Middle Grade Recommendations

Hi. I haven’t posted any recommendations in a while, and I thought middle grade was an easy one to post as I’ve been reading quite a bit of it. I don’t think I need to say it, but in case I do – everyone can read and appreciate middle grade, no matter the age. Oftentimes the books are beautifully written and whimsical and a tonne of fun.

These are in no particular order, by the way!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Starting off strong, with an oldie – Anne of Green Gables. This series was one of my absolute favourites growing up and I identified with Anne as a character. I think it’s a great series to grow up with, as it starts off as middle grade and ages slowly with each and every book. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, and I find it to be a great cosy read for the autumn months. I can’t explain why it suits that season the most, but it does.

If you somehow don’t know what Anne of Green Gables is about – it’s a story of a red headed orphan, Anne, who mistakenly gets adopted by two elderly siblings – Marilla and Matthew. She’s a peculiar little child, with a huge imagination and a penchant for the dramatic. It’s just a story of her life, of finding a place where she belongs, of friendships and heartbreak. It’s honestly beautiful, and definitely my favourite off this list.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morringan Crow by Jessica Townsend

It’s been a while since I read Nevermoor and I’ve to yet continue with the series (and no doubt I will), but it is still quite fresh in my mind. This one follows Morrigan, a girl born on the unluckiest day of the year and cursed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. That is until she’s whisked away by a peculiar gentleman into Nevermoor – a magical and secret city; but to stay there, she has to join a prestigious society and compete with other children to do so.

Nevermoor was one of the books that gave me the idea to post middle grade recommendations. I don’t see it talked about nearly as much as it should be. I think it’s the perfect read for those of us who were raised on and loved Harry Potter, but decided against supporting it any further because of the obvious reasons (but let’s not get into that for now). I think there’s a few similarities plot wise, but mostly Nevermoor gave me THAT feeling I had while reading the aforementioned series. The cosy, whimsical, “warm blanket” feeling. I think for younger readers it could be that series they keep coming back to for nostalgia reasons. It’s really well written and structured, and a great engaging story.

The Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan

This one is definitely one I think younger readers will enjoy a lot more than people my age. I know I said middle grade can be read by anyone, and I stand by it, but there is a reason some books are written and marketed for a younger audience. I find that to be the case with The Land of Roar.

This book follows 2 siblings who, although really close in the past, slowly start to drift apart. When they’re visiting their grandad, they remember a game they used to play when they were younger – a game where they visited Roar – an imaginary world in which they had many adventures. But when their grandad goes missing they realise that Roar might not be so imaginary after all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a very quick read. The blurb compares it to Narnia and Neverland and I honestly think that’s spot on. Roar is truly a vivid and magical world. If you have a young reader in your life – this is THE perfect gift. Or it’s a good read if you enjoy middle grade, or need a palate cleanser.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

I needed to include this one on the list even though I think with Schwab’s name attached to it, it’s pretty popular as it is. City of Ghosts is a story of Cassidy Blake – a girl who can see ghosts. Add in the fact her parents are somewhat obsessed with the paranormal and have a TV show where they visit most haunted cities and you have the plot laid out clear as day. Each installment takes place in a different city, where Cassidy gets to solve a ghost related mystery.

These books are really fun, atmospheric and a tad bit spooky at times. I’ve yet to read book 3 – apparently the last book in the series, at least for now, but I’ve enjoyed the fist two installments thoroughly. This definitely reads different from all of the other Schwab books I’ve read (all of them, minus the Everyday Angel series), as the writing is age group appropriate, but it’s still very well done.

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts

Staying in the paranormal genre is a book I recommended already last Halloween. I haven’t seen it talked about so I’m doing it again. The Witches of Willow Cove follows 2 best friends, Abby and Robby, as on Halloween night they embark on an adventure and discover magic and witches. There is a mystery those two need to solve, and Abby has a great deal to learn about her own identity.

