5-7, 7-12, Books, Children

Top 5 Middlegrade Books of 2017

The new year is beginning so I figured I would wrap up a couple of the books that I read last year that I think should be more popular than they currently are.

Now this book was originally published in 2016 but it came out in paperback last spring and is a really ambitious novel written through poetry.  I would say it is written in verse, but its more like a collection of poetry with a plot.  If you have a child who is interested in Japanese culture or who is mixed race, a child who feels very different from their peers or just one who likes stories set in the real world with real children, this is definitely worth picking up.  I did a full review of this book last year that you can look to for more thoughts on it.

I think for sure that this one was my favorite of the bunch but I’m not going to put these in any particular order because they are all worth picking up.  If you have a kid who loved Wonder and is looking for something similar, if you have a kid who is adopted, a kid with special needs, a kid who needs to learn a bit about differences then this is one to pick up.  I have been singing this books praises since long before it actually was released in September and of course I did a full review of it if you want to know more.  I think it should be a staple book in libraries and schools and definitely worth reading together as I loved it as an adult.

This guy technically came out in 2014 but the series is still ongoing and there was a new addition last year.  I was surprised that more kids haven’t been reading it.  It is slightly on the horror side for kids fiction as the plot revolves around ghosts and ghost hunters but the protagonists are the ones with the power.  Sure the ghosts are scary but the kids are trained to find them and stop them so they end up empowered.  If you are nervous about it I would give it a read yourself because I read it to my best friend and we both loved it.  Of course there is a full review to check out if it seems interesting to you or you think your kid might like it.

This guy might be the most well known of the bunch as it did receive the Newberry Honor and therefor is pretty prominently displayed in many book stores.  I want to point out though that this is a great book for all kids.  It would be a great story to read aloud as it is written similar to The Canterbury Tales where each chapter is told by a different character who happens to be sitting in the same inn.  There is really great young humor (A dragon who can’t stop farting fire) and some really poignant messages of acceptance and tolerance.  Worth the read, and if you can pick up a physical copy to look at you will be sure to appreciate how beautiful the art work is, as the book is fully illuminated.  Full review is right here if you want to know more.

I listened to this one through the audio book and loved it.  If you have a little one who struggles with reading, or you are looking for a great book to listen to on a long car ride this winter then I definitely recommend picking this one up.  This one will go out to anyone who is a fan of historical pieces like Anne of Green Gables or Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books as well as folks who like books about boarding school (although mundane ones).  This is a story of a group of friends whose headmistress passes away and they wish to solve the crime of her murder while hiding the fact that she was murdered in order not to be split up and sent back to their various homes.  There was a lot of really great banter in this one and is worth looking into.  This is the only one I haven’t done a full review of.  If you would like to know more about it then feel free to leave a comment below or to reach out to me on social media!

I wish a good year to all of you and your little ones.  I hope that we all read some really great books in 2018.

What were some of your kids favorite books of last year?  I don’t mind reading through back log so it doesn’t need to be new releases.

Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

Summer Recommendations!

I figured that since I haven’t finished reading anything in a while I should talk about books I’m excited to pick up… or I think you might be excited to pick up.  I’m going to talk about three books that are coming out this month that I will hopefully be reading asap as well as three books that I’ve already read that I think would be good summer reads for you!

Let’s start with the shiny new books!

26869838The most stereotypical summer book on this list will be coming out the 28th of June.  If you couldn’t tell by the cover this is a fluffy contemporary young adult romance book.  Now I don’t often dip into this genre, partially because the pg nature of young adult romances kind of makes me uncomfortable, but I also feel like most of them don’t accurately depict love in the first place.  However, I figured I would add it to the list to show you guys an option that I think would fit most people’s idea of what a summer book is.  Light, fluffy, romance, and easy to read.  All of those boxes were checked with this one, so I thought I would mention it.

26893819Let’s go from that, to what is probably the complete opposite side of the spectrum.  I hadn’t heard of this one before my boss pointed out how excited she was for it to come out on the 14th.  This is a suspense thriller taking most of its inspiration from the Manson murders.  One girl who longs to be free loving finds herself caught up in something that is a little more than sinister.  This is definitely right up my ally and while it lacks the light fluffy nature of your traditional summer reads, sometimes the heat and the light help keep the spooks out of the closets and under the bed.  Plus the cover is striking and who doesn’t like pretty things.

26210464This next book comes out the 21st of June, and is actually the third in a series that Hogarth Press are putting out where popular contemporary authors rewrite popular Shakespeare stories.  This is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew which is actually one that I might not have read.  It is hard to say because I have had to read so many Shakespeare plays throughout my years in school.  One play for each year in high school, some during the obligatory Shakespeare course for English majors at Ithaca, some for the survey class of Renaissance romances, too many to count and I’m not a particular fan of any of them.  I do, however, like quite a few Shakespeare retellings so maybe this will be more my jam.  We shall see?  What do you think?

On to the books I actually have an authority to speak about… at least in part …because I have already read them and think they match the summer vibe beautifully.

23282174This one you might recognize because I read it recently.  I did not however give it a full review which some of you might have been a bit upset about.  Well here, have a mini review.  I felt this book was a little bit weird to say the least and while I don’t think it accomplished everything it set out to successfully I think it would be a great summer read.  Aside from the fact that it takes place in a town that is a popular vacation spot near a lake, but it has to do with love and lust and the things we keep secret from each other, or at the very least assume are our own secrets.  It has a bit of horror and a bit of magical realism and whole lot of pain and guilt but hey, not every summer book needs to be happy.

