Middle Grade Monday: Magical Creatures – A Booklist

Hello Readers!

Welcome to a new week, and another edition of Middle Grade Monday!

Last week I posted a review of Big Foot and Little Foot by Ellen Potter – a middle grade book that I picked up unexpectedly and really liked! A big part of why I liked it so much was because it featured a Sasquatch (or a squidge). It’s not that I’m obsessed with Sasquatchs or I spend my time roaming the wilds in a hope of a rare sighting. I liked it mainly because, besides being a super cute portrait of a tiny Sasquatch, I feel that in books Sasquatchs are underrated (I could totally be wrong about that!).

Because of that I thought it would be fun to explore other middle grade novels that feature creatures from myths, folklore, magical realms, and legends. While this list isn’t very long, all the books featured on it are books that, if you read Big Foot and Little Foot, I think you’d enjoy.

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater

The Spiderwick Chronicles (Series) by Toni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: The Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Phoebe & Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland

The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society Book 1) by Adam Gidwitz

Like I said, not a very long list, but a solid one (or at least I think so)! Tell me, dear readers, what books would you have added to this list? Please share in the comments!

(Cover images from Goodreads)

 

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Freebie Friday: Library 411 Tag

It’s Friday dear readers! You do not know just how excited I am about that!

As you know I watch a lot of YouTube. Probably too much some may argue., but in all honesty, it helps me relax and unwind. I have a (bad?) habit of starting out watching a favorite vlogger’s newest video, and then falling down a rabbit hole of suggested videos.  On my most recent YouTube watch I came across Paper Faerie’s videos (again, via a vlogger I actively watch). I watched a few of her videos, but the one that struck a chord with me was her video of the Library 411 tag.  I watched, and found out that this tag, which I personally find pretty awesome, was originally started by Jashana .

I enjoyed Paper Faerie’s Library 411 video so much, I decided to tag myself and play along.

Here’s how the Library 411 Tag Works:

There is a series of questions, each question will be library themed. Each answer I give will be about books I have read that I feel best fits that question. Sounds fun, right?!

1. Information Desk: A Book That Was Helpful to you.

2. The Return Bin: What are two books you’ve read and immediately wanted to return (because you disliked) or a recent DNF?

Two books that I’ve read (more or less recently) that I immediately wanted to return are: Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin and The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

3. Holds Section: Your most anticipated release, which you can’t wait to get your hands on.

I have three highly anticipated releases. – it’s just too hard to pick one!  In no particular order

  • Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black
  • The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

4. Community Classes & Study Rooms: A book you’ve loved that was a school assignment.

Let me tell you a little story, dear readers. Way back when I was a tiny freshman in high school my English teacher assigned us a book report. He didn’t assign a book though. He let us choose whichever book we wanted so long as it wasn’t “trash.” He said that if we couldn’t choose a book, or if we simply didn’t want to, to see him after class. Because everyone’s definition of “trash” could be different (and because I couldn’t think of a book I wanted to read at the time) I went up to him after class and asked for a book that he wouldn’t consider “trash.” He told me to follow him, stating that he had the perfect book for me. He led me to the school’s book closet (which at that time I hadn’t a clue even existed) and pulled out a paperback copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. He told me to read it. He told me that I would instantly love it. I took it home and read it in one night.

He was right, I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s actually one of my most favorite books. And I am forever thankful to this teacher for putting this book into my hands.

5. Computers: A modern classic you love, or a favorite sci-fi.

I’m not sure if this is a modern classic, or counts as one, but I’d say The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

6. DVD Rentals: Your most anticipated, or favorite in recent history, book-to-movie or book-to-TV adaptions. OR! A book that felt cinematic to you or a book you wish would be adapted into a movie or TV series?

I have a few answers for my most anticipated adaption. In no particular order:

  • The Darkest Minds (which will force me to finish the series, which I purposely didn’t finish because I feared for my favorite character.)
  • The Hate U Give
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Bell Jar
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

7. Library Book Store/Sale: A random book you picked up (without knowing anything about) and really enjoyed. Or show off your favorite bookish merch.

Late last year I got heavily into manga. Everyday at work I’d look up from my desk and saw a specific manga that caught my eye. I simply liked the cover, whose colors were reminiscent of Harley Quin. One day I decided to pick it up, and I have since read the first nine volumes of this growing series.  So I have to say, in regards to a random book I picked up and enjoyed, was Akame ga KILL! by Takahiro.

As a bonus, I love bookish merch. And I’m proud to say I own a lot. My two favorite bookish pieces of merch that I own are:

Luna Lovegood’s wand which I bought at Ollivanders at Universal Studios & The Alice in Wonderland Litograph poster. 

8. Teen/Youth Room: Favorite YA or favorite book you read as a kid. Or a book you can’t wait to share with your future kids.

Because I mainly read YA it’s hard to pick a favorite. But one of my all time faves, one that has stuck with me since I read it many years ago, one I feel needs more recognition is Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando.

And just for fun, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark definitely is on of my favorite books from my childhood. I seriously memorized stories in case I suddenly found myself huddled around a fire sharing the most terrifying ghost stories. (P.S. I never found myself huddled around a fire LOL)

9. Museum Tickets: A book that made you feel more cultured upon completing it.

I’m not sure if cultured is the correct word, but a book that I definitely learned a lot from is my current audiobook: Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. And as a fun fact, part of this story takes place at a museum!

10. Overdrive/Hoopla: An audiobook you love.

I’ve been on an audiobook kick lately. My most recent favorite audiobook(s) would have to be Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale. The production of this is great, narrator Jim Dale was engaging, and the audiobook really enhanced my reading experience.

11. Request a Purchase: A lesser known book that you want more people to know about and read.

I know a lot of libraries already own this book. I should know, I work at a public library.  I wouldn’t call it a lesser known, but I wish this book had gotten a lot more attention because I feel like it was (is!) such a great book: Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst.

12. Librarians: A character who loved helping others.

This is a hard one for me … but right off the bat my gut answer would be both Eleanor  and Park from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. Why? Because I loved how they helped each other.

13. Sanctuary: A book that is your safety net/is like home to you/helped you through a rough time.

  • A book that is my safety net: I wouldn’t use the term ‘safety net’ to classify any books I read/have read, but a book that I was completely comfortable reading – in the sense that I wasn’t rushing through, that I wasn’t asking everyone who read it what will happen by the end, one that I savored every moment of … Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.
  • A book that feels like home: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A book that helped me through a rough time: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. While I’d say I wasn’t going through a rough time necessarily, I will say that this book helped put a lot of things in perspective for me in regards to love and loss.

Because this is a tag, and I am technically supposed to tag someone, I am tagging all of you dear readers. I tag anyone who wants to participate!

I also want to thank vlogger Jashana for creating this tag, and to Paper Faerie for bringing this tag to my attention.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Frequently Used Words in Titles

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. The above picture was taken and altered by me for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

Before I hop into this post, I have to admit something. I thought this topic – a list of the top ten frequently used words in YA titles – was a bit odd. And I didn’t think I’d have much of a post. Instead of just skipping it I decided that I would do a little bit of research and come up with an awesome list.

And while I admittedly find it to be, not so much odd, but more so interesting topic, I scoured my Goodreads shelves for some frequently used words. Now while my research didn’t yield a lot, it did girl me solid two words that I can honestly say are a bit overused in YA titles.

Those (frequent) words are:And these are the results in which my research yielded:

Love & Girl

I scoured my “read” shelf on GoodReads, scanning for what seems like forever what words were used most frequently.  From the books I read a lot (not including titles that I haven’t read) I found eight (8) young adult titles that either feature the word love, or feature some form of the word.

Love:

  • Love and Other Perishable Items
  • The Lovely Reckless
  • City Love
  • Famous in Love
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
  • Falling in Love with English Boys
  • I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You.
  • Love, Stargirl

When I realized that the second word – girl – that my search yielded, I found a total of twelve (12) books with the word girl featured in some way, shape, or form in the title.

