Review / My Dog Made Me Write this Book

20210620ma_1307Book: My Dog Made Me Write this Book (2019)
Author: Elizabeth Fensham
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Eric is having dog trouble. It’s all he’s wanted forever… a dog of his own. He gets to pick out a dog, and chooses a mutt that he calls Ugly. Not as an insult. But Eric, aka Eccle, starts to wonder if Ugly is insulted by his name and is taking it out on his poor owner. And if something doesn’t change, Eric going to lose his dog. Because Mom has had enough with a dog that won’t behave.

Opening lines from the book …
Running away is a very difficult thing to do if you are going to do it right.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Eric has a fun voice in this book. In some ways, he kind of clueless that he’s part of the reason why his dog is so unruly.

2) I loved the scenes where Eric and his friends come up with a list of reasons why Ugly doesn’t like Eric. And one of the reasons has to do with Ugly’s name. So, Eric tries thinking of a new name for Ugly, but one that will sound like his old name.

3) I think my favourite side character is the grandfather. I love mentor characters, and Grandpa fits the bill. I love how he encourages Eric to work with Ugly.

4) The story begins with a runaway scene. There’s something quite charming with scenes where a kid prepares to run away from home. This scene works very well. Eric ends up at the park and nothing exciting happens. Nobody seems to care that he’s run away.

5) And then there’s Mrs. Manchester and her cat (aka Ugly’s nemesis!) I enjoyed seeing the progression of the relationship between Ugly and the cat. (In fact, if I remember correctly, that cat is one of the reasons Ugly might be sent away.) But then comes Maggie the dog whisperer.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) I didn’t really like Gretchen the older sister. She’s practically an adult (I think she’s supposed to be 18 or 19), but in many ways, she acted like she’s in her early teens. I think I could have handled her better if she had been only 13 or 14.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A good book for dog lovers! It also helps kids see that it takes work to have a dog. Take it from the dog whisperer…

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / Vanderbeekers #4

20210627ma_1378Book: The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found (2020)
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Sequel to: Vanderbeekers to the Rescue

Basic plot: The Vanderbeekers are out to help their friend, Orlando. His mom has disappeared and they want him to come live permanently with their upstairs neighbour Mr. Jeet and Miss Josie (who happen to be his uncle and aunt). Orlando isn’t sure and thinks maybe he should move back to Georgia but promises to stay at least until the New York City marathon.

Opening lines from the book …
Bright morning sunshine drifted through the windows of the red brownstone on 141st Street, filling the kitchen with a soft glow.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I love this family. I like that it’s a big family and that they treat this like it isn’t all that unusual. But I also like how the whole building (with Mr. B and Mr. Jeet and Miss Josie) are also part of the “family”. 🙂

2) There’s a new character, Jessie’s friend Orlando. He brings in the whole “lost and found” aspect of the story. I like the little mystery involving him and how they figure it out. And while the kids are trying to help him with his situation, I like how he maintains a love for his own mother, even when she can’t look after him. There’s a nice moment when he explains this to the other kids.

3) There are some touching scenes with Lanie and Mr. Jeet. His health is declining, but she faithfully visits him every day, bringing one of the pets to bring him some joy (much to the chagrin of one of the mean nurses on duty).

4) I love the New York City marathon part of the story. Mr. Beiderman (their old nemesis) is training with Orlando for the race. It’s hilarious when one of the kids (I think it’s Lanie?) gives him his sparkly purple shirt with his name on it so people know to cheer him on. If I were Mr. B, I would have refused to wear that in public. But, he’s an old softy!

