Tag Archive: middle-grades



The Secret Benefits of InvisibilityThe Secret Benefits of Invisibility by C.W. Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was just as fun as the first book in the series by C.W. Allen. Ivy Tara Blair (Narrator) is excellent at acting out the different characters.

If you need a break from overly adult, angsty books, this book and the first one will make you feel better. I bet it would be a fun read-aloud book for parents and kids.

I loved meeting the Dodos the most. Obviously, not the world we know.

The adventure is intense, and you are invested in the outcome immediately.

The boy and girl are not typical kids. Both have their take on how things should be. And I love how they respect each other while teasing here and there, but lovingly.

Give this a chance. I think you’ll like it!

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Relatively Normal Secrets (The Falinnheim Chronicles, #1)Relatively Normal Secrets by C.W. Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Want a little reprieve from the heavier material you’ve been reading lately? This is the book. It is so much fun and a quick read. After all, it is a chapter book for middle grades. But I don’t quite know how to intrigue you without giving spoilers. Here is the blurb, even it has spoilers I wouldn’t have included.

“Tuesday and Zed Furst are perfectly normal children with perfectly strange parents. Their father won’t discuss his job, their mother never leaves the house without her guard dog, and the topic of the family tree is off limits.

When a last minute “business trip” gets the adults out of the way, Zed and Tuesday decide to get to the bottom of things once and for all. Too bad some thugs with shape-shifting weapons have other ideas. Their escape leaves them trapped in the modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim, where everyone insists their father is a disgraced fugitive. They hope whoever is leaving them coded clues may have some answers, but they’re not sure they’re going to like what they learn.

If they ever want to see their parents again, they’ll need the help of a smuggler with a broken compass, their unusually talented dog, some extremely organized bandits, and a selection of suspiciously misquoted nursery rhymes.

Zed and Tuesday may not have all the answers, but one thing is certain: when it comes to normal, everything is relative.”

Add to the adventure the great narration by Ivy Tara Blair in this Audible version, and you will be in a place of pure enjoyment.

I don’t remember how I heard about these books, but I am already reading the second. I love the characters and how they go about solving the mysteries around them.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another reread. I needed something while waiting for my next Outlander read. I figured with all the stress of my cataract surgery, I needed something in the fantasy realm.

I did enjoy the book, but I kept remembering the ending and hated reliving it. I don’t think I would have been a good candidate to read this as a kid.

Besides the ending, I had a hard time with this whole series is the lack of good fleshed-out female characters. Hermoine was okay, but there weren’t enough good girls or women. It was very male-heavy.

I may be reading the next one and making it to the series’ end, but it will not be soon.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second reading of the series. I noticed I haven’t changed my star rating. I’m still only giving it three stars. Jim Dale is part of the reason for this rating. His voice is suitable for all the males in the book but is horrid with the females. I do feel the grumpiness of Professor Minerva McGonagall and the hyper-energy of Hermoine. But for the most part, Mister Dale’s females sound demeaning and whiny.

But things I love about the book are the basilisk and the phoenix. These are two very fantastic beasts. Oh, and I love the idea of a diary that talks to you from someone else. I don’t like the Tom Riddle part or Voldemort parts, but I suppose we need the bad guy. I did like getting to know Tom’s back story.

When I read the tome about a decade ago, I thought it was a slower slog. This book was over quickly. And for these stressful days having something I know and enjoy, helps the sleep come faster at night.

I’ve already started book three. And I remember how each book gets darker. Maybe by the end, I won’t use these as bedtime books.

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Fortune FallsFortune Falls by Jenny Goebel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fun book! Though aimed at middle grades to young adults, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My friend and her granddaughter were co-reading this. They shared on a Zoom friends-meet how much they were enjoying it. I started looking around to see if it was on Libby. I couldn’t afford to buy it right now. Thankfully my friend gifted the Kindle version to me. Yay! And thank you!

Imagine a town where superstitions come true. Sadie lived there and was considered unlucky. What an adventure she takes us on while making us question those beliefs!

If you want to take a break from the adult reads, this will fit the bill. I am amazed at the vocabulary and writing. I believe young me or my kids would have enjoyed this even more than I did, which seems an impossible bar to reach!

