Tag Archives: middle grade

[Review] The Assassin’s Curse — Kevin Sands

Book Title: The Assassin's Curse (Blackthorn Key #03)
Author:     Kevin Sands
Number of pages:  384

Synopsis:

Wherever Christopher Rowe goes, adventure—and murder—follows. Even a chance to meet King Charles ends in a brush with an assassin.

All that’s recovered from the killer is a coded message with an ominous sign-off: more attempts are coming. So when Christopher’s code-breaking discovers the attack’s true target, he and his friends are ordered to Paris to investigate a centuries-old curse on the French throne. And when they learn an ancient treasure is promised to any assassin who succeeds, they realize the entire royal family is at stake—as well as their own lives.

(re: Goodreads @ The Assassin’s Curse by Kevin Sands)


Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

– MG ‘The Da Vinci Code’ set in Paris in the 1600s
– Mystery and puzzles are based on wordplay and the nuances in language
– World building might take the assumption that readers know what each landmark looks like; might be a concern re: imagery
– Expands the lore of Benedict Blackthorn’s legacy
– Although 500+ pages (in the ARC), the dialogue reads very quickly and the story is well-paced

Initial Thoughts

Kevin Sand’s The Blackthorn Key series is a middle grade book that should be on everyone’s radar. Full stop.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of The Assassin’s Curse from Simon & Schuster Canada.


Continue reading [Review] The Assassin’s Curse — Kevin Sands

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[Review] The Gauntlet – Karuna Riazi

Book Title: The Gauntlet
Author:     Karuna Riazi
Number of pages:  298

Synopsis:

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.?

(re: Goodreads @ The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi)


Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

– Middle Eastern Jumanji; board game with puzzles although present in third person re: readers may find difficulty in participating in the game too
– The culture and heritage of the characters just are and are not trivialized
– Challenges lack urgency and reads as though failure is rarely a possibility; some plot holes left unresolved
– Protagonist/heroine is one to look up to; a role model of wit and resourcefulness
– Lots of inclusion of food

Initial Thoughts

I had so much excitement for this book yo.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of The Gauntlet from Simon and Schuster Canada.


Continue reading [Review] The Gauntlet – Karuna Riazi

[Review] Mark of the Plague — Kevin Sands

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Book Title: Mark of the Plague (The Blackthorn Key #02)
Author:     Kevin Sands
Number of pages:  544

Synopsis:

mark of the plague - kevin sands - book coverThe Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…

(re: Goodreads @ Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands)


Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

– Can be read standalone (not recommended for context however)
– Layered mystery with less reliance on puzzles (though there are some) and a greater emphasis on antagonists to push the conflict
– Addition of a female secondary character; no romance
– First POV narrative can sometimes read as though protagonist is withholding information from the reader
– Pigeon feels.

Initial Thoughts

My body was not ready for pigeon feels.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Mark of the Plague from Simon and Schuster Canada.


Continue reading [Review] Mark of the Plague — Kevin Sands