Thursday, May 20, 2021

Middle Grade Mini Review

Hi reader friends.  Last week, I read some really cute middle grade graphic novels.  Naturally, I had to share them with you in case you have kiddos around that might be interested in them. Here are three mini reviews for the books!

Title: Forget Me Nat
Author: Maria Scrivan
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 Stars 

Companion to the New York Times bestseller Nat Enough!

It's called a crush for a reason...For the first time in her life, Natalie feels confident. Her talents are being recognized, she has supportive friends, and she's spending a ton of time with her crush, Derek! But when Derek tells Natalie that he just wants to be friends, Natalie's self-confidence quickly changes to self-doubt. As she tries to recover from her broken heart, Natalie casts aside her talents and even her friends. With no one to turn to, Natalie will have to pull herself out of this mess on her own.

I loved this adorable book and everything it had to teach it's MC.  The book follows Nat, a young girl experiencing her first crush and heartbreak.

The characters in this book were all great.  Knowing kids in the middle school age range, I can say honestly I feel like these characters are relatable.  I think young kids will look at this and see them in Nat and her friends.  

I think the author did a great job with character growth in this book as well.  She showed Nat having that experience of heartbreak when her crush says he just wants to be friends.  Nat uses that as a chance to learn more about herself and why it's important not to lose yourself and let go of things that are important just because you have a crush.

The artwork was great, and fit in with the words in the book and the feelings of the characters throughout the story.  

Overall, this is definitely any kids in middle school would love, especially if they have had an experience like Nat's.

Title: Sanity and Tallulah Field Trip
Author: Molly Brooks 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars 

Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are on a field trip to mining planet Apis and its moons. They can't wait to see their first sunset, hang out with their friends, and learn all about the special resource produced there. But when an accident separates them from the rest of the group, they'll have to crash land on the planet alone. As they try to find their way back to their classmates, the girls discover that there's more to the shadowy FootHold Corporation than meets the eye. With the planet set to self-destruct and vicious space pirates on their tail, these best friends will have to stretch their problem-solving skills to the limit in order to solve the mystery and get everyone home safe--before the planet literally explodes.

Funny dialogue, planets, great artwork, and space collide in this wonderful graphic novel from author and Illustrator Molly Brooks.  This is the second book about Sanity and Tallulah.

I have yet to read the first book in this series, but if it's anything like Field Trip, I'll read it with pleasure.  This book had well written dialogue and great artwork throughout. I loved the characters, especially our two MC's Sanity and Tallulah.  They were definitely giving off some mischievous vibes in the beginning, but they were great and so funny. 

I loved that this book took place in outer space.  The kids live on a spaceship, and have made plans to visit a planet just to see what it's like.  Lots of things go wrong, and lots of great lessons are learned.  The novel was believable in the environment it was set it.  What happened in the book fit perfectly with where it was taking place. 

This is definitely another cute book that any kid in the middle grades would love to read (Especially if they love space.)

Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeir
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars 


Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own. 


This book was the perfect blend of sweet and spooky. It wasn't too scary to freak out younger kids, it just had some ghosts that were part of Dio de los muertos.  

Catrina and her family move to a climate that will help Cat's sister Maya feel better.  Cool air is good for her because of her cystic fibrosis.  When they move, they discover their new home has ghosts around, mostly because the city Bahia de la Luna is filled with citizens who are Latino who celebrate dio de los muertos. 

This gives Cat and Maya a chance to learn about this celebration and about the people who live in their new community.  They meet a young guy who runs a museum in town, and through a turn of fate they become friends with him.  

The way this book shows the relationship between Cat and Maya is awesome.  It shows that even though Cat gets angry and frustrated with her sister, she'd do anything to protect Maya.  This book also does a great job of exploring the way that moving can impact kids. 

This book gets a solid A+ for the way it handles emotions in young children, sickness, new friendships, and other hard topics for kids.  

This is another great book that I truly believe any middle grade reader will like. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Bout of Books 31 - An Update (Again)


Hey reader friends.  I hope you've all been having a great week.  

I've got a small update for you from the past few Bout of Books Days!  

Books I'm Currently Reading

Books I've Finished This Week

How have you been doing on your reading lately?  If you're doing Bout of Books, have you read as much as you wanted?  Talk to me in the comments - I'd love to hear from you.  

As a bonus, here's a pic of my reading buddy, Felix. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Bout of Books 31 - An Update

 Hey reader friends! I have been bad about updating for Bout of Books this week.  SO, here is my update.  

This is going to be a low key, simple update.  But that's okay.  The most important thing is that I have been reading and having fun! 

Books I've Finished: 

Books I'm Currently Reading: 

I'd like to finish at least these 2 books this week.  That's a lie - I want to finish the entire Nevermoor series during this Bout of Books, but we'll see how the next few days go.

What have you been reading this week? If you're doing Bout of Books, how have things been going?  Drop me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bout of Books 31

 Hey reader friends. I was all set to sign up for bout of books, and forgot to post my sign up!  So. Here's my sign up for the wonderful, fantastic, amazing Bout of Books. If you don't know what that is check out the blurb below:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 10th and runs through Sunday, May 16th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 31 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.             

Now, I don't know how many books I will finish this well, but I'm going to try and make it a lot.  So far, I would like to finish:

Nevermoor - Jessica Townsend

Wundersmith - Jessica Townsend 

Hollowpox - Jessica Townsend

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

The Extraordinaries - TJ Klune

Sanity and Tallulah Field Trip

Forget me Nat - Maria Scrivan

Doodleville - Chad Sell

If you're doing Bout of Books this week, what are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Concrete Rose - Angie Thomas


Title: Concrete Rose 
Author: Angie Thomas
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars 


International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can't just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.


