Book Review: Ghost Squad by Claribel A Ortega

Book: Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega

Published April 2020 by Scholastic|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

I really liked Ghost Squad!  It was a really fun book, and I liked seeing Lucely and Syd reverse the curse that they accidentally set loose.

I really liked Lucely and Syd, and they make a pretty good team.  Syd seems more outgoing, while Lucely seems a little more quiet.  Babette was really cool too, and I liked Chunk.  You can’t have witches and ghost hunters without a cat.

I haven’t seen Coco, and it’s been ages since I’ve seen the first season of Stranger Things, so I don’t know how they compare to this book.  But I definitely got more than a hint of Ghostbusters when I was reading this book.  It really was fun to read, and regardless of what it’s compared to, or what it reminded me of, I had a lot of fun reading this book.  I loved seeing how Lucely, Syd and Babette deal with getting rid of ghosts, especially one who is out for vengeance.

I love the idea of a coven who lived in Florida before being chased out of town, only to reemerge hundreds of years later.  I liked getting a little bit of their history, and I really wanted to know more about Lucely and the fireflies and the magic.  I really wanted this book to be longer, because I wanted to keep reading.

Also, while this book is a stand-alone, I really want it to be a series!  There are a lot of adventures Lucely and Syd can go on, and a lot of trouble they could end up in.  As long as they have Babette and Chunk, they’ll get through it.  I just really want more supernatural adventures for them to get involved in.

4 stars.  While I wanted the book to be a little longer (or even a series), I still really liked Ghost Squad.  They’re a pretty good team, and this was a really fun book to read!

Book Review: The Chaos Curse by Sayatani DasGupta

Book Review: The Chaos Curse by Sayatani DasGupta

Published March 2020 by Scholastic Press|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Creating order out of chaos has frightening consequences in this New York Times bestselling series!

Kiranmala must leave the Kingdom Beyond and travel to her hometown of Parsippany to save Prince Lal, who has been spirited to the unlikeliest of places — a tree in the yard of her best-enemy-for-life. She also faces evil serpents (of course!), plus a frightening prophecy about her role in the coming conflict between good and evil. Most troubling of all, though, is the way reality all around her seems to waver and flicker at odd moments. Could it be that the Anti-Chaos Committee’s efforts are causing a dangerous disruption in the multiverse?

Kiran must grapple with the increasingly tangled threads that threaten to ensnare her…and everyone in the world and the Kingdom Beyond.

I liked The Chaos Curse!  I wish I liked it as much as the first two books in the series but I still liked it.  Even if it wasn’t as much as I wanted to like it.

The characters felt really young in this book.  I know it’s middle grade, and the characters are supposed to be young.  It’s weird, because I didn’t feel that way with the other books in the series.  We are living in pretty weird times, and maybe I just wasn’t reading this book at the right time.  I’m not in the biggest mood to read right now, so I’m pretty sure that’s why I had a hard time with this book.

The thought that the characters seemed young was something I thought pretty much the whole time I read the book.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like Kiran and seeing what adventures she has.  Overall, this book was just as fun as the other books, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I really liked the story.  Everything is definitely mixed up and very alternate universe.  Things do go back to normal, of course, but things definitely go haywire for a while.  I’m glad Kiran and her friends were able to get things back to normal.

Well, as normal as they’ll ever be for this world.  Things always go wrong, and there’s always an adventure to be had.  I really like the world, and I really feel like we learn more about it with every book in this series.  It’s a really big world, and I liked that there were all of these different dimensions and alternate worlds/timelines.  We definitely saw one of them in this book, and it makes me wonder how many other versions of Kiran’s world are out there.

We also see how connected everything is in this book.  It’s not surprising in a world like Kiran’s, but I liked seeing how complicated things get, and how changing one thing changes so many other things.  I think DasGupta did a great job with that, and I really liked seeing how Kiran dealt with that.  I enjoyed seeing the characters try to save the stories they know and love.

It’s a fun book, and a really good addition to the series.  I also love the different characters we meet, and even though I will probably never read the original stories DasGupta drew from, I also love that she included stories from a variety of mythologies.  In my opinion, these are great books for Percy Jackson fans.  Or if you really want a series drawing from mythology that’s not Greek mythology.

3 stars.  I liked The Chaos Curse and I am excited about reading the next book.

Book Review: Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Book: Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Published January 2020 by Rick Riordan Presents|306 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Re-telling

Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her.

When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . .

Timeless themes such as the importance of family and respect for the land resonate in this funny, fast-paced, and exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest.

I really liked Race To The Sun!  I am definitely glad I read it.

I liked Nizhoni, Mac and Davery, and they worked really well as a team.  I loved Davery’s knowledge and Nizhoni’s ability to detect and defeat monsters.  I loved that Nizhoni was brave but also scared and unsure of herself.  It made her easy to relate to, and I feel like I would have acted the same way if I were in her position.

Sadly, I don’t have anything to add about Mac, which makes me sad because I really do wish I had more to say about him.  I felt like he wasn’t super-important to the story, even though he goes along for the ride.  It really felt more like Nizhoni’s story, and I kind of wanted Mac to have more of a role.

It is a great adventure story, especially if you like the Percy Jackson books.  This is partly because this book is a part of Riordan’s imprint, but also I think that if you love mythology and stories, you really like this book.  I knew nothing about the stories and characters we see in this book, and I really want to know more.  I really liked seeing a story focusing on the Southwest and seeing mythology that’s not Greek or Roman.  Not only that, but I loved seeing Navajo stories brought to life.

The stories were woven in so well, and it felt contemporary and timeless at the same time.  I really want more books set in this world, and it seems like this book is a stand-alone.  I feel like that’s something I don’t say often, but I really want at least one more book set in this world.

The ending did feel a little rushed and I think it could have been a little bit longer, but overall, it was a fun and great read.

4 stars.  I really liked Race To The Sun, and I wish it were a little longer!  It’s a great read if you like stories and adventure.

Book Review: The Battle by Karuna Riazi

Book: The Battle by Karuna Riazi

Published August 2019 by Salaam Reads|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Gauntlet #2

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

The game begins again in this gripping follow-up to The Gauntlet that’s a futuristic middle eastern Zathura meets Ready Player One!

Four years after the events of The Gauntlet, the evil game Architect is back with a new partner-in-crime—The MasterMind—and the pair aim to get revenge on the Mirza clan. Together, they’ve rebuilt Paheli into a slick, mind-bending world with floating skyscrapers, flying rickshaws run by robots, and a digital funicular rail that doesn’t always take you exactly where you want to go.

Twelve-year-old Ahmad Mirza struggles to make friends at his new middle school, but when he’s paired with his classmate Winnie for a project, he is determined to impress her and make his very first friend. At home while they’re hard at work, a gift from big sister Farah—who is away at her first year in college—arrives. It’s a high-tech game called The Battle of Blood and Iron, a cross between a video game and board game, complete with virtual reality goggles. He thinks his sister has solved his friend problem—all kids love games. He convinces Winnie to play, but as soon as they unbox the game, time freezes all over New York City.

With time standing still and people frozen, all of humankind is at stake as Ahmad and Winnie face off with the MasterMind and the Architect, hoping to beat them at their own game before the evil plotters expand Paheli and take over the entire world.

I was really excited about The Battle after I read The Gauntlet a couple of years ago.  The Battle was just okay for me, and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

This book focuses on Ahmad, Farah’s brother.  I don’t know why but I just wasn’t as interested in his story as I was in Farah’s.  It did have a video game sort of feel to it, which seems right up Ahmad’s alley.  I’m not really a video game person, so I wonder if that’s part of it.

The story was interesting, and I’m glad we got to see Ahmad years after the events of The Gauntlet.  The game has definitely changed, which we see throughout the book.  It’s less Jumanji and more Ready Player One.  At least, from what I know about Ready Player One.  I still haven’t read it, so I can’t say for sure.  But this book does have more of a video game feel than a board game feel to it.

I was intrigued that the game managed to rebuild itself into a more modern version of the one we saw in The Gauntlet.  It was harder to picture, and I felt like we didn’t the descriptions we saw in the first book.  It was a lot harder to picture in this book, and I felt like the rules weren’t as clear in this book as they were in the first one.

Ahmad’s drawings sounded pretty cool- I found myself wondering if he was drawing the places in the Gauntlet, and if he didn’t remember what had happened there.  This version seemed somewhat familiar to him, but since it was really different, I wonder if he knew it was familiar but couldn’t place it.  That’s what made me wonder if he had remembered what happened years earlier and if maybe the drawings were a way to figure out or remember what had happened.  I could be completely off with this, of course, but I did think about that quite a bit at the beginning.

2 stars.  The Battle was just okay for me.  It was nice to see what happened to Ahmad and Farah after the Gauntlet was destroyed but I just wasn’t as interested in this story as I wanted to be.

Book Review: My Fate According To The Butterfly by Gail D Villanueva

Book: My Fate According To The Butterfly by Gail D Villanueva

Published July 2019 by Scholastic Press|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade

When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her — on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.

If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears — of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom — and figure out the cause of their rift.

So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult — and dangerous — than she ever anticipated.

Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!

I liked My Fate According To The Butterfly!  It’s a cute and heart-warming middle grade book that’s worth checking out.

I really liked Sab, and her connection to butterflies.  It’s an interesting story, and I never thought of butterflies as being a sign of death before this book.  For me, the black butterfly wasn’t literal, in terms of how it relates to the story.  She learns a lot about her dad and family and how things aren’t what she thought they were.

Maybe that’s what the butterfly represents- learning something about your family and how things aren’t what they seem.  It also seemed to give her something to focus on and it seems to set things in motion for her and her family.

I do get why her mom didn’t say anything about what was really going on with her dad.  I didn’t get why her sister didn’t talk to their dad, but I do understand why she wouldn’t say anything to Sab.  It makes total sense they’d want to protect her from that, and it must have been hard to hear what had really happened.  But hopefully Nadine will be able to make amends with their dad, and hopefully things will eventually be okay.

Sab definitely has an adventure going all over Manila with her best friend Pepper, and I wish we got to see more of it.  I liked what we saw, but I did find myself wishing we saw more.  It seems like Sab is pretty sheltered, and we see that she has to be pretty careful when she leaves her quiet neighborhood.  It’s a world she isn’t used to, that’s for sure.

Something I did find confusing was her relationship with her sister.  It’s a minor thing, I guess, but for most of the book, I kept forgetting Nadine was her sister and not her aunt or an older cousin.  She’s actually called Ate Nadine throughout the book, and for some reason, it made me think of aunt or someone who taking of care of her.  Her sister does, because her parents aren’t together and her mom travels a lot but I found that it threw me off a little bit.

3 stars.  I did like this book, and I liked seeing Sab’s learn more about her family, but I didn’t love it.  It’s still worth reading, though!

Book Review: Honeybees And Frenemies by Kristi Wientge

Book: Honeybees And Frenemies by Kristi Wientge

Published June 2019 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|256 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Twelve-year-old Flor faces a bittersweet summer with a pageant, a frenemy, and a hive full of honey.

It’s the summer before eighth grade and Flor is stuck at home and working at her family’s mattress store, while her best friend goes off to band camp (probably to make new friends). It becomes even worse when she’s asked to compete in the local honey pageant. This means Flor has to spend the summer practicing her talent (recorder) and volunteering (helping a recluse bee-keeper) with Candice, her former friend who’s still bitter about losing the pageant crown to Flor when they were in second grade. And she can’t say no.

Then there’s the possibility that Flor and her family are leaving to move in with her mom’s family in New Jersey. And with how much her mom and dad have been fighting lately, is it possible that her dad may not join them? Flor can’t let that happen. She has a lot of work to do.

Honeybees And Frenemies was a really cute read, and I’m glad I read it.  I ended up really liking it!

This book was really cute, and I really felt for Flor, who is teaming up with a former friend to win the summer pageant.  Something about all of the festivals mentioned made me think of Gilmore Girls, where they have random festivals and town events throughout the years.

It was interesting to see them team up, but I’ll admit to wanting more of why Candice was horrible to Flor.  I mean, I get being bitter about losing the pageant crown…but they were seven, and I kind of think it would have made more sense had they been older.  But this is also middle grade, so I guess it had to happen earlier?

Anyway, I liked seeing them work together.  They both realize they have their reasons for wanting to win, and even though their talent gets them into trouble, it was still pretty cool, and I’m glad it didn’t get them disqualified.  Saving the bees is pretty important to Candice too, and she would be a great bee ambassador.  Plus, winning helps Candice a lot more than it helps Flor, but I think things will work out for Flor.  I know she had a lot going on, but the book ended on a hopeful note.  I really felt like things were going to be just fine for everyone.

