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A Game of Life

A Game of Life by [Musewald, Anna]

After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.

Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.

The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.

I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.

One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.

This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.

Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP

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The Felony Lane Gang

A wave of crime grasped center stage at the beginning of the volcanic summer. The often abused by police, misused by society, shunned, and stereotyped patrons of the “hood” decided that their reparations would no longer be paid by the normal “Smash and grab”. Gun laws had changed. Stiffer penalties and mandatory time was a constant reminder whenever, The Felony Lane Gang clocked in. Blue collar crime was now at an all time low. White collar crime was their new way of life. Three siblings stormed into a world of destruction when the youngest known as Crackaboi decided to part ways with his modest upbringing. For the love of her baby brother Glory unknowingly stepped into a web of drugs and exotic entertainment. Tjohnnie, the oldest and the coldest felt a need to protect his siblings. After losing their parents to unfortunate circumstances, TJohnnie secretly led two lives. A college football player by day. A counterfeiter and money launderer for the Infamous Seminole Indian Tribe by night. Tired of the gruesome torture for hire jobs, Crackaboi teams up with a longtime friend and brutal killer Lil Turk. Together they mastermind the greatest heist in United States history. Surpassing Al Capone and Jon Gotti, the ruthless duo targeted every financial institution that was federally insured. Their lavish lifestyle enticed other potential members. Dodging the Feds, ducking the local authorities and slaughtering anyone who wandered down their path, they notoriously became known as, ” The Felony Lane Gang”. With crooked cops on their trail, the street rogues decide to take on one last heist. Crackaboi and Lil Turk burglarize a  century  old abandoned warehouse, in search of a quarter of million dollars supposedly stashed inside an old safe. They embark on a journey that leads to their beloved Glory, on life support fighting to stay alive. A bloody street-war against the Mexican Cartel Assassins and a trail of bodies that lead down a sea of destruction. With ties to the Illuminati and a billionaire oil tycoon, the double steel door safe tightly held secrets that would send chills through a psychopath’s spine.

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Henry and the Hidden Treasure

Henry and the Hidden Treasure

B.C.R. Fegan’s Henry and the Hidden Treasure is the story of one little boy’s quest to keep his “treasure” a secret from one person in particular. Henry’s tale of overwhelming desire to keep his treasure box from his sister’s clutches leads the reader on a journey into a child’s imagination and its endless possibilities. The threat posed by his baby sister is the driving force behind a long string of scenarios designed to trick, intimidate, and trap his sister as he shields his beloved treasure from her greedy hands. Henry, for all his planning, learns a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions in the process.

Henry and the Hidden Treasure is a delight in both text and illustrations. As a third grader teacher and parent and one who has read more than my share of picture books to Kindergarten through 5th grade students, I can say Fegan has written a real gem. Children of all ages love a surprise ending, and the author has more than provided such a conclusion with a fantastic build-up and an added bonus on the last page. Teachers appreciate the opportunity to have students predict endings, and Fegan and Wen’s last page of text allows us to do just that with the simple yet powerful lone illustration of Lucy stealthily peeking at Henry.

The author/illustrator team of Fegan and Wen has created a story for both families and classrooms. The older brother versus baby sister dynamic is addressed via detailed, colorful illustrations which demonstrate the intensity of a child’s imagination. Each subsequent illustration adds a sense of drama children find appealing. My personal favorite of all the illustrations, as a mother, is the one depicting the reality of Henry’s room.

Teachers looking to create text sets for their students will find Henry and the Hidden Treasure a delightful addition to sets alongside books like Charlie McButton Lost Power where sibling rivalry is the theme. With the open-ended conclusion given by Fegan and Wen, I certainly hope there is a sequel to the saga of Henry and Lucy.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0719JXRRT

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