Reviews :: Book Genre :: Middle Grade

Review

Zero G

Posted: January 31, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Dan Wells, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Audible
Zero G

I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. Last ones I got to were probably the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (Amazon), which are brilliant good fun, especially when they’re read aloud. I was trying to remember what books I was reading around that age and realized that at 11 I was pretty deep into the Dragonlance Chronicles series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (Amazon), thanks to my good friend Scot. It might be because of this, that I don’t remember reading an awful lot of funny, goofy, adventure romps like this one. There’s a part of me that thinks I might have missed out, but another that can’t help but remember how much I enjoyed reading back in those days. So I can’t have missed out on too much, can I?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Empty Grave

Posted: November 22, 2018 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Johnathan Stroud, Horror, Middle Grade
The Empty Grave

Arriving at the final book of the Lockwood & Co series, THE EMPTY GRAVE, leaves me with mixed emotions: so happy to see our gang of heroes find the answers they’re looking for, but also sad to see this fantastic series come to an end. Over this series we’ve watched as Lockwood, Lucy, and George have navigated the dangerous and mystifying world of ghosts and ghost hunting. They may only be kids, but this small and independent company has uncovered secrets small and large, fought dangerous ghosts, and dealt with the frustrating politics of being the little guy in a big industry.

Now we get to see the fruition of all their hard work. THE EMPTY GRAVE ends the series in a way that won’t let you down.Read the rest of this review »

Review

Sorcery for Beginners

Posted: April 18, 2018 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Matt Harry, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Sorcery for Beginners

Owen is your average Middle Schooler: he’s ok at sports, he passes his classes, and he has a couple friends. But when his mom leaves to work in Sumatra and dad takes him to live in Las Vegas, Owen is sure life will never be the same.

Even then, he didn’t account for finding the Codex Arcanum bookstore and buying SORCERY FOR BEGINNERS. Now his life is *really* going to change.

SORCERY FOR BEGINNERS claims it’s what the title says: that this book will teach you, via story and real-life examples, how to become a sorcerer. You’ll follow Owen’s story as he buys the book after being promised the “Spell to Rewrite History” which Owen plans to use to revert to the time before his mom left.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Creeping Shadow

Posted: October 24, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Johnathan Stroud, Horror, Middle Grade
The Creeping Shadow

I suppose I should be embarrassed for the squees involved in a series meant for middle grade readers. Certainly I am an Elitist, but that doesn’t mean I won’t give recognition where it is due. And Johnathan Stroud is due recognition for a smart, well-written, engaging horror series known as Lockwood & Co.

In THE HOLLOW BOY Lucy’s ability to talk to ghosts changes everything, and she learns that if she stays with the company her presence may be the result of Lockwood’s death. So, out of loyalty and love for her friend and co-worker, she leaves to become a freelancer. In the opening of THE CREEPING SHADOW we see how Lucy is handling her new life–and learning the hard way how much more competent Lockwood and Co. is than other ghost hunting groups. Sure she misses her old team, but is determined to never go back.

She sticks to her plan until the day Lockwood shows up at her little apartment to hire her for a job that the famed Penelope Fittes wants them to do–and it requires Lucy’s special listening skills. How can she say no?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Hollow Boy

Posted: March 7, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Johnathan Stroud, Horror, Middle Grade
The Hollow Boy

From Amazon: “As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

“Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.’s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city.”

Yep. This series just gets better and better.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Song of the Deep

Posted: October 25, 2016 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Brian Hastings, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Song of the Deep

Young Merryn and her father live by the sea, where her father fishes for his living. Merryn’s mother is dead, so it’s just the two of them living in the shack by the sea–at a time when being a fisherman grows more and more difficult, there are fewer fish being caught every time he goes out to sea.

Until one day when her father doesn’t return.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Whispering Skull

Posted: April 19, 2016 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Johnathan Stroud, Fantasy, Middle Grade
The Whispering Skull

The kids at Lockwood & Co. are doing just fine. The events in THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE gave them enough notoriety to keep them busy with work and enough money for a comfortable lifestyle–even if it hasn’t made them rich. But being the smallest ghost hunting agency in London makes them a target for agencies like Tittles where Kipps’ team takes the prize from under Lockwood’s nose in the opening chapter. A frustrated Lockwood team grows bold and bets Kipps’ team that if they end up on the same case again, the team who loses the bet must take out a newspaper ad declaring the other the best ghost hunting team in town.

It doesn’t take long before the Lockwood team is put to the test, and it turns out to be their most dangerous case yet.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Nameless City

Posted: April 6, 2016 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Faith Erin Hicks, Middle Grade, Graphic Novels
The Nameless City

THE NAMELESS CITY by Faith Erin Hicks is about a city that has changed hands so many times from invading armies that it has several names–so really has no name. The city is a mix of natives, conquerors, and everything in between; currently it’s held by the Dao. Kaidu has traveled to the city from his rural home so he can train to be a solider in the Dao army, and to be closer to his father who is an advisor to the general.

Upon his arrival Kaidu discovers some important things early on: he doesn’t really like fighting, his father doesn’t have much time for him, and the city’s natives don’t much like their conquerors. On his visit outside the palace to the city he meets a girl who calls herself Rat. Kaidu doesn’t understand her hostility, so is intent on getting her to talk to him. Then she steals the knife his father gave him.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Dragon Lantern

Posted: September 17, 2015 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Alan Gratz, Middle Grade, Steampunk
The Dragon Lantern

In THE LEAGUE OF SEVEN (EBR Review), our young heroes Archie, Hachi, and Fergus (along with Archie’s trusty Tik Tok man Mr. Rivets) worked together to stop the Mangleborn monster from the Florida swamps. They discovered that these creatures are buried all over the Earth, waiting for the day when they will be freed from their prisons and can take over humanity. It is only a new League of Seven–a tinker, a law-bringer, a scientist, a trickster, a warrior, a strongman, and a hero–who can stop them.

Now, in THE DRAGON LANTERN (Amazon), with the first three members of new League discovered, they are sent on a quest by the Septemberist Society and Mrs. Moffitt to recover the Dragon Lantern. She believes this was the artifact that transformed Archie and may hold the answers to his past.

But immediately upon recovering the lantern it’s stolen.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The League of Seven

Posted: September 15, 2015 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Alan Gratz, Middle Grade, Steampunk
The League of Seven

Archie Dent’s parents are members of a secret society that knows about the giant monsters who want to enslave humanity. He’s always known about the Mangleborn who were buried by past League of Seven members, aided by the Septemberist Society. The League is always seven: a tinker, a law-bringer, a scientist, a trickster, a warrior, a strongman, and a hero. And now that the Mangleborn are attempting to escape again, a new League will form.

But all Archie knows right now is that his parents have been brainwashed by Manglespawn and in order to save them, he needs help. Along the way he meets Hachi, a Seminole girl with impressive skills with a knife; Fergus, a Yankee with an aptitude for machines; and there’s the Tik Tok machine man named Mr. Rivets, owned by Archie’s parents and tasked to keep his young charge safe.

But it’s only by working together that they can stop Edison from waking the Mangleborn buried in the swamps of Florida.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Nightborn

Posted: August 28, 2015 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Lou Anders, Heroic Fantasy, Middle Grade
Nightborn

Karn is a gamer; his favorite game is Thrones and Bones (after which the series is named). When his best friend Thianna–half giant, half human–is kidnapped, he’s tasked by the dragon Orm to find her. Easier said than done, for he must travel far from his rural home to the city of Castlebriar, deal with duplicitous elves, and solve riddles. Thianna was on a quest to find a horn, much like the one they discovered in book one, FROSTBORN (Amazon)–these horns make it so the user can speak with and coerce magical beasts. And Orm isn’t the only one who wants to find the second horn.

Desstra is a dark elf, training to be a member of the Underhanded, a group of elite fighters. When an important test goes awry, she’s sent on a mission to prove she’s worthy. Part of that mission involves tricking Karn into thinking she’s something she isn’t. Because if she can’t get the horn before Karn does, then she will be outcast from the only home she’s ever known–even if she does think dark elves aren’t very nice.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Charlie and the Grandmothers

Posted: August 4, 2015 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Katy Towell, Horror, Middle Grade
Charlie and the Grandmothers

Charlie is worried. Ever since his father died a few years ago, he constantly worries about everything. Will he fall asleep in his soup and drown? Will his toes freeze off if he forgets to wear his socks? But Charlie’s sister Georgie loves an adventure, and unlike her brother doesn’t think about the consequences.

So when Grandmother Pearl invites them to visit, Georgie thinks it will be an exciting adventure. However, Charlie knows that they don’t have a Grandmother Pearl, that both their mother and father’s parents are long dead. But mother seems to be in a stupor and Charlie can’t snap her out of it. With mother needing medical care, the children have no choice left but to go, and they head to granny’s.

