Caramel reviews Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego

Caramel is a young bunny who likes to read books, big and small. In this blog he has been reviewing picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, and even a couple middle grade books, blogging about whatever comes his way and strikes his fancy. This week he reviews a cute little book by Alicia Ortego published in 2020 titled Breathing is My Superpower. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Caramel reviews Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.
Caramel reviews Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.

Sprinkles: Caramel, tell us a bit about this book, please.

Caramel: This is about a girl named Sophia. She gets angry and anxious a lot. And so her mom teaches her a technique to calm herself down.

S: What is this technique?

C: Breathing. Like in the title of the book.

S: I see. So Sophia can use breathing as a superpower, because it helps her calm down and not get too angry or anxious.

C: Yes.

S: This kind of reminds me of a book you reviewed a while back, Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman.

C: Yep. I remember that book. It was about a dragon named Diggory Doo who was the pet dragon of a boy named Drew. And Drew was telling us how to help Diggory Doo calm down when he would be about to have a temper tantrum. So, yes, this book is kind of like that one.

S: Yes, you are right. But Breathing is My Superpower focuses exclusively on one technique.

C: Yes! And that is breathing.

S: You know, I tried it the other day, to do exactly as Sophia tells us, to use your hand and breathe five times, once per finger, and it worked really well to slow down my mind and take a break.

C: I tried it too, but I did not have the patience. I stopped at two.

S: Well, you were probably just breathing and counting, and you were not stressed, anxious, or angry, were you?

C: Yes that is true.

S: I think the breathing is a tool for times when you are feeling some of those strong feelings. It does work at those times. At least it did for me.

C: I guess I should try and remember that the next time I get annoyed at things.

S: Yes, I think it takes some practice to remember this kind of thing when you have strong emotions, but it is worth trying.

C: Okay, I will give it a try if you say so.

Caramel is reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.
Caramel is reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.

S: This book also reminded me a bit of Somewhere, Right Now by Kerry Docherty, which is a newer book that you reviewed this year. That, too, was about being calm in the midst of all the things going on around us.

C: True. Both books are also rhyming. Or at least this one is. I am not sure anymore if that other book rhymed.

S: Yes, the book has a simple rhyme which can make it more fun to read out loud.

C: Maybe we can read it together after the review? And apparently there are three more books in the series. They all have some new superpower in the title. There is Kindness, Acceptance, and Gratitude.

S: Hmm, I am guessing they too are about how kids can learn to manage big emotions. And the gratitude one sounds like it could help people play Pollyanna’s glad game

C: I did not read Pollyanna, but you mentioned her before.

S: Yes, Pollyanna is a fictional character, a little girl who makes up this game where she tries to find something to be happy about even when bad things happen.

C: That sounds hard.

S: I agree. So maybe breathing is not that hard in comparison.

C: Yes, I agree with that. But apparently I might need some practice with the breathing to remember to do it when I need it.

S: Agreed. So let us wrap this up with your three words for the book.

C: Colorful, rhyming, and smiling, because all the people in all the pictures are smiling.

S: Yes, I like those words. The book has a simple idea but it is an important one. So I am glad we read it. And maybe we can just read it together one more time after the review, like you said. What do you want to tell our readers at this moment?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego, and he recommends it to young bunnies and their adults to read together and discuss relaxation methods, practicing them along the way.
Caramel enjoyed reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego, and he recommends it to young bunnies and their adults to read together and discuss relaxation methods, practicing them along the way.

Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Marshmallow has already reviewed the first two books of the Inheritance Games trilogy of Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Today she reviews The Final Gambit, the third and final book of the series that was just published at the end of this August.

You might like to check out Marshmallow’s reviews of The Inheritance Games (2020), the first book, and The Hawthorne Legacy (2021), the second book, before you move on with this review.

Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mystery, family secrets and / or romance, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Around a year ago, Avery Kylie Grambs was left billions of dollars in the will of a very wealthy man named Tobias Hawthorne. Tobias Hawthorne was very fond of riddles, puzzles, games, and pretty much everything that requires investigation and deep thought. Even after he died, this did not change. Post-mortem, Tobias has been vexing Avery and her friends in a series of mysteries and puzzles he left Avery and his family.

