Review: Jinxed (Jinxed #1)

Title: Jinxed (Jinxed #1)
Author: Amy McCulloch
Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Source: Publisher NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the  “baku” – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one. 

Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.

Review:

This is an amazing new middle grade novel! I really enjoyed it.

This story is set in a futuristic Toronto. It was a pleasant surprise that it was set in the city where I live. In this future, people have “bakus” which do everything that our phones do and more. The bakus come in different levels, depending on how skilled the person is and how much money they can afford to spend on one. The students who are the best of their class get sent to a special school where they can then get a job at the company that makes the bakus when they graduate.

There were a couple of mysteries in this story surrounding the disappearance of some people. Monica Chan, who created the baku, disappeared. Lacey’s father also abruptly left his job and disappeared, and no one knows what happened to him.

This story was fast paced and unpredictable. I was hooked on it right away. I’m so curious to find out what happens in the next book!

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

What to read next:

Upside-Down Magic (Upside-Down Magic #1) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins

Have you read Jinxed? What did you think of it?

Review: Me and Banksy

Title: Me and Banksy
Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Puffin Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A Banksy-style protest against cameras in classrooms brings a group of middle-grade students together. For fans of Rebecca Stead, Susin Nielsen and Gordon Korman.

Dominica’s private school is covered in cameras, and someone is hacking into them and posting embarrassing moments for the whole school to see. Like Ana picking her nose. When Dominica quickly changes her shirt from inside out in what she thinks is the privacy of a quiet corner in the library, she’s shocked — and embarrassed — to discover a video has captured this and is currently circulating amongst her schoolmates. So mortifying, especially since over the past three years, they’ve had a half-dozen school talks about social media safety.

Who has access to the school security cameras and why are they doing this? Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out, and in the process start an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom. 

Review:

This book tackles the tough issues of cyber bullying and cyber security in schools.

Dominica and her friends are targeted by a cyber bully, who is posting embarrassing images of them online. They discover that the images were taken from the school’s security cameras. They stage a protest to show how damaging the security cameras are to the students and teachers.

These are important issues for children to be aware of today. Just because the school administration in this book thought the cameras in classrooms and hallways would keep children safe, that doesn’t mean they’re right. The cameras actually posed a threat to students when the embarrassing images were leaked. The cameras also made the teachers and students alter their behavior in class because they knew they were being watched at all times. Though there are some advantages to cyber security, it can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

I really liked this story!

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

What to read next:

Mya’s Strategy to Save the World by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Unplugged and Unpopular by Mat Heagerty, Tintin Pantoja, Mike Amante

Have you read Me and Banksy? What did you think of it?

Review: Best Friends (Real Friends #2)

Title: Best Friends (Real Friends #2)
Author: Shannon Hale, LeUyen Pham
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sequel to Shannon Hale’s award-winning graphic novel memoir, “Real Friends”, this new graphic memoir picks up where “Real Friends” left off. As Shannon grows a little older, the rules of friendship always seem to be changing, leaving her guessing and trying her best to just keep up. “Best Friends” shares its predecessor’s frankness, compassion, and enthralling, heartfelt visual storytelling. Junior high, as it turns out, is quite the roller coaster.

Review:

This story is about Shannon’s year in sixth grade. She had many confusing experiences. Her friends didn’t want to play the same games as her anymore. She was supposed to get boys to like her, but at the same time ignore them so they would like her. She was confused by the mixed signals.

I loved that Shannon’s creative writing was a big part of the story. When she felt stressed, she would return to writing the fantasy story she was working on. At the end, she even included the actual copy of the story she wrote, including the notes from her teacher. I liked seeing how this important aspect of her life was included in the story.

This is a great graphic novel!

What to read next:

Guts by Raina Telemeier

Just Jaime by Terri Libenson

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read Best Friends? What did you think of it?

Review: Cub

Title: Cub
Author: Cynthia L. Copeland
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A laugh-out-loud funny and empowering graphic memoir about growing up and finding your voice. 

Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s. A (rare) young female reporter takes Cindy under her wing, and Cindy soon learns not only how to write a lede, but also how to respectfully question authority, how to assert herself in a world run by men, and—as the Watergate scandal unfolds—how brave reporting and writing can topple a corrupt world leader. Searching for her own scoops, Cindy doesn’t always get it right, on paper or in real life. But whether she’s writing features about ghost hunters, falling off her bicycle and into her first crush, or navigating shifting friendships, Cindy grows wiser and more confident through every awkward and hilarious mistake.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book!

