Book Review: All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth is a dark fantasy book set in a world of mermaids, pirates, and princesses. Written by author Adalyn Grace, the book does it’s fair share of dramatics. Where people are gifted with powers allowing for displays of power and entertainment. The world is set in a series of magical islands with each one containing a singular power. In this world, you can master numerous powers, however it will bring death and destruction if you do. To prevent this, there is a long time tradition of picking a power based on your home and only practicing that single power.

At the heart of the kingdom, Visidia, lives Amora Montara, a princess. Who wields the power of soul destroying. She is soon to be the queen but must face a trail. A trial where she will read the souls of 5 people, and determine who is truly evil. If she passes, she shall be queen. If she does not- well, let’s just say it won’t be pretty.

Under a lot of stress, she panics and her powers consume her. Killing a man and melting his body, the people of her kingdom are disgusted and scared at this display. They scream how Amora is a monster and how she must be locked away. Amora is taken to a cell, where she awaits either execution or exile. Until a pirate named Bastian comes offering help, but for a price.

There is a bigger issue besides Amora. Where a man is not only trying to master numerous powers and soul destroying, but has cultivated a mass army to take over Visidia. After realizing the stakes, Amora sets off with Bastian. However this is a book of secrets and many will be uncovered, whether Amora wants to know or not.

Personally, I thought this book was sadly average at best. I think it’s perfect for getting into fantasy and YA. However, there isn’t much to it besides the plot. The romance was good in the middle and I enjoyed the witty banter and suspense. However, I found myself bored and a bit surprised because at the end it felt so rushed over. The plot was wonderfully done, although a little lengthy at some points. The villain was also rarely seen until the end, and was a bit underwhelming despite all the characters “fearing” him. 

It’s a bit confusing with the magical and political fantasy aspects, but I figured it out by the middle of the book. The plot was also extremely well written with twists and turns I kind of expected, but none the less enjoyed. It’s similar to books such as To Kill a Kingdom or Daughter of the Pirate King. I definitely enjoyed the pirate’s character and the side characters were beautifully done. 

Overall this book is a 3.5 out of 5 for me. Whereas it’s perfect for beginners. I definitely think that there are better books with more in depth characters. But, if you need a quick read or are in a reading slump, this is the book for you. Easy characters, heavy plot, and a sly villain make for a simple yet intriguing story.

-Ashley Y.

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

During the Golden Age of Piracy, treasure was almost the most valuable thing to everyone; pirates, commoners, and rulers. Everyone loved treasure, and they were willing to do anything for it, even kill others. This classic novel does not disagree with that idea, and it does not disappoint readers who dare to board the boat which leads to Treasure Island. 

The book starts off with Jim Hawkins, a young man living with his parents and working at Admiral Benbow, a bar. Jim is then forced to let a blind pirate named Black Dog into the Admiral Benbow to speak with Captain Billy Bones, Black Dog’s former captain. But, of course, pirates are known to be greedy and that was exactly the story with those two buccaneers. A couple minutes after Jim left the scene, they both drew their cutlasses and got into a full fight which led to Black Dog running off and the Captain injured. 

A couple days later, Jim gains some hard experiences with the deaths of his father, and his friend, Captain Billy Bones. Right after the Captain’s death, Black Dog and his crew of pirates all come to steal Captain Billy Bones’s treasure map, but it is not there. Jim Hawkins was one step ahead. Jim and Dr Livesey gather a crew of their friends, and get on their ship and start sailing to the Island with buried treasure. 

This novel teaches readers about betrayal, cooperation, and loyalty. In times where Jim was struggling with what decision to make, he always made the right one, the one that showed his values. In this story, Jim Hawkins learned a lot of life lessons through the experiences he had. Treasure Island is an exciting novel with lots of plot twists which makes it impossible to put down. This book will not make you regret reading it, and while reading it, you will also be on a ship, sailing to Reading Island, where you will find that magnificence that classics have behind them. 

I rate this book a 9/10 because it was a great book. The only negative about the book is how slowly it moves throughout the plot. Treasure Island is an amazing novel! I really recommend this book.

-Mert A.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Sarah Tolcser’s first novel, Song of the Current, was much different from what I expected when first picking up the book—though not in a bad way. This exciting story gives a taste of everything: action, adventure, romance, magic, and sacrifice—all centered around one girl who sails with her father on a wherry in the Riverlands.

When she was a child, Caroline “Caro” Oresteia was told her destiny: Like the many Oresteias who came before her, she would be favored by the god in the river. The river god speaks to sailors indirectly and keeps them safe on their journeys. Caro awaits the day when he will begin speak to her, just as he speaks to her father.

When she is seventeen, Caro still has not heard from the river god, and instead finds herself the captain of her father’s beloved wherry, Cormorant, transporting a strange package in order to free her father from imprisonment. When she agrees to carry the strange cargo, Caro has no idea of what her involvement is going to entail. However, it does not take her long to realize that the contents of the strange crate she is carrying is a danger to her and her wherry.

With the Black Dogs (a group of merciless pirates who are searching for the strange crate) looming threateningly in Caro’s wake, the unexpected arrival of a bothersome boy who seems to have something to hide, and someone attempting to force their way into the seat of the Emparch of Akhaia, a whirlpool of dangers, betrayals, and secrecy forms, pulling Caro in.

Through all of this, the god of the river remains silent in Caro’s ears. She begins to wonder if her true destiny is not what she had been told so many years ago.

Although this story is set in a fictional world, I liked how Sarah Tolcser used just enough factual elements such as sailing terms to maintain the believability of the world, and I also liked her use of strong characterization. Caro is a bold, determined character, and it is inspiring how she does not care about someone’s title—she bases her view of them on what she sees them do.

As a reader, I love big fantasy series, but I also like finding new ones that I have not heard much about. The Song of the Current would be a great read for anyone looking for another fictional world to explore. From shadowmen and sword fights to politics and philosophy, this book covers an amazing spectrum. If you ever read this book, I hope your journey through the Riverlands is just as exciting and full of adventure as Caro’s was. Though, of course, much, much safer.

– Mia T.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library