Book Review: City of Broken Magic

City of Broken Magic

by Mirah Bolender

Mirah Bolender’s fast-paced, adventure fantasy debut, City of Broken Magic, features a bomb squad that defuses magic weapons.

Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic—and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling.

Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training.

Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last—and only—sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.

Review:

I love the premise of this book, that there is a small group of “sweepers” who fight monster infestations that the city in a realistic fantasy world is loathe to acknowledge.
The main character, Laura, is engaging. We immediately want to root for her and for her to become the sweeper she has always dreamed of becoming.  I love strong female protagonists, and Laura certainly is one.
The world building is great as well, with the setting being something I was immediately drawn into — I wanted to learn more about how this society worked and how the magic had influenced it.
However, I found the book dragged a bit, especially in the middle. Maybe I didn’t find the antagonist strong enough or there wasn’t enough of a big conflict, just lots of little ones.
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Book Review: The Glitch

The Glitch

Shelley Stone might be a little overwhelmed. She runs the company Conch, the manufacturer of a small wearable device that attaches to the user’s ear and whispers helpful advice and prompts. She’s married with two small children, Nova and Blazer, both of whom are learning Mandarin. She employs a cook, a nanny, a driver, and an assistant, she sets an alarm for 2AM conference calls, and occasionally takes a standing nap while waiting in line when she’s really exhausted. Shelley takes Dramamine so she can work in the car; allows herself ten almonds when hungry; swallows Ativan to stave off the panic attacks; and makes notes in her day planner to “practice being happy and relatable.” But when Shelley meets a young woman named Shelley Stone who has the exact same scar on her shoulder, Shelley has to wonder: Is some sort of corporate espionage afoot? Has she discovered a hole in the space-time continuum? Or is she finally buckling under all the pressure?

Introducing one of the most memorable and singular characters in recent fiction,The Glitch is a completely original, brainy, laugh-out-loud story of work, marriage, and motherhood for our times.

Review:

I enjoyed reading this book — it was funny and there were some great lines and observations — but it also felt a bit repetitive and there was something a bit lacking, maybe in the ending.
Shelley Stone is a high powered executive who just doesn’t get social situations and expectations. Work and achievement consume her, to the point where it’s a detriment to her life. I liked it when she met the “younger version” of herself and wish there was more of that.
It is amusing to watch this extreme character make her way through life as a commentary on current social norms. As such, The Glitch is a funny and lighthearted book that’s easy to read.
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Book Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Review:

I bought this for my daughter because I had heard about it. She raced through it, said it was one of her favourite books ever and handed it to me to read.
Wow.
This is such a well told book. It deals with big issues, but does it in a sensitive, intelligent, and even educational way.
Initially, the book was a little hard for me to get into, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are real, diverse, and authentic — and I love how they discussed their various points of view, giving the reader insights into some important issues.
The book revolves around Starr, a teen who has to choose how to use her voice. She has to decide whether or not to tell her story after witnessing her unarmed friend get shot by a police officer. This is a killing that has shaken her whole neighbourhood and there are pros and cons for Starr to tell her story publicly. She has to decide how to act as an African American girl at a predominantly white school. She has to decide who to be in her neighbourhood.  There are so many choices and they come down to how to use your voice and how to tell your story.
This is a powerful book and one that both teens and adults will get something out of.
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Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living–and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Review:
I absolutely love this book, in fact, it is one of my favourite books that I’ve read in awhile. Maybe ever.
Eleanor is a fantastic character and Honeywell has portrayed her perfectly with quirky humour and dry wit. She’s a woman who insists that she is completely fine, despite the fact that she has no friends, eats the same meal every day, and drinks her way through the weekends. She doesn’t understand social cues and the glimpse we get into her mind as she navigates her world is both wonderful and tragic.
Honeywell has also done an amazing job of revealing just parts of Eleanor’s story at a time, leaving us wondering what has happened to her and why she is the way she is.
I highly recommend this book. There are lines where I actually laughed out loud, there were moments where I saw myself and my own social awkwardness, and there were times when I was cheering for Eleanor and her stripped down sensibilities.
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