, by Jake Burt

Burt, Jake. Greetings from Witness Protection! Feiwel and Friends, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781250107114. 359 pages. Ages 10-14. P7 Q7

Trying to outwit the criminals and do something different, the witness protection decides to add a family member to a family they are hiding. Nicki who has spent most of her life in foster families and a group home finds herself with the opportunity to use her street smarts to help a family. The federal agents want the family to appear “normal” and have a plan for them to follow. Along the way, Nicki makes friends, but will she lose them in the end? Does she have the wit to outsmart the criminals? The brother-sister rivalry and family life is believable. Her dad, who she thought was in jail, shows up towards the end of the story and Nicki has to decide to whom she will be loyal. You root for the girl, hoping through the adventure she will find a permanent home.

Verdict: Middle school libraries and public libraries will benefit from this engaging, quick paced chapter book. Tweens and teens will relate to Nicki and what she goes through with her new-found friends.

February 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: How Many Hugs, by Heather Swain, illustrated by Steven Henry

Swain, Heather. How Many Hugs. Illustrated by Steven Henry. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781250066510. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

Have you ever wondered how animals without arms hug, or, if animals with more arms hug better? Featuring sea creatures, this counting picture book shows how many hugs each animal is able to give according to how many arms it has. Children will learn facts about sea creatures without realizing it. For example, “Eight-legged creature, known as arachnids, give 4 excellent embraces.” The book left me feeling loved and thoughtful about the importance of a hug. Even though we only have two arms, our hugs can be one in million. There are Fun Facts included in the back of the book.

Verdict In addition to being a counting book, the focus on sea creatures makes this book a great addition for elementary-school libraries and public libraries.

February 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: You’re All Kinds of Wonderful, by Nancy Tillman

Tillman, Nancy. You’re All Kinds of Wonderful. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781250113764. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

Inside of all of us lies treasures waiting to be discovered. We may think we want to be like others or that others have more interesting talents. Tilman emphasizes that we are born with our own bells and whistles to set us apart. Every page has a child and an animal interacting, exploring what treasures lie inside of you. You can practice and learn what works for you, but do not be discouraged if things don’t fit. This book opens the door to explore what lies inside of each of us. Another heartfelt loving book in the Nancy Tillman collection. It is a journey of finding out who you are and celebrating your strengths.

Verdict: Tillman not only helps us celebrate our differences, but also encourages us to try out different activities to find our passion, the things that makes our bells whistle. Thought provoking and lends to a discussion on what is lying inside your child or a child in your life. Even though this book is for younger children, older children will like it as well. An important book for every library.

February 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Truckeroo School, by David Kirk

Kirk, David. Truckeroo School. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781250016904. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7 Q7

From the creator of bestselling Miss Spider’s Tea Party comes this colorful book about monsters and trucks matching up, learning the rules of the road, and most importantly, learning how to take care of each other. With its big, bright, and colorful illustrations, this action-packed book will entertain young children.

Verdict: Children who like trucks, adventures and monsters will like this book. This book will be a good addition to public libraries and elementary school libraries.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris


Book review: Wires and Nerve: the Lunar Chronicles Series, by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Doug Holgate

Meyer, Marissa. Wires and nerve : the lunar chronicles series. Illus. Doug Holgate. (Wires and nerve series, vol. 1) Feiwel and Friends, 2017. 238 pgs. $21.99. ISBN: 978-1-250-07826-1. Gr. 7+. P8 Q8

When I read this graphic novel, I did not realize that it continues the Lunar Chronicles series. There is a prologue, which sets the story up and introduces all the characters. The story flashes back and forth between the first books and this one. It does it so smoothly that I thought it was one story. The book stands on its own merits and I soon found myself intrigued by the well-developed characters and plot. The monochromatic illustrations, done in blue and white, give life to this futuristic science fiction story of two civilizations, on the Moon and on Earth.

Verdict: This story was a wonder. I found myself so absorbed that I hated for it to end. I think both books are better fitted for older students and feel they should be placed in all high schools, as some of the language and content are more mature.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.