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Unicorn Crossing (Phoebe and Her Unicorn) by Dana Simpson

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Unicorn Crossing is the fifth book in the Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure series by Dana Simpson. My three girls- especially my oldest- are big fans of this comic, so I was very excited about the opportunity to share this with them.

Phoebe is a fairly average girl, with one notable exception: her pet unicorn Marigold. Phoebe and Marigold navigate a fairly typical American childhood with a good sense of humor. This dynamic duo experiences seasons, holidays, school, friendship, and more. A fairly small ensemble rounds out the cast: Phoebe’s parents, her friend Max, and her frenemy Dakota. There are plenty of pop culture references, with a notable geeky slant. Continue reading

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The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost History of Stars is a novel by Dave Boling. I was looking forward to reading this book because it is set in South Africa, just like one of my all-time favorites- The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Almost immediately, I realized there was a connection between the books: in The Power of One, the English protagonist is severely bullied by Boer boys at his boarding school as punishment for the abuse their grandparents suffered in concentration camps at the hands of the English. The Lost History of Stars is an account of life in those camps as seen by a teenage girl.

Lettie is sent to a concentration camp along with her brother and mother after their farm is burned to the ground by the English. Her father, older brother, grandfather, and uncles are all conducting guerilla operations against the English. Conditions in the camp are bleak, and disease is rampant. Lettie is rather stoic about her experience, and tries to find pleasure in small moments. One of her most treasured possessions is her English dictionary, which she reads for comfort and to pass the time. Continue reading

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Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have been a big fan of Kevin Kwan since his first book, Crazy Rich Asians, which was published in 2013. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read the third installment of the series- Rich People Problems.

As the story resumes, beloved matriarch Sun Yi falls ill, and her large extended family flies in from around the world, although it remains to be seen whether they arrive out of filial obligation or because they hope to inherit Tyersall Park, the family compound. Let’s be honest with each other: it’s mostly the latter.  Continue reading

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Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

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I’m so happy that my girls enjoy reading as much as I do. We try to read together every night, and we also listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car. We’ve read several of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, so when the girls asked if we could listen to a story, I put on Ramona and Her Mother.

Ramona and Her Mother is the fifth book in the Ramona series, and it takes place immediately after the events of Ramona and Her Father. Some of the other books in the series jump forward to the next school year, but Ramona and Her Father ends with a Christmas pageant and Ramona and Her Mother begins with a New Year’s Day brunch.

In this book, Ramona struggles to find her place within her family. She has some moments of introspection when little Willa Jean acts like a pest, and Ramona is indignant when people compare Willa Jean to her. Ramona has always appreciated being the baby of the family, but now feels left out when she sees her sister Beezus helping their mother with chores. Continue reading

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The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I always appreciate the opportunity to read advanced copies of middle grade novels because I have three girls in elementary school. We read the books together, and their feedback helps me with my book reviews.

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina  is the first book in a new series by Kara LaReau. Jaundice and Kale Bland live by themselves. Their parents left on an errand several years ago, and never returned. This does not bother Jaundice and Kale; they are perfectly content to sit at home, darn socks, and eat cheese sandwiches. If there is a question that they can’t answer, they consult their beloved children’s dictionary. Their lives are simple and predictable. But one day, a mysterious visitor arrives, and Jaundice and Kale are carried off (quite literally) on an unintentional adventure featuring a ferocious crew of female pirates. Along the way, they will make friends, and more importantly, they will learn that they are intelligent and capable.   Continue reading

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The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am always excited about the opportunity to read ARCs of middle grade books because my three girls are in the target demographic. Not only do we get quality time together every night, but they are able to provide valuable feedback for my book reviews.

The Adventures of Henry Whiskers is author Gigi Priebe’s first book. She transports the reader to England and introduces us to a young mouse named Henry Whiskers. Henry and his family live in Windsor Castle; specifically, they live in Queen Mary’s dollhouse, a grand edifice with functioning appliances and real books, etc. Henry is always very careful to avoid being detected by the museum staff, but when his little sister goes missing, Henry knows that he is the only one who can find her. Accompanied by his cousin Jeremy, the two mice set out on a grand adventure to rescue their beloved Isabel. Continue reading

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I Want That Love by Tatsuya Miyanishi

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My girls and I have been enjoying the Tyrannosaurus books. This is a series of picture book written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi. The books are very popular in Japan, and are now being published here in the United States. They have been releasing a new Tyrannosaurus book every six months or so.

I Want That Love is the third Tyrannosaurus book that they have published. In this story, a mean Tyrannosaurus goes about terrorizing people simply because no one can stop him. He receives his comeuppance when he is an old dinosaur, and is attacked by a masiakasaurus. After that, the Tyrannosaurus is still not ready to mend his wicked ways, but then he is helped by a group of baby triceratops. Only then, does he truly learn that kindness is more important than strength and power. Continue reading