Review / One Kid’s Trash

20220401ma_0495Book: One Kid’s Trash (2021)
Author: Jamie Sumner
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Opening lines from the book …
The beautiful and terrible thing about having your bedroom in the basement is that you never know what time it is.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Hugo’s the new kid in town. And it’s nice that he has a cousin to help him navigate the new school. I liked their relationship. And I like how it’s treated throughout the book. It’s not all smooth sailing.

2) This is a story that talks about garbology. Who knew there was such a thing. Anyhow, it turns out that Hugo, the MC, can look at people’s garbage and make some pretty good educated guesses about that person. It turns Hugo from a nobody into one of the more popular kids in school!

3) I liked the newsletter (i.e. student newspaper) angle. Hugo and Vij join a bunch of other kids to create the school news. Em, the student leading the charge, is pretty dedicated. And she gets frustrated with her team of not-quite-as-enthusiastic student contributors, including Hugo! Of course, you know this’ll play into the plot.

4) Then there’s the bully, Chance. He gives Hugo a hard time. I like how Hugo decides to retaliate, but that it turns out not to be the smartest move on his part. There are consequences to becoming a bully, yourself.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed this book about a new kid finding his strength in garbology. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever read before!


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 / Kid Spy: Mac Saves the World

20220205ma_0222Book: Kid Spy: Mac Saves the World (2021)
Author: Mac Barnett
Genre: Lower MG, Espionage/Historical
Series: Kid Spy #6

Opening lines from the book …
This is my dad’s house. It is on the top of a hill in a town called Oakland, California. That a real place. You can look it up. When I was a kid, every other weekend I went to my dad’s house. This was one of those weekends.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) We finally get to meet Mac’s dad in this one. I love how he dealt with the comparison between the different homes (Mom’s house vs. Dad’s house) and then connected it to the split-city of Berlin. The story takes place in 1989, by the way! Which brings me to…

2) I always love the historical tidbits in these books. This one deals with the Berlin Wall and how it came to be. And also the story behind the mistake that led to its fall! (I hope that’s not a spoiler!)

3) There are some funny nods to mistakes in language, and how Mac thinks he knows the meaning of a word, only to find out that it means something completely different! (While I’m not fluent in German, I do know enough to pick up on the mixup before it happens! However, it isn’t necessary to speak German as the book nicely explains it all.)

4) The Queen! Okay, she is my favorite recurring character in the book. I love her. And I hope the real Queen reads these books. I think she might appreciate the humor 🙂 And of course, you gotta love Freddie the corgi.

5) I liked the ending with … wait, I won’t spoil it. But it has to do the the gift given by the Queen to Mac. And yes, the ending makes the most sense if you’ve read the other books!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this latest installment of Kid Spy! In fact, I might venture to say it’s the best (or one of the best) of the books. Although, I do think it’s a good idea to read the series as a whole, you can read it as a stand-alone. Looking forward to the next one. (While this one does wrap up the series nicely, the door is left open a crack for a new one…)

 


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 / Spy School at Sea

20211218ma_4062Book: Spy School at Sea (2021)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: MG, Espionage
Series: Spy School


Opening lines from the book …
The principal was acting stranger than usual. In my sixteen months at the CIA’s Academy of Espionage, I had seen the principal display many aspects of his personality, none of which were good. He had been angry, bitter, paranoid, churlish, jealous, contemptuous, ornery, disdainful, mercurial, obnoxious, flummoxed, confused, passive-aggressive, and just plain mean.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) As with all the Spy School books, we know we’re in for a big adventure. This one takes place on a cruise ship. Lots of fun possibilities, including falling (or being thrown) overboard!

2) Lots of great teamwork between Erica, Ben, and Mike. They all have their weaknesses and strengths. And I like that Catherine and Alexander Hale are in this one again. Although, come to think of it, I missed Cyrus (Erica’s grandfather).

3) And of course, there’s Ben’s nemesis: Murray Hill. I love how these books are so kid-centric!

4) It was nice to meet Jessica Shang again (from Spy Ski School). I do love how various characters pop up every now and then from the older books. 

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) In this story, Ben, Erica, and Mike are posing as siblings with parents: Alexander and Catherine. Of course, they all have assumed names, but they rarely USE these names. While on board, they continue to call each other (mostly) by their real names. I would have liked them to use their fictional names a little more often!

2) The scene at the very end. I won’t spoil it, and I know that the whole series has kind of been leading up to this, but I didn’t think the book did a good job leading up to this moment. It almost seemed tacked on. It’s nothing horrible, just not handled as masterfully as it could have been.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I thought this was another good installment of the Spy School series! I’m looking forward to the next one, ’cause you know there’s going to be a next one, right?


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 / Spy School: British Invasion

Spy School British InvasionBook: Spy School: British Invasion (2019)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: MG, Adventure/Espionage

Basic plot: The Spy School kids are on yet another secret mission, this time to London. Their job? To bring down SPYDER. Their only clue is a key. But because they don’t know who to trust, they must go rogue from CIA, and even MI6. And then there’s Murray Hill who’s helping them. Or is he? 

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) This is Book 7 in the series, and while I felt disappointed in the last couple of books, this one brought be right back to the excitement of the first books! Yay! Ben and his friends are back, and to tell you the truth, I’m even okay with Mike being in the mix now. (Note: You’ll see from this review that I initially didn’t like Mike. I mean, I was fine with him as a character, I just preferred it when he wasn’t a spy.)

2) I love Catherine Hale! And, I even really like what Gibbs did with Alexander Hale in this one! (I’m not crazy about bumbling adults that have no redeeming qualities. And that’s the brush Alexander Hale’s been painted with for the last ten books… Yes, I know there haven’t been ten books yet. I’m slightly exaggerating. Anyway, just saying, that I’m glad part of this book was about seeing that everybody brings something to the table, even if we don’t always see it at first.

3) I love the friendship and trust that’s developed between Ben and Erica. And of course, the underlying romantic tension that remains underlying. And I am okay with Zoe misinterpreting a few things. (Like the hand-holding bit. Not what it sounds like.)

4) I loved the setting of this one. London and Paris! The British Museum. Tower Bridge. The Eiffel Tower. Even the Catacombs. All good.

5) This book was quite action-packed. It comes directly on the heels of the book that comes before it. The only breather seems to be the times they’re in the air, flying to their next destination. The climax at the Eiffel Tower was great! I’ve never been to the Eiffel Tower, so I found that part very fun. I’m guessing a lot of the descriptions are true. (Now I want to climb up the Eiffel Tour!)

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) The destruction of museum property and artifacts was slightly (no, very) hard to read about. I was somewhat surprised that Catherine Hale (a museum curator) didn’t cringe a little more often!

FINAL THOUGHTS

The kids from Spy School are back in this rip-roaring adventure. Everything you love about Spy School is here in this one. If you haven’t read the first books in the series, please do. And while, I think some of the middle ones sag a bit, they are kind of necessary to read before you pick this one up.


YOUR TURN…

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

Review: Spy School Goes South

spy-school-goes-southBook: Spy School Goes South (2018)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Espionage
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: SPYDER is at it again. Murray, who’s been a prisoner at the Spy School since the events of the last book, is willing to lead Ben and Erica to SPYDER’s headquarters. But things (obviously) go wrong. There’s a plane crash and survival tactics come into play. And the best news is that SPYDER thinks they’re all dead, which is perfect when you plan to infiltrate the enemies hide out.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Ben’s a great main character. I love how unassuming he is. And of course, juxtaposed against Erica… well, they make a great team.

2) The Farkle Family Reunion was a fun method for the team of spies to fit in at the resort. I also like that this also turns out to be a bad decision.

3) Love how Catherine Hale (Erica’s mum) shows up.

4) As always, the covers of these books are a fun way to introduce a basic plot of the novel!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Okay, this is where I start pointing out things I didn’t like. And sadly, as this series continues, I find there’s more and more things I don’t like. Why is the CIA and SPYDER run by kids? (Other than Catherine Hale–and the body guards for SPYDER–there are no adults! Even Cyrus and Alexander Hale only pop in at the end, after it’s all over.) I get it. The CIA has been infiltrated by SPYDER. But I still don’t know why Joshua (maybe 18 or 19?) is the one in charge of the special red button that will blow things up!

2) Speaking of the red button… not the most original plot device. I guess this is a spy novel, though.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – This book was okay, but not as good as the first three in the series. I almost wish he’d stop writing this series as it becomes harder and harder to suspend disbelief. I’m guessing he’s going to do at least one more since he seems to have set that up. Do I recommend this book. Sort of. Maybe? Only if you don’t mind kids who make better spies then spies with years of training and experience.


YOUR TURN…

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