City of Ghosts Book Review

Summary: Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself. 

Thoughts: I’ve been listening to a lot of young adult books on audio since they are easy to get through and I can go through them faster this way. I thought that since young adult on audio was good I might as well also listen to middle grade since I enjoy reading those as well. I’m glad that I listened to this one on audio as it was nice to hear.

I really enjoy getting a chance to read stories with ghosts that are friendly and have a human like personality. I liked hearing about the adventures that Jacob and Cass are going on and the trouble that they get themselves into. I really enjoy the friendship that they have with each other and how that friendship continues even if Jacob is a ghost.

Something else that I enjoy in this book is how the adults support Cass in her friendship with Jacob and in her pursuit of ghosts. I think it was nice to see how her parent’s were so fascinated by the supernatural while Cass was the only one who could communicate with ghosts and they had no idea. I enjoyed all of the adults that Cass comes into contact with both in the veil and in the real world.

I also really enjoy the way that the truth unravels and how as the reader you are also learning along with Cass. I liked hearing about Cass being in the veil and her feelings while she’s in there. I think you get a good glimpse into what a teenager would feel like being in this world and how it changes her perspective on life.

I recommend this to those of you who like paranormal books and those who are ages 10+. You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or IndieBound or look for it at your local library.

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs Book Review

Thank you to Harper Collins Kids for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Lydia knows more about death than most thirteen-year-olds. Her mother was already sick when her father left them six years ago. When her mother dies, it is Lydia who sits by her side.

Fully orphaned now, Lydia follows the plan her mother made with her. She uproots to rural Connecticut to live with her “last of kin.” Aunt Brat, her jovial wife Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord Elloroy welcome Lydia. Only days after her arrival the women adopt a big yellow dog.

Lydia is not a dog person—and this one is trouble! He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past.

Lydia doesn’t want to cause trouble for her new family—and she does not mean to keep secrets—but there are things she’s not telling . . .

….like why the box of “paper stuff” she keeps under her bed is so important…

….and why that hole in the wall behind a poster in her room is getting bigger…

…..and why something she took from the big yellow dog just might be the key to unraveling his mysterious past—but at what cost? 

Thoughts: Last year I was able to read a lot of middle grade books that really enjoyed them so I was hoping the enjoy a lot this year as well. Unfortunately I just haven’t been reading as much physical books as I would like to and I don’t really enjoy middle grade as audiobooks. I’m glad that I picked this one up though since it seems to have taken me out of the reading slump that I had been in.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, both the animals and the humans that were included. I really enjoy having dogs in books because I think that they bring something out of the people that I really like. I like when there is a similarity between the dog and the humans which in this case was how they were both brought in around the same time. I think that fact adds to how Lydia relates to this dog and how she views herself in this home.

I liked how we saw Lydia develop through the course of the book and how her relationship with the yellow dog and her new humans change. I like how you watch her grow up and how the people around her change. I thought it was important to hear her thoughts around coming to a new place and feeling like she didn’t belong, I liked seeing her struggle with the idea of making this new place her home and how that scene near the end solidifies for her what this new place means.

I really enjoyed the themes and topics that were discussed throughout the book such as friendship, death, and family. I really enjoyed how the book discusses a different type of family structure and how Lydia comes to terms with her new family.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy middle grade or have children ages 10+. I think it’s a great book for kids ages 10-14.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Aster and the Accidental Magic Book Review

Goodreads Summary

Quiet . . . birds . . . nature. . . .

That’s what Aster expects when her parents move their whole family to the middle of nowhere. It’s just her (status: super-bored), her mom and dad (status: busy with science), her brother (status: has other plans), and . . .

. . . magic?

In her new home, Aster meets a mysterious old woman with a herd of dogs who gives her a canine companion of her own. But when she and her dog Buzz are adventuring in the forest, they run into a trickster spirit who gives Aster three wishes. After wishing for the ability to understand and talk to her dog, she becomes only able to talk in dog language . . . and the trouble she gets into is just starting.

Maybe the middle of nowhere will be more interesting than Aster thought.

Thoughts: This is one that I’m glad to be able to share with my teenage cousins because its such a cute story. I love finding a book that I can share because once the other person reads it we can talk about it. I much more love finding books to share with my family to ensure that they enjoy reading as much as I do.

I love the many characters that Aster meets and the stories that happen as she meets them. I think that each teach her a lesson and each of them make me want to read more. I think that each story blends well with each other and continues the story but I also like how each story can also be read on its own.

I think this is a great middle grade read because of all the action and how quick paced it was. I also like how the story mixes the magic into a very current world and how Aster is your typical teenager. I also like that the ending kept you wanting to know what happens next. 

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy graphic novels or who are looking for a quick magical read.

I received an ARC from Harper Collins in exchange for my honest review. You can preorder this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library starting March 3rd.

Bug Boys ARC Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Rhino-B is a brash, but sweet guy. Stag-B is a calm and scholarly adventurer. Together these two young beetles make up the Bug Boys, best friends who spend their time exploring the world of Bug Village and beyond, as well as their own – sometimes confusing and complicated – thoughts and feelings.

In their first adventure, the Bug Boys travel through spooky caves, work with a spider to found a library, save their town’s popular honey supply from extinction, and even make friends with ferocious termites!

What challenges will these two earnest beetles face? Whatever it is, you can be sure that Rhino-B and Stag-B will face it together — with the power of friendship behind them.

Thoughts: This is a book that I’m going to share with my 7 year old cousin because I think he would enjoy it. I’m always on the look out for books that my younger cousins could enjoy so I was pleased to get a chance to read this. Sometimes when reading a book meant for younger children I wind up not enjoying it for myself because it isn’t meant for me but still find the beauty in the story for the age it was intended for; this book was a different story though because I liked it for myself as well.

This book is a graphic novel with different stories about friendship. I really enjoyed the length of each story because I think each of them is the perfect length to hold the attention of younger children. I like how this is a book that new readers can read and can start with a chapter a day to ease into reading.

I thought that the drawings in this book were rather cute and the characters really drew me in. The relationships that these bugs had with each other were cute and endearing.

I recommend this to those of you looking for something that new readers will enjoy or those of you looking for something to read with children ages 6 and up. You can pre-order this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library. This book is coming February 11,2020.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and Shelf Awareness Pro for the advanced reader copies.

The Best At It Book Review

Thank you to HarperCollins for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Rahul is struggling because he wants to find something that he is great at but he falls short in everything that he tries. But in trying all of these things so many more issues are showing up that he doesn’t know how to deal with, such as his OCD, his sexuality, bullying, and racism. Much of the bullying that Rahul is facing at school is due to his perceived sexuality by one student, and because Rahul is Indian. Throughout the story, Rahul learns to embrace who he is despite what others may say and come to terms with all of the differences. Will Rahul be able to find something that he is great at? Will he overcome the bullying he faces at school? What will Rahul learn about himself through this whole process?

Thoughts: I loved the way that this story dealt with so many topics without it being overwhelming for the age group that it was intended for. I loved how each of the topics was addressed by Rahul’s friends and family and how intertwined his race was with these discussions. I really liked the characters that were included and how they each made Rahul’s differences stand out more than he liked. I thought that was a great way to show the reality of situations like Rahul’s for people his age.

I thought it was so great to read about how Rahul’s Indian background informed his thinking and the things that he did. This is the first book that I’ve read in which the main character is Indian and it was great that this was an #ownvoices book because it read really authentically. I enjoyed the relationship that Rahul had with his family, especially his grandfather, Bhai, and really appreciated that the relationships he had with his family’s friends were included.

While the book was written for ages 8-12 I think that up to ages 14 would enjoy this book as well as educators who would read with their classes. I think it is also a book that adults who read middle grade would enjoy because of the topics that it covers, it really opens up those discussions with younger audiences.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy Book Review

Thank You to HarperCollins for the copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Sweet Pea has no idea what to expect when her parent’s announce that they are getting a divorce. She definitely didn’t expect that they would be living only one house apart in almost identical houses. Things suddenly change for Sweet Pea when the writer for an advice columnist, her neighbor, Miss Flora Mae, asks her to forward her the letters. Sweet Pea believes that she recognizes the writing on one of these letters though and she decides to answer the letter herself. Her answering this letter changes so many things for her and her relationships with others. What happens next with Sweet Pea? Does the answering of this letter have positive or negative consequences?

Thoughts: I really enjoy how this books deals with divorce, sexuality, and body positivity. I like that the book is written for a younger audience because I hardly see books with fat protagonists in them. Something I enjoyed in regards to the body positivity aspect of this book was how the main character and her family made it a point that far wasn’t a bad word. I thought with all the images out there pressuring children especially young girls to be a certain size this was a great way to show that we come in all shapes and sizes and none is any more valuable than the other.

Something else I enjoyed was the way that Sweet Pea’s parents divorce was handled. The parents were still civil with each other and explained to her what was happening. They dealt with the comments that they received from the others in this small neighborhood well too. I loved that the reasoning behind them getting a divorce was in order for the dad to live his life authentically and so both the mother and father had a chance at happiness.

I think that children ages 8-13 would enjoy this book and adults should share this with their children or students. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading books with body positive narratives and books with LGBTQ+ characters.

You can buy this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Friend or Fiction Book Review

Thank You to Charlesbridge Teen for the advanced copy of this book.

Summary: (From GoodReads)

One creative middle-schooler schooler discovers that the best friend a girl can have is the one she makes herself in this charming magical realism read.

