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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island #1) by Alex Aster

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Title:Curse of the Night Witch
Author: Alex Aster
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 9, 2020
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In the spirit of Percy Jackson, this epic fantasy adventure novel had me turning the pages as fast as I could! Emblem Island is a place of magic, but none like we have read about before. And when a young boy wishes for a future different that what he has been given, he ends up cursed along with his best friend, and a girl from his class. They must break the curse by finding the Night Witch.

What I found the most lovable about this trio is that they reminded me so much of Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise. Tor, born with the leadership emblem, is our fearless hero, his best friend, Engle, is the lovable side kick, and Melda, is witty, brave, and sometimes annoying, but overall a wonderful friend to have by Tor’s side. This type of trio is often found in epic fantasies and is one of my favorite parts of the structure of these types of middle grade literature.

The most frustrating part was the ending… WHAT A CLIFF HANGER! I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2! I highly recommend this to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, For readers ages 9- 14, and for anyone who needs a little magic and a little adventure in their lives.

Categories
Children's Lit

Favorite Books from My Childhood

All bookworms link the magical feeling of reading to something that sparked their interest in reading at a young age. There are those  magical books that you wish you could read again for the first time and those that make you feel all the warm-fuzzy-nostalgic feels. You see the covers of those books and it takes you back in place to a time and place where you are sitting in your dad’s recliner and smelling your mom’s cooking. You pick it up and you remember exactly where you were when you read it and how it made you feel. 

These are the books from my childhood that bring back that warmth and make me want to be a kid again just so I can reread these for the first time. 

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The Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the first series of books I remember my mom reading to me. Looking at the books reminds me of how my sister and I used to clamber up into her bed and huddle around her while she read. I still remember the soft glow of the lamp beside her bed and the way my parents’ room smelled in our childhood home. I remember the floral comforter my parents had and the pink pajamas I wore. This series really ignited my love for all fantasy books. I always hoped that one day I would open my closet door and discover it had changed into a snowy landscape or an ocean full of adventure.

Little House Series

Back in the day, Scholastic Book Club was the OG subscription box service for kids. We used to sign up for a club at the beginning of each school year and each month we would get a package with a book and some other goodies. In 5th grade my mom signed me up for the Little House Club and I managed to get all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and then some. I think each month I got one from the Little House series, a related activity book, and a non series book like her journals and some of the prequels and sequels about her mom, grandmother, and daughter (written by other authors). I still have my original set of books in this series and I remember that red and white box being delivered to my teacher each month and tearing into the goodies that came with it when I got home.

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In 4th grade I was obsessed with the Dear America books. I remember loving the diary format. I started keeping my own diary then thinking that one day my thoughts might be important enough to turn into a book (HAHA). The first one I read was The Winter of Red Snow about The Revolutionary War. I still remember exactly where these were in my elementary school library and I still remember reading my favorites and putting them carefully into my backpack as the school day wound down. Someone recently told me that in Canada there was a Dear Canada series that was like the same thing. It blew my mind.

The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children was one of those older books that delighted me because the idea of living a life without adults seemed fantastic in some ways. I loved the first and second book enough to reread them several times in my life. The last year I taught 3rd grade, we read this as a class book. I know I read a lot more than the first 2 in this series but I don’t think the mysteries appealed to me as much as the adventure in the first 2 books.

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I saved my favorite for last. I feel like I grew up with Harry Potter in some ways. I read the first book when I first got ahold of it at the end of second grade. It had already gotten a lot of buzz in the book world because it had been published a year before in the UK. By the time my mom had put a hold on it at out library we were 135th in line to get it. When I finally got it in my hands I was so excited. I had heard so much about the magical world contained in the pages. At this time, I wasn’t reading chapter books to myself. My mom would read with me. She looked at the size of the book and told me there was NO WAY she was going to read it out loud to me. I was devastated. But then I was determined. I read Harry Potter to myself. And then with each additional publishing I read those too. I read the first book when I was 7 and the last one came out right after my 16th birthday. I had truly grown up with Harry by my side. 

What childhood books were your favorites? I cannot wait to hear your memories associated with them.

