Book Review: Substitute Creature (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #4)

Author: Charles Gilman
Pages: 171
Published: September 24, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Fantasy
Rating: 5/5

The fourth installment of the Lovecraft Middle School series continues the story of Robert, Glenn, Karina, and Robert’s pet rats, Pip & Squeak as they battle against the evil Professor Tillinghast that has been slowly taking over the school.

After a huge snow storm traps Robert and his friends inside Lovecraft Middle School with the creepy new substitute, Ms. Carcasse, Pip & Squeak inform Robert that they need to show him something. He has had a sense that something was off with the substitute the entire time, but was unable to figure out exactly what it was until he saw that it was snowing inside the chemistry lab.

I have absolutely loved the Lovecraft Middle School series by Charles Gilman. One of my first experiences with middle grade horror and I’m definitely satisfied. The fourth book did a great job of continuing on with the story, however, the only aspect of the book I didn’t enjoy that much was the lack of focus on the substitute as a minion of the main protagonist. She was almost just an extra character that didn’t get fully developed. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this book very much.

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Book Review: The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1)

Author: Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Pages: 295
Published: September 9, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal
Rating: 5/5

I freakin’ loved this book so much! I can definitely see why some people were comparing to to Harry Potter. However, I think that comparison only fits if you take the book at face value.

The Iron Trial is book one in the Magisterium series by two YA powerhouses. This book tells the story of Callum. A teenage boy that has magical abilities but has yet to utilize them as his father refused to let him. Callum’s mother was killed in a magical war not too long after he was born. Callum’s father found his mother’s body and saw that she had scratched “Kill the child” into the wall of the cave where she was killed.

Fast forward a few years to when Callum is chosen to attend the Magisterium, a special school created for the most talented of kids to learn how to harness their magical abilities. Dead set on flunking out, Callum has no intention of trying to learn anything while there.

After making two of the best friends that he has ever had and finding a stray wolf pup in the woods, Callum needs to decide if he is going to stay through his first year at the school or quit when given the chance. Callum is thrown through quite a few loops while at the Magisterium and learns who he really is.

I really really really liked this story and can’t wait to read the next one!

Book Review: You Will Call Me Drog

Author: Sue Cowing
Pages: 281
Published: September 1, 2011
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5

You Will Call Me Drog by Sue Cowing was a strong attempt at a pretty dark middle grade story. Parker is a sixth grade boy that likes to search through the local junkyard with his best friend. One day while at the junkyard, Parker discovers a green hand puppet sticking up out of a trashcan. He is immediately intrigued and decides to put it on his hand. Little did Parker know, the hand puppet would come alive and refuse to let go of his hand.

Once the hand puppet has latched onto his hand, it begins to talk, but of course the puppet will only talk to Parker and no one else. So no one believes him when he says that the puppet is alive. After introducing himself to Parker as Drog, Drog begins to torment Parker and make his life difficult.

Parker’s parents are split up and while his mom tries to be super supportive, Parker’s dad thinks he is doing this for attention and is preparing to send Parker to a military school for boys. Parker must do whatever possible to get Drog off his hand before his dad has him sent away.

I enjoyed the story, but felt that it lasted way too long. It seemed as if the author could have wrapped it up a few chapters early, but decided not to and then the ending felt abrupt. Decent story, but wouldn’t read it again. 3/5

Book Review: The Swallow: A Ghost Story

Author: Charis Cotter
Pages: 320
Published: Expected September 9, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror
Rating: 4.5/5

Polly has a crazy family. She has twin brothers that she calls the Horrors, an older sister named Lucy that is too focused on herself and a baby sister named Suzie that isn’t too bad, yet. She also has had a bunch of foster siblings throughout the years. Her entire family acts as if she doesn’t exist except for the Horrors who never leave her alone. All Polly wants is to see a ghost. 

Rose is an only child. Her parents are never home and her grandmother recently passed away so she is stuck at home with the housekeeper. She is also constantly surrounded by ghosts. All Rose wants is to be a normal kid. 

Polly and Rose develop an unusual friendship. Each having the one thing that the other desperately longs for. The Swallow was a beautifully written ghost story about two young girls trying to understand the world they live in. 

