Review: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)

Title: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)
Author: Colleen Nelson, Tara Anderson (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The award-winning Harvey Stories are back with a new story of acceptance, understanding, and the loving comfort of everyone’s favourite Westie.

There’s nothing quite like the loving companionship of a loyal dog. When Harvey’s status as Brayside’s comfort dog comes into question, the elderly residents are quick to stand up for him.

Mr. Kowalski, a longstanding Brayside resident, is struggling with his wife’s recent hospitalization. As Harvey watches over him, Mr. Kowalski shares stories of his youth during World War II—tales which fascinates Harvey’s friend Austin. At the same time, the newly appointed Assistant Director Hilary Appleby, the person who wants to get rid of Harvey, also creates unreasonable rules which make the residents of Brayside miserable.

The new school season for Austin and Harvey’s owner Maggie proves to be harder than expected. Maggie’s audition for the school play of Annie doesn’t go as planned, with the role she wanted going to Ndidi, who rarely comes out to rehearsals. Austin, for his part, is battling shame around not being able to afford a school trip.

Award-winning author Colleen Nelson and illustrator Tara Anderson team up once again to deliver another engaging story where Harvey’s exceptional nose leads Maggie and Austin to find resolution to the many challenges they face.

Themes of acceptance, understanding, and intergenerational friendships are the strengths of this middle-grade novel.

Review:

When Brayside retirement home gets a new assistant director, she decides to make new rules. These include, Harvey, the Westie, needing special permission to visit and having restrictions while there. Mr. Kowalski’s wife ends up hospitalized, so Harvey would be a great comfort to him. Maggie and Austin sneak Harvey in when they can, but they also have a lot of other issues to deal with. Maggie has auditioned to play Annie in her school play, but she’s given the understudy role and is disappointed. Austin wants to go on a special class trip, but he knows his mom can’t afford the expense. Maggie and Austin have to try to save the welcoming place they know Brayside can be, while also solving their problems along the way. 

These Harvey books are so adorable. They get better with each book. Though they’re fairly short, there is a lot of information packed inside them. There is also incredible character development, so it feels like I’m reading about real people. 

The issues at the retirement home were an important part of this story. The new assistant director thought she was doing the right thing by restricting Harvey’s visits and banning activities for the residents. However, these were things that they looked forward to, so it actually hurt their quality of life. I saw first hand at my grandmother’s nursing home how music and dogs can brighten up the residents. There were even non-verbal residents who would speak when they saw dogs or heard certain songs. I’m glad this was part of a children’s book, so they can learn about life in a retirement home. 

Harvey Takes the Lead is another wonderful Harvey story!

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Undercover Book List by Colleen Nelson

The Unique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael

Other books in the series:

Have you read Harvey Takes the Lead? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Anne of West Philly

Title: Anne of West Philly
Author: Ivy Noelle Weir, Myisha Haynes (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Anne of Green Gables with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy and The Secret Garden on 81st Street, this full-color graphic novel moves Anne Shirley to modern-day West Philadelphia, where where she finds new friends, new rivals, and a new family.

When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to foster a teenage girl for the first time, their lives are changed forever. Their redheaded foster daughter, Anne Shirley, is in search of an exciting life and has decided that West Philly is where she’s going to find it. Armed with a big personality and unstoppable creativity, Anne takes her new home by storm as she joins the robotics club, makes new friends in Diana and Gilbert, experiences first love, and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. But as Anne starts to get comfortable, she discovers one thing she wasn’t looking for: a family.

Review:

Anne Shirley moves in with her new foster family, siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. This is their first time with a teenage girl as their foster child. Anne has a big personality, which contrasts with Marilla’s and Matthew’s quiet demeanors. Anne makes new friends, joins the robotics club, and takes this quiet West Philadelphia neighbourhood by storm.

This is a fun, modern adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. Anne had a spunky personality, which made her stand out from the crowd. It took a while, but she eventually wins over everyone’s hearts.

Most of the events from the original story were updated in a way that made sense for today’s world. The only part that I didn’t think fit in as well was the part where Anne gives Diana the cordial. In the original story, Anne accidentally gives her friend cherry cordial which makes them drunk, so that couldn’t be in a children’s book today. In this modern version, they eat too many chocolates with liquor that make Diana sick. I don’t think those chocolates would make her drunk like the liquor did in the original story, so it felt a little forced to me. Other than that part, I think this modern adaptation was true to the feel of the original story.

Anne of West Philly is a great, modern graphic novel adaptation of Anne of Green Gables.

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and TBR and Beyond Book Tours for providing a copy of this book.

The Secret Garden on 81st Street by Ivy Noelle Weir, Amber Padilla (illustrator)

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero, Bre Indigo (illustrator)

Where to buy:

About the author:

Ivy Noelle Weir is a writer of comics and prose. She is the co-creator of the Dwayne McDuffie Award-winning graphic novel Archival Quality (Oni Press), the upcoming The Secret Garden on 81st Street (Little, Brown for Young Readers), and her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Princeless: Girls Rock (Action Lab Entertainment) and Dead Beats (A Wave Blue World). She lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and their two tiny, weird dogs.

Tour schedule:

February 28th
Jill’s Book Blog – Review
Book Notes by Athina – Promotional Post
Books with Michelle – Top 5 Reasons to Read Anne of West Philly & Mood Board

March 1st
Beneath A Thousand Skies – Review
Lily’s Cozy Blog – Review & Tik Tok
Rampant Reading Reviews – Review

March 2nd
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
Not In Jersey – Review
Kerri McBookNerd – Top 5 Reasons to Read Anne of West Philly

March 3rd
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Just a Gal and Her Books – Review

March 4th
dinipandareads – Review
The Book View – Review
Justice For Readers – Review

March 5th
The Book Dutchesses – Promotional Post
Oyinda Loves Books – Review
Kait Plus Books – Mood Board

March 6th
The Nutty Bookworm Reads Alot – Review
The Human Curveball – Review
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review

Have you read Anne of West Philly? What did you think of it?

Review: Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1)

Title: Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1)
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think—she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” 

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

Review:

Eleven-year-old Ollie finds a woman about to throw a book into a river, so Ollie steals it before it can be destroyed. The book tells a story about a family who made a deal with “the smiling man,” who grants huge wishes for even larger prices. Then, Ollie goes on a school trip to a farm which turns out to be owned by the woman from the river. While her class is leaving the farm, their school bus is trapped in a mist. Ollie’s broken watch tells her to run and begins a countdown. She escapes the bus with two other students Coco and Brian. They end up in an alternate world where the story about “the smiling man” is true. The three friends must escape creepy scarecrows and get back to their home without making a dangerous deal.

Ollie was a big reader and there were lots of references to classic children’s novels. Two books that were compared to their situation were Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia. In both of those stories, the children are transported to a fantasy world. The only difference in this one was that this was a creepy and scary world, rather than whimsical.

This was quite a creepy story. It would be perfect for fall since it’s set in a forest and a farm. There was also a corn maze and lots of terrifying scarecrows. I will never look at scarecrows the same way again!

Small Spaces is a creepy middle grade novel!

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

The Hiddenseek by Nate Cernosek

Other books in the series:

  • Dead Voices
  • Dark Waters

Have you read Small Spaces? What did you think of it?

Review: Blackwells and the Briny Deep

Title: Blackwells and the Briny Deep
Author: Philippa Dowding
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Dundurn
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 29, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Do you hear the distant drums? And what about that weird screaming … It’s BOOK 5 in the award-winning Weird Stories Gone Wrong series! 

Emma Blackwell used to love mermaids. Jonah Blackwell used to love pirates. And William Blackwell tried to be a good captain. Which he would be, if he could get his twin brother and sister to stop fighting long enough to sail their boat, the Peregrine, across the bay. But after the Blackwells see a phantom ship, barely survive a terrible storm, and then mysteriously wake up with seaweed in their mouths, everything changes.

They’re becalmed in fog. They run aground on a strange island. They hear distant drums, and their weird adventure begins! The Blackwells face zombie pirates, terrifying mermaids, and a shipwrecked group of cursed ship’s figureheads, including a Roman gladiator and an English knight, all led by the strange dolphin-boy, Finn.

It’ll make a great sea yarn one day, if they can just survive it.

Review:

Siblings Emma, Jonah, and William like to sail their boat, the “Peregrine,” around the bay. While sailing one day, they’re caught in a storm and are all knocked out. They wake up with seaweed in their mouths and eventually reach the shore. While on this mysterious island, the three siblings are separated. They each encounter different creatures, including zombie pirates, evil mermaids, and ghostly ship figureheads. They must figure out how to find each other so they can return to their real world.

This was a fun adventure story. At the beginning, Emma, Jonah, and William bickered a lot. Their relationship evolved when they were thrown into danger, so they learned how important they were to one another.

