Reviews on Children's and MG books (with a dash of YA!)
I'm a reader and reviewer. I focus mostly on children's books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. My favorite genre to read is fantasy. I'm also especially interested in how disability is portrayed within said media.
So the beginning is as good as anyway to start a reading. I don’t think I’m going to be reading 12 books it just hasn’t been the pattern for me this year. I’m probably going to have to do like 8 to fit all of the prompts.
Using Soda, Cotton Candy and Corn Dog
Ellen Outside the Lines
Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. In the beginning of the book she attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track.
Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.
Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.
Benny Imura and his friends have found the jet and Sanctuary—but neither is what they expected. Instead of a refuge, Sanctuary is a hospice, and the soldiers who flew the plane seem to be little more than bureaucrats who have given up hope for civilization’s future. With Chong hovering between life and death, clinging to his humanity by a thread, Benny makes a startling discovery: A scientist may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Desperate to save Chong, Benny and his friends mount a search and rescue mission. But they’re not the only ones on the hunt. The reapers are after the cure too, and they want to use it turn all the zombies into superfast shock troops—and wipe humanity off the face of the earth.
In this riveting conclusion to the Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is just beginning.
Thank you guys for dealing with my absence. I decided to take the month off to recover my energy from a nasty case of COVID I had for most of May that zapped all my energy for writing and most of my energy for reading. But I’m back for the last few days of June to celebrate the third round of the Chopped readathon. This time we are taking our readers to the beach for summer fun.
I’ll go over my picks for the prompts in the next few days but here are some basic facts about the readathon, it will go from July 1st through July 30th. There will be reading sprints 12pm every Friday and we will add more if more are interested.
You can you as many prompts as you want for each book.
You can use a book from last month as long as it’s not more than around 20%
This readathon is about fun not stress so make that your focus.
If you want to give yourself a challenge we are offering one up if you can manage to use all 12 prompts on one book you will a cash prize.
As usual, we will have a cash prize for most pages read, and a randomly drawn US and international prize. I will also be looking for authors willing to donate summer books to us.
I was recently invited on a blog tour for this book by one of the Publicity Mangers at Algonquin Young Readers. SLIP is a new graphic novel byMarika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya. SLIP deals with the have crafted a nuanced story about the many ways art can change us forever.
SLIP brings to life both the excitement and heartbreak of being a teenager and the fleeting and beautiful feeling that one summer can hold dozens of exhilarating possibilities. The perfect read for fans of heartfelt stories about personal identity and first love like Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero O’Connell and Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Kevin Ganucheau, SLIP captures both the magic and anguish of growing older and the catharsis that creating art can bring.
Jade is excited to go to an exclusive summer art intensive, but right before she is about to leave, her best friend Phoebe attempts suicide. How will Jade be able to focus on her artwork during this dream opportunity? But at the Art Farm, Jade discovers artistic possibilities she has been longing to experience her whole life. And as she gets to know her classmates, she begins to fall for whimsical, upbeat, comfortable-in-her-own-skin Mary. Jade knows she needs to keep her focus on her art, but her worry about Phoebe and her budding crush on Mary leave her overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. She channels her stress and insecurities into making ceramic monsters, but when she puts her creatures in the kiln, something unreal happens – they come to life. And they’re taking a stand: if Jade won’t confront her problems, her problems are going to confront her. Including the one she is desperately trying to avoid: If Jade grows, prospers, and even falls in love this summer, is she abandoning her best friend? Can she discover who she really is without losing Phoebe in the process?
Review of Slip
Jade has problems finding her theme in her art because she won’t face her emotions. I think her main problem though is her codependency with Phoebe. It holds her back nearly the whole piece from embracing her pieces or embracing her relationship with Mary. I think this is a good piece about finding yourself beyond people you may love but who may not be good for you. I love the final pages when Jade makes the piece of Phoebe I think that’s her most interesting piece in the book. This is a great read for Pride Month as Mary really supports Jade through all her issues.
