#BookReview Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Smile by Raina Telgemeier is a story that totally connected with me in ways other books couldn’t. Raina’s story echoes a lot of my own, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see a story like this get shared. Many kids will face dental issues and bullying, so a book like this could do wonders for them!

I saw this book years ago and wanted to pick it up but never did. Recently, I found it at a local book store on sale and decided this was the time for me to grab it. I also just wanted some more cute graphic novels in my life, so that helped a lot.

I was honestly surprised how addicting and easy to read this book was. Yes, middle grade books tend to be easier for adults to read, but I found myself sinking into the story and not being able to get out. I related to it so much and I could totally feel for Raina. Middle school and high school are hard, especially when going through the pain of braces and surgeries (I for one, can attest to that).

Some of the major positives of this book are as follows:
1. Raina shares a personal stories that many people can relate to. This story will hit many readers in ways they don’t realize.

2. The illustrations in this book was fun and colourful and kept me hooked to the story.

3. The story was fast, easy to read, and quite fun (despite all the pain Raina was going through).

4. Raina standing up to her bullies was a serious “high-five” moment for me. Go Raina! You do you, girl!

5. There’s lots of little references to my own childhood in this book, so I can totally see adults digging this book along with their kids. Seriously, this book can be read by “all ages”. It’s a great read!

Negatives:
1. I didn’t realize this book was a memoir at first. I’m not sure if it was obvious or if I just missed it. That’s literally the only negative I can find. This book is great!

In all honesty, I love this book. I would definitely recommend readers pick this book up for a little fun and a lot of nostalgia. Who doesn’t forget those dreaded dentist appointments? Or if you were lucky enough to have braces, the craziness of those appointments!

I will 100% be picking up any more books by Raina Telgemeier that I come across.

Five out of five stars!

If you’re craving a graphic novel full of nostalgia, check this book out on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

More middle grade books await, click the links below to find them:
#BookReview The Great Grain Elevator Incident by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Seizure by Kathy Reichs
#BookReview Monster Blood (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine

 

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#BookReview Hart & Soul #1: Kill The Story by Jahnna N. Malcolm

Oh man! I got so excited when I hit the jackpot and found a lot of books from my childhood at a local book sale. I found the first four books in this series and scooped them up instantly. I remember always wanting to read these from the library but I always maxed out the number of books I could have out. I never actually ended up reading this series even though my heart was set on them. So, fast forward many, many years and I finally get to experience the books that all of the ‘popular’ kids were reading.

This book was so pleasant and clearly written back in the eighties and nineties. AND I LOVED IT. It’s so nostalgic for me, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Amanda Hart is a writer (and the editor-in-chief for her school’s newspaper). She is going to release a series of stories about the sororities present in her city and someone is NOT happy. They are going after her with vicious notes and threats. When Amanda and her team call upon a courier service, along comes Mick Soul with his handy dandy bicycle. He gets attacked when trying to deliver a copy of their story, and suddenly Hart and Soul wind up working on the mystery together. Mick enrolls in her high school to help figure out who is threatening her… because what else is a bicycle courier supposed to do in his spare time? School? Pfft, no!

It’s a “will they, won’t they” sort of duo – like Bones and Booth, Ross and Rachel, Jane and Rafael, etc. Hart and Mick have so much chemistry for a middle grade (almost YA) novel that it’s unbelievable. Seriously, I just need to finish the series to know if they end up together because they are super flirty in this book!

There’s a good cast of characters filling up the typical high school tropes: Jason the nerd who wants his story in the paper, Pepper the best friend, Josh the tech geek, Whitney the mean girl, and so on.

My one big flaw is as followed: you can kind of figure out what’s going to happen by the end but it’s not really hinted at. I love when mystery books leave you little hints here and there, but there’s not much until the end. I had a pretty good inkling of what would happen based off reading way to many mystery books and watching too many mystery shows, but I wanted to work my way through this mystery with Hart and Soul. It doesn’t ruin the story by any means, but I’m a picky reader like that.