There was a lot of ship lore in this story. The kids knew how to drive their own sailboat. The ghostly figureheads that Emma met on the island were based on true stories of shipwrecks or curses. I’m really curious to learn more about those real stories after reading this one.

Blackwells and the Bring Deep was a great middle grade adventure!

Thank you Dundurn for providing a copy of this book.

Alex and the Other by Philippa Dowding

Carter and the Curious Maze by Philippa Dowding

Other books in the series:

  • Jake and the Giant Hand
  • Myles and the Monster Outside
  • Carter and the Curious Maze
  • Alex and the Other

Have you read Blackwells and the Briny Deep? What did you think of it?

Review: Amal Unbound

Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Review:

Amal had dreams of becoming a teacher in her small village in Pakistan. Her life changes when her mother has her fifth baby. Amal suddenly has to take responsibility for her younger sisters. She’s under a lot of stress, giving up her future and looking after her family. This leads to an incident with the son of the village’s landlord. As punishment for talking back to him, Amal is taken from her family to work as a servant. Amal has many enemies when she arrives at their home, separated from her family and friends. Then, Amal discovers some dangerous business that the family is involved in. Amal has to figure out how to save her village and her own future.

This was a tragic story with an uplifting ending. Amal was treated unfairly in many ways. Since she was the oldest child, she was expected to look after her younger sisters. She was also expected to stay home because she was a girl. When she had an incident with the son of a wealthy man, she was sent to work for them because she was lower class and required to pay off the debt for insulting him in public. Amal’s position in society set her up to fail at achieving her dreams.

Though Amal was treated unfairly, her story was not as tragic as it could have been. She ended up making friends at the home where she worked and being treated well by most of the people there. In reality, this probably wouldn’t have been the case. Even without a tragic ending, this story shows a life that many children in Western countries are probably not familiar with, so it is an important read.

Amal Unbound is a great middle grade story! I’m excited for the sequel to be published next month!

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Once Upon an Eid edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed

Have you read Amal Unbound? What did you think of it?

Review: Compass to Vinland

Title: Compass to Vinland
Author: Dani Resh
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Warren Publishing Inc.
Source: Author
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Wren Larkin has a lot of things working against him-too tall, too thin, and living in a house that looks like an old boot. His only friends are a group of noisy crows that are always bringing him random trinkets. Needless to say, he’s not the most popular kid in town.

But things change when a girl named Maria moves to town and instantly befriends Wren. She continues to do the unexpected when she defends Rusty, the resident bad boy, who might not be as rebellious as Wren thought. Wren learns that it isn’t just coincidence that brought the three of them together when he discovers a shoe workshop under the heel of his house that’s holding-or hiding–three pairs of magical shoes intended for each of them.

When strangers arrive on Wren’s doorstep looking for the shoes, Wren and his new companions have no choice but to flee to Underfoot, an underground settlement full of magical creatures. In just a matter of days, Wren is immersed into a whole new reality that’ll take him on an incredible journey and reveal a lineage that might be better left secret.

Review:

Wren Larkin has never understood why he lives in a house shaped like a shoe. It was his mother’s childhood home, but he now lives there with his father while his mother is in a coma. His father is distant and never has time for Wren. One day, a new girl, Maria, arrives at school and they instantly become friends. She makes a scene when she defends Rusty, the bad boy in class. An accident brings Wren, Maria, and Rusty to Wren’s home, where they discover a mysterious and magical shoe workshop hidden beneath it. However, dangerous people have been searching for this workshop, and are willing to do anything to get to it. The three friends have to use the pairs of magic shoes to flee to a magical world called Underfoot. Wren has to figure out how much of his life was a lie, and how many of the fantasy stories he heard growing up were actually true.

This was a fun fantasy story. Wren had to discover that the secret magic that his family had was hiding in his house the whole time. There were hints of magic in their family, since his aunt would tell him stories of Vinland, but he never guessed that the stories were real. This classic storyline of discovering secret magical family history never gets old.

I would have liked the beginning to be more fast paced. There was a lot of description of Wren’s life at home and his time at school for the first few chapters. It took a while for the real action to begin. Once the magical aspects began, it was a really exciting story!

Compass to Vinland is a great start to a new series!

Thank you Dani Resh for providing a copy of this book.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Revenge of Magic by James Riley

Have you read Compass to Vinland? What did you think of it?

Review: Sliding Home

Title: Sliding Home
Author: Joyce Grant
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Lorimer
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Miguel hasn’t missed El Salvador since arriving in North America with his mother and sister. But with his father still in El Salvador and gangs shaking down the old neighborhood, life isn’t easy for Miguel.

