Ali Cross – James Patterson

Ali Cross
Ali Cross by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: November 2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Mystery, Friendship, Family, Gaming


REVIEW:

This is the story of Ali Cross – Alex Cross’ young son – who wants to become a detective, just like his father, and work towards protecting his community. He thought he would have to wait much longer to follow on his father’s footsteps, but after one of his friends disappears, he decides to investigate the disappearance and won’t stop until he finds his friend. Continue reading

Towers Falling – Jewell Parker Rhodes

24846343. sx318 Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Friendship, School, Family History, American History


REVIEW:

With Jewell Parker Rhodes, you don’t have to wonder. You don’t have to question whether the book is worth buying, reading, holding in your hands. There is no reason to pause and squint your eyes. Because you just know that this author will deliver a meaningful story with memorable protagonists and an affective atmosphere. Continue reading

Lily the Thief – Janne Kukkonen

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Lily the Thief by Janne Kukkonen

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: November 2019
Publisher: First Second
Recommended Age: 9+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Supernatural


REVIEW:

Lily is a young little thief who is tired of getting easy jobs. She wants to get the respect she thinks she deserve and challenge herself by taking on a hard job and becoming one of the great thieves of her guild.

Alas, her master does not approve of her ambitions, unable to get past the fact that she is a girl (and quite talented in the art of thievery). So she decides to work towards her goal without the blessing of the Guildmaster. Continue reading

Black Brother, Black Brother – Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: March 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Sports, Siblings, Racism, Respect, Family


REVIEW:

This is a book that will capture your heart from the beginning. If you’re familiar with Jewell Parker Rhodes’ writings, get excited because she delivers more emotional content and beautifully poetic prose that is sure to move you and remind you that there is humanity left in this world. Continue reading

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky – Kwame Mbalia

39884337Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: October 2019
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Action, Mythology


REVIEW:

This is a solid story. With solid, memorable characters, and an intriguing concept. The writing, also, is solid. The fact that this is a debut is astounding. I completely understand why Rick Riordan picked it for publishing. I would have done the same thing. This story deserves to be out there, because it is not more of the same. The diversity and unusualness of the types of characters/creatures made it exciting to my eyes, from the beginning. Continue reading

Beverly, Right Here – Kate DiCamillo

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Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: September 2019
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Family, Death, Friendship, Love


REVIEW:

It is so clear, to me, why Kate DiCamillo is such a beloved children’s writer. She writes with such thoughtfulness and elegance. She gives voice to young girls who don’t always realize that they have one and that it most certainly deserves to be heard. She makes you want to listen to children more often and actually consider their words carefully. Continue reading

The Dragon Warrior – Katie Zhao

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The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: October 15th, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Friendship, Family


REVIEW:

Truth be told, I finished this book a few weeks ago, but somehow I find much easier to review books I’ve either adored or hated. Because, usually, those books get me all fired up. This story… did not. It’s a good beginning to an original and diverse middle grade series, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also one of those books that you need to remind yourself to finish because your heart just does not automatically turn their way. Continue reading

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying – Kelley Armstrong

42281823A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: August 2019
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Recommended Age: 9+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Action, Animals


REVIEW:

I love that Kelley Armstrong, a Canadian author known for her Young Adult and Adult series, is writing middle grade stories. I like to see authors challenge themselves by stepping out of their comfort zones.

Alas, Kelley Armstrong needs to study the Middle Grade genre better. Not because she failed at it miserably – not true at all – but because I know she can be as successful writing middle grade as she is writing YA and Adult stories. Her writing style is very professional. Continue reading

Clean Getaway – Nic Stone

46310069Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: January 7th, 2020
Publisher: Crown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fiction, Family History, Road Trip, Humour


REVIEW:

My first 2020 release!

This is a fun middle grade novel about a naughty boy going on an adventurous road trip across the country with his effervescent and perhaps a little scheming grandma. William is on school suspension and his father is very mad at him. So of course he’s not going to ask his permission to leave with G’ma. Continue reading

Shouting at the Rain – Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: May 2019
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Family, Friendship Dynamics, Summer


REVIEW:

I don’t typically dislike being in the minority because I can stand my ground, especially when it comes to book preferences, but I can’t help but be disappointed right now. This is an author that I have read twice before and both times she managed to impress me, plus this book was enjoyed by 98% of the people who have read it. Yet Shouting at the Rain is not as entertaining as Fish in a Tree or as moving as One for the Murphys. Actually, it’s somewhat annoying. Continue reading