Side note, this is my FAVOURITE line in the whole book:
“What a slime!”

Seriously, that’s a Briar insult from my childhood. Score +1 for that gem!

Overall, this book is cute and fun! I love a good throw back and I’m so glad I found this book. I will 100% be continuing this series, especially since I have the next three books on my shelf. Hopefully I managed to score the rest of the series! This book is an absolute delight and I 100% recommend it either for middle grader/YA readers or some of you as old as me who want a childhood nostalgia trip.

Three out of five stars!

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble

If you love middle grade novels, check out some other fantastic books featured on my blog:
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Monster Blood (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine

Check me out on:

Twitter: Briar’s Reviews – @ReviewAlholic #briarsreviews

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#BookReview Incredible Cacao (Miss Tree Tale’s #2) by Deepa Remesh

To misquote the first sentence in this book, it was a beautiful book!

Miss Tree Tales is a wonderful little series all about educating the people about the environment! Last time around we learned about coconuts and sustainability and this time we get to learn about cacao (mmmm…chocolate… cue the Homer Simpson reference).

Our heroes, Mia and Nik, are back yet again to teach the youngings about all the good things that keep this planet spinning! For one, they teach us about the Millenium Seed Bank (which I had NO idea existed, so bonus points to Deepa for teaching me something new!). Then, the duo want to plant some seeds so their Mom recommends finding a new place to plant them (because we don’t want to run out of nitrogen – let that soil sit and ferment a bit!). Suddenly, they are whisked away on an adventure to learn about Cacao trees, seeds and pods! Cherry spitting, soccer, plantains, fermentation, baking, cacao percentages in chocolate and more get discussed in this lovely educational follow-up. There’s more adventure and fun throughout this novel, as if Deepa wanted to amp this book up!

Side Note: How does one join Miss Tree’s Plant Savers Club? I feel like I need honorary membership or something.

Yet again, the illustrations perfectly match the story and are quite sweet. They add just enough spice and sass to the story. The scrabble pieces were definitely my favourite.

I was a little disappointed that the chapters didn’t have the extra educational information, but I guess all good things have to come to an end. I know some reviewers didn’t enjoy them as much as I did, but I would have loved to see more of them! It felt like a little lesson packed tight into the book. There is a Seeds for Thought section at the back thought, which kind of makes up for the loss.

Overall, these books hold up really well and are great educational tools! I would love to see more Miss Tree Tales come out ASAP and for more classrooms to utilize these tools.

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Deepa Remesh, in exchange for an honest review.

You can find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Check out the first book in this series:
Mighty Coconuts (Miss Tree Tales #1) by Deepa Remesh
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find more information about Miss Tree Tales:
http://www.misstreetales.com/
Goodreads
Twitter – @misstreetales

If you love this series (or even the review) here’s some other books that might grab your attention:
#BookReview Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
#BookReview 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis

 

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#BookReview Mighty Coconuts (Miss Tree Tales #1) by Deepa Remesh

Miss Tree Tales by Deepa Remesh is a wonderful series that is an absolute must read!

Book #1: Mighty Coconuts is a cute, little gem that should be actively sought out by avid readers. This middle grade novel is short but sweet, and delivering all the right messages.

Mia and Nik live in Texas, and boy is it hot! The nine and seven year olds are full of whimsy and adventure. When a storm seems to blow through, a woman appears and begins to teach the children wonderful facts about the local nature (think droughts, growth and greenhouse gases). These intelligent kids can keep up with Miss Tree with ease, and they learn a lot in the process. Miss Tree offers them a gig to help save the planet! Seedcopters, seed apps and lots of fun happen among the pages of this book – all of which is knowledgeable yet packed with fun! If you’re looking for a Green Thumb, this book is just for you!

The illustrations were cute and felt like they fit right into the story. I had an e-copy of the book, but I’m assuming the physical copies would look so much nicer. The quality of the pictures tend to rely on your device these days.