When his father’s situation becomes critical, Miguel becomes desperate to bring him to North America. But he can’t even afford to join his baseball team on a road game–how can his family possibly pay his father’s way? A solution comes from Miguel’s teammate, who proposes a big baseball fundraiser. As the team learns about the hard realities some new immigrant kids face, Miguel and his family learn to trust their neighbors and teammates.

Review:

Three years ago, Miguel moved to Canada from El Salvador with his mother and sister. His father remained in El Salvador, looking after their bakery, but he is constantly terrorized by gangs. Thirteen-year-old Miguel has to work as a babysitter to help support his family. He plays baseball with a local team, but he’s constantly reminded of how much less his family has when his teammates get new equipment and are able to afford to go to an out-of-town tournament. Miguel has to find a way to bring his father to Canada, which may mean opening up to his teammates about his problems.

This is a great baseball story. Though it was mostly about Miguel playing baseball, there were some important issues addressed. Miguel had to work, which his friends and teammates didn’t understand. He was constantly worried about his father and had to help his mother figure out how to bring his dad to Canada. Miguel had to deal with a lot of adult issues that his friends never thought about before Miguel told them about his life.

Sliding Home is a great short middle grade novel! Be sure to look out for Joyce Grant’s upcoming book about spotting fake news for young readers, which is releasing later this year.

Thank you Lorimer Books for providing a copy of this book.

Tagged Out by Joyce Grant

Have you read Sliding Home? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Honest June

Title: Honest June
Author: Tina Wells
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

For June Jackson, middle school is hard enough–but it’s even harder when a fairy godmother grants her the ability to only tell the truth ALL THE TIME! Is it a blessing… or a major curse? June’s charming story will inspire big laughs and even bigger love for a new heroine for our times. 

June Jackson is an expert at exceeding people’s expectations. She can’t help it; she’s a people-pleaser! She’ll do everything she can to be the perfect student, daughter, and friend, even if it means ignoring her own feelings sometimes. Cue Victoria, June’s secret fairy godmother, who blesses June with the ability to never tell a lie in the hopes that June will finally be honest with her loved ones. Instead of telling them the truth to their faces, June turns to a secret online blog–the only place she can write out her true feelings without hurting people.

When all of her responsibilities start to pile on–field hockey, the school paper, family responsibility, her friends–June begins feeling so overwhelmed that sometimes it feels hard to breathe. Not to mention June is desperately trying to figure out how to overthrow the spell at the same time! When the pressures reach new heights, will Honest June finally be able to break free and tell whole truth and nothing but?

Review:

Sixth grader June is always focused on pleasing everyone around her. That means that she often tells white lies to impress and please her friends and family. However, her own feelings get pushed aside as she tries to make everyone else happy. One day, Victoria, June’s fairy godmother, arrives and puts a spell on June that forces her to tell the truth. She can no longer lie about liking her mother’s cooking or wanting to follow in her dad’s footsteps to become a lawyer. June tries to get around this by creating a private blog to type up the truth so that she doesn’t have to speak it. June must learn the importance of the truth so the spell can finally be lifted.

This story had an important message about telling the truth, that is for adults as well as children. It’s so easy to tell little white lies that end up snowballing into bigger lies. Even just saying “I’m fine,” when you aren’t, is a lie that June was caught up in a few times.

June felt a lot of pressure from her family to do well in school. Her father had her entire life planned out for her when she was eleven-years-old, but she didn’t know what she wanted to do in the future. This could be very relatable for many readers. Once she finally spoke the truth and talked to her parents about what was bothering her, she was able to begin to solve her problems.

Honest June is a great middle grade novel!

Thank you Random House Books for Young Readers and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing a copy of this book.

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Where to buy:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0593378296/ref=x_gr_bb_amazon?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_bb_amazon_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641#detailBullets_feature_div

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/honest-june-tina-wells/1138802892?ean=9780593378298

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Honest-June-Tina-Wells/9780593378298?ref=grid-view&qid=1636044627003&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/honest-june/9780593378298-item.html?ref=isbn-search

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593378298

About the author:

Tina Wells is the founder of RLVNT Media, a multimedia content venture serving entrepreneurs, tweens, and culturists with authentic representation. Tina has been recognized by Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Essence’s 40 Under 40, Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Phenom, and more. She is the author of nine books, including the best-selling tween fiction series Mackenzie Blue, its 2020 spinoff series, The Zee Files, and the marketing handbook, Chasing Youth Culture and Getting It Right.