A must-read for all ages.

Book Review: Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Author: Liesl Shurtliff
Pages: 272
Published: April 9, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure
Rating: 5/5

I loved this story!

I picked it up specifically because of the blurb about the author’s name in the back and ended up really enjoying this story.

Rump is a young boy that has no idea why his mother named him Rump. He is constantly picked on for it and nothing seems to go right for him. Living with his gran, Rump works in the mines every day trying to find gold so that him and his gran can eat. This is the story of a little boy that discovers the true nature of his name and what that means for him.

A super fun adventure story that I definitely recommend!

Book Reviews: Vampire Brat & Ghostsitters (Araminta Spookie #4 & #5)

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Author: Angie Sage
Pages: 208 & 214
Published: September 1, 2007 & September 1, 2008
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal
Rating: 5/5 & 4/5

Vampire Brat In book 4 of the Araminta Spookie series, Uncle Drac’s mother shows up with two of her great-cousins, Max and Mahtilda. Max is going to stay with Araminta for a while which would normally be great since Wanda and Max are already getting along, the only problem is that Araminta is convinced Max is a dangerous Vampire. On top of now having a vampire living in her home, Araminta has encountered a werewolf in the home and no one believes her! She must come up with a plan to capture both the vampire and the werewolf before anyone gets hurt.

Ghostsitters In the final book of the Araminta Spookie series, Araminta and Wanda are going to be left home alone while all the adults go on a tour of a bat cave. Originally, Uncle Drac’s creepy mother was supposed to come babysit but she no longer can make it. So Mahtilda decides to do it instead, but she doesn’t come alone. Along with her she brought two ghosts, Ned and Jed, that follow her everywhere. Her parents are ghost removers and they removed Ned and Jed (two poltergeists) from a home after Mahtilda explained to them that haunting that house would be boring. Now Ned and Jed go everywhere with her and she can’t get rid of them. Ned and Jed begin harassing Sir Horace to the point that he informs everyone that is will no longer be staying at Spookie House. Araminta and Wanda have to do whatever it takes to get Sir Horace to stay in Spookie House before it is too late! On top of everything else, Araminta’s birthday is coming up and no one seems to care (except Uncle Drac of course)!

This series was super fun and I read all the books fairly quickly. I definitely enjoyed Angie Sage’s writing and will be reading more of her stuff soon! I enjoyed Vampire Brat a little more than Ghostsitters so I gave that one a 5/5.

Book Reviews: The Sword in the Grotto & Frognapped (Araminta Spookie #2 & #3)

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Author: Angie Sage
Pages: 160 & 208
Published: August 1, 2006 & June 1, 2007
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal
Rating: 4/5

The Sword in the Grotto   This was book two in the Araminta Spookie series and continued the story of Araminta and her new housemate, Wanda Wizzard. Wanda and Araminta are exploring the hidden tunnels in Spookie House when they stumble upon a small grotto containing a super old sword. Since Sir Horace is about to turn 500, Araminta and Wanda decide that the sword would be the perfect gift for him! The only problem is that Araminta and Wanda somehow are locked inside the grotto and the tide is rising. Edmund, Sir Horace’s faithful page comes to their rescue and escorts them out of the grotto while also telling the story of how he and Sir Horace were killed.

Frognapped In book three of the Araminta Spookie series, Araminta is accused of misplacing Barry Wizzard’s (Wanda’s father) circus frogs. He has five frogs that can perform a bunch of tricks and now they have gone missing. Araminta is immediately blamed for anything that goes wrong in Spookie House, so instead of fighting against Barry she decides to set off to find the frogs and bring them back. Little did she know that that would require her to break into Morris FitzMaurice’s property to do so. Araminta and Wanda must do anything possible, including staging a fake fish show in order to rescue Barry’s prized frogs.

I really enjoyed both of these books and overall loved the Araminta Spookie series! 4/5 for both.

Book Review: My Haunted House (Araminta Spookie #1)

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Author: Angie Sage & Jimmy Pickering (Illustrator)
Pages: 160
Published: August 1, 2006 (First published October 6, 1994)
Genre: Children’s, Paranormal, Fantasy, Humor, Adventure
Rating: 4/5

Araminta Spookie live with her Aunt Tabby and Uncle Drac. Uncle Drac likes to sleep during the day in a sleeping bag that hangs from the ceiling along with his bats. Aunt Tabby can’t stop cleaning their giant house and is getting fed up with it. After cleaning for the last time, Aunt Tabby decides that she is going to sell their home so they can live somewhere newer that will be easier to take care of.

Araminta is determined to not let this happen. Araminta has a lot of adventures left to begin and refuses to allow their house to be sold without any input from her or Uncle Drac. She develops a plan called the Awful Ambush that she will use against anyone that is interested in buying their home in order to scare them away. While preparing for her Awful Ambush, Araminta discovers a little boy ghost named Edmund. Edmund used to work for Sir Horace, a suit of armor that Araminta always thought was a rust bucket and not a real person. Sir Horace, Edmund, and Araminta must work together to keep their home from being sold!

This was a quick and fun read. A great beginning to a kids series that I will definitely be continuing to read. I have the next three books in the series and will be reading and reviewing them soon!

Book Reviews: Slither Sisters & Teacher’s Pest

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Author: Charles Gilman
Pages: 174 & 170
Published: January 15, 2013 & May 7, 2013
Genre: Children’s (Middle Grade), Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror
Rating: 5/5 & 4/5

Slither Sisters is book two in the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series. I gave this book a 5/5 and I really enjoyed it. In the first book, Professor Gargoyle, Robert is transferred to the Lovecraft Middle School. He soon discovers that the school is filled with ghosts and other supernatural beings that have been trying to take over the school. A set of twins at his school goes missing for a few days, only to return later with no knowledge of where they were. All seems to be back to normal, but Robert knows that there is more to the girls than meets the eye. The girls are actually now being used as hosts to beasts that are working for the “master.”

Book two continues the tale of Robert as he tries to take down the twins before they can kidnap more children and teachers.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a great addition to the series and further delved into Robert’s character.

Teacher’s Pest is book three in the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series. I gave this book a 4/5 and I did enjoy it. I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first two, but that is probably due to the amount of bugs that were in it. Obviously with a title like “Teacher’s Pest” there were bound to be some bugs, but I felt itchy the entire time I was reading it and I’m not a fan of bugs.

Book three picks up where book two left off. Robert was given the opportunity to become student council president, but he decided to withdrawal his name from the ballot leaving only his classmate, Howard Mergler, to take the position. Howard was in an accident and now has to walk with braces on his legs. At least, that’s what everyone thinks. But Robert knows the truth, Howard has been kidnapped and his body is being used by an evil bug beast that is bringing thousands of bugs into the school to help control the students.

Robert and his best friends Glenn and Karina must fight against Howard to destroy all the bugs and prevent more kidnappings!

This series is really fun and I will definitely be reading the next book, Substitute Creature, as soon as I can find it. I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Oliver and the Seawigs

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Author: Philip Reeve (Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre)
Pages: 195
Published: (Expected July 22, 2014)
Genre: Children’s (Middle Grade), Adventure, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

A very quick but enjoyable read!

Oliver is a ten year old boy that has had a very full life. As the child of two explorer parents, Oliver has traveled all over the world! Recently though, his parents realized that there was nowhere left for them to explore so they decided to move back into the home they had owned, but rarely lived in along with their son.

Once arriving at the family home, they noticed something strange in the water surrounding it. There were a bunch of new islands that had yet to be explored! Oliver’s parents left Oliver to unpack his room while they went in a small boat to explore the islands. After a while of unpacking Oliver realized that he hadn’t heard from his parents and decided to look out the window. What he saw would have upset a regular kid, but not Oliver since he was used to adventures.

All of the islands except for one small one were gone! His parents were nowhere to be seen and the small boat that they had left in was now floating nearby in the water. Determined to get his parents back Oliver took the boat and rowed to the small island where he befriended “a grumpy albatross [and] a nearsighted mermaid.” Oliver and his new friends set off to find his parents while aboard the small island which turned out to be a living creature!

This was a really short and fun read for a Saturday afternoon. I was pre-approved to read this for review from NetGalley and I’m so glad that I read it! A solid 4/5.