The Bookish Feels | Books that make me WEEP // Let’s cry together

Greetings readers!

It’s been forever since I last wrote one of these posts! So it is time to bring it back. Naturally we are going to take a bit of a sad turn here XD The last two times I did this post, I chose happier emotions, so we are going to get SAD. Actually, we are going to get weepy, these books are not just books that made me sad, these actually manifested physical tears in my eyes!

So grab your tissues and let’s get to it!

Weep Bbc GIF
via giph.com

It’s About the Deaths

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

ck

Technically, I already knew who was going to die before I even read this. I was unfortunately spoiled before I even thought about picking up the book AND YET when I read the scene, I SOBBED. Just the whole scene of how it went down and the chapter that came after it…Like I’m getting emotional right now! I remember when I read it the first time, I was crying bitterly to myself in my room. I still think about it sometimes and get super sad XD

The Penderwicks on Gardam Steet – Prologue by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (The Penderwicks, #2)
via Goodreads

Let me tell you. I am actually tearing up right now as I think about it! I can’t even explain how gut-wrenching this prologue is. It’s not even the whole book, it’s the PROLOGUE! It just breaks me every time, especially since it is being told mainly through the experience of little girls. I love this book to pieces and the fact that it makes me laugh and WEEP means that it is something special.

sad sailor moon GIF
via giphy.com

Just Sad Happenings

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Q: Do you listen to audiobooks?  I don't usually. I have a very short attention span so my mind tends to wander when I'm listening to anything. You name it: lectures, music, stories from friends... I miss lots of things.  But I recently decide to give audiobooks another try since I felt like it! I found the audio for THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS on the Overdrive app, downloaded it and started listening to it at 1 a.m. one night.  It was probably the best decision I ever made. I had already read TLBW last year so I knew the story, but listening to it was a totally different experience! It was truly magical and I cried. I sobbbeeddddd.  I was literally lying in my bed at 1 or 2 in the morning having my heart torn out, tears running down my eyes and onto my pillows. And I mean it when I say this is one of the best decisions I ever made. I already loved the story but the audio was definitely a great listen!  5 ūüĆüs for the story! 5 ūüĆüs for the narration!  #thelightbetweenworlds #lauraeweymouth #bookstagram #audiobooks #reader #bookishcanadians #fantasy #youngadultbooks #historicalfiction #underratedbooks #canadianauthors #canlit #bookstagrammer #ya #yafantasy

So I actually didn’t cry while I read this the first time. I finished the book, closed it and went to bed. Then all of a sudden *poof* rivers of tears start running down my face. I was overwhelmed with this flood of emotions. The whole novel just came to attack me as I started to sleep. It was quite an experience. THEN I listened to the audiobook. And let me tell you, I cried multiple times throughout the novel. But the final chapters, with the emotion that the narrators put into it…I couldn’t hold back. I was a snotty mess!

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

penderwicks in spring

 

Surprised to see another Penderwick book here? I’m not! This book is a different kind of sad, it’s a soul-tearing kind of sadness, you can’t help but feel for the characters. When I experienced this the first time, I woke up at about 8 a.m. to read (because I was that desperate to read it!) and I was sitting in my living room sobbing and wiping boogers from my noise. I was a mess!!!!!!!!!!!! The second time I read it, I thought I would be better prepared…WRONG! I burst into tears in the middle of the afternoon and then next thing you know ding-dong! The doorbell rang, we had guests! And I had about 30 seconds to not look like a weeping disaster!

sad drama GIF by ZEE TV
via giphy.com

The First Book That Will Always Get Me

Champion by Marie Lu

Champion (Legend, #3)
via Goodreads

 

It was a chilly December day. I was in my living room, reading the final book of a trilogy I have loved since I first started! I was reaching the final chapters when things started getting sad. And then this unbelievable twist happens and I lost it. My eyes started running, but no, I had not reached the climax yet. Then I read the epilogue and all of a sudden I couldn’t see the words on the page, everything was blurry, I tasted salt on my lips and my heart was hurtinggg. This was the first time I have ever cried for a book and I SOBBED HARD. There were actual tears stains on the pages!!! The final words are just killer! Killer! I have not reread the book since, but I am preparing for a reread very soon, so we shall see how it goes!


*wipes tears* Well this was an emotional roller coaster! I promise that next time I will go for a happier emotion XD But goodness me, I love it when books make me cry. It really means the author has wrapped their whole idea around me and completely shaken my being. It’s the ultimate sign of a great read in my opinion!