Tour schedule:

December 27th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
Cindy’s Love of Books – Review

December 28th
Mocha Girls Read – Promotional Post
Kait Plus Books – Journal Spread
Rajiv’s Reviews – Review

December 29th
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review

December 30th
Whispering Stories – Review & Favorite Quotes
Peruse With Coffee – Review & Top 5 Reasons to Read Honest June

December 31st
The Book Dutchesses – Promotional Post
The Bookish Coven – Review & Favorite Quotes

January 1st
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Jill’s Book Blog – Review
Phannie the Ginger Bookworm – Review, Playlist & Favorite Quotes

January 2nd
Fictionologyst – Review
The Nutty Bookworm Reads Alot – Review

Have you read Honest June? What did you think of it?

Review: The Thirteenth Fairy (Never After #1)

Title: The Thirteenth Fairy (Never After #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent–he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

Review:

Filomena Jefferson-Cho lives an ordinary life in North Pasadena, but she loves to escape to the world of Never After in her favourite book series. When she gets the disappointing news on the release day that the thirteenth and final book in the series won’t be published, she’s so disappointed. As she walks home, she’s followed by someone who looks like Jack Stalker, the main character in the series. Jack catches up to her and tells her the world of Never After is real and she must go there with him to save it. The world is being taken over by ogres and Filomena has to help Jack and his friend Alistair. Filomena gets to enter her favourite fictional world that is closer to her reality than she can imagine.

As an avid reader since I was a kid, being able to enter my favourite fictional worlds would be a dream come true. It was so fun to read about Filomena being able to enter Never After. There are a few series I would have loved to enter as a kid, so this was such an entertaining premise.

I loved the references to fairy tales throughout the story. There were many fairy tale characters mentioned in passing, such as Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs. This was a great set up for more books in the series to explore other fairy tale stories.

The Thirteenth Fairy is a fun middle grade fairy tale story!

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Have you read The Thirteenth Fairy? What did you think of it?

Review: The Undercover Book List

Title: The Undercover Book List
Author: Colleen Nelson
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

He’s known as the class troublemaker. She’s known as the bookworm. But when every note they send is anonymous, identity is suddenly what they make it.

Between her father’s posting overseas and her best friend Sienna’s move to the other side of the country, seventh grade is looking lonely for Jane MacDonald. But Sienna has left her with one last trick: a hidden message in a library book—the perfect plot to start a secret club and find Jane a new book-loving friend.

Tyson Flamand has problems of his own. Since the fourth grade he’s had a reputation as a bad kid, and there’s no point fighting it when teachers always think the worst. So when he finds an anonymous note in the library looking for a nerdy new friend, he knows he’s the last person in the world it could be meant for. But something makes him answer it anyway, and Tyson finds himself pulled into a secret book club where being hidden may be the first step to being truly seen.

With the insight of a veteran middle-school teacher, Colleen Nelson, author of the award-winning Harvey Comes Home and Sadia, weaves together two stories of identity, expectation, and the courage to challenge both. As their paths move ever closer, Jane and Tyson both discover their own self-reliance and their ability to overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable.

Review:

When Jane’s best friend moves away, she leaves Jane a book scavenger hunt to find a new friend who loves to read as much as she does. There was a note left in the book Liar and Spy, with the start of the Undercover Book Club for Jane to start with someone else. Tyson sees Jane with the note, and decides to play along with the secret book club to play a trick on Jane. However, when he starts reading the books she suggests, he realizes that he actually likes to read. Jane tries to solve the mystery of who’s leaving notes for her in the Undercover Book Club, while Tyson tries to adopt a more serious attitude towards school and reading.

In this book, the kids compete in a Kid Lit Quiz, which is a trivia competition about books. I don’t think that was around when I was a kid, but I would have loved it. I haven’t read many of the books mentioned in this story and I’m curious to read them now. I loved that the book club and quiz in this story turned Tyson, a reluctant reader, into a book lover. Whenever someone tells me they don’t like reading, I just say that they haven’t found the right book yet. That was true for Tyson in this story.

This story had two narratives, a first person narrative from Jane and a third person narrative about Tyson. It wasn’t obvious to me why Jane told her own perspective while Tyson’s narrative had a third person narrator. Jane had a more complex storyline, so maybe that’s why, but I’m curious why they didn’t have the same kind of narrator.

The Undercover Book Club is a fun middle grade story!

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson

Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Have you read The Undercover Book List? What did you think of it?