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Book Review: The Daredevils

Thank you to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Twelve-year old twins Loretta and Waylon are spending the summer preparing for middle school. Loretta is “act first, question later” type of person and has spent most of elementary school defending and protecting Waylon. She has decided to “toughen” him up since she won’t always be around to protect him. Waylon also has a secret plan to show Loretta that he doesn’t need her help. The twins sneak off into the woods to their secret fort where they meet Louie, another 12-year-old who is home-schooled with issues of his own. They find a mysterious box that leads them to challenges and inner strength they didn’t know they had.

This coming-of-age middle grade book is a great read with alternating POV of the twins. As an adult reading this, I chuckled at Loretta’s constant references to “old” movies (80’s & 90’s). It was a bit slow to get going but definitely picked up in pace as the story progressed. The target audience probably wouldn’t even notice that, though. I would definitely recommend this book for readers in grades 4 and up.

#TheDaredevils #NetGalley

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Book Review: Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena

Thank you to Farrar, Straus, & Giroux and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Clip and Sadie are brother and sister, eighteen months apart in age but miles apart in interests. Like most siblings, they constantly squabble. Clip excels in soccer and Sadie does very well in school but both kids LOVE laser tag and are super competitive! When the new Blackwood Arena opened, the siblings and their friends were there opening night. But during one of the games, Sadie sees and talks to a boy, Tom, who offers to help her in exchange for helping him. Sadie isn’t sure if he is real or an NPC (non-player character). Clip sees Tom another time and accepts his help so that he can beat his sister at the game. But Tom isn’t an NPC and Clip finds himself in a predicament from which he isn’t sure he can escape.  

These types of books are becoming more and more popular. This book reminded me a lot of the movie version of Jumanji, especially the Dwayne Johnson version. It is fast-paced, has relatively short chapters, and is told in alternating point-of-view. I think this book will be very popular. According to the author, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Team Chu! I highly recommend this title for grades 4 and up.

#TeamChuAndTheBattleOfBlackwoodArena #NetGalley

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Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Reggie Wong is missing his father terribly since losing him two years ago. His mother is paralyzed with grief which means Reggie is often on his own. One day when visiting his father’s grave, Reggie meets the Conductor, who promises that he can make Reggie’s deepest desire come true. Reggie decides to meet the Conductor at the St. Patrick subway station in Toronto at midnight along with hundreds of other kids. The train takes them deep underground where the kids get off individually to meet with their lost loved ones. But all is not as it seems and Reggie, along with new friends Chantal and Gareth, must escape from the nightmare in this twisted tale version of the Pied Piper.

This book perfectly blends mystery with a deep creep factor, mainly, rats! The Conductor creepily preys on the kids’ grief to get what he wants. I enjoyed how Reggie, Chantal, and Gareth worked together to get themselves out of their predicament. This is a great debut novel by Derrick Chow. I highly recommend it for readers in grades 4 and up.

#RavenousThings #NetGalley #DisneyHyperion

This title will be available July 26, 2022.

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Book Review: Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation

Thank you to Razorbill and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The year is 2053 and twelve-year-old Hana Hsu cannot wait to get meshed to the multiweb like her mother and older sister. Hana is attending an accelerated session of Start-Up so she can be meshed by the end of summer instead of waiting until she turns thirteen. Popo, Hana’s grandmother, who is not meshed, has dementia. If she was, the tech would repair her brain. Hana hopes by getting meshed early, she will get a good internship that will help her find a treatment for Popo. Hana likes to build automatons, something she used to do with her late father, and frequents the junkyard to find materials. It is there that she meets Ink, who leaves a stolen e-scroll for her to find. This leads to Hana meeting Wayman, a leader of the Ghost Crab Nation, who tells Hana all is not as it seems at Start-Up and to keep an eye out for anything unusual. Soon Hana notices that some of her classmates are getting sick, her tech boosts don’t work, and she wonders if it’s really worth getting meshed after all. Hana finds out that there is a conspiracy between Start-Up and the tech companies that will affect the way the Big 5 corporations (I Ching, Nile, Plex, Maskbook, and Pear) that run the world conduct their business.

This book takes a different perspective than most sci-fi novels. It is also very timely and I do think the target audience will get the Big Tech references. It is a very enjoyable and quick read, with great “what will happen next” aspect. It is meant to be a stand-alone book but hopefully Liu will pen another. I would highly recommend this book for grades 5 and up.

#HanaHsuAndTheGhostCrabNation #NetGalley

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Book Review: Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit

Thank you to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Theo Tan just wants to be an American boy. After getting teased and bullied in school for speaking Chinese, Theo no longer speaks it. He just wants to play his video games, go to ThunderCon, and cast his spells using his cirth pendant (his power source for spells) like his peers. He is not interested in anything about his culture, including his brother Jamie’s fox spirit, Kai. When Jamie dies suddenly, Theo inherits Kai, to the dismay of both of them. But when Theo find a secret coded journal that Jamie left behind for him, Theo and Kai enroll at the Reapling Corp. summer program where Jamie was doing his internship. Using the journal, Theo and Kai find that something strange is definitely going on there, and potentially dangerous. Kai has the ability to shape-shift, something that Theo takes advantage of in his training. Will Theo and Kai be able to put aside their disdain for each other long enough to figure out what Jamie wanted them to do before it’s too late?

It was nice to see a Chinese-American boy as the main character. Although this book is mostly fantasy, especially when dealing with the companion spirits and spells, there is also a sci-fi part to it. Theo can come off as a bit of a brat, not wanting to do the minimum asked of him. He does realize his potential as the story progresses. Not as fast-paced as some other mythology/heroes middle grade books but enjoyable nonetheless. I give it 4 stars and would recommend it for grades 4 and up.

#TheoTanAndTheFoxSpirit #Feiwel&Friends #NetGalley

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Book Review: The Last Fallen Moon

Thank you to Rick Riordan Presents, Disney Publishing, and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

After the events of The Last Fallen Star, Riley is back home but no one has any memories of her. To make matters worse, the entire Gom clan to which her adoptive family belongs is mad at her for killing the Cave Bear Goddess, the Gom clan’s patron and source of healing power. Nevermind that the goddess was going to destroy all the humans! Things come to a head and Riley thinks the best way to help is to go to the Spiritrealm to get help. While there, Riley discovers her sister Hattie is down there looking for her and Riley meets Dahl, a heaven-born boy with pure white hair. He volunteers to be Riley’s guide around the Spiritrealm but Riley’s past will haunt her in hell. But Dahl is hiding something that, once revealed, will change Riley forever.

This book keeps up the same momentum as the first. I really enjoyed reading this, although, as an adult, I could figure out what was going on. Then again, I’m not the target audience. I would definitely recommend this for those who have read the first. The final book will be out next year.

#TheLastFallenMoon #RickRiordanPresents #NetGalley

This book will be available June 14, 2022.

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Book Review: Bravely

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This is a sequel to the animated Disney movie Brave, set a few years in the future. Merida has done some traveling and has returned to find that her family and the kingdom are essentially unchanged. On Christmas, Merida hears a knock at the kitchen door and opens it to find an unexpected visitor, Feradach (god of ruin), and after chasing him, the Cailleach (god of creation). Merida makes a bargain with the two gods for one year to change her family before Feradach will lay waste to the kingdom. Merida plans three trips with various members of her family in the hopes to spark some excitement into their lives. In addition, there’s a rival clan threatening to destroy DunBroch. Will Merida be able to save her family and her kingdom?

This is a great follow-up to Brave. Ideally, I should have re-watched the movie as there were a lot of details I didn’t remember. I found the book a bit slow to start but then the plot picks up in earnest. I really did enjoy this book and would definitely recommend it. It is classified as YA but being Disney, it is fine for middle school readers. My true rating would be 4.5 if Goodreads would allow half stars.

#Bravely #Disney

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Book Review: The Golden Swift

Thank you to Little, Brown Books and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This sequel to The Silver Arrow continues the adventures of Kate and Tom on their magical train. Uncle Herbert is missing and they have encountered a rival train, The Golden Swift. The conductors from both trains work together to help relocate endangered animals but not always at the direction of the Great Secret Intercontinental Railroad.  Soon both trains are taking unsanctioned missions that lead to unpredictable consequences.

I did enjoy this sequel as much as the first. The message is still sad and disturbing but I would definitely recommend it to grades 4 and up. The author does enough recap in this sequel that it is not necessary to have read the first but you should do so anyway!

#TheGoldenSwift #NetGalley

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2023 Nutmeg Book Nominees

The Nutmeg Book Award encourages children in grades 2-12 to read quality literature and to choose their favorite from a list of ten nominated titles. We have four divisions: Elementary (grades 2-3); Intermediate (grades 4-6); Middle School (grades 7-8); and High School (grades 9-12). Jointly sponsored by the Connecticut Library Association (CLA) and the Connecticut Association of School Librarians (CASL), the Nutmeg Committee is comprised of children’s librarians and school library media specialists who are members of our sponsoring organizations.

Click here to be taken to our 2023 Nutmeg Book Award page where you will find the division lists as well as librarian booktalks. Happy reading!