Spring Reading Bingo Challenge / March

mgc-bingo-mar2019

Here’s my bingo card for Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge.

In all, I finished eight middle grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card. And yes, I got my bingo!

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a Middle Grade Carousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads. Find out more about Middle Grade books here.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results… (The * means that’s the book that got me my Bingo!)


*A Book About Basketball

Basketball (or Something Like It) // by Nora Raleigh Baskin

basketballMG, Contemporary (2007)

Honestly, I found this book a tad confusing. It’s told through four different POVs, and I was forever getting them mixed up. Which kid is this again?? By the end, I think I had it figured out.

The one thing that did bother me was the foul language. I don’t mind it if it’s for a reason. (The Great Gilly Hopkins? Yes. I would even argue that it worked in Front Desk.) But you don’t normally see this in a middle-grade novel. So, it felt out of place. And again, there really was no real reason to include it. [2.5 stars]


*A Rabbit on the Cover

El Deafo // by Cece Bell

el-deafoMG Graphic Novel, Near-Historical (2014)

I loved this story! 🙂 I’m not always crazy about graphic novels since I usually want more words. But I thought this whole book worked beautifully as is.

I loved that Cece Bell told her story with rabbits as the characters. I loved learning about the subject matter. I loved Rabbit-Cece. I loved how she took the challenge handed her and didn’t let it stop her.

I loved this book! (Can you tell?) [5 stars]

Read my full review here.


*Pick Your Prompt / A Sequel

Copyboy // by Vince Vawter

copyboyUpper MG, Historical (2018)

I was pretty excited when I saw this among the new books at the library. I wasn’t even it existed! And I wasn’t disappointed. While I don’t think it’s quite as good as its predecessor, it’s still a good book. 🙂 [4 stars]

Read my full review here.


*A Book About a Curse

ella-enchanted Enchanted // by Gail Carson Levine

MG, Fairy Tale (1997)

Having recently read Ogre Enchanted, I wanted to go back to the original book. I really enjoyed my re-read. And yes, it still holds up after all these years. THIS is Gail Carson Levine’s masterpiece. There’s a reason why it got a Newbery Honor. [5 stars]


*Author’s First Name is Ben

Zita the Spacegirl // by Ben Hatke

zita-spacegirl.jpgMG, Graphic Novel, Sci-fi (2011)

This book is about Zita and her friend Joseph who gets sucked into another world. Zita quickly follows him… because it’s all her fault. She meets up with a ragtag band of misfits and they all go on the quest.

I generally liked this book. But this is the type of graphic novel that reminds me how much I love words. And I miss words when they’re, well… missing. I didn’t really resonate with the end of the book. Won’t spoil it, but I kind of understand WHY he did it. [3 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

    • Blue Cover // The Benefits of Being an Octopus // by Ann Braden
    • A Book from the Library // Number the Stars // by Lois Lowry
    • ‘Lion’ in the Title // The Mystery of the Missing Lion // by Alexander McCall Smith

Final Thoughts…

March Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

Check out the next Middle Grade Carousel challenge at their website: https://elymnifoquent.com

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Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / February

mgc-bingo-jan2019

Here’s my bingo card for Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge. This month, I got TWO bingos! Yay!

In all, I finished 14 middle grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card.

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a Middle Grade Carousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads. Find out more about Middle Grade books here.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results… (The * means that’s the book that got me my Bingo!)


*Red Cover

Just So Stories // by Rudyard Kipling

just-so-storiesClassic, Short Stories (1902)

I listened to an audiobook for this one. And it’s narrated by Boris Karloff!

Kipling has such a way with words! It’s really quite delightful to read. I think my favourite stories include the one about the Elephant’s child, and how the leopard got its spots. [4 stars]


*Title Starts with an “F”

Front Desk // by Kelly Yang

front-deskMG, Near-Historical (2018)

I loved this book about Mia (a recent immigrant in the 1990s) and her adventures at the Calivista Motel. It was a fun read, but it was more than just that. I enjoyed the themes of courage and never giving up.

