Review: Sarah’s Dream (The Grémillet Sisters #1)

Title: Sarah’s Dream (The Grémillet Sisters #1)
Author: Giovanni Di Gregorio, Alessandro Barbucci
Genre: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
Publisher: Europe Comics
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Being sisters is never easy. But when you’re as different as Sarah, Cassiopeia, and Lucille, it’s even harder! The first is haunted by recurring dreams, the second lives with her head in the clouds, and the last spends most of her time with her cat. Then one day they discover a mysterious photo of their mother pregnant. Where was it taken, and who is the baby? And most importantly, why was this photo hidden away in the depths of the attic? To find out, they’ll have to venture into the tangled forest of the Grémillet family secrets!

Review:

Sarah is the oldest of three sisters, and she’s always felt responsible for her younger sisters Cassiopeia and Lucille. Sarah has a recurring dream of a large tree holding her mom’s bedroom, with a jellyfish inside. Before she can reach the jellyfish, she always wakes up. While Sarah and her sisters are making a Mother’s Day gift for their mom, they find an old photo of their mom at the base of the tree from Sarah’s dream. They have to enter a hidden forest to learn their mother’s secrets.

I loved the mystical aspects of this story. Sarah has a mysterious dream that is connected to her mother’s past. There was a strange forest that held their mom’s secrets. These mysterious secrets also created some beautiful, mystical images in the illustrations.

This story deals with the death of a newborn at the end. This can be a sensitive subject for some readers. However, it could also introduce the subject of a child’s death to young readers. This story could create a starting point for talking about that difficult subject.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel! I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

Thank you Europe Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Hotel Dare by Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Have you read Sarah’s Dream? What did you think of it?

Review: The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga #1)

Title: The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga #1)
Author: David A. Robertson
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them. 

Review:

Morgan and Eli are Indigenous foster children who live in the same foster house in Winnipeg. Eli has just moved in, and even though Morgan moved in two months before, she doesn’t feel comfortable yet because she hasn’t ever had a comfortable long term home. Their foster parents try to make the children feel more at home by bringing in Indigenous traditions, but it only pushes them away further. One night, Morgan and Eli sneak up to the attic and discover a portal into Misewa, a land with talking animals. Misewa has become barren, with a winter that has lasted years. Morgan and Eli have to help their new friend, Ochek the fisher, bring the green time back to their land while also learning about their Indigenous heritage.

This story reminded me of the Chronicles Narnia, but with Indigenous roots. The land that they travel to has talking animals who walk on two legs and speak Cree. This story had some creative aspects because Morgan is a writer and Eli is an artist. It is through Eli’s drawing that they find the mysterious land. As a writer, I liked how these creative arts connected that world with ours.

Though Morgan is from an Indigenous background, she doesn’t know their traditions. She has been in foster care for as long as she can remember, so she doesn’t feel a connection to her heritage. When her foster parents bring in Indigenous food and moccasins for her to wear in an attempt to get closer to her, it pushes her further away because she doesn’t have that connection to her heritage. This reminded me of the residential schools in Canada. Years ago, Indigenous children were taken from their homes and sent to residential schools to remove their traditions and cultural history. The way that Morgan didn’t know her own background reminded me of that because she had also been removed from her family and heritage. However, this wasn’t quite as devastating for Morgan as it was for the children who were sent to residential schools because she was able to learn some of her Indigenous heritage on their trip to Misewa.

This is a beautiful middle grade story. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David Alexander Robertson, Scott B. Henderson (illustrator)

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Have you read The Barren Grounds? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter

Title: Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter
Author: Beth McMullen
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Stuart Gibbs meets The Lost Property Office in this action-packed mystery about a young girl searching for her father from the author of Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls—the first in a new series!

Having a world-traversing archaeologist dad means twelve-year-old Lola Benko is used to moving around not putting down roots anywhere. But every day and every hunt for something hidden is an adventure, and no matter what, she and her dad are an unbeatable team.

