Middle Grade Review – Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone

Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone, Disney-Hyperion (September 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley (all opinions are my own)

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This is the first book I’ve read with coding as a main theme, and I was so impressed for several reasons. First, this book felt so fresh, as coding is timely topic, but there hasn’t been a lot written about it in middle grade fiction with female protagonists. Second, the characters in this book are real, using language and acting the way young teen girls do, and it felt very much at its audience’s level. Third, I could not stop reading…I was totally invested in the story and loved that this book did not take me where I feared it might in the beginning.

In CLICK’D, Allie has spent the summer at a coding camp for girls, where she’s created a new friendship app that turns meeting people into a game. When her teacher recommends her for a coding contest, the stakes are raised when Allie learns her arch nemesis is also competing. Allie decides to let the app into the world to get some live data, and its a HUGE hit. As followers surpass all of her expectations, she thinks she’s a shoo-in to win the contest…until a glitch causes everything to crash around her. As Allie races to fix the issues before the contest, she learns that friendship apps can be just as complicated as friendships in the real world.

I’ll definitely be ordering a copy of this book for our library and promoting it!

5/5 stars

Middle Grade Review – Walking With Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Walking With Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy, Nancy Paulsen Books (July 2017).

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NOW I understand why so many people are talking about this book!

WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE is one of the latest additions to the list of middle grade fiction that tugs at your heartstrings from start to finish. Alice thinks she has temporarily moved to the small town of Rainbow, along with her mother and brother, to help her grandma whose memory is failing. The relationship she develops with Miss Millie, the elderly black neighbor next door, is a beautiful example of an intergenerational bond that provides friendship for two individuals who need what the other has to offer. In addition, Alice’s budding friendship with a neighborhood girl, her complicated feelings for her absent father, and her incorporation into the fabric of the small town result in a story that is character-centered and full of warmth. Though there are moments when you’ll need to have a Kleenex handy, this moving book is generally uplifting and recommended for readers who want to feel a strong connection to the characters in their books.

4/5 stars

 

NetGalley 10 Book Reviews Badge

10 Book Reviews

I love using NetGalley, but the summer is a busy time for me, and I’m still working to balance it, the blog, and my bookstagram account. It was an accomplishment for me, though, to reach this milestone, and I hope keep boosting this number.

Adult Fiction Review – He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly, Hodder & Stoughton (April 20, 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley.

Thank you to @NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own.

There’s been so much buzz surrounding this book that I had to give it a try, even though it’s not my usual genre.

An excellent example of “griplit”, He Said/She Said tells the story of Kit and Laura, a couple who become enmeshed in the life of Beth, the victim of a vicious incident. From the prospective of the two characters over several years, we see how an unexpected discovery, and the choices that follow, change the trajectory of everyone’s lives. This unpredictable story makes the reader question how far some people will go to be heard them, while others protect their secrets.

Although I found this book slow to start as the story set itself up, its twists kept me invested in the outcome. I think it will definitely appeal to those who like an intriguing, psychological story, with a bit of a twist.

4/5 stars

Middle Grade Review – The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart – Stephanie Burgis

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis, Bloomsbury US (May 30, 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley.

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This was a very fun chapter book with an interesting premise.

Aventurine is a young dragon tired of waiting to be old enough to go out on her own. She sneaks out of her cave, and while she is exploring, she runs into a young boy. He is making the most wonderful smelling drink, which she learns is hot chocolate, and he offers some to Aventurine. Unfortunately, it’s enchanted with magic, Aventurine is turned from a dragon into a human girl, and the boy disappears.

Aventurine bumps into a couple who take her to a nearby town, and it is here she wants to pursue her new passion for chocolate. But first she must escape a woman who wants to make her an unpaid maid, convince someone she’s worthy of a chocolate apprenticeship, figure out how to trust humans that she’s always been told are the enemy, and find a way to come to terms with no longer being a dragon.

The concept of a dragon becoming a human (instead of a human turning into some mythical creature) was original, and Aventurine was brave and spirited.  I did have some issues with the fact that she never went looking for the boy who changed her into the human, and it felt like she too easily accepted that she was now a human. Despite this, the book was entertaining and flowed well. It will appeal to readers who enjoy dragons (and chocolate!), and works well for a younger audience.

4/5 stars

 

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

  • The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore, Sourcebooks (April 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley.

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Wow. I’m not sure where to begin. I’d heard rumblings about this book, then I saw it on NetGalley and decided to request it. I was a little put off by how long it was, and although I still think there was more detail than was necessary, I read right to the end because of the story.

In the early part of the 20th century, radium was believed to be a wonder drug, and was used for all kinds of health ailments. It was also discovered that a radium-based paint could be used to paint the dials of watches so that they would glow in the dark. At the start of World War I, these watches were in high demand, and the women who were employed as dial painters were sought after, and well paid, for their work. The work required a very fine-tipped brush to do the precision work, and the women were taught put the tip of the brushes into their mouths to make the tips even finer. Not only were they ingesting radium each time they did this, they were covered in the dust, and often glowed from the material that settled on their clothing and bodies.

Soon, many dial painters started experiencing mysterious illnesses, particularly issues with their teeth, jaws, and bones. The companies learned early on that perhaps radium wasn’t as safe as they had originally thought, but did nothing, and denied that these women were sick with any workplace-related ailment. The cover-up continued as more women because sick, and started dying, and were unable to take on the powerful corporations who continued to lie about the medical test results.

This book is quite graphic in its descriptions; the effects of radium poisoning were horrific, and the suffering these women experienced was terrible. Still, although it was a sad and infuriating read, it’s important to shed light on this piece of history. In many ways I was reminded of how I felt when I read Hidden Figures or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Laks; these were women whose stories have had a significant impact on our history, but of whom we’ve never heard.  For that reason alone, I encourage readers to give this one a try.

4/5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

MMD Challenge for Fun – May Update

I started off the MMD Reading for Fun Challenge with great gusto, but I’ve been sidetracked by shiny covers and NetGalley ARCs. I only have two categories left, and I have both The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan, and Last Will by Bryn Greenwood lined up on my Kindle to fill in the last two categories. I wonder if anyone has a reading challenge for June to complete the reading challenge you’re working on?

Photo Bombed!

When you want to squeeze in a few minute to read before work, but your dog has other plans.

Moon Shadow by Erin Downing

Moon Shadow by Erin Downing,  Aladdin (May 16, 2017) Ages 8 +             Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley

The cover of Erin Downing’s new book, Moon Shadow, was the first thing that caught my eye. It’s gorgeous. I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I do, and when I saw that NetGalley had this book available, I immediately requested it.

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank is struggling with the changes that have happened to her over the past few months. Her parents divorced and her mom has temporarily moved to Sweden to be with her new girlfriend. Her former best friend, Velvet, wants nothing to do with her, and refuses to let her hang out with their mutual friend, Will. Her old sister, Romy, is distant, and her Dad doesn’t want to go out anymore. Nothing is the same as it used to be.

Then Lucia’s thirteen birthday takes place the night of the lunar eclipse, and strange things start to happen. Lucia has these weird dreams where she imagines she’s someone she’s not…daring, bold, and outspoken. But Lucia soon discovers these may not actually be dreams, and the moon magic might be affecting her in unexpected ways. How can she get things back to normal again, and does she really want to?

I really enjoyed this book, and think it’s magical realism will appeal to many readers who like a “touch of magic” in the books they read.  I like that Lucia learns what real friendship means, and discovers the power of her own voice.

4/5 stars