Book Review: The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A powerful and well-written book.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

Young Kofi lives and dreams on the banks of the river Offin. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. It is in the river that he feels invincible and where he thinks he can finally prove himself in a race against his schoolyard rival. But the river also holds dark secrets that Kofi will soon discover. Told never to venture there after nightfall but never told why, Kofi seeks his own answers.
 
One night is all it takes to transform a life. As his world turns upside down, Kofi ends up on a harrowing journey that steals him away from everything he loves.
 
In The Door of No Return, master storyteller Kwame Alexander spins an epic and unforgettable tale of adventure, family, betrayal and bravery

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

The Door of No Return is a novel-in-verse that is classified as a middle grade, but I honestly think that it reads as more of an adult novel. It’s extremely well-written, and presents the reader with many things to reflect upon once they flip past that last page. As I was reading this book, I kept thinking about how it felt like a book that should be read in classrooms, particularly to inform students about the history of the slave trade and the lives that it disrupted.

That being said, the book deals with a lot of difficult themes. They don’t go into graphic detail (after all, it is an MG), but there are implications and mentions of things like bullying, murder, kidnapping, slavery, and rape. This is something I think people, especially parents and children, should be aware of before picking up this book. There is, in fact, a very good chance that you’ll get emotional as you follow Kofi through the timeline of his life.

Before I end this review, I do want to explain that I actually think this is a 5-star book. As with most novel-in-verse books that I read, the writing was immersive and flowed beautifully. The only reason I rated it 4 stars is because I like to incorporate my engagement level in my ratings. While I felt the writing was 5-star worthy, I found myself a bit bored at the very beginning and it took me a while before my interest picked back up. This tends to happen to me with most historical fiction novels, though, so it’s definitely a personal problem and likely not something that you’re guaranteed to experience as well.

If you are a parent, teacher, or facilitator of a book club, I think this book would be great for prompting ideas and discussion. The ending is pretty open, so it should provide decent fuel for students and communities to explore different interpretations.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

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Blog Tour Review: Terry’s Crew by Terry Crews & Cory Thomas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun read about chasing your dreams, despite what other people tell you.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours, Terry Crews, and Cory Thomas for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Daisy Woodworm Changes the World by Melissa Hart

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A good coming-of-age novel for younger middle grade readers

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Melissa Hart for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Maybe an Artist by Liz Montague

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A coming-of-age graphic memoir with important lessons about identity

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Liz Montague for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Book Review: Can You Survive Dracula? by Ryan Jacobson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A choose-your-own adventure novel that is a great introduction or refresher for Dracula by Bram Stoker

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

You are Jonathan Harker, an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation. You have been tricked and imprisoned. You’ve come face to face with a monster and left behind to suffer a terrible fate. Now, you must put an end to Count Dracula’s evil reign. Assemble your team of vampire hunters, and prepare for battle. Use your courage and wisdom to survive such perils as wolf encounters, mysterious strangers, and deadly fires.

Can You Survive Dracula? adapts the classic horror novel into a Choose Your Path book for kids. The survival story puts readers in control of the action. Do you have what it takes to defeat the deadly villain? Or will the Count’s unimaginable power lead to your doom? Step into this adventure, and choose your path.

Interactive books for kids are more popular than ever. Create your own adventure with the Interactive Classic Literature book series. You’re the main character. You make the choices. Can you survive?

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

Hello everyone! Today I have a new type of book to review and that is a middle grade choose-your-own-adventure book that I was lucky enough to receive a copy of. I just recently did a Sherlock Holmes type of choose-your-own mystery book (it was this one if you’re curious), but prior to that, I have no idea when the last time I read a choose-your-own book was. I assume it had to have been some time in elementary school.

With Can You Survive Dracula? the readers are placed into the shoes of Jonathan Harker and asked to make several choices about what they should do to escape from—and ultimately kill—Dracula. The book is a basically a middle-grade friendly version of Bram Stoker’s novel in that it takes the reader through all the main events that occur in the original story. Because the book is shorter and more child-oriented, it does skip over many details, including the background stories of the secondary characters. Having read Dracula before, I wasn’t at all bothered by this and I definitely understand why the author chose to simplify the tale for a younger audience.

I was in high school when I read Dracula, so the specifics of the book are very hazy for me at this point of my life. This adaptation provided a fun and interactive way for me to revisit the classic novel and stirred up a lot of memories that I had previously thought were lost. The only way to successfully survive and kill Dracula is for the “player” to choose the paths that directly align with the original novel. As a result, there were several times where I was presented with a choice and had to really stop and recall what I remembered from reading Dracula over 10 years ago. I’m not ashamed to admit that I died around 5 times before I finally got to the end. I saw a few reviews saying that they wished the book would have offered more than one ending (which it does, but if the ending is anything less than perfect, the book prompts you to try again), but I personally enjoyed the mental challenge of trying to find the perfect combination of actions to succeed.

