Category Archives: children’s

Book Review: Grimworld: Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock by Avery Moray

Our Street Books
TBP: Nov.1st 2019
160 pAGES

Every day, thirteen year old Henry Bats has his usual bowl of Sugar Slugs, helps tend Cobalt Sidewinders at Frank’s Peculiar Pets, and keeps to himself with his comic book collection. Just your typical day in Grimworld, where the sky is always dark and shadows lurk in the streets.

What’s not typical is a suspicious Nightspook luring Henry into a cemetery in the middle of the night with the promise of a prized comic book. The Nightspook steals part of Henry’s lifespan with a pocket watch, which begins counting down to his death. Henry is running out of time, and the pocket watch won’t stop ticking…- Goodreads

Let me start off by saying that this was an extremely creative read that I strongly believe middle school readers would enjoy. . . as long as they are into the creepy stuff.

When I began reading this book, I wasn’t sure where it was going at first but then things started going not only deep but dark and I was all over it. Granted the author tried to make it a bit whimsical with the random characters but boil down to it this is a pretty dark story. It isn’t even the fact that  the Nightspook itself is creepy its everything that happens after Henry realize part of his lifespan is gone.

The pace of the novel was engaging and although it is a lot of running around and being shot down a few times, I was invested in the story from beginning to end. Henry was just perfect. An extremely smart kid, who not only was thinking of himself but for others.

There is one character within this novel that I thought was fantastic and was worked so well within this novel. The author did a really good job with this characters role.

This is a short review I know but I can’t keep going or I would be giving a lot a way. Overall, this was a surprising read that I was a but unsure about when I first started. But I am looking forward to book two and I hope it is as creepy as the first.

4 Pickles

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Book Review: The Oddmire, Book 2: The Unready Queen by William Ritter

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP June 2nd, 2020
272 Pages

Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.- Goodreads

William Ritter is one of my favorite writers. If you haven’t taken the time to read the Jackaby series, you need to.  It is a young adult fantasy mystery and it is fantastic.

This book, The Unready Queen is a good follow-up to the first read.  Not as great as the first one but extremely solid with character development, family (and family boundaries) and plenty of magic. But also what should be noted in this book is how humans suck. *shrugs* it is what it is.

The book is a slow build. For sometime there is only vague hints that something big is about to happen and the foreshadowing within this novel was great.

What I loved most about this read was the world building i.e. the Wild Wood. Ritter has a way of telling magic. There are details that show a care in research and an appreciation in nature. I was completely involved in this world that when he described where the city, I was over it LOL

I also love the growing pains that are exhibited within this novel. Tinn and Cole are becoming much more different and their goals are shifting. Not saying good verses evil but they are growing up and technically have different form of lives even though they are together a lot.

I love seeing their dynamic.

Fable is an interesting character and I say that because she is a mix of a rebellious teenager (although she is not a teenager), naive child, and extremely powerful being. Her desire for knowledge is refreshing because no one else seems to want to know things. They just do.

Ritter stresses the differences between Humans and those of the Wild Wood.  The baseline of wanting to live in peace is their common goal but other than that the moral ground is completely different.  It didn’t take much for the Humans to want to “get rid” of the begins in the Wood. It didn’t take much for them to want to destroy everything.  I was so frustrated.

But overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. There will be a third one and I look forward to that.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Hollow Dolls by MarcyKate Connolly

Sourcebooks Young Readers
TBP 2020

Simone is a mind reader. She knows a great many things about everyone she meets, but she can’t seem to remember anything about her past or where she came from. After finally being free for the first time in a long time, she sets off, determined to find her home.

When she stumbles across a man with two minds inside him – the real one, shoved deep down, and one of a body walker, someone who can take over a person’s body against their will – Simone is even more eager to leave her old life behind.

As Simone dives deeper into her history, she learns truths she never could have imagined. But when those she loves start disappearing around her, Simone knows only she can stop the evil.

Set in the same fantasy world as the Shadow Weaver duology, this series starter weaves a tale of secrets, power, magic, and the long path to home.- Goodreads

I initially did not realize that this book was geared towards middle school readers. Once I discovered that fact the entire book changed for me. What I mean by that was I was wondering why was Simone acting like such a child. There is a question of time within this book that even realizing she is about 12, I was still like but. . . . this?

But anyway, Connolly, the author, did a fantastic job of getting me into the book within the first 10 pages. The magic written within this book is great and Simone is powerful as heck and would be even more powerful if she just took a moment to build her skills as opposed to hiding from them. Granted she has a big ass reason for doing that but I am hoping that within the second book she works to improve her powers.