My favourite part is when Mia thinks she’s going to get an A on a school paper, but (SPOILER!) she doesn’t. Even though she’s discouraged, she keeps trying. And it’s the fact that she does try that she ends up succeeding. I highly recommend this book. 🙂 [4.5 stars]

You can read my full review here.


*A Book About Twins

11 Birthdays // by Wendy Mass

11-birthdaysMG, Magical Realism (2009)

Okay, so they are NOT biological twins, but the two main characters (Amanda and Leo) share a birthday. And this is quite important to the plot.

If you like the movie Groundhog Day, then this is the book for you. The story is told through the eyes of Amanda. It’s about her feud with her former best friend Leo. These two characters definitely make the book! I loved the character growth and how they figure things out together.

Note: This was also a re-read for me. I enjoyed it just as much as the first time around 🙂  [4 stars]


*Set During the Civil War

Days of Jubilee // by Patricia C. & Fredrick L. McKissack

days-of-jubileeMG, Non-Fiction (2003)

This book takes a look at the Civil War, from the Emancipation Proclamation to the 13th Amendment. I really enjoyed all the stories as well as their clear and concise way of handling different events during the war. The part about Gettysburg was quite moving.

I also liked how the authors didn’t steer away from the complication found in history. BUT that they didn’t dwell on the ugliness. Instead, they focused on hope for the future.  [5 stars]


*’Sugar’ in the Title

Sugar and Spice // by Sarah Mlynowski

sugar-and-spiceLower MG, Fantasy/Fairy Tale (2016)

This is actually a series of books where a sister and brother get to travel to various fairy tales. As you can probably guess from the cover, this one feature Hansel and Gretel.

I did not know this was a series when I picked this up, but that wasn’t a problem. To be perfectly honest, this isn’t really my cup of tea when it comes to books. (I’m probably being kind when I give it three stars.) I DO love fairy tale retellings, but this one didn’t quite do it for me. It does have a cute premise. I would possibly recommend this book for younger readers. [3 stars]


*Character with a Place Name

One-Third Nerd // by Gennifer Choldenko

one-third-nerdMG, Contemporary (2019)

Okay, so the character with a place name is Dakota. (Aside: this was the one character that drove me batty!)

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it. It’s basically about saving a dog from a nasty landlord. But, to tell the truth, I didn’t really care about the dog. I wish I did. I love fictional dogs. (Shiloh? Ribsy? Old Yeller? Winn-Dixie? Yep. I love those dogs.)

Still, the book was entertaining. I really liked the whole “one-third nerd” thing. And the friendship that springs up between the main character Liam and Moses. And Izzy the sister. She was one of the best things about this book! [3.5 stars]

You can read my full review here.


*Pink Cover

Almost Identical // by Lin Oliver

almost-identicalMG, Contemporary (2012)

This story follows Sammie and Charley Diamond. They are twins and tennis players. But when as they get older, Sammie begins to see something: she and her twin are entirely identical. They like (and want) different things.

I love this coming-of-age novel. It’s told from Sammie’s POV. I definitely felt for Sammie, and at times, was furious with Charley! (Although, Sammie makes her own gaffes.) I loved how the tennis was incorporated into the book. This book gets a definite recommendation from me.

Note: This was a re-read for me. Just as good as the first time around 🙂  [4 stars]


*Pick Your Prompt / Book for Black History Month

Finding Langston // by Lesa Cline-Ransomefinding-langston

MG, Historical Fiction – 1940s (2018)

This book got 5 stars from me! Yeah, I enjoyed it that much. It’s probably the library in the book that did it. For me, you almost can’t go wrong if you have a library. (That’s probably not true, but for this book, it IS true!)

It’s short, but it’s beautiful. I loved Langston’s voice. And I liked watching how the characters developed from the beginning to the end. One of the best books I’ve read this year. Yeah, I know it’s only February. [5 stars]


*Seashells on the Cover

Daisy Dawson at the Beach // by Steve Voake

daisy-dawson-at-beachLower MG, Contemporary/Magical Realism (2011)

Daisy Dawson can speak to animals. In this book, she makes all sorts of friends when she and her parents take a vacation at the beach. She dances with the crabs and even saves a… well, I won’t spoil it.

