Posted in Monthly Reads, Recommendations

November Monthly Wrap Up

So actual life was pretty busy. I just quit a job, let’s call them Company A, that I’d been working at for a year because the pay wasn’t ever going to be what I needed it to be and I got passed up on a promotion for someone ten years my junior.

It was scary to quit something that had been secure, but my new job, let’s call them Company B, who I’d worked for a while before but had quit when I thought I was going to get a promotion a Company A.

So much drama, so little management. The worst part is it cut into my reading time.

Reading

Finished

I honestly only finished one book. Boo hiss. The only reason I finished it was because it was my favorite series. I’m going to finish reviewing the series soon so look out for that in December.

LEGACY

Amazon: Keeper of the Lost Cities-Legacy

After years of secrets, Sophie Foster and her friends are on the edge of the truth about their lives and legacies. She and her friends have blank spots in their memories and they are in need of answers.

But finding answers may come at a bigger price than they are willing to pay when they out they are a part of bigger plans than they could have imagined and that their roles in these conspiracies have already been chosen for them.

When new revelations make them question themselves and each other, will they able to fight together against the roles that have been chosen for them, or will everything fall apart?

Working On

Because it was such a low book month, I’m counting the books I’m working on as well. These were both on my November TBR and I’m about 3/4th of the way through them, I’ve just been too busy to finish them up.

Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2)

Cassidy Blake’s and her corporally challenged best friend Jacob’s adventures pick up after their dangerous adventures in Scotland. Now they are in Paris, filming the next episode of Cassidy’s parents show The Inspecters. While Cassidy hopes Paris isn’t as haunted as Eninghburgh her hopes are dashed when she learns about the ghosts hiding beneath Paris in the Catacombs. 

And when Cassidy awakens a strong spirit from the Catacombs, she must rely on her growing skills as a ghost hunter, as well as new and old friends. Together they must solve a mystery before the spirit Cassidy unleashed becomes strong enough to be free to haunt Paris forever. 

Amazon: Tunnel of Bones

More to the Story

A retelling of Little Women set in a Pakistani American family. In this case, Jo is  Jameela Mirza who was just picked to be the feature editor in her middle school newspaper. Jameela wants to be an award-winning journalist like a late family member. The head editor keeps shooting down her ideas, and she finds herself writing about a new student, a boy with a British accent who keeps to himself. But how will she make this story engaging enough to win a national media contest?

But things get complicated when Jameela’s family is shaken up by her father taking an overseas job that takes him away from their Georgia home. Jameela, along with her three sisters aren’t sure what to do. Missing her father ignites a fire under Jameela, she’s going to write the best article ever and make her dad proud.

But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela has to decide what is really important. She has to make the same choice at school where her quest for fame might cost her a friend.

While trying to find out what matters most Jameela wonders whether she’s cut out to be a journalist after all.

Written by Pakistani-American writer Hena Khan.

Amazon: More to the Story

Lalani of the Distant Sea

I’ve really been enjoying this book because of its unique narrative structure. Lalani Sarita’s is just trying to get by Sanlagita where life is difficult and women aren’t valued. Whenever someone tries to leave the island they never come back, a fate that befell Lalani’s father. Lalani and her mother have to suffer from her stepfather and stepbrother. And deal with a drought that has hit the island.

When Lalani travels up the mountain the islanders think is evil, her wish is granted but not in the way she imagined. And when distress falls on the village, Lalani ends up shouldering the blame.

To help her mother who has fallen ill from an incurable disease, Lalani must leave the island to find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. It holds what might be a cure for her mother and a way for Lalani to earse the mistakes she’s made in the village. But where generations of her people have failed to reach the island what chance does an ordinary girl have?

Amazon: Lalani and the Distant Sea

Games

Image result for pokemon sword and shield

So I’ve been caught up in playing the new Pokemon game. I got Pokemon Shield. I love the game so far and its taking up tons of my time! Are you playing? Who did you choose as your starter? I chose Grooky, because I like grass types and he was cute. But Wooloo is also so sweet.

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Watching

I’ve been watching Disney+ loving my favorite princess movies. But the thing I’m looking most forward to watching is Frozen II. I bought advance tickets to see it with my friends on Friday and I’m so excited.

