Tag: middle grades

Book Review: All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

All the Impossible Things
Author: Lindsay Lackey

Published:  September 3, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 14-17, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description: 

A middle-grade novel about a young girl navigating the foster care system in search of where she belongs.

Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep her skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn to control it, but can’t figure out how.

This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo, complete with a dancing donkey and a giant tortoise. With their own curious gifts, Celine and Jackson Groove seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Red’s heart.

But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos. Now Red must discover the possible in the impossible if she wants to overcome her own tornadoes and find the family she needs.

Jessica’s Review:

All the Impossible Things just did not work for me. I did not connect with Red, so that was that for me.  And I am not a fantasy reader, so I think the magical ability just didn’t work for me. I did know about Red’s ability before reading, and had a couple of friends who read this novel and loved it so I gave it a shot despite knowing it might not be for me. 

Red is in foster care and goes from home to home.  She is just waiting for her mother to be released from prison so she can be reunited with her: she even has a countdown. Red is moved to another foster family who run a petting zoo, which provides a different sort of environment and adventures all on their own.   

The ending is a bit realistic and I enjoyed it.  Red finally found where she needed to be. 

It may be that the audiobook is not the best format for this novel as one of my friends said she tried the audio and stopped it and ended up reading it and enjoyed it. Maybe this will be a book I give another chance to and pick up and actually read it. Maybe then I will love it. It is a pity as the cover is gorgeous!

**A few days after I wrote this review previously mentioned friend (Beccie) mailed me a copy of this book! She was the one who tried the audiobook and DNF’d is that way, but picked up a physical copy and loved it.  Hopefully I will have the same reaction to it with another read!**

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Series: Island of the Blue Dolphins #1
Author: Scott O’Dell
Published: 1960
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:  May 20-24, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea.  Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound.  Once, Indians also lived on the island.  And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.

This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away.  But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs.  It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.

Jessica’s Review:

While reading the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen, I decided to listen to another book that I listened to in school: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I remember enjoying it when I was younger and watching a long movie version at what seemed like 2am while my family was asleep.  Other than an individual living by themselves and working to survive, these are very different books.  Island of the Blue Dolphins is loosely based off of a true story, and our story is about Karana who is left to fend for herself on the island where her tribe lived.  The rest of the tribe was taken away by boat, and Karana maintained hope that they would return for her someday.  Over time she comes to terms of being alone and learning to fend for herself.  Part of that is going against what she was taught: that women should not make weapons.  Well if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have survived on her own!  She makes friends with a dog that she names Rontu. (If I ever have another dog, I will be tempted to name him Rontu as I just loved that name!  And it’s a literary name!)

Eventually Karana is rescued after many years and learns what happened to her tribe.  For me, after the more intense young adult novels of the Hatchet series with Brian constantly struggling to survive, Island was less intense.  Maybe down the road I will read it again.  Maybe it was the narrator as I listened to the novel, or maybe I just lost something by listening versus actually reading it myself.  It could also be that this is written for the middle grades age group and I am far from that group.  I would definitely recommend it for younger girls so they can see that girls can do what they need to do to survive a challenging situation. It is a girl empowerment book in that way.

Purchase Links 
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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#Diverseathon2021: Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen (Brian’s Saga #5)

Brian’s Hunt
Series: Brian’s Saga #5
Author: Gary Paulsen

Narrator: Ron Mclarty
Published: January 1, 2003
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 18-19, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Millions of readers of Hatchet, The River, Brian’s Winter, and Brian’s Return know that Brian Robeson is at home in the Canadian wilderness. He has stood up to the challenge of surviving alone in the woods. He prefers being on his own in the natural world to civilization.

When Brian finds a dog one night, a dog that is wounded and whimpering, he senses danger. The dog is badly hurt, and as Brian cares for it, he worries about his Cree friends who live north of his camp. His instincts tell him to head north, quickly. With his new companion at his side, and with a terrible, growing sense of unease, he sets out to learn what happened. He sets out on the hunt.

Jessica’s Review:

As a part of May’s prompt for #Diverseathon2021 I listened to the Brian’s Saga series by Gary Paulsen and I have finally reached the last in the series: Brian’s Hunt.

Brian’s Hunt seems to pick up where Brian’s Return left off. This time Brian has a friend with him: He finds a severely injured dog that he takes care of. He begins to worry over the Cree Indian family who he has become friends with. In the ‘what if’ novel Brian’s Winter Brian comes across this family and they ‘rescue’ him and take care of him for several weeks before being able to go home.   I still have confusion on if Brian’s Winter is actually not a what if scenario and did actually happen since the next books reference things that happen in that novel. 

This is a bit of spoiler, but this novel will not be for the sensitive or younger readers as to what happens to the Cree family.  They meet their untimely fate at the hands of a bear and the novel is descriptive in how Brian finds the family.  Because of this Brian becomes determined to find the bear and he goes on his hunt.

I did enjoy listening to this series. I do recommend it for teenage boys, as our protagonist is a boy and we don’t get many of those in middle grade/ YA novels.  Those novels tend to have female leads. I did not know it was a series until I decided I was going to read Hatchet for Diverseathon, and seeing they were all of a shorter length, I decided to ‘go all out’ and listen to the whole series as all were available through the Libby App. The only thing I was not a ‘fan’ of was the music added to try and enhance the suspenseful parts.  I can see how the music would work for some but not others such as myself since I listen to these books while driving and the music was distracting at times.

The Brian’s Saga is recommended!

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For full details on this year long readathon, 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.

Beccie over at Bookies is having a giveaway for the month of May: She is giving away a copy of Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs (it is set in Canada). You can also enter this giveaway by entering through the Grand Prize link above.
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Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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