Jade’s life hasn’t exactly been normal lately, especially since her dad’s cancer diagnosis. Jade wishes her family could leave their no-name town in Colorado already–everybody else does sooner rather than later, including every best friend Jade’s ever had. So she makes one up. In the pages of her notebook, she writes all about Zoe–the most amazing best friend anyone could dream of.

But when pretend Zoe appears in real life thanks to a magical experiment gone right, Jade isn’t so sure if she likes sharing her imaginary friend with the real world. To keep her best friend (and even make some new ones), Jade learns how to cope with jealousy, that friends should let friends be true to themselves, and that maybe the perfect best friend doesn’t exist after all.

Thoughts: I’ve read a lot of middle grade books lately and love how they center on friendship. At that age all I wanted was to escape to a world in which friendships were just beautiful and nothing went wrong. I love that this book explores the concept of a perfect friendship and how that can be unhealthy too.

I loved how they handled jade’s father having cancer and her feelings about it. Jade and Bo’s feelings both felt very real. I liked that they didnt brush over it but they explored the anger and frustration that came with this family’s grieving.

Something else I liked about this book was how Jade uses writing as her escape. I thought it was a great way for other topics to be introduced and for her to explore her relationships with others. I loved how her teacher brings things to light about her writing and how real life can sometimes be reflected in writing.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Freeing Finch Book Review

Thank you to Shelf Awareness Pro and Macmillian Publishing for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Finch has had so many people leave in her life, her father left because he couldn’t deal with Finch being transgender, and her mother passed from cancer. She’s left to live with her step dad who marries shortly after her mother’s passing. Finch doesn’t understand so many things that are going on around her and is struggling to come to terms with who she is when she meets a stray dog who has a hard time trusting others. Will Finch learn how to trust the people around her? What happens to this dog? Where did this dog come from and how does his story relate to Finch’s?

Thoughts: I loved this whole book and all the characters in it. I love getting to read a book the centers a transgender young person. The book was more than just about a transgender child but about family, friends, and a coming of age story. I loved the way that Finch learns about herself and has accepted herself from the start. I loved reading about the struggle that she has with others accepting her and how she comes to terms with it.

Something else I really enjoyed was the way animals were integrated in the plot. I loved the way they used the animals to show a different side of Finch and how these animals affected her. I loved how the animals got to show Finch the importance of being loved by others. I loved how while Finch has human friends it was these animals who really showed her how to love and be compassionate towards others. I loved how these animals showed her how to trust and let others in.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy LGBTQ stories and those who want to share those stories with a younger generation. It’s a great book to share with children grades 3-7 to introduce this topic to them.

You can purchase this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Cog by Greg Van Eekhout book review

Thank you to Harper Collins for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Cog is a machine built for cognitive development but he looks just like a person. Gina, his caregiver has slowly been teaching him things so he can be independent but Cog gets into an accident. This accident makes it so that he is sent back to the company who created him but they want to take something away from him. Will Cog be able to escape? Who will he meet along the way? What is this company hiding?

Thoughts: This book was such a cute read. I loved all the characters and how real they all felt to me. They all felt human to me rather than robots even car, proto, and trash bot. I wanted to hear more about their lives and couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to live in this robot town that they were all from.

I love how Cog interacts with others and how he explains his purpose. I love how he finds he learns by making mistakes and assumes the bigger the mistake the more he’ll learn. I think this was a great way to show kids that mistakes can only help us learn and are not something to be scared about.

I think this is a great book for children grades 2nd to 5th. I think they’ll find great joy in the plot and some of the funny scenes that are included throughout. The lessons that are included are great for this age range and teaches them that it’s okay to be unique and stand out. It shows our differences make us human and those differences help us when working with others.

You can purchase this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Remarkables Book Review

Thank You to HarperCollins for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Marin wanders into the woods one day and spots some teenagers in the house there. Just as quick as they were there they vanish and she’s left wondering where they went. That’s when Marin meets Charley and finds that he can see these teenagers too. Why are they the only ones who can see them? What is the story of these teenagers?

Thoughts: I love all young adult books and because middle grade does fall under that category I decided to read this one. It did not disappoint me at all, I found myself laughing, crying, and emotionally moved by the characters and story in this book.

The relationship that Marin has with her parents is nicely contrasted with the relationship that Charley has with his own family. I like how his relationship with his family reminds Marin of how she feels about her friends and how Charley says something along the lines of Marin not knowing what its like to care about people regardless of all the bad things they’ve done. That sentence wraps up Charley’s feelings about his life really well and it was a moment I had to pause at.

I really enjoyed the twists that happened throughout the book and the lesson that was ultimately learned at the end because of these twists. I think it was a great lesson for Marin and Charley as well as for you as the reader to learn. It’s a great thing for middle graders to learn but it’s also something adults can benefit from as well.

I recommend this to those of you with children who are middle aged readers as well as those of you who enjoy YA books about family, friendship, and the past/future.

You can purchase this at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.