I also liked the facts about bees at the beginning of each chapter.  That was a really cute tie-in, and it makes me want to learn more about bees.  I wasn’t paying enough attention to see if the facts actually tied into what happened in each chapter, but either way it was cool.

I did think helping out at her family’s mattress store and her best friend going away to summer camp would be more of a thing than it really was.  Maybe that’s just me, thinking things mentioned in the summary are going to be more important than they really are.  We do get a little bit of it, though we get bits and pieces of the family stuff throughout the book while the best friend stuff is pretty much towards the end of the book.

I also wanted a little more to the ending, and while things are pretty wrapped up, I still wanted to go a little past where the book actually ended.  Still, it’s a pretty good ending point, so I’m not going to complain too much about it.  I think it’s just wistful thinking on my part.

4 stars.  I really liked Honeybees And Frenemies!  It’s a super cute middle grade and worth checking out.

Book Review: Aru Shah And The Song Of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Book: Aru Shah And The Song Of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Published April 2019 by Rick Riordan Presents|381 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Pandava Quartet #2

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Re-Telling

Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good.

But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone.

Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.

I really liked Aru Shah And The Song Of Death!  I really liked the first one, and I was pretty excited about this one.  It didn’t disappoint!

Aru’s story continues in this book, and she’s definitely in for more adventures with Mini.  We also see another Pandava sister in this book, and it makes me wonder if we’ll see the other ones.  There’s two more books planned in this series, so it’s possible we’ll see the other sisters.

Back to this book, though.  Mini and Aru team up with Brynne, who was a pretty cool character.  She’s rough around the edges, but I really liked that about her.  Aru and Mini could use someone with her strength and sense of direction, and I like how all three girls balance each other out.  They all have their strengths, and I think they work pretty well together.  I can’t wait to see what other adventures they have.

On their quest to prove their innocence, they go deeper into this world.  While we were introduced to the world in the first book, we are definitely past learning how this world works, and we’re thrown right into things.  I liked that we were able to explore Aru’s world a little more, and I’m hoping it stays that way for the rest of the series.

I liked the humor and pop culture references and they felt pretty natural.  I’m always nervous when I see pop culture references because I always worry the book is going to feel dated in a few years but I don’t feel like that’s the case with this book.

I also really liked that we don’t always know the whole story, and that heroes aren’t always who they’re cracked up to be.  I did like it because it’s really easy to elevate heroes, but there’s also the message that even heroes make mistakes.

We don’t see Mini or Boo for a good chunk of the book which was a little disappointing, because I really like Mini and Boo.  But Aru did have to learn to work with Brynne and while I love the relationship Aru has with Mini, I also think it’s good for her to learn how to work with other people too.  Aru is more confident with her abilities, and I’m sure she’ll get more confident as the series goes on.

4 stars.  I really liked this one, and it’s a great addition to the series.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: Summer Of A Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

Book: Summer Of A Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

Published April 2019 by Balzer + Bray|378 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

When twelve-year-old Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she doesn’t know what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, or even living inside, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad.

Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards and pie shops, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop—and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs. Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s pie shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix?

Summer Of A Thousand Pies is a super-cute middle grade, and I really liked it!

Definitely don’t read this while hungry, because the book is centered around a pie shop.  I was super tempted to actually drive to Julian to get some apple pie…maybe one of these days, I’ll make the drive up there for pie.  I love that the book is set in Julian, and that it’s about pie.  I mean, when I hear Julian, I think of apple pie, and it’s only about an hour or so drive for me, so I really will have to one of these days.

I didn’t like Cady at first, but she grew on me.  She didn’t seem to have the most stable living situation, and I definitely understand why she acted the way she did.  Cady didn’t have a safe space, and with what we learn about her mom and dad, I can understand why she’d think that it might get taken away.  And with everything going on with the pie shop her aunt has…Cady has a lot going on.  I’d probably act the same way if I were her.

It’s definitely more structured environment than what she’s used to, and it seemed like she had a hard time with it at first.  I think she did get used to it by the end of the book, and she was definitely more settled by the end of the book.  I think learning to bake and having a stable environment really helped her.

I loved the moment when the title made sense, and the title was one of the things that drew me to the book.  Plus, that cover is really cute, and it makes me think of a hand-lettered sign you’d see hanging up in a pie shop or one of those signs you’d see on the sidewalk outside.

