Review | Rewritten by Tara Gilboy

After learning the truth about her own fairy tale, twelve-year-old Gracie wants nothing more than to move past the terrible things author Gertrude Winters wrote about her and begin a new chapter in the real world. If only things were going as planned. On the run from the evil Queen Cassandra, the characters from Gracie’s story have all been forced to start over, but some of them cannot forget Gracie’s checkered past.

Even worse, Gracie discovers that as long as Cassandra has her magical book, the Vademecum, Gracie’s story is still being written and none of the characters are safe, including her mom and dad. In a desperate attempt to set things right, Gracie finds herself transported into another one of Gertrude’s stories—but this one is a horror story. Can Gracie face her destiny and the wild beast roaming the night, to rewrite her own story?

After thoroughly enjoying the first book, Unwritten, I definitely wanted to pick this one up when it was available. This one pulls you right back into Gracie’s story not too long after the ending of the first book, and you quickly realize the different difficulties that the group is facing and the repercussions of the events of the first book. This book really becomes a discovery and acceptance of self for Gracie as they once again come up against Cassandra.

I really enjoyed Gracie’s journey in this installment, and while I didn’t really like some other character’s behavior, Gracie did come to internally work through the pain caused by a number of things and definitely grew up a bit in the process.

Happy reading!

Review | The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O’Neill

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.

I won’t lie, I will probably read anything Katie O’Neill writes, her stories are filled with so much heart and her art style is beautiful. I really enjoyed how this installment brought all of the tea dragon stories together, but I did want more when I reached the end. I wish there was going to be more in the series/world simply because I feel like there was so much potential for more to be added to the story. Still, it was wonderful to see all of the characters again and see where they are in life and where life is taking them. While I did want more, I still loved the story overall and fell even more in love with tea dragons.

Happy reading!

Review | Ghosts

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.

I’ve been enjoying all the hard hitting middle grade graphic novels I’ve been finding that address real issues/worries that people may face. This story really tackles the fears that go along with the possibility of losing a family member, especially if that loss may be untimely. It looks at the point of view of both someone looking at losing someone in the future as well as the perspective of the person struggling for their life.

I really loved how this was explored by the family’s move to a town where ghosts are the norm, not only that, but it was a place where Dia de los Muertos was openly celebrated and loved. It ended up being the perfect place for the two sisters to learn about and accept mortality in different ways. Both of them grow and face their fears, while also making new friends and learning about their culture.

Happy reading!

Review | Click

For fans of Smile and Real Friends comes a debut graphic novel about friendship and finding where you “click” in middle school.

Olive wants to get in on the act . . .
. . . Any act!

Olive “clicks” with everyone in the fifth grade—until one day she doesn’t. When a school variety show leaves Olive stranded without an act to join, she begins to panic, wondering why all her friends have already formed their own groups . . . without her. With the performance drawing closer by the minute, will Olive be able to find her own place in the show before the curtain comes up?

Author-illustrator Kayla Miller has woven together a heartfelt and insightful story about navigating friendships, leaning on family, and learning to take the stage in the most important role of all.

In Click we follow Olive who considers herself friends with everyone in her class, but they’ve entered that age where people start breaking off into cliques or little groups with specific interests, which becomes apparent when the topic of the variety show comes up. Olive worries that she doesn’t fit in with any of the groups and worries that she doesn’t have a place.

I really enjoyed this story and it hit me in so many feels. It doesn’t matter where you were when going through adolescence, there were always moments you felt you didn’t fit in. It’s a heartfelt journey where Olive finds out that you don’t necessarily need to be part of a specific group or clique, and it’s ok if you aren’t a perfect fit. This would be a great read for anyone going through those middle grade growing stages or having a hard time finding their place and figuring out where they stand with other kids their age.

Happy reading!

Review | Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle

When twelve-year-old Dalya is dragged to Istanbul to help sell her family’s ancestral home, the visit begins unpromisingly. Most of the aged mansion is off-limits because it’s falling apart, her father is ignoring her, and her great aunt keeps prattling on about a family curse. Despite warnings against it, Dalya tiptoes upstairs, where she finds an old bottle of magic ink hidden under a floorboard. She asks the bottle’s jinn (aka genie) to grant her a simple wish…to send her home. Except the jinn interprets go home to mean send me back in time and turn me into a cat. Then Dalya must set off on a wild adventure through Istanbul’s animal underworld to find the jinn with the power to set things right. 

I picked this one up purely based on the description and am so glad I did! I loved this story and the ragtag group of characters that came together as Dalya journeyed to find her way back home, and learned what home really was.

The writing style was easy and flowed wonderfully and the descriptions of Istanbul were just enough to paint a picture of the place. It’s a great adventure and though Dalya sometimes acts impulsive or rashly, it suits her age and the audience it is aimed at. All in all it was a fun story with lots of heart.

Happy reading!

Review | Snapdragon

Snap’s town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online–after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic–and a connection with Snap’s family’s past.

I wasn’t completely sure what to expect with this one going in, but just the cover and the blurb drew me in. I absolutely loved this story and it’s progression, even when it took turns that I was not expecting at all. The cast of characters are varied in their personalities and the diversity is wonderfully written and portrayed without being forced. I so enjoyed Snapdragon’s journey as she not only started to learn who she herself was, but also found new friends and relationships along the way.

The art style and color palette that Kat Leyh used perfectly fit the story and the setting, with the perfect amount of whimsy to go along with the touch of paranormal. As the story progresses you can’t help but root for Snap, her mom, Lu and Jacks as they all change and grow.

Happy reading!

Review | Awkward

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

I absolutely loved this little graphic novel. I would say it pretty perfectly captures some of the feelings people have at middle school age, feeling such as isolation, having a hard time making friends and fitting in and just how competitive cliques/groups can be.

So many of the characters were able to be identified with and there were some real issues that were discussed, as well as some humorous subjects that kept what could be heavier topics, refreshingly light.

I really loved the artwork as well, as it gave the story vibrancy and made sure that every setting was more than just a background.

Awkward is currently available on Kindle Unlimited so be sure to check it out. Happy reading!

Review: Skycircus

When a travelling skycircus arrives in Brackenbridge, Lily and Robert can’t wait to step aboard… But there’s something sinister about the hybrid children who appear as part of the act. And before Lily and Robert can do anything, they’re captured by shadowy figures and whisked off in the mysterious flying circus to somewhere far, far away…

Treachery, tight-ropes and trickery combine in this incredible third Cogheart adventure…

I have thoroughly enjoyed both Cogheart and Moonlocket, so I had high hopes for Skycircus and it did not disappoint. Bunzl takes us on another thrilling adventure that didn’t have so much to do with a mystery as it did with people that had certain motives.

As always I so enjoyed the recurring characters and their personalities. Each book tends to see growth in both Robert and Lily as they face every challenge that comes their way. Their reactions and responses to certain situations are valid, but they also still have a lot of that impulsiveness that goes along with youth. Also, I always adore Malkin’s attitude juxtaposed against theirs.

The circus was written masterfully and was rife with danger and creepiness. It was a great setting that was perfect for the adventure. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 4!

Skycircus is out now, so make sure to pick it up with Cogheart and Moonlocket – happy reading!

Review: The Witch Boy

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

I’ve heard great things about this graphic novel and am so glad I finally picked it up. It’s so wonderfully diverse in so many ways, without being in your face about it. When looking at diverse reads I really look for it to just be natural instead of purposely pointing out every little bit of diversity and this one perfectly showed how that can be done. I fell in love with so many of the characters and really enjoyed the progression of the story and how things were resolved. Also, while this could have easily been a stand alone I’m eager to check out the next volume.

I really enjoyed the artwork style and the vibrant colors were perfect for the age group this is aimed at, but I think it’s a great read for all ages. I really want to check out all of Ostertag’s work now and look forward to what comes out in the future.

Happy reading!

Review: The Crowns of Croswald

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

This book was such a fun adventure! I hesitate to compare any books to Harry Potter, because I know that such a suggestion can bring certain preconceived notions to mind, but if you’re looking for something about a magical world including a school setting then this will definitely fit the bill.

I love that a good chunk of this book is world building and that special attention was paid to fleshing out different aspects of the magic system. I’m super excited about the future books and getting to learn even more about the history of this world and its magic and creatures.

Ivy as a character is very impulsive, but driven by an inner purpose. Her moments of vulnerability are understandable and fitting for her situation. While she didn’t always full think through her decisions, she knew that there was a reason for the things she had to do and let herself be led by her instincts, which was both bad and good. While only a couple other characters were truly fleshed out, most of those who had a voice were distinct and individual.

All in all this was a great adventure full of twists and turns and I can’t wait to read more from this series!

Thank you again to Stories Untold and D.E. Night for sending me a copy of this book. D.E. Night’s books can be found on Amazon, or purchased through her website at DENight.com.

Happy Reading!