MMGM: EVERY SOUL A STAR by Wendy Mass

soulastar

Title: EVERY SOUL A STAR

Author: Wendy Mass

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 1, 2008

Publisher’s Description:

And as streams of light fan out behind the darkened sun like the wings of a butterfly, I realize that I never saw real beauty until now.

At Moon Shadow, an isolated campground, thousands have gathered to catch a glimpse of a rare and extraordinary total eclipse of the sun. It’s also where three lives are about to be changed forever:

Ally likes the simple things in life–labyrinths, star-gazing, and comet-hunting. Her home, the Moon Shadow campground, is a part of who she is, and she refuses to imagine it any other way.

Popular and gorgeous (everybody says so), Bree is a future homecoming queen for sure. Bree wears her beauty like a suit of armor. But what is she trying to hide?

Overweight and awkward, Jack is used to spending a lot of time alone. But when opportunity knocks, he finds himself in situations he never would have imagined and making friends in the most unexpected situations.

Told from three distinct voices and perspectives, Wendy Mass weaves an intricate and compelling story about strangers coming together, unlikely friendships, and finding one’s place in the universe.

This book has been on my mind the last few weeks and I realized today that I haven’t reviewed it yet. So, what better day to review this than on Eclipse Day!

Ever since I read this book, I imagined that for the next solar eclipse, I would go to a campground just like this one and have an adventure fitting such a unique experience. What I actually did this morning was spend it in my front yard with my four boys, wondering and in awe at the science and cosmos of this amazing world. I think Wendy Mass would approve anyway.

But that’s what this book causes you to do. It makes you dream. It inspires you to look outside yourself and help others and find out your place in the mixed up strings of the universe.

What I loved about this book:

The three POV’s. Three narrators is tough to do, but when it’s done right, you get three distinct voices and three characters to love. Mass does it right. I loved being in each of these kids’ heads and learning what they thought of their world.

The tension. Watching the clock tick down to the final moment of the moon eclipsing the sun, and seeing all of the little details in the character’s lives as they fell into and out of place to get them to that point … brilliant.

The science. All of the space facts were captivating. I wanted to be an astronomer after I read this … and I was an adult who had finished with my education. No problem, I’ll teach my kids to reach for the stars, right? Whichever starts they aim for 🙂

The friendships. The publisher’s description calls them unlikely, and they are, but they are so genuine. It’s such an important message for middle school kids to learn … you can be friends with anyone and it’s what’s inside that connects us, not physical appearances.

The heart. Anyone who reads my reviews can tell I gravitate toward a book with heart, so it’s not surprising this book has it, and a lot of it. I felt for each child character, and now as an adult, the supporting characters. And the heart I’m speaking of actually comes out through all of the previous things I’ve mentioned. It’s infused through every scene and every word.

 

 

 

MMGM: THE LIST by Patricia Forde

the list

Title: THE LIST

Author: Patricia Forde

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Publisher’s Description:

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

This cover and description totally pulled me in and I knew I had to read this book. I wasn’t disappointed as the story fulfilled my expectations and I was pleased by Forde’s prose and to live in her world for a short time.

I’m not one of those who wishes Dystopian would die and never come back. I love a well-told Dystopian tale. Plus, THE GIVER, FARENHEIT 451, 1984 … all of these are tales of my childhood and a book which comps these titles at least deserves a peek from me.

Letta’s world is in the far future after global warming caused floods to cover the earth and all that is left is a small town called Ark, founded by a man (Noa) who foresaw the floods. (Funny, right?) What I love about this town (well, hate about it, but it makes for a good story) is the limit they put on the words the people may use, but they are intent on preserving the language.

This is where Letta and her wordsmith master come in. What follows is a twisty tale full of intense conflict that, while not wholly original, will pull young readers in for sure. The villain is one to love to hate, and Letta is a protagonist to cheer for.

I love the message that words have power and can hurt, but at the same time, taking them away only limits society and is not the answer. Forde’s use of this limited word bank shows in the dialogue and in the development of the characters and the journey they are on.