Then her father disappears. The official story is that he was caught in a flash flood, but Lola’s research shows the day in question was perfectly pleasant. And it will take more than empty reassurances from suspect strangers for Lola to give up on her dad. She has a feeling his disappearance has to do with a mythical stone he was studying—a stone so powerful, it could control the world. But in the wrong hands, it could end it, too…

With the help of some new friends at her school, it’s up to Lola to go on the most important search of her life. 

Review:

Lola Benko has always traveled the world with her archaeologist father, but one day he sends her to stay with her great-aunt in San Francisco, rather than go with him on a dangerous trip. Soon after that, she gets the news that he has disappeared and is presumed dead. Lola is certain that her father is still alive, so she takes over the investigation that he was doing. Along with her new friends from school, she looks for the mythical stone that her father was searching for when he went missing.

This was a fun adventure story. Lola took a lot of risks. In order to start her investigation of her father’s disappearance, she needed money, so she decided to steal expensive pieces of art to sell for millions of dollars. This was a risky thing to do, and it didn’t work out for her. Even though Lola did some bad things with good intentions, she was very smart. She entered a STEM competition with her friends. She also invented many devices. She was a smart girl who took a lot of risks.

I found the twists predictable and not surprising. I’ve read many similar adventure books, so that may be why I could figure it out. This story also has the stereotypical absent parents. Lola’s great-aunt wasn’t very hands-on because she had agoraphobia, so she never left the house. However, she didn’t seem as concerned about Lola’s whereabouts by the end of the story. I would have liked her great-aunt to be more consistent throughout the story. I enjoyed the adventure that Lola went on, though the twists weren’t surprising.

This is a fun middle grade story!

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

Have you read Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter? What did you think of it?

Review: Harvey Holds His Own (Harvey Comes Home #2)

Title: Harvey Holds His Own (Harvey Comes Home #2)
Author: Colleen Nelson, Tara Anderson (illustrations)
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 11, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The West Highland Terrier that brought Harvey Comes Home to life returns with his tail wagging and his nose sharp, ready for a new adventure

Harvey the West Highland Terrier, hero of Harvey Comes Home, is back with his beloved Maggie. He is also back at Brayside retirement home, where he and Maggie now volunteer along with their friend Austin. There Maggie is drawn to a new resident, Mrs. Fradette, who tells stories of learning to fix cars as a twelve-year-old during the flood of 1950. Mrs. Fradette, with her bold fashion and love of poker, doesn’t fit in among the beige-cardigan-wearing, bridge-playing ladies of Brayside, but she doesn’t seem to care. Maybe that’s why Maggie likes her so much. Since seventh grade began, Maggie hasn’t been fitting in well with her friends, either.

Harvey has a problem of his own. He can smell an intruder in his yard, and he needs to find it. He is so intent on the nighttime fiend that he almost doesn’t notice how worried Austin is about his grandfather, who has been Brayside’s custodian for longer than Harvey has been alive. It seems like the retirement home is planning to give the job to a younger man, an injustice that Austin can’t let pass unchallenged.

In intertwining perspectives, Colleen Nelson tells four stories of individuals standing firm for what they know is right: Josephine Fradette, insisting on her right to become a mechanic; Maggie, certain that her friends’ expectations shouldn’t define who she becomes; Austin, indignantly campaigning against ageism; and Harvey, who has found his home at last and is determined to protect it.

Review:

Maggie still holds a grudge against Austin, who found her dog Harvey and kept him for a while when Harvey got lost before searching for his owner. When Maggie’s class is given a volunteer assignment, Maggie decides to volunteer at Brayside retirement home, where Austin helps his grandfather, who is the caretaker there. Harvey is allowed to go visit the retirement home too because the residents love him. Austin takes Harvey for a walk one day where they discover a newborn puppy who had been abandoned. This time Austin brings the puppy right to the animal shelter to get help. Then, Austin finds a job posting for the caretaker position that his grandfather has. He’s worried that his grandfather is going to be fired, so Austin has to try to find a way to save his grandfather’s job. Meanwhile, Maggie enjoys spending time with the residents and learning their history, while avoiding the drama with her friends at school.