Image result for Frozen II

So how was your November? Hopefully more productive than mine? I hope it was happy and that you are getting ready for the end of the year! 🙂

 

Posted in Recommendations

National Adoption Day-Adopted Characters

Yesterday was National Adoption Day, so I wanted to do a feature on characters and stories that feature adoption and foster care. The books featured here are mostly middle grade.

One for the Murphys

By the author of beloved novel Fish in a Tree, Lynda Mullaly Hunt presents a story about foster child Carley who is used to being on her own. She is also used to not letting people get close to her, she uses humor and her street smarts to deflect anyone to tries to break through her high emotional walls. After all, when your mother forgets about you, you don’t want to let anyone close.

But when she finds herself placed in a foster home with the Murphys her world is turned upside down. The Murphys are a huge, loving family that introduce Carley to a stable family life she never imagined having, and she eventually settles into the feeling of belonging that the Murphys offer, until her mother wants her back.

She may not be a Murphy, but after what she’s learned with the Murphys, just going back to her mother doesn’t feel right either. What will Carley decide and how will she shape her new future?

Amazon: One For the Murphys

Counting by 7s

This book is important because it is about two adoptive families. Willow Chance is a tweleve-year-old, prodigy. I personally believe she has autism, but the author leaves it open to interpretation. Willows’s special interests include nature and diagnosing medical conditions. She also finds comfort in counting by 7s. She always had trouble connecting with people except for her adoptive parents, but when she loses them in a car crash. Willow finds herself lost in a world she doesn’t understand.

However Willow ends up finding a wonderful new surrogate family, that needs her as much as she needs them.

Amazon: Counting By 7s

Forever, or a Long, Long Time

From rising star Caela Carter, author of My Life with the Liars, comes a story about two siblings who are trying to find how they fit into the world. Flora and Julian don’t believe they were born, they have many other theories, such as arriving from the ocean or from birds. But they’ve been in so many foster homes, they can’t seem to remember much about their pasts.

Even now that they are adopted, everything still feels temporary, and they worry every move they make will land them back in foster care. But after some secrets their adoptive mother has been keeping are revealed, they start to explore their pasts, so they can understand their futures.

Amazon: Forever or a Long Long Time Ago

Did I miss any of your favorites? I seemed to find there are more children/picture books featuring adoption than MG books. I wonder why that is?

 

 

Posted in Monthly Reads, Recommendations

National Princess Day

It’s safe to say that I love books about princesses. I did my master’s thesis on princesses in films so I love princesses in lots of media. So since today is National Princess Day, I thought I’d focus on some of my favorite princess novels.

Ella Enchanted 

I’m a huge fan of Gail Carson Levine, but her books set in the Ella Enchanted universe are some of my favorites. I especially love Ella Enchanted. Ella is granted the ‘gift’ of obedience by a meddling fairy. The gift turns out to be a curse and she must find love and her own way in the world, and how to break her curse.

Part of a larger universe that includes Fairest and Orge Enchanted.

Amazon: Ella Enchanted

Princess Academy

Miri lives on a mountain where her family and village mine stone and have a simple life. But when a prophecy comes that the next princess of the realm will come from her village, Miri and her fellow village girls are sent to an academy, a Princess Academy.  The academy is set up by the royal court to make them ‘civilized’ and princess-esque.

Initially, Miri resists the change but comes to love the education she receives through the academy and starts to imagine life if she gets selected as the next princess. But becoming a princess would mean leaving her life on the mountain behind. Miri must find out what really important in life, and make a choice.

Part of a trilogy

Amazon: Princess Academy

Tuesdays at the Castle

A new favorite, by another one of my favorite authors. Glower Castle is a living thing, it judges its monarchs and adds rooms at will, and that’s one of Princess Cecile’s favorite things about it. Her favorite days at her castle are Tuesdays, when the castle adds a new part, sometimes a room, sometimes a turret, the fun is you never know, and Cecile keeps a map to try to keep up with it.

But when her parents the King and Queen Glower are ambushed during a trip and their fate is up in the air. Cecile must use her secret knowledge of the castle to protect her home and family and save the kingdom!

Part of a longer series featuring Cecile

Amazon: Tuesdays at the Castle

 

 

Posted in Recommendations

Books about Food and Sweets

A belated post for National Doughnut Day, and a post to celebrate the fact that I love food now that it’s getting cold.

A Dash of Dragon

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A Dash of Dragon is another sweet book about a girl who wants to open her own restaurant cooking with monsters parts, but when her boss gets in with the wrong crowd, to save him and her dream she has to use her wits and cooking skill.

Amazon: A Dash of Dragon

Summer of a Thousand Pies

A sweet, pun intended, novel about a girl named Cady who isn’t used to stability, after growing up homeless on the streets of San Diego with her dad.

Now she’s living with an aunt she’s never met who runs a pie shop. But slowly things start to feel like home as she explores the town, makes friends and helps with the pie shop.

But when her Aunt lets her know that the shop is failing, she’ll do whatever it takes, to save the place where she now feels like she belongs. With the help of her friends and community will she be able to save the day or are there some things even pie can’t fix?

Amazon: Summer of a Thousand Pies

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

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I’ve known about Dragon with a Chocolate Heart for a while now, it’s a super cute concept about a dragon who is curious about humans and through magical means gets turns into one and discovers her love of baking! So sweet!

Amazon: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

What sweets are you looking forward to as the weather gets colder?

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

MG Less Popular Than YA: Why?

Being primarily a middle grade focused reader and blogger I’ve noticed young adult gets a lot more attention than middle grade. There are several young adult book festivals, including the famous Y’all Fest which I thought I wanted to attend until I realized I really hadn’t read any of the authors.

I bet off the top of your head you can name numerous YA book blogs or bookstagrammers, but what about MG? Maybe it is just me, but I can’t name nearly as many.

Not to say that there aren’t some standout people featuring middle-grade content. Below I’ll highlight some of my favorite bookstagrammers. I spoke to these stand out bookstagrammers about middle grade vs. young adult books.

MG at Heart

A lovely group of authors and also part of the people behind MG Book Village.MG at Heart is the book club and discussion focused arm of their efforts. They have been working since 2017 to provide resources and reviews for MG readers.

The MG at Heart book club has offered a book each month including announcements, check-ins, quizzes, writer’s toolbox posts, and reviews, and twitter discussions. They are currently discussing My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva

Find them at:

Twitter:MGatHeart

Instagram:mgatheart

Middle-Grade Book Village: MG at Heart

readinginthemiddlegrades

Another great resource that agreed to be included in this feature was teacher, reader, and reviewer, Stacey DeCotis. She focuses on reviewing and reading middle-grade books and her IG is a great resource for new books.

Find her at:

Instagram: readinginthemiddlegrades

Middle-Grade Carousel

This lovely group started up because they noticed the lack of MG resources available. Their goals are reading, reviewing, and recommending middle-grade stories. They also book bingos and challenges.

Find them at:

Instagram: MG Carousel

MG Carousel Website

Twitter: MG Carousel

 

Why?

While the reasons why middle-grade books are less popular than young adult are multi-faceted, while I was researching this blog post some of the reasons I discussed with @mgatheart included the role of gatekeepers in middle-grade literature, and about how authors need to market to authority figures (teachers, parents, etc) in order to get into their intended target audience’s hands. Whereas with a YA title most of its audience can purchase or check it out from the library directly

We also discussed the thought that less money is spent on MG than YA, even though MG had a longer shelf life (or tail). So publishers were more reluctant to spend money on advertising an MG title until they found out the title had some staying power. So the initial popularity of MG titles was more in the hands of teachers and librarians, which doesn’t always intersect with the blogging world.

I want to thank the mgatheart team again for taking the time to talk to me! <3 You all rock!

And thank you to everyone who took the time to talk with me! I appreciate everything. So, did I miss any resources? What do you think of the difference in popularity? Do you disagree? Tell me why in the comments! 🙂

 

Posted in Monthly Reads, Reviews

Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers Review

I’m usually pretty good at figuring out mysteries in books, especially Middle-Grade books. Which I suppose is to be expected, however, I’m delighted when I’m surprised. The Strangers kept me guessing right till the end. I will say that Margaret Peterson Haddix is usually pretty good about mysteries and again she doesn’t disappoint.

Synopsis:

Finn, Chess, and Emma think they have a normal life. It’s just them and their mom, but they are fine with that. Since their Dad died Chess has seen himself as a protector of his younger siblings Emma, a math genius, and Finn, a naive kid with a sense of humor.

However the worst Chess has had to deal with is mean girls and school problems, that is until one day they come home to their mom watching a story on three kidnapped children. Three kidnapped children with their exact first and middle names, the kids are also the same age and have the exact same birthdays.