43615This is one that I read last year around this time and fell head over heels in love with.  I was a fan of Stephen King’s writing but hadn’t looked into this one because I haven’t been a big fan of fantasy and looking at this I just knew it was going to be fantasy based.  What I didn’t realize was that it isn’t just fantasy, it isn’t just a western, it isn’t even just a meta pile of metaness, it is a masterpiece.  I honestly think that this series is one of his best and probably the one thing that I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t tried Stephen King before.  There isn’t really any horror in this one if you don’t like horror don’t worry.  This is just the story of one man chasing another man in order to get the information he needs and to do justice.

18209454Those of you with keen eyes for detail and an astounding memory for exclusive fandom t-shirts might have noticed that in some of my videos I am wearing a Veronica Mars t-shirt.  Yes, I did contribute to the Kickstarter for that film, and yes I did love it, and yes I did pick up this book to read it, and yes I did love it.  I did listen to the audio book and Kristen Bell does narrate this one so it was just a really lovely really long Veronica Mars Episode.  If you have never experienced the joy that is this tiny ball of snark and sleuthing then this might be a good way to get a taste of it… or you could just watch the show because it is one of my favorites.  It takes place in southern California so lots of house parties and rich kids partying.

We have reached the end my friends.  These are the books that I thought I would share with you folks and let you know a few of my thought on.  This weekend I’m planning to get at least a little bit of reading done so hopefully we can get back on the review train soon.

Adult, Books

Betwixt the Books Recommends: Horror!

When I say Betwixt the Books, I mean me because Gretchen does not read horror and therefor would have 0 books to talk to you guys about.  I read aloud a mildly spoopy book about zombies and she was too freaked out.  So, yeah, here I am to tell you where you should start in horror, where I started and what I love when it comes to Horror!


That’s all I have for you guys today!  I will have a comic review for you tomorrow and hopefully later in the week there will be a Wrap Up with Gretchen.  This is the final video that I was scheduled to do alone.  If everything works out we will have our precious back!

Adult, Books

30 Seconds to Disagree: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

This is a segment that Gretchen and I do every once and a while where we try and convince the other to read something they might not pick up themselves.  It is a quick little video where we get to show you some of our favorite books and banter while being stressed out about time.

Remember that there is a different video on Gretchen’s blog so go watch that one as well!

That’s all we have for you guys today!  I will be back tomorrow with an ARC review so look forward to that!

Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

The Blizzard Book Tag with #betwixtthebooks

I told you yesterday in my January Wrap Up that Gretchen and I were starting the month off light with a Tag video.  We already have a lot of great stuff planned for you guys this month so do look forward to that.

If you didn’t know, whenever a tag shows up here on my blog there is a sister tag on Gretchen’s.  If you haven’t seen Gretchen’s Tag then you should head over to her blog for sure!

Without further ado:

I actually have another video coming for you guys tomorrow, but that one is a review and most likely a controversial one at that.  Do look forward to it!

Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

Fairytale Retellings Reviews and Recommendations

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Update: 3/40

A Book Based on a Fairy Tale
A Book You Haven’t Read Since High School

Gretchen and I are back with a new feature for our videos where we take a handful of books that all share a particular theme and do mini reviews for you guys.  This lets us talk about a lot of books really quickly and gives you a look at our taste when it comes to certain topics or tropes.

Today we are going to tell you about a bunch of fairy tale books that we have read recently and think you should check out!  Hope you enjoy!

I will talk to you guys tomorrow with my book and movie review of Brooklyn!

Books, YA (Young Adult)

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones Review

Now I was first introduced to this story by watching the Studio Ghibli film based off this novel.  While I don’t think it is the best Studio Ghibli film there is to see, it is still an enjoyable story and flows along the same veins as others that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I wanted to see if the book was better than the film and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed.


Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Page #: 429

The plot of this novel is almost entirely the same as the Ghibli film except I would have to say that the film had a better ending.  The characters in the novel are lovable and quirky like they were in the film.  However, I can’t shake the feeling that this book was such a nonentity.  I didn’t feel anything toward it.  It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it was just there.  I think that my apathy toward it has to do with the writing style though I can’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong.

This doesn’t happen to me often.  I can usually say that the reason I’m dragging my feet through a book is because the plot is not paced well or that I’m not in love with the characters or because the writing is so dense I have to reread the sentences three times before I can grasp their meaning.  I did not have any of these issues, I merely was not pulled in like I had wanted to be.

Perhaps if I was fresh to the story and hadn’t seen the film before I might have been more engaged in the novel.  It could be that I merely was bored because I already knew what was going to happen, but I still feel like such an interesting idea for a novel with such an interesting cast of characters should have been able to win me over.  I have read books after seeing movies before and not had this issue so I’m not sure what went wrong here.

This would be a great novel for a preteen (10-12) or maybe even an early teen who you want to introduce to fantasy.  The characters are interesting and there is an interesting idea about magic and what it is in the world, but for anybody older it can be a bit dry.  It might even seem a bit dry to someone that young.

I have to say that I really like the cover even if it is a bit cartoony.  I am always a fan of hand drawn covers or interesting graphic design covers rather than just a photograph of a young girl.  Middlegrade books tend to have great covers that are drawn and interestingly laid out.  Why do we lose that in young adult and sometimes even adult books.

I hope you guys are having a great day and I will talk to you again tomorrow, for now the Pied Piper is calling me.