Posted in Book Reviews, Middle Grade Books

The Lost Frost Girl – a review

By Amy Wilson
Fantasy – Fairy Tales / Middle-Grade

Well, hello, hello. My first book review in who knows how long? Of course, I’m the only one who noticed I neglected my blog for all of 2021. Blogs, journals, manuscripts, health, housework – yeah, many things got pushed aside last year. No one cares why and I don’t care to share my reasons; let us pretend they were good reasons and leave it at that. Let us also hope I don’t do it again this year. If anyone is reading this, feel free to drop a comment below about the first book you completed in 2022, what your goals are this year, or what your dog’s name is. You can also just read my short little book review; that’s fine as well.

My Synopsis.
Owl is a young girl who finds out her father is Jack Frost. Finding out the truth led to other mysteries and trouble. If she’s not careful with her new powers, she could ruin a lot more than her friendship with her best friend Malory and her mother’s trust.

Why I picked this book.
I was looking for a wintery-themed middle-grade novel. Plus I like fairy tales and Jack Frost.

Any disappointments?
Not really. It’s a middle-grade novel, so there is not the extravagant world-building and drama some may love. Look to your young adult or adult fantasies for that. This world building was perfect for a middle-grade book.

What kept me reading?
There were secrets and things I didn’t quite have figured out. Also, I really enjoyed Owl’s friendship with Malory, and that dynamic was a big draw for me.

Takeaway
This is a sweet and simple book with just the right amount of each element; fairytale, superpowers, realism, friendship, family, mystery, and adventure. Perfect for a winter read, and I was happy to learn there are more Owl books!

Final thoughts
Get yourself a warm cozy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and introduce yourself to Owl and her very likable friend Malory. You won’t regret it.

Post-script
I laughed out loud at the potato scene. More than once. Mostly because I saw nothing wrong with choices made in that scene.

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, Middle Grade Books, Ramblings

The Way Past Winter

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Magical Realism – Middle-Grade

My Synopsis:

Mila lives in the dark cold, woods with her brother and two sisters in a small cabin. Their mother is dead, and their father left them for unknown reasons five years ago. Since then, the forest has become perpetual winter, and memories of Springtime and happiness are fading. One evening a stranger and his fellow travelers come to their home asking for food and shelter, but the next day when they are gone, Mila’s brother is missing. The sisters debate whether he left them to join the traveling men or was he taken against his will. Mila insists on going after their brother and so begins a daring adventure north through fierce winter landscapes mixed with magic and folklore that she and her sisters are afraid may actually be true.

Why I Picked This Book:

I love Middle-Grade books, and I was looking for something with a simple feel to it. I didn’t want a modern story and, (being on winter break), I was hoping for somethings snowy and cozy. It seemed to have the perfect amount of magic laced through it without being doused in magic and fantasy, and oh yeah – the book jacket mentioned sled dogs.

What Was Disappointing: 

I read it too fast. I wanted a book to last me through the winter break, but I finished this in about two days.

Why I Kept Reading:

I read it so fast because the author took me away from reality. The characters were so well-rounded I easily felt apart of their family. The simplicity of their home and family life was akin to that of Laura Ingalls, albeit without all the details. Although there was a bit of predictability, being a middle-grade novel, it was the perfect amount. The story unfolded not in a way that makes a reader disappointed because they knew the writer’s secrets, but in a way we all say in life “I knew it!” when we really didn’t, but suspected to arrive at a certain point or outcome. The longing for that affirmation and for the reveal of what we didn’t know, kept me going on almost as fast as Mila’s sled dogs flew across the frozen north.

Take Away: 

I will read this book again. I know I will. There are stories inside of stories with this book. Although the author could make this into a series of spin-off books and tales it doesn’t need to. It stands alone and stands strong. Much like its characters. The bond between sisters and the strength of their spirit is so beautiful and well done. The author very simply has females in most of the roles and if I weren’t telling you this now you may not have even noticed. There is no talk about being tom-girls, no talk about expectations for women, and the author also doesn’t shy away from letting the girls swoon over men. They are just unapologetically who they are, and they happen to be girls. I also love how there is no really clear “hero” in this story. Pieces of the puzzle unfold so naturally and those who need to be there to play their parts arrive to be in place so naturally it felt more like a true story than one about cursed forests and magical islands in the icy seas of the north.

Final Thoughts:

It’s been a long time since someone created a new fairy tale that had all the elements of actual folklore. No pretty princesses or beautiful castles, or handsome heroes. This is a simple tale and is told in a minimalist way without a ton of flare and fantasy that is saturating novels these days. This book has plenty of myth, gore, truth, and good old fashioned storytelling that will have a reader of any age turning the pages while pulling up their blankets around them to keep out the haunting winter that seeps out of its very pages.

Post-Script:

I have to wonder if Dusha and Dayna would have liked Flora the pig.

