The Eye of Zeus (Legends of Olympus #1) by Alane Adams

The Eye of Zeus (Legends of Olympus #1) by Alane Adams
Publisher/Year: SparkPress, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 301
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Meet Phoebe Katz, a twelve-year-old foster kid from New York City who’s been bounced around the system her entire life. Things happen around Phoebe, but it’s not like they’re her fault! But when a statue of Athena comes to life, Phoebe gets the stunning news: she’s the daughter of Zeus and was sent away from ancient Greece as a baby to stop a terrible prophecy that predicted she would one day destroy Olympus.

Athena warns Phoebe to stay in hiding, but when the vengeful god Ares kidnaps her beloved social worker, Phoebe has no choice–she has to travel back to Ancient Greece and rescue him. There, she and her friends Angie and Damian discover a new prophecy, one that may fix everything. The catch: Phoebe has to collect talismans from six Greek monsters, including the fan from a nine-headed hydra, a talon from the Nemean lion, and a feather from the Sphinx. No problem for a girl with the power to call up lightning bolts and change the weather–but can Phoebe collect them all and stop the prophecy before she destroys Olympus?

What I thought

Thank you to BookSparks and Alane Adams for the free finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

When in times of stress, sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned adventure story, and The Eye of Zeus definitely fits the bill!

Alane Adams’ writing skill shines through this story, as she takes readers to ancient Greece alongside Phoebe and her friends, Damian and Angie. The plot moves continuously forward in a way that will draw even the most reluctant reader, and Adams uses description in a way that’s light so as not to bog down the story while still bringing the adventure vividly to life. Phoebe is a spunky and funny protagonist, and the reader will find it easy to relate to her while still being amused by the antics of Phoebe and her friends.

I haven’t read Percy Jackson, so I can’t really speak as to how these two stories compare, however I think it’s safe to say that if you have a reader itching for another book involving Greek mythology, The Eye of Zeus is a solid and accessible tale of ancient Greece. Told with tons of heart and humor, this book was a fun way to spend a weekend!

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder
Publisher/Year: Walden Pond Press (HarperCollins), 2019
Format: ARC (paperback)
Pages: 291
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


The author of Orphan Island returns with an unforgettable story about the friendships that show us what we can be.

The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels…lost. She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago, when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah’s been adrift and alone.

Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There’s something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers is also lost. Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships. A place only they can find, where no one else even exists.

But as the days of this magical June draw to a close and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.

What I thought

Thank you to Walden Pond Press for the free ARC of this book! This does not affect my opinion presented here in this review.

The best way I can think to describe this book is to say that if you’ve been searching for a kindred spirit ever since Anne of Green Gables, look no further than My Jasper June. This was one of the most moving books I’ve read this summer and perfectly exemplifies why middle grade is a genre worth the read for both children and adults alike. I simply did not want to put this lovely read down. My heart alternately ached and soared for these characters–Leah, Leah’s parents, and Jasper. I feel like Snyder truly brought them to life–they feel so real to me. She perfectly nailed the inner workings and thought processes of a teenager–I felt so nostalgic reading this. And it was just so special to watch Leah and Jasper’s friendship bloom. We have all been there at some point–finding that bosom friend who fills in our gaps. I can’t reiterate enough–Jasper is like a modern-day Anne. If you are looking for a heartfelt, touching read, I highly recommend My Jasper June. It is, without a doubt, one of the best middle grade releases of 2019.

The Night Flyers (History Mysteries #3) by Elizabeth McDavid Jones

The Night Flyers (History Mysteries #3) by Elizabeth McDavid Jones
Publisher/Year: Pleasant Company Publications
Format: Paperback
Pages: 149
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


It’s 1918. Pam Lowder and her papa raise the best homing pigeons on the North Carolina coast–homers with the rare ability to fly at night. While Papa’s away in World War I, a stranger with a foreign accent comes to town. Soon Pam’s best birds start to disappear, and Pam is sure the stranger is stealing them. Instead, she finds evidence of something much worse. Could the stranger be an enemy spy, threatening everything Pam holds dear–even Papa?

What I thought

I will never be able to get over how American Girl made such an impact on the historical fiction genre for young girls. I truly believe that they are one of the biggest reasons why I became such a history lover and why, to this day, historical fiction remains one of my preferred genres.

But anyway, enough rambling.

This was a great story that I read in an afternoon. I remember reading it when I was younger and enjoying it, and reading it as an adult, I still very much enjoyed it. Jones has a way of driving the story forward with a mystery that even as an adult, I wasn’t able to solve. I grew fond of Pam, and I appreciated how her story offered a glimpse into the time period. Plus, I liked how that “glimpse” was historically accurate and how it tied into the historical text at the end. Not to mention that Jones’ writing was beautifully descriptive–I mean, I was there with Pam in the woods and in the swamp.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’d recommend this one if you are looking for a great historical fiction for the young reader in your life…or if you are a young reader yourself!

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen
Publisher/Year: Walker Books, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 187
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Harry Gruber has the starring role in his school’s production of A Christmas Carol, but his work-obsessed father cannot seem to put his cell phone down long enough to watch. As the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future take the stage, Harry’s father must face some ghosts of his own. Will the story’s message of holiday love reach his distracted heart?

Acclaimed children’s book creators Michael Rosen and Tony Ross deliver a perfect gift for the whole family in this shrewd update of Dickens’s beloved tale.

What I thought

I am such a fanatic for all things Christmas that I can read and enjoy a Christmas book at any time of year. So when I received this last month and saw that it was a retelling of one of my favorite Christmas stories, I was pretty excited! I’ll be honest though, I think that this is a book that would be best enjoyed by its intended audience, aka kids. As an adult who has read A Christmas Carol countless times, I can’t say that this brought anything new to the table for me. However, I think this would be a great way to introduce young readers to Dickens’ classic tale. The script format makes this easily readable, and I think it would even encourage reading aloud. The illustrations are absolutely adorable and have a quirky quality that I loved. The storyline involving Harry and his family kept the story moving forward and offered a modern, if slightly predictable, take on Scrooge’s tale. I will say that I had the feeling that these characters were first introduced in another book maybe, as I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing something.

Overall, this was a quick and quirky take on A Christmas Carol that I think young readers would love. Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a free, finished copy!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J. K. Rowling
Publisher/Year: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Inc., 1998
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 309
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley–a great big swollen, spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry–and anyone who reads about him–will find unforgettable.

For it’s there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him…if Harry can survive the encounter.

What I thought

How do I even begin to put my love for this book, this series, into words? This is the first time I’ve re-read this book in over a decade, and after countless re-reads as a kid, it never ceases to amaze me how much reading it feels like coming home.

My story is very similar to many of yours, I’m sure. I got this book, ironically enough, for my 11th birthday. I let it sit on my shelf for a few months until I picked it up one day out of boredom and fell so magically in love that I have yet to this day, nearly 29 years later, to read any other book that even comes remotely close to the amount of love I have for Harry Potter.

When I say, will full-on nerd tears coming to my eyes, that these books, these characters are my FRIENDS, I mean that with absolute sincerity. I’m not going to try and analyze J. K. Rowling’s writing here. I’m simply too biased to even attempt that. I will just say that since learning about the wizarding world alongside Harry, these books have given me countless hours of joy, entertainment, comfort, and solace. And it all started with this one. Sorcerer’s Stone is not my favorite book of the series (Azkaban, I’m coming for you), but nevertheless I hold it near and dear to my heart because this was the start.

At the risk of sounding like a histrionic lunatic, this little book changed my life, and I know without a doubt that it factored into making me the person I am today. The fact of the matter is that nothing else, no other book can compare to that.

An Old Soul by Kristyn Gansen

41095038An Old Soul by Kristyn Gansen
Publisher/Year: Gansen Media, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



Until that night, Mira didn’t know she was dead. 

Answers from a Ouija board have done nothing but raise questions for twelve-year-old Mira. When a series of strange events follow the Ouija game–including the discovery of a gravestone with her name on it–Mira sets out to find out just what exactly happened to her twelve years before.

A new boy in town does nothing to quell Mira’s fears. James dresses in strange clothes, hangs out in the cemetery, and makes bold claims about Mira’s past. As she gets to know the new boy, Mira wonders if James could hold the answers to all of her creepy questions.

Together, Mira and her best friend work to find out what, exactly, the new boy has to do with Mira’s past–before he can impact her future.


What I thought

I am so grateful to have been gifted a copy of this book from the author, and she was even kind enough to sign it! (Thank you, Kristyn!)

*Please note that this, in no way, affected my review!

If you are looking for a middle grade read that’s just the right amount of spooky for October, look no further! I thought this was an adorable read that young readers will just love. The writing was accessible without feeling dumbed down, and the plot was just spooky enough for those Halloween feels without being too scary. I also loved how sweet the ending turned out to be!

Anyhow, this is a short review for a short little book, but it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss out on if you’ve got a middle grade reader in your life this Halloween season!

Miss E. by Brian Herberger

30520466Miss E. by Brian Herberger
Publisher/Year: Birch Cove Books, 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 250
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟



Being the new kid in town is a way of life for Bets, but moving to California in 1967 is different. Her father leaves for the war in Vietnam, her history teacher gives an assignment that has the whole school searching for clues, and the town’s most mysterious resident shares a secret with Bets that has been hidden away for decades. When a peaceful protest spins out of control, Bets is forced to reconsider how she feels about the war her father is fighting and her own role in events taking place much closer to home.


What I thought

This book is, hands down, without a doubt, one of the best books I have read thus far in 2018. Set in the late ’60s in California and being a coming-of-age tale of sorts, this book seriously has my name all over it. I’ll be honest, I went into reading this with high expectations. I mean, with that stunning cover, how could I not? I’m happy to say that Miss E. went above & beyond my every expectation. It truly baffles me that this novel is not more well-known.

I loved so much about this book that I’m not quite sure where to begin. I guess I’ll just dive right in. Bets is one of the most authentic and endearing characters I have ever read. It was an absolute joy to read along with her journey. Good character development is one of my favorite features of a good book, and Bets’ growth throughout the story just hit the spot for me. She felt genuine and her development felt natural without feeling preachy. I just found out that we are going to see her in a sequel, and that makes me so unbelievably happy.

Miss E. wouldn’t be Miss E. without Miss E. I won’t give anything away, but she is one of my personal heroines. While reading about the various adventures that Miss E. and Bets had, particularly a few involving the sky, I just couldn’t help but imagine how thrilling that would be. On another note, I feel like Herberger absolutely hit the nail on the head with her characterization. She is just how I imagined she would be, and even just thinking about it now makes me feel all kinds of warm & fuzzy. And her scene in the last chapter? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have tears on my eyes and a big old smile on my face.

In addition to the major players, the minor characters were a delight, as well, with my favorites being Mr. Flynn, Emmie, and of course, Bets’ parents.

As for the plot itself, there wasn’t a moment I didn’t enjoy. This time period is one I’ve often wished that I could have lived during, so even just reading about Bets and her friend eating pizza at Sonny’s was wonderful to me. The story moved along in a easygoing way, and it really felt like a good summertime read. Not to mention, this was one of the most unique stories I’ve read in quite some time.

Overall, I could go on and on and on about Miss E. It moved me so much that I now consider it one of my all-time favorite books, and I know it’s going to stay with me for quite some time. Just take it from me, if this book sounds at all interesting to you, please please please read it. This is a special book that needs to be read. As for me, I’m going to need my own copy of this for my shelves, and I will be anxiously awaiting the sequel!

My Side of the Mountain (Mountain #1) by Jean Craighead George

231794My Side of the Mountain (Mountain #1) by Jean Craighead George 
Publisher/Year: Puffin Books, 2001
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Summary (from Goodreads)

Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going–all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.

Jean Craighead George, author of more than 80 children’s books, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves, created another prizewinner with My Side of the Mountain–a Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and a Hans Christian Andersen Award Honor Book. Astonishingly, she wrote its sequel, On the Far Side of the Mountain, 30 years later, and a decade after that penned the final book in the trilogy, Frightful’s Mountain, told from the falcon’s point of view. George has no doubt shaped generations of young readers with her outdoor adventures of the mind and spirit. (Ages 9 to 12) –Emilie Coulter


What I thought

When I was younger, Jean Craighead George was (and still remains) one of my favorite authors. How I managed to miss this book as a child is beyond me, but I am oh-so-glad I have discovered it now. This is a book I’m going to need to own.

As a nature enthusiast, I found so much delight in Sam’s story. I could just relate to him in a number of ways. I’ve always dreamed of retreating to the woods & finding my own Walden. I loved Sam’s journey into the wilderness, as well as his awe & appreciation for even the smallest & simplest things in nature. As for the plausibility of the story, I don’t really see how this story is so far out of the realm of possibility. My dad tells many tales of him & my uncle building their own cabin in the woods & being gone for days at a time. It was just the times. The only thing I found strange was that his parents let him skip school. But even then, I think what makes me feel worse is that it seems more unlikely that kids nowadays would be interested in anything other than screens long enough to attempt a venture like Sam’s. But I digress.

This is an excellent book, and it’s one I’m glad I read. If you enjoy the outdoors, young or old, add this to your list–especially if you enjoy survival or Walden-type stories. Sam is truly a delight, and for me, he is a kindred spirit whose character I will always hold dear.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita

28276050Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita
Publisher/Year: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015
Format: E-book
Pages: 210
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟




Our Mission: To turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes. 

Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked, exactly…but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).

Until she gets caught.

Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School–where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder just how good these bad guys are.


What I thought

This book was absolutely adorable! As a huge fan of fairy tales, I loved this to pieces. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a fairy tale retelling, but if you love fairy tales, this is one fairy tale-inspired story that you don’t want to miss!

Even though it lacks some of the development present in books meant for older readers, I found this to be an incredibly FUN read that also touched on important topics like the importance of friendship, the downfalls of bullying, and the differences between good & evil, villains & heroes.

Besides of all the fairy tale elements, which are so dear to me, I think what made this book so entertaining for me was Gilly. She was such a spunky narrator! Her fierce love for her family shines through her misguided attempts to simply do the right thing. I think her voice would be so fun to read out loud–she’s just so sassy. I wish we would have had more from some of the secondary characters, which is why I only gave this 4 stars.

As far as setting & plot go, I just loved the world of Enchantasia, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing this series so I can revisit this world. There were enough elements reminiscent of my favorite fairy tales to make the story feel familiar, while presenting a story unique enough to keep me entertained.

Overall, this book was an ADORABLE & heartwarming read for me. A valuable addition to middle grade literature, this is one I highly recommend, especially for fans of fairy tales!

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

originalCharlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Publisher/Year: Dell Publishing Co., Inc./1969 (Dell Yearling)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 184
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟





This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur–and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig.


What I thought

What is there to say about this wonderful book that hasn’t been said?

It’s absolutely a children’s classic, and I’m one of the fortunate ones who first encountered this book as a child. I remember very vividly my first elementary school library, just a small trailer that sat outside the school. And I remember that this book was hard to find because it was ALWAYS checked out.

Thankfully, I’m an adult now, and I have my own copy of this book that I hope to pass down to my kids someday. I’ve had this book on my “currently-reading” shelf for about a month now. I could have absolutely finished it in a day, but I love it so much that I wanted to stretch it out by reading just a couple pages each night before bed.

For as sad as this ending is (I definitely cried over this as a kid), this book just fills me with so much joy. I have always had a soft spot for animals, and especially animal stories, so this is right up my alley. It hearkens to a simpler time, both in the story & in my own life.

Besides nostalgia, I think everyone can agree that the best part of this book is the sweet friendship between Wilbur & Charlotte. It teaches what it means to truly be someone’s friend.

I also really loved E. B. White’s writing, and I’m a fan of many of his books. His writing is simple, but intelligent & evocative. It begs to be read aloud. I personally loved how White wrote about nature & the changing of seasons & how precious life is.

Overall, I could go on & on about this little book, but seriously, just go read it. It is the one & ONLY time you’ll ever hear me speak fondly of a spider. With an unforgettable cast of characters and a dear friendship that will bring tears to your eyes, Charlotte’s Web is a children’s classic that is not to be missed!

The Crisscross Shadow (Hardy Boys #32) by Franklin W. Dixon


The Crisscross Shadow (Hardy Boys #32) by Franklin W. Dixon
Publisher/Year: Grosset & Dunlap, 1997 (1953 original pub.)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 177
Rating: 🌟🌟


When a man selling leather goods door-to-door steals the key to their detective father’s file cabinet, Frank and Joe Hardy set out to track him down.

An odd mark on a key case which the man sold to their mother leads the teen-age sleuths to an Indian village, whose chief begs them to help him. Two strangers have claimed title to the Indians’ land, the deed to which had been secretly buried by the chief’s father, along with other valuable tribal possessions, shortly before he died. The only clue to the location is that a crisscross shadow marks the site when the October full moon is low in the sky.

How Frank and Joe find the missing deed and the other Ramapan treasures, how they prevent the phony leather-goods salesman from carrying out a ruthless scheme, and how they help their father solve the top-secret case he is working on for the U.S. government makes exciting reading for all fans of the Hardy boys.

What I thought

Reading this as an adult, this is just an “okay” read for me. I was entertained for a while, and it was an easy read. I like going back & visiting children’s classics, in case I ever have kids of my own.

The writing seems a little dated, but I didn’t mind that. I like that it takes you back to a simpler time.

Although I probably won’t re-read this anytime soon, it was a fun & entertaining read. I honestly wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen, even though this is one of those where you know everything will work out in the end. This would be a good way to spend an afternoon–caught up in a good old-fashioned mystery/adventure.

Luv, Amelia Luv, Nadia by Marissa Moss



LUV, AMELIA LUV, NADIA by Marissa Moss
Publisher/Year: Pleasant Company Publications, 1999
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Amelia’s notebooks entertain readers with great stories about the ups and downs of growing up, told from the perspective of an inquisitive, insightful 10-year-old girl. What’s more, her witty words and whimsical doodles encourage girls to express their creativity by drawing and writing about their own lives.

Amelia can’t wait for Nadia’s next letter. When it finally comes, Nadia needs help! Can Amelia find the answer to Nadia’s problem — and to her own family secret?

What I thought

I ADORED Amelia’s notebooks when I was growing up & I remember this one as a particular favorite. For one, I have always loved the epistolary format of storytelling. And I have always thought that these notebooks were so creative, especially the doodles. Plus, with this particular book, there are “real letters” that you can pull out of envelopes to read, which was always fun. I think one of my favorite things about this series was always how insightful Amelia is. Her & Nadia talk about some pretty heavy things that happen to them, but they talk about them & process them as kids would. Their voices ring true is what I guess I’m trying to say.

I truly think these are GREAT books for young girls that encourage them to use their brains, their imaginations & their own brands of creativity.