I loved how perfectly friendships, mystery, magic and history were blended in this one, with also a lot of attention being focused on the atmosphere and pacing of the story. It’s not often you see a book that can do all of those simultaneously, and keep the reader engaged. It was quite a page turner and definitely a must read for people who like witchy stories. As far as I know, it’s a standalone, but the ending did hint on a possibility of it being a series.

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

My last middle grade read (worth mentioning that is), was also a magical/witchy story. A Pinch of Magic follows three sisters, three magical objects and a family curse. It is also a trilogy, although I haven’t read anything past book one.

I am a sucker for familial relationships done right, and the bond these three sisters have was lovely and well done. The book features a story within a story, which was lot of fun and added more depth without feeling info dumpy. A Pinch of Magic is full of adventure and a perfect blend of seriousness and humour. It’s fun and fast paced for most of it, although the beginning is quite slow.

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggit-Phillips

This one was a total surprise for me. The Beast and the Bethany follows two very unlikeable characters – Bethany and Ebenezer. Bethany is an orphan and Ebenezer a 511 year old man with a beast who gives him an anti aging potion every time he feeds it something yummy (be it rare birds or even children). They’re both quite selfish, but when stuck together, they develop and unlikely relationship and learn from each other.

This book was probably one of the funnest, most original middle grades I’ve ever read. It was strange and whimsical and laugh out loud funny. Everything about it was ridiculous in the best way possible. The Beast and the Bethany gave me big Lemony Snickett vibes and I think a reader of any age will enjoy it – I can’t see why they wouldn’t.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

I could gush about this book for a really long time, because it was everything I want from a middle grade. The Ship of Shadows follows Aleja, who always wanted to travel but is told that girls can’t be explorers. But her dream comes true when due to some false accusations she finds refuge on a ship. It’s not any ship either – it’s a pirate ship, and a legendary one, as well called The Ship of Shadows. And it’s crewed by females only!

This is book is brim full of adventure and greatness. It’s rich and addictive and written in such a way that evokes your imagination. Honestly, thinking back on it, I got confused whether things happened in the book or if for some reason I’ve seen something super similar on TV. My overactive imagination plays a movie in my head whenever I read, but it’s rarely ever written in a way when I confuse it with a movie. I am sad I couldn’t have read this book as a child – the crew of the ship stole my heart and I think the women in the book would be super inspirational to young girls to read about.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

And lastly we have this absolute gem of a book written by an Irish author and set in Ireland. The Storm Keeper’s Island follows Fionn who goes to visit his old and eccentric grandad on the island of Arranmore. The island is full of magic and Fionn finds out his grandad is the Storm Keeper. As the story progresses, Fionn finds out about magic and discovers a lot about himself and his family’s past.

Everything about this book is magical, from the setting, to the story line and, obviously, the magic itself. The last one is super unique. Once again, there’s some great familial relationships, both between Fionn and his sister, and Fionn and his somewhat estranged grandfather. I’ve yet to continue with the series, but it shapes up to be a great one and one worth growing up with, Too bad I’m almost 28.

And that is it for my recommendations post. Have you read any of these? Do you like middle grade?

Thank you for reading.

The Beast And The Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips – A Review #TheWriteReads

Hi!

Today is the last stop on this huge The Write Reads tour for The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips, and it’s also my stop. Thank you, as always, to Dave for organising the tour and to the publisher for providing me with an e-copy.

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips
  • Publication date: October 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Egmont
  • Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .

Oh boy, this was FUN! I love middle grade books, it’s no surprise to anyone, and The Beast and the Bethany is everything I love in those stories. It’s a super fast read, immensely entertaining, laugh out loud funny and overall a great time.

The Beast and the Bethany follows Ebenezer Tweezer, a 511 year old man, who lives a lavish life in a big mansion with… the Beast. Said Beast has a big appetite and requests the most unusual meals and in return supplies Mr. Tweezer with a potion which makes him young and healthy. Throughout the years the Beast has made some difficult requests, yet each and every single time Ebenezer delivered. After yet another outlandish request, Ebenezer sets out to fulfill it and comes across Bethany – a not so well behaved orphan, and the two become most unlikely friends.