I would give it a CW as there is artistic showing of female genitalia
About Marika McCoola: Marika McCoola is a writer, illustrator, educator, and the New York Times bestselling author of Baba Yaga’s Assistant. She has spent over a decade working to connect books with readers. She studied illustration, art history, creative writing, and ceramics at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and received her BFA in illustration in 2009. She lives in Somerville, MA.
About Aatmaja Pandya Aatmaja Pandya is a cartoonist and illustrator born and raised in New York. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2014 and has been illustrating professionally ever since. Slip is her first graphic novel. She lives in New York City.
So I’m sticking to one readathon in June, just one because I’m tired from COVID. Speaking of COVID I’m now over being contaigous but it turns out I had it for a month, COVID for a MONTH. No wonder may was so lackluster. Because of this I went with with Marvel A Thon. It has prompts I can meet yet a element of challenge This readathon is hosted by Lisadoeslife and has four teams based off of Marvel characters.
Along with team Black Widow hosted by Lisadoeslife, here is her introduction in the main video.
So what about the prompts and which team did I join do you ask? First off I joined Team Scarlet Witch. Wandavision made me cry real tears, and the Multiverse of Madness gave me feels for weeks. To be fair though it was close for Team Loki, because the Loki series also hit me in the feels and Tom Hiddleston is really a sweetheart. His fate in the main MCU timeline also made me cry some real tears and I can’t wait for the second season of Loki.
Five Star Prediction
I’ve been wanting to read this one for awhile about a girl who work at Renaissance fair with her family and wants to be a knight but the role is traditionally reserved for boys. She’s trying to change the norm. I’ve just been excited for this one for awhile and am glad I’m finally getting a chance to read it.
I have an arc that I’m reading for this one. The there are two main characters in this one both with disabilities.
Miles Morales-Graphic Novel
After dealing with a close friends suicide attempt right before Jade is about to go to her art camp for the summer distracts her shouldn’t she be worried about her friend instead of focus on her camp. But she soon becomes comfortable and falls for another camper Mary. However her art isn’t letting her run from her feelings. Soon her creations are going to make her face down what she’s feeling if she won’t on her on.
For this book we had to let others on the Discord server pick which book they would like for us to read out of a group of our choices. This book is a gender bent retelling of The Three Musketeers with a someone dealing with a disability added in. Tania de Batz has always wanted to be a musketeer but that isn’t possible for a girl much less a disabled girl in France but things change rapidly soon after a something happens to her father and she finds herself at what she first thinks is a finishing school but turns out to be a school for lady spies.
Seventeen-year-old Eleanor is the last person in Salem to believe in witchcraft—or think that her life could be transformed by mysterious forces. After losing her best friend and first love, Chloe, Eleanor has spent the past year in a haze, vowing to stay away from anything resembling romance.
But when a handwritten guide to tarot arrives in the mail at the witchy souvenir store where Eleanor works, it seems to bring with it the message that magic is about to enter her life.
This will also fit the second prompt which will be revealed in a second. .
Since Scarlet Witch’s story isn’t exactly a happy one we need to choose a sad book. This book finds a girl herself facing her own and literal demons as she tries to erase her family’s shame in this great new horror novel by Claire Legrand.
What can I say some months you just end up with everything going wrong. May was like that for me, first I sprained my wrist so I couldn’t type up anything here, and I was sick already and lacking energy. Now only to add to my troubles I’ve got COVID, no one worry, it’s a very mild case, but I will be slowly transitioning back into blogging this June mostly for Marvelathon go Team Scarlet Witch. I do have another book from this month to write a review about and a few features I’d like to get back to but like I said SLOWLY back into blogging so I don’t overwhelm myself.
Anyway that is the update around here, here’s to hoping my troubles turn around soon!
