#FiveOnFriday Middle Grade Books

For today’s #FiveOnFriday, I would like to talk about five of my favorite middle grade books and/or series. Let’s get to it!

First, I absolutely loved Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts.
The first book in the Cassidy Blake series primarily takes place in Edinburgh (where Schwab is actually currently living). Cass’s parents are ghost hunters and receive the opportunity to film a TV program. What makes this book so interesting is Cass can ACTUALLY see ghosts! This book follows her adventure through Edinburgh as her parents film their show and her experiences in one of the most haunted cities in the UK.
It was such an interesting story with likable characters. Victoria Schwab is already one of my favorite authors. I feel like a lot of adult fantasy books, even books just for an adult audience tend to be more complicated. Often, they’re just more involved and adults expect a lot more from the story. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy an MG book that is just written well without the complications of adult problems.

Next, I’d like to talk about The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz. Retellings are one of my favorite genres. Though this isn’t really a retelling, I love that it involves Disney characters and their children. We follow Mal, Maleficent’s daughter, and her experiences on the island where all the villains were banished. We witness her transition from following in her mother’s footsteps, to realizing that may not have to be her path.
I watched the Descendants movie first and expected this book to be the same story, but it was not. If you did enjoy the movie(s) or just enjoy retellings, I would recommend this book.

I also loved Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen. This was an absolutely beautiful story that I read kind of by accident. I needed to choose a book for a readathon and was limited on time. I found this while browsing through “currently available” middle grade books on my Libby app.
Peter rescued Pax when he was just a kit. When Peter’s father has to go off to war, Peter is forced to leave Pax alone in the woods while he is sent to live with his grandfather. Racked with guilt, Peter leaves his grandfather’s home in the dead of night to go in search of Pax. We follow him on his adventure and share in his experiences on his search for his best friend.
I may have even cried a little at one point. I highly recommend this book for all ages.

My fourth MG book/series I would recommend is 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison. Tanya can see fairies. In the first book of the series, she is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother. She becomes involved in a mystery and begins pursuing clues. There are a lot of surprises in this book that made the whole story delightful. If I remember correctly, there may be a couple of scary and dark scenes in this series, so if you’re concerned about these things for younger readers, I’d suggest reading the series yourself first. I read this series as an adult and I don’t have children, so I’m not always sure what can be considered the appropriate age to read certain books.

Last, I’d like to be cliche and recommend the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I’m always interested in anything related to mythology, especially Greek mythology. These books have action, adventure, humor and magic. I found myself thoroughly engaged in most of the books, eager to find out what happened next and I also found myself laughing out loud at some parts.

That’s my list this week for five of my favorite MG books and series. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!
-V

#OWLsReadathon2019 TBR

I first found out about the #MagicalReadathon in July of last year. Some people were prepping for NEWTs in August and I was introduced to G and the wonderful world of readathons. Because I hadn’t known about the first OWLs, I matched the books I read in April to the OWLs prompts and based my NEWTs choices off of those.
Ever since, I have been hooked on readathons, become obsessed with G and her Book Roast YouTube channel, and the #MagicalReadathon.

I will be reading 12 books to match all 12 prompts because let’s face it, I have no life.

Ancient Runes – Retelling – Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
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Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author – Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
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Astronomy – “Star” in the title – Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
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Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on cover – The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
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Charms – Read an adult work – The Killing Game by Iris Johansen
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Defense Against the Dark Arts – Title starts with “R” – The Rogue Queen by Emily R King
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Divination – Set in the future – Journey to Territory U by LJ Epps

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Herbology – Plant on the cover – The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
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History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago – Black Water by T Jefferson Parker
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Muggle Studies – Contemporary – All the Rage by Courtney Summers
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Potions – Next ingredient: sequel – The Fire Queen by Emily R King

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Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover – The Hundredth Queen by Emily R King

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Thanks for reading!
-V

#FiveOnFriday #InternationalWomensDay

I’d like to try something new. Every Friday I will blog about five items on a particular topic. In celebration of International Women’s Day, my first post will be about five books by female authors with female MCs.

First, I loved Warcross by Marie Lu.
This book features a 17 year old hacker who accidentally glitches herself into the Warcross Championships. Instead of getting in trouble, the creator, Hideo Tanaka, asks her to participate in the virtual reality games to uncover a security problem. This book features action, suspense, love, and betrayal. I loved the computer science aspect of this book and how the story progressed. It also includes characters with disabilities, LGBTQ+ characters, and characters of color. I recommend this book if you’re interested in YA, Sci-fi, or fantasy.

Next up is Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. I gave this book 5 stars. If you want to read a book about feminism and fighting the patriarchy, this is it. The MC Viv is fed up with the misogyny and harassment from the males in the school. She starts a zine called Moxie, calling the boys out for the unacceptable treatment of the female students of the school and the principal’s and faculty’s lack of action. She makes friendships and even gains a love interest while fighting against the school’s sexism and getting ever closer to her goal. I recommend this book to everyone. Period.

