Review: Ruby Holler

  • Author: Sharon Creech
  • Pages: 288
  • Genre: Middle-Grade

Brother and sister Dallas and Florida are the “trouble twins.” In their short thirteen years, they’ve passed through countless foster homes, only to return to their dreary orphanage, Boxton Creek Home.

Run by the Trepids, a greedy and strict couple, Boxton Creek seems impossible to escape. When Mr. Trepid informs the twins that they’ll be helping old Tiller and Sairy Morey go on separate adventures, Dallas and Florida are suspicious.

As the twins adjust to the natural beauty of the outdoors, help the Tillers prepare for their adventures, and foil a robbery, their ultimate search for freedom leads them home to Ruby Holler.

Ruby Holler is the second book by Creech that I’ve read that is about orphans.  However, this book is a much sweeter story in comparison to The Wanderer.  It’s also a tad bit slower in pacing, and a little more relaxed, which makes sense, given it takes place in a holler instead of a boat out on the ocean.

The difference in pacing and intensity is one of the reasons why I didn’t love Ruby Holler nearly as much as The Wanderer.  What really sealed it’s fate, however, was how simple it was.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed being able to relax into a comforting story set in a house surrounded by woods with two elderly and very loving people who enjoyed cooking wonderful food.  It just wasn’t all that realistic compared to The Wanderer.  It felt more like the fantasies of children who are stuck living in the kinds of cold, unloving places like Boxton Creek Home.  It was the kind of fantasy I would have dreamed up when I was a little younger than Dallas and Florida.

If it weren’t for the interwoven message that children deserve to be loved for who they are instead of constantly punished for the small troubles they get into, I might have considered the story to be more fitting to children who are not quite ready for Middle-Grade books.  In fact, Ruby Holler is only one step above a chapter book.  I would definitely recommend it for children who need something a little more advanced, but who aren’t ready for something like “Harry Potter” or “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Review: The Wanderer

Thirteen-year-old Sophie hears the sea calling, promising adventure and a chance for discovery as she sets sail for England with her three uncles and two cousins. Sophie’s cousin Cody isn’t sure he has the strength to prove himself to the crew and to his father. Through Sophie’s and Cody’s travel logs, we hear stories of the past and the daily challenges of surviving at sea as The Wanderer sails toward its destination — and its passengers search for their places in the world. – Goodreads Synopsis

I don’t remember when or why I purchased this ebook, but I’m glad I did.  I’m also happy to have finally read The Wanderer and discovered how talented Sharon Creech is at writing Middle Grade fiction.

My reason for saying Creech is talented is because I’m not remotely interested in sailing, and yet this story of a family sailing trip to England from the East Coast of the United States pulled me in from the first line.  I remember thinking, “OK, this grabbed my interest, but I’m sure it will quickly disappear as I get further into the book.”  Nope, not even close.  I was irritated whenever I had to put my Nook down to do anything else.  I stayed up well past my bedtime when I got to the climax of the story because I HAD to know what would happen.  Creech managed this by keeping Sophie’s back story a mystery and doling out bits and pieces that led to more questions throughout the book.  She also made sure that my assumptions about the other characters were called into question.  It wasn’t until after I finished reading it that I realized this is a Hero’s Journey, with a rhythm that matched the ocean they sailed on.

While I still have no interest in sailing (I prefer relaxing while I travel), I became extremely interested in reading more of Creech’s work.  I’ll be reviewing another of her books, Ruby Holler, later this week, but just know you definitely have to read The Wanderer.  It might not make you want to go sailing, but you could find yourself viewing the meaning of family in a new light.

This book qualifies for the COYER Scavenger Hunt item #29 (a book with no magical or futuristic elements).

Review: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye

warren

  • Author: Tania del Rio
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Quirk Books
  • Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye was good, but not quite what I was expecting.  While it could be put in the Gothic category, there is a Steam Punk element that surprised me.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing; at least for me.  Middle-Grade readers will probably love it.

Perhaps my problem is that I was expecting a story that was a bit darker like Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books.  It’s close to that kind of darkness, but not quite.  Also, the story is rather simple.  There isn’t much complexity at all, and that leads me to think that perhaps this book was written for the youngest Middle-Grade reader.

Overall, it’s still an excellent choice for young readers, especially if they’ve just graduated from Children’s books.  Adult readers will likely enjoy reading it aloud to their kids as well.

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Review: Billy Lovecraft Saves the World

Billy

  • Author: Billy Lovecraft
  • ISBN: 9781620077870
  • Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
  • Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy/Horror
  • Pages: 188

I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

The last thing Billy Lovecraft’s parents sent him before the crash was a photo of something on the wing of their plane.

Now he’s stuck with a horrible and heart-breaking mystery: What was that awful creature, and why were his parents targeted?

It’s up to Billy to gather a team of like-minded kids and lead them through a dark new reality where the monsters are real, not everyone is who they seem to be, and an ancient alien wants to devour the world. – Goodreads

This is one of those books that I would have raved about on Twitter if I could have stopped myself from reading it long enough to do so.  Instead, I plowed through the pages as if they were going to be erased from my Kindle before I could finish.  I had so much fun reading Billy Lovecraft Saves the World that I’m beginning to think I enjoy Middle-Grade Fantasy and Horror above all other genres and subgenres.

I also sort of wish I had saved this book for October.  It’s the perfect read for that time of year since it’s a giant nod to H.P. Lovecraft, the king of the weird tale.  It’s also the perfect book for any fan of H.P. Lovecraft to give their kid as an introduction to his brand of Horror.  There are only a few tense, mildly frightening moments that the majority of Middle-Grade children could easily handle while also discovering the world and creatures H.P. Lovecraft invented.  Who wouldn’t want their kids to find out the awesomeness of the classic works of genre fiction?

The greatest part of Billy Lovecraft Saves the World is that I never once had to forcibly suspend disbelief.  I was fully immersed in the story and didn’t come back up for air until the end of the last page.  If you’re at all a fan of Middle-Grade Horror or H.P Lovecraft, you have to read this book.

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Review: Greenglass House

Greenglass

  • Author: Kate Milford
  • ISBN: 9780544052703
  • Genre: Middle-Grade Mystery

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves. – Goodreads synopsis

Greenglass House was one of my many book purchases last year when I had a couple of gift cards and a long wishlist.  Though I had wanted to read it for quite some time, I saved it for the Winter because just look at that cover!  I have to admit, while the synopsis is what sold me on this book, the cover art is what initially caught my interest.  I was not disappointed.

This is the perfect book for curling up under a blanket with an endless mug of hot chocolate, especially if you have a fireplace, and I’m not sure there’s a better book out there to read during the Winter.  I read it over the Holidays since the story takes place over Milo’s Winter break from school, and I would have finished it much more quickly if life hadn’t gotten in the way.

I will definitely be checking out Kate Milford’s other books.  If you’re looking for a fun Winter read, give Greenglass House a try.  After you finish, head on over to Nagspeake Online for more wintry fun.