5) I think Hyacinth is my favourite character. So, I really did sympathize with her over trying to make friends at school. I understood her “solution” to arrive at school just in time for the bell. No sooner. No later. So when she all of a sudden has to go to school well before the bell rings… Yeah, I feel for you, Hyacinth. Her siblings don’t quite get this about her, but they also know that it’s important to push her to reach to make new friends.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) The rooftop is featured on the book cover. I kind of thought it’d play more of an important role in the story. But it didn’t. (Cool cover, though.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Vanderbeeker saga. I like the new characters and look forward to the next book. Yes, there’s a new book on the horizon…

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

20210627ma_1388Book: Stand Up, Yumi Chung! (2020)
Author: Jessica Kim
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Yumi Chung’s dream is to be a stand-up comedian, but her parents have other ideas. Plus, she’s kind of shy. When she accidentally gets mistaken for another girl named Kay at a comedy camp, at first she doesn’t know what to do. She ends up becoming Kay and secretly attends the comedy camp! But she can’t tell her parents who are dealing with their own issues as their restaurant might be closed forever…

Opening lines from the book …
I should have known better than to think anyone would listen to me at the Korean beauty salon.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Yumi is such a fun character. I completely understand the shy part of her. So, I know what it’s like when you get caught unaware when somebody calls you the wrong name. (Although, I never pretended to BE somebody else, Yumi!)

2) Loved all the humour in the book. The funny situations are nicely surrounded by Yumi’s efforts to create comedic gold. It was fun to see how she and her friends fail but then go on to create a successful sketch.

3) I loved the relationship between Yumi and her older (very smart) sister Yuri. There’s a little secret involving the sister, and it’s going to affect the family. One of my favourite sister-scene is when Yuri tries to go to bat for Yumi to be allowed to go to the comedy camp and frames it in a way that just might convince their parents (who want Yumi to be a doctor or something like that.)

4) I liked how Yumi interacts with the teacher of her special hagwon classes. Yumi is able to actually raise her GPA and still do the secret comedy camp, but only because she works really hard.

5) The plot and subplots of this book are wonderfully connected. I love how the parents’ restaurant and stand up and karaoke all fit in by the climax of the story.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) Something small, but I felt Yuri and Yumi’s names were are little too close in spelling. I know this happens in real life, but that one letter difference can be hard to spot sometimes!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Books with a comedic theme can be a hard sell for me. But I felt like this one hit all the right beats. I really enjoyed spending time with Yumi and her family and friends!

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / Ways to Make Sunshine

20210620ma_1301Book: Ways to Make Sunshine (2020)
Author: Renee Watson
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Ryan Hart is a girl with a name that means ‘king’. And her family is always telling her to live up to that name. But it’s hard when you have a fear of public speaking. But Ryan’s a plucky kid and she’s going to try. Well, maybe not the public speaking bit, but she’ll make up for that!

Opening lines from the book …
I am a girl with a name that a lot of boys have. So when the substitute teacher takes roll and calls out, “Ryan?” she looks surprised when I answer.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Ryan Hart is such a wonderful, plucky protagonist. She knows what she likes and she’s not some shy violet. I loved that about her. And she really is out to make sunshine…

2) I loved her family. Her brother is a typical, teasing older brother, but they can get along too. Her parents are wonderful. And her grandmother who spends hours straightening Ryan’s hair!

3) The story with regards to Ryan’s hair is hilarious! I love how it starts in the one chapter (before the big Easter service) and then extends to the next story with the sleepover. Poor Ryan! I don’t have the hair issues that Ryan has, but I can understand how hard it is to stand by when that one girl (named Red) keeps provoking and poking.

4) The chapter where Ryan and her friend “make sunshine” is really fun. I love her creativity.

5) I did enjoy the whole public speaking storyline. It starts with the preparation and failure at the Easter service. By the end of the book, you know Ryan is going to have to do something to face that fear, right?

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) It wasn’t until something like the fourth chapter until I realized that Ryan is in fourth grade, something that had me very confused for the first few chapters. From the cover (i.e. from the way Ryan is dressed), I assumed she was in sixth or seventh grade, but in those opening chapters, she definitely acted a younger. Like a fourth grader. Of course, once it’s revealed that she’s nine years old, it made a whole lot more sense.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a fun story! It’s been compared to Ramona Quimby, which is good. I do love Ryan’s enthusiasm and her loving family…

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / Missing Mike

missing-mikeBook: Missing Mike (2018)
Author: Shari Green
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Novel in Verse

Basic plot: Cara and her family have to leave their home due to a raging forest fire. What makes it particularly hard is that Cara can’t find her dog, Mike. But as soon as they’re safe, she and her new friend, Jewel, are determined to see if they can find the missing Mike.

