Tag Archives: middle grade

Book Title:
Pumpkin Spice Secrets
Book Author:
Hillary Homzie
Book Series:
Swirl, #1
Page Count:
240
Publishing Date:
October 17th, 2017
Publisher:
Sky Pony Press
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!

Synopsis

Just as Maddie picks up her favorite pumpkin spice drink from the coffee shop counter, she spills it all over the cute guy standing behind her! Luckily, her embarrassment evaporates into a crush when she starts chatting with him -- his name is Jacob, and he's just starting in her grade at her middle school.

But before Maddie can tell her best friend Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush -- on the same guy! Maddie doesn't want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Jana will get over her crush soon, right?

Add major school stress to Maddie's secret, and it's a recipe for disaster. Can she keep her cool and work things out with both Jacob and Jana before it all turns into a total mess?

My Review

I was having a really hard time getting into a book – I was actually in the middle of four or five books when I picked up Pumpkin Spice Secrets.  I wasn’t sure why this one would be any different … Continue reading

4 stars
4 Comments
Book Title:
The Dam Keeper
Book Author:
Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi
Book Illustrator:
Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi
Book Series:
The Dam Keeper, #1
Page Count:
160
Publishing Date:
September 26th, 2017
Publisher:
First Second
Date Read:
September 18th, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!

Synopsis

Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black fog looms outside the village, but its inhabitants are kept safe by an ingenious machine known as the dam. Pig’s father built the dam and taught him how to maintain it. And then this brilliant inventor did the unthinkable: he walked into the fog and was never seen again.

Now Pig is the dam keeper. Except for his best friend, Fox, and the town bully, Hippo, few are aware of his tireless efforts. But a new threat is on the horizon—a tidal wave of black fog is descending on Sunrise Valley. Now Pig, Fox, and Hippo must face the greatest danger imaginable: the world on the other side of the dam.

Based on the Oscar-nominated animated short film of the same name, The Dam Keeper is a lush, vibrantly drawn graphic novel by Tonko House cofounders Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi.

My Review

First off, let me talk about how visually stunning The Dam Keeper is.  It has a hardcover format, and a dust jacket that is absolutely beautiful.  The gold lettering on the cover really adds to the book’s look, and the … Continue reading

4 stars
2 Comments
Book Title:
The Girl with the Ghost Machine
Book Author:
Lauren DeStefano
Page Count:
224
Publishing Date:
June 6th, 2017
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date Read:
June 30th, 2017
Source:
ARC from publisher - Thank you!

Synopsis

What if a machine could bring back the ones we love? From New York Times bestseller Lauren DeStefano comes a captivating middle grade of loss, love and hope.

In this beautiful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Lauren DeStefano tells a story of love and loss, and what it means to say goodbye.

When Emmaline Beaumont's father started building the ghost machine, she didn't expect it to bring her mother back from the dead. But by locking himself in the basement to toil away at his hopes, Monsieur Beaumont has become obsessed with the contraption and neglected the living, and Emmaline is tired of feeling forgotten.

Nothing good has come from building the ghost machine, and Emmaline decides that the only way to bring her father back will be to make the ghost machine work…or destroy it forever.

My Review

The Girl with the Ghost Machine is an interesting story about a grieving girl who lost her mother to illness, and who is afraid she is losing her father to a machine that he is trying to build to bring … Continue reading

4 stars
12 Comments
Book Tour
Book Title:
Knife's Edge
Book Author:
Hope Larson
Book Illustrator:
Rebecca Mock
Book Series:
Four Points, #2
Page Count:
224
Publishing Date:
June 27th, 2017
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Date Read:
June 26th, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old twin adventurers Cleopatra and Alexandra Dodge are reunited with their father and realize that two family heirlooms reveal the location of a treasure that is their birthright. When they set sail with Captain Tarboro on the Almira, they know they’re heading into danger—the ocean is filled with new and old enemies, including their nemesis, the infamous pirate Felix Worley. But like a coral reef that lurks below the surface of the waves, trouble is brewing between the siblings. Alex is determined to become a sailor and is happy with his role aboard the Almira, but Cleo—the only girl on the ship—is tired of washing dishes in the galley. In an effort to find her own purpose, she begins studying sword fighting with Tarboro, but neither Alex nor her father approves. Can the twins remain close as they pursue different goals and dreams, or will their growing differences tear the family apart before the treasure can be found?

In this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Compass South, Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock once again create an outstanding seafaring adventure.

My Review

I read Compass South right before I read this one, and I’m glad that I did.  While I’ve seen it said that this book can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading the first book of the two … Continue reading

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Book Title:
Compass South
Book Author:
Hope Larson
Book Illustrator:
Rebecca Mock
Book Series:
Four Points, #1
Page Count:
224
Publishing Date:
June 28th, 2016
Publisher:
Square Fish
Date Read:
June 25th, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - thank you!

Synopsis

Get ready for a thrilling journey in Compass South, a New York Times-bestselling middle-grade graphic novel full of pirates and adventure, written by the adapter and illustrator of the New York Times-bestselling A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel.

It's 1860 in New York City. When 12-year-old twins Alex and Cleo's father disappears, they join the Black Hook Gang and are caught by the police pulling off a heist. They agree to reveal the identity of the gang in exchange for tickets to New Orleans.