So I’ve been absent. I’ve been dealing with some trauma plus a case of seasonal affective disorder, aka a summer slump. Finally, my hand is recovering from hitting it while skating. I’ll try to be better, I’m doing several read-alongs and while I won’t get all the books done, I’ve gotten a lot of the long ones out of the way on my TBR. The latest one I finished was Sorcery of Thorns.
Sorcery of Thorns is focused on the Great Libraries and specifically Elisabeth, she’s lived her whole life in the great library at Summershall. She’s grown up with the knowledge that all sorcerers are evil. This knowledge is about to be flipped on its head when everything she’s known is suddenly wrong. She’s facing down monsters and the ones she thought knew everything are now dead. But she’s not only facing down monsters, but she’s also winning?!
Clearly, something is amiss and the Great Libraries send Magister Nathaniel Thorn to check on it. He is of course a sorcerer. But soon he and his demon servant seem to be the only people Elisabeth is able to trust. As the three of them learn of a larger conspiracy will they have the power to bring this evil that is older than they imagined down or can nothing including sorcery and smarts stop this ancient evil?
Review of Sorcery of Thorns
This was a great book it was wonderful to go on an adventure with Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas, not to mention the great libraries there were some triggering scenes for potential assault towards women at several points but the girl always got the upper hand it was just threatened, and the perpetrators were in most cases killed or maimed.
Elisabeth is a great protagonist she’s got spunk and keeps Nathaniel and Silas both on their toes throughout the book.
My one issue is that ending man this book needs a sequel. Oh and Silas, fave character ever.
In my enthusiasm to get to skating I forgot that muscle memory was a thing and end up falling way more than I should so I’m going to be training for not on the rink this summer while my skating friend is across the country doing non-profit work. I’m retraining my leg to do some work it doesn’t to do lots of streches maybe Switch sports, yoga, running. Yeah, lots of reading too but no fun for me. Last time I fell I also bruised my major writing wrist, so I will be off again for awhile. Only a few days though till it patches itself up though. Ugh bones why you be so annoying.
So I’m going to address the rest of my TBR’s this week. Starting with the most complex, Desert a Thon. In Desert a thon you have to roll for your reads. Here is my TBR I’m on Team Camel by the way, which is run by the wonderful Femke who is over at the Youtube Channel Bookish Buddies. Go and give her a visit along with Esmay her teammate on the channel who is also running one of the other teams on the readathon.
So here we have my Dessert a Thon TBR. I rolled with A D20, since I know some of these a chonks and I may struggle to read them in a month.
The process goes as such you go around the board rolling a die to get around this board.
If you land on your color you get two points if you choose to read the prompt of that color, you get one point if you choose any other prompt there are also wildcard spaces which you are allowed one.
There are twenty choice cards going by what you rolled from a d6 to a d20. I managed to match my color no times which was just lovely I did match the color with reading all the books of the color that I landed on.
Book 1-The Ice House
This book has to Involve a storm. For this book I chose the The Ice House, I found this one while I was on my trip. It’s about a global freeze. The focus is two friends trying to spend time with each other, definite pandemic feels.
Book 2-All for One
The prompt for this was a retelling. I could have gone with any of the common retellings but the one that I’m currently interested in is more unusual so I went with went with the new gender flipped chronic illness Three Musketeers retelling All For One.
Book 3- Cold The Night, Fast the Wolves
This was my wildcard pick so I chose one I needed read but haven’t had time. I got for a retelling that was doing Polar Fantasy. But I end up liking the idea from the book a lot, so it ended up on my TBR, so that’s why it’s my wildcard pick. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves.
Book 4-Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls
This book had to be a fantasy and I wanted to get into magical realism and and my desert pick for the readathon. So I chose Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls plus it has been on has my TBR forever and I plan to get it finally read.
So these are my picks for Desert a Thon, a few a showing up in my other readathons because they are chonks and I’m cross listing, because my reading count is already looking like it’s going to crush me. But I need to get back on track for my yearly read goal so lots of books this month it is!