SPOILERS AHEAD: Sorry readers. This is not a spoiler free review. So if you haven't read this book yet and don't want to know anything, skip the review for now.

Concrete Rose is the prequel to Angie Thomas's bestselling novel The Hate U Give.  This book follows Starr's father Maverick Carter as a 17 year old struggling high school student and gang member in Garden Heights. Mav is just trying to live his life, playing ball and dealing, and then he finds out that the baby he thought was King's is actually his. This information is life changing, not just for Mav, but for his mother, his girlfriend Lisa, and Seven's mother Iesha, as well so many other people in this book. 

I loved and hated so much about this book. I loved the characters (most of them) and loved watching them grow throughout the book.  Let's talk about those characters a bit.  Mav and his mother were my favorite characters. Mav's mom was honest and blunt with him, and when they found out Seven was his baby, his mother made sure he took care of that baby like every parent should.  Mav certainly had struggles in this book, and I'm not even going to pretend I understand what his struggles were like.  I'm an old white lady from a small town. I've never had to deal with gangs, police violence, and the massive amounts of drugs pushed on communities of color.  So, I will just say, I loved watching Mav grow and mature throughout this book.  He started out not thinking that he could possibly take care of this baby because he was 17, and we all know how hard it is to take care of babies.  They cry, they wake up in the middle of the night, the test you.  But he did what he had to do, and some things fell through the cracks. But he learned some hard lessons throughout this book, and he stepped up and did what he needed to do make sure he and his son were taken care of. 

I also loved Dre, and I think he was a great role model for Mav.  He was always looking out for Mav, and I was so heartbroken when he got killed. I definitely saw a lot more struggle for a long time in Mav after Dre got murdered. 

The other characters in this book, even the minor ones, added a lot to this book, and really helped give an idea of what life was like for Maverick and his friends when he was young.  They were all so well written, and they were all part of this book for a reason.

The book was well written, which is what I have com to expect from Angie Thomas. The whole story was on point. If you've read The Hate U Give, you know that Mav was young when he got Iesha and Lisa pregnant, you know some of the background details of his life. And yet, this book still surprised me, and I loved it even when I was crying over what happened. Nothing in this book didn't fit. Even when I was pissed at what happened and wanted to rewind, I knew what had happened was important to the story and needed to be there. 

I liked that this book showed such strong role models for the young people in Garden Heights.  The owner of the store where Mav got his job, for example, was wonderful and very strict with Mav. Mav's mom, his counselor at school, Dre, and so many other adults, were always looking out for these kids and making sure that things were getting better for them. There are too many kids who don't have that kind of thing in their lives, and so it was good to see that here. I think that really helped Mav because it showed him that he not only had his son depending on him, but he also had all these other people around him who knew he could be more. 

If you're up for it, here are some booktube folks who have also reviewed this wonderful book.  Go check out their videos.

If you want to go check out Angie Thomas around the internet, here's her website:

Go follow her on the bird app too:

If you've read Concrete Rose, drop your thoughts below. I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix

Title: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Format: E-Book
Rating: 4 Stars 


Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia's life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they're more likely to discuss the FBI's recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club's meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he's a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she--and her book club--are the only people standing between the monster they've invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.


I love a good vampire book, and that's what I got with this book.  It's definitely weird, quirky, and exactly what one can expect from Grady Hendrix. 

This book starts with a book club and ends with a lot of blood and gore. Patty, the nurse turned housewife, lives with a husband who thinks she does nothing all day and two kids who spend most of the novel hating their mother. Patty and some of her friends start a new book club after getting frustrated with the old one.  Watching their love of true crime develop in that book club was fun, and certainly gave insight into why Patty was so obsessed with their new neighbor... 

The characters in this book were...over the top in some senses, which I would sort of expect from a Grady Hendrix novel at this point.  (At the time, I've also finished another book of his, the review for which will be coming soon.  The characters in his books are something else, in a good way.) I never really expect the characters in horror stories to be super well defined, but to be honest, most of my experience in the horror genre has been with cheesy late 90's movies like Scream and I Know What you Did Last Summer.  So, going into this book, I was happy to see that the characters were very well written, and even though I hated them, I loved them.  I actually liked most of the characters.  James and Grace were atrocious though.  I literally did hate them! Each character was so well written that you could tell why they would do what they did, why they talked and behaved in their own way.  I could just feel their personalities and attitudes coming out as I read this book.

Even though this was not supposed to really be funny, there were definitely some comedic moments, which I seem to think is a pattern in Hendrix's books. The story was also really well written.  There was some great foreshadowing with James, and with Patty's mother-in-law too.  I don't want to spoil anything.  Let's just sat that Patty's MIL had a good reason to hate James.  As out there as some things in the story were (Patty hiding in James's attic?!?!?!?!!) everything in the book fit together and came right to a point at the end.  The way each little thing added into the next thing, into the next, let this story build up so much.  Every moment in the book wove together seamlessly. 

I loved that this book brought back vampires as well.  It's been a while since I've read a good vampire book, and I personally think we need a vampire resurrection in books.  

Considering that this was a vampire book that also involved some chopping, I'm actually surprised there wasn't more blood and stuff in the book.  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm a little disappointed in that.  I need a good vampire horror novel with even more guts and gore. 

Overall, I loved the book, and I would definitely recommend it to others who love creepy, horror, vampire books - especially if it's all rolled into one.  

If you've already read this book, be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments!