This was my first time participating in Believathon and I had a wonderful time, even though I didn’t finish everything! Having Middle Grades reads was a great way to balance out my nonfiction reading for the month since middle grade books are usually quicker. Here is what I read this month!
The Key: Read a Mystery
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.
But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier. from Goodreads.
Fantastic historical fiction mystery! My full review is here but I absolutely loved this book.
The Fingerprint: A Book Written by an Author from a Different Culture
The Shadow: A Book that was Published in 2020
Sixth-graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl meet when they take a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.
Sixth-graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is huge and completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners … but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends? from Goodreads.
Could not put this down. This book is a primer on how to have hard conversations with family and friends. My full review is here.
The Scream: Listen to an Audiobook or Read a Book Aloud
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned –a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh. from Goodreads.
I had the vague feeling that I had read this all before. This is the dystopia / utopia model but fell short for me.
The Spilled Milk: A Book that Features Ghosts
Amelia Jones always dreamed of attending the Mystwick School of Musicraft, where the world’s most promising musicians learn to create magic. So when Amelia botches her audition, she thinks her dream has met an abrupt and humiliating end—until the school agrees to give her a trial period. Amelia is determined to prove herself, vowing to do whatever it takes to become the perfect musician. Even if it means pretending to be someone she isn’t. Meanwhile, a mysterious storm is brewing that no one, not even the maestros at Mystwick, is prepared to contain. Can Amelia find the courage to be true to herself in time to save her beloved school from certain destruction? from Goodreads
Magic created by music? Yes, please! My full review is here.
The Torn Page: Read a Book with a Supernatural Element
When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world? From Goodreads
Spooky and mysterious and not at all what I thought it would be. My full review.
The Dagger: A Book Set in a Dangerous Setting
A funny and poignant debut middle-grade novel about a foster-care girl who is placed with a family in the witness protection program, and finds that hiding in plain sight is complicated and dangerous.
Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .
The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.
Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past. from Goodreads
This is probably the best middle grade book I have read in a while because there were actual parents involved (gasp!). Check out my full review for more information.
The Back Pack: A Book by a New-To-You Author
Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves an Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century.
Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there – including Mary – are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.
But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a “live specimen” in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this novel. from Goodreads.
A slow start is balanced by an absolutely riveting second half. Here is my review.
The Chain: A Book that Features a Colorful Cast of Characters
Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.
Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.
With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war? from Goodreads.
This one fell a little flat for me but perhaps it is my Everest high expectations of this series. You can check out my full review – I liked it, I just didn’t love it.
THE CLUES I DIDN’T FIND
The Foot Prints: A Book that Features a Prominent Villain
The Hand Mirror: A Book with a Beautiful Cover (although, honestly, look at all those gorgeous covers!)
The Flashing Light: A Book that Incorporates Folktales
MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS I READ THIS MONTH THAT DIDN’T FIT A CLUE
I fell like I could wedge Go With the Flow into the prominent villain category (society as the villain) and The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan into gorgeous cover but I didn’t read them for that reason, I just chanced across them and loved them both. I will be reviewing the Enola Holmes series in full when I finish it but if you are interested in learning more about the fantastic graphic novel Go With the Flow click the title for my review.
I may not have made it all the way to the finish line but Believeathon has reinvigorated my middle grade reading. If you are interested in middle grade reads, the #believathon will take you to all the other wonderful participants! Here are links to a few blogs that participated that this readathon brought into my life.
- Evelyn Reads (big thanks to Evelyn since it was her post that brought this readathon to my attention!)
- Book Craic
- Bellis Does Books
- A Bookworm’s Paradise
- Bookshelf Reader
- Books at the Wyrmberg
- Amy’s Bookish Life
Tell me, please! Did you participate in Believathon?