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, Middle Grade Books

Little Bird Flies (book review)

by Karen McCombie
Historical Fiction – Middle Grade (book 1) 

My Synopsis:

12-year-old Bridie lives with her family on a remote island of Scotland in 1861. As much as she loves her island, her family, and her best friend, she fears being “stuck” on the island forever. She’d never admit this to her hardworking family or anyone else for that matter, but when change comes to the island in a bad way, they are all forced to think about options beyond their island home. It’s not exactly the adventure Bridie had hoped for but she must face life’s challenges and make the best of some very difficult situations.

Why I Picked This Book:

This was a no-brainer for me. I love middle-grade books, I love historical fiction, and I love Scotland. I bought this before I traveled to Scotland last year as something to have upon my return to sort of “keep me in Scotland”.

What Was Disappointing: 

Me. I was disappointing. I have such a difficult time committing to books, it’s in almost every book review I write; “slow start”. I know it’s me, but I also know I can’t be the only person out there to have a form of ADD, possible dyslexia, and/or simply be bogged down with so much in life that concentration is difficult. So yes, this book had a very slow start for me. So much so that I’ve started and stopped reading it more times than I’d like to admit. I guess the first chapter didn’t draw me in enough. It was a bit too much internal dialogue from a character I didn’t know enough about or care about yet. But by all means, DO NOT let that stop you if you are a reader like me who struggles with getting attached to books. I IMPLORE you to continue reading!

Why I Kept Reading:

I can’t say I kept reading because the adventure kicked in and the paced quickened. I mean, it picks up and I sped read through the entire second half, but this is definitly more of a “quiet” book. What made me keep reading was how the writer made me fall in love. I fell in love with the island, with Bridie, and fell deeply into the entire isle setting of 1861. Karen McCombie is a time travler and made me one too. She made me fall in love with Bridie’s home as much as her characters did. I became and islander. I was one of them. I was there. When a writer can make me love a character, that’s always great. But when a writer can make me love a place, that’s amazing to me. So when that place is threatened by the new Laird of the island, I was absolutley emotionally invested.

Take Away: 

Admittingly, I don’t believe my younger self would have read this book. It’s a slow book along the lines of “The Secret Garden” or even “Treasure Island”. Stories I loved as a child in movie versions, but could not hold still long enough to read them. There were points in my reading that I thought “how is this a kid’s book?” but had to remember loads of kids (my sister and all four of her children included) who read ferociously without any troubles at all. And beyond taking one to 1861 island life in Scotland, this book deals with family, death, being ‘different’, responsibilities, cultural barriers, class wars, and of course, history.  And all of this is brought to you from a 12-year-old girl’s perspective as she deals with her own grief, guilt, and hopes as she watches her world change in ways she never could imagine. She’s a powerful young character that would do anyone well to get to know.

Final Thoughts:

This book was such a nice surprise. I thought it would be interesting, I didn’t know it would grip me in such a way that I would be crying a bit while writing it’s review. Good tears and sad tears, because that’s just how life is right? The writing in this book does everything I hope to acheive as a writer. Yes, I finished this book last week or so and I am STILL emotional over it. Every synopsis I have read makes it seem as though there isn’t much to it: She lives and an island and you know she gets off because there’s already a sequel that takes place in America so really, what’s left to find out? Do not deprive yourself of reading about Bridie’s adventures. Even if you start slow like me, dive deep into this story because it has much to tell.

Post-Script:

To the author – thank you for Patch the dog!

 

Posted in Book Reviews, YA Book Reviews

The Unadjusteds

By Marisa Noelle
Science Fiction – Dystopia / Young Adult

(This book will be released November 1st, 2019 but you can pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository)

My Synopsis
In the future you can take pills to alter your DNA giving you all kinds of gifts or powers depending on what you’d like; fairy wings, strength, intelligence, you name it. But they aren’t perfect, you can’t always get the pill you want, and taking too many or the wrong one can kill you. The main character, Silver Melody is proud of her unadjusted state, and against the pills due to her friends death. Silver’s parents happen to be the scientists who developed these pills but they did not intend for their overuse or their side effects.  When they refuse to continue their work, her mom is put in jail for treason and her dad is under strict observation, all three end up enemies of the government. Continue reading “The Unadjusteds”

Posted in Book Reviews, MG Book Reviews, YA Book Reviews

Remembering the Good Times

by Richard Peck

 

NOTE: THIS IS A REBLOG FROM ONE YEAR AGO. I decided to repost because summertime often brings back memories of the time I spent with these kids. 

When I think back on this book it is very much like thinking on old friends. Such an incredible book that it absolutely has to be on my list of the three most influential books from my childhood. Previously I wrote about Prince Ombra and Out of the Bug Jar. They were both fairly innocent introductions to the world of fantasy and adventures, but nothing could have prepared me for the experience I had while reading Richard Peck’s book, which is not a fantasy at all. It is a drama for young adults, which seems very boring and certainly not anything I was interested in at the time. Continue reading “Remembering the Good Times”