Middle Grade

How to Be a Pirate (How to Train Your Dragon #2)

How to Be a Pirate

Summary:

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was a Viking Hero--dashing, brave, and ever so clever. But even Viking heroes have to begin somewhere. In this rip-roaring adventure he recounts his early days--when he still had a lot to learn about swordfights, shipwrecks, and homicidal dragons.... (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

Much like the first in the series, this book took me a little to get into it (mostly because I keep thinking of the movie version), but once I got started I found myself surprised into some chuckles throughout.  Hiccup is still completely inept (and Toothless perhaps much worse), yet is completely endearing at the same time.

I enjoyed seeing how he handled the chaos and stepped up to the plate multiple times when it wasn’t particularly in his favor to do so.  He and Fishlegs somehow manage to make good decisions in the end and leave the reader happy with the book.  I’d certainly recommend the series to any middle grade reader!

Rating: 4 stars!

Want to read the whole series?

  • How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon #1)
  • How to Speak Dragonese (How to Train Your Dragon #3)
  • How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (How to Train Your Dragon #4)
  • How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (How to Train Your Dragon #5)
  • A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons (How to Train Your Dragon #6)
  • How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm (How to Train Your Dragon #7)
  • How to Break a Dragon’s Heart (How to Train Your Dragon #8)
  • How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword (How to Train Your Dragon #9)
  • How to Seize a Dragon’s Jewel (How to Train Your Dragon #10)
  • How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero (How to Train Your Dragon #11)
  • One More Day (How to Train Your Dragon #12)

Sandry’s Book (Circle of Magic #1)

Sandry's Book

Summary:

With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic - and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place where they've ever been accepted?  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

I decided to reread this series (third time I believe?) as an adult since I believe the last time I had done it was before I went to college.  I was a little surprised to realize this first series (Circle of Magic) was geared for slightly younger audiences that the subsequent series (The Circle Opens).  The idea is that readers can grow up with the characters, but I hadn’t remembered that.  Despite being outside the target audience, I still really enjoyed these books.  Sandry is one of my favorites because her heart is just so big.  She’s courageous and isn’t afraid to stick up for her friends – whether they want her to or not.

I also like that the characters are not instant friends although they do seems to instantly grasp their magic.  Their relationship builds over the course of this first book making it feel more organic than forced.  All in all, this is a very quick read that sets the pace and tone for the subsequent books in the series and I’d highly recommend them for Tamora Pierce fans or younger readers.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Middle grade to younger adults (~11 years old) and those young at heart.

Want to read the whole series?

Bad Luck (Bad #2)

Bad Luck

Summary:

Some people have all the luck. 
Unfortunately, Clay isn't one of them: He's the only camper at Earth Ranch without a magical talent. As if feeling totally useless isn't enough, Clay has to figure out what to do about Brett, a castaway boy who has just washed ashore and is determined to keep his presence a secret. Even as Clay helps his new friend hide in the remote volcanic island's wilderness, another fiery mystery begins to emerge, with all signs pointing to the impossible idea that dragons once roamed the island...and may still. Can Clay and his friends turn their luck around in time to uncover Price Island's secrets--and save it from a scorching end?
Danger, adventure, mischief, mystery, old foes, new friends, and a delightfully elusive narrator make bestselling author Pseudonymous Bosch's latest novel completely irresistible. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

This was a solid read that kept me entertained despite being outside the target audience.  There was a little more fart humor than I would have normally chosen, but once again – no the target audience.  The book does a good job weaving together the two storylines and merging them together towards the end.  I liked that there weren’t any stereotypical adults (or kids) in the book, which kept it interesting.

I think this series would appeal to most middle grade kids although it’s slightly in favor of the boys.  It ends with a cliffhanger so if you’ll have to commit to the last book if you want to find out what happens!

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Middle grade readers who would like a non-traditional hero and magic.

Want to read the whole series?

  • Bad Magic (Bad #1)
  • Bad News (Bad #3)

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #3)

Donner Dinner Party

Summary:

 The Donner Party expedition is one of the most notorious stories in all of American history. It’s also a fascinating snapshot of the westward expansion of the United States, and the families and individuals who sacrificed so much to build new lives in a largely unknown landscape. From the preparation for the journey to each disastrous leg of the trip, this book shows the specific bad decisions that led to the party’s predicament in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The graphic novel focuses on the struggles of the Reed family to tell the true story of the catastrophic journey.
This popular topic is a perfect addition to the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales brand, and a great showcase for Hale’s storytelling skills. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

I heard about this series from “Stuff you Missed in History Class” and absolutely loved the idea of using graphic novels to tell non-fiction stories.  Despite having been fascinated by the Donner Party as a kid, I learned a lot of new facts about the story and what happened up in the mountains.

The graphic novel format softens the blow in a sense, without glossing over the bad parts of the story.  I really loved the narrator’s commentary on the different aspects.  I think this would be a great book for anyone looking to learn more about history, parents who want their kids to learn something a little more educational or someone looking for something to read with kids. 

Warning: Contains repeated violence, starvation and cannibalism.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone looking for a fun and non-traditional way to learn about history.

Want to read the whole series?

  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #1)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad! (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #2)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #4)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #5)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Starts (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #6)