BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Benefits of Invisibility by C.W. Allen

60716812._SY475_Title: The Secret Benefits of Invisibility

Author: C.W. Allen

Audiobook Length: 5 hours and 49 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Children’s  Middle Grade

Read Start Date: September 10, 2022

Read Finish Date: September 11, 2022

Number in Book Series: 2

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: For Zed and Tuesday, adjusting to life in modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim means normal is relative. Lots of kids deal with moving, starting new schools, and doing chores. But normally, those schools aren’t in underground bunkers full of secret agents, and the chore list doesn’t involve herding dodos. The one thing that hasn’t changed: all the adults treat them like they’re invisible.

When a security breach interrupts a school field trip, the siblings find themselves locked out of the Resistance base. With the adults trapped inside, it’s up to Tuesday, Zed, and their friends to save the day. And for once, being ignored and underestimated is coming in handy. After all, who would suspect a bunch of kids are capable of taking down the intruders that captured their families, let alone the murderous dictator that put them into hiding in the first place?

Turns out invisibility might just have its benefits.

My ReviewI received this audiobook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. As with the first book in this series, The Secret Benefits of Being Invisible is absolutely delightful! How often as adults to we ignore children simply because they are children? I think we often forget how even young children are capable of so much! Tuesday and Zed are no exception — they manage to save the day in spite of “only” being children, and because of their “invisibility” in the eyes of adults, they are able to take down the bad guys.

This book was much more focused on the politics of Falinnheim, rather than action, so it was a little slower for me than the first book — but then again, I am an adult and not the intended audience of this book. The message of this book is wonderful — even children can be heroes. 

I think that this is a great book for young children (and it’s fun for adults as well) and I would highly recommend it. 

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Other Books in this Series

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Tuesday and Zed Furst are perfectly normal children with perfectly strange parents. Their father won’t discuss his job, their mother never leaves the house without her guard dog, and the topic of the family tree is off limits.

When a last minute “business trip” gets the adults out of the way, Zed and Tuesday decide to get to the bottom of things once and for all. Too bad some thugs with shape-shifting weapons have other ideas. Their escape leaves them trapped in the modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim, where everyone insists their father is a disgraced fugitive. They hope whoever is leaving them coded clues may have some answers, but they’re not sure they’re going to like what they learn.

If they ever want to see their parents again, they’ll need the help of a smuggler with a broken compass, their unusually talented dog, some extremely organized bandits, and a selection of suspiciously misquoted nursery rhymes.

Zed and Tuesday may not have all the answers, but one thing is certain: when it comes to normal, everything is relative.

See my review of Relatively Normal Secrets here.

BOOK REVIEW: Relatively Normal Secrets by C.W. Allen

60191693._SY475_Title: Relatively Normal Secrets

Author: C.W. Allen

Audiobook Length: 5 hours and 11 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Children’s  Middle Grade

Read Start Date: August 17, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 19, 2022

Number in Book Series: 1

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Tuesday and Zed Furst are perfectly normal children with perfectly strange parents. Their father won’t discuss his job, their mother never leaves the house without her guard dog, and the topic of the family tree is off limits.

When a last minute “business trip” gets the adults out of the way, Zed and Tuesday decide to get to the bottom of things once and for all. Too bad some thugs with shape-shifting weapons have other ideas. Their escape leaves them trapped in the modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim, where everyone insists their father is a disgraced fugitive. They hope whoever is leaving them coded clues may have some answers, but they’re not sure they’re going to like what they learn.

If they ever want to see their parents again, they’ll need the help of a smuggler with a broken compass, their unusually talented dog, some extremely organized bandits, and a selection of suspiciously misquoted nursery rhymes.

Zed and Tuesday may not have all the answers, but one thing is certain: when it comes to normal, everything is relative.

My ReviewI received this audiobook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is absolutely delightful! It is fun, cute, and creative and reminds me a lot of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (without all the Christian undertones). I could imagine when my baby is old enough (she is only 1 year now) listening to this book in the car on a trip. I think that she would find it very interesting and engaging — there is a lot of action, riddles (that are easy for adults but maybe for challenging for young children), and a happy ending.

The book ends on sort of a cliff hanger, so I wonder if there will be a second book. I’ll be watching and waiting with fingers crossed!

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

17667561Title: The Shadow Throne

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 53 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The Shadow Throne is the last book in the Ascendance Trilogy following The Runaway King (see my review here) and The False Prince (see my review here). The book starts off about three weeks after the ending of The Runaway King, and war has come to Carthya. Imogen is captured by the King of Avenia, and Jaron sets out to save her. Tobias and the Princess are sent to the Princess’s country to get aid, and Roden is sent away to the border to stop an invasion. While Jaron is on his quest to save his love, war is erupting all around him.