Mr. Hawthorne had two daughters and four grandsons (all from his youngest daughter who planned to have the inheritance go to her children). In previous books, it was discovered that Tobias wished Avery and his grandsons to find and bring his supposedly dead son (Toby) back to the Hawthorne family. However, this was complicated significantly by the fact that Avery still did not know why she was chosen to inherit this fortune. Additionally, an invisible enemy seemed to be attacking her from everywhere and also has captured Toby.

In The Hawthorne Legacy, the second book of this trilogy, Avery believed that Toby was her father. However, in the end of that book, we learned that she is not. We also learned that he nonetheless did have a daughter named Eve. In The Final Gambit, we meet Eve. And Avery meeting Eve causes the start of a brand new puzzle set up by Tobias Hawthorne. This time, the stakes are higher. This will be the final countdown and we will finally see whether or not Avery can finalize the transaction of inheritance.

Marshmallow is reading The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: The Final Gambit is a fascinating read! And I was very glad that I finally learned why Avery was chosen. (No spoilers!) The book is well written and the mystery is resolved satisfactorily, but you do have to wait till the end.

Overall, the three books make a great trilogy. I do think you would need the first two books to make any sense of this third one. But the books are quite easy to read quickly, because all chapters are very short and the twists and turns the mystery takes make you want to keep reading on.

On a different note, this is definitely written for young adults. There is a lot of romance, and this third book gets a lot more mature in terms of a lot of kissing / making out, and the occurrence of some sexual acts may or may not have been hinted at. I would recommend this book for bunnies 14 and up, and if a bunny is younger than that, then that said bunny’s parents might want to read the book first and decide if it is for them.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.

Caramel reviews Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland

Caramel loves all things dragon, and has read and reviewed all fifteen books in Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. (His review of the fifteenth book, The Flames of Hope, contains links to all his reviews of the previous books.) Last week, he reviewed Darkstalker, the first of Sutherland’s “Wings of Fire: Legends” series that recounts some of the backstories and the legends of the world of dragons, in a way explaining and interpreting the events of the original series. Today he talks with Sprinkles about Dragonslayer, the second book in the Legends series, which was published, in 2020, in between books thirteen, The Poison Jungle (2019), and fourteen, The Dangerous Gift (2021).

Caramel reviews Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.
Caramel reviews Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.

Sprinkles: Caramel, last week you reviewed Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland, tbe first book of the “Wings of Fire: Legends” series, and here we are today, with the second book. What do you want to tell us about it?

Caramel: It is as good as Darkstalker, but it is very different from all the other Wings of Fire books because its main characters are humans this time, and not dragons.

S: That is interesting! The dragons call humans “scavengers”, right?

C: Yup.

S: Why is that?

C: I don’t know. They never really explain.

S: Maybe it is a way to show us how the dragons see humans, as weak creatures skulking about, and trying to steal treasure or food when they can.

C: Maybe.

S: Okay, sorry for the distraction. Tell me more about Dragonslayer.

C: Okay. There are three main characters in this book, just like in Darkstalker. They are called Ivy, Leaf, and Wren. My favorite is Wren, because she is a strong female character, and she can talk to dragons, which I think is awesome.

S: I think she is abandoned by the other humans so makes friends with a dragon, right?

C: Yes, that’s more or less accurate. And Leaf is Wren’s brother but thinks she is dead. Everyone thinks Wren is dead. They tried to feed her to the dragons, but they messed up.

S: So they wanted to sacrifice her somehow?

C: Yes, exactly. So the humans live in villages, and they end up causing the war that was the main topic of the first five books in Wings of Fire. They kill the SandWing queen Oasis, and so a war begins among the SandWings to choose a new queen between her three daughters, Blister, Blaze, and Burn.

S: I remember that was the main problem in the Dragonet Prophecy story arc.

C: We even see the dragonets in their cave in this book! In fact we even see Kestrel, the female SkyWing who was one of their guardians. And we see Kestrel’s other child, Peril’s brother. It’s pretty cool.

S: So you would benefit from having read the first five books before reading this one, right?

C: I guess. But I think you could even start with this book if you wanted to. It does not say anything about the prophecy.

S: But I guess if you started the Wings of Fire series with this book, you would probably get the wrong idea. Because this one is all about humans and told from their perspective. And all the other books are about and from the perspective of the dragons. So Dragonslayer is in some ways quite peculiar among all the other books, right?

C: Yes. And I am not sure I love that it is about humans. I do like the series because I really like the dragons and I want to learn about their world.

