Review / Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

macy-mcmillan-rainbow-goddessBook: Macy McMillan & the Rainbow Goddess (2017)
Author: Shari Green
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Life is not easy for Macy. First of all, she’s deaf and so it’s sometimes hard to communicate with the world. And then there are all the recent changes to her life…. Her mom’s getting married, they’re moving, and she’s had a falling out with her best friend. And then, her mom volunteers her to help her crabby neighbour with her own move.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) All the literature references! I loved this book for just that. First of all, Macy loves to read, and soon enough, she finds out that [*Slight Spoiler] her crabby neighbour also loves books. [end spoiler] When it came to the quote about Anne of Green Gables, I was just flabbergasted. THIS woman (the character Iris, and probably also the author since she wrote the thing in the first place) gets why Anne is so amazing. (Can you tell it’s one of my favourite books?)

2) The title is interesting. The Rainbow Goddess refers to Iris, the “crabby” neighbour. I loved how their relationship (like that of a grandmother and granddaughter) develops over the book, especially the scene near the end with regards to the wedding.

3) It’s a quick read, written as a novel in verse. I liked how the author formatted the conversations. Since Macy is deaf, it’s interesting to see how she worked the dialogue that in sign language.

4) The new step-father-to-be… I really liked seeing such a positive spin put on this character, Alan. He really does try with Macy, especially how he tries to learn some basic sign language. And his daughters are adorable! (One of the best parts is when Macy is disgusted by Alan’s plain paint choices at his house and she decides that she wants her room to be purple, just to bug him. Only to discover… well, I won’t spoil it.)

5) The friendship debacle with Olivia is a good side plot. I loved how that played out as well.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) So, in the story, Macy loses her hearing at age four. I wondered about the fact that she can’t speak. But by age four, wouldn’t she have already learned how to talk. (I suppose it’s possible she was a late-talker.) Not a big deal, but it just made me wonder.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this book. What I got was a wonderful surprise. I completely LOVED it! The characters and story arc. Everything. I highly recommend this book! (And if you love Anne of Green Gables, I recommend it that much more.)


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 / Counting Thyme

counting-thymeBook: Counting Thyme (2016)
Author: Melanie Conklin
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Thyme Owen’s little brother Val has cancer. What that means is that their family leaves their home in California to go to get him a special treatment in New York City. Thyme’s not keen on leaving behind her best friend Shani. So, she plans to save up the slips in her Thyme Jar (a little reward system used by her parents) so she can go home early to spend her birthday with Shani in March… just like they do every year. But things start to get complicated, especially when Thyme starts to make new friends. She even signs up to take part in the Spring Fling musical at school in… uh oh… March. And then there’s Val’s cancer treatments…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I enjoyed the relationship between Thyme and her little brother Val. And also the relationship (at times hard; at other times sisterly) with her sister Cori. And I do like that their names are all garden herbs… thanks Mom (i.e. Rosemary)! Thyme = well, Thyme; Cori = Coriander; and Val = Valerian. Okay, so I’m not super enamored with Val’s name. First, because valerian root is a sleep agent and that seems a little weird to me. Not sure what would have been a better name, though! But I do like the names for Thyme and Coriander.

2) One of the best characters is Mrs. Ravelli, the Italian woman who comes to help the family by cooking, cleaning, and walking Thyme to school. What a wonderful woman she is! I love how Thyme gives her the nickname (in a fond sense) of Ravioli. Because well, her name sounds a lot like it.

3) It’s hard to leave your home and friends behind. I love stories that deal with this. Conklin does a nice job with making this work for the story in just the right balance… the longing vs. the acceptance of a new situation. I like the fact that we get to see how the different family members deal with this.

4) The new friendships that develop in the story were nicely done. They took a few little turns I wasn’t quite expecting, which is good! 🙂

5) I almost wanted more interaction between Thyme and the neighbour-man who lives in the apartment below Thyme’s family. Mr. Lipinsky has a good deal of bite to him, but (of course) he turns out to be a bit of a softy at heart. And then there’s his bird, Sylvie.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I like the cover art, but… there is one thing that bothers me about it. If this is New York City, where are the fire escapes?! (That building is a death trap!)

