Friday, September 18, 2020

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay (MG Book Review)


The Time of Green Magic
by Hilary McKay
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
on July 28. 2020
Genre: Middle Grade, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Length: 240 pages
Ages: 8 - 12 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

From award-winning author Hilary McKay comes a beautiful, enchanting story about a girl adjusting to her new family and their new house--which just might be magical. 

My Thoughts:
The Time of Green Magic
is a cute magical realism MG novel about two families that become one and move into a fantastic new house that has a bit of 'green magic' to it! 

Abi lost her mother in a car crash when she was just a baby. Max and Louis' father walked out on them. When their parents, Theo and Polly, meet years later, it's love at first sight.
Soon, they're married, moved in together, and house hunting for the perfect big family house, which ends up being a neat ivy-covered house with colorful stained glass windows and really really quiet neighbors.  But there's something odd about the house, and when Abi finds herself falling into the books she reads, she realizes there's something magical going on! 

This cute middle-grade novel covers a lot of real-life subjects and situations, from loss of parents, abandonment, blended families, sibling rivalry, school-age crushes, and more... 
with a dash of magic added! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee (Middle Grade Book Review)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Life in the Fish Tank
Written by Barbara Dee
Published by Aladdin

on September 15, 2020

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction / Contemporary, Mental Health
Length: 320 pages
Ages: 9 - 13 years

From the acclaimed author of Maybe He Just Likes You and Halfway Normal comes a powerful and moving story of learning how to grow, change, and survive. 

My Thoughts:

Zinnia Manning's family is thrown off track when her older brother, Gabriel, is diagnosed with a mental illness that Zinny believes must be kept a secret, even from her two best friends. While Gabriel is away at a residential treatment center called Redwoods Village,  Zinny feels the new divide in her home, noticing that her mother and father have become distant and much too busy to notice the empty refrigerator. Her older sister, Scarlett, wants more space from everyone and her younger brother, Aiden, is fixated on finding the coolest subject topic for his school project. Zinny also attempts to navigate her family's "secret", pushing away her boy-obsessed friends in favor of quiet and predictable crawfish observations in her favorite science teacher's class. But Ms. Molina urges Zinny to join the super-secret Lunch Club where she meets others like her with secrets of their own.  

Barbara Dee has a talent for writing realistic issues for youth readers! She tackles tough subjects and makes them relatable with complex characters and life lessons that everyone can get something out of! 
In My Life in the Fish Tank, Dee tackles mental health and how Zinnia deals with her brother's diagnosis, especially how it affects her life at home and school. Keeping her family's secret puts a lot of strain on her relationship with both family and friends and Zinny starts to draw into herself and focuses more on her own interests as a result.  It isn't until she joins the mysterious and oddly named 'lunch club' at Ms. Molina's behest that she starts to realize that there's a difference between keeping something private and keeping something secret. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

September 2020 TBR & Goals

 Hello September!!!

We are a month into homeschooling so I'm extra busy but it's Spooky Season and I always have a TBR for that plus a ton of library books out at the moment so here they are! 

For Review

Library Borrows

Spooky Reads From My Shelves

What are you reading in September?
Any spooky recs?

Monday, August 31, 2020

August 2020 Reading WrapUp

 Goodbye August!

Hello readers!

It's been a good minute! 
That latest Blogger update has thrown my blogging schedule way off course.
What used to take me a few minutes to type up with links and pictures now takes literal hours. 
I've been so disheartened and haven't had the extra time to catch up here while also pouring so much of my time and energy into beginning our home education program, which has been going well.
I'm currently trying to work around using this as my main review space in case these issues do not change.

I'd love to know if you've had issues with Blogger lately and if you were able to fix it or not!

I'm sticking to text at the moment, in hopes that this post won't take hours to publish, but I may return to add pictures and links later when I have extra time.

Books I Read in August
The Double Helix (Explorer Academy #3) by Trudi Trueit (5/5 stars)
New Kid by Jerry Craft (5/5 stars)
The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh (4/5 stars)
My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee (4.5/5 stars)
The Whisper Man by Alex North (4.5/5 stars)
American Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (5/5 stars)

Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children With the Natural World by Nancy Striniste 
Peggy Dean's Guide to Nature Drawing and Watercolor by Peggy Dean
100 Hikes of a Lifetime by Kate Siber
This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

Chapter Books I Read to My Daughter:
A True Home (Heartwood Hotel #1) by Kallie George
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park

Junie B. Jones and the Litle Monkey Business by Barbara Park

Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth by Barbara Park

Started but haven't finished:

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

Reviews shared in July:
Archicards: Build A Castle by Paul Farrell
Scat by Carl Hiaasen
The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh

Other Posts:
ARC August TBR
TTT: Read the Rainbow
TTT: Books I Loved But Never Reviewed

Challenge Progress

ABC Challenge
July: 15/26
Aug: +0

Tackle My TBR / Beat the Backlist
July: +2
Aug: +1

The Wolf Wants In
New Kid

New Release Challenge
July: +3
Aug: +4

My Life in the Fish Tank
The Whisper Man
This Book Is Anti-Racist
American Gothic

PopSugar Challenge
July: 9/50
Aug: 12/50   +3

A book that won an award in 2019 - New Kid by Jerry Craft won the Newbery Award and Coretta Scott King Award

A book written by a Woman of Color - American Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia & This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

A book you meant to read in 2019 - The Wolf Wants In

Read Harder Challenge
July: 8/25
Aug: 12/25   +4

Read a YA nonfiction book - This Book is Anti-Racist
Read a mystery where the victim is not a woman - The Whisper Man
Read a historical fiction novel not set in WWII - American Gothic
Read a MG book that isn't set in the US or UK - The Double Helix

1001 Books to Read Before You Grow Up
??? lost track / will update ???

If you got this far, thanks for reading! 
Have a great September and happy reading! 

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh (Adult Mystery Thriller Book Review)

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Wolf Wants In
by Laura McHugh
Published by Spiegel & Grau 
(Penguin Random House)
on August 6, 2019
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 272 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository


In a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis, a woman confronts a dark secret about her brother's shocking death--a gripping novel of suspense for fans of  Sharp Objects and S-Town

Like Laura McHugh's previous award-winning thrillers, The Weight of Blood and Arrowood, The Wolf Wants In is an atmospheric, beautifully told novel that barrels toward a twisting, chilling end and keeps up turning the page to find out how these small-town secrets will unravel--and who will survive.

My Thoughts:

Sadie's brother, Shane, dies of what is waved off as a heart attack but his wife of one year, Crystle--a hard woman from the least-liked family in town--is quick to dispose of his every possession within a month of his death. Sadie is suspicious so she delves into the details of her brother's adult life while repairing a fractured friendship with an old friend whose missing daughter's bones were recently found in the woods nearby, not far from her father's, who was the main suspect in her kidnapping. When Crystle let's slip that Shane might have had something to do with it, Sadie is determined to figure out the truth. Meanwhile, the second MC, Henley, a teenage cousin of Crystle's, ends up entangled in the plot as she tries to escape her dead-end small town.

I don't read a lot of mystery thrillers, and especially not contemporary ones like this, but I'm always branching out and trying new things and I've been gravitating towards books like this a lot more recently. I was quickly caught up in Sadie's search for the truth about her brother and the unfolding story of the Petits and all the connections that come to light. Crystle's callousness towards her deceased husband and the typical drug-ridden small-town family secrets really had me hooked. 

I did think it was more mystery than thriller until the end and that it leaned heavily on the second pov for that suspense, but I still enjoyed it. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Loved But Never Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and taken over by That Artsy Girl in 2018. 

Books I Loved But Never Reviewed

I read a ton of classics and lots of popular YA  before I started this blog so there's a lot of great books that I don't even have reviewed on Goodreads. Part of me wants to wait until I can reread them all to add a review. Sometimes I end up waiting too long to review a really good book or have a hard time collecting my thoughts about books I loved so this list could go on forever but I'll keep it at 10! 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

What books haven't you reviewed?


Friday, August 7, 2020

Scat by Carl Hiaasen (Middle Grade Realistic Fiction Review)

by Carl Hiaasen
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
on January 7, 2009
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Length: 386 pages
Ages: 10 - 14 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

Literary Awards:
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Children's Book (2009)
Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (2011)
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee (2011)
Iowa Teen Award Nominee (2011)
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Nominee (2011)

Bestselling author and columnist Carl Hiaasen returns with another hysterical mystery for kids set in Florida's Everglades. 

My Thoughts:
Nick Waters' fearsome biology teacher, Mrs. Starch, turns up missing during a field trip just a day or two after she is threatened by a troublemaker classmate. The classmate in question, who calls himself 'Smoke', has been accused of arson as well, but Nick oddly believes Smoke when he tells Nick that he had nothing to do with any of it. Nick and his friends have their hands full worrying about their teacher and classmate as well as getting to the bottom of the mystery, and in the meantime there's a crooked oil company trying to make an extra buck drilling oil on protected lands and a Florida panther is on the prowl! 

I began reading Hiaasen's middle-grade novels--starting with Chomp-- last year when I realized I hadn't read many books predominantly set in Florida. It started with just wanting to pin Florida on my 'Read Around the World' map but soon turned into a plan to read as many of his books as possible. I especially love the settings of these books because I grew up in Florida and a lot of the descriptions are quite nostalgic of my childhood spent swimming and boating in springs, rivers, and the ocean.

Carl Hiaasen's books have a lot of humor in them but also always have a big focus on conservation and saving the environment, which absolutely makes sense to this Floridian that has seen countless fights for the preservation of our wild and natural spaces.

 This wasn't my favorite of the four I've read so far, but it still brought about a ton of memories of hiking in the woods and hearing a panther's cry!