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Book Review: Willodeen

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

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

“The earth is old and we are not, and that is all you must remember…”

Willodeen lives in the town of Perchance and loves all the creatures in the woods around her – especially the unlovable beasts. Her family died in a fire that swept through the town six years ago and now she lives with her foster parents. Perchance hosts an annual festival celebrating the hummingbear migration but the hummingbear numbers have been decreasing and this year none have returned. The town has also put a bounty on one of the more nuisance critters called screechers – think wild boar crossed with skunk and porcupine. Willodeen witnesses the killing of the last screecher and is inconsolable. When her friend, Connor, makes her one out of reeds and grasses, something magical happens and gives Willodeen the courage to speak up.

The quote above really sums up human existence on this planet. This story is relatively short and beautifully written. It gently emphasizes how humans must live in harmony with all the creatures on this earth, how everything is intertwined. Highly recommend for grades 3 and up.

#Willodeen #NetGalley

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Book Review: Pahua and the Soul Stealer

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

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

In this #OwnVoices fantasy/mythology, Pahua Moua is an 11-year-old Hmong girl who can see spirits. Her best friend is a cat spirit named Miv. Pahua’s father left when she was younger and her mother is very busy so she watches her younger brother, Matt, a lot. One day she joins a group of girls and goes into the woods to a haunted bridge. Because she can see spirits, Pahua accidentally frees the angry bridge spirit who then takes her brother’s soul to the Spirit Realm. On top of that, there are demons trying to kidnap her. Pahua joins up with moody and reluctant Zhong, a warrior shaman in training, and, along with Miv, travel to the various spirit worlds to find Matt’s soul before it’s too late.

I really enjoyed this latest entry in the RRP collection. It was very interesting learning about their culture and rituals. Some of the gods’ names and other Hmong words are not pronounced the way they are written so definitely bookmark the glossary. I’m sure there will be a sequel at some point and I will be looking forward to it. I would recommend this book for grades 4 and up.

#PahuaAndTheSoulStealer #RickRiordanPresents #NetGalley

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Book Review: The Endless Skies

The Endless Skies by Shannon Price

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

In this fantasy novel, the Leonodai people, winged lion shape-shifters, live on a floating island above the rest of the world, away from the brutal humans with whom they had been at war. There are other magical species – the sea-folk, bearking, and fox-kin who have been wiped out by the humans. The story is told in alternating POV – Rowan, who has just finished her warrior training; older sister Shirene, a sentinel on the king’s council; and Callen, a warrior and Rowan’s best friend who is also in love with her. A disease from birds is infecting and killing the Leonodai youth and the cure is found deep in the human’s territory. When warriors are sent in teams to find it, Rowan finds out more information that could put the mission in jeopardy. She and the other warriors-elect are supposed to stay and defend the city – Loyalty above all is the Leonodai motto – but will she risk a desertion charge to bring this new information to the warriors?

While I enjoyed this fast-paced adventure, I was a bit disappointed in the ending. This is a stand-alone novel but with the other magical peoples, there could be companion stories. I would recommend this book for grades 8 and up.

#TheEndlessSkies #NetGalley

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Book Review: The Champion

The Champion by Taran Matharu

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


The final book in The Contender series picks up as Cade is recovering from his battle with the Hydra Alpha. Unfortunately, Abaddon is throwing the humans into another battle on another world. There they find the missing Roman legion whom they enlist in their battle with the Greys (Tritons), a humanoid species that is more technologically advanced than Cade and his friends. Any more information here would be a spoiler. I was a tad disappointed in the ending (felt rushed) but otherwise enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it for readers of the series.

#TheChampion #NetGalley

This title will be available August 10, 2021.

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Book Review: Stowaway

Stowaway by John David Anderson

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

This new science fiction middle grade duology is set some 30 years in the future. People of Earth learn they are not alone in the universe. The planet is visited by an advanced race called the Aykarians, who in exchange for their knowledge, begin drilling for a rare element, Ventasium, to aid space travel. Unfortunately, the Aykarians are at war with the Djarik and Earth suffers the consequences in the form of a devastating attack. Leo Fender, after losing his mother, now lives on the spaceship Beagle, with his older brother Gareth and his scientist father, Calvin. Dr. Fender is a specialist in developing Ventasium. The Beagle is attacked by the Djarik, Dr. Fender is taken prisoner, and the rest of the ship is left to drift. Shortly after the attack, the ship is boarded by space pirates looking for Ventasium. Since they have none, the pirates leave but not without Gareth sneaking Leo aboard to keep him safe. Leo is soon discovered by the crew and Leo convinces them to help him find his father.

I found this story to be quite fast-paced. I especially love when authors add in bits that the target audience probably won’t understand but the adult readers will, for example, David Bowie’s vinyl album Ziggy Stardust. Also, Anderson pay homage to Battlestar Galactica in adapting “naughty words,” – fracking in BG and freking in Stowaway. This is a great space adventure for sci-fi fans that will leave readers wanting more. I would recommend this book for readers in grades 4 and up.

#Stowaway #NetGalley

This title will be available August 3, 2021.

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Book Review: The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Sila Tekin, a once bubbly and energetic girl, is now sullen and withdrawn, rarely speaking in school. Her mother had to return to Turkey because of an “error” on her immigration paperwork. What was supposed to be eight days had turned into eight months and counting. Things start to change when Sila and her father meet Gio, a widower who also happens to be a recent Powerball winner. Shortly after they meet, Gio is inspired to rescue an elephant named Veda from a traveling circus that was closing down. Sila and new friend Mateo spend their summer helping Gio take care of Veda. The job gives Sila purpose and helps keep her mind off missing her mother. Mateo’s mother happens to be a lawyer and gets involved with the Tekin’s case.

I really enjoyed this middle grade novel. It was well researched and realistic in showing the care that goes into rescuing a large exotic animal. The characters are well developed and likeable as well. I would recommend this title for readers grade 4 and up.

#TheElephantInTheRoom

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Book Review: Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia

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

This sequel takes place six months after the events of River of Tears and Paola, Dante, and Emma haven’t recovered from their trauma. Emma has recently come out as lesbian and is spending a lot of time with the school’s LGBTQ club. Dante has become more distant and Paola is having nightmares again, this time about her father who left when she was little. Her mom has a new boyfriend and doesn’t seem to have the time Paola craves. When Dante’s abuela collapses and fantasmas attack the hospital, Pao, reluctant Dante, and Naomi from Los Niños de la Luz search for Paola’s father in Oregon for a way to save Señora Mata. They encounter more legendary monsters and are in way over their heads. Wil they be able to overcome their bickering to fight together?

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced sequel. Tehlor Kay Mejia has briefly recapped the events of the first book which was a great reminder for me! There are several twists in this book which makes it even more exciting. It is beneficial to read the first book before this one but not a necessity. I would definitely recommend this for grades 4 and up.

#PaolaSantiagoAndTheForestOfNightmares #RickRiordanPresents #NetGalley

This title will be available August 3, 2021.

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Book Review: The Last Super Chef

The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron

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

Eleven-year-old Curtis Pith loves to cook. His favorite show is Super Chef, a cooking competition show hosted by Chef Lucas Taylor. But Curtis has a secret – Chef Taylor is his long-lost father! And when Chef Taylor suddenly announces that he will be retiring and launches a campaign for kids to submit entries to be the Last Super Chef, Curtis is beside himself! He, along with his sister and best friend, gain entry into his landlord’s fancy kitchen. Under time constraints until the landlord returns, Curtis whips up a grand cheese soufflé. Amazingly, Curtis is one of five chosen from around the world. But when he gets to New York, the competition and pressure are more than he bargained for.

This is a great middle grade read for kids who really enjoy cooking shows (and even those that don’t watch!). The story is well written and the characters are well developed. The one thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was the constant mentioning of Chef Taylor being Curtis’s father. So 4.5 stars from me!

#TheLastSuperChef #NetGalley

This title will be available July 6, 2021.

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Book Review: Secondhand Dogs

Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi

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

Miss Lottie has 4 “secondhand” (read rescue) dogs: Gus, the pack leader terrier; Tank, the bulldog; Roo, the 3-legged hound; and Moon Pie, the young pug. They all get along until Miss Lottie decides to add another dog, Decker, the German shepherd. Decker comes with a LOT of baggage and wants to be the only dog in the house so he schemes to get rid of the other dogs. He tricks Moon Pie into leaving, telling him that his previous owner is waiting for him, and soon the other dogs go in search of him. Quinn, the neighbor boy who recently lost his father and then his dog, helps Miss Lottie care for her pack. He feels guilty because Moon Pie escaped through a hidden hole in the garden fence and regrets not fixing it. Everyone, except Decker, is out looking for the little pug, encountering dangers along the way. Will the dogs make it home safely?

I love dog books, especially A Dog’s Purpose and Stella. This one initially drew me in but it never really clicked with me. I felt it could have moved along faster. Anyway, my rating is really a 3.5/5. I would still recommend it to young readers.

#SecondhandDogs #NetGalley

This title will be available July 6, 2021.

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Book Review: Norman Didn’t Do It!: (Yes, He Did)

Norman Didn't Do It!: (Yes, He Did)

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

I don’t normally review picture books but I received this one from the U.S. Book Show and it’s Ryan T. Higgins. Norman, a cute porcupine, is best friends with a tree called Mildred. They do almost everything together until there’s a big change – a sapling is growing right next to Mildred! What’s Norman to do? He takes drastic action that he may come to regret. This story is very cute and emphasizes the meaning of friendship.

This title will be available September 7, 2021.

#NormanDidntDoIt #NetGalley