The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: A Fiendish Arrangement (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: Book 1) by Alexandra Bracken

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #1)

Title: The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney Book Group, Disney-Hyperion

Date of publication: September 5th, 2017

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grade

POV: Alternating 1st person

Series: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding – Book 1

Where you can find The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.”

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host. 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts, passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

Trigger Warning: None

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Tightrope Walker by Shaun Hume

Tightrope Walker

Title: Tightrope Walker

Author: Shaun Hume

Publisher: Popcorn & Rice Publishing

Date of publication: March 31st, 2013

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Number of pages: 193

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Tightrope Walker: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Hetta is a Tightrope Walker. A leader of armies. She has been one all her life. But Hetta has just turned thirteen, and there has never been a thirteen-year-old Tightrope Walker. Ever. Is she too old to do her duty? Is she too old to walk upon the field of battle and survive?

Trigger Warning: None

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The List by Patricia Forde

The List

Title: The List

Author: Patricia Forde

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Date of publication: August 8th, 2017

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 336

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words but culture itself.

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Morning Glory (North Oak: Book 3) by Ann Hunter

Morning Glory (North Oak, #3)

Title: Morning Glory

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: February 5th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade

Number of pages: 184

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory – Book 3

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find Morning Glory: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Sequel to Born to Run and Yearling

Can Alex & Brooke help Morning Glory overcome her racing slump?

When a terrible accident shakes the Showmans, Alex finds herself questioning her place in the family. Feeling like a second class citizen, she turns once again to find her solace in horse racing.
With a new filly to manage with Brooke, and Venus Galaxies’s first foal on the way, the girls must rely on each other to make things work out.
But will a handsome, foreign newcomer split them apart once again?

Find out in MORNING GLORY

To learn more about Morning Glory, check out this cool video by former jockey, Frankie Lavato:

My review:

Morning Glory picks up shortly after the events of Yearling. What I liked is that instead of focusing solely on Alex, the book shifts focus to Brooke and examines her relationship with Alex (which had been touched upon in the first two books), Laura and her grandfather, Joe….who is the head trainer at North Oaks. I thought that it was great that Brooke’s story got to be told in tandem with Alex’s because they shared so many similarities. The only thing is that Brooke was raised with love and Alex, well, if you read Born to Run, you know what happened to her.

Alex was still the wise guy as in the first 3 books but she was settling in with Cade, Hilary, and Laura. She was part of a family, something that she never had before and she was coming out of her shell. She even had a best friend (and I will get into more of her relationship with Carol a little later). Then there was a horrible accident involving Laura, and Alex was there (she didn’t cause it). Even though she saved Laura’s life, she was still shunted off to the side while Cade and Hilary dealt with every parent’s worse nightmare. I felt awful for her during those scenes because she went from being included and loved to being ignored by the person she needed the most.

Speaking of that, I really wanted to smack Hilary upside the head. What the heck was she thinking and it was almost like she blamed Alex for the accident. No words of thank for Alex, who dragged Laura out of a burning car. Just a cold shoulder and she freaked out on Alex two separate times, almost injuring Alex once when she pulled Alex from Prom. I seriously got mad and Cade explanation didn’t cut it. It took Alex taking a personal item and giving it back to Hilary while freaking out on her to wake Hilary up.

Alex’s friendship with Carol was a beautiful thing to read. Carol loved her unconditionally and wasn’t afraid to tell Alex that she needed to face her demons before they got worse and consumed her. I just couldn’t get a grip on how Alex felt about Carol. I didn’t know if it was romantic love or friendship love. There were a few scenes where it seemed like romantic love (because of the way they were written) but then it would morph into a more friendship like love. Not that it had any bearing on the story but it was definitely something that I was wondering about as I read it. And for the record, even if Alex turned out to like girls, I would let my 11-year-old read the book. As I tell her, “Who a person loves doesn’t define them. Their actions do, so never a judge a person by who they love

Alex’s PTSD and her survivor’s guilt came across very strong in this book also. My heart bled for her when Carol found her in her room on the 4th of July, hiding from the fireworks. I could not understand why she wasn’t put into therapy after the first book. She was dealing with everything by herself, well with Carol’s help, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. But again, it goes back to the theme I talked about it Yearling, about her issues not magically going away and to be honest, it was refreshing to read a book where everything was out in the open and the character was struggling to come to terms with her traumatic events (and yes, I phrased something very similar in Yearling‘s review).

I like I said above, I liked that Brooke got some love in this book and I liked how similar she was to Alex, in ways. She was independent and was able to make adult decisions at the age of 16. She also took care of her grandfather, Joe and made sure that his drinking didn’t get out of control. She was also a great trainer in training (mouthful much). But she was a teenager and made decisions that are well, teenager like. Like taking her earnings and buying a racehorse who was a dud. While I thought Joe was a jerk, because of how he treated Alex but there is a back story there, I thought he was right in telling Brooke that she needed to find another place to board Morning Glory. I also thought that North was right to do what he did towards the end of the book.

The end of the book was pretty standard and like Yearling, it did leave the book open for book 4. There are a few questions that I want to be answered that will, hopefully, be answered in book 4. Like, will Alex ever find out who North is to her? Will Joe ever accept Alex? Will Dejado make an appearance in book 4 and will he ever be more to Brooke? So many questions!!!

How many stars will I give Morning Glory: 4

Why: Complex characters and an engaging storyline kept me reading until late into the night.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Early teen

Why: Mild language

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Yearling (North Oak: Book 2) by Ann Hunter

Yearling (North Oak #2)

Title: Yearling

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: October 1st, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2

Morning Glory – Book 3

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find Yearling: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A new year has come to North Oak and with it a new life for Alexandra Anderson. Will she be able to open her heart to others when it’s still battling demons from her past? Or will she go so deep into herself where no one can touch her, and risk losing Promenade in the Keeneland Yearling Sale?

Don’t miss this sequel to North Oak #1: Born to Run!

On the heels of Joanna Campbell’s beloved Thoroughbred Series, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion comes a brand new young adult horse racing series that will sweep you away like a runaway Thoroughbred.

EXCERPT:
“I should be happy,” Alex sighed. “These folks, they’re real nice. For the first time in my life, I’m wanted. Well, they say that they want me. I almost feel needed sometimes. I don’t have to steal food anymore, or run away from what I’ve done, I’ve even got a warm bed. But the fact is… when I think of Ashley, I just want her back and nothing else. I want a life she exists in. And wanting that… it spoils what I have. I feel so ungrateful when I think of the life we could have made if we ran away from Haven together like we planned. I feel ungrateful because I would rather have a life on the streets with Ashley than a warm bed and you. I mean who in their right mind wants something like that? There’s something wrong with me.”

My review:

I am always on the hunt for a good middle-grade book for my 9 and 11-year-olds. Mainly my 11-year-old, who is an insatiable reader. So when Ann approached me to review Yearling, I gladly accepted. I am glad I did because this book was fantastic. There was no sophomore slump and honestly, that along with the vivid characters and background is what sold me on the book. Also, what sold me, was that it is a great book for anyone 11 and older (and the main reason I read it).

Alex, I wanted to reach through the book and give her a hug and tell her “It will be alright”. I am glad that the author made her as flawed as she did because it made her more relatable. I also liked that the author showed that traumatic events and losses (if you want to know what…read Born to Run) aren’t magically healed in between books. But, the author also showed how animals, in this case, a yearling named Promenade, can help a person with their healing….along with a support system and people who love unconditionally.

Now, saying what I said above, Alex was a very funny, sarcastic tween. Looking at my tween, I can say that the author is dead on with the mannerisms and attitude that Alex had. Gave me some really good laughs when I was reading. The biggest laugh was when Alex started her monthly and thought she was dying. I was outside and started laughing my butt off. Then when Hilary finds out and finds out that Alex doesn’t know anything about puberty or even had “The Talk“, she goes into Mom mode big time. Which included having Alex watch “A League of Their Own“(which personally is one of my favorite movies) and that becomes a running joke through the rest of the series. Also, Alex’s sex ed lesson was very interesting as was her reaction….lol.

The friendship storyline was fantastic and I like how the author took the time for Alex and Carol to build up their friendship. It went from Alex keeping her at arm’s length to embracing her as a friend and she was willing to do anything to protect her. Which meant standing up to Carol’s bully.

Now, I will be the first one to admit, I know nothing about Thoroughbred racing, racing farms or horses so I loved that the author explained everything in the book in ways that were understandable and interesting. From the stud services (see, I know that much…haha) to foaling to training the yearlings to training the racehorses, everything was explained in a way that never made you go “Eh”. Instead, it makes you go “Oh, well that makes sense”.

The end of the book really didn’t feel like an ending. While certain storylines were wrapped up, new ones were revealed and there are old ones that weren’t wrapped up. There was definitely an opening for book 3 (Morning Glory) and I will be posting my review of that soon!!

How many stars will I give Yearling: 4

Why: A wonderfully written middle grade book that actually brings to mind The Black Stallion series. I loved the plotlines, the characters…everything about the book.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Young Teen

Why: Mild cursing, no sex or violence

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light by Jaimie Engel

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Title: Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Author: Jaimie M. Engle

Publisher: JME Books

Date of publication, September 24th, 2013

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Clifton Chase is the latest target for bully Ryan Rivales. But after he finds a mysterious arrow in his closet, he takes Ryan’s bet to see who can hit the target. Ryan nails the bull’s-eye, but Clifton’s piece of junk arrow sails out of sight and when he finally finds it, something isn’t right. Somehow, Clifton has been magically transported back to 1485 England, where he meets two princes bullied by their tyrant uncle who locked them in prison to steal their throne. Only after Clifton learns the true meaning of friendship, bravery, and sacrifice can he help the princes escape and find the courage to face his own bully. Befriended by a dwarf, a mythical bird called Simurgh, and a cast of comical characters, Clifton’s fantasy adventure through medieval times is perfect for boys and girls of all ages, and the young at heart. For those who like fantasy kids books like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

My review:

I was setting up to review Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light and my 11-year-old happened to wander over and was looking over my shoulder. She was very excited after reading the blurb and begged me to buy the book for her once I was done reading it. I asked her what made her want to read it and she said “Mom, just read the blurb. A bullied boy gets transported back in time and help other bullied boys. Sounds like something I would love to read.