These kidnappings seem to shake their mom up, but before they can really question her about it, she leaves on a ‘business trip’ and has them stay with Ms. Morales, a woman they barely know, and her daughter Natalie.

But when the clues their mother left behind show that their mother’s business trip might be more than it seems, the Greystone kids must form an uneasy alliance with Natalie to solve mysteries that will turn their world upside down.

5 Things I Liked:

  • Emma’s love of puzzles.
  • Finn’s earnestness
  • The different perspective between characters
  • The complexity of the mysteries
  • Natalie’s growth as a character.

5 Things I Disliked:

  • The twist ending wasn’t revealed until the very end.
  • A technological factor of one of the mysteries wasn’t explained.
  • Exactly how one of the puzzles worked.
  • I wanted more time to be spent on the twist.
  • The book wasn’t long enough!

Overall, I really liked this book and most of the criticisms I have are minor. For the fact that it kept me guessing I’ll give it at least 4 stars. But I would have liked a little more time to have the biggest twist at the end explained a bit more, since it was what the whole book had been building towards.

But it gets 4.5 for mystery as well as character development. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series which comes out in 2020. I’m going to do a feature on Margaret Peterson Haddix soon since I love so many of her books, especially her mysteries.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

Posted in Uncategorized

Frozen Forest of Shadows Review

I’ve said it here before, I’m a fan of everything Frozen. So when I heard the new movie would be coming out I was over the moon. I’ve been buying up new merchandise more than I probably should, and when I saw there were books coming out with new Frozen content I was even happier.

Frozen 2: Forest of Shadows picks up three years after the end of the first movie.

Elsa has established herself as queen and is about to go on her first royal journey to several neighboring kingdoms. But as Elsa seems to be feeling like the perfect queen Anna feels like Elsa doesn’t need her.

Anna has been trying to find a way to convince Elsa to take her on the royal journey. But every time she tries to ask something comes up, and just when she seems to find the perfect time to ask, a mysterious illness strikes the kingdom, forcing all of Elsa attention to the sick animals and worried villagers.

When Anna finds a mysterious hidden room filled with magic spell books that she and Elsa’s mother collected and translated along with other mysterious old artifacts, Anna thinks she may have found the answer to the illness in a magic spell. A magic spell that is supposed to make your dreams come true.

The spell, however, ends up turning a nightmare into reality and causes more trouble than Anna could have ever imagined.

Filled with myth and all sorts of cool new creatures and people, this book is a great link between Frozen and Frozen 2. I also especially love how much it focuses on emotion and how our emotions can change our perception of reality.

I’d have to give this book a 4.5, because of the new and old friends that were brought in, the way emotion was portrayed, and the way the interaction between Anna and Elsa was realistically shown.

Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

Posted in Monthly Reads

November TBR

October was a very productive month reading-wise, 6 books! That’s the most I’ve gotten through this in a month this year! However, I seem to pay no attention to my TBR, lol. I’m still going to try to focus on those books but I won’t relist them here, however, I plan to add a few more books to my TBR, because I’m a book blogger and my TBR is always growing.

A couple of these books I’ve been looking forward to all year.

The Midwinter Witch

The conclusion to Ostertag’s The Witch Boy trilogy, Ariel and Aster must face dark magical forces as Vanissen Midwinter Festival near. Aster looks forward to the Midwinter Festival where there will be competitions in witchery and shapeshifting. This year will be the first year he gets to compete as a witch so he’s extra excited to everyone he’s grown into his power. But he knows that showing the whole family, the Midwinter Festival is also the Vanissen Family reunion, that is he’s defying tradition won’t be easy.

Meanwhile, Ariel is thankful for the Vanissen family, but seeing them all together just highlights to her the fact that she doesn’t really belong. And when a witch appears in her dreams claiming to know the secrets about her mysterious past, Ariel can’t help but try and figure out what her dreams mean.

The Festival doesn’t go according to plan for either Aster or Ariel, but when a sinister force finds its way into the festival and tries to destroy everything the Aster and Ariel have fought for, will they be able to face it together, or will it tear them apart?

So excited for this to come out on November 5th!

Amazon: The Midwinter Witch

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Legacy

I’m especially looking forward to this book as I love the series. After years of secrets, Sophie Foster and her friends are on the edge of the truth about their lives and legacies. She and her friends have blank spots in their memories and they are in need of answers.

But finding answers may come at a bigger price than they are willing to pay when they out they are a part of bigger plans than they could have imagined and that their roles in these conspiracies have already been chosen for them.

When new revelations make them question themselves and each other, will they able to fight together against the roles that have been chosen for them, or will everything fall apart?

Out November 5th

Amazon: Keeper of Lost Cities-Legacy

Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2)

Cassidy Blake’s and her corporally challenged best friend Jacob’s adventures pick up after their dangerous adventures in Scotland. Now they are in Paris, filming the next episode of Cassidy’s parents show The Inspecters. While Cassidy hopes Paris isn’t as haunted as Eninghburgh her hopes are dashed when she learns about the ghosts hiding beneath Paris in the Catacombs. 

And when Cassidy awakens a strong spirit from the Catacombs, she must rely on her growing skills as a ghost hunter, as well as new and old friends. Together they must solve a mystery before the spirit Cassidy unleashed becomes strong enough to be free to haunt Paris forever. 

Amazon: Tunnel of Bones

More to the Story

A retelling of Little Women set in a Pakistani American family. In this case, Jo is  Jameela Mirza who was just picked to be the feature editor in her middle school newspaper. Jameela wants to be an award-winning journalist like a late family member. The head editor keeps shooting down her ideas, and she finds herself writing about a new student, a boy with a British accent who keeps to himself. But how will she make this story engaging enough to win a national media contest?

But things get complicated when Jameela’s family is shaken up by her father taking an overseas job that takes him away from their Georgia home. Jameela, along with her three sisters aren’t sure what to do. Missing her father ignites a fire under Jameela, she’s going to write the best article ever and make her dad proud.

But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela has to decide what is really important. She has to make the same choice at school where her quest for fame might cost her a friend.

While trying to find out what matters most Jameela wonders whether she’s cut out to be a journalist after all.

Written by Pakistani-American writer Hena Khan.

Amazon: More to the Story

What are you adding to your TBR this November?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Posted in Uncategorized

Monthly Wrap Up-October

It’s my first time doing this tag, but I like the idea. This month has been very productive despite my health being on the rocks. Still, I got a little reading done, more than I have in the past few months. This is a few days late, due to said health issues, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!

What I read

5 Stars-This was super cute and definitely my favorite read of the month, a cute read about family, friends, and magic.

4.5 Perfect, spooky, with great characterization.

4.5 Super spooky, but not long enough, can’t wait for the next installment.

4.5 Perfect spooky book for this month, I’m about to start on the sequel Tunnel of Bones, and it looks amazing!

Frozen: Conceal, Don't Feel: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tale, A) by [Calonita, Jen]

4.5 Wonderful book that reimagines Frozen, I’m even more excited for Frozen coming out after having read it.

4.5 Awesome, nightmarish adventure that bridges the gap between Frozen and Frozen 2.

What I Played

Image result for legend of zelda breath of the wild"

I have no idea how many hours I have into this game, its so much fun! Have any of you played it? Or are you playing anything else? Right now I’m at the Zora’s Domain trying to beat the Elephant beast.

What I Watched

Image result for chopped cooking show"

I know everyone else has probably been watching horror movies. And I’ve been watching a few, but what I’ve really been watching is chopped. I love reality cooking shows and Chopped is my favorite at the moment.

Overall

It has been a very productive month, I don’t think I’ve read six books in any month this year, I hope I can continue the trend and maybe hopefully meet half my reading goal. Also, I love the fact that the holidays are coming up, as I’m writing this I already have my tree up if that tells you anything I about how I feel about the coming season. <3

QOTD: What are you looking forward to in November?

Photo by Taylor Rooney on Unsplash

Posted in Monthly Reads, Reviews

Bodega Cat Review

A tribute to the special place bodega’s hold in many New York neighborhoods.

Bodega Cat shows what happens at a bodega through the eyes of it’s owner, the cat! The book explains the daily routine of a bodega and the different people that come in throughout the day. It also goes over the services a bodega provides to the community, in a children-friendly and interesting way.  Written by native New Yorker Louie Chin, it highlights the role of cats in the small stores throughout New York communities.

Rating: 4 Stars.

Cute, concise and with beautiful illustrations, Bodega Cat has me feeling like I’m in New York.