Blog Tour Review: Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun middle grade fantasy full of adventure and life lessons

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Reese Eschmann for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: A Perfect Mistake by Melanie Conklin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A masterful mix of mystery, ADHD representation, and valuable life lessons.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Melanie Conklin for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Mystery in the Palace of Westminster by Sarah Lustig

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The first cozy mystery novel in a new upper MG/lower YA series.

Foreword

Thank you so much to Rachel at https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/ and Sarah Lustig for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and blog tour media kit!

Purchase on Amazon (affiliate link): https://amzn.to/3HslW16

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Blog Tour Review: Cookies & Milk by Shawn Amos

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A very cute coming-of-age novel about a young boy, his broken family, and a cookie store.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Shawn Amos for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Duet by Elise Broach

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A tale about family and friendship that readers of all ages will enjoy.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Elise Broach for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: MG Mystery
Publishing Date: May 10, 2022

A musically gifted bird, a piano-playing boy, and a real-life mystery involving three artistic geniuses

Welcome to the world of Mirabelle, a young goldfinch who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a musical star. She lives with her family in the backyard of a piano teacher, and she is quickly intrigued by Mr. Starek’s newest pupil. Michael Jin is an eleven-year-old keyboard sensation, but lesson after lesson, he refuses to play.  With the prestigious Chopin Festival looming at summer’s end, how will he be ready in time?  Mirabelle is responsible for Michael’s breakthrough—to her own astonishment, she sings the Chopin piece he is beginning to play at the piano. It is their first duet.

Thus begins a secret adventure that will take Mirabelle and Michael further than they ever imagined—in music, in friendship, and in solving the mystery of a lost piano that could be worth millions.  A house full of treasures holds the clues. There, Mirabelle, Michael, and their friend Emily will make an important discovery that links the great composer Frederic Chopin, the trailblazing author George Sand, and the French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix.

A fast-paced, history-rich mystery will have young readers hooked as they root for boy and bird in this beautifully told novel, full of emotion and suspense.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Elise Broach is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, including board books, picture books, early readers, middle-grade mysteries, and young adult novels. Her picture book, My Pet Wants a Pet, was named Parents Magazine’s Best Picture Book of 2018. Another picture book, When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and was Time Magazine’s #1 Children’s Book of the Year. Her middle-grade novel, Masterpiece, was a New York Times bestseller and also won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award. Elise’s books have appeared on more than a dozen state reading lists. She lives in Connecticut and teaches creative writing at Yale University

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I will admit that I forgot I had to post today and rushed to read this book in less than 24 hours. That being said, I enjoyed it immensely!

Duet is told through first-person narration from the point of view of a female goldfinch named Mirabelle. That’s right, a bird. I thought it was going to be weird reading from this perspective, but it actually worked really well. The plot follows Mirabelle as she befriends a young boy who is taking piano lessons in order to prepare for a Chopin music competition. As the relationship between them grows, the reader is introduced to several fun facts about birds (of all kinds) and music (including musical history). As an adult, I thought these incorporated facts were absolutely lovely. I can imagine that this is one of those books that is enjoyable and educational for parent and child alike. Also present in the narration are also several lessons about the joy, pain, and sacrifice that comes with loving and being loved.

The book was marketed to me as a middle grade mystery, but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s a middle grade contemporary. There were a few mini-mysteries thrown in, but not enough for me to say that it entered the mystery genre itself. Regardless, this is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone interested. The only reason I took away a half star was because there is a point in the story where the characters decide to disobey the law, and it’s portrayed as a good thing. I’m not sure that’s the right message to be sending to a young and impressionable audience and I think it could have been problematized a bit more.

Feel free to check out the tour schedule above to see what others on this tour have to say. Duet comes out tomorrow, so don’t forget to grab your copy!

Blog Tour Review: Jordie & Joey Fell from the Sky

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An important story about loss, love, and the importance of family.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Judi Lauren for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: MG Contemoprary
Publishing Date: April 19, 2022

Twin brothers Jordie and Joey have never met their parents. Maybe it’s because they aren’t from this planet?