And discover that everything Charlie worries about is nothing compared to what awaits him at grandmother’s house.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Screaming Staircase

Posted: July 22, 2015 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Johnathan Stroud, Fantasy, Middle Grade
The Screaming Staircase

Lucy can hear ghosts. Lockwood can see them. George is tactical support. Together they are Lockwood and Co, ghost hunters extraordinaire. Well, competent if not extraordinaire. Okay, maybe they’re just barely getting by.

You see, only children can see or hear ghosts, so when ghost hunters get too old to hunt them, they lead the teams. However, Lockwood and Co don’t employ adults. They’re three kids who live in the house Lockwood inherited from his parents. DERPAC (Department of Psychical Research and Control–run by adults of course) monitors all companies that deal with Visitors–aka ghosts–and believe that children gallivanting around without adult supervision are suspect, even if they are licensed.

DERPAC’s agent Barnes feels justified in questioning Lockwood when their most recent job results in destruction of a client’s property, which is a strict no-no. Now they’re in danger of losing the house, the business, and any means of gainful employment. What’s a ghost hunter to do?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Poison

Posted: October 31, 2014 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Bridget Zinn, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Poison

Kyra wants to kill the princess.

There was even an attempt, but she missed with her poison dart, and now she’s on the run from the king’s soldiers. She wants to finish the job, but the princess has gone into hiding and Kyra needs the rest of the poison potion she made at her old apartment where her former business partners still live.

Did I mention the princess used to be Kyra’s best friend?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Rain of the Ghosts

Posted: May 2, 2014 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Greg Weisman, Middle Grade, Urban Fantasy
Rain of the Ghosts

Teenage Rain Cacique lives in the Prospero Keys (known to locals as The Ghosts), a series of islands between Florida and the Bermuda Triangle. To her dismay, she’s pretty sure she’s going to spend the rest of her life there, catering to the tourists who come to enjoy the tropical weather and scenery. Her and her friend Charlie spend their last free days before school begins having as much fun as they can.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Fortunately, the Milk

Posted: December 11, 2013 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Neil Gaiman, Middle Grade
Fortunately, the Milk

The father has gone to the corner store to get milk for breakfast. Unfortunately, while he’s there he runs into a little trouble that keeps him from returning home in a timely fashion: the delay involves a time-traveling stegosaurus, pirates, aliens, and wumpires. It’s a miracle he even gets home.  When he tells his kids the story for some reason they’re a bit skeptical.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Suprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet

Posted: October 9, 2013 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Tom Angleberger, Middle Grade
The Suprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet

I’m the mother of two boys: 10 and 9 years old. One is an avid reader and one isn’t, but I read as part of their bedtime ritual and search far and wide to find books all of us will enjoy.

Enter Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series. The man is a genius: middle grade kids, a mystery, Star Wars, and origami? There’s something in there for everyone. Oh, and they’re hysterical.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Down the Mysterly River

Down the Mysterly River

I have a kid that has a blanket.  Anyone with kids (or who can still remember their “blanket”) totally knows where I’m going with this.  This raggedy piece of purple stitching gets dragged around everywhere.  Actually, it only used to be a blanket–these days about 12 square inches in size–but it’s still the only source of comfort that works every time.

DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER (Amazon) is a novel written by Bill Willingham that contains an amalgam of other authors’ characters caught up in a young-adult adventure story right out of the storybooks.  The main character, Max the Wolf (originally written by Lawrence Swift) is a scout’s scout that teams up with a number of talking animals (from the minds and imaginations of several others) after waking up in a forest with little to no memory of how they got there.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea

Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea

Perhaps Ursula K. Le Guin‘s most recognizable work, her Earthsea stories are categorized as YA—but are definitely worth reading as adults. The first novel, A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA was published in 1968, and revolves around the wizard Ged and the islands and sea of Earthsea itself. It starts off with Ged leaving home to learn magic at a school. Sound familiar? Le Guin is the reason why it does.
Read the rest of this post »

Review

The Graveyard Book

Posted: August 7, 2009 by Nickolas in Books We Like Meta: Neil Gaiman, Middle Grade, Urban Fantasy
The Graveyard Book

Lest you dear readers feel we have a prejudice against novels that are written for young adults or children, we are here today to prove you wrong.

Neil Gaiman‘s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (Amazon) is a prime example of a brilliantly written children’s book. Granted, as a children’s book it’s a simpler read, and in many ways not as beautifully complex as the anvil sized tomes we prefer. But some of the most brilliant and enjoyable things in the world are easy and simple (bashing on TWILIGHT for example is the easiest, simplest thing in the world–and yet both enjoyable, and a mark of intelligence).

In addition, while THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is a simple read, it is by no means simple.
Read the rest of this review »