Opening lines from the book …
It hasn’t rained for thirty-seven days.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Wow! The opening pages of the evacuation and atmosphere of the forest fire kept me reading past my bedtime. Shari Green did a great job in making us be there with the family. You could feel how tense things were in that car. Definitely kept me reading…

2) I like how they rescue a black and white cat, which gives you hope that they’ll be able to be reunited with Mike by the end of the story. I love how Cara wants to name the cat, but her sister won’t let her since the cat belongs to somebody else. (But we do eventually get to know the cat’s name!)

3) Cara loves crossword puzzles. I enjoyed the little words and hints that were sprinkled throughout the story. What was really neat was her discussion with her new friend, Jewel, as they talk about words for home and what makes a home. I particularly liked the take that home is where your family is, even if that home means living in a car.

4) Speaking of Jewel… She’s a foster kid, but I like that she seems rather well-adjusted. Sure, she misses her mom, but she seems to have a good relationship with her foster parents. It was nice to see!

5) Mike (the dog) isn’t really in the book. We get to know him via flashbacks. I liked the scene where Cara picks him out at the animal shelter. Mike wasn’t a cute puppy, but Cara’s heart goes out to him anyhow. Mike has only one eye (the reason for his name; he’s named after the one-eyed monster in Monsters Inc.) and part of his ear is missing. But I love that about Cara. It’s always nice to see somebody championing the underdog.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) In the story, Jewel and Cara come across a five-letter word for home where the second letter is a ‘b’. I figured it’s ‘abode’ but it never seemed to be mentioned again. (Did I miss it!?!)

FINAL THOUGHTS

A wonderful, quick read, full of excitement. Definitely for dog-lovers! I think Shari Green does the novel in verse thing very well. You’ll be rooting for Cara to be reunited with Mike…

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / Merci Suarez Can’t Dance

20210604ma_1213Book: Merci Suarez Can’t Dance (2021)
Author: Meg Medina
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Sequel to: Merci Suarez Changes Gear

Basic plot: Merci Suarez and her lovable family are back! This time, Merci’s in seventh grade. And with it being February, get ready for Valentine’s Day… which means dancing. But Merci can’t dance (or doesn’t want to). She also gets stuck with this boy named Wilson. She likes him, but isn’t sure if she likes likes him. Of course, nemesis Edna’s still around making all sorts of trouble for Merci…

Opening lines from the book …
It was Miss McDaniels’s idea for me and Wilson Bellevue to work together in the Ram Depot, a job that nobody wants. For the record, I applied for an anchor spot on the morning announcements with my best friend Lena. But wouldn’t you know it? Darius Ulmer’s parents decided it was time he addressed his “shyness issues,” so he got the job instead.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I love Merci’s big extended family. This book does tend to focus more on Tia Inez and her love of dance. And on the mystery surrounding all her errands with her sweetheart Simon. Hmmm.

2) And how great is it when Merci and Wilson get creative in their advertising ideas for the Valentine’s Day dance. I do have a soft spot for corny jokes and puns, so THAT worked for me! And it also was nice to see them work together so well!

3) I do find Edna to be quite fascinating. In this book, she seems to have lost all her friends. (Which makes sense.) She’s still not a likeable character, but there were times when I did feel sorry for her. I love how Medina keeps bringing her into the story. Not necessarily as the “bully” but as someone who might need Merci’s friendship more than Merci might need hers.

4) The part about (minor spoiler) selling the bike is fun. Especially, how Wilson becomes involved and how he gets his mom to help try to get it back only to find that a young couple came to buy it already! Oh boy!