The best part of this book was the “Seeds for Thought” sections at the end of the chapters. These little blurbs provide useful and information and links for curious students to follow. One excellent quote from this book is, “Protect, Sustain, Conserve”, which perfectly sums up the goal of this read.

I know, personally, if I would have had books like this about biology back in my school days then I would have liked biology a lot more. I found the teachers were always bored with these topics and made it impossible for any of us students to learn. Deepa Remesh’s book makes me actually enjoy learning about biology. I’m sure many students and kids would appreciate help from educational books like this one. To top it off, it’s also just a good book in general!

I would recommend kids seven to thirteen read this book. Thirteen might be a little high, but I could see them reading this to their reading buddies. I’d even recommend this book for educational purposes within schools. It’s a different take on biology and conservation that I think would be a great asset and tool!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Deepa Remesh, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find more information about Miss Tree Tales:
http://www.misstreetales.com/
Goodreads
Twitter – @misstreetales

If you liked this review, here’s some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Underground Toy Society by Jessica D. Adams
#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Monster Blood (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine

 

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#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

Loki’s Wolves is a truly fantastical, middle grade novel that focuses on Norse mythology.

I love Kelley Armstrong and I’ve been dying to get my hands on a novel by Marissa Marr for YEARS. So, when I heard that the two of them were writing a novel together I had to get my hands on it! On top of it all, I love a good, middle grade novel that I can sink my teeth into and not think *too* hard when reading.

Loki’s Wolves has Percy Jackson vibes, but for a little younger base. Matt Thorsen is, you guessed it, a descendant of Thor, and of course he’s the chosen one! He has been chosen to defeat a mythical serpent that will aid in the destruction of Ragnarok. Laurie and Fen are descendants of Loki, and they will join Matt on his epic quest. Along the way, they must find the children and descendants of the other Norse gods and try not to make their corresponding tales come true.

This book leaves itself on a WILD cliffhanger. I NEED to know what happens, and unfortunately for me I don’t have the next novel in my hands yet. The story does not stand alone, which is a real shame. I totally get leaving a cliffhanger so your audience wants to keep reading, but MAN I AM FRUSTRATED. The story just stopped, it didn’t end!

These 13 year old leads were shockingly like 13 year olds! Sometimes when you read a book like this, the leads act like adults. Lucky for us, Kelley and Marissa are amazing writers and were able to craft characters that felt like their age. They make silly mistakes, they trust people they shouldn’t and sometimes they are down right goofy. What more can you expect from a pre-teen cast? Especially when said pre-teens are the chosen ones who need to save the planet.

The plot itself is fast paced, full of fun surprises, and has lots of literal fun. This is a fantasy novel, so it’s not going to be some Oscar winning, realistic drama. It has monsters and amulets and silly tricks (I mean, you’ve got Loki in the title… what did you expect?). To me, I think it’s the perfect way to introduce the middle grade audience into Norse mythology. It’s a fun story with just enough mythology to make it interesting! Also, I totally binged it in a few hours. It was THAT good.

I’d highly recommend this book. Seriously, whether it’s for your middle grade readers or adults who just want to sink into a good, fun book! I loved it and I’ll definitely be continuing this series if I can ever find the sequels.

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:
Amazon.ca
Goodreads
Indigo
Kobo

 

Check out some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview Virals by Kathy Reichs & Brendan Reichs
#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview HughTube by Richard Clark

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HughTube is a fantastic read about a 14 year old child starting a blog (or personal reality television show). This funny yet simple story was a great read that would be well suited for the middle grade audience. It’s silly, modern and full of awesome surprises! Richard Clark continues to do a fantastic job writing in the mind of a child and connecting with his readers!

Hugh follows his schoolmates around while filming his blog, leading to hilarious shenanigans fit for any elementary school! Our lead is an awkward eighth grader who is trying to learn how to go about his life (and how to adapt to school). When everyone catches on and begins acting for the camera, things really get strange! Can you imagine a principal doing a crazy dance for the camera?!