I thought Forde’s worldbuilding was clear and detailed and she used mystery and so many feelings to allow the reader to connect to the characters and the story.

I would classify this as upper middle grade because of the violence and the slight love story, but it’s still very tame and teaches many valuable lessons.

Definitely a book suitable for a classroom library or a middle school project. Very well done.

 

 

YA Wednesday: Brenda Drake Books

With all of the endless work the amazing Brenda Drake puts into Pitch Wars every year, I wanted to put it out there that one of the best ways to show our gratitude is to read her books … which really isn’t fair because they’re so good, we really get the best deal on both ends.

I wanted to share with you what I love about her books and encourage you to go buy them asap … you won’t be sorry!

THE LIBRARY JUMPERS SERIES:

LibraryJumpers1

Publisher’s Description:

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed. 

LibraryJumpers2

Publisher’s Description:

Saving him could end her world.

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

This series is really a dream come true for a book lover like me. Jumping through a book to visit libraries all over the world? So amazing! Brenda does an awesome job of putting so much into one story without overwhelming the reader. The settings are gorgeous, the libraries are to die for, the boys are so cute!, Gia is someone I want to be, and the magical creatures and twists and turns will keep you reading into the night. So excited for the third one to come out next year!

Touching Fate 1

Publisher’s Description:

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves. 

CursingFate

Publisher’s Description:

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?

This series shows Brenda’s diversity as a writer and ability to write so many types of stories. I love the idea of a character having the power to change someone’s fate and the way Brenda develops the idea and the conflict Aster, and later her sister, Iris, go through is intense! Again, these are two books I couldn’t put down. The tension and pacing are perfection and there wasn’t a lull in the story or any part I didn’t enjoy. I loved how the series progressively got darker as well. The magic is eerie, the characters are fun to be around, and the writing is stellar. Must Read!

 

MMGM: THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE by Ali Standish

Ethan

Title: THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE

Author: Ali Standish

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publish Date: January 24, 2017

Publisher’s Description:

Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.

Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. 

My mind is still reeling and my heart is still feeling fuzzy from finishing this wonderful MG read. This book has so many aspects I love in a story: complex characters, setting as a character, mystery, secrets, a little spooky, humor, sadness, love, healing.

Standish writes Ethan so spot-on with what I imagine he would be in real life. This boy has been through something so tragic, but she strings us on wanting to know what exactly happens without frustrating us as a reader. Ethan has voice without being untrue to his experiences and issues, and his growth and struggles made me feel so much! His family were also very well-written and I found myself rooting for them and aching in the way their lives were falling apart and being put back together.

As soon as Coralee entered the story it was like a spotlight illuminated her everywhere she was. I love her, and I loved her and Ethan and their adventures together even more. The way they lean on each other, hide from each other, and reveal each other’s true selves was so special. I was captivated by this duo.

And Grandpa Ike. I just want to hug him and his own secrets.

So many secrets, guys! But it’s all worth it in the end as Standish meticulously pieces it all together and shows us all of the hard and beautiful parts of life. I love and admire when an author can write about hard things but make it about more than that hard thing.

I can’t recommend this book enough and have put Ali Standish on my must read list for any future stories she writes.

 

MMGM: FORGET ME NOT by Ellie Terry

forgetmenot

Title: FORGET ME NOT

Author: Ellie Terry

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: March 14, 2017

Publisher’s Description:

A girl with Tourette syndrome starts a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this debut middle-grade novel in verse.

Calliope June has Tourette syndrome. Sometimes she can’t control the noises that come out of her mouth, or even her body language. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But soon the kids in her class realize she’s different. Only her neighbor, who is also the class president, sees her as she truly is—a quirky kid, and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?

As Callie navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that she might be moving again—just as she’s starting to make friends and finally accept her differences. This story of being true to yourself will speak to a wide audience.

This book was truly, truly beautiful.