Also cool was the recipes at the end of the book!  I had to return the book to the library so I didn’t even think to make any of the pies at the back of the book, but maybe when it starts to cool down a little, I’ll get the book so I can try them out.

I really liked the relationships they had with some of the customers and business owners.  They really came together to help out the shop when it was needed and there’s a sense of community that they have.  It was nice to see, and I hope things work out for all of these fictional characters.

4 stars.  Summer Of A Thousand Pies is really cute, and I loved seeing Cady open up and have a little more stability.  I also loved that it was about pies and baking and seeing Cady experiment with different pies was really fun too!

Book Review: Just South Of Home by Karen Strong

Book: Just South Of Home by Karen Strong

Published May 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Cousins Sarah and Janie unearth a tragic event in their small Southern town’s history in this witty middle grade debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Stella by Starlight, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, and As Brave as You.

Twelve-year-old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie arrives for a visit, Sarah’s plans are completely squashed.

Janie has a knack for getting into trouble and asks Sarah to take her to Creek Church: a landmark of their small town that she heard was haunted. It’s also off-limits. Janie’s sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis and his best friend, Jasper, to uncover a deep-seated part of the town’s past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home and the people within it they call family.

I really liked Just South Of Home!  It’s cute and Sarah and Janie have a lot of adventures.  I’m glad I read it!

Janie and Sarah were really interesting characters.  I wasn’t sure about Janie at first, but I would honestly probably act the same way if I were her.  I really liked Sarah and how much she loved science.  She and Janie are very different and they have their differences but they work it out and things definitely get better between them.

I really liked the connection to the history of Sarah’s town and I wish we saw more of it.  I feel like we only touched the surface, but with a middle grade book, I can see why it wasn’t focused on more.  I liked the connection there was to the curse, and how Sarah and her family tried to help the town move on.

A lot of people saw it as just history, but it clearly wasn’t.  Not for the haints who were still there, waiting to move on.  It definitely made me think of how important it is to remember history.  While some of the people there wanted to forget, remembering and acknowledging what happened decades earlier was the only way to move forward.

The family relationships were great, and that was really cool to read.  Especially the relationship between Sarah’s mom and grandma.  I kept forgetting that her grandma was in the book, because Sarah didn’t call her grandma, or any other common variation on it.  It took most of the book for me to remember that Mrs. Jones was grandma.

I think one reason why I like middle grade is that you see characters figure out who they are while still being to connected to their family, and you definitely see family connections in this book.

4 stars.  I really liked Just South Of Home, and there’s a really spooky element that works well with the setting and the history of the town.

Book Review: A Good Kind Of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Book: A Good Kind Of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Published March 2019 by Balzer + Bray|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

From debut author Lisa Moore Ramée comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what’s right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and the novels of Renée Watson and Jason Reynolds.

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)

But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?

Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.

Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.

I really liked A Good Kind Of Trouble!  There’s a lot of heart in this book, and if you like The Hate U Give or All-American Boys, you’d really like this one.

I really liked Shay, and how scared she was to do the wrong thing but also scared to do the right thing.  It was interesting to me that her hands felt really itchy, whenever she had to face her fears, and I wish it were explored a little more.  It wasn’t, of course.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s middle grade, and there just wasn’t the time to explore it more.  But there were so many other things going on that I didn’t mind it wasn’t explored in depth.

I liked seeing Shay navigate middle school and changing friendships and being a part of the track team.  There are a lot of changes in her life, and she really does open up to new things and new people.  I loved how her parents encouraged her to use her voice instead of ignoring it, even when it would have been easier for them to do the opposite of what they did.  She has a great family, and I wished we saw more of them.

I really came around to Bernard, and he ended up being a great character.  He wasn’t what I thought at all, and I’m glad Shay gave him a chance, and saw he wasn’t as bad as she thought he was.

I wasn’t a big fan of her friend Julia, but I am glad that they worked things out.  Julia did want to fit in, and I can see how she got caught up in that.  I really liked Isabella as well, and she’s so sweet and thoughtful.  All three girls really seem to balance each other out.

A Good Kind Of Trouble is a great middle grade book!  It has some of the issues we see on the news and in YA, so it’s great to have a middle grade book that’s about social justice and standing up for what you believe in.  It’s worth reading!

4 stars.  I really liked A Good Kind Of Trouble, and it’s perfect for fans of Angie Thomas and Jason Reynolds.