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The Whizz Pop Chocolate ShopThe Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kate Saunders has written a delightful children’s’ book that is fun for all ages. I would have loved to have this around while raising my kids. It would have been a favorite for me as a child. For those two reasons, it reaches four stars in rating. But the narrator, Jayne Entwistle, brings the listeners into the Whizz Pop world, and therefore I have to give this story five stars.

If the real world is getting you and your family down, this is such an uplifting story. The characters are marvelously brought to life with Ms. Entwistle’s acting. I imagine families gathering around the audio machine you all may use (I used my Kindle Fire). Adults can find as much fun here as children. I even see great family discussions coming from the book.

I am sad to leave this behind. I will see if, like this one, my online library has book two. Libby is how I heard it. So even if you haven’t the money to buy the book or audio version, your library may have it, or you can request that they order it.

Happy Listening!

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Tara and the Giant Queen: A Fantasy in Giant LandTara and the Giant Queen: A Fantasy in Giant Land by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you, Gita, V. Reddy for letting me read this book. As per our agreement, I am giving my honest review. Sorry it took so long to actually write this. I’ve been very busy and needed a bit of time to think about it.

This didn’t grab me. As I said above, it may be because of summer busy-ness. I just couldn’t get into the story. I found that I couldn’t relate to the main character or the giants. Yet I was constantly remembering BFG (Big Friendly Giant). I kept reading. I hoped that something would pull me in. Maybe bad timing for me to try?

I’d love for others to read this. Maybe if you aren’t reading using text-to-speech you become more part of the story? I don’t know. I will try again later sometime to see if it was just my ADD or circumstances.

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The Missing Girl: A Short Chapter BookThe Missing Girl: A Short Chapter Book by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love getting books from my favorite writers for review. It’s the best of both worlds. Getting to see their writing, getting to read new books.

Ms. Gita V. Reddy has created another fun story, mystery(?) for middle grades. I don’t want to give anything away here, but the story didn’t go the way I thought it would. But neither is it as scary as the title might imply. So go ahead and read it. It’s free right now on Amazon.

There is a bonus story in this book. If it wasn’t about a boy, I would have thought that Gita knew me in grade school. Yes, I was the talker that teachers moved around the room trying to find the person that would encourage silence in me. Nope. Didn’t happen. In fact, and I hate to admit this, even in college as a 40 something-year-old adult, even when I sat next to the teacher I found them interesting and willing to share conversation with me. Being social is a good thing and can teach you more than silence. On the other hand, as a teacher, I understand the disruption to the lesson plan. I did see that it can be useful for bringing up questions the class might have been afraid to bring up. I loved the kid of my heart in the second part of the book.

Both stories made for good reading before bed. You or your children might have fun with these, too.

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Animal Books: Hummingbirds: All About Hummingbirds, A Kids Introduction - Fun Facts & Pictures About the Smallest Birds: Children's Picture Book,Perfect for Bedtime & Young Readers, 6-12 Years OldAnimal Books: Hummingbirds: All About Hummingbirds, A Kids Introduction – Fun Facts & Pictures About the Smallest Birds: Children’s Picture Book,Perfect for Bedtime & Young Readers, 6-12 Years Old by Susan G. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun little book. I have to admit to not reading it word for word but rather a intense skimming. I think I wanted more photos of the little beauties. I had a hard time with the labels of each bird, not sure they lined up right. I think the label belonged to the previous picture. That is the problem of reading on Kindle. This might be a nice tree book for kids.

As for it being a bedtime read aloud–no. Much better for daytime when you can go out and look for your own hummers.

Once again, the pictures made it worth all those many words! I’d recommend it for middle grade readers. Homeschooled and younger readers or non-readers will still enjoy the book.

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Cyrus LongBones and the Curse of the Sea ZombieCyrus LongBones and the Curse of the Sea Zombie by Jeremy Mathiesen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

You wnt boys to read? Keep the action going. Want girls to read it? I wouldn’t. The action is fine. But here’s the female line-up:
An abusive step mother
A zombie water witch
a girl-sister(?) who needed rescuing

It seems you want to grow heroes but don’t want them to be female. And don’t care to teach inclusiveness in any way.

Sorry. All that action was boring to me and I wouldn’t recommennd it to boys or girls for what it doesn’t teach.

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