I hope you are all well! I’m here with some more mini reviews today. I’ve had quite a busy reading year so far and I am LOVING writing mini reviews… I love that I can dedicate some space on my blog to books that I’ve loved AND I can theme my posts so people can get a BUNCH of books together!
Today’s post features 5 amazing middle grade I’ve read in the past few months that are going down a treat in my classroom! So let’s go…
Shipwreck Island – Struan Murray
Orphans Ellie and Seth have crossed an endless ocean in search of freedom and peace. Arriving on the shores of a colourful tropical island ruled by a mysterious queen, it seems they might just have found the perfect new home. But there is trouble brewing in paradise and soon Ellie and Seth find themselves caught up in a dangerous struggle for power – and forced to confront terrible truths from their past . . .
This is one of the books that I’ve been waiting for ever since I finished the first one. This is the sequel to Orphans of the Tide, which I have to say is ABSOLUTELY in my favourite children’s books of all time. I was so incredibly kindly sent this book by the publishers (thanks Puffin!) and I raced through it when I got it. It arrived and nothing else mattered in my TBR (sorry to my TBR pile!)
I finished and I was just bereft. I got to the end and I had NOTHING left to say. I was just done. It blew me away in so many different ways. I had to pick up my jaw because it is THAT incredible. Struan Murray just GETS it. The world, the characters, the story: it’s all just THAT good. The ending just ruined me. I have SO SO MANY unanswered questions now and having to wait for book 3 is going to be hellish. I loved being back in this world so much with Seth and Ellie. I loved the new friends they made. From the first page to the very last, this is just JAM-PACKED with brilliance. There’s so many twists and turns. It’s one of those truly unputdownable books because every page there’s SOMETHING else to be shocked about. This book gave me very ‘two sides of the same coin’ vibes and I just don’t have all of the praising words to tell you how much I loved it. Please, just go buy this AND Orphans of the Tide (if you haven’t already!!)
Three Keys – Kelly Yang
Mia Tang thinks she’s going to have the best year ever. She and her parents are the proud owners of the Calivista Motel, Mia gets to run the front desk with her best friend, Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing! But as it turns out, sixth grade is no picnic…
1. Mia’s new teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great.
2. The motel is struggling, and Mia has to answer to the Calivista’s many, many worried investors.
3. A new immigration law is looming and if it passes, it will threaten everything—and everyone—in Mia’s life.
It’s a roller coaster of challenges, and Mia needs all of her determination to hang on tight. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang!
This is another sequel that I have been looking forward to reading (in fact, I HAD to read it this weekend because one of my girls has just finished the first book and INSISTED that I brought it in… and I wanted to read it first, ha!). The first book gave me all kinds of feelings and I knew the second book would just remind me of that and then some… and man was I right!
Being back in this world with these characters was lovely. There’s something very family, very loving and very kind about these characters. This story is moving, uplifting and shocking. Not only does this have an amazing main character in Mia (who is an incredible main character: she stands up for everything that we as humans deserve), but there’s some brilliant other characters in this (with Hank being one of my faves!). Mia is truly surrounded by the most brilliant people. There’s a BIG thing with Mia’s teacher that drove me insane… and I think the way that was handled and how she was educated was powerful. The injustices highlighted in this book are eye-opening and made me think about things that I never even would’ve. In this book, you’ve got something that could truly educate people and show the importance of empathy. This delivers a simple message in a really powerful way: people are people and we all deserve to be treated as equals. I just think this is a series that everyone needs to read. It’ll open your eyes, show you that it is goodness and kindness matter. This could be an amazing story to explore with some UKS2+ classes.
The Storm Keeper’s Battle – Catherine Doyle
Fionn Boyle, Storm Keeper of Arranmore, is facing the fight of his life. The terrifying all- powerful sorceress Morrigan has been raised from the dead and has sealed off the island from all help. Fionn is the only thing that stands between her and a dark future. He’s got to find a way to defeat her. But there are some terrible choices in store for Fionn as the dark sorcerer begins to take his nearest and dearest for her own. With only two candles left to burn, will Fionn master his powers in time to stop her?
Like the other two books so far, this was a sequel that I was dying to read… but it was one I kept putting off. I kept putting it off NOT because I hadn’t loved the others in thsi series, but for quite the opposite reason: I loved them SO much that I wasn’t ready to have to say goodbye to the characters, the magic and the world.
This series is a brilliant, magic-filled series about Fionn, who is a Storm Keeper. (I’ll try not to be TOO spoilery here as this is the third in a series). The magic of the island is one of those wonderfully brilliant things. It’s so unique and it’s so special. This book is a PROPER epic ending to the series. This series has a massive chunk of my heart because of its magic, its characters and its gorgeous messages. This final story in the series has everything you can possibly need and want: magic, an epic battle between good and evil, friends, family and some wonderful moments of light among all of the darkness. There’s lovely messages throughout this about the importance of family, the importance of hope and the joys (and not joys) of being siblings. I am so incredibly sad that this series is over, but my gosh, was it a pleasure to be part of it. I did, of course, weep through the end. One of those series that if you could forget it and read it again for the first time, I absolutely would!
The Day The Screens Went Blank – Danny Wallace
When ten-year-old Stella wakes up to discover a world full of BLANK screens, her family, town, and in fact the whole world seems to have been thrown into chaos. And what about poor Grandma who is stranded at the other end of the country? Cue a rollicking madcap road trip, full of driving disasters and family fallouts, as they set off on a rescue mission. And along the way Stella and her family discover that being away from screens might not be the Worst Thing Ever, and even though they might not be able to rely on technology anymore, they can rely on each other instead.
Honestly, I don’t think FUNNY books get enough love in the world (and I say that as someone who is guilty of this myself… as I will read fantasy 90% of the time), so when the amazing humans at Simon and Schuster asked me if I wanted to read this, I jumped at it!
I absolutely adored this! A wonderful story about what happens when all of the technology in the world stops working. One family go on a road trip to check on Grandma, who lives at the other end of the country. What ensues is an absolute rollicking time filled with strange new friends, farms and falling into ponds. It is so wonderfully funny. It’s got that brilliant sense of ‘this could go pear shaped at any moment’ about it: like the world is precariously balanced between absolute chaos and being all sane and calm. This gave me total feels of nostalgia and the world being filled with kindness. There’s so many moments which just made me laugh, then smile! Stella is a gorgeous narrator and I think kids will really like her! The illustrations by Gemma Correll (who I have been a big fan of for a while now) made me so happy – it’s always amazing to see someone’s art that you recognise! It made me go ‘OMG IT’S GEMMA’ (like I was her actual friend, lol)
The Life and Time of Lonny Quick – Kirsty Applebaum
Lonny is a lifeling. He has the power to heal any living creature and bring it back from the dead. But he pays a price for this gift – by lengthening the creature’s life, he shortens his own. So Lonny has to be careful, has to stay hidden in the forest. Because if people knew what he could do, Lonny would be left with no life at all…
I am yet to read a Kirsty Applebaum book that I don’t enjoy and that doesn’t make me think and cry. The amazing crows at Nosy Crow sent me a proof copy of this and it has RACED round at least 4 of my class already!
This story is just wonderful. This is a glorious story about a young boy who is a lifeling – a person who can save with a touch, but it also takes from them. Lonny wants to know more about his family (his mother in particular) and the town closeby is where he goes for his answers, but what he finds isn’t all good… Reading this I really fell for the concept and the characters. It was one of those lovely times where you read something brand new and you find that the characters are loveble to go along with it. As I read, I was just taken by so many different things about the world and the messages about helping people, what it means to be us and what we’d do for the people we love. I’d LOVE to use this as a class novel – I think it could spur some VERY interesting conversations. I think that’s something that Kirsty does SO SO brilliantly. Pick up any of her books and the text does the talking, the thinking and then you finish and can have SO MANY conversations about them!
I love that I billed this as mini reviews and they ended up longer than normal haha!