This story was so cute. I enjoyed it much more than the first one. Harvey Comes Home was sad, since Harvey was missing from his owners and there was a death at the end of that story. This one was more uplifting and cheery, which I liked much more.

There are three alternating perspectives in this story. I love that parts that are from Harvey’s perspective. He spends a lot of time sniffing things and cataloguing them for later. It’s great to see this dog perspective. The two other perspectives are from Maggie’s and Austin’s points of view. Austin’s is in first person, since he was a main character in the first book and this one. Maggie didn’t have a big role in the first book, so her chapters are written from the third person point of view. It made a distinction between hers and Austin’s chapters, even though they were both main characters. However, it worked since it is a continuation of the first book.

This is a great story! It could be read as a stand-alone or as a sequel to Harvey Comes Home.

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

What to read next:

Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson, Tara Anderson (illustrations)

Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

Other books in the series:

Have you read Harvey Holds His Own? What did you think of it?

Review: Dear Sweet Pea

Title: Dear Sweet Pea
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.

Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.

What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Review:

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco’s parents are getting divorced, but they will still be living on the same street. One day, Sweet Pea sees her neighbour, the advice columnist Miss Flora Mae, who tells Sweet Pea that she is going away for a while. She asks Sweet Pea to collect the letters she receives for her column and to send them to her, as well as to submit the ones that she answers to the newspaper. When Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one of the letters, she decides to answer it herself. The decision to answer the letter creates a lot of problems for Sweet Pea.

I loved Sweet Pea. She was funny and quirky. She spoke her mind, which sometimes got her into trouble. She wore the same outfit everyday and had a cat named Cheese. I liked that Sweet Pea acknowledged her bigger size. I could relate to that, especially when she has trouble finding a nice dress to wear because the pretty ones weren’t in her size. Sweet Pea was an adorable and relatable character.

There was a variety of problems that came up in this story. There was bullying, losing friends, and moving to a new school. Body changes and puberty were mentioned a few times. Two different sets of parents had marriage problems. These things didn’t all happen to Sweet Pea, but they were all addressed in the story. It’s nice to see these realistic challenges in a middle grade novel, because readers may also come across these issues in their lives.

This is such a fun story! I loved it!

What to read next:

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Have you read Dear Sweet Pea? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: In the Role of Brie Hutchens…

Title: In the Role of Brie Hutchens…
Author: Nicole Melleby
Genre: Middle Grade, LGBT, Contemporary
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride—but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.

Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to—finally—make her mother really see her as she is.

Review:

When Brie’s mother almost catches her looking at photos of a naked woman, she tells her mom that she was chosen to crown the statue of Mary at the end of the school year. She told her mom that to distract her, but Brie wasn’t chosen to crown Mary, and she probably won’t be since that special role is given to one of the best students. After that moment, Brie realizes she may like girls more than boys, since she isn’t boy crazy like her best friend. Meanwhile, Brie really wants to be an actress. She wants to audition for the acting program at an arts high school, but her parents may not be able to afford the tuition. Brie is discovering herself and how to share her identity with her family and friends.

This story dealt with so many important topics in the life of a middle schooler. Brie’s family is going through changes. Her father lost his job, and got a job at her school to get a discount on tuition. The problem was that Brie was embarrassed for the other students to know he was her dad. Her father was also depressed, and Brie had a difficult time figuring out how to behave around him while he struggled. Brie also had some problems with her mother, who wasn’t completely supportive when she learned that Brie may like girls.

Brie was learning about her sexuality. She doesn’t like boys the way her friend does. She could relate to the queer characters in her soap operas, so she suspects that she is queer too. This was especially difficult because Brie’s family was religious and she went to catholic school. It was heartbreaking to see the way Brie acknowledged she had to hide her true identity because it wouldn’t be accepted at school or in her home.

This story was heartbreaking but also uplifting.

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby

George by Alex Gino

About the author:

Nicole Melleby is a born-and-bred Jersey girl with a passion for storytelling. She studied creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently teaches creative writing and literature courses with a handful of local universities. When she’s not writing, she can be found browsing the shelves at her local comic shop or watching soap operas with a cup of tea.