2) There are a few moments where the conflict resolves a little too easily… just like that! *snap* I’m thinking particularly about a scene between the mom and the sister Cori. I was like… well, that was super easy. (If only life worked like that!)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Love the New York City setting. Thyme is a likeable character. And who wouldn’t want Mrs. Ravioli to cook for them? *Highly recommended.


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

*Note #2: You may notice that I didn’t put a rating for this book. After reading this post by Krysta @ Pages Unbound, I’m rethinking my rating system. Basically, I find I don’t really review books I don’t recommend. And my ratings all tend to be the same anyhow. (Usually, I fluctuate between a 3-4 stars which mean I like the book!) I will probably continue to put ratings on my Goodreads account, because well, that’s how that website works. But for now, I’m planning to give my recommendation in the Final Thoughts.

Review: Roll

rollBook: Roll (2017)
Author: Darcy Miller
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars

Basic plot: Ren and his family have moved out of town to his grandma’s old farmhouse in the country. Under his dad’s guidance, he’s in training to run cross-country. During one early morning run, he meets Sutton, the (new) girl next door, and discovers that she’s training Birmingham Roller Pigeons. As Ren tries to find his footing (how to relate to the best friend he left behind, how to improve his run times, etc), he also finds himself drawn to Sutton and her pigeons. Now, if only he can get the courage to tell his dad that he doesn’t want to be a great athlete.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The Birmingham Roller Pigeons were pretty cool. Had to look them up on youtube because I have never heard of this before.

2) I like the friendship that develops between Sutton and Ren, especially how they bond over the pigeons. And with the pigeons!

3) I enjoyed Ren’s voice in this book. I liked his nerdiness and how his narration showed that part of him.

4) The comic book thread was a fun aspect of the book. Ren is obsessed with old British comics, ones I’m not familiar with. But sure enough, when I looked them up online, I find that they do indeed exist. (I like how Ren and Sutton watch the old Adam West Batman show!)

5) I also liked how the whole cross-country running thing turned out. Ren’s dad is a runner and Ren expects that he needs to be a runner as well. And even though he tries, Sutton sees the truth. Ren just doesn’t quite LOVE running the way his dad does.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I had a hard time envisioning how Sutton was “training” her pigeons. I got how they flew, but what was she doing to actually “train” them?

2) Ren’s real name is Lauren, which he tells us (right away) that he hates. (I don’t blame him.) Then why does he introduce himself to several people as Lauren? Why not just say that his name is Ren. This did not make sense to me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I liked the book. The bit about the roller pigeons was pretty fascinating. Who knew that actually existed!


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: Mo Wren, Lost and Found

mo-wren-2Book: Mo Wren, Lost and Found (2011)
Author: Tricia Springstubb
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars

Basic plot: Mo Wren and her family are moving away from Fox Street. Her dad wants to start his own restaurant. Mo feels more lost than found in this whole new neighbourhood, while Dottie seems to have no trouble at all in fitting in. But when their dad has difficulty securing a loan, Mo’s new “friends” at the laundromat step in and get things rolling.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I really enjoyed the sisterly bond between Mo and Dottie. I like the one scene where Dottie just takes off and Mo’s like: “Fine! Go. I don’t care.” But then she goes off to find her because she is her sister after all. I really loved how that fits in later on in the book with Carmella.

2) Da! Man, I love this old lady. (I’m a sucker for books about kids making friends with old people!) I was really scared that the author was going to kill her off, especially when Mo’s dad gets a “certain phone call”. But, fortunately, that didn’t happen. (Not sure why this old lady is called “Da”, but she is.)

3) At the beginning, there’s a nice little bit about how Mo’s dad chooses a poorer family to buy their old house instead of selling it to the rich people. I loved how that comes back into the story in a way that helps Mr. Wren out.

4) The theme of moving and moving on was knit into the fabric of this story. I loved how the different threads all came together. I’ve had to move from homes and neighbourhoods I’ve loved dearly, so I really did identify well with this part of the story. I think Tricia Springstubb was able to capture the bittersweetness of this topic very well.

5) The part featuring Handsome (the lizard) was quite cute. I like how Dottie chooses a lizard for a pet!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) This did have a slow start for me. I wasn’t really invested in the story until later in the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – This is actually the second book about Mo Wren. I have never read the first, but that didn’t seem to matter too much. Although, perhaps that accounts for the slow start for me. Hmmm. This book would be good for fans of the Penderwicks!


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