I’ve been wanting to read this book since PitchWars last year and had it on my TBR list. I finally got around to it and am so happy I did – and sad it took me so long.

Ellie Terry is a talented storyteller, filling her pages with stunning verse, realistic characters, science and heart.

Terry will say in her acknowledgments that Tourette’s Syndrome is very misunderstood and she was hoping this book would help with those misconceptions. I think it did. It wasn’t something I thought about a lot, but things I do remember are from movies where people pretend to have TS and scream and yell at each other.

I knew a boy a couple of years older than me in school though who had TS. He would bang his desk every once in a while, snort a lot, twitch his face … and the kids stared. And they weren’t nice. It was hard to watch and made this book sort of a hard read. I was friends with his little brothers and the way they stood up for him and his loving family environment more than made up for it.

Callie June will forever hold a special place in my heart. She was wonderful in her ticcs and her quirkiness. In her trying to be brave and discovering how to exist in a world where she was always the new student. In the way Terry used verse to explain how she saw the world and how every word felt like something sweet I wanted so savor. I re-read so many of the pages so many times because it felt so perfectly written. Sigh.

And Jinsong was an excellent compliment to her character. He was everything Calli needed but imperfect in her choices in a way a middle school kid would be. He made me cheer for him and broke my heart, but I love him too. The fact that Terry wrote his parts in prose was a brilliant way to set his character apart from Calli, but Terry’s prose is purposeful and beautiful as well.

Another side effect – I wanted to know more about the moon and I loved how facts and poems about astronomy and the moon were interwoven throughout the story.

This book only took a couple hours of my Sunday but it is definitely one I will think on in the days to come and re-read as well. I highly recommend to readers of all ages if you love unique characters, gorgeous writing, and unexpected but happy endings.

MMGM: ORPHAN ISLAND by Laurel Snyder

orphan island

Title: ORPHAN ISLAND

Author: Laurel Snyder

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Publisher’s Description:

From acclaimed author Laurel Snyder comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

So, I pretty much knew I’d love this book before I read it … and I was right. Which isn’t always the case, sometimes the high expectations can kill something. But, I’m a pretty good gauge now of whether or not I’ll like something having been a reader for so long. And this book appealed to me on so many levels, I just had to read it.

From the beginning, it was everything I wanted it to be. I was transplanted to a magical place and got to live in someone else’s head for a bit. But, it also felt familiar.

It brought back memories of me reading THE GIVER for the first time and learning things new for the first time through Jonah and applying this knowledge to my life. I’m far older now than I was when I was reading Lois Lowry for the first time, but this book made me feel like I wasn’t.

I wanted to know things about the island: why they were there? Who created it? How does the magic work? What is going on? But I knew that it would burst my enchanted bubble if I got those answers, so I enjoyed swimming around in the world Laurel Snyder created and just let myself experience it.

And it was lovely. Jinny and her cohorts on the island were perfectly imperfect. Jinny especially loved so deeply and also had a selfish streak a million miles long. This is the part that reminded me of myself now. As a mother. I love my Cares, I want to teach them things, I want to protect them. Sometimes I need a little alone time. Most of the time I don’t do things exactly right or how my mother before me did. Someday, instead of me getting my turn to leave the island, they’re going to leave. And this will break me. But there is always another day. There is always new choices.

I think this book will be magical for middle grade readers. I think they will see themselves in it the way I did, in their past, present and future.

This quote is on Snyder’s website:

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

~Madeleine L’Engle

This beautifully captures the spirit of this book, and also what draws me to Snyder’s other books and writing in general.

The ending. I will not talk about the ending aside from saying I LOVED it. It made me sigh in happiness. I love Jinny and her optimism. Sometimes things only feel like an ending, but there’s always more.

When you’ve read the whole book, go HERE to see what Laurel Snyder has to say about her ending and what people think of it. I didn’t need this to change my mind about anything, but it rooted me more firmly in my convictions.