But once there, Alex is kidnapped and made to work on a ship that is heading for San Francisco via Cape Horn. Cleo stows away on a steamer to New Granada where she hopes to catch a train to San Francisco to find her brother.

Neither Alex nor Cleo realizes the real danger they are in--they are being followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure. How they outwit the pirates and find each other makes for a fast-paced adventure.

This full color graphic novel is perfect for readers of all genders, including reluctant readers, comics fans, and anyone who enjoys action packed seafaring adventures. It's the first book in a duology, followed by a standalone sequel, Knife's Edge.

My Review

Compass South was originally published in 2016, and I hadn’t heard about it until the awesome folks over at :01 First Second Books invited me to join the blog tour for the sequel, Knife’s Edge.  Also, I really hadn’t been … Continue reading

4 stars
1 Comment
Book Title:
Hear the Wolves
Book Author:
Victoria Scott
Page Count:
240
Publishing Date:
March 28th, 2017
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Date Read:
April 2nd, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - thank you!

Synopsis

Sloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it’s been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight — it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she’s already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that’s tied there — their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That’s when the wolves start hunting them . . .

My Review

The first time I heard about this book and saw that stunning cover, I fell in love.  It seemed like such a great story, full of adventure, friendship, and, of course, wolves.  A survival story for middle grade readers?  Yes!  … Continue reading

4 stars
1 Comment
Book Title:
Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd)
Book Author:
Julie Bowe
Publishing Date:
March 21st, 2017
Publisher:
Kathy Dawson Books
Date Read:
March 20th, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - thank you!

Synopsis

It's the start of a new school year and Wren Jo Byrd is worried that everyone will find out her parents separated over the summer. No one knows the truth, not even her best friend, Amber. When even her new teacher refers to her mom as Mrs. Byrd, Wren decides to keep their divorce a total secret. But something else changed over the summer: A new girl named Marianna moved to town and wants to be Amber's next bff. And because of her fib, Wren can't do anything about it. From take-out dinners with Mom to the tiny room she gets at Dad's new place, nothing is the same for Wren anymore. But while Marianna makes everything harder at first, Wren soon learns that Marianna once had to ask many of the same questions--the big ones, as well as the little ones--that Wren is asking now. Set in Wisconsin, with wonderfully nuanced characters--from the bossy new girl, who acts big but has a secret of her own, to the sporty girl who acts little and shy but who becomes an unexpected friend--this is a book about much more than divorce.

My Review

Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) is a delightful book that deals with a common family issue in a realistic and important way.  For any child who has ever been in the middle of parents who are … Continue reading

4.5 stars
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Book Title:
Izzy Kline Has Butterflies
Book Author:
Beth Ain
Publishing Date:
March 7th, 2017
Publisher:
Random House Books for Young Readers
Date Read:
March 1st, 2017
Source:
ARC from publisher - Thank you!

Synopsis

So many moments—big and small—make up a year, and Beth Ain chronicles them all in this heartwarming novel in verse, perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and verse novels like Brown Girl Dreaming and The Crossover.

Fourth grade is here, and Izzy Kline is nervous! There are plenty of reasons for the butterflies in her stomach to flap their wings. There’s a new girl in her class who might be a new best friend. The whole grade is performing Free to Be . . . You and Me—and Izzy really wants a starring role. And new changes at home are making Izzy feel like her family is falling apart. First-day jitters, new friends, an audition . . . How many butterfly problems can one fourth grader take?

My Review

Izzy Kline is going to fourth grade, and she’s nervous about it.  She spends her time wondering what the year is going to entail for her – who will be her friend?  Will she get the lead spot in the … Continue reading

3.5 stars
2 Comments
Book Title:
Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up
Book Author:
Jessica Brody
Publishing Date:
February 14th, 2017
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
Date Read:
February 15th, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher - Thank you!

Synopsis

Everyone makes wishes. Addie's wish just happens to come true.

Seventh grader Addie Bell can’t wait to grow up. Her parents won’t let her have her own phone, she doesn’t have any curves, and her best friend Grace isn’t at all interested in make-up or boys. Then, on the night of her twelfth birthday, Addie makes a wish on a magic jewelry box to be sixteen…and wakes up to find her entire life has been fast-forwarded four years! Suddenly she has everything she’s always wanted (including a driver’s license and a closet full of cool clothes)! But Addie soon discovers that a lot more has changed than she expected—including her friendship with Grace. Can Addie turn back time and take back her wish…or has she lost the chance to experience what could have been the best years of her life?

My Review

Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up was an interesting book, and to be honest, probably one of the first middle grade-young adult crossover books that I’ve ever read.  I wasn’t sure it was supposed to be geared more toward middle … Continue reading

4 stars
4 Comments
Book Title:
The Castle in the Mist
Book Author:
Amy Ephron
Publishing Date:
February 7th, 2017
Publisher:
Philomel Books
Date Read:
February 7th, 2017
Source:
ARC from publisher - Thank you!

Synopsis

Tess and Max travel behind the walls of a magical castle where wishes really do come true—if the hawthorn trees don’t get you first.

Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.

But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.

In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?

My Review

I was super excited to read this book, because I absolutely love the whole idea of a castle and huge fantasy area that appears out of nowhere and is absolutely amazing.  Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely an interesting … Continue reading

3 stars
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