When another kid at school tried to force Jordie to show him the “crop circles” on his back that prove he’s an alien, it was Joey who took the kid to the ground. And when the twins got kicked out of their foster home because Joey kissed the other boy who lived there, it was Jordie who told him everything would be okay. And as long as Jordie and Joey are together, it will be. But when the principal calls their current foster mother about a fight at school, the boys know she’ll be done with them. And, from spying in their file, they also know they’re going to be separated.

Determined to face the world side by side rather than without one another, Jordie and Joey set off to find their birth parents. From Arizona to Roswell to Area 51 in the Nevada desert, the twins begin a search for where they truly belong. But Jordie’s about to discover that family isn’t always about the ones who bring you into the world, but the ones who help you survive it.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Judi Lauren was born in the Midwest and misses those winters. She now resides in an area where the bugs are way too large. She has an unnatural obsession with Chicago, Dean Winchester, and Friends (the TV show.)

Judi is represented by Heather Cashman of Storm Literary Agency, where she writes books for kids and teens about family, friendship, and surviving impossible things.

In her spare time, she also works as an editor at Radish Fiction. You can connect with her on Instagram @judilauren.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this novel. Kids with strange crop circle scars on their spines? Aliens?! I haven’t read too many books about aliens nor watched many movies/shows with them, so it was refreshing to hear more about the history of abductions and sightings. Throughout the book, the readers get several clips of moments from history in the form of blog posts. I admit that I haven’t actually verified whether these sightings and supposed-abductions are from real history or simply made up by the author, but they were a joy to read regardless.

Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky follows the story of two twins (and their friend Nadia) who are on the hunt to figure out who they are. Having been abandoned at one week old in the middle of a crop circle with identical crop circle marks on their spines, Jordie is convinced that he and Joey must have been dropped onto Earth by their alien parents. In an attempt to figure out more about their past and possibly uncover the identities of their parents, the three children travel to Roswell and Area 51 in a hunt for answers.

The overall plot of Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky is very standard and predictable. However, I still thought it was an important read, especially for its target audience of middle school readers. It’s a story about loss, about love, and about the importance of family.

Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky is out now, so if you’re interested, definitely check out some of the links listed above!

#TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour Review: Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This Middle Grade horror novel was a blast to read!

Thank you so much to The Write Reads and Farshore for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

Jennifer Killick is the author of Crater Lake, the Alex Sparrow series, and middle-grade sci-fi adventure Mo, Lottie and the Junkers. She regularly visits schools and festivals, and her books have three times been selected for The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge. She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn’t busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn’t often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as she can.

Twitter: @JenniferKillick

Review

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Turn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!

The brand new must-read middle-grade novel from the author of super-spooky Crater Lake. Perfect for 9+ fans of R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps

It’s basically the worst school detention ever. When classmates (but not mate-mates) Hallie, Angelo, Gustav and Naira are forced to come to school on a SATURDAY, they think things can’t get much worse. But they’re wrong. Things are about to get seriously scary.

What has dragged their teacher underground? Why do the creepy caretakers keeping humming the tune to Itsy Bitsy Spider? And what horrors lurk in the shadows, getting stronger and meaner every minute…? Cut off from help and in danger each time they touch the ground, the gang’s only hope is to work together. But it’s no coincidence that they’re all there on detention. Someone has been watching and plotting and is out for revenge…

Review (No Spoilers)

Welcome back to my blog, everyone! Today’s review is of the newly-released middle grade horror novel, Dread Wood. I’ve been reading a lot more middle grade than usual, and let me tell you, I am having a blast! This book was a whole lot of fun, from the creepy atmosphere, to the eerie absence of adult figures, to the creepy crawlies prowling in the dark.

The story follows four students who have found themselves in weekend detention after they each committed various atrocities at school. Detention starts, a blood-curdling scream is heard, and the teacher goes missing. What the heck is going on??

The whole band-of-misfits thing this book had going for it reminded me a lot of some of societies favorite horror tv shows and movies such as IT and Stranger Things. I could definitely see this book being adapted into an amazing film or series. The characters are all flawed in character, but in ways that are both relatable and understandable. With their funny banter and childish glee, you can’t help but root them on until the end.

Dread Wood is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a Goosebumps-esque MG novel. It also seems to be the first in an upcoming series, so you can bet your bottom I’m excited to see what other adventures this fun, loyal, and incredibly scrappy group will get into!

P.S. the blurb says Itsy Bitsy Spider but the eARC I had said Incy Wincy Spider (both are correct depending on geography) so just be aware that there might be two different versions of the novel out there depending on where you get it from, much like with A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: Ellen Outside the Lines by A. J. Sass

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An incredible coming-of-age story, perfect for anyone looking to understand identity.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and A.J. Sass for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing Date: March 22, 2022

Rain Reign meets Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World in this heartfelt novel about a neurodivergent thirteen-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons.

Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track.  Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.

Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

A. J. Sass (he/they) is an author, editor, and competitive figure skater who is interested in how intersections of identity, neurodiversity, and allyship can impact story narratives. He is the author of Ana on the Edge, a Booklist Editors’ Choice 2020 and ALA 2021 Rainbow Book List Top 10 for Young Readers selection, and Ellen Outside the Lines (Little, Brown, 2022), the co-author of Camp QUILTBAG* with Nicole Melleby (Algonquin, 2023), as well as a contributor to the This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us (Knopf) and Allies: Real Talk about Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again (DK US & UK) anthologies. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Ellen from Outside the Lines was such an amazing story! I’m excited to see how influential this book will be for middle-grade readers who are struggling to understand identity. It also makes for a great and informative read for adults who are looking to learn more about these aspects of life.

The representation in this film was phenomenal. There were several queer characters (from gay to trans to unlabeled) as well as autistic characters, Jewish characters, and characters with ADHD. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different perspectives and experiences that these characters had to offer.

I would have to say that one of the things I liked most about this novel was how it handled conflict. The characters in Ellen from Outside the Lines are far from perfect. They’re young pre-teens and teenagers who are, understandably, struggling to figure out how they fit into the world. Yet, each time one of them makes a mistake to the detriment of others, they are challenged (in extremely kind ways at that) and quickly begin to make amends.

The story has a bit of an open, but hopeful, ending. Not everything in life is going to go the way that you hope, but as humans, all we can really do is try our best.

Blog Tour Review: Troublemaker by John Cho

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

An informative middle grade family story centered around the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and John Cho for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Novel
Publishing Date: March 22, 2022

Troublemaker follows the events of the LA Riots through the eyes of 12-year-old Jordan as he navigates school and family. This book will highlight the unique Korean American perspective.

12-year-old Jordan feels like he can’t live up to the example his older sister set, or his parent’s expectations. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, Los Angeles has reached a turning point. In the wake of the acquittal of the police officers filmed beating Rodney King, as well as the shooting of a young black teen, Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present. 

As tensions escalate, Jordan’s father leaves to check on the family store, spurring Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey to come to his aide, and come to terms with the racism within and affecting their community. 

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

John Cho is known as Harold from Harold & Kumar, Hikaru Sulu from J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek, or as the star of the highly anticipated live-action Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop, based on the worldwide cult anime phenomenon (news of which “broke the Internet,” to quote Vanity Fair).  John is also a former 7th-grade English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant kid in Texas and East L.A. (among many other places). He is also now a proud father, with his Japanese-American wife Kerri, of two beautiful children — a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old boy — who love to read.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I was so excited to read this middle grade novel once I saw who the author was. Most people know John Cho from Harold & Kumar, but I’ll always know him as the ghost love interest from season 1 of Charmed.

Troublemaker is a story about many things. Centered around the 1992 LA Riots (after the verdict was announced regarding the police beating of Rodney King), the novel follows a kid named Jordan who is desperate to bring a gun to his father who has gone to his store in Koreatown to try and prep it against potential looting/arson. Along the way, we learn more about why these riots have started and how racial dynamics come into play. On top of that, we also learn more about Jordan and his friends/family: how Jordan never seems to be good enough for his father, how his mother attempts to hide any issues she faces from everyone else, how his grandfather lost his fingers in the Vietnam war, how his sister is struggling to keep up her reputation as the “good child”, and how his best friend doesn’t seem to fit in with society.

The overall plot and delivery of Troublemaker is not a complex one, so don’t go into this expecting to experience any major twists or complicated intertwining plot arcs. This book is one that sets out to tell its story in a very straightforward manner, but that doesn’t take away from the morals and historical knowledge that the novel delivers. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to inform their kids a little bit more about the history of racial tensions in the United States, particularly in regard to the 1992 LA riots.