5) I really like Miss McDaniels, aka Stopwatch. She the secretary in charge of assigning all the different community service projects. And she runs her operation like clockwork. It was nice to see her in action again for this book. 🙂

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) Lolo’s hardly in this book! I missed him.

2) I found it a little unrealistic for the school to (Spoiler!) want Tia Inez’s dance studio to perform when they have just barely been formed as a dance school and don’t really have any students yet! I just felt that part of the plot could have been handled a little differently.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a good sequel to Meg Medina’s first book. Like I said, it was good to have the Suarez family back in action.

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / From the Desk of Zoe Washington

20210604ma_1210Book: From the Desk of Zoe Washington (2020)
Author: Janae Marks
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Zoe looks baking, especially sweet stuff. And her big dream is to be a contestant in a bake-off competition. But Mom and Dad want her to intern at a bakery first. Problem is, she never gets to do any baking there. Meanwhile, she comes across a letter addressed to her from her biological dad, the guy she’s never met because he’s in prison. Now she’s curious about why he’s been locked up, curious enough to start a clandestine correspondence with him. It’s a secret until her grandmother finds out and becomes Zoe’s accomplice …

Opening lines from the book …
The day I turned twelve, I was certain it’d be my favorite birthday yet, but then I got the letter.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I loved the creativity Zoe exhibits when she decides to impress the owner of the bakery with her own cupcake recipe. It’s great how it’s partly inspired by the letters from her dad. It was fun to watch the process as Zoe figures it all out. (It kind of made me want to try baking it myself!)

2) The Little Tomato nickname is really cute. And I love how it works into the plot! I mean, it actually becomes very important to the story. It’s neat how father and daughter connect over the songs.

3) Man, that grandma! She and Zoe go behind Mom’s back. I think it’s great how she wants to keep Zoe safe (and makes sure she keeps an eye on the correspondence). Of course, you know it’s all going to blow up in their faces when Mom finds out.

4) Zoe really is a go-getter, isn’t she? She goes out of her way to find out about her dad’s alleged crime and about his supposed alibi. Then she and her next-door neighbour figure out a way to find the alibi. Not sure I’d want kids to be doing this in real life, but putting myself in the shoes of a kid-reader, I’d be all for it!

5) I do love the relationship Zoe has with her stepdad and her mom. It’s nice to read about a happy family not on the brink of divorce.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) And while I really like the stepdad’s reaction in the story, I also did find it a tad unrealistic. Like does he not feel any sort of jealously toward this other man who was once the love of his now-wife? Not a big deal, but I think relationships are a little more complicated. But maybe Dad is just covering it up really well!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this book for some time. I really did enjoy it, and I was rooting for Zoe all the way! I wish I could hire her to bake some delicious treats for my next birthday! 🙂

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

5 Reasons Why I Love The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

20210527ma_1181One of my favourite series of all times… Definitely a 5-star rating! And in honour of those 5 stars, I’ll give 5 reasons why I love this book…

*Note: This post may have some slight spoilers in it.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe // by C.S. Lewis

#1 – The Lion

You almost can’t separate Aslan from Narnia. I really do love that he’s a lion. It just works so perfectly. I love how we meet Aslan before we actually meet him. We keep hearing about him so it’s like we do know him. In fact, it’s kind of like the children not quite knowing him and yet knowing him all at the same time. (It’s also why I’d recommend reading this book as the first in the series. I really do think it’s the best introduction to Aslan!)

One of my favourite exchanges is as follows: “Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

#2 – The Witch

I think there’s a reason the movies kept bringing the White Witch back to have some part in each movie (at least the ones they actually made). I think that’s because she’s such a good (read: evil) antagonist! She has that lovely fairy tale witch-ness about her. You can sort of see why Edmund is drawn to her.

Now I love fairy tales (and apparently, so did C.S. Lewis), so I love a good (read: evil) bad guy. Or in this case, a wicked witch. (Note: We do also meet her in The Magician’s Nephew where Polly and Digory get to see her in all her wicked glory. Although, it is my humble opinion that, like Aslan, this is the better introduction to her character.)

#3 – The Wardrobe

Which, of course, leads to … Narnia! If I could visit any fictional land, yes, it would probably be Narnia. (I think I’d want to go during the time of The Horse and his Boy, which kind of fits in during the last little bit of this book. I.e. during the reign of the four kings and queens; after the White Witch has been defeated, of course!)

Here, it’s always winter, but never Christmas. I love how that encapsulates the whole of the oppression that the Narnians face under the reign of the White Witch. C.S. Lewis did some amazing world-building in these books and it all begins with this book. He was able to make this place so REAL, even though it’s obviously not real.

Or is it? I’m still checking every wardrobe I come across, just in case.

#4 – The Four Children

I have to say that, of the four, I’m partial to Lucy. In many ways, I’m probably more like Susan, but I WANT to be like Lucy! I’m definitely rooting for her. And, of course, that’s probably because the introduction of Narnia is seen through her eyes. So, I get quite annoyed at Susan and Peter and Edmund when they don’t believe her about the wardrobe.

But, I am also drawn to Peter and Susan in their own way. And as for Edmund… well, in this book, you just love to hate him! Oh, does he make my blood boil! (by the time of Prince Caspian and Dawn Treader, I have forgiven him and actually quite like him!) But in this book, how could he betray his siblings like that!

Maybe it was the Turkish delight. (Have you ever had Turkish delight? The real kind? It’s actually very good. I’ve had some cheap kind which did not impress me, but then a friend shared some amazing Turkish delight and I can sort of see why Edmund might have gone over to the dark side. Especially considering that there was sugar/sweets rationing during the Second World War.)

#5 – The Wonderful Characters

I love the idea of meeting animals that can talk. (Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Beavers!) Not to mention mythical creatures (Mr. Tumnus!) That scene where he first meets Lucy is so iconic. (And I love how he introduces himself as “Tumnus” but Lucy adds the “Mr.”)

And then there’s the Professor. While I’m one of those people who think you really should read this book first (rather than The Magician’s Nephew, even though, chronologically, it comes first), I do think it’s fun to realize later on that this is Digory. That’s where the magic of re-reading comes into play, folks! One of my favourite parts with the Professor is how he talks to Peter and Susan about Lucy. I just love his little asides on “What do they teach them at these schools?”

And then there’s the narrator. I love how he reminds us about the dangers of wardrobes! “Peter held the door closed but did not shut it; for, course, he remembered as every sensible person does, that you should never never shut yourself up in a wardrobe.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

When people ask me for my favourite book about Narnia, I usually don’t mention this one. In my opinion, it’s one of those books that goes without saying that it’s the best of the bunch. Usually, I tell people my second favourite. (Which happens to be The Horse and his Boy; although, when I was a kid, it was Voyage of the Dawn Treader. But really, I just love them all.)


Have you read this book? Did you love it as much as me? Let me know in the comments!

Review / Ten Good and Bad Things About my Life

20210516ma_1038Book: Ten Good and Bad Things About my Life (2012)
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Sequel to: Ten Rules for Living with my Sister

Basic plot: Pearl is back! And this time, she’s entering the fifth grade. And on the first day of school, she’s given an assignment about her summer vacation. Except, her family’s summer plans did not go as expected. That’s because Dad loses his job and, suddenly, the family has to find ways to make ends meet. Pearl chronicles it all…

Opening lines from the book …
“Lexie?” I said on the first day of fifth grade. “Are you nervous about school?”

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Pearl has such a spirited and endearing personality. She is just a bundle of energy and it’s great to see her thought process as she says or does the wrong thing and then tries to fix it.

2) JBIII (pronounced JB-three) is back. He’s James Brubaker the Third, but Pearl shortened his name. He’s such a good friend. But their friendship is not without its ups and downs. I enjoyed seeing them weather the tough stuff.

3) I love the relationship between the sisters. Lexie still doesn’t like underwear visits (if you remember that from the first book), yet the relationship has matured. I love how they go about job-seeking together. Or rather Pearl just tags along.

4) The scenes at camp are great! My favourite part is when Pearl is at the sleep-away part of camp and she explains how you have to go out into the dark, dark woods in order to use the bathroom (known as Goose Lodge), something she really does NOT want to do! When she gives an outline of each day of her camp experience, she always makes note of this: Really hope do not have to go to Goose Lodge alone tonight. Or Did not have to go to Goose Lodge in pitch dark last night.

5) This book deals with a dad who loses a job. And no, that’s not really a spoiler since Pearl basically spoils us with this news in the opening lines of the second chapter. I love how the family works together to weather this not-so-good news. And I love how the girls want to help by finding their own jobs! 

6) Which brings me to how Pearl finds a “job”. I won’t spoil it, but it does fit in very well with her personality and her talents and abilities. 🙂

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) We get a glimpse of Pearl’s brand new teacher, Ms. Brody, at the beginning of the novel. I was expecting more about Ms. Brody. Turns out, she’s really just a device. The whole book is basically a flashback for one of those “How I Spent My Summer” assignments. Not sure how I feel about that. The opening chapter made such a big deal about school and starting fifth grade, and we really don’t get anything about fifth grade!

2) While I love the atmosphere of New York City, the staycation fell a little flat for me. They do a lot of touristy things (that most New Yorkers don’t do!), but nothing really of substance happens during these scenes. Really, they could have been taken out and nothing would be amiss.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a fun sequel to Ann M. Martin’s first book about these same characters. The family has been compared to the Quimby family (i.e. Ramona and Beezus), and I can see their point. Modern-day Quimby family living in NYC!

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review / The Light Jar

Book: The Light Jar (2019)
Author: Lisa Thompson
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Nate and his mum are running away from her scary boyfriend. They end up in the middle of nowhere at the cottage of an old friend who recently died. When the mum goes to get food, Nate discovers his old imaginary friend turns up. He hasn’t seen Sam in years. But Sam doesn’t seem to stick around when Nate finds Kitty, the girl who lives in the big house. Kitty’s on a treasure hunt and Nate decides to help her. But then she starts to get a little noisy about his situation and he isn’t sure who he can trust.

Opening lines from the book …
I love Mum’s tunnel-singing trick. She always did it when she drove us to Grandma’s for one of her Sunday lunches.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I found this book to be quite compelling. It had just enough mystery that I wanted to keep reading. Little by little, Nate’s situation is revealed.

2) Sam was an interesting character. He’s Nate’s old imaginary friend and becomes a literary device of sorts. It’s a way for us to get to know the events that led up to the escape from the crazy boyfriend Gary. And for Nate, it’s a good way for him to process the events he’s living.

3) I loved the treasure hunt. It’s an old game that was set up for Kitty’s aunt, who tragically died before she could follow all the clues. So, now it’s up to Kitty and Nate to figure things out. And there are hedge mazes involved. Who doesn’t love a hedge maze?

4) The place where Nate and his mum are hiding is a cottage on the property of an old estate in England. Since friend who used to live there has died, the place is in disrepair. Which, of course, makes for an interesting setting.

5) I did figure out one of the twists in the story. I suspected early on and so I wasn’t surprised. But there was another part of the twist that I did not guess, so that’s good. (No spoilers.)

6) This book talks about some tough subjects, but I felt it was done in a good way. It wasn’t too graphic, but it did show the danger of how domestic abuse (even if it’s just verbal/mental abuse) can develop. And how important it is for people like Nate and his mother to get out of that. 

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) The cheese scone. I’m not going to say much about it except, where did it come from?

FINAL THOUGHTS

I found this book quite compelling. The setting is great and so is the treasure hunt. Or rather, solving the clues was the fun part!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday