Hello readers. Welcome to Blogmas day 2! Today I am wrapping up the reading month for the month of November, Believathon, and Tome Topple round 13. I had a pretty good reading month in November. I read a lot of what I wanted to, which is better than months previous. I technically only finished one book for Tome Topple round 13. I did start and DNF another book. I am manifesting an amazing Tome Topple 14!
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Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson (5 stars)
This middle grade book was super short, but impactful. It follows a young boy whose father is a football player. He slowly starts to get symptoms of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a condition caused from repeated trauma to the head. It was an absolutely heartbreaking story to see a kid losing his father, when he was still fully alive.
Synopsis: For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that–but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?
Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein (4 stars)
This is the 3rd book in a mystery middle grade series. Each book in the series has a different game aspect to it. In the first book, the MC gets a chance to see the inside of a new library before anyone else that was built buy his favorite board game maker named Luigi Lemoncello. He and a few others get to compete to escape the library for a prize. This library is unlike any other. There are VR games, holograms of celebrities and historical figures, and other fun things to make learning fun for all kids. It is fast paced making a really quick and fun read for any age.
Synopsis (of book 1): Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high. In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.
The Getaway and The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney
These two books are the 12th and 13th books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. They are not my favorites in the series. The Meltdown was probably my least favorite book in the whole series. They have been on every TBR I have done this year since, probably, June or July. There is now two more out in the series, so I need to get to those in 2021, plus whatever else is published then. I am just happy I FINALLY got to these two books.
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (4 stars)
This is a non-fiction graphic novel sequel to a book called Smile. I don’t think you need to read it to read this one. This one centers around Raina and her sister. I think it was cute story, but it didn’t have much for plot. I don’t think I am the target audience for this book, as I am an only child, but it was a cute story, overall.
Synopsis:Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, when something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all. Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by Victoria Schwab (5 stars)
I am surprised I managed to get this one from the library as fast as I did. This book is one of my favs of the whole year. I do agree with most people that Luc should have been in the book more. This book has two timelines, and I think she managed to weave them in very well. If you are a plot driven reader, you might not love this one, as there isn’t much of a plot, but otherwise, I think most people will love it.
Synopsis: France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name. In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (3 stars)
On the other hand, I read this book next and I didn’t love it. This is one of those books that just did not click with me. I don’t know if I actually will get to Our Dark Duet in December after finishing this one. I read this book because of the VE Schwab-along and I will join the readalong again in January, for whatever they do read, I just don’t know if I will get to the sequel of this one.
Synopsis:There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (5 stars)
This is honestly one of the best middle grade books I have ever read. It should be one of those required books in school. I think it has a lot of themes that most required reading has, but it isn’t appropriated by a white writer. It’s about prejudice and grief. King and the Dragonflies is a coming-of-age and self realization type middle grade, and I loved it. It is important to know that most prejudice comes from the home. If you have children, please take the time out of your week and read books like this to them. Teach them about people who are different from them. Show them they will be loved if they realize they are LGBT. It is so important that the next generations are nothing like the previous ones.
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.
It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy—that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”
But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (5 stars)
This is an ongoing mystery series that takes place at a boarding school for smart teens. Each teen has a different niche. There are artists, scientists, writers, actors, etc. The MC is very good at solving crimes and loves to study them. This book follows two timelines, with separate characters, and I think Johnson managed to do it well. I do have to say, there is a huge cliffhanger at the end, so I need to read the next one VERY soon.
Synopsis: Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”
Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
Malorie by Josh Malerman (2 stars)
I was going to read this one in December, but I managed to get it at the very end of November. I didn’t like this book. If you would like to see my spoiler thoughts, you can check out my review on Goodreads. However, I will say I didn’t like the ending. I didn’t like how fast and easy the plot was solved. I have heard it already has a movie deal, so I will see it when it comes out. I just don’t think he put the effort into this one in the way he did for Bird Box.
Synopsis: Twelve years after Malorie and her children rowed up the river to safety, a blindfold is still the only thing that stands between sanity and madness. One glimpse of the creatures that stalk the world will drive a person to unspeakable violence. There remains no explanation. No solution.
All Malorie can do is survive.
But then comes what feels like impossible news. And with it, the first time Malorie has allowed herself to hope. Someone very dear to her, someone she believed dead, may be alive.
Malorie has a harrowing choice to make: to live by the rules of survival that have served her so well, or to venture into the darkness and reach for hope once more.
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