This book is definitely a comedy book for the middle grade readers. You could read this book for fun, or for a nice switch up for your bedtime reading (for your younger kids). It’s definitely G rated and full of innocent, yet goofy situations.

I think this is a great read that is unique yet following the trends. It’s definitely a must read that I’d recommend for those kids who don’t want to read the same old, same old fairy tale!

Four out of five stars for this fun book!

 

Find out more about this book, HughTube, on:

Goodreads – Hugh Tube

Amazon.com – HughTube

Amazon.ca – HughTube

 

Check out another book by Richard Clark, The F.L.U.B Club on:

Goodreads – The FLUB Club

Amazon.com – The F.L.U.B. Club

Amazon.ca – The F.L.U.B. Club

 

Find out more about Pandora’s Lunch Box: Don’t Open by Richard Clark on:

Goodreads – Pandora

Amazon.com – Pandora

Amazon.ca – Pandora

 

Check out the author Richard Clark on:

Twitter – @RClarkBTD

www.mybestfriendsecretagent.com

Facebook

 

Check out another amazing book by Richard Clark My Best Friend Is a Secret Agent:

Goodreads – Secret Agent

Amazon.com – Secret Agent

Amazon.ca – Secret Agent

 

Find out more about another book by Richard Clark, 8th Grade Fugitive on:

Goodreads – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.com – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.ca – 8th Grade Fugitive

 

Find out more about A Dog of My Own by Richard Clark on:

Goodreads – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.com – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.ca – A Dog of My Own

 

If you enjoyed the review, check out another book you might enjoy! #BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview A Dog of My Own by Richard Clark

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Richard Clark has made yet another super cute novel!

This time around Jonas wants a dog, and by luck and chance he gets one! I thought the idea behind this story was super unique and I had never thought much about renting a dog before. It was a silly topic that I would have loved to read as a kid.

The book was an easy enough read, and would definitely be a perfect fit for any middle grade reader (or a story to read to younger kids). Who doesn’t want to rent a dog who’s super famous? I also think the adventures and shenanigans that Jonas goes on is epic and the perfect plot for this book!

The pacing of this book was awesome and it felt like the perfect length. I couldn’t see any real cons other than I want more from this author and soon! His characters are believable and lovable, and his stories are truly unique. I don’t know how Richard gets inside the head of a kid, but he manages to make it extremely realistic. It almost feels like a kid is behind this book (with the expertise of a great writer and awesome editor). Jonas is perfectly flawed (like any kid) and full of creativity and fun!

Even the ending was super cute and sweet! I kind of wish there were more adventures for Jonas, Chloe and Rascal on the way!

Five out of five stars! What a treasure!

 

Find out more about this book on:

Goodreads – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.com – A Dog of My Own

Amazon.ca – A Dog of My Own

 

Find out more about another book by Richard Clark, 8th Grade Fugitive on:

Goodreads – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.com – 8th Grade Fugitive

Amazon.ca – 8th Grade Fugitive

Check out the author Richard Clark on:

Twitter – @RClarkBTD

www.mybestfriendsecretagent.com

Facebook

 

Check out another amazing book by Richard Clark My Best Friend Is a Secret Agent:

Goodreads – Secret Agent

Amazon.com – Secret Agent

Amazon.ca – Secret Agent

 

If you enjoyed the review, check out another book you might enjoy! #BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller

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Unlimited by Kevin Miller is a must read fiction novel for all young readers!

I always loved middle-grade fiction, and this book proves my point! Some of the best creative plots come in the form of middle grade fiction, and I wish this would have been a book my teachers read to us in grade school. My grade 6 teacher always brought in cool books like this, that opened your imagination to a whole new world!

This book was full of silly adventures and a radio broadcast! I LOVE radio broadcasts, so seeing a book all about one made my heart grow ten sizes! I had to pick this book up ASAP and it was worth every second that I read it!