One weird thing that sort of puzzled me was that her parents seem to be unaware of her special ability. And I’m not sure if she really can speak to animals or if it’s all in her imagination.

If you are looking for in-depth character growth, this book is NOT for you. But it’d be a fun read for younger kids who love, love, love animals. (Also to note: each page has some sort of illustration which is a bonus for those kids just learning to read.) [3 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

    • Second Book in a Series // Finally // by Wendy Mass
    • Title Starts with an “R” // Rules // by Cynthia Lord
    • Hands on the Cover // Thirteen Gifts // by Wendy Mass
    • Talking Animals // The Cricket in Times Square // by George Selden
    • Dog on the Cover // Swindle // by Gordon Korman

Final Thoughts…

February Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

Middle Grade Books for Black History Month

Here are some of my favourite recent reads. I didn’t exactly plan them to be for Black History Month, but that’s how it turned out. These are books I’d recommend reading at any time of the year. Note: I read more than this, but I’ve limited my choices to three books that I really enjoyed.


Finding Langston // by Lesa Cline-Ransomefinding-langston

MG, Historical Fiction – 1940s (2018)

I loved this book! And yes, it contains poetry. (I’m not always too crazy about poetry in books.) So, when a book can get me excited about poetry, I consider that to be a well-written book.

I loved Langston! I felt for him as he attempts to navigate the big city of Chicago after coming north with his father. I love the library! I think as soon as the library made an appearance, I KNEW I was going to love this book. I love the character arcs in this book and the friendships that develop. I loved the discoveries made.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and it’s only February. [5 stars]


Days of Jubilee // by Patricia C. & Fredrick L. McKissack

days-of-jubileeMG Non-Fiction / Civil War (2003)

I really enjoyed this book that details the events that led up to the Civil War to the Emancipation Proclamation to the 13th Amendment. The authors lay everything out in a clear, easy-to-read way. They also include little stories throughout. One of my favourites involved Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker. Wow! That dressmaker is one smart woman.

And history is not always neat and tidy. People and events are complicated. I liked how the authors didn’t steer away from the complication. But I also like that they didn’t dwell on the ugliness. Instead, they focused on hope for the future.  [5 stars]


Stella by Starlight // by Sharon M. Draper

stella-by-starlightMG,  Historical Fiction – 1930s (2015)

This book opens with a chilling scene of the main character (Stella) witnessing the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross. The main theme deals with fear and how the Klan was trying to intimidate the black families in the community so that they wouldn’t register to vote. The voting scenes were particularly amazing. And I like how Stella starts her own little newspaper (only to be read by one: her!)

I did feel there was a little cohesion lacking in bringing the story together as a whole, which is why I didn’t give the book 5 stars. But it’s an interesting read. And I really enjoyed Stella’s voice.   [4 stars]


YOUR TURN…

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any books that you read for Black History Month? Tell me about them in the comments!

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

Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / January

mgc-bingo-jan2019

Here’s my bingo card for Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge. This month, I finished nine middle grade books. Well, eight titles that fit the descriptions on the bingo card. (I actually read more than nine books, including a few books for adults.)

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a Middle Grade Carousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads. Find out more about Middle Grade books here.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results… (The * means that’s the book that got me my Bingo!)


*Graphic Novel

The Little Mermaid // by Metaphrog

little-mermaidMG, Graphic Novel, Fairy Tale (2017)

So, this is the Hans Christian Anderson version of the fairy tale. (But it does borrow some elements from the Disney version!) The illustrations did not blow me away, but I did like a few of them. Particularly when the sea witch bargains for the little mermaid’s voice. They did the whole thing in pink and it is striking!

The one thing I didn’t like was the ending. They got it wrong. 😦 She doesn’t turn into sea foam! She joins the daughters of the air. [4 stars]


*A Book by a Favourite Author

Ramona and her Father // by Beverly Cleary

ramona-and-her-fatherMG, Contemporary (1977)

This is perhaps the most perfect of the Ramona books! Okay, I love them all, but this one is extra special. And it definitely earned the Newbery Honor.

