Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Mystery

Mini Book Reviews: June 2020 – Part 1


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry, Everblaze (Keeper of the Lost Cities #3) by Shannon Messenger, Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson & The Penderwicks (The Penderwicks #1) by Jeanne Birdsall


» A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry



5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars*WhatILiked» I think the author did a tremendous job writing a book from a wolf’s perspective.  Swift’s voice felt realistic and authentic.  You can tell the author did extensive research into wolves & their behaviors.

» A Wolf Called Wander is part survival story – part journey story.  We follow Swift as he struggles to survive after he is displaced from his home & separated from his pack.  Swift journeys for mile after mile battling injuries, hunger, and dangers at every turn.

» I love that this book was inspired by a real wolf, OR-7, who traveled over 1,000 miles in the mountains of Oregon to find his new home.

WhatIDidntLike» The plot didn’t have enough substance for me.  Since Swift spends the majority of this book alone, most of this story is Swift’s internal dialogue.  I would have liked to see more of Swift interacting with other animals.

»  I read this via audiobook, which was well narrated, but I’m wondering if the print format with the illustrations would have been the better way to go with this book.  I may have connected more to the story if I had seen the illustrations…

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of animal stories

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ mild “animal” gore

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Pax by Sara Pennypacker


» Everblaze (Keeper of the Lost Cities #3) by Shannon Messenger



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» This series is one of my new favorite MG fantasy series!  Despite the fact that each book is chunky – this one came in at 624 pages – they are compulsively readable.  I devour these books within a few days.

» This book was a bit darker than the previous two installments.  As our characters age, the content is also maturing.

» Keefe is still my favorite character.  I just love him and all his sass.  I know many people ship Sophie and Keefe, but I hope she puts him in the friend zone.  In case anyone was wondering, I’m #TeamFitz.  Why?  I have no idea… I just see Sophie & Fitz ending up together in my mind.

» I really love the developing relationship between Sophie & Grady/Edaline.  They are slowly becoming a family as these books go on, and it is heartwarming.

WhatIDidntLike»  There is a plot hole that is bothering me: why can Grady use his powers at will without regulations, but telepaths must adhere to strict rules?  I mean, he used his powers against the council members without any repercussions?

» Certain characters have been pushed to the back burner.  Dex has fallen off the grid since the first book, which is a shame because I really loved sophie & Dex’s friendship in book #1.  I also feel like Biana & Marella have faded into the background.

» I’m still annoyed with the fact that every male character is in love with Sophie.  I mean, can we narrow it down a little?

› Recommended to ⇒ Harry Potter fans; MG fantasy fans

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling or The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend

» Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Nooks & Crannies is an excellent MG historical mystery.  Some of the elements of this story gave me Matilda + Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryA Series of Unfortunate Events vibes.  There was also a nod to Sherlock Holmes.

» Tabitha was a lovely main character.  She was clever, level-headed, inquisitive, independent, and kind.  The fact that Tabitha is so positive despite her horrible circumstances just goes to show her good character.

» I thought the relationship between Tabitha and her pet mouse, Pemberley, was endearing.  I really enjoy books with animal sidekicks, especially ones with a spunky mouse sidekick.

» I thought the mystery element was very well done.  This had a very classic mystery feel to it.

» The writing was beautiful!  The beautiful writing paired with a wonderfully narrated audiobook made for a excellent reading experience.   Since I own a physical copy, I also flipped through to see the adorable illustrations.

› Recommended to ⇒ mystery fans 


» This charming story about four sisters felt very much like a modern classic.  The Penderwicks gave me Little Women mashed with The Secret Garden vibes.

» Reading this book felt very reminiscent of simpler times.  The “good old days” when kids played outside all day.  The days before cell phones, internet, and jam-packed schedules.   This is the perfect book to pick up during the summer months, as it screams summertime.

» I loved each of the sisters for different reasons:  Rosalind for her sense of duty toward her sisters as the eldest Penderwick sister.  Skye for her straightforwardness and sense of adventure.  Jane for her imagination and creativity.  Batty for her love for creatures big and small – and for wearing butterfly wings everyday.

» I really enjoyed watching all the shenanigans that the Penderwicks, and their new friend Jeffrey, get into.  I truly feel like this story will appeal to a wide audience, from children to adults, making this an excellent book to read aloud together as a family.

» The ending was so heartwarming it almost brought me to tears.  It was the perfect ending to this sugar-sweet story.WhatIDidntLike» One of my pet peeves is when a young character does not act their age.  Batty is supposedly 4 years old?  Not buying it.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans sibling relationship stories

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott




Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: June 2020 – Part 1”

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