My Review: SPOILER ALERT. I liked this book a lot less than the other two books. Although it was entertaining, and was a fast paced story, Jaron’s “wit” was getting super annoying. I mean, how cool is it when everything coming out of someone’s mouth is a quip or a one-liner? Talk about eye roll inducing. This book could have been full of action, but instead of following the battle scenes, most of the book followed the story of Jaron who was captured several times, tortured / beat up several times. It just got a little tedious. And to be honest, I didn’t really understand the whole point of having this war — except for maybe to get three books out of the storyline. I do not see how Jaron even won at the end, since everyone surrounding him was against him. It was a bit unrealistic. But of course, everything had to end so neatly with a happily ever after.

I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in the ending, but maybe Game of Thrones has made me expect too much from these medieval kingdom type books.

The Audiobook Recording: SPOILER ALERT. At the end of the recording, there is a special scene involving Bevin Connor and the King of Avenia. Connor is betraying Jaron in exchange for becoming King of Carthya after Jaron is dead. During this scene, Connor began to regret his traitorous ways and vows to help Jaron win the war. This seemed unlikely that after everything Connor had done he would for some unknown reason turn coat (again) and be loyal to Jaron…but okay. I guess it was needed to help the plot. Jaron of course had to win the war in the end (aforementioned happy ending) and there really were insurmountable odds without Connor’s help.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

15703770Title: The Runaway King

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 27 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The Runaway King is the sequel to the False Prince (see my review of the False Prince here). First, I guess I should explain that Sage the orphan from the first book was really Prince Jaron in disguise. At the end of the book, he reveals his true identity, and takes his rightful place on the throne. At the beginning of The Runaway King, King Jaron has been king for 1 month, and everything is already in shambles. The Princess who was betrothed to his older brother Darius, is now betrothed to Jaron. The only problem is that the two of them dislike each other, and she is courting favor and winning allies among Jaron’s regents (behind his back).

At the funeral of Jaron’s family, Roden (one of the other orphans from the first book) tries to assassinate Jaron. It is discovered that the pirates (who everyone thought killed Jaron in the first book) are trying to kill him again — and it is possible that they are being paid to do so by another country, which has neighboring lands to Carthya. This neighboring country is on the brink of declaring war against Carthya. Jaron, not knowing who to trust (and because the regents decide to put a Steward in place until Jaron comes of age), leaves the castle and becomes “The Runaway King.” His plan in to infiltrate the pirates and to stop the coming war, or to at least be better prepared.

My Review: I liked this book. It was entertaining and was a fast paced story. However, it didn’t have the same “I need to get to the ending as fast as possible to find out what’s happening” pull as the first book did. The reader knows that Jaron is hiding as “Sage”, and knows what Jaron intends to do. The book is about the unfolding of these plans. Since there is a third book, I could only assume that Jaron would pull off whatever scheme he cooked up — and I had no illusions that it would be like Game of Thrones where the author killed off my most favorite characters because it would happen like that in real life. This is a YA book after all.

One of the things that I don’t like about YA in general, is the age of the main characters. Jaron is supposed to be 14 years old, but acts like he’s 34. Maybe I am just showing my age a bit, but I don’t remember being so capable when I was 14. Another thing that struck me as weird, is the Imogen / Jaron relationship. They are friends, but also more? This did not seem well fleshed out, but rather only mentioned in a few lines of dialogue toward the end of the book. It left me confused as to whether they did have romantic feelings for each other, or was it really only a friendship? Maybe this will be explained in the 3rd book.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing special to report.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

12432220Title: The False Prince

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 15 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The King, Queen, and Crown Prince are dead, and the (now) heir to the throne, the youngest son of the King, is presumed dead (although no body has ever been found). Carthya is on the brink of civil war when nobleman Connor takes orphan boys Sage, Roden, and Tobias to his estate to train them for the biggest con job in history. Each of these boys will compete to impersonate Jaron, the lost prince. The boy who wins the competition will become King, but for those boys who lose, only death awaits.

My Review/Expectations: Honestly, I was very surprised to like this book as much as I did. I had originally read it back in 2012, and am reading it again so that I can read the 2nd and 3rd books in the series (which are part of the top 10 oldest books on my Want to Read Shelf). The story of this book is fun and entertaining, and I found myself eager to continue listening to it. Sage is of course the front-runner (and the main character), so it was obvious from the beginning that he was going to be chosen by Connor to be the False Prince, but this didn’t lessen the quality of the overall story. The writing is good, but easy, so I was able to breeze through in a few days at 1.6x times the normal speed (Audiobook).

There was a plot twist at the end, but I saw it coming a mile away. This could have been because I had read the book before (even though I didn’t remember anything about the story), or maybe there were just numerous hints throughout the book…but I would say that this added to the story rather than detracted. I kept waiting for the big reveal!

I would definitely recommend this book.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing special to report.