Category Archives: Middle Grades

My School is a Spy Factory by Steven Stickler

Nate Fischer can’t even tell his parents what he’s learning in school. He’s a sixth grader at a school that secretly trains spies. He gets sent on a critical mission to save his school from the Syndicate, but there’s a double agent on the mission, too.

My School is a Spy Factory is a pretty exciting book. My 9-year-old especially enjoyed it. It’s great for kids to read on their own and also makes an excellent family read aloud.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 135
Pages Read in 2017: 36,762
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Wild Thing by Dandi Daley Mackall

Winnie loved horses. Ever since her mom died and they left their ranch, she’s dreamed of owning a horse again. She finally gets her chance with a wild white Arabian, but she knows that as soon as she gentles the horse, she’ll have to sell her to make back the investment.

There was so much about Wild Thing that was just ridiculous. The character names were based on what kind of animal they liked. Winnie for hoses, Barker for dogs, Catman for cats, Lizzie for lizards. The story was incredibly predictable. So much so that my 11-year-old accurately guessed what would happen in each chapter before we read them. I felt like the author wanted the book to have religious elements and so stuck things in, creating an awkward in-your-face experience. The story was very sweet, however, I just don’t recommend reading it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 126
Pages Read in 2017: 34,496
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Doom of the Three Stones by Josh Kilen

Doom of the Three Stones is weird. I’m talking Yo Gabba Gabba level weird. My 11-year-old thought maybe the author wrote the beginning while drunk and then decided to roll with it. My husband thought perhaps substances of the more illegal variety were involved. Regardless, while it is weird, it is also really good. It’s well-written with a decent plot and has excellent grammar and an incredibly sophistocated vocabulary for a book aimed at kids. I recommend reading this book as a family read aloud.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 118
Pages Read in 2017: 32,240
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Zoe and Zak and the Yogi’s Curse by Lars Guignard

Zoe and Zak are special. Zak has magical objects and Zoe has yogi powers. Talusar is gaining strength, Mr. Muk is missing, and it’s up to Zoe and Zak to break the yogi’s curse and put everything back the way it should be.

Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse is the second Zoe and Zak book. We didn’t read the first one so some things that were referred to, including how Zoe originally got her powers, we had no idea was the author was talking about, but that did not prevent us from enjoying the book. It’s a cute story with lots of action and quite a bit of humor, too. I highly recommend it to kids and adults. It makes a great family read-aloud! Clearly, you don’t have to read the first book first, but I would recommend you do to prevent confusion.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 116
Pages Read in 2017: 31,895
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Genghis Khan: 13th-Century Mongolian Tyrant by Enid A. Goldberg

Genghis Khan covers his life from his mother’s kidnapping by his father through his death. It explains how he took over so much of the world and how ruthless he was and how willing to stab his friends in the back. I am quite impressed with just how much information is packed into this relatively short book while still being easy for a middle grade age kid to understand it all. I highly recommend it to kids interested in Genghis Khan or studying him in school.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 106 (this book is not counted toward annual total)
Pages Read in 2017: 29,324
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Pre-reading for Adrian for Next School Year

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Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage by Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie Dupont is back and investigating who at the science fair stole Angus and Archie’s chip for their robot. Everyone has a motive, but Frankie must follow the clues to narrow down the suspects.

Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage is a cute book. My 9- and 11-year-old boys enjoyed it a lot. They had fun following the clues along with Frankie and guessing who the culprit could be. I highly recommend this book to kids!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 106
Pages Read in 2017: 29,073
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner

Since the Bloody Coup, Killdeer and Billycan have ruled the Catacombs with an iron fist, but still rats are disappearing without a trace. After Clover is named as The Chosen One, her uncle Juniper must hurry up the plans to overthrow Killdeer and move the rats to the much more pleasant Nightshade City.

I have noticed that there seems to be some unspoken rule that graphic violence is not okay in books for kids unless the characters are animals. This book has some very graphic violence going on between the anthropomorphic rats. The chapters are also overly long with each chapter being 25-30 pages. This made the flow of the book awkward. My 9- and 11-year-old boys were happy when we finished the book, not because they enjoyed it, but because it was over, and said they did not want to finish the series. I don’t really recommend reading Nightshade City.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 99
Pages Read in 2017: 27,935
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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