Tag: middle grades

Book Review: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett

First Published: 1911
331 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

The plot centers round Mary Lennox, a young English girl who returns to England from India, having suffered the immense trauma by losing both her parents in a cholera epidemic. However, her memories of her parents are not pleasant, as they were a selfish, neglectful and pleasure-seeking couple. Mary is given to the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. She travels to his home, Misselthwaite Manor located in the gloomy Yorkshire, a vast change from the sunny and warm climate she was used to. When she arrives, she is a rude, stubborn and given to stormy temper tantrums. However, her nature undergoes a gradual transformation when she learns of the tragedies that have befallen her strict and disciplinarian uncle whom she earlier feared and despised. Once when he’s away from home, Mary discovers a charming walled garden which is always kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle’s vast mansion. The kindly servants ignore her queries or pretend they haven’t heard, spiking Mary’s curiosity.

Kim’s Review:

This book is a classic! Not the stuffy, hard to read type either. I remember the first time I read this book; it blew my teenage mind! Someone from my mom’s family gave me my first copy and I think I decided to read it when I didn’t have anything else to read. I was surprised by how much I liked it! Just recently, I realized how long it had been since I’ve read it, so I decided to read it again. It’s still a great story filled with wonderful characters and an amazing setting! Misselthwaite Manor is everything our gothic fantasy could desire! All the way down to mysterious cries throughout the halls and a mysterious recluse that stays hidden. I also love watching Mary grow into the little girl she was supposed to be from the beginning.

It’s not a parenting book but I think modern day parents could learn a lot from it. Overall, this is a book that everyone should read! I think kids would love it and I know it catapulted me into a deeper love of reading!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

#Diverseathon2021: Book Review: Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt

Lost Boys
Author: Darcey Rosenblatt

Published: August 22, 2017
288 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 14-23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

It’s 1982, and twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country.

War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it.

Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to?

Jessica’s Review:

Lost Boys  is based off the real-life Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.  The specific year is 1982 and Reza is 12 years old and Iran sends their young boys off to war.  If they die, then they will be considered a martyr and Reza’s mother is more than happy to see him off.  Reza is conflicted to go but his best friend Ebi is very excited.  In Iran they have no freedoms, they can’t even sing or let alone listen to music without punishment.

Reza finds out the grim reality of war and finds himself separated from Ebi and in a POW camp. The boys there are treated in a range of ways from friendly with a teacher whom Reza bonds with over their love of music to being treated terribly by some of the guards.

I liked Reza and was rooting for him the whole novel.  I was hoping that he and Ebi would be reunited.  Lost Boys gives you an idea of what life was like in an Iraq POW camp without being graphic. I enjoyed this quick and easy read as I saw Reza’s growth over his time at the camp, but the end of the novel left too many unanswered questions.  The novel needed at least an epilogue or a follow up novel for the reader to get the whole story: When you become invested in characters, you need the whole story!

Despite the lack of conclusion, I would recommend the novel as it gives a US reader an experience of unfamiliar events at a time in the past with an unfamiliar country. And that has been the point of #Diverseathon2021: Diversifiying your reading this year by reading books with a certain type of character or places you might not normally read. And I would not have normally read Lost Boys.

 I am the host for this month’s prompt which is a book set in Iran. I am hosting  here and also on my Facebook page and Instagram.

**I am having a giveaway: A $20 e-gift card to the bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is read a book set in Iran and share what you thought about it on social media. **Be sure to tag me in some way so I see it!**  Previous Diverseathon hosts are welcome to join in on this giveaway.  This giveaway will last for the entire month of November with the winner being announced on my Instagram on December 1st: If you read fast then you still have time to get a book read and reviewed!

For full details on this year long read-a-thon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK



Book Review: Rick by Alex Gino

Author: Alex Gino

Published: April 21, 2020

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 28-29, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

Jessica’s Review:

Rick is not a sequel to George/Melissa, but a companion novel that has the same set of kids, only now they are in middle school.  Rick has been best friends with Jeff forever, despite Jeff being a bully to others.  Now being in middle school they are starting to experience life changes and Rick comes across the Rainbow Spectrum Club which is where kids on every part of the spectrum of the LGBTQIAP+ scale can come together and be themselves without retaliation.  This includes Melissa, who used to be known as George. Now being in middle school, Melissa is fully embracing who she is. 

Rick, as well as the reader, lean about the various types of genders and identities that currently exist.  These can be very fluid, which references the + in LGBTQIAP+.  Rick starts to think about who he may actually be since he has never given much thought to it and his friendships in general. 

This is another novel by Alex Gino that showcases how everyone can be who they are and who they will become.  I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Rick and his grandfather.  Rick learns and accepts his grandfather for who he actually is and how much they have in common. The author themself narrated Rick.   Normally I am all for the author narrating their novel, but the narration did not really work for me with Gino’s voice. 

Both George/Melissa and Rick are needed novels with the way our ever-changing world has become.

Rick is recommended!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK