July Art Book ARC Reviews

Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers by Manushree Mishra, Brilliant Inks by Anna Sokolova, and Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds by Beth Hoyes

Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers by Manushree Mishra

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Synopsis:

Explore the basics of color theory and color mixing, and then apply your new skills to create your own beautiful floral watercolor paintings, step by colorful step.

Color theory and color mixing are essential topics for all artists to know, and Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers covers both in an easy-to-follow way with simple, actionable steps that any artist can do. Learn how to:
Mix paint colors
Avoid “dirty” mixes (those that look too brown, for example)
Create your own color wheel
Create neutral colors and pastels
Mix vintage colors
And much more
This book is ideal for all skill levels and ages, and while it focuses on watercolor, the same tips and techniques can be applied to other media as well, including acrylic, oil, and gouache.

Once you’re familiar with color theory and feel comfortable creating your own color mixes, dive into the step-by-step painting projects. Each project is done in the style seen on the author’s popular Instagram account (@thewhimsicalcreative) and features beautiful, romantic florals painted in watercolor. Learn how to paint floral wreaths, bouquets, and different types of leaves and plants.

Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowerscombines the essential topics of color theory and color mixing with watercolor painting projects for a comprehensive book that’s perfect for beginning and aspiring artists.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This has a LOT of great information on color theory and color mixing. Not just your standard primary/secondary/tertiary colors, but how to create a variety of color palettes and mix exactly the colors you want. A lot of the information was new to me and I will definitely refer back to it. I also found the example color palettes and pieces using those palettes very useful and eye-opening.

There are also instructions for creating various leaves and petals with different brushstrokes and angles and several example projects of various arrangements of flowers and leaves in a variety of color palettes discussed earlier in the book. While most of these weren’t particularly of interest to me, there were some that I would definitely like to try.

I am new to watercolor and to be honest it tends to baffle me, but I look forward to experimenting further using these exercises as a guide. I also look forward to using the color theory and color mixing examples in some of my other preferred media.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Walter Foster Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

Brilliant Inks by Anna Sokolova

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Synopsis:

Discover a world filled with vibrant color and creative possibilities as you explore an array of painting, drawing, printing, and lettering techniques and styles using vivid colors of artist’s ink.

In Brilliant Inks, artist, illustrator, and top Skillshare teacher Anna Sokolova shares her own unique methods that get the most out of this versatile medium. With her guidance, create beginner-friendly florals and foliage, animals, still lifes, figures and portraits, and hand lettering.

Learn about the various types of inks and the best tools and surfaces to use with them. Then, try basic techniques such as color mixing, creating visual texture, negative painting, and splattering.

Work with a variety of brushes, dip pens, and droppers to get different looks, and see how adding common household supplies such as salt and bleach can create the most amazing effects.

Use these methods in lessons designed to improve skills and boost confidence. Be inspired to make projects such as a bracelet, paper art dolls, a tote bag, and a decorated book. Full instructions and templates make projects fun and stress free.

This incredible material offers so much that’s waiting to be discovered:
Vivid monotypes made in minutes using a combination of painting and printmaking methods
Custom palettes created with unique blended colors
Watercolor-like translucent washes and opaque silhouettes
Techniques for creating beautiful motifs using simple brushstrokes and patterns.
Begin your colorful journey today with Brilliant Inks and see how far your creativity can go!

Perfect for all skill levels, the books in the Art for Modern Makers series take a fun, practical approach to learning about and working with paints and other art mediums to create beautiful DIY projects and crafts.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book showcased a variety of techniques for working with inks, but especially highlighted ways to simplify a piece while still retaining the essence of the subject. This is a very useful skill, especially when working small and with delicate media. It also stressed the importance of color palettes and ways to combine color most effectively in an ink piece.

I wasn’t terribly interested in recreating most of the projects, but they did inspire me to think of other uses for each technique – many of which I had previously been unfamiliar with – so I definitely feel like it was a useful book for me.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds by Beth Hoyes

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Synopsis:

Learn to create a variety of birds following the newest embroidery trend: thread painting.

Through a collection of 12 detailed, full-color patterns, aspiring and established embroidery artists will discover how to employ the art of thread painting to create a range of popular birds and waterfowl from around the world, including North America, the Amazon rain forest, and Europe.

Thread painting is the name for using single strands of embroidery floss to create lifelike images with beautifully blended gradients of color and detail. Fortunately, the process is not as hard as it sounds! After learning a bit about how to create gradients and blend colors, anyone can create incredible embroidered masterpieces.
 Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds includes:
A primer on embroidery materials, setup, and thread painting techniques
Patterns that indicate where each color should go and when the gradients should begin
For each project, step-by-step instructions and reference images of the finished piece
Perfect for needlepoint artists of all skill levels, there is no better time to learn how to create beautiful birds in embroidery.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The birds showcased in this book are beautiful and very colorful. I greatly enjoyed looking at the photos of each completed thread painting and the progress photos, and I feel like I could get a decent sense of how to recreate them using my prior embroidery experience, though I have no experience in thread painting.

However, I found the diagrams and some of the written instructions hopelessly complicated and found that my eyes glazed over while reading through / about them and I learned very little from them. This could be due at least partly to my learning style, however.

I think this book would be best for those with a decent amount of embroidery experience under their belt and not those who are complete beginners.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Walter Foster Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Synopsis:

Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.

As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?

My Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I don’t often read contemporary romance, and if I do, it’s almost always queer contemporary romance. So in some ways I was expecting this to not be 100% my thing.

In a lot of ways, I absolutely loved this. I’m a sucker for found family, always, and this is a really excellent example of a huge, boisterous, loving, slowly growing found family. It’s one of the best examples I’ve come across recently, in fact, and that part I would absolutely rate 5 stars.

Similarly Maggie herself I would give a high rating as she was an excellent main character. Hands-on, not afraid to get dirty, quick to see the potential in things, slow to trust, but with a huge heart, once you get past her walls.

My beef is with Silas, the love interest, also known as “Hot Landscaper Guy.” He is… confusing. In most ways he is 100% the typical ‘alpha male’ hero who manhandles, bosses ‘his girl’ around, is sure he knows what’s best for her in all situations, etc. I cannot stand alpha males, hence the lowered rating.

The confusing part comes in when he isn’t being your typical alpha male. He could also be thoughtful, sensitive, emotionally well-adjusted, intelligent, and romantic. Then, at the drop of the hat, alpha male Silas was back. It was weird – almost as if the author were trying to create the ‘perfect man’ to please every reader.

Also, the romance is insta-love and ‘fate’ and he knows he’s gonna marry her from the second he meets her (despite just getting out of a five-year relationship) and he spends the rest of the book attempting to convince her of that when she very much does not want to be convinced. It was very ‘I’m right and you’re wrong about your life choices so you should just do what I say.’

And he would just kiss her into agreeing with him basically. Like he would kiss her and her brain just went right out the window. And he gets all pout-y near the end when he thinks she might actually leave as she’d been planning to all along and he goes off and sulks for a month.

The sex scenes were also VERY alpha male and VERY straight and they made me cringe. I rolled my eyes and skimmed past them.

I also wished quite a few times that this were a queer romance. Like, pairing Maggie with a ‘Hot Landscaper Gal’ would have worked SO much better for me. Really, I would have happily taken a male-but-not-an-alpha-male love interest. Or a nonbinary love interest. I did like the queer secondary love story, but it was very much in the background.

I really enjoyed seeing the house slowly come together as the whole town pitched in, and I also really really enjoyed the historical mystery and treasure hunt storyline.

I should note that people who enjoy the alpha male dynamic will probably really enjoy this story.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

“How’d you know I’d be here today?” she asked, shoving her hands in her pockets.

“You just bought yourself a playground. Where else would you be?”

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

His mouth was firm and warm against hers, and this time, instead of stealing her breath, it felt like he was giving it back to her. The tightness in her chest loosened, and something light and bright bloomed inside. Like heartburn. Only nice.

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

“It’s scary as fuck. I get it. But you can’t wait for everyone to be comfortable when it comes to you living your life. You’re the only one who gets to live it. So you might as well do what you want.”

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

“You ever stop and wonder what if life isn’t about earning your way to pleasure? What if it’s enjoying it when it makes itself available to you?”

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

“Just because you work hard and play hard doesn’t mean you’ve had to try hard to get what you wanted. Until now.”

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

Book Review: The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

Publication Date: March 14, 2017

Synopsis:

Sophie loves the hidden shop below her parents’ bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend—a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster—she must decide whom to trust with her family’s carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was such a cute book! I was concerned several times that it would be too scary for my 8-year-old, but the creepy and scary were balanced so well with the cute and funny that he never felt like it was too much. He was engrossed in the story every night at bedtime and when we finished he immediately asked if there was a sequel. He also had several theories and suggestions for what should happen after we finished reading each night.

I also had a lot of fun and was engrossed in the story from the beginning. Definitely one of my favorite bedtime books we’ve read in quite some time.

The magic system was really cool and unique and executed well. The story is self-contained but also leaves room for future adventures and imagining.

I have previously read and enjoyed several of Sarah Beth Durst’s other novels, and we have a few more lined up for future bedtime stories.

I would recommend it to anyone age 8 and up (or 6-7 if they can handle somewhat creepy/scary scenes) who enjoys magical adventures like Harry Potter, Nevermoor, and similar.

Audio ARC Review: Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

**This Review can also be found on my tumblr book review and fandom blog (also called Whimsical Dragonette) here.

Synopsis:

Two teen vigilantes set off on an action-packed investigation to expose corruption and deliver justice in Valiant Ladies, Melissa Grey’s YA historical fiction novel inspired by real seventeenth century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.

By day Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza are proper young seventeeth century ladies. But when night falls, they trade in their silks and lace for swords and muskets, venturing out into the vibrant, bustling, crime-ridden streets of Potosí, in the Spanish Empire’s Viceroyalty of Peru. They pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another.

Then, on the night Kiki’s engagement to the Viceroy’s son is announced, her older brother―heir to her family’s fortune―is murdered. The girls immediately embark on a whirlwind investigation that takes them from the lowliest brothels of Potosí to the highest echelons of the Spanish aristocracy.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I LOVED this book so much. I have had high hopes for it ever since I first heard it announced — seventeenth century teenage Latinx vigilante sword lesbians? sold! — and it vastly exceeded my expectations.

Kiki and Ana were such great characters, and I loved their dynamic and their escapades. It was clear from the first pages that they meant everything to each other and loved each other very much. I loved their bond and the way their relationship and friendship strengthened as the events of the story unfolded. I also really appreciated their love of weaponry. The other characters were also very well-fleshed out and I came to feel strongly about all of them.

The villains were villainous (but not always obvious, which was nice). It was very satisfying to see Kiki and Ana stand up to them, especially when others didn’t always do so — for social or political or monetary reasons.

It was also really refreshing to see sex workers treated as regular people who are just as worthy of being rescued as anyone else? There was never any judgement or negativity toward them, which I loved.

The setting felt very real and… immersive, I guess? Like I totally believed I was there in 17th century Peru while reading.

Most of all, I had the best time while reading this. It was so fun and adventurous and it was like I was there alongside Kiki and Ana as the events of the plot unfolded. They were totally kick-ass and there was never any doubt in their minds about that fact. I will definitely be reading this one again.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books for providing an audio arc for review.

ARC Review: The Big Book of Pride Flags by Jessica Kingsley and Jem Milton

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Synopsis:

Celebrate and learn about the LGBTQIA+ community with this colourful book of Pride flags!

Featuring all the colours of the rainbow, this book teaches children about LGBTQIA+ identities through 17 different Pride flags. With fun facts, simple explanations and a short history of each flag accompanying beautiful illustrations, children will uncover the history of Pride and be introduced to different genders and sexual orientations. There’s also a blank Pride flag design at the back of the book so that children can create their very own Pride flag!
With a Reading Guide that provides a detailed History of the Pride Flag and questions for further discussion, this inspiring book is a must-have for every child’s bookshelf, library or classroom.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was such an affirming and joyful read!

This book contained a lot of information but it didn’t feel like an info-dump or overwhelming. Each flag had a brief but thorough rundown: a bit of history (who designed it, when it was designed, some background) and a matter-of-fact explanation of what each color stripe stands for. I learned a lot and look forward to reading it with my second-grader.

The colors are bright and cheerful and definitely made me want to read more. The art style was cute while still allowing for lots of detail and individuality of the characters. The illustrations are diverse and welcoming, showcasing diversity of race, disability, gender presentation, age, and body size.

Overall this was a warm, welcoming, joyful and engaging read and I absolutely loved it.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: The Awesome Autistic Guide for Trans Teens by Yenn Purkis and Sam Rose

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Synopsis:

Calling all awesome autistic trans teens! Yenn Purkis and Sam Rose want you to live your best authentic life – and this handy book will show you how!

With helpful explanations, tips and activities, plus examples of famous trans and gender divergent people on the autism spectrum, this user-friendly guide will help you to navigate the world as an awesome autistic trans teen.