My next five star recommendation is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I went into this book not sure what the full synopsis was, not sure what to expect. I listened to it on audio and was blown away. Monique Grant works for a magazine and is chosen by Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Monique begins to arrive at Evelyn’s NYC apartment everyday and begins to hear Evelyn’s life story. I was captivated from the beginning and the audio book was extremely entertaining. Goodreads classifies this book as “Historical Fiction”, “Fiction”, “Contemporary”, “Romance”, “Adult”, and “LGBT”. Unless this books sounds like absolutely nothing you’d be interested in, I would also recommend this book to everyone.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is another book I loved. Read my full review here:
https://starvinforbooks.com/2019/02/17/house-of-salt-and-sorrows-by-erin-a-craig/
This book will be released August 6, 2019. I was fortunate enough to be approved by NetGalley to receive the eARC. This was such a fascinating story. It combines fantasy, horror, and suspense. If your enjoy books about magic, ghosts, mysteries, and/or questioning ones own sanity, this is the book for you!

Last, Circe by Madeline Miller is incredible book. As soon as I finished Circe, I picked up Song of Achilles and Madeline Miller became an instant favorite author. Circe is a retelling of the Greek myth. Miller’s writing is beautiful and pulls you into the story. This was one of those books that’s difficult to put down. If you enjoy Greek mythology, retellings, or even just a beautiful, engaging story, I recommend this book.

Well that is my first #FiveOnFriday and I hope you enjoyed it!
Thanks for reading.
-V

Ever Alice by H J Ramsay

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ever Alice by H. J. Ramsay
347 pgs
4 Stars

Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows—it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in several of my posts, I love retellings. This book follows Alice briefly during her life after Wonderland and then her return. She is living in an asylum and she still can’t convince herself if her adventure in Wonderland was real or insanity. This book had me chuckling with its slapstick humor and satire. It was written in a peculiar way that represented the absurdity of the Red Queen and how she ruled her kingdom.
Alice is convinced to join the Queen’s court to get her close to overthrow the Queen of Hearts. The writing was entertaining and the story is reminiscent of overall quirkiness of the movies directed by Tim Burton. Alice has to earn the Queen’s trust and avoid suspicion while trying to accomplish her mission.
The story didn’t end how I would’ve preferred, but the entire story overall was really enjoyable. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys retellings or even anyone looking for a quirky and humorous story.

Thanks for reading!
-V

#MarchMysteryMadness TBR

I would say besides fantasy and sci-fi, mystery/thriller is one of my favorite genres. If you’re interested, here is a link explaining #MarchMysteryMadness.
https://t.co/Jko8KIQNwS
What I’m loving about this readathon is that the prompts are completely open to interpretation. If you can take a prompt and apply it to a book in a way that makes sense, it can count.

So the prompts are;
1. Old
2. Again
3. New
4. Borrowed
5. Blue
Optional Bonus: Read a mystery that features a wedding.

My first book choice for “Old” is Face of Deception by Iris Johansen. This book was published in 1999. 20 FRICKIN YEARS AGO! I’ve also had it on my TBR for awhile and actually started reading it, but I got distracted by other books and readathons.

My second book for “Again” is going to be Red Light by T. Jefferson Parker. I read The Blue Hour years ago, so I’m going to be starting this series AGAIN.

Third, for “New” I will be reading Verity by Colleen Hoover. This book is still fairly new, published in December 2018. I’ve been hearing really good things about it and I can borrow for free on Kindle Unlimited, so I figured it was a win/win/win.

My “Borrowed” prompt will be met by Witness by Caroline Mitchell. I’ll also be borrowing this book from Kindle Unlimited, but the premise looked very intriguing.

Conveniently, I will be reading The Blue Hour by T. Jefferson Parker for my “Blue” prompt. As I mentioned, I started this series previously, but once again, got distracted by other books.

For the bonus prompt “Features a wedding” I’ve requested The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman (fun fact, I’ve never read an Alex Delaware novel) from my local library. I’m hoping to get it before the end of the month, but I also have To Have and to Kill by Mary Jane Clark as a back-up.

Will you be participating in #MarchMysteryMadness? What are some of your favorite mysteries or thrillers?

Thanks for reading!
-V

TBR for #FierceFemaleReads

I decided (2 days after it started) to participate in the Fierce Female Readathon hosted by @fiercefemreads.

See Ashley’s blog at https://fallingdownthebookhole.com/fierce-female-readathon-tbr/ to see the details!

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My first book for “Woman in the title” will be an eARC of Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry.

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My next book for the prompt “Written by a WOC” will be When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My book choice for a “fierce female rec by the book community” will be Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young.

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For the fourth prompt I chose a nonfiction book. Bossypants by badass Tina Fey

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Last, I am reading the eARC Ever Alice by H. J. Ramsay. I believe this will satisfy the prompt of a “fierce female leading a resistance”.

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If I find it doesn’t meet the criteria, I’ll choose another book later in the week.

Are you participating in any readathons this month? What are some of your all time favorite #FierceFemaleReads?

Thanks for reading!
-V

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
416 pgs
5 Stars

 

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

This story was completely engrossing. I absolutely loved this book. It was a combination of fantasy, horror, and mystery.
Several of Annaleigh’s sisters have died and at first, there doesn’t seem to be anything suspicious about them, just bad luck. When they lose another sister, Annaleigh starts believing maybe it hasn’t been just bad luck after all. Slowly, strange things start happening to her and her remaining sisters. She begins having ghoulish visions and suddenly the difference between reality and illusion are difficult to discern.

As the reader you also become unsure of what might be the reality of the MC and what is delusion. There are several twists that, imo, weren’t predictable and made the story so much more interesting. There was one element of the story that I saw coming, but THAT also had a twist that I did not predict. If other books similar to this exist, I have not read them. I loved the combination of genres to create such an interesting story.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in dark fantasies. Erin A. Craig has become an instant new favorite.

Thanks for reading!
-V