Have you read In the Role of Brie Hutchens…? What did you think of it?

Review: Music for Tigers

Title: Music for Tigers
Author: Michelle Kadarusman
Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Shipped halfway around the world to spend the summer with her mom’s eccentric Australian relatives, middle schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is prepared to be resentful. But life at the family’s remote camp in the Tasmanian rainforest is intriguing, to say the least. There are pig-footed bandicoots, scary spiders, weird noises and odors in the night, and a quirky boy named Colin who cooks the most amazing meals. Not the least strange is her Uncle Ruff, with his unusual pet and veiled hints about something named Convict Rock.

Finally, Louisa learns the truth: Convict Rock is a sanctuary established by her great-grandmother Eleanor—a sanctuary for Tasmanian tigers, Australia’s huge marsupials that were famously hunted into extinction almost a hundred years ago. Or so the world believes. Hidden in the rainforest at Convict Rock, one tiger remains. But now the sanctuary is threatened by a mining operation, and the last Tasmanian tiger must be lured deeper into the forest. The problem is, not since her great-grandmother has a member of the family been able to earn the shy tigers’ trust.

As the summer progresses, Louisa forges unexpected connections with Colin, with the forest, and—through Eleanor’s journal—with her great-grandmother. She begins to suspect the key to saving the tiger is her very own music. But will her plan work? Or will the enigmatic Tasmanian tiger disappear once again, this time forever?

A moving coming-of-age story wrapped up in the moss, leaves, and blue gums of the Tasmanian rainforest where, hidden under giant ferns, crouches its most beloved, and lost, creature.

Review:

Louisa is sent to Tasmania to stay with her uncle for the summer when her parents go on a research trip. Her Uncle Ruff lives in a remote camp where he looks after a variety of wild animals. He gives Louisa a journal belonging to her great-grandmother, who rescued Tasmanian tigers. Even though Tasmanian tigers were thought to be extinct for centuries, Louisa’s family knows that they are secretly around the island. Now, Louisa is the only one who holds the secret to rescuing the remaining tiger.

I learned so much while reading this book. I realized recently that I have read books by Australian authors, but none that are set in Australia. I was so glad to discover that this one was set there. I loved learning about the different animals in Tasmania that I didn’t know before. The fictional mystery around the extinction of Tasmanian tigers was so great. It makes me wonder how many creatures that are thought to be extinct could be hiding out somewhere in the world.

This book was less than 200 pages, yet there was so much to the story. The important topic of animal extinction was discussed a lot. Louisa also had anxiety surrounding her performing music on her violin. She met a boy named Colin, who was autistic. Louisa was eager to learn about Colin and how to help him navigate the world of social interaction. These were relevant topics to be in a middle grade novel.

I loved this book!

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

What to read next:

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

The Theory of Hummingbirds by Michelle Kadarusman

Have you read Music for Tigers? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Unready Queen (The Oddmire #2)

Title: The Unready Queen (The Oddmire #2)
Author: William Ritter
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

Review:

Fable is the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark. She’s friends with Cole and Tinn, the human and goblin brothers. Some new people in town decided to dig for oil in the Wild Woods, disturbing the magical creatures who live there. Fable has to stand between her fellow magical creatures in the Wild Wood and her friends from the human town, when the dispute threatens to start a war.

There was a lot of history of the Oddmire world in this story. The story begins with Fable’s grandmother, and her experience with a changeling. She lost her own daughter, but she was returned right before the old woman died. These stories of the past made the story feel realistic, like it existed beyond the pages.

The dispute between the humans and magical creatures reminded me of race relations today. In the story, the humans took the land that the magical creatures lived on, just because they could. Other creatures were put down and accused of doing things, when there wasn’t evidence to support the accusations. This could teach kids the dangers of racism through a fantasy story.

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

The Revenge of Magic (The Revenge of Magic #1) by James Riley

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Unready Queen? What did you think of it?

Review: Megabat is a Fraidybat

Title: Megabat is a Friadybat
Author: Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Megabat and his best friend, Daniel, go to sleepaway camp for the first time. Another hilarious chapter book in this laugh-out-loud series for fans of Dory Fantasmagory and Narwhal and Jelly.