Hijacking a radio station does seem like something the crazy kids around my neighborhood would do, and the antics Kevin writes about are just awesome! Not only is this book funny and action packed, it also helps represent marshes and wildlife (who doesn’t love a little bit of education in their books?).

In my opinion, this book is a must read and a highly recommended book. It’s fun for kids, is a fantastic addition to a library’s collection and would be a great way for parents and kids to bond over!

Kevin Miller is insanely talented and I would love to read more by him and see more of his books on shelves lining the libraries of my city!

Five out of five stars!!!

I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out Kevin on his website: http://www.kevinmillerxi.com/

Give me a shout out on twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews if you read this post! @ReviewAlholic

Check out another review you might enjoy! #BookReview Life Seemed Good, But… by Richard Bell

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

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Hercufleas is the cutest book I’ve read this year, and it deserves so much more recognition than it’s getting!

Sam Gayton has created hit that Disney might want to steal in the future! This off the beaten path “Hercules” re-telling (in a way) is one of the best action novels I’ve ever read and enjoyed – and it’s a middle grade novel! This book outdid so many adult action novels and it wasn’t even aimed at my age group! I can see so many adults reading this to their kids and getting a lot out of it as well! There was a few silly adult jokes you can pick up on, but they are harmless and adorable!

The theme behind this book about how a hero comes in all sizes was also a beautiful tale to tell. It seems so silly to write a book about a flea, but the story worked and it was phenomenal. Mix in all the “flea” jokes along the way, and this book hits it out of the park. The ending is a little bittersweet or sad, but the ending worked well. The story pays off and is woven perfectly for the target audience. Sam mixing in enough “adult” humor or silly jokes also makes the book grow to a higher level of enjoyment.

I did find about 4/5ths through the novel I got a little bored, and it winded down really slowly. If it have kept the pace and excitement up, it might be a five out of five for me. Instead, I give it four out of five because it was just fantastic! I couldn’t find any other problems with this novel while I was trying to pick it apart to find any cons for the readers.

Overall, the hero and heroine learn lessons about themselves, the theme is a tale as old as time and the story was unique and fun! What more can you ask for in a middle grade novel?

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

What is your favourite children’s or middle grade novel? Comment below!

Check out Sam Gayton on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4880860.Sam_Gayton

Use the hashtags #Hercufleas & #BriarsReviews to talk about this review on twitter with me! @ReviewAlholic

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview We All Fall Down by Eric Walters

Young Adult July Reads Book Review: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review

Book Title: Eighth Grade Bites (Vladimir Todd #1)
Book Author: Heather Brewer (now Zac Brewer)

This is a throwback review, since I read this book way back when I was in grade eight (which feels like a lifetime ago). At the time this was one of my favourite books, and it goes me into many more YA novels and into my current reading obsession. I even called one of my cats Meredith (many years later). This book was a great way to get me into reading, and I applaud Zac Brewer for all of his wonderful writing and work, because I wouldn’t be here in my reading and writing career without him.

Now onto my review:

Eighth Grade Bites is a great spin on the typical fish out of water story. Vladimir Todd is a vampire, and his life is quite the mystery. Not only does he have to try to survive being a teenager as a vampire, but he has to try to find out where his past comes from. Where are his parents? What happened to them? Why is he a vampire? Why must he hide this secret?

The book is incredibly light hearted and written for the correct audience. It doesn’t exactly translate into the adult scene unless you are interested in these types of books (in my opinion). Rereading it, I loved it but my friends who have moved on from the vampire scene did not enjoy it as much. The book is super fun and delightful and I hope more people get into this series.

Every minute of Vlad’s story is enjoyable to read. It will keep you on your toes and make you want to continue the story. The plot is well thought out over the series, and the characters are absolutely lovable. Alongside the steady pace, the random twists that occur make this book stand out among the many other vampire books I have read throughout the years. The fact that I can still pick this book up and get a good chuckle out of it proves to me that Zac is a truly incredible author.

Overall, I give this book four out of five stars. Wonderful story!!