Middle Grade Review – Peppermint Cocoa Crushes by Lainey Nielson

Peppermint Cocoa Crushes by Lainey Nielson, Sky Pony Press (Oct 2017).

Thank you to the author for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
A delightfully wonderful holiday read for tweens that hits the middle school voice right on the head!
As a mom whose daughter has just gone through this stage, what I loved best about this book is how accurately it captures those emotions of first crushes, and feeling the pressure to like someone, even if you don’t. The naïveté is refreshing, and Sasha’s emotional development is written in such a way that readers will be able to clearly relate. I especially liked that


Sasha finds out her crush, and best friend, Kevin, is gay, and we also see the feelings surrounding a first crush from his perspective. I really love that this was part of the storyline, and it flowed very naturally rather than feeling forced.

I will absolutely add this whole series to my middle grade collection.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (12/18/17)

Last Week’s Reads:

I managed to get through a few books last week, including a classic, and a brand new Christmas book that I had to order from the US as it’s not yet available in Canada

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Heart

This Week’s Reads:

The countdown to Christmas  is on, and with a week to go, I have three seasonal books on my pile that I would really like to read.

Continue reading “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (12/18/17)”

Middle Grade Review – Tournament Fugee by Dirk McLean

Tournament Fugee by Dirk McLean, Lorimer (August 2017). Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley (all opinions are my own)

Victor immigrated from Syria and lives in the Greater Toronto Area with his family. His passion is soccer, and he is invited to join a team of players travelling to BC to play in a tournament for Syrian boys. Victor, the goalkeeper, is chosen to be the team captain. He learns what it means to be a leader, while also dealing with his feelings of responsibility off the field.

The story was a good introduction to the experiences of a boy from Syria now living in Canada, although it sometimes felt lacking in backstory that would make it more meaningful. The writing style makes it accessible to a wide range of readers, and would make it a good recommendation for developing readers.

3/5 stars

Most Memorable MG Books of 2017

I read a lot, but I often don’t remember the details of a story. What I do remember is how a book made me feel. As I looked over my list of 100+ middle grade titles that I read this year, these were the ones that stood out as the most memorable, the ones that evoked the strongest emotions, the ones that I immediately think “Oh yeah, I really loved that book”, even if I can no longer remember the main character’s name.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/3/17)

Last Week’s Reads:

The only middle grade book I managed to get through last week was Stella by Starlight (4 stars). This was an excellent book, but the ending left me disappointed. I also read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick and Manage Your Day to Day edited by Jocelyn Glei to round out the week.



This Week’s Reads:

Sigh…I am plugging my way through The Nix by Nathaniel Hill. It’s a must-read because I’m facilitating our library book club next week, and I make it a priority to read all the books, but this is a hard one for me to finish because it’s so long and really don’t do well with long books. I am 75% of the way through it, so with any luck, I will be reading something more appealing very soon. I’ve started Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison (but had to abandon it when I kept getting his childhood mixed up with the main character in The Nix), and have a few self-improvement books on my shelf. My next middle grade read will by Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel.


Happy Reading!

My Favorite Middle Grade and YA Reads from Summer 2017

Summer is a busy time for me at the library, but it’s almost the time I like to read a lot of middle grade and YA fiction so I can share great recommendations with our young patrons. Here are my favorite 5 star reads.


I honestly just picked my favorites, but I’m so happy to see that almost half of them have either diverse characters, or a diverse theme.

Adult Review – The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand, Little, Brown and Company (June 2017). Advanced Reader Copy courtesy of NetGalley.


Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book – all opinions are my own.

This is my first Elin Hilderbrand book, but it definitely will not be my last. I easily immersed myself in its story, and it was the perfect summer read.

THE IDENTICALS is the story of two sisters, Tabitha and Harper, identical twins who live very different lives. After their parent’s divorce, Harper settled on Martha’s Vineyard with their laidback father, while Tabitha lived with their straight-laced and elegant mother in Nantucket. After a falling out 14 year ago, their girls have had nothing to do with each other, until a family crisis draws them back into each other’s lives. The girls are forced to face the choices they’ve made, the resentments they’ve held, and find a way to work together to face their challenges.

I loved the settings, learning more about both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and the descriptions made them very vivid in my mind. The characters were complex, colorful, and their sibling rivalry felt very real.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves books about complicated families and the struggles that come along with being part one.

Adult Review – The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson, William Morrow (July 2017).



This was my first Joshilyn Jackson book, but it will definitely not be my last. I’m so glad it was on the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Summer Reading Guide as I’m not sure I would have picked it up otherwise, but I’m so glad I did.

THE ALMOST SISTERS is a wonderful book about family. It’s about the people we choose to be our family, and those we don’t, and how even when we think we know what family means, life often has more to teach us. It expertly weaves together the stories of several characters as experienced through the eyes of Leia Birch Briggs, and it is full of questions, relationships, and drama that make families so complex and colorful.

I loved Jackson’s writing, and it was so easy to feel invested in the characters. The story was complex and yet so relatable and rich with detail. It made me feel so many different things, and left me wanting the story to continue on, and to know what was going to happen with the characters next.


Month in Review – July 2017

It’s not often I read as much as I did in July. The release of the last Land of Stories book by Chris Colfer was motivator to re-read the series, but I can’t tell you how I managed to read 21 books this month. Nevertheless, here is the list of what I accomplished.

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman ★★★★

Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare ★★★

The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff ★★★★

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout ★★★

Restart by Gordon Korman ★★★★★

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave ★★★

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi ★★★★

Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America by Amy Ettinger ★★★★

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs ★★★★★

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer ★★★★★

Better than Life by Daniel Pennac ★★★★

The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer ★★★★★

A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer ★★★★★

Beyond the Kingdoms by Chris Colfer ★★★★★

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly ★★★★

Worlds Collide by Chris Colfer ★★★★★

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly ★★★★

A Rambler Steals Home by Carter Higgins ★★★★

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy ★★★★

Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone ★★★★★

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry ★★★★

Middle Grade Review – Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry, Feiwel & Friends (March 2017).


Written mostly in verse, FORGET ME NOT will appeal to readers not only for its poetic language, but also because of the story told in alternating voices of Calli, a girl with Tourette Syndrome, and one of her classmates, Jinsong. Calli is constantly on the move because of her mother’s unfortunate choice in men. She decides that this time, she will not to tell anyone that she has TS and hopes for a fresh start, but it doesn’t take long before her tics are causing the kids in her class start to call her a freak. Jinsong is drawn to Calli from the start, but finds it difficult to stand up for her when she is bullied. As Calli’s mom gets drawn into another relationship that Calli fears will be her undoing, is there any hope she and Jinsong will be able to develop their friendship before her mom decides its time to move on?

Although I’m not usually a huge fan of novels in verse, the alternating voices and my sympathy for Calli’s lack of control over her life sucked me in. The author has Tourette Syndrome, and the characters were believable and reflected her personal experiences. The verse makes this book a quick read, and expands it audience reach.

I’ll be keeping my eye open for more from Ellie Terry!