I loved both Bethany and Ebenezer and the relationship the two develop throughout the story. They are quite similar in character at the start of the book, both quite selfish and horrible, but instead of causing havoc together (though that they do, too, I suppose), they help each other grow and change. The Beast was probably my favourite character, though. There was just something unsettling and yet hilarious about it, the way it spoke, behaved and treated everyone.

If not the slump in which I still very much am and other obligations, I’m sure I could’ve read it in one sitting. It’s short but it’s also an absolute page turner. I think the writing is great and witty and it appealed to me as a 27 year old, but I’m positive it would also appeal to a young audience. I got big Lemony Snickett vibes off it. I definitely think it has a potential to be a series many young readers grow up with and have a special attachment to.

I’m excited to continue with the series and see what Bethany and Ebenezer get to in the second book. If it’s anything like the first one, I know it’s going to be fantastic and heaps of fun.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for this one once it releases, it’s really worth a read.

I’ll talk to you soon!

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts – A Review

Hi! Happy Book Birthday to The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts! I’m here with a review (as you can tell from the title, and also, you know the drill… I post ARC reviews on release date). Let’s get into it!

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts
  • Publication Date: May 26th 2020
  • Publisher: Owl Hollow Press
  • Genre: Fantasy

It’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Green slime bubbling to life in science class. Giant snakes slithering around the middle school gym. Her best friend suddenly keeping secrets and telling lies.

Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town—and that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all. Miss Winters, herself a witch, even offers to teach Abby and the others everything she knows about witchcraft.

But as Abby learns more about Miss Winters’ past, she begins to suspect her new mentor is keeping secrets of her own. Can Abby trust her, or does Miss Winters have something wicked planned for the young witches of Willow Cove?

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


For some reason, going into this book, I thought it was YA… it’s not. It’s most definitely MG and at that, one of the most enjoyable MG I’ve read in a while.

If you know me, you know I’m always up for a witch story. My favourite time of the year is Halloween so any spooky, magical, witchy story is right up my alley. And while The Witches of Willow Cove was not spooky, it definitely ticked all the other boxes.

The story follows Abby and Robby (have I only copped now that their names are very similar – yes!), who are best friends, and on Halloween night they go to snoop around an abandoned mental hospital, to try and solve the mystery of Robby’s mom’s disappearance, but instead they meet the new owner of the Whispering Hill, get chased off by chimeras and find out Abby can fly (none of this is a spoiler, as it happens literally in the first chapter). Needles to say, they get in a bit of trouble, especially after two more people mysteriously disappear.

The Witches of Willow Cove was a really enjoyable, fast paced and magical story. It had everything I love in MG – exciting plot, likeable characters, great atmosphere and heaps of amazing friendships.

I really liked Abby as the main character and I kind of wish the whole book was told from her perspective, instead of alternating with Robby’s. I understand Robby’s POV was important to solving the mystery, but I didn’t much care for his relationship with Becca. I very much enjoyed seeing Abby learn magic and discover secrets from the past. I loved all of Abby’s new friends (Amethyst in particular) and Zeus! They were all fun to read about and had distinct personalities.

The ending definitely had me intrigued, as it’s hinting at a series… if it is, I’ll definitely be reading future books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As always, thank you for reading! Do you enjoy Middle Grade? If yes, you should be reading this book soon!

The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night – A Review

Hi! As we’ve established before, I’m terrible at intros and like to go straight to the point (just to absolutely meander later on, because when do I make perfect sense?) and it’s time for another review, so let’s just get into it.

The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night
  • Publication date: July 21st 2017
  • Publisher: Stories Untold
  • Genre: Fantasy

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.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been in a big Middle-Grade mood for quite a long time now, so when I was approached with an offer of reviewing this book I jumped on it immediately. The blurb sounded magical and like something right up my alley. Unfortunately, after reading the book I was left with some mixed feelings.