I love how it tackles her dad’s job loss and his smoking. Ramona has come a long way from her days as Henry Huggins’ nemesis. I think that’s what I really like about these books. Ramona still does things her own way, except now we get to see it through her POV. And, frankly, that makes all the difference.

The scene with the burrs? Wonderful! [5 stars]


*First in the Title

Jacob Two-Two’s First Spy Case // by Mordecai Richler

jacob-two-two-first-spy-caseMG, Contemporary (1997)

This was a fun read in the same sort of vein as The Phantom Tollbooth. Jacob Two-Two breaks into espionage when his neighbour turns out to be a Master Spy.

Lots of fun word-play. (The villains are Mr. I.M. Greedyguts and the Perfectly Loathsome Leo Louse.) And lots of little Canadian jokes 🙂  [4 stars]


*A Tail on the Cover

The Unteachables  // by Gordon Korman

unteachablesMG, Contemporary (2019)

Gordon Korman’s back on top of his game for this book! Hooray 🙂 As for the tail… yes, there is a tail on the cover of the book. See the little lizard sitting on the desk?

I enjoyed getting to know the group of kids nicknamed the Unteachables. As in many of Korman’s books, we get to see things through several differing viewpoints… including the teacher Mr. Kermit, and even the principal. [4 stars]


*Author’s First Name is Jonathan

Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training // by Jonathan Bernstein

bridget-wilder.jpgMG, Contemporary/Espionage (2015)

This book reminded me of the Spy School books. But it’s a little weirder than that. There were some nice twists and turns, but I wasn’t crazy about a few of the things that happen in the book. Mainly with regards to the big brother Ryan, who is constantly in trouble. But this all seems to be part of a running joke in the book. Maybe I was taking it too seriously. Anyhow, this book was okay, but nothing to get excited about. [3 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

    • Double O’s in the Title // Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One // by Judy Blume
    • A Book that was Recommended // The Moffats // by Eleanor Estes
    • Pick Your Prompt / A Mystery // Room One // by Andrew Clements
    • A Quest // The Dark is Rising // by Susan Cooper

Final Thoughts…

January Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

Two Different Books, Same Topic

I recently read two middle-grade books that take place during Hurricane Katrina. What an interesting experience to read these books back-to-back.

finding-someplaceFinding Someplace // by Denise Lewis Patrick

Genre: MG, Near-Historical (2015)

My Thoughts: This one had a lot of potential, but it got mixed up with too many characters and too many themes. It’s a book that doesn’t quite know what it is. The main character is Reesie, the only daughter in an African-American family living in New Orleans. It’s her goal in life to be a fashion designer. And guess what? It’s her birthday!

That’s when Hurricane Katrina strikes. So far, so good. We soon learn that she’s terrified of water! (Backstory: She almost drowned in a swimming pool once.) But here’s where things start to go downhill. When there’s water all around her, does she freak out? Does she have a panic attack? No and no. The only other time this fear is mentioned (that I recall) is when her neighbour says something about it toward the end of the book. Like “I noticed you were afraid, Reesie.”

Also, there was also too many characters. So many people came and went. They were developed, then BAM! They were gone. (And don’t get me started on the kiss that was not set up properly.) What I really wanted was to spend more time in the book as she connected with (and possibly have conflict with) Miss Martine!

That said, I did like Reesie! Perhaps they rushed publication on this one? The book needed to be longer in order to deal with everything Denise Lewis Patrick introduced to us. [3 Stars]


zane-and-hurricaneZane and the Hurricane // by Rodman Philbrick

Genre: MG, Near-Historical (2014)

My Thoughts: I read this book after the one above. But this book was so much tighter. In a lot of ways, it was very similar. But there are differences. Zane is half-black and comes from New Hampshire. But guess what? His mom sends him down to visit his great-grandma in New Orleans. And it just happens that this happens right before Hurricane Katrina strikes.

