Book Review, Books!, Diverse December, Graphic Novel, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Review: Lumberjanes – Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to another Middle Grade March review post. Was this a book I read in March? Well, no. Technically this isn’t even a book I read in 2018, but it is still a Middle Grade book, and I’ve also been trying to play catch up on a rather large stack of to be written reviews, so this will help me out with all of that.

Technically I read this book during Diverse December, a reading event hosted by my buddy Kathy over at Books & Munches. As always, I recommend checking out her blog because she is awesome, and the munches photos she puts on her posts always make me hungry.

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Summary

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.

Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they’ve ever seen, things don’t go quite as planned. For one, they didn’t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.

This hilarious, rollicking adventure series brings the beloved Lumberjanes characters into a novel format with brand-new adventures.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

I saw another blogger I follow review this book around the time of its release, and I remember that she raved about how great it was. Even with that glowing review, I was still a bit wary going into the book. Honestly, as someone who loves the comics/graphic novels, I worried that this novel format with the same characters would try to alter them in some way for the middle grade novel.

I don’t know why I worried. It had the same diversity and the same weirdness that I’ve come to expect and love from the Lumberjanes. Not to mention, actually, the adventure the group goes on in this book references earlier adventures from the comics. So this isn’t a reboot or anything like that. No, this is just another way to enjoy the world and the characters, which I really loved and appreciated.

Now for me it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the format, because I’m so used to the visual experience of a comic, but I think it would still be a fun story for someone who doesn’t already read Lumberjanes, and perhaps this would inspire them to check out the previous adventures as well.

I enjoyed that Ripley was still the fun wild child she typically is–to be honest, Ripley may be my favorite, though I like all of them. And I love how wonderfully distinct each girl is. They all have their own style, their own interests and specialities, their own fears and hopes, etc.

So pretty much I will be waiting to read the next Lumberjanes novel installment, because the second book isn’t set to be released until May. Of course there’s always the graphic novels to keep me busy until then…plus all the non-Lumberjanes reads I have waiting for me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this Lumberjanes adventure at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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Book Review, Books!, Readathon, Signal Boost

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Hey all, Dani here.

Finally I have a review up for Middle Grade March. This is a book I read during the latest Readathon by Zoe, but I wanted to make sure I put up an actual review for it instead of just saying that I really enjoyed it. So, Neil Gaiman is just one of those authors that I continuously heard lots of great things about, and I eventually gave him a chance with the Sandman comics. A good friend of mine recommended that series, and I loved them all. Since then I’ve been wanting to read more Gaiman, and I’ve managed to read StardustThe Sleeper and The Spindle, and now The Graveyard Book. I’m really enjoying what I’m reading, and I definitely plan to continue making my way through all of Gaiman’s published works.

Let’s jump into the review now.

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Summary

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages. 

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

The first few chapters of this book were absolutely outstanding. I was pulled into the story very quickly, and the way things were described or the ways some of the characters spoke left me laughing. Several times I had to pause in my reading to read a passage to my fiance, and he found it all very interesting too. This book certainly has an interesting premise, and as always I love the way Gaiman describes things. Also, the realistic yet also otherworldly way that the atmosphere of the story makes you feel.

And yes, Bod does have a number of adventures as he grows up in the graveyard and learns from those around him. But I can admit that there were points where I felt like the story dragged a bit more than I’m used to with a Gaiman story. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t interesting though. Perhaps my feelings were also partly due to reading this during a readathon.

All in all though, this is a lush world, with intriguing characters, and looking back I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wanting to know more about the Jacks. The story switches from Bod and his life, to the man called Jack, the one who killed everyone else in Bod’s family. Jack has been looking for Bod this whole time because his job killing the whole family isn’t complete.

We get to see Bod grow up, from toddler to young boy, to middle grade young man, and it is interesting to see the friends he makes and the lessons they teach him. I did really enjoy this read, even if I didn’t give it the 5 star rating that seems typical with any Gaiman book I read. I definitely like how Gaiman can take a quirky concept and make it seem fairly normal.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of The Graveyard Book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Book Review, Books!, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Middle Grade March: Story Thieves by James Riley

Hey all, Dani here.

So, I kinda dropped the ball last week and didn’t get my book reviews posted up. Basically I’m going to make up for it by posting extra reviews this week. Today I’m thrilled to be talking about a middle grade book that I actually discovered randomly at the store earlier this month. Honestly, the idea sounded fantastic so I couldn’t hold off on reading it.

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Summary

Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…

…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This was a solid story. It was a cute, clever, amusing adventure of a boy who finds real life boring and wants to escape, and a half-fictional girl searching for her fictional father in all the wrong books. One agreement between the two leads to a crazy journey where Owen has to become his favorite character and live out the final book in the series, while Bethany is in the real world trying to prevent things from getting far worse.

There were several times where I was laughing because of something the characters said or did. Oh, and then there was the characters mentioning other books written by James Riley, which I found highly amusing.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that there are similarities to Harry Potter, at least when it comes to the Kiel Gnomenfoot stories. But the great part with this is that Story Thieves does not shy away from this fact. Owen even comments that some fans of the Kiel Gnomenfoot stories have made comparisons. I really liked those references.

It was nice to see the character development. Owen, Bethany, and Kiel were all cool and relatable kids, and that made me interested in their story. Owen was such a fanboy of so many book series that I couldn’t help but enjoy his character. He reminded me of me in a number of ways. Bookworms are some of the best characters in books, or at least that’s how I see them.

The clever imaginings of this tale drew me in, and I found myself flying through the pages. I’m so glad that I picked up this book. I really enjoyed reading this, and will probably read the rest of the series in the future, just to find out what happens the next time Owen and Bethany jump into a story.

Where to Buy

You can pick up Story Thieves from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Book Review, Books!, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Middle Grade March: The Missing – Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to my first Middle Grade Monday post. Since I’m trying to focus my TBR pile this month on some of the many middle grade novels I’ve collected in recent months, I figured they should get their own day for reviews. I still have some other reviews for books coming this month as well, but I’ll save those for Tuesdays and/or Fridays.

Today I am going to share my thoughts on Found, book one of The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I’ll be honest; I was a fan of MPH when I was in high school, and I even attended an author event at my local public library and purchased a couple books which were then signed by the author. But it’s been nearly a decade since I last read one of her books, so this was an interesting experience for me.

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Summary

Thirteen-year-old Jonah has always known that he was adopted, and he’s never thought it was any big deal. Then he and a new friend, Chip, who’s also adopted, begin receiving mysterious letters. The first one says, “You are one of the missing.” The second one says, “Beware! They’re coming back to get you.”

Jonah, Chip, and Jonah’s sister, Katherine, are plunged into a mystery that involves the FBI, a vast smuggling operation, an airplane that appeared out of nowhere – and people who seem to appear and disappear at will. The kids discover they are caught in a battle between two opposing forces that want very different things for Jonah and Chip’s lives.

Do Jonah and Chip have any choice in the matter? And what should they choose when both alternatives are horrifying?

With Found, Margaret Peterson Haddix begins a new series that promises to be every bit as suspenseful as Among the Hidden, and proves her, once again, to be a master of the page-turner.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This was a pretty quick read. I finished it in just a couple of hours while also marathoning Criminal Minds on Netflix. For the record, I am rewatching the show so I don’t have to fully focus on it.

Anyway, I like the idea of this story, of kids who are adopted sort of on a quest for self-discovery, and trying to learn more information lands them right in the middle of two factions of time travelers who have very different ideas for the rules and laws of time travel.

The characters were pretty cool, and we were given a decent amount of time to get to know them as they tried to find answers. Yes, some weird things happen, but we all don’t really start getting answers until we are a decent way into the second half of the book. Which is why I think that it took a while to really be invested in the story. I wanted a little more action and a little more time travel.

I will say that this book does set up the rest of the series nicely. I’m sure the next book will be a great deal more interesting, especially now that Jonah, Chip, and Katherine are all back in the 15th century trying to find a way to repair any ripples in history so they can just get back to the lives they know. I imagine that it will get a bit more complex before they’re able to find their way home and relax.

Honestly, the friendship between Jonah and Chip, as well as the sibling bond of Jonah and Katherine are what hold this book together for me. I like the dynamics between the three, and think it will be fun to follow their adventures through time in the rest of the series.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.