So you saw my picks for Seamstress yesterday, now I’m doing my second calling or my companion’s calling whichever works better for the readathon. This time I’m going for Bard which I think I would personally be in a Medieval setting just because the love of books.
The first line of this book just has you imagine the floor of the Scrabble tournament when our murdered heroine. This story about words fits perfectly for the Bard storyline.
CATALYST 13 points noun: a substance that speeds up a reaction without itself changing
When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.
But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.
As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.
Level 2-Book with a travel element
The Genesis Wars
This is a story about the afterlife that almost killed me. I’ve been waiting for this book since the last one left me hanging oh 8 or 9 months ago. I’ve been waiting months for this title of royalty, betrayal and one girl on a journey to bring it all down. I think this fit for the Bard storyline because Nami is one girl fighting to tell her story.
It’s been ten months since Nami narrowly escaped the Four Courts and Ophelia’s wrath. Ten months since she was betrayed by someone she once considered a friend. Someone she poured her heart out to. And now her family here in the afterlife are gone, captured, and Nami is utterly alone.
On the run, only steps ahead of the AI forces pursuing her, and desperate to free her friends, Nami must take the allies she can find, even if she doesn’t fully trust them. And as she tests the limits of her own power, she must also reckon with the responsibility that entails.
Stakes are high as Nami navigates old enemies, unexpected allies, and an ever-changing landscape filled with dangers and twists at every turn. Along the way, she’ll learn powerful truths about who she can trust and the sacrifices that must be made in order to fight for a better, freer world for all
Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday.
Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made
Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps.
A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track. Except it doesn’t.
Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.
Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.
Level 4-Book Over 400 Pages
Sorcery of Thorns
This book felt perfect for the Bard calling because it has to do with books and libraries I feel like that is something a bard would encounter during the course of their career.
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire, and Elisabeth is implicated in the crime. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
Had to have a comic in here. I love the collaboration of multiple authors in comics so I had to have a comic on my list.
After defeating a former Zodiac Member and her mean-girl minions, the girls thought they’d catch a break! But once a mean magical girl, always a mean magical girl and Libra’s former best friend wants that power back! Determined to bring the goddess Cimmeria into our dimension, her coven opens a portal to the dark dimension Nephos, only they don’t get what they bargained for. A new big-bad has come out to play and demons begin to overrun the town! Zodiac Starforce discovers they aren’t the only Zodiac team in the game and together they form a tenuous alliance to find out who’s behind the demon infestation.
So I’m going to go back though and show how I did on the April Readathons over the next few days. But right now I wanted to put my May TBR Readathons up. I’m going to be participating in a few readathons. The first one is Medieval A Thon. In this readathon you start at a low level in society and then raise your status by reading books. You can get to the top by reading 10.
Each calling though only requires four books so I think I might be doing two callings or a calling with a companion. Medieval a Thon requires you to pick a calling then read books for that callings prompts.
For my first Calling I’m going to be a Seamstress
Level 1: Squire-A book you’re unsure about
I’m not sure where or not I’ll like this since it mostly focuses on one girl’s training in the military but I’ve looked at the pictures from the comic and they are beautiful and it also deals with race relations in fantasy so I’m giving it a chance.
I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile but I haven’t had time due to different readathons. But this fits the prompt plus then I can read the second book which looks super cool as well. Also I believe this cover fits this whole general feel of Seamstress which is working on beauty.
I can’t tell from just the kindle copy if it’s embossed but it is very shiny and so I hope it fit the challenge, I’ll continue to look around and if I find one shinier I might switch it in, but until then this has gold print and lots of golden light so I think it fits the shininess of the challenge.
At this point no one should be surprised the last book I borrowed was a book about pre-teen witches. I love the cover on this one keeping with the pretty covers for all of these books. The concept is also really cool and and I really can’t wait to read some more witchy fiction.
Though Tooley’s cover’s are simple they are always lovely to me. Her last book remains on of my favorites and I can’t wait to dive into this one. Because I’m sure the text is as beautiful as the cover.