There is an old neighbour character (Tru), and there’s conflict with the sassy girl (Malvina). This book stays pretty much within the time-frame of the hurricane and the day or so after. (Unlike the other book which jumps us to Christmas in New Jersey and then back to New Orleans in the spring. Not necessarily bad in and of itself; but like I said, that book tried to cram too much into not enough pages.)

I really enjoyed the character dynamics between Tru, Malvina, and Zane. We got to know them and care about them. We wanted them to survive! [4 Stars]


So, if you have to pick between these two books? I’d definitely go with the second one by Rodman Philbrick. The one by Denise Lewis Patrick had potential, but (unfortunately) it did not live up to that potential. I wish it was so much more! Zane, on the other hand, was well-written and knew what it was going for.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

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

Quick Pick Reviews #13

Clementine’s Letter // by Sara Pennypacker

clementines-letterGenre: Lower MG, Contemporary (2008)

My Thoughts: This is another super cute story about Clementine. And she’s ready to conquer the third grade! Especially with her Teacher at the helm of their class. But then comes the news that he’s a finalist in a contest where he might get to go on an archaeological dig in Egypt. But Clementine doesn’t want her Teacher to leave them!

This is where Clementine’s letter comes into the story. I really enjoyed Clementine’s journey in this book. And I liked how the letter is used at the end of the story. She reminds me so much of Ramona Quimby, although I do think I like Ramona just a tiny bit better. Not exactly sure why. [3.5 Stars]


The Moffats // by Eleanor Estes

moffatsGenre: MG, Historical Fiction (1941)

My Thoughts: Definitely is a little old-fashioned… but this book about the Moffat family is a fun read. Mrs. Moffat lives with her four children—Sylvie, Joe, Jane, and Rufus—in a yellow house. Their landlord is trying to sell it… to the great dismay of the Moffats.

My favourite episodes were: 1) about Joe at the dance recital; and 2) how the children end up losing the Salvation Army man out of the back of his own horse and wagon. I also liked how the story does come full-circle at the end with what happens to the yellow house. (I can’t stand those Murdocks… trying to buy the house from underneath the Moffats’ feet!) [3 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

Quick Pick Reviews #12

The Christmas Doll // by Elvira Woodruff

Genre: Lower MG, Historical (2000)

christmas-dollMy Thoughts: This story seems to me to be a hybrid of a Charles Dickens/George MacDonald tale… It’s about two little orphans who run away from the workhouse and end up on the streets of London. I did like the relationship the two sisters had, and the boy they meet is a fun addition. I love the element of the doll-maker, so that was definitely a bonus for me.

In many ways, the story isn’t terribly realistic. It almost has a fairy tale quality to it. However, if you know that going in, you can enjoy it for what it is. A very nice Christmas story with a sweet and happy ending. [3 Stars]


The True Gift // by Patricia MacLachlan

Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary (2009)

true-giftMy Thoughts: A sweet story about a brother and sister who are staying with their grandparents over Christmas. Liam feels like White Cow could use a friend, and so he goes out to find her one.

I really liked how the siblings worked together on Liam’s project. While I don’t think this book quite match the magic of MacLauchlan’s Sarah Plain and Tall books, it does stand as a nice and enjoyable Christmas story.  [3 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

Autumn Reading Bingo Challenge / November

mgc-bingo-11nov2018

Here’s my bingo card for Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge. This month, I finished only eight middle grade books. Well, eight titles that fit the descriptions on the bingo card. (I actually read more than eight books, including a few books for adults.)

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a Middle Grade Carousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during November.

Here are my results… (The * means that’s the book that got me my Bingo!)


*A Book of Short Stories

Funny Business // by Jon Scieszka, ed.

MG, Contemporary (2010)

funny-businessThis is a Guys Read book. I’ve seen these around for quite awhile, but this is the first time I’ve ever picked one up. And I’m glad I did. While I’ve read many of the authors before, there were some that were new to me. It was nice to get a hint of what they write. It was also nice to read new-to-me short stories by authors I already knew.

I particularly enjoyed the story “Artemis Begins” by Eoin Colfer. From what I can tell, this is a true story about his brother being the inspiration for his character Artemis Fowl. And then there was a story called “Your Question for Author Here” by Kate DiCamillo and Jon Scieszka. It’s about a boy who has to write an author for a school assignment, and he gets a little more than he bargained for! [4 stars – Most stories were 3 stars, but there were a couple really good ones!]


*Red Cover

public-school-superheroPublic School Superhero // by James Patterson

MG, Contemporary (2015)

This book is about Kenny, who has been labelled by the school bullies as a “Grandma’s Boy”. But he’s invented an superhero alter-ego: Stainlezz Steel. After an incident, he (the victim) ends up with the same detention as the boys who pick on him. This eventually leads to him having to teach chess to one of the bullies: Ray-Ray.

This was an interesting book. I really like the story arc with Ray-Ray. And I love the principal. And the grandma. And of course, Kenny, himself. [4 stars]


*Pick Your Prompt / Based on a Classic

pinocchioPinocchio // by Michael Morpurgo

MG, Fantasy (2013)

I’ve never read the original classic written by Carlo Collodi, but I have seen the Disney movie LOTS of times. (I always hated the part about the donkeys!) So, when I read this, I could see some of the differences, especially the changes Walt Disney made. (And to tell the truth, I thought his changes were pretty decent. For example: In the end, Pinocchio is [SPOILER] swallowed by a shark. Disney changed this to a whale, which generally makes more sense to me. Wouldn’t a shark just rip both him and Geppetto to pieces? Whales, on the other hand, swallow their food whole.) [END SPOILER]

I enjoyed this book, which is told through the voice of Pinocchio, himself. Although, I will say that Pinocchio drove me crazy with all his stupid decisions! Just go home to Geppetto, Pinocchio. And apparently Morpurgo departs from both the Collodi and the Disney ending slightly with regards to Pinocchio becoming a real boy.

And the part about the donkeys? Yeah, it still bothers me. [4 stars]


*A Disabled Character

al-capone-throw-me-a-curveAl Capone Throws Me a Curve // by Gennifer Choldenko

MG, Historical Fiction (2018)

The disabled character is Natalie (she has a form of autism). Choldenko based her on her own sister. I love how this book (series) tells of the challenges and rewards of living with somebody like Natalie. I love how Moose struggles with this, but how their dad (especially) remains so positive and loving towards his daughter.

This is the fourth book in this series. While it’s not the best in the series, it’s still worth the read. (I absolutely love the first two books.) [4 stars]


*A Best-Selling Author

spy-school-goes-southSpy School Goes South // by Stuart Gibbs

MG, Espionage (2018)

I do love this series. However… the past few books aren’t quite as stellar as the first books. (I hate to make the joke, but they really have started to go south. Yikes!)

There are still things I like about this book, though. Erica Hale, for one. And her mother! And Ben still remains our likeable protagonist. (I’m not crazy about Mike being in Spy School. And I’m not sure what I think about Zoe.) The Farkles Family Reunion is a cute part of the plot. And I’m glad Murray is part of the plot from the beginning and does not just swoop in with the bad guys at the end of the story like he has in the past. [3 stars]

P.S. I feel like this might need a more in-depth review in the near future.


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

    • Color in the Title // Diary of a Mad Brownie // by Bruce Covill
    • Case in the Title // Case of the Purloined Parrot // by E.W. Hildick
    • Author’s Last Name Starts with “B” // Freckle Juice // by Judy Blume

Final Thoughts…

November Bingo is complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

Quick Pick Reviews #11

Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick // by Jennifer L. Holm

eighth-grade-making-me-sickGenre: MG, Contemporary (2012)

My Thoughts: This is the sequel to Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf. The subtitle pretty much sums up the style of this book: Ginny Davis’s Year in Stuff. And it’s surprising how much plot we get from just reading report cards, notes from mom, bank statements, etc. This book picks up where the last one left off and Ginny’s life proves to be as interesting as ever.

I will say that the title of this book is actually quite plot relevant (as opposed to the Meatloaf title; I don’t remember meatloaf factoring into the plot of the first book.) [4 Stars]


Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job // by Willo Davis Roberts

baby-sitting-dangerous-jobGenre: MG, Contemporary (1985)

My Thoughts: A cute book about a teen named Darcy who gets a baby-sitting job for a family known to have three, rambunctious kids. That’s how she ends up being kidnapped along with the children. I like how she and the children bond and work together.

Is the book realistic? Not really, but it’s fairly entertaining. I do love the cover on this re-release. (I’ve seen the original 1980’s cover and, well, this one is so much better. Although I’m not exactly sure what the tree house has to do with the plot!) [3 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

Autumn Reading Bingo Challenge / October

mgc-bingo-oct2018Once again Middle Grade Carousel hosted a Reading Bingo challenge. Again, I wasn’t sure if I’d participate this month. However, since I normally read MG anyway, I decided to try for a bingo. This month, I finished twelve middle grade books.

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a Middle Grade Carousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during October.

Here are my results… (The * means that’s the book that got me my Bingo!)


*The Second Book in a Series

12 Before 13 // by Lisa Greenwald

12-before-13MG, Contemporary (2018)

A cute story about these two friends who make a list of things to do before their thirteenth birthdays. I didn’t know it was a sequel to another book when I picked it up. The series is called The Friendship List. But I found this book worked well as a stand-alone. The author does reference the first book a bit (apparently they had a similar, but different, list of things to do before their twelfth birthdays.) [3.5 stars]


*Candy in the Title

Candy Bomber // by Michael O. Tunnell

candy-bomberMG, Non-fiction (2010)

This book is non-fiction. The subtitle is The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot”. I found this very interesting since I haven’t read much about the Berlin Airlift. In addition to the food, fuel, and medical supplies that were flown into West Berlin in 1948-49, one pilot decided to bring candy for the children. Lt. Gail Halvorsen would wiggle his wings as he flew into the city. That was the signal for the children to look up. Packages of candy would float down with tiny white parachutes.

This book is for anybody who loves history, and WWII in particular. The book has lots of photos, plus copies of some of the many thank-you letters Halvorsen received from the German children.  [4 stars]


*A Book about Cryptids

Flight of the Phoenix // by R. L. LaFever

flight-of-phoenixLower MG, Magical Realism (2010)

This is Book One of a series called Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist. Poor Nate finds himself an orphan and in the care of a relative who has dodo birds living in the house! And then his aunt reveals the nature of their family business, which includes protecting a phoenix who’s about to be born from the ashes. However, when Aunt Phil is taken hostage by a Bedouin tribe, it’s up to the unadventurous Nate to make sure the phoenix will take flight. Cute story. Loved Nate and the gremlin, too! [3.5 stars]


*Historical

Winnie’s Great War // by Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut

Winnies-great-warMG, Historical Fiction (2018)

I loved this book! First of all, it’s the true story behind the real Winnie-the-Pooh. Named for the city of Winnipeg, Winnie was an orphan black bear that crossed the Atlantic with the Canadian troops during the First World War. Since she was just a baby, she became their mascot. This book chronicles her voyage, her shenanigans, and how she was eventually taken to live in the London Zoo… which is where, of course, a real little boy named Christopher Robin came to visit with his dad. [5 stars]

A full review is coming soon!


*A Book Recommended to You

Nerd Camp // by Elissa Brent Weissman

camp-nerdMG, Contemporary (2011)

I really enjoyed this book. It was recommended by a fellow book blogger. Yay for good recommendations! This is a fun little romp of a book that follows Gabe, a kid who struggles with the idea of being too nerdy, especially in the eyes of his new step-brother. [4 stars]

You can read my full review here.


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

    • Title Starts with T // The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet // by Erin Dionne
    • A Book About Witches // The Land of Stories: Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales // by Chris Colfer
    • Magical Realism // Time Garden // by Edward Eager
    • Author Who is New to You // Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job // by Willo Davis Roberts
    • A Book Found at a Thrift Store // Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle // by Betty MacDonald
    • House on the Cover // The Spy Code Caper // by Susan Pearson
    • A Book About Heroes // Silent in an Evil Time // by Jack Batton

Final Thoughts…

October Bingo is complete!