This was a quick, easy read and maybe that was because I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the mystery of it, the way the characters were evolving, and I wanted to see just what Snyder would reveal.

She says there may be a prequel in the works someday and that is something I will definitely watch and wait for.

MMGM: 2017 Middle Grade Books To Read

Okay, so there’s no way I can list EVERY middle grade book I want to read in 2017. This is just a start – the books that are coming out from January to March (some have already released). I’ll post again in March for the next three months. But here’s a start of my first 15:

houseofmandy

I love Emma Trevayne and this book sounds right up my alley

Publisher’s Description (2/7/2017):

A girl must stop the Boogeyman living in her home from stealing her family’s warmest memories in this haunting, atmospheric novel from the author of Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times and The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden.

When her distant aunt and uncle die, Amelia Howling is forced to move into their home when they leave her parents in charge of their children. Her parents assure her that it will be like having a grand adventure with three new siblings, but Amelia is not convinced. Luckily, the house is large, filled with nooks and crannies perfect for hiding from her cousins.

But even with all the nooks and crannies, the rumbling and crumbling rooms are more sinister than they seem. The house was built years ago by a creature named Horatio, and he’s been waiting for the perfect human inhabitant: Amelia. Horatio has the power to travel through time and memories, and lures Amelia into his world. The memories of children, he told her, were the best, and Amelia agreed—her cousins were full of good memories. Until she noticed that once she and Horatio visited a memory, it was gone forever. And she had been stealing the good memories of her cousins and their parents without even noticing!

Horrified and scared, Amelia lets her cousins in on her secret, and asks them for help. Together, they must race through time to recover their minds and break the perfect clockwork of the evil Calendar House.

fablehaven

I haven’t read a new Fablehaven book in years, so this March me and my boys are going to devour this.

Publisher’s Description (3/14/2017):

In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies….

In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?

ethan

I predict this book will steal my heart

Publisher’s Description (1/24/2017):

Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.

Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk.

rambler

I’m excited for this book just as much as Higgins’ picture books debuts

Publisher’s Description (2/28/2017):

Eleven-year-old Derby Christmas Clark is a rambler of the road. She travels year-round in an RV with her father and younger brother, selling Christmas trees during the cold months and burgers and fries during baseball season. Derby always did prefer grease splatters to hauling trees, so she’s excited that summer will take her back to small town Ridge Creek, the Rockskippers, her best friend, and her surrogate mom, June. But this summer, a tragedy has changed Ridge Creek—and as Derby tries to help those she loves, long-held secrets are revealed. This warm-hearted southern debut is perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo and Sheila Turnage.

pigface

This has such a classic feel to it … and that title!

Publisher’s Description (2/7/2017):

Eleven-year-old Tracy Munroe and her family have just gotten back from their family vacation—why did no one realize that her little brother, Lester, a.k.a. Pig Face, was allergic to sand, salt air, and the ocean before they decided to go to the beach?—and now she has three big goals to accomplish before she goes back to school:

Figure out a fantastic end of summer adventure with her best friend, Ralph, budding Michelin-star chef. (And no, Ralph, perfecting a soufflé does not count.)

Make sure Pig Face does not tag along.

Get the gorgeous new boy next door, Zach, to know she even exists.

But when Tracy and Ralph discover an envelope stuffed with money in the dugout at the baseball field (and Lester forces them to let him tag along), they have a mystery on their hands. Did someone lose the cash? Or, did someone steal it? St. Stephen has always seemed like a quiet place to live, but soon the town is brimming with suspects.

Now they’re on a hunt to discover the truth, before the trio is accused of the crime themselves.

McLeod MacKnight’s debut middle grade novel is a funny, charming window into small-town life, with a focus on the importance of friendship and family and the struggle to figure out where you fit in, perfect for fans of Polly Horvath and Sarah Weeks.

vilonia

This just looks too cute!

Publisher’s Description (3/7/2017):

Being responsible is NOT easy.

Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it, and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness.

Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?

forgetmenot

I’m already in love with this story and its cover

Publisher’s Description (3/14/2017):

A girl with Tourette syndrome starts a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this debut middle-grade novel in verse.

Calliope June has Tourette syndrome. Sometimes she can’t control the noises that come out of her mouth, or even her body language. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But soon the kids in her class realize she’s different. Only her neighbor, who is also the class president, sees her as she truly is—a quirky kid, and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?

As Callie navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that she might be moving again—just as she’s starting to make friends and finally accept her differences. This story of being true to yourself will speak to a wide audience.

pageprincess

This book premise is irresistible to me and I’m so happy Christina Farley is writing some middle grade

Publisher’s Description (2/28/2017):

A dark secret lurks in Keira’s family. She comes from a long line of Word Weavers who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. But Keira’s mom is unable to face the truth of the family’s history because the Word Weavers have been hunted for generations for their power. And so, she forbids Keira to write. Oblivious to the family’s secret ability, and angry at her mom’s rule of no fictional writing, Keira discovers her grandma’s Word Weaver pen and uses it to write a story for the Girls’ World fairy tale contest, believing it will bring her good luck. But when Keira decides to have her fairy tale reflect her family’s imperfect life, and has the princess in her story vanquished to a dark tower for eternity, she starts to wonder if anyone ever truly lives happily ever after.

hellouniverse

I love the message from this one

Publisher’s Description (3/14/2017):

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms. 

midnight

Powerful.

Publisher’s Description (1/3/2017):

Rose Lee Carter, a 13-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955. Her world is rocked when a 14-year-old African-American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. A powerful middle-grade debut perfect for readers who enjoyed The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Brown Girl Dreaming.

someday

Already read this one, review to come (spoiler: I loved it)

Publisher’s Description (1/24/2017):

Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets.

And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books and art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines.

But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth.

So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay…

Equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an unusual boy, and portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.

siren

I love sister stories and this one sounds intense in all the best ways

Publisher’s Description (1/3/2017):

A soon-to-be siren finds herself responsible for the lives of her sisters—and the fisherman they curse—in this haunting debut novel that Kirkus calls “an exciting fantasy with a heart-stopping ending by an author to watch.”

Lolly Salt has three beautiful sisters. When they’re not in school or running their small town’s diner, they’re secretly luring ships to their doom from the cliffs of Starbridge Cove, Maine. With alluring voices that twelve-year-old Lolly has yet to grow into (not that she wants to anyway) the Salt sisters do the work mandated by the Sea Witch, a glamorously frightening figure determined to keep the girls under her control. With their mother dead after a terrible car crash, and their father drowning in grief, the sisters carry on with their lives and duties…until a local sea captain gets suspicious about the shipwrecks.

On the day before her birthday, Lolly watches in helpless horror as her sisters are lured themselves by curse-reversing fishermen—and suddenly it’s up to her and her best friend Jason to rescue the sirens of Starbridge Cove.

taco

I just feel like I’m gonna love everything about this one

Publisher’s Description (1/3/2017):

Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It’s no fun being known as the “Taco Queen” at school. But just when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family’s livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck’s unlikely champion. 

warden

After Stargirl, I’ll read anything Spinelli

Publisher’s Description (1/3/2017):

Cammie O’Reilly is the warden’s daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she’s also living in a prison of grief and anger about the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And prison has made her mad. This girl’s nickname is Cannonball.
In the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything is in flux. Cammie’s best friend is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. All will play a role in Cammie’s coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.
Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli spins a tale of loss and redemption like no other. The Warden’s Daughter shows that kindness and compassion can often be found where we least expect it. 

magicallyminded

Magic and Manners, how fun!

Publisher’s Description (3/21/2017):

Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.

Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a crossbow-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?

So there’s my first fifteen!

I’m so excited for all of these amazing middle grade reads!

How about you? Any book you’re looking forward to? Any you think I missed? I’d love to hear from you.

And if you want to check out even more middle grade recommendations, head on over to Shannon Messenger’s blog for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

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