My only real suggestion for making the reading experience better would be for there to be small text at the top of a page letting the reader know what pages would have lead there. For example, a page might say “from page 91” to indicate that the reader must have just flipped there from page 91. This would allow people to easily backtrack whenever they reached one of the undesirable endings rather than forcing them to frantically flip through all the pages trying to remember where they last were (like I did).

All in all, this was a fun experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone who is either interested in testing their Dracula knowledge, or looking to introduce someone to Dracula in a more interactive and palatable way.

A big thank you to Layne at BooksForward, for sending me a complimentary eBook in exchange for an honest review!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A perfect option for your middle grade October reads!

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Laekan Zea Kemp for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Spotlight: The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Kwame Alexander for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary media kit!

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Book Information

Genre: MG Historical Fiction, Novel-In-Verse
Publishing Date: September 27, 2022

Dreams are today’s answers for tomorrow’s questions.

11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…

Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.

But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight. 

You are only fine, until you are not.

The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs…

The river does not care how grown you are. 

As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times Bestselling author of 36 books, including SWING, BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI, co-authored with James Patterson, REBOUND, which was shortlisted for prestigious UK Carnegie Medal, The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book, THE UNDEFEATED, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, THE CROSSOVER. A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In 2018, he opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. He is the writer and executive producer of THE CROSSOVER TV series on Disney+. The fall of 2022 will see the release of book one of a new trilogy, THE DOOR OF NO RETURN.

Author Links:

Blog Tour Reviews: Amira & Hamza Book 1 & Book 2 by Samira Ahmed

Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds — 3.5 stars
Amira & Hamza: The Quest for the Ring of Power — 4 stars

A fun middle grade fantasy series full of good lessons and good laughs

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Samira Ahmed for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARCs and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Flip Turns by Catherine Arguelles

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A predictable but enjoyable middle grade mystery novel

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Catherine Arguelles for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Book Review: The Captain’s Daughter by Doreen D. Berger

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun middle grade sci-fi novel, perfect for all ages!

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

For most adolescents, growing up is hard enough when one has both feet planted firmly on the ground. But for mischievous, twelve-year-old sisters Diane and Robin, life is complicated further by the fact that their father, Captain William Marsh, is the commander of the Starship Polaris. Living among the stars provides a never-ending realm of creative possibility for the free-spirited girls’ pranks and adventures.

When aliens bent on profit and revenge kidnap Diane and Robin, only their indomitable spirit, ingenuity, and a common love of trouble allow the pair to escape the alien vessel. Finding their way home seems assured until the sisters realize they have been taken further from home then they could ever have imagined, and that they must evade an enemy who will stop at nothing to get them back into his evil clutches. Blocked by interstellar battles, malevolent creatures, and overwhelming obstacles, the sisters fear they may never find a way to return to their own universe and to the father they love.

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve done a post that wasn’t part of a blog tour!

Today I’m bringing you a review for a fun space-opera style middle grade novel called The Captain’s Daughters. If you’ve read the blurb above, you know that the basic premise is that two twelve-year-old sisters (not twins, just born less than a year apart) are kidnapped and forced to use their wits to find their way back home.

I really enjoyed the plot of this novel. It has this cozy sort of found family aspect to it that I wasn’t expecting. The pacing is pretty relaxed which gave me a nice breather from some of the high-stakes, heart-pounding novels I’ve been reading as of late. The tempo does pick up quite a bit at the very end, and I was surprised when it seemed everything was happening at once, but overall The Captain’s Daughters functioned as a nice comfort read for me. As a reader, you can’t help but root for Diane and Robin’s success. They are somehow adorable yet incredibly wily at the same time, and they touch the hearts of everyone they meet.

The book is told through multiple points of view (sometimes following Diane and Robin, sometimes following the kidnapper, sometimes following the girls’ father as he tries to find them) as well as multiple timelines. There are several flashbacks included in some of the chapters that give snapshots into some of the trouble that Diane and Robin have caused in the past—all in good fun or for good reason, of course. I actually really enjoyed these lighthearted passages even though they weren’t always pertinent to the overall story. My only complaint about them is that I wish they were in their own chapters rather than page-long interludes in the middle of a “present-time” section.

While this book is marketed as a middle grade, I think the writing lends itself to a slightly older audience. Nevertheless, I would say that I think this is a book that children and parents alike would get a kick out of. There are no overly-graphic parts of the book, and the action/violence is pretty mild. I would have no qualms with giving a middle grade reader this book to try out.

A big thank you to the author, Doreen D. Berger, for sending me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.