 

 

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Categories
Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Book Review

** spoiler alert ** 4.5/ 5 Stars

Carry On is a magical story that is a reminder of the magic we felt when we first read Harry Potter without being too much like Harry Potter. Sure the beginning seems like it is desperately trying to be Potter, but as you get into the details, the plot, and most importantly, the characters, you realize that it isn’t much like Harry Potter except that there is magic and it takes place at a magic school in Britain.

The characters were believable and well thought out. The Mage was a complicated character who was the antihero throughout the novel. Each character, even minor characters like Ebb the goat herder, had a complicated and twisted past.

My favorite character was Baz who was broody, moody, and dark because of a past that haunted him, a family that ignored who he really was, and his secret crush: his roommate, Simon Snow. Though Simon has a girlfriend and so Baz knows he will never be with Simon.

I think I mostly related to Agatha, who seemed determined to keep herself safe no matter what that meant. She seems hated among the fans of this novel, but I think she acted the most realistically of the characters. Most 17/18 year old girls would act the way she does in this novel, at least on certain subjects. I also liked the way her story ended – saving a dog and running away to California.

The only thing I really didn’t like was the corniness in the way that spells were cast. It just seemed like saying normal phrases in a “magic way” would end up in a lot of disasters which are mentioned throughout the book “Be careful or instead of flying, Up, Up and Away could rip your lungs up out of your mouth” LIKE WHAT.

Seriously though, I recommend this 100% to anyone who is craving that “reading Harry Potter for the first time” feeling.

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Uncategorized

#Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Worlds I’d Want to / Never Want to Live in

If you aren’t familiar with the #TopTenTuesday Tag for book bloggers a link to the prompts and about is found here.

I am actually doing a TTT from last week because the prompt for this week is about books you DNF’d and I hardly ever DNF books…

So I am going to do the Top 5 Worlds  I want to live in and then the Top 5 I never want to live in…

Harry Potter

  1. Hogwarts/ Harry Potter’s World – This one seems a tad obvious to anyone who knows anything about me. I am obsessed with this world and the magic that it brings to my life. I cannot imagine the sort of magic it would bring if the magic magic were real. I got to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando at Universal Studios once and that is as close as I will ever get. (PS trying to talk my fiance into going back for our honeymoon)

    Summer Court

  2. Pyrnthian/The World of A Court of Thorns and Roses – Okay, I don’t need to be with Rhysand but I will take am Illyrian Warrior as my mate in this world if I have to. *wink wink* Even if I am truly Summer Court material as the quizzes suggest I wouldn’t mind living in an eternal summer if the ocean is right below my window.

    Percy Jackson

  3. Camp Half-Blood/ The Percy Jackson World – Percy Jackson’s world sounds amazing. I have always loved reading about Mythology and studying those units in school. I loved teaching them when I taught middle grade English as well. I would love to attend Camp Half-Blood and be a demi-god ready to save the world.

    Outlander

  4. Outlander – I am a little jealous of time travelling women who fall in love with handsome Scottish clansmen in kilts. I mean. This series is HOT and I would definitely me okay with a Jamie in my own life. (My fiance’s last name is Scottish… does that count?)

    narnia

  5. Narnia – Holy cow… I almost forgot this one. This is one of my favorite series of all time. I love Narnia and all the magic it offers to even the most common of people. I wish I was there right now enjoying a cuppa with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.

Okay now on to the places I NEVER want to live…

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  1. The Hunger Games/ District 12 – Okay my number one place to NOT live would be District 12. Let’s be honest. As great as these books are, this world is terrifying. Children battling to the death is not ideal.

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  2. The World of The Red Queen Series – Blood wars? Poverty? Living in fear? Magic battles? Yeah no thanks. I’d rather stay home and read about it.

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  3. Westeros/ The World in A Game of Thrones – I LOVE this series. I love the TV show. I love the blood and guts and craziness. I love the death. I eat it all up. But HELL NO I don’t want to live here and be a part of this.

    The Bachelor

  4. The Selection Series World – Another dystopian series. Surprise surprise. We haven’t lived among real true castes in centuries. We don’t need to go back there. And we certainly don’t need The Bachelor to be choosing our future rulers.

