Tag: middle grades

The Worst Night Ever

Author: Dave Barry
Narrator: Todd Haberkorn
Published: April 26, 2016
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 21-23, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Last year, Wyatt Palmer was the hero of middle school, having foiled a plot against the president of the United States. But now he and his friends are in Coral Cove High School-home of the Fighting Conchs-and Wyatt is no longer a hero: He’s just another undersized freshman, hoping to fit in, or at least not be unpopular. Things start to go wrong when Matt Diaz, who is Wyatt’s best friend but also unfortunately an idiot, decides to bring his pet ferret, Frank, to school. Through an unfortunate series of events Frank ends up in the hands of the Bevin brothers, who are the most popular boys at Coral Cove High, but are also, as Matt soon discovers, the nastiest. When Wyatt and Matt try to get Frank back, they concoct a plan to attend a party for the cool clique at the Bevin’s waterfront mansion and stumble onto the Bevin family’s dark and deadly secret. That’s when Wyatt learns that some things are worse than being unpopular in high school. MUCH worse.

Jessica’s Review:

I listened to The Worst Class Trip Ever at the end of last year and it was a very pleasant surprise (My review is here). I was able to listen to The Worst Night Ever which is the second book in the series. Wyatt and his friends are back for another adventure and this time they are in their freshman year of high school. Wyatt’s friend Matt decides to bring his pet ferret Frank to school, which leads them on a crazy series of events. They stumble upon a dangerous secret involving the family of the biggest bullies of the school. 

Worst Night Ever was enjoyable, but there was not as much magic to it that Worst Class Trip had.  The beginning dragged for me, and it all just seemed too silly.  Even though they are in high school now, Wyatt and friends still came off as middle schoolers.  Maybe this is just ‘boy mentality’/ lack of maturity.  Everything dealing with Frank the ferret just did not work for me, though it all led up to Wyatt’s discovery. When it got to the ‘dangerous secret’ I became interested in the story.

These stories are not believable at all (in a good way); this would be enjoyed by and appropriate for middle schoolers, especially boys.  The narrator Todd Haberkorn portrays Wyatt perfectly. I would like to see what adventure Wyatt and his friends find themselves in next.  I can’t see any adventure being better than the first.

The Worst Night Ever is recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Author: Victoria Schwab
Published: August 28, 2018
272 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Kim’s Review:

I really liked Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology, so when I was looking for a new book, City of Ghosts sounded perfect! But of course, this is me, so naturally, it’s actually not a stand alone, but the beginning of a new series. And do you think the next book is coming soon? Nope! So more waiting . . . Great!

I actually really enjoyed City of Ghosts. The story itself is a little lacking, but not much, and I consider it to be an introduction. I felt like I didn’t get enough information about Cassidy and Jacob. I have an inkling about why Jacob is a ghost and why he is able to “haunt” Cassidy, but it won’t be confirmed until other books come out. Edinburgh was the perfect setting! I know officially want to visit! Thankfully, Ivan also appreciates the macabre so I think it’ll be pretty easy to convince him to go there.

The Raven was absolutely terrifying! She’s the perfect ghostly villain and I can only hope that Schwab gives us more like her in the rest of the series! Overall, this book was really good and I look forward to the rest of the series. Other than creepy content, this book is clean enough for younger teens.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Dollmaker of Krakow

Author: R.M. Romero
Published: September 12, 2017
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.

The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.

But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

Kim’s Review:

This book is so beautiful! The cover and illustrations throughout are so gorgeous and really enhanced my reading. This book is perfect for middle school kids learning about the Holocaust. The metaphor of the Land of the Dolls was imaginative and easy to understand. There’s a simplicity to the story that still conveys the evil of the Nazis and the terror of the time without giving too much detail that would be inappropriate for kids. Karolina’s simple view of the world brings good clarity that works for younger readers.

The Dollmaker is such a sweet and gentle soul. Jozef and Rena are the perfect representation of Jews living in Poland during the Nazi invasion and occupation. Even the Nazi soldier that the Dollmaker “befriends” is written so well. I’ll admit that I didn’t engage as perfectly as I wanted to, but it’s really because I’m not a part of the age group that Romero was writing for; I’m not an elementary or middle school student, nor am I just starting out learning about the Holocaust. But I did love the story, the characters, and the setting. This is a book that I would put on the shelf of every elementary and middle school history teacher. It should be required reading in those history classes. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone, especially kids!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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