The pace of the novel could have been better. It is really easy to lose focus on this novel as there is a lot of nothing going on. However, it does include a massive as library with rare and historic books. I was all for it. Wish there was more detail and more drama going on in the library.

But moving on. I loved how the author tied everything together. Everything made sense and fell together lovely. I just wanted more from Simone. She went through so much. So. Freaking. Much. Connolly doesn’t dip too much into what she has done, which is unfortunate because there is so much there or at least that was what it was implied.

Maybe book two will dip more into it?

The one other thing about this book is although the world building is up there and clear as day, the plot was simple and a bit predictable.

Overall,  I enjoyed this read.

3 Pickles 

Middle School Reads for Black Girls

I hated middle school. From the moment, I walked into those doors to the moment I left. It was one of the worst school experiences I have ever had. I was/am an awkward girl. Making friends, especially within established friendships (even when I am invited to the group) is a difficult thing. I joined the volleyball team, basketball, student council, band and still never actually fit it.

So I lost myself in books and for the most part that is where I say. But the purpose of me telling you this is I noticed that every once in a while someone, on Twitter, will ask specifically for middle school reads to Black girls. It isn’t specific to what genre type but just that it is geared towards Black girls and I have been meaning to do a list on it and now I got the time :)

Listed below are some middle school reads that feature a Black girl as the main character.

Let me be honest. When I was looking up books I was disappointed in a few things.

  1. There aren’t a whole lot of books where there is a Black girl as the main characters.
  2.  There were a lot of books in which the mother left, parents were divorced and the divorce resulted in the child moving away
  3. There are a lot of trauma novels like a lot
    1. This is not to say that these stories aren’t important but these are a lot; overwhelmingly so

I was hoping to find a wide range of genres but there was a lot of trauma found. I wonder why is that. . . .

While I go ponder on that, what do you think of this list? Do you have any recommendations that should be added? Leave me a comment :)

Book Review: The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills

Annick Press
TBP: Sept. 10th, 2019
192 Pages

Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts. In their hair.

Just like all the women in their family, they can see souls who haven’t transitioned yet; it’s their job to help the ghosts along their journey.

When Shelly’s mom dies suddenly, Shelly’s relationship to ghosts—and death—changes. Instead of helping spirits move on, Shelly starts hoarding them.

But no matter how many ghost cats, dogs, or people she hides in her room, Shelly can’t ignore the one ghost that’s missing. Why hasn’t her mom’s ghost come home yet?- Goodreads

This book is heavy but the good kind of heavy. Although the summary states that Shelly is going to lose her mother, I wasn’t expecting it to happen. The author did a fantastic job of making you feel invested in Shelly’s world that you feel the pain as Shelly feels it. And again although the summary kind of tells you what happens next, you are not exactly expecting it. I felt so bad. Everything in me felt so bad for Shelly and how now her whole world is these ghosts and wondering where is her mother.

Shelly doesn’t have much of a personality but that doesn’t mean she is growing. Because that is what we are reading; a turning point in her life that helps her grow. The best word to describe Shelly is inquisitive. She wants to learn and another important thing to note is she lives for ghosts, her grandmother and her mother. She wants nothing more than to be a ghost hunter to help ghost go on and to make her grandmother proud.

When her mother dies, everything changes. What I loved about this book was how it was written. It was so easy to get into this read, to get into this world, to see it and feel it. The words just flows so smoothly and it isn’t only easy to read for children but as an adult reading about a child and how they handle and overcome grief this was great.

The pace of the novel was fantastic and I loved the fact that the story is only told in Shelly’s point of view and there isn’t a best friend influencing her emotions but instead its her learning about herself. I believe adding other voices to this story would have made this book lost its luster and Shelly’s voice would have been lost.

The ghosts, because I am sure you are wondering, are and aren’t the focal point of the story. They are important and push a lot of the story. However, they are the foundation that help lift the story but they aren’t the main point.

Overall,

A great read about grief that I would recommend for a child that understands what is going on and for an adult, any adult.

4 Pickles

Book Review: Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen

Crown Books for Young Readers
Published Sept. 17, 2019
384 Pages

Indira has been a character-in-waiting her entire life. So she can’t believe her luck when she’s finally chosen to travel to Fable and study at the renowned Protagonist Preparatory, a school known for producing the best heroes.

But Indira’s dreams of achieving hero status don’t exactly go as planned. A failed audition lands her in the school’s side-character track, and her best efforts to prove advisors–famous characters like Alice from Wonderland and Professor Darcy–wrong are constantly sabotaged. Indira is starting to feel like an evil antagonist might be to blame.

As the danger spreads, Indira discovers all of Fable is under siege. With her friends Maxi and Phoenix by her side, she pieces together clues that will reveal who is behind the dark magic threatening them all. But the more Indira uncovers, the more doubt she feels about her place in this world of stories. After all, can a side character really save the day? – Goodreads

I don’t say this lightly but this is the most creative book, I have read this year.

Indira isn’t even the main star of the novel (at least to em). It is everything in the background from the setting, the supporting characters and the plot. Indira is going to Fable, where she will train to become a hero, the protagonist of her own story. But a lot of stuff happens for her to get there.

While reading this book it is very clear to the reader that the author had a lot of fun with the setting and the people of Fable because that is where the focus is. This is not to say that Indira lacked qualities to keep the book going to make it worth while reading. But this book is long . . . extremely long. Like 60% of the book, the author just builds up the environment and gets you familiar with the characters that will be playing a part in the “action” for the lack of better term.

This book could have been cut in half and still would have been a fantastic read. By time anything actually happened,  not only did I breathe a sigh of relief but I also was ready to put the book down. I did but in a fairly short amount of time, picked it back up and keep reading because this world. . .  you want to live in it because you fall for the people that support Indira. You fall for the quirks and the book references in this novel.

This is not to say Indira isn’t a good character. She develops extremely well and I love how the author ties everything together from the beginning and the end.

The book as a whole comes together and I highly recommend this read to everyone. The only issue is the fact that it is so so very long.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Tour: The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP: Sept. 3rd, 2019
272 Pages

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.- Goodreads

Shout out to Algonquin Young Readers for allowing me to be part of this book tour. I have been itching for this book and hoping I can be apart of the marketing/promotion for this. So actually being selected means a whole lot to me.

Corinne is still Corinne but much more paranoid. Well paranoid isn’t the word. She is much more worrisome than she previously was and she has every right to be. She is half Jumbie and she has been fighting for not only her family but the island she lives on for a while now. She knows something is coming but not exactly sure what and how.

When things do come, Corinne doesn’t exactly ask the right questions. She is for the most part a bit full of herself, so within this book she gets knocked down a few pegs and becomes humble. WHICH I am so glad for because she really needed it. Like the two previous books, this one contains a lot of themes about family, the different types of family, acceptance and sacrifice. Sacrifice is the biggest theme within this novel because a lot of it happens.

But what I really enjoyed about book three was how Corrine was not the focus. Yes, she is the main character, however, this story isn’t just about her and how she (with the help of her friends) save the world. She isn’t the only point of view and she isn’t the only one that has a hand in why the world is the way that it is.

I loved and I cannot stress this enough I loved the fact that the author brought everything from book one and two together in book three. It is the perfect set up to either an epic final or a spin off.

My only concern about this book and possibly the next one is what else is there? Book three, although was good, felt stretched. It wasn’t as detailed as the previous books and without giving it away there is a scene that happens in the book that I am still scratching my head on. I do not understand why the author did this thing and just left it there. This is one of the points where I felt the book was being stretched.

Also book three is not as creepy, insight full or the lack of better term, shocking as the previous books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The pace was great, loved seeing the gang come together and grow and loved seeing the community and their bond as well as respect grow.

If you haven’t already read the first two books, you should do that. Despite the fact that this book is for middle school reads, adults readers, both mythology and fantasy lovers will love the heck of it.

For those that have read the first two books, take a look below for a sneak peak into book three.

Jumbie God’s Revenge Chapter 1

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket

Little, Brown and Company
Published Sept. 29, 2015
295 Pages

On all other nights, the train departs from Stain’d Station and travels to the city without stopping. But not tonight. You might ask, why is this night different from all other nights? But that’s the wrong question. Instead ask, where is this all heading? And what happens at the end of the line? The final book in Lemony Snicket’s bestselling series, All The Wrong Questions. – Goodreads

One day I decided to go through my TBR pile on Goodreads but start from the bottom up. I realized that there were a lot of books I wanted to read but between adding new books, I just didn’t get around to it.

Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights? is a prime example. I read the first three books when I first started this blog (geeze four years now) and didn’t realize I never finished it. So I am extremely happy to be able to say I have completed this series.

Everything and everybody in Stain’d-by-the-sea comes together to finally end the destruction of an evil villain. It was nice to see this because through out the series something near terrible happens to each and everyone of them, so their survival meant a lot.

But here is what I concluded and what I think Snicket is saying. Children think they know better than adults and given the opportunity will mess things up. *shrugs* that is literally the whole premise of the story. The protagonist Snicket (yes the author name the character after himself), from the beginning of the book to end is trying to solve one mystery but ends up disregarding that for another mystery.

In this process, his sister gets captured and nothing in me actually believes he cares. I say this because he does nothing to save her. Her capture is his fault and it is only mentioned twice and its usually “I wonder how my sister is doing. . . oh shinny object.”

This particular book had a lot of twists that I strongly believe a middle school child would love. Not everything is what it seems and I also think Snicket, the author, indirectly is saying to trust an adult. I say this because at the very end, there are things explained that Snicket (the character) didn’t know and it is summed up to him not asking the right questions.

I don’t exactly know I feel about the subliminal messaging in this book. But for me, they were extremely clear and red flags. Not in the sense that there is something wrong but in the sense that why those particular messages. It makes you wonder.

I loved the pace of the novel and the overall series. There wasn’t anything more I wanted; it provided enough mystery that I was content. Not only do I love the covers but I would suggestion this read to a middle school reader.

Overall,

3 Pickles for Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?

4 Pickles for the All the Wrong Questions series

Book Review: Changeling by William Ritter

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP July 16th, 2019
272 Pages

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong.

After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic.

 The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.- Goodreads

 

How freaking perfect was this book?! I probably just start off by saying anything William Ritter writes, I will read it. If you haven’t taken the time to read his Jackaby series, you are missing out. Seriously missing out. But this book review isn’t about Jackaby but about the new series called Oddmire.

As a disclaimer, you need to know that this book is for middle school children; however, there are adult themes that a child may miss but you will not. This book with all its magic and fantasy holds on very tightly to family, different types of family, traditions and most importantly love and its different forms.

The book is told in different point of views; the brothers, Tinn and Cole, the Mother, Annie, Kull and another person that I will not mention at this time. The different perspectives adds this layer that clearly separates the emotions the author wants you to feel. However, one emotion that is not present at all in this book is excitement; specifically Tinn and Cole. They not exactly excited for the adventure and rightfully so. This somber mood does not change at all in this book, however, the really cool thing about it is it doesn’t bring you down. You have that hope that everything is going to be alright when there are moments you strongly believe things won’t be alright.

I wouldn’t say that this was a slow read. It is very detailed without it feeling as if the author is reaching or dragging you along. You are invested because there is something new being added to the story (tastefully being added) and you don’t feel overwhelmed. Everything is connected and the ending although a little lackluster was a pretty decent way into the second book.

Overall, if you like fae, magic, etc but don’t necessarily enjoy the violence or the protagonist trying to fight tradition, this would be a good book for you even if you aren’t a child.

4 Pickles

If you don’t believe me how good this book is, take a look at the prologue below ^_^

The Oddmire – Prologue Excerpt

Book Review: Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz & Renée Watson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published Jan 2018
256 Pages

In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights.

Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born. – Goodreads

I gave this book 5 Pickles and yes I normally give the rating at the end but this will be a short review as this read was perfect for anyone that wants to know more about Dr. Betty Shabazz.

Firstly, while reading this book not only do you learn about Dr. Betty and the struggles she went through as a child but you find out information about the African Americans and their struggle internal struggle. What I mean by internal struggle is African Americans have a huge huge spending power. The Housewives League went around the neighborhood to get people to commit to spending their money at Black owned businesses. The issue back then was Blacked owned businesses charged more than white owned business.

This exact ties into today. Granted due to online stores and cutting the middle man, Black businesses are on a rise but that is only for certain products. Brick and mortar stories are important and due to various reasons they are scarce within Black communities.

As much as I loved this book as it showed me more about who Dr. Betty Shabazz was as an individual and not just as Malcolm X’s wife, I wanted to know more about The Housewives League. I wanted to know more about what was done to unite Black communities outside of becoming desegregated from their white counterparts.

When the book begins it is at a turning point in Dr. Betty Shabazz’s life. It makes a whole lot of sense why it begins where it does as well as where it finishes. I want to know more about this woman and this book was a great starting point.

Again,

5 Pickles