Girl:

  • Fangirl
  • The Firehorse Girl
  • Story of a Girl
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
  • Girl of Nightmares
  • The Girl in the Wall
  • Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality
  • New Girl
  • A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills
  • Living Dead Girl
  • Wintergirls
  • Wicked Girls

Because I couldn’t find more common words from the books I’ve read I decided to try a different approach. I decided to search for titles with words I thought would be commonly found in book titles. Here are my results:

Truth:

  • The Truth About Forever
  • Truth or Dare
  • The Truth Commission
  • The Truth About Alice
  • Truthwitch
  • All the Truth That’s In Me
  • The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
  • The Honest Truth
  • The Truth About Stacey
  • The Porcupine of Truth
  • The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle
  • The Lies About Truth

Lies:

  • The Safest Lies
  • Dangerous Lies
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • There Will Be Lies
  • Lies I Told
  • The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
  • Strange Lies
  • Beautiful Lies
  • Love, Lies, and Spies
  • Perfect Lies
  • The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
  • Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies
  • Lies I Live By

Beautiful:

  • Beautiful Creatures
  • Broken Beautiful Hearts
  • Beautiful Disaster
  • Beautiful
  • A Beautiful Dark
  • Beautiful Broken Girls
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
  • North of Beautiful
  • Breaking Beautiful
  • Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls
  • A Beautiful Evil
  • The Treachery of Beautiful Things
  • Dead Beautiful
  • The Beautiful Between
  • A Need So Beautiful
  • Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Obviously, I struggled a bit with this topic. I didn’t come up with ten words, but above are a solid five.

What common words did you find in titles? Please share in the comments!

(Cover images from GoodReads)

Middle Grade Monday: Big Food And Little Foot

Big Foot and Little Foot by Ellen Potter

Hugo is a sasquatch. Technically, he is only a squidge – a squidge who lives with his family in a beautiful cave, goes to school where he learns to sneak, and yearns to leave the words when he’s fully grown.

Hugo is a sasquatch. Technically, he is only a squidge. He live in a beautiful spacious cave with his family. He goes to school where he learns how to sneak so that no humans can spot him. Hugo’s life is near perfect. There is one thing missing from Hugo’s life ….

Adventure!

Hugo dreams of growing up and leaving the woods behind so that he can see the great wide world. There’s just a one little problem with Hugo’s dream: he’s a Sasquatch. And Sasquatches can’t venture out into the great wide world — there are humans there. Humans that could possibly hurt Hugo and his fellow Sasquatches.

But when Hugo and Boone, a new friend, start exchanging toys and letters, Hugo soon realizes that Boone is a human boy. Is he one of those humans that want to hurt the Sasquatches? Or will Boone be the best friend and fellow adventurer that Hugo so desperately wants?

Big Foot and Little Foot, written by author Ellen Potter, is a story of, not only the trials and tribulations of being a growing Sasquatch, but ultimately a story of friendship.

Author Potter’s writing is sweet, engaging, and above all things descriptive. With a little imagination young readers will get a sense of what it’s like to be Hugo, or any Sasquatch for that matter.  While young readers will enjoy this often funny story, older readers will appreciate how author Potter handled the important message of not judging someone based on who or what they are and what they look like.

Sometimes, I find with messages like this, it could be heavy-handed. This isn’t the case with Potter’s Big Foot and Little Foot. Potter handles this subject with ease and grace. As an older reader I appreciated that.

Maybe it’s because this is the first book in a series (I think?), I feel like I am still getting to know both Hugo and Boone. As main characters readers will want only the best for them. They will also be able to see a bit of themselves in both of these characters. And why is that? Because Potter’s characters are realistic – they have emotions, they have dreams and fears, they love and area loved. More than that, they will genuinely enjoy getting to know Hugo and Boone, and watching the friendship unfolding between them.

I picked Potter’s Big Foot and Little Foot up on a whim. Before reading I knew nothing about it, not even if I would or wouldn’t like it. But now, after reading this book, I have to say I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to future books. And I really think younger kids will enjoy this one too … especially those who are curious about Sasquatches!

(Cover image from GoodReads)

Stacking the Shelves

(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. The above image was created by me for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

And happy Saturday to you! I hope you are well, and that your bookshelves are full of great books just waiting to be read and loved!

With that said I’m sharing with you some of the newest books that have found a home on my shelves.

Books Purchased (Either for myself or other’s have purchased to gift to me):

  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus
  • Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda
  • Like Water by Rebecca Podos
  • Suee and The Shadow. by Ginger Ly
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  • Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
  • The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana
  • Hogwart’s Library: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, The Tales of Beetle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Books I’ve Checked Out From the Library:

  • Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia
  • Big Food and Little Foot by Ellen Potter
  • A Season With the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts by J.W. Ocker

Books I’ve Received from Publishers:

  • Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen
  • From You to Me by K.A. Holt
  • Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

From Audible.com:

  • Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Side Effects May Vary

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Then:

Then life was normal. Alice was a high school student with a best friend and a boyfriend, a potential future dancing, and parents who she has a semi-decent relationship with.  But when she’s diagnosed with lukemia her whole world changes. She’s broken up with her boyfriend, her parents are doting over her, and she’s falling hard for best friend Harvey.

But she can’t be honest with Harvey or with herself right now. Right now is about taking care of some unfinished business before her untimely death. Acting out a not-so-nice bucket list, Alice and Harvey both see Alice for who she is … who she really is. And they both don’t like that person.

Now:

Now Alice’s world has turned upside down once again. Since finding out she is in remission (a miracle in and of itself) she doesn’t seem to know who she was or who she is going to be. All she knows is that she’s messed up with Harvey. Instead of doing one special thing for her used to be best friend, she has used, manipulated, and broke his heart.

Alice knows there’s no going back to how is used to be, and that she’s ruined any chance of a romantic future together, but she needs to try. She needs to try to do something nice, something selfless for the person she loves more than herself — Harvey.

But this something be enough? Will Harvey find it in his heart to forgive her? Or will his push her away as she has pushed him away?

Side Effects May Vary, written by author Julie Murphy, is a realistic read that will have readers crying one minute and laughing with the turn of the page.

Murphy’s writing in her debut novel is stellar. Her words are descriptive, and more than that they are emotionally charged. Reader’s hearts will break alongside Harvey’s. They will shed big fat tears with Alice. They will come to terms with the fact that life is often messy, but it’s worth living.  What makes the writing that fills Side Effects May Vary such a good read is the fact that author Murphy has taken a really heavy and dark subject – the death of a teenager – and has breathed life into into.

Let me be honest with you: I truly enjoyed Side Effects May Vary. I liked the overall story. I liked how the story was executed and how it unfolded. And I liked how emotionally invested I was in the story. But there were two key components of the story that I did not love – main characters Alice and Harvey.

Alice, Side Effects May Vary’s leading lady, is often portrayed as being a not-so-nice person. Okay, she’s downright mean. Because of this I found her to be a very unlikeable character. So much so that it was often hard to cheer for her. There were moments, when fellow students sought revenge on her after all she did to them, that I felt like she kind of deserved it.

While she did have a few redeeming qualities, they simply were not enough to make me really like Alice, even though I really wanted to like her.

And then there was Alice’s male counterpart: Harvey. While he was apparently sweet, I found that he seriously lacked self confidence. More than that though I felt that he was weak – as a character and as Alice’s love interest.  Even though there were moments where I truly thought that Harvey was stepping up and standing up for himself, those moments did not last very long. Yes, he stood up for himself, but he also backed down the moment Alice showed any interest.

Both characters were very frustrating to me as a whole, and because of that I felt I could not enjoy this book as much as I had expected to. But not every character was as frustrating as Alice and Harvey. There was Dennis, Harvey’s friend and coworker. More than then I found him to be, not only the comic relief, but Harvey’s voice of reason. I appreciated Dennis’ love of all things pop culture, and his sense of humor. I liked him so much that I really wished Dennis had a bigger part than what he had.

Side Effects May Vary is a really great read. And it’s one that I’m happy to have finally read. While it was not a five star book for me (like I fully expected it to be) it’s a book that I would highly recommend. There is something for every reader found within its pages.

(Cover image from Goodreads)