I’m going to jump right in and not give you a synopsis, because that’s just how I roll. While the idea for the book was great, it wasn’t too original. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is new anymore, everything has been done before in some shape or form, I know that, but the amount of parallels between The Crowns of Croswald and Harry Potter was astounding. Ivy being an orphan, who sleeps in the cupboard, going to a magical school, does that ring a bell? The one mention of money is so reminiscent of J.K. Rowling’s system it made me do a double take. The letter of acceptance with a list of things needed for the school term and the street on which Ivy does her shopping… I mean, one of her teacher’s name is Filbert Fenix and he’s so small he has to stand on a chair and a stack of books. If that’s not a reimagined Filius Flitwick, I don’t know what is. There’s even a Peeves of sorts, he’s just called Jester. I could go on for a while, but I think I’ve made my point.

There are many original bits of the story, too, which could make an incredibly rich and magical world if not overshadowed by he aforementioned things. The story itself definitely had a potential and maybe develops more in the next books. I enjoyed the magic system (though I wanted to know more about it), the way the Startus works, and people turning into tomes, and the bits and pieces we got of the world was quite interesting. Minus the slurry. It’s never really explained what it is, and a mention of slurry fields make me think of manure slurry. Was it on purpose? Is it just about fields heavily fertilised with… shit? Or am I wrong? Please tell me I’m wrong.

Ivy was not my favourite protagonist. She was selfish and made a lot of terrible decisions. She wasn’t a particularly good friend, either. I think has she been younger (12 or 13) or if the book was more YA than Middle-Grade, I would enjoy her more. I wish we got more depth from the supporting characters, a bit more Winsome (unfortunately he turned into a plot device) and less mentions of Woodley Butterlove loving butter.

Overall, I thought the book had a really huge potential that just wasn’t reached. The plot, though busy and exciting, seemed choppy and all over the place. Everything moved too smoothly. The whole middle part of the book was one event blending into the other, and suddenly we were nearing the end of the year – it did not feel like months have passed. I wish the story flowed better, because it’s definitely one that could be read in one or two sittings. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would and I found it slow to get through. Too bad, because as I said, the potential was sizeable.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! I’ll talk to you soon.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle – A Review

Hi, Lovelies! It’s been a while.

I finished The Storm Keeper’s Island (as I was typing the title, I nearly wrote The Storm Island’s Keeper, which sheds a bit of light on how I’m feeling today) not too long ago and decided to write and post a review for it, because… that’s what I do?

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle
  • Publication date: July 1st 2018
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

I have started this book when it first came out back in 2018 and, for some reason unknown to me, put it down and never picked it back up again. Until now. And it was everything I love about middle grade books.

The Storm Keeper’s Island is set in Ireland and follows Fionn as he goes to visit his grandfather, who lives on the island of Arranmore, for the first time with his older sister, Tara. As she abandons him for the friends she made the previous summer, Fionn spends a lot of his time with his grandad and learns the island is magical and his grandfather is the Storm Keeper – the protector of Arranmore. The blurb above makes more sense than my one, so just read that.

This book was absolutely delightful. The story was really fun and magical. I loved the setting – books set in Ireland and written by Irish authors feel strangely familiar and close to my heart, even though I’m not Irish (I have been living here for 12 years, though).

Fionn was a likable main character. Very unsure about himself and the trip to the island at the beginning, he develops greatly and finds his purpose. I loved the way his realtionship with his sister was tackled. Constant bickering and teasing is definetly something many can relate to, but it was also visible they both cared about each other. I enjoy the trope of an old grandad-like figure as a mentor (e.g. Dumbledore), and the relationship Fionn had with his grandad was incredible.

The Storm Keeper’s Island was such a quick read. Granted, it’s only 300 pages long, but it took me on a wild adventure and out of the current bleak reality. It was never dull or boring. I especially loved the magic in it, where memories can be trapped in candles.

I can’t wait to continue with the series and follow Fionn on his adventures. I honestly think book was amazing and more people, especially kids, should read it. It’s a story worth growing up with.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a fairly short one. Thanks for reading, I’ll talk to you soon!