Covering a huge range of topics including coming out, masking, different gender identities, changing your name, common issues trans and gender divergent people face and ways to help overcome them, building a sense of pride and much, much more, it will empower you to value yourself and thrive exactly as you are.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is a really great starting point for people just learning about autism and gender diversity. It does a good job explaining complex terms in a simple and easy-t0-grasp way. Most people who have done even a little reading about gender diversity will know most of what is covered in this book, but as a starting point I think it works well for adults and teens.

However some of the terms are defined too simply or breezed past which can lead to confusion. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this as the only source of information. As a starting point and supplement to the journey, it works well. I am even thinking of giving it to my mom as a way to help her understand me better (even though I am an adult instead of a teen).

I found the second half of the book less interesting and helpful for me mostly because I am not a teen. If I were a teen just beginning to explore my gender identity then the information about hormones and how to access therapy and how to come out would be very helpful. In fact, if I had had this as a teen it would have been amazing and saved me a lot of stress and confusion during high school and college.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Of Charms, Ghosts, and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Synopsis:

From the author of the critically acclaimed Dominion of the Fallen trilogy comes a sparkling new romantic adventure full of kissing, sarcasm and stabbing.

It was supposed to be a holiday, with nothing more challenging than babysitting, navigating familial politics and arguing about the proper way to brew tea.

But when dragon prince Thuan and his ruthless husband Asmodeus find a corpse in a ruined shrine and a hungry ghost who is the only witness to the crime, their holiday goes from restful to high-pressure. Someone is trying to silence the ghost and everyone involved. Asmodeus wants revenge for the murder; Thuan would like everyone, including Asmodeus, to stay alive.

Chased by bloodthirsty paper charms and struggling to protect their family, Thuan and Asmodeus are going to need all the allies they can—and, as the cracks in their relationship widen, they’ll have to face the scariest challenge of all: how to bring together their two vastly different ideas of their future…

A heartwarming standalone book set in a world of dark intrigue.

A Note on Chronology
Spinning off from the Dominion of the Fallen series, which features political intrigue in Gothic devastated Paris, this book stands alone, but chronologically follows Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders. It’s High Gothic meets C-drama in a Vietnamese inspired world—perfect for fans of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s Heaven Official’s Blessing, KJ Charles, and Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved the previous novella about Thuan and Asmodeus, so when I got the chance to read an early copy of this I jumped at it. This met and exceeded all my expectations. I absolutely ADORED it.

I haven’t gotten a chance to read the initial trilogy about Thuan and Asmodeus, though I immediately bought them after reading the first novella. I must remedy that soon. I can’t wait to explore the beginning of their relationship because everything about their dynamic here is brilliant.

We have Asmodeus, a very stabby fallen angel with a protective streak a mile wide and at least as much sarcasm and hidden knives. Then we have Thuan, a Vietnamese water dragon who loves books and believes in talking before stabbing (in most instances) but has a tendency to be attracted to stabby people.

Whilst visiting Thuan’s family and babysitting a horde of children, they uncover a murder and things get… interesting.

The pacing was excellent (and fast), the writing was gorgeous, the plot kept me guessing, and the emotional struggle between Asmodeus and Thuan was one I might have expected in a longer book. The story and emotional struggle was satisfactorily resolved within the novella but leaves enough that there could be future novellas. And I desperately hope there will be because I am not ready to leave these fascinating characters.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Aliette de Bodard, and JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc. for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

They fell asleep by each other’s side in their common bed, with the silence between them like a drawn sword.

They’d been on the ground for five whole minutes and nothing had attacked them yet, which was a great improvement on previous minutes.

“We are going to strip naked, and I imagine most of your spirits don’t approve of random exhibitionism.”

Thuan contemplated lying to her. It was really, really tempting, but nothing good ever came of lying to children.

Adult fun—in this specific case, figuring out what was wrong with a ghost—was really overrated.

And if there was anything Asmodeus was good at besides stabbing, it was stepping up when no one did, or when he thought no one did.

Words came welling out of Thuan like blood from a wound.

Thuan’s grandmother was a force of nature, an utterly scary old woman and a big proponent of killing everyone who stood in her way. She and Asmodeus had hit it off almost immediately.

Anything written was like catnip to Thuan, but at the moment even the thought of curling up with very large piles of written materials didn’t spark much joy.

Asmodeus put on his gloves slowly and deliberately, a gesture that looked much like a preliminary to drawing multiple knives.

“You mean Thuan has a type?”

“Thuan absolutely has a type,” Diem Chau said.

