Bite-Sized Reviews of The Last Fallen Star, Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm, Long Distance, and Heart of Iron

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Today, I have a MG fantasy, a MG sci fi graphic novel, an audiobook of a MG fantasy graphic novel, and a YA sci fi novel! I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim
Series: Gifted Clans #1
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on 5/4/21
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Retellings
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Vivienne To
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence)
My rating:

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.

Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.

Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!

Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?

As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.

 

This is one of my favorite Rick Riordan Presents books, which is saying a lot because I absolutely love this imprint! The book explores Korean folklore and features an adopted main character who struggles to reconcile her love for her family with the nagging feeling that she doesn’t quite belong. Riley’s desire to prove she’s worthy of her family’s legacy leads to a devastating revelation and sends her searching for a solution. In order to find it, Riley has to put together pieces of her past and come to terms with everything that makes her who she is—both her adoptive family and her heritage. Plus, she has to learn to rely on friends, both new and old. This is one of those books where the lines between the heroes and villains are thin (and possibly shifting?). It’s full of adventure and surprises, and the ending left me eager for book two. I can’t wait!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana Simpson
Illustrator: Dana Simpson
Series: Phoebe and Her Unicorn #6
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on 6/15/21
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
Pages: 162
Narrator: Thessaly Lerner, Cortney Wright, Maxwell Glick
Length: 44 minutes
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence)
My rating:

The first Phoebe and Her Unicorn audiobook!

Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be, and that the storm may have a magical cause. To solve the case, they team up with Max, who is desperate for the electricity to return so he can play video games, and frenemy Dakota, who is aided by her goblin minions.

Together, they must get to the bottom of the mystery and save the town from the magic storm.

 

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm has a fairy-tale feel with a humorous and modern twist. Phoebe and her friends (and frenemies) decide to investigate when a freak storm comes rolling in. They learn of a tale from goblin lore that might hold some clues, and they set out to solve the mystery! This is the first graphic novel in audiobook form I’ve listened to, and it was an interesting experience. Since this is a full-cast recording, complete with sound effects, it sounds a lot like an episode of a cartoon. The voices are super fun (and cartoony), and the story is entertaining, but I did have a little trouble following what was happening in the beginning. Once I got used to the style, though, the story really started to flow. It’s interesting to hear how certain visual elements of the graphic novel are portrayed through dialogue. I think kids might really enjoy having the graphic novel in-hand while listening. My favorite aspect of the book is the ending and the way the mystery plays out—there are so many little funny moments that had me laughing!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner
Illustrator: Whitney Gardner
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on 6/29/21
Genres: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: The Publisher
My rating:

From the creator of Fake Blood comes another exceptionally charming middle grade graphic novel about friendships both near and far, far away.

Vega’s summer vacation is not going well.

When her parents decide it’s time to pack up and leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, behind for boring Seattle, Washington, Vega is more than upset—she’s downright miserable. Forced to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind, Vega is convinced she’ll never make another friend again.

To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what’s going on!

 

When Vega moves, she finds that holding onto long-distance friendships can be tricky and making new friends even more so. So, her parents send her off to a camp that’s specifically designed to help kids make friends. Once Vega gets there, though, she finds that the camp is just a little … off. She can’t figure out exactly what’s wrong, but things just aren’t adding up there. Since Vega is an astronomy buff, the graphic novel has some interesting facts woven throughout. The art style is vibrant and colorful, and the element of mystery keeps you guessing. I love the surprise outcome to the mystery and the way it ties in to earlier elements of the book. I’m planning to pass this graphic novel along to my son, because I know he’ll love it!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Series: Heart of Iron #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on 2/27/18
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Young Adult
Pages: 467
Source: Edelweiss
Cover Artist: John Dismukes
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing; Some violence)
My rating:

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

 

This diverse sci-fi reimagining of Anastasia is a high-octane space adventure! Ana wants nothing more than to find the tech necessary to save her best friend (and true love?) D09, an android who has been her constant companion since she was found abandoned on an escape pod as a child. An Ironblood named Robb holds the key to finding the tech, but he also complicates matters because he puts their expedition in the cross-hairs of the rest of the Ironbloods, the royalty of their universe. D09 is my favorite character in this book—his struggle to reconcile his thoughts and feelings with what he believes he should be is compelling, especially once a major change (which I won’t spoil) brings him even further into foreign territory. I also enjoyed the romance between Robb and Jax. I wish there had been a little more time for their feelings to develop, but I still found myself rooting for them as a couple, even when a myriad of complications threatened to pull them apart. I’m eager to read the second book in this duology to find out what happens next!

***Disclosure: I received these books from the publisher via Edelweiss for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think? I wanna know!

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