I would have to agree with her about that. Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light was a book that I loved reading. Wonderfully written, I was taken on a journey of self-discovery and courage and Clifton realizes his worth and gets the courage to do what is right.

I will admit that Clifton was a little bratty in the beginning of the book. To be honest, I thought his first interactions with Ryan were more about jealousy than being bullied and he started to annoy me….big time. But the more I read, the more I started to understand that Ryan was being a bully and my annoyance with Clifton started to fade. By the time I got to the part of the book where Clifton’s parents were making him write an apology letter to the coach and Ryan, my annoyance faded and I felt bad for him.

I thought that the historical fantasy part of the book was fantastic. From the minute Clifton landed in 1485 England and met Dane, I was entranced. There were dwarves, dragons, sea monsters, mermaids, a magical arrow and a magical bird who has a human face. Add in that it takes place in 1485 England with real historical people, places, and events and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I did have a small complaint about the modern language that Clifton used with talking to Prince Edward, Prince Richard, and Lady Elizabeth. But, then I thought about it a bit and how was he supposed to talk. He was a visitor sent back in time….how was he supposed to talk? So my little complaint ended shortly after I had that thought.

The growth of Clifton in the book was great. He went from being an insecure little boy who didn’t know how to deal with a bully to a confident young man who had the wisdom to know when to walk away from his bully. While the transformation was gradual, it really showed at the end of the book with the choices that Clifton made both in his life in Melbourne, Florida and in 1485 England.

Speaking of the end of the book, I really liked it and I also liked that the author chose to leave it with the possibility that there could be a book 2. Which I hope there is because I can’t wait to see what adventures Clifton will go on next.

How many stars will I give Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light: 4

Why: This is a book that I would feel very comfortable letting both my 9-year-old and 11-year-old read. It has a great plot line with relatable characters.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Tween

Why: mild violence but otherwise a very clean book.  I will add a trigger warning because of the bullying scenes.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Real Friends by Shannon Hale, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Real Friends

Title: Real Friends

Author: Shannon Hale

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Publisher: First Second Books

Date of Publication: May 2nd, 2017

Genre: Comics, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade

Number of pages: 224

POV: 1st person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book Synopsis: 

When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

My review:

Real Friends is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about a girl who is trying to find her place at school and at home. Dealing with subjects like bullying, anxiety, and OCD, Real Friends is a must read for any child or parent who is going through something similar.

I think that this should be a book that every parent should have their children between 2nd and 5th grade read. Shannon could be any child, in any school with these very real problems and I think it would do a child good to read a graphic novel where the character is going through the same things as they are. That way they can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that one day, those that were picking on them eventually end up in their shoes.

Shannon did come across as someone who would do anything to stay in “The Group”. Anything and when I was reading those chapters where she was doing that, I wanted to cry for her. She was trying to so hard and they just treated her like she was invisible. But as she got older and more mature, she slowly began to realize that it wasn’t her. I think that when she broke up with “The Group” and started making friends with the older kids in her grade (she was in a 5th grade/6th-grade split class), that she realized her worth.

Adrienne and Jen annoyed the ever-living out of me. Adrienne for not being a true friend to Shannon. She allowed those girls, well mainly Jen, to bully Shannon, spread lies about her and just make Shannon’s life miserable. What really got me annoyed with her was when she allowed her brother to scream at Shannon and then agreed with some of what he said.

And don’t get me started on Jen. What a miserable, unhappy girl. She found an easy victim in Shannon and took every opportunity to let her know how unpopular she was or how lucky she was being allowed to hang out with them. I will say that I agreed with Shannon’s decision at the end of the book. I know the author had some reserves about writing that part of the story the way she wrote it and I will say….I agreed with the way it was written.

The drama at home was pretty hard to read too. Shannon’s sister, Wendy, was portrayed as a bear for most of the book and she was so mean to her. I was a little shocked that there was physical violence shown. That being Wendy smacking Shannon around and I started to get angry at Wendy. But, the more the story went on, the more that the author let little things slip about Wendy. About her struggles with bullies and making friends at school. Which made me understand why she acted the way she acted.

The end of the book was very well written and I loved the afterward that the author wrote.

How many stars will I give Real Friends: 4

Why: I enjoyed reading this book and thought that the message that was included in it was one that every child should read. This was the 2nd graphic novel that I have read and I really liked it. The illustrations were fantastic!!

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Child

Why: This is a middle-grade book, written for children between 8-12. There is some slight violence in the book but it is going with the storyline about bullying and drama at home.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**