“I’m right here,” Thuan said. Being teased simultaneously by his husband and his ex had definitely not been on the to-do list for today.

Thuan was impressed by her capacity to get tea made in any circumstances.

ARC DNF Review: The City Inside by Samit Basu

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Synopsis:

“They’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey is a Reality Controller in near-future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family, now living in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But as Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control—complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

DNF at 50%

This was the weirdest reading experience. While I was reading I felt almost compelled to keep reading. But the moment I stopped I didn’t want to pick it up again AND I had no idea what I’d just read. It’s like it magically turned to gibberish the moment I stopped to think? It was bizarre.

I couldn’t decide whether I liked any of the characters or not. They were all just sort of drifting along in this dystopian future existence that was both chillingly plausible and totally out-there. It reminded me of the experience of reading 1984, actually.

In the end I decided that I’d dedicated enough time to it and since at 50% I still had absolutely no idea where the story was going – or even if there was a story – it was time to put it down.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

That a day wouldn’t come, soon after, when Joey wasn’t allowed to leave her house and her parents didn’t know whether to blame the pogrom or the pandemic, because they’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.

So she looks away, as usual, a skill everyone she knows has learnt since childhood, because not looking away means seeing terrible things.

The world is better now, definitely. At least the bits of it she is allowed to see.

He tries to convince himself he’s home, genetically speaking. If home is where the people you love most are, his real home is currently a server in New Zealand.

…being all self-reliant and independent but so inherently obedient that even his rebellion is budget-friendly.

ARC Review: ABC Pride by Louie Stowell and Elly Barnes

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

Synopsis:

A is for Acceptance! B is for Belonging! C is for Celebrate!

ABC Pride introduces little readers to the alphabet through the colourful world of Pride. Children can discover letters and words while also learning more about the LGBTQIA+ community and how to be inclusive.

Every letter of the alphabet is paired with fun, bold illustrations to support language learning, and a handy list of discussion points at the end gives adults the tools to spark further conversations and discussion.

ABC Pride offers a simple yet powerful way to explain gender, identity, ability to children, while supporting diverse family units. Ideal for children to explore together with a caregiver, or in the classroom.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this book and can’t wait to read it with my second grader. Yes, he’s maybe a tad older than the target audience but I think he’ll still get a lot out of it and the amount of text is perfect for him to practice reading aloud.

The illustrations are cute and draw you in, and they’re very diverse and inclusive! I was impressed with the way the illustrations feature a lot of racial diversity and a wide range of disabilities along with the LGBT+ diversity. Kudos to the illustrator because I don’t think I’ve seen a more inclusive, diverse children’s book.

I love the words that were chosen and the simple, easy-to-understand way they were each explained. For something that seems simple on the surface, there’s a lot of thought that went into this book. I can already tell it will spark some reflection and thought in my kiddo.

*Thanks to NetGalley and DK Children for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Synopsis:

This exciting middle-grade adventure is Hoot for the Gilded Age—with scientific discoveries, secret plots, and surprisingly enormous fauna.              
When his asthma lands him at a health resort in the wilds of Gilded Age South Florida, twelve-year-old Algie Emsworth is over the moon. The scientific treasure trove of unexplored swamps may launch his dream career as a naturalist. But even Algie is startled when he happens upon a brand-new species and her brood in the karst springs surrounding the resort. Algie quickly realizes he must keep his discovery a secret: a famous collector of exotic animals is also staying at the hotel, and the new species is threatened by his very presence. An apparent curse has also descended upon the hotel, bringing with it a deadly red tide. But when the pool starts filling with ink and guests start getting mysterious, sucker-shaped wounds, Algie must pluck up his courage to find the truth about the goings-on at the Grand Hotel—and save the new species from destruction.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was super cute. It was a wild rollicking adventure that didn’t slow down for a minute once it got going and I read it in one sitting. I was first attracted to the cover, which is gorgeous, and I’m happy to say that the story inside lived up to the cover.

Algie is an endearing protagonist who learns a lot about what you can expect from people, how they always surprise you, and how much he is capable of despite his asthma. together with his friends, he makes scientific discoveries, saves the day, and has quite the adventure whilst doing so.

The events in this novel were… completely, utterly, ridiculously unbelievable. Once you accept that, however, it’s a marvellously fun ride. There are even some science facts sprinkled in to add flavor.

I would definitely recommend this for any 3rd grader (and up) who enjoys adventure and doesn’t mind a little bit of suspense.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Union Square Kids for providing an e-arc for review.

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