    The Maze Runner

  5. The Maze Runner Series World – I am claustrophobic and a huge fan of indoor plumbing. Living in shacks, trapped in the center of a maze doesn’t sound ideal. Plus when they leave the maze the outside world is just as terrifying if not more so.

Welp Happy Tuesday! (PS It is my birthday and I am so glad to have shared a bit of it with you, thanks for reading book nerds!)

 

What fictional world do you want to live in? Which one do you definitely NOT want to live in?

Categories
Uncategorized Weekly Reviews

Weekly Review Tuesday

Hello 2nd Mini Series for my blog!

I am new to the whole writing reviews for books thing. So I am going to make it a little simpler on myself. I want to write reviews. I want to be good at writing reviews. I want people to read my reviews. So I  am going to write short reviews for books I have managed to finish each week. So here we go…

From May 24- May 30 I managed to finish 4 books (4.. in a week!)

Go me! So in order from when each book was finished.

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
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    A Court of Thorns and Roses is about a girl named Feyre who lives with her disabled father and 2 spoiled older sisters. After a bad investment her father had lost their family fortune and they fell from grace into poverty. Feyre is the only one who seems interested in helping her family survive the harsh winters of the land they live in. On the other side of “the wall” lives another kingdom of the faeries. These faeries have been known to hunt down and murder humans for sport, and so the humans have grown to fear and hate them. When Feyre is out hunting for her family’s survival she shoots a wolf in the head to protect the deer she is bringing home for supper. The wolf happened to be a faerie in disguise and soon his friends come knocking down Feyre’s door and wisk her away to the kingdom they live in. Here, her entire perspective on her life and theirs changes drastically.

    Sarah J. Maas brings to life this kingdom with rich metaphors and intricate details in her writing. She makes the reader feel as if they are living inside her world. Talk about a book hangover… I am surprised I moved on to other books this week.

    5/5 Stars and would recommend to any Fantasy lovers
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  2. We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman
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    We Will Not Be Silent is a short middle grade book stocked full of photographs about the family and their friends who started the White Rose propaganda movement during World War II. Their story starts during the beginning of Hitler’s reign and talks about how even as young children they would not conform to the Nazi groups the way Hitler wanted them to. They resisted all rules put in front of them.

    The research and time that was taken into finding the photos that were included in this book must have been difficult as many of them seem like private family photos. This book made me gain a deeper understanding of some of the Germans during WWII that resisted what was happening in their country.

    3/5 total stars – 4/5 for a children’s book

  3. When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffith
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    I think when Paul was writing this novel he said, “Hmm. What are the 5 worst things that can happen to a 12 year old kid?” and then he made all five of them happen to Ben, the main character in this story.
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    Ben is a middle school student who is a nerd and who is bullied heavily in this book. He loves reading science fiction and finds solace in the library (like most of us readers).  Ben spent a good amount of his childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home until he met his mom who is a widow. One day after leaving the library a small dog follows Ben home. He bonds with this dog instantly and the dog, Flip, helps him meet his best friend Hayley who happens to be the librarian’s daughter and his only source of comfort during the tough times he endures in the rest of the novel such as abuse, death of a parent, and homelessness.

    Disclaimer: I listened to this book on CD in the car on my way to and from work for the majority of the month of May (I live 10 minutes from work). By the end of this novel I had to pull over because I was crying so hard.
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    5/5 because this book is both sad and funny. I enjoyed it and I know middle grade students in my library will enjoy it as well.

  4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling (The Screenplay)
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    Okay, if you have seen the movie then you know this story basically word for word. No surprises or extra side stories that were left out. Or entire plots – like in Harry Potter… The only thing that the book added to the movie for me were some clarifications behind some of the looks exchanged between characters and how they were truly feeling in that moment. JK Rowling creates a world of fantasy for us all to live in and I think the Fantastic Beasts franchise is really just adding to the Harry Potter world. I don’t think anything will ever replace the love I have for Harry Potter in my heart though.

    Props to the fun pictures throughout the book of the creatures made with repeated imagery.

    4/5 because its Rowling, and I love magic. A great movie but not my favorite read. Maybe I just don’t enjoy screenplays…

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