S: Still, maybe one book out of seventeen so far being centered around some human characters might be acceptable?

C: Yes. I am not really complaining. I like the book. But maybe I like the ones told from the dragons’ points of view a bit more.

Caramel is reading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.
Caramel is reading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.

S: So you told us a bit about the main characters, and you told us that one could read it any time in parallel with the other books in the series —

C: Well, they should probably read it before the fourteenth book, The Dangerous Gift.

S: Why is that?

C: Some of the characters show up as important characters in the last two books, and so it would be helpful to know their backstory. And actually, some of them apparently show up even earlier, in The Brightest Night, the fifth book. But I read the whole series before the Legends, and that worked well, too.

S: I see. So can you tell me in one sentence or two what the story is about? What are Ivy and Leaf and Wren doing?

C: The story tells us the human version of the events in Pyrrhia. But also Leaf and Ivy are looking for Wren, because at some point Leaf realizes Wren is not dead.

S: Who is the Dragonslayer in the title?

C: It is Ivy’s father. He is known as the dragon slayer because he apparently has slayed dragons in his youth, but Ivy eventually learns a lot more about him. We also read about how Wren learns to communicate with a dragon so that there might be some hope for humans and dragons to live in harmony.

S: Hmm, so this could eventually merge with your other favorite dragon story, the How to Train Your Dragon series, where humans and dragons are living in some sort of cooperative relationship, at least the TV series version?

C: Well, I think that could be neat. But then again, I also like that the dragons in Pyrrhia and Pantala can tell their stories independent of the humans. So I don’t need that to happen; I don’t need dragons and humans to become friends. The dragons are cool the way they are. But maybe they could be less cruel to humans.

S: I agree. So let us wrap things up with your three words for this book.

C: Human, amazing, funny. Human because there are humans as main characters now. And all the books in the series are amazing! And they are funny!

S: Those will work. What do you want to tell our readers now?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading and rereading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland so many times, the book is already showing some wear-and-tear, but it is clear that even this will not stop him from continuing to read and reread his favorite series over and over again.
Caramel enjoyed reading and rereading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland so many times that the book is already showing some wear-and-tear, but it is clear that even this will not stop him from continuing to read and reread his favorite series over and over again.

Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Almost a year ago, Marshmallow reviewed The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the first of a mystery trilogy about a high school student, Avery Kylie Grambs, who inherits a large sum of money unexpectedly and has to deal with the consequences. This week, Marshmallow has finally read the second book, The Hawthorne Legacy (2021), and shares her thoughts on it here, before diving into the third and final book of the series, which was just published at the end of this past August.

Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mystery, family secrets, and / or romance, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Avery Kylie Grambs used to live in her car, but after one of the richest men in America (Tobias Hawthorne) left her his fortune, she is now practically America’s richest teenager. However, she legally doesn’t receive the fortune until she lives in the Hawthorne Mansion for a year. Unfortunately, several people would be very happy if she didn’t get the fortune or “expired” before the year ended.

The main question is why Tobias Hawthorne left his fortune to Avery who seems to be completely unrelated to him, when he has two daughters and four grandsons, to whom he left very little. At the end of the first book, The Inheritance Games, Avery had found enough clues to believe that Tobias’ son Toby, who supposedly died in a fire, is still alive and that she had to find him. In this book however, we learn, along with Avery, that the truth is a lot more complicated. To find out why she was left the money, Avery needs to find out who Toby was, what he did, and where he is now. And to do this, she must first learn who she really is. 

Marshmallow is reading The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: I found this to be a fascinating book. I really wanted to find out why the money was left to Avery, but apparently we will all need to wait until the next book, The Last Gambit, to find out. Still The Hawthorne Legacy was a fun and exciting read, and I enjoyed it a lot. I really liked all of the twists and turns in the plot. This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read, and I still have no idea why the fortune was left to Avery. I look forward to reading the next book of the series. 

The main character Avery, like many young adult novel characters, struggles with her love life and feelings, which causes issues for her. Relatedly, I felt that The Hawthorne Legacy had much more adult details than the first book in the series. This book, like the School for Good and Evil series, is written for older (teen?) audiences. I would say that this is probably best for 14 and up. And I would suggest that parents of younger bunnies might want to read it first to gauge whether they think the book is suitable for them.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.