Daniel is not so sure about going to camp. There will be bugs. And uncomfortable beds. And leeches!

Megabat can’t WAIT to go to camp! There will be so much smooshfruit, and he loves a good sing-along.

Daniel starts to think camp isn’t so bad. He’s made friends, and his bed isn’t THAT uncomfortable.

Megabat has made a new friend too. But his new friend wants him to go flying to spooky caves. And her mom is very toothy.

As Daniel is getting into the swing of things and starting to enjoy camp, Megabat is getting himself into one tangle after another to avoid going into the scary woods. But can Megabat overcome his fears to help save his new friend? Kass Reich’s adorable illustrations paired with Anna Humphrey’s hilarious text make for another unforgettable Megabat adventure, one that will appeal to Megabat fans and newcomers!

Review:

Daniel’s father surprises him with a trip to a sleep away camp. Daniel hasn’t ever gone to camp before and he is scared. His friend, Megabat, will be accompanying him, and he is excited. Megabat is a fruitbat, who can speak. Daniel immediately loves camp when he makes some friends, but Megabat is scared. Some bats met Megabat and want him to go into the dark forest with him. Megabat has to figure out how to conquer his fears.

Megabat is adorable! He speaks like a little kid, without proper grammar. For example, when he found out they were going to camp, he said, “But camp is being the adventure of a livingtime.” Even though he doesn’t use the right words most of the time, it’s easy to figure out what he means.

This was a great story about camp. Daniel was scared to go because he didn’t know what to expect. As soon as he made a friend on the bus, he forgot all about his fears. Even though many kids won’t be going away to camp this summer, they can read about camp in stories like this one.

This was a fun kid’s story!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Secret of Shadow Lake (Creature Campers #1) by Joe McGee, Bea Tormo (illustrator)

Have you read Megabat is a Fraidybat? What did you think of it?

Review: The Gryphon’s Lair (Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #2)

Title: The Gryphon’s Lair (Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #2)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Rowan is now the Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, is destined to be king. But her mother’s cousin Heward is still determined that his children be the ones to inherit the titles, and will stop at nothing to show that Rowan and Rhydd are too immature to properly lead. After the gryphon that Rowan captured in Book One gives birth but then dies, Rowan is left with a baby gryphon she knows she cannot keep. And it grows faster than anyone can imagine . . .

In order to save face after an accident involving the troublesome gryphon, Rowan, with the help of her friends Dain and Alianor, along with an entourage of monstrous companions, must make a journey to the mountains to release the gryphon back into the wild. What starts off as a simple enough task soon becomes a dangerous quest, as the group encounters numerous rare and deadly monsters along the way, including wyverns and ceffyl-dwrs. Nothing is easy when you’re a “monster magnet” like Rowan. 

Can she prove herself worthy of the title of Royal Monster Hunter? Find out in this exciting second book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying duology! 

Review:

Rowan is training to be the royal monster hunter in her kingdom. She caught a gryphon in the previous book, and it was allowed to live because it was pregnant. Now the gryphon is having her baby, but the mother dies due to complications. The baby gryphon grows quickly and thinks that Rowan is her mother. When the gryphon goes to extreme lengths to protect Rowan, the kingdom decides that the gryphon has to be killed. Rowan convinces them to let her move the gryphon somewhere else. On Rowan’s new adventure through the country, she meets even more creatures than last time.

I really enjoyed this series. I just found out that this is the final book in this series. I would have liked to see more of Rowan as she gets older. She had to face some more mature issues in this book, such as potential suitors for her and her brother. I love how Rowan is such a strong female character. She heads right into danger to do the right thing, rather than what everyone thinks she should do. She is confident and independent.

I felt like some of the fight scenes were too long. They lasted for a couple of chapters, sometimes, and they became repetitive. One thing that could have made the fights more entertaining is if there were illustrations to go along with them. There are some illustrations of the monsters at the end of the book, but I think the story could have been enhanced with illustrations throughout the book.

This is a great middle grade book.

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Gryphon’s Lair? What did you think of it?