Review: Order of the Majestic

This was a fun, original story! The magic in this story was in the form of magical illusions, rather than fantasy. There was more than just card tricks, including magical portals to other worlds, but it seemed a little more realistic than other stories.

Title: Order of the Majestic
Author: Matt Myklusch
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Fans of Brandon Mull and James Riley will love this action-packed, accessible fantasy story about one kid’s journey to discover magic as he’s caught up in an epic battle between two powerful ancient orders.

Twelve-year-old daydreamer Joey Kopecky’s life has been turned upside down. After acing a series of tests, he’s declared a genius and awarded a full scholarship at a special (year-round!) school. He’s understandably devastated, until he takes one last test, and the room around him disappears, replaced by the interior of an old theater.

There, Joey meets the washed-up magician, Redondo the Magnificent, and makes a shocking discovery…magic is real, but sadly, there isn’t much left in the world. It may be too late to save what little remains, but for the first time in his life Joey wants to try—really try—to do something big. Soon he’s swept up into a centuries-old conflict between two rival societies of magicians—the Order of the Majestic, who fights to keep magic alive and free for all, and the dark magicians of the Invisible Hand, who hoard magic for their own evil ends.

The endless battle for control of magic itself has reached a tipping point. For Redondo and the Order to survive, Joey must inherit the lost legacy of Harry Houdini. Will he prove himself worthy, or will the Invisible Hand strike him down? The answer will depend on Joey’s ability to believe, not just in magic, but in himself.

Review:

This was a fun, original story!

The magic in this story was in the form of magical illusions, rather than fantasy. There was more than just card tricks, including magical portals to other worlds, but it seemed a little more realistic than other stories. I loved that this was a world built on magic tricks, because it is more accessible to kids. I had a set of magic tricks that I loved playing with as a kid. I think this setting makes the story much more relatable for young readers.

I loved the comparison of magic and science. A few times the characters say “Magic is just science that people don’t understand yet.” I love this description of magic. Some things that people used to think of as magic centuries ago are now classified as science, such as medical advancements. I loved the way this brought the magic into the real world.

I also appreciated that Joey has both of his parents in this story. Often in children’s stories, the main character is either an orphan or from a single parent household. That is supposed to put the characters at a disadvantage right from the beginning, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. I liked that this was a different way to start a middle grade fantasy novel.

I really enjoyed this book! It’s a great magical story!

What to read next:

The Lost Prince (Seaborne #1) by Matt Myklusch

The Revenge of Magic by James Riley

Have you read Order of the Majestic? What did you think of it?

Review: Furthermore

I love Tahereh Mafi’s books, so I wanted to try her middle grade stories. This book was a lot of fun.

Title: Furthermore (Furthermore #1)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

Review:

I love Tahereh Mafi’s books, so I wanted to try her middle grade stories. This book was a lot of fun.

This fantasy story reminded me of A Wrinkle in Time and Alice in Wonderland. Alice lives in a magical world called Ferenwood. She is unique because her hair and skin lack colour, when the rest of the world has tons of colourful magic. In this story, she embarks on a quest with Oliver to travel through the magical world of Furthermore to find her missing father.

This story was fast paced. Alice and Oliver traveled through many different towns in the world of Furthermore. They met different kinds of people, including tiny women in suits and people who live in tall trees. There were also a lot of funny magical parts, such as a ruler that measures the time you can spend in Furthermore.

This story was a fun read. I think kids and adults would love it!

What to read next:

Whichwood (Furthermore #2) by Tahereh Mafi

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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

Review: Megabat and Fancy Cat (Megabat #2)

Title: Megabat and Fancy Cat
Author: Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A sweet and hilarious chapter book about a boy and a bat, two unlikely friends who bond over loneliness, jellyrolls and Darth Vader.

Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. AND it’s haunted . . . or is it?

Megabat was just napping on a papaya one day when he was stuffed in a box and shipped halfway across the world. Now he’s living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there.

Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute.

Megabat realizes that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit.

Add some buttermelon, juice boxes, a lightsaber and a common enemy and you’ve got a new friendship in the making!

This charming, funny story is brought to life by Kass Reich’s warm and adorable illustrations. There’s never been a bat this cute — readers will be rooting for Megabat and Daniel from page one!

Review:

This is the first book I’ve read with a bat as the main character! I don’t like bats, because we had one in our house years ago and it was very creepy. However, this Megabat is adorable!

I loved the way Megabat speaks. He sounded like a child. He uses the wrong verbs and pronouns, which was cute and innocent. He is dating a pigeon, called Birdgirl. The bird only coos, and doesn’t speak English. Megabat has a continuous feud going on with the squirrels in the yard, which he calls “puffer rats.” I loved the way he saw the world.

In this story, Megabat doesn’t like that Daniel has a new pet cat. He doesn’t like the attention that the cat receives, so he does a series of things to get the cat in trouble, but he only ends up getting himself or Daniel in trouble instead. Though he is a bat, this story could be relatable to kids if they get a new sibling or classmate who threatens their position. They would have to learn how to accept this new person rather than get rid of them, since we all have to deal with new people at some point in our lives.

This was a fun story! It would be great for kids or adults.

What to read next:

Megabat (Megabat #1) by Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich (illustrator)

Clara Humble and the Kitten Caboodle by Anna Humphrey, Lisa Cinar (illustrator)

Have you read Megabat and Fancy Cat? What did you think of it?

Review: Cold as Ice (Whatever After #6)

Title: Cold as Ice (Whatever After #6)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 25, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Brrrrrrrr. This fairy tale is FREEZING!

Even though my brother and I had decided to stay away from the magic mirror, our puppy had other plans — he bounded right in. What choice did we have but to go in after him? 

When we land in a winter wonderland, we realize we must be in the story of The Snow Queen. And this fairy tale is nothing like the movie. This Snow Queen is super-mean, and she turns our dog into an ice sculpture!

To get home we’ll have to: 
– Defrost our furry friend
– Ride a very chatty reindeer
– Learn to ice-skate
– Escape from a band of robbers

And if we’re not careful . . . we could end up frozen ourselves!

Review:

I really love this series! This chilly story was a great book.

I’ve never read the tale of the Snow Queen, so this story was new to me. I’ve watched Frozen, but the fairytales that Abby and Jonah enter are the original tales, not the Disney versions. This story is a dark tale, so Abby and Jonah had to try to turn it into a happy ending.

There were some big surprises at the end of this story. Abby and Jonah’s secret of the mirror was almost discovered by their parents, but at the last minute their minds were wiped. Another important memory was altered as well, so I have no idea how it will play out in the rest of the series!

As always, I can’t wait to continue the rest of this series. It is a great collection of fairytale retellings.

What to read next:

Beauty Queen (Whatever After #7) by Sarah Mlynowski

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita

Have you read Cold as Ice? What did you think of it?

Review: The Becket List: A Blackberry Farm Story

Title: The Becket List: A Blackberry Farm Story
Author: Adele Griffin, LeUyen Pham (pictures)
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Adventure and discover with the bold and intrepid Becket Branch when her family’s move from city to a country farm means big changes!

Everything is changing for Becket Branch. From subways to sidewalks to safety rules, Becket is a city kid born and raised. Now the Branch family is trading urban bustle for big green fields and moving to Gran’s farm, where Becket has to make sense of new routines from feeding animals to baling hay. And as much as Becket loves to yell “Beautiful Alert!” there’s a lot about the countryside that is just plain odd.

But Becket is ready to put her own spin on country life. Whether selling her mouth-puckering lemonade, feeding hostile hens, or trying to make a best friend of her new neighbor Frieda Franca, Becket is determined to use her city smarts to get a grip on farm living. Laugh and learn with Becket as she mucks through the messy, exuberant human experience of change she didn’t ask for, in a story that sparkles with quirky characters and lasting connections.

Review:

This is a great story about growing up and life changes.

Becket goes through many changes in this book. At the beginning, her family moves to her grandmother’s farm. She has to adjust from city life in an apartment to country life on a farm. She also goes to a camp, but it is very different from the camp she used to go to in the city. She doesn’t make friends as easily as she did before. I loved that Becket had to deal with all of these changes in this book, because often kids books just focus on one kind of life change rather than many different ones.

I loved the pictures in the book. There were some at the beginning, but they tapered off towards the end. I had an ARC so this may have changed in the final edition, but I would have loved to have even more pictures because they were so great!

The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending. I won’t spoil it, but something happens to one of the animals. It was upsetting to me, because I could relate to it, which made it difficult to read. Things happen to animals as part of life on a farm, so I understand why it was in the story. However, I don’t like reading about things that happen to animals, so it is a personal preference.

I really liked this story. It’s great for middle grade readers.

What to read next:

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney

Have you read The Becket List: A Blueberry Farm Story? What did you think of it?

Review: All Summer Long

Title: All Summer Long
Author: Hope Larson
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.
Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

Review:

There are a lot of middle grade graphic novels set in the summer. The summer is a funny time in childhood because you’re in between grades at school, and you don’t get to see your friends. I can see why this is a setting in so many kids books.

The main character, Bina, is going through a difficult time. She is often pushed to the side at home because her older brother is adopting a baby with his husband. Her best friend, Austin, has gone away to soccer camp. She hangs out with Austin’s sister, but she only spends time with Bina when it’s convenient for her. These are difficult things to deal with, but they go along with growing up.

There was also some diverse representation in the story. Bina is mixed race. Her brother has a male partner. Austin’s sister dates an Asian boy. It’s nice to see some subtle representation in this story, where it is just a natural part of life.

I really enjoyed this middle grade novel.

What to read next:

Sunny Side
Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson, Brittney Williams, and Sarah Stern

Have you read All Summer Long? What did you think of it?

Review: Bad Hair Day (Whatever After #5)

Title: Bad Hair Day (Whatever After #5)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

After a tough day at school, I am NOT in a good mood. The perfect pick-me-up? A trip through our magic mirror! When my brother and I — plus our new dog — end up in the story of Rapunzel, we can’t resist climbing her hair. Oh no! Her smooth locks suddenly look like they’ve been attacked by a cheese grater. Maybe a trim will help…Snip, snip. SNIP. Oops. Now Rapunzel’s hair is too short and we’re trapped!

So we have to:
-Find the tower’s secret door
-Avoid getting swallowed by a giant spider
-Locate Pickles (aka the prince)
-Reunite Rapunzel with her parents

If we don’t untangle this knotty tale soon, we could be stuck in this mess for good!

Review:

This is another great story in the Whatever After series.

In this book, Abby and Jonah visit Rapunzel. They explore some of the problems with the fairytale, and learn new things. For example, Rapunzel is always illustrated as a girl with blonde hair, but in this story her hair was brown. They also investigate the idea that Rapunzel was trapped in the tower with no other way for people to get in and out than climbing her hair. The witch had to get her into the tower some how, so the kids look for a hidden staircase that leads up the tower. I loved the way they searched for answers to the plot holes in the story.

They also give a little more background to the characters. In the last story, one of Abby’s friends accidentally joins them on their trip. This story begins with Abby being upset about losing the spelling bee at school. I love this insight into their regular lives because most of the stories are spent in the fairy tale world.

I’m in love with this series! It’s so much fun!

What to read next:

Cold as Ice (Whatever After #6) by Sarah Mlynowski

Have you read Bad Hair Day? What did you think of it?