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%.

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%.

Marshmallow reviews The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz

Today Marshmallow reviews The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz, published just this past week.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Marshmallow reviews The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz.
Marshmallow reviews The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like realistic fiction books about family and growing up into one’s own, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): The year is 1975. Thirteen-year-old Joey Goodman is staying at his grandparents’ hotel, the St. Bonaventure, for the summer. The hotel, located by an Atlantic City boardwalk, is struggling to keep business.

Joey has a very large and busy Jewish family, and he feels often ignored or not taken seriously by them. He goes to the boardwalk sometimes to pass the time, and one of these times, he runs into some mobsters. Unfortunately, Joey doesn’t know or want to know that they are mobsters because he quickly becomes “one of the guys”.

The mobsters are led by a man named Artie Bishop, who Joey begins to view almost as a father. Becoming “one of the guys” makes Joey feel strong and valued, because at the hotel he feels that everyone thinks he is weak and scared. Additionally, they pay him well, first for being able to play Skee-Ball very well, and then later for chaperoning Artie Bishop’s almost sixteen year old daughter (Melanie) around the boardwalk. (Joey falls in love with her, despite their age difference and the fact that Melanie probably doesn’t view him in that way.)

Eventually, however, Artie learns that Joey’s family runs the St. Bonaventura, and he asks for a favor. Even in the beginning, hanging out with the “guys” meant that Joey had to conceal the truth from his family. Now Artie asks him to put a package in the hotel in a room no one ever looks at. But when the package disappears, Joey starts to see how bad the mobsters can get. He must find out what true strength means to him and whether might would triumph over right. 

Marshmallow is reading The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz.
Marshmallow is reading The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz.

Marshmallow’s Review: I thought that The Prince of Steel Pier was an interesting book because it was set in a different time period from our own and the author made it feel believable. 1975 is a long time ago for little bunnies today, but when you read The Prince of Steel Pier, you see that growing up is always the same. You want to feel important and respected, but you also are still young and you can make a lot of mistakes and you need your family.

The story is narrated from Joey’s point of view, in first person and mostly in the present tense. The present tense made the story feel like it was happening just now and I was reading along. And the first person narration made me feel like I could understand Joey a lot better. I found it very interesting to read about his problems inside and out. Joey has a queasy stomach when he gets nervous or anxious, and that was a unique aspect of the character, but it also reminded me a bit of Raina Telgemeier’s Guts, which I have recently reviewed.

While reading, I kept wondering how the author would wrap things up; without spoiling things too much, I can say that, at the end, I was very happy about how she did it.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Marshmallow has already reviewed several graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for the book bunnies blog. (You can read her reviews of Ghost (2006), the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006), Drama (2012), Smile (2010), and Sisters (2014) if you’d like.) Today she reviews Guts (2019).

Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family, fears, and personal development, or if you have enjoyed graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier before, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Raina  Telgemeier wakes up one night with a terrible stomachache and vomits. At first it seems like she has a stomach bug that was recently going around, as her mother is also throwing up. The two of them spend the rest of the night throwing up. Unfortunately for Raina, her fourth grade is a constant gross-out competition. Everyone seems fascinated by gross things. There is especially one girl named Michelle who is always mean to Raina. (But whenever Raina responds in kind, her teacher tells her to be nicer to Michelle and says that Raina doesn’t know everything about Michelle) The problem with all this grossness is that Raina seems more worried than everyone else. Eventually Raina becomes so concerned that she starts to monitor what she eats to make sure that she doesn’t become sick. Raina sometimes feels really sick, but there seems to be nothing really wrong; she seems perfectly healthy, at least physically. To get over her illness, Raina will have to face her fears with help from her family, her friends, and her therapist. 

Marshmallow is reading Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: Guts, if you didn’t know, is based off the life of the author, specifically her fourth and fifth grade experience. The best way to describe this book is authentic because it is not at all artificial. The characters are all funny and relatable. The people in this book might also remind you of your friends, family, or other relations.

I did not think anything discussed or depicted in the book was disgusting, but it was probably the first fiction book I read that dealt with human bodily functions like vomiting and bowel movements. (A while ago, Caramel did review The Science of Poop and Farts: The Smelly Truth About Digestion by Alex Woolf for our blog, but that was a science facts book; these types of things do not typically show up in most fiction books.)

This video of Raina Telgemeier talking about Guts summarizes and contextualizes the book really well:

“Raina Telgemeier: Guts — let’s just talk about it” – YouTube video.

I think that Guts is a good addition to Smile and Sisters. As far as I know, this is the last book Raina Telgemeier has written about her childhood, even though time-wise, it comes before the other two. I found it interesting to read about what had occurred before the first two books, and some characters in the first book who were mentioned were also in Guts, which definitely added to how real the books felt. I especially like how the author, Raina Telgemeier, doesn’t leave anything out and how original the books are.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Guts by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Guts by Raina Telgemeier 95%.