It is set in the 1970s, but there were many parallels with today’s world. There were many news headlines that are similar to the ones today, like the Watergate scandal, women’s rights, and environmental concerns. This could make the story more relatable for kids today, even though it is set decades ago.

There were also universal parts of growing up in this story. Cindy had her first boyfriend, and she also had to deal with bullying and losing friends. At the same time, she made new friends, who she didn’t expect to like.

This was a great graphic novel!

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

What to read next:

Real Friends by Shannon Hale, LeUyen Pham

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Have you read Cub? What did you think of it?

Review: Guts

Title: Guts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears. 

Review:

This book talks about Raina’s experience with IBS and anxiety as a child. I could relate to that, because I have both IBS and anxiety. It is something that isn’t talked about much, especially in children’s books, but it is very common.

Even if readers can’t relate to Raina’s sick stomach, they could relate to her being stressed out in class or the stresses that her friends had. One of her friends was moving away, so she was worried about that. It was a different kind of stress than what Raina had, but still relatable to young readers.

I really liked this book. I wish it was around when I was a kid. I’m excited to see what Raina writes next!

What to read next:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Have you read Guts? What did you think of it?

Review: The Skeleton Coast (Quest of the Sunfish #3)

Title: The Skeleton Coast (Quest of the Sunfish #3)
Author: Mardi McConnochie
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 28, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The grey light of dawn crept through the sky. The sun was yet to make its first appearance, but the crew of the Sunfish were already up and ready to weigh anchor. Having barely escaped the dangers of a world dominated by gangs, the corrupt Admiralty, and the hostile sea, Will, Annalie and their friends must now set sail for their most daunting destination yet: Sundia. This isolated country, forbidden to outsiders, is where the twins must make their final stand in their search for answers–and for their father. But with all they’ve overcome so far on their journey, how long can their luck hold? Packed with twists, dynamic characters, and compelling environmental themes, The Skeleton Coast brings Mardi McConnochie’s acclaimed cli-fi trilogy to a riveting conclusion.

Review:

This book was a great conclusion to this series.

The action started immediately, with the Sunfish being boarded by pirates. It was great that it was started so quickly. I would have liked a little summary of what happened before, because it had been a while since I read the last book. However, this quick beginning is good if you read the books in succession because it keeps the story going.

There was a point in the story where the group of kids was separated into two groups. The narrative followed one group until they joined together again, then it backtracked and followed what the other kids were doing. It was a little confusing the way it jumped around in the timeline. If it had happened simultaneously, it would have been easier to follow.

I really enjoyed this series!

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

What to read next:

Melissa, Queen of Evil by Mardi McConnochie

Have you read The Skeleton Coast? What did you think of it?

Review: Cassandra Steps Out (Cassandra: Animal Psychic #1)

Title: Cassandra Steps Out (Cassandra: Animal Psychic #1)
Author: Isabelle Bottier, Hélène Canac
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Source: Thomas Allen & Son (book distributor)
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassandra has a gift. Animals can show her what they’re thinking. And she’s done keeping her talent a secret. In the first volume of the Cassandra: Animal Psychic series, Cassandra sets out to help pets and their people. 

The trouble is, other parts of Cassandra’s life are changing too. Her mom has a boyfriend she really likes, but his daughter can’t stand Cassandra. And Cassandra’s best friend is about to leave town. Not even her trusty dog Miss Dolly can make things feel okay. When Cassandra gets on the trail of a lost cat, will she be able to help its owners? Or will her first case be a flop? 

Review:

This is a cute story about a girl who can communicate with animals.

I love dogs and cats, so I enjoyed this story. Cassandra has a special power that lets her communicate with animals. This includes an ability to reach out with her mind to find a lost cat.

There were some great tips throughout the book on how to treat pets. There was a section at the end about Cassandra’s pet dog and how she trained her and looks after her. This would be great for kids with pets.

I didn’t like the way the story about the lost cat turned out. There was a twist involving the person who sent them a ransom note for the cat, but it was very strange. I wish it had a better conclusion.

Overall, I liked this book and I’d like to see what happens in the rest of the series.

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Have you read Cassandra Steps Out? What did you think of it?