Let me know what you think! What books have made you weep? Do you even cry when you read? What’s the saddest book you’ve ever read?¬†

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Middle Grade Mini Reviews! | The Storm Runner & Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble

Greetings readers!

Today is another review round-up from my Hispanic Heritage Month TBR. I had two backlist books lying around my house and I am so happy I got around to reading them this past month!

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner, #1)
via Goodreads

Publisher: Disney Books
Pub Date: Sept 18th, 2018
Goodreads

Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He’d much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno ‚ÄĒ for his one good leg. What Zane doesn’t know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy.

A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he’s destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in ‚ÄĒ unless she can find and remove it first. Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane. When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can’t even walk well without a cane?

Feisty heroes, tricky gods, murderous demons, and spirited giants are just some of the pleasures that await in this fresh and funny take on Maya mythology, as rich and delicious as a mug of authentic hot chocolate. 

  • These characters were wonderful! I thought Zane was a really fun character to be around. Just his way of talking was hilarious and the part when he sprinkles holy water on his myth book after reading about demons was peak Rendz XD
  • Brooks was also an interesting character. I liked her stand-offishness and cool demeanor. She was so set on getting her goal done and even though she realizes its a little selfish she tries to make up for it which is nice.
  • Uncle Hondo is the reason I was in this to win this. I wish he was my uncle XD Even though we’re pretty much the same age XD
  • The writing was really perfect for a middle grade book. It was always cracking jokes and like I said Zane was a perfect voice for this adventure!
  • I liked the road trip plot. You can never go wrong with a road trip plot so long as there is lots of action, suspense and twists, which I totally think the book delivered on.
  • Now let’s talk Maya Mythology because that is what we are here for!: It was lovely. I think that rep was great and I loved how Cervantes wove it into every aspect of the book.
  • The gods were quite conniving and I quite liked their parts in the book!
  • The monsters were wonderfull!!!!!!!!!
  • And the magic was very clever!

Overall, I enjoyed myself very much while reading! It is perfect for young readers. Lots of people have said it reads like Percy Jackson and I can see why, but I still think that this book has its own unique take! Don’t forget that this book has great Hispanic and disabled rep bringing in a lot of good content to the book world!

Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Absolutely!

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

A Dash of Trouble (Love Sugar Magic, #1)
via Goodreads

Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Pub Date: Jan 2nd, 2018
Goodreads

Leonora Logro√Īo‚Äôs family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration‚ÄĒbut, once again, she is told she‚Äôs too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they‚Äôre brujas‚ÄĒwitches of Mexican ancestry‚ÄĒwho pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business‚ÄĒeven if she can‚Äôt let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

  • Oh my god, I loved this book.
  • The characters were PHENOMENAL. Leo was so mischievous and funny and stubborn and ADORABLE.
  • The whole sister clan was PERFECT! I definitely got some Penderwick ~vibes~!!!
  • This wholesome family dynamic had me permanently in heart eyes!!!!!
  • The Latinx rep was beautiful. This is a Mexican family that loves their traditions and I loved reading about them!
  • The MAGIC is FANTASTIC. I found it so unique that this bruja family was able to perform magic while baking and wishing. I really hope to delve in this system a little bit more in the next books
  • I loved that the book was set around the Day of the Dead, it definitely added that perfect spook vibe, but more importantly really emphasized that family dynamic.
  • The actual plot was so much fun. Leo gets into lots of antics and gets into quite a bit of trouble which makes this book so entertaining!
  • You could honestly fly through this book, that’s how great it is.
  • It’s a feel great book. Perfect for the Halloween season.
  • Seriously I just felt so happy after finishing it, which is just a wonderful sign overall!

Overall, I simply loved this book. It is wonderfully entertaining. It has beautiful family and friendship dynamics. The magic is so sweet and intriguing. And yes you will be hungry after reading this!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES PLEASE READ THIS WONDERFUL BOOK!


Let me know what you think! Have you read either of these? Are they on your TBR? What middle grade books give you that wholesome feeling?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Humiliations of Pipi McGee | Review // This is laugh-out-loud funny, it’s truly great

Greetings readers!

Middle school happened a long time ago for me. Maybe not that long, but it’s a while and I don’t think about it often. It’s not that I had a horrible time there, but middle school is tough and sometimes embarrassing stuff happens/did happen and I block those memories out. Still sometimes I reminisce about what it was like and I cringe and laugh at the same time.

Well cringing and laughing was all I did while reading this book and honestly I had an amazing time!

The Humiliations of Pipi McGee by Beth Vrabel

The Humiliations of Pipi McGee

Pub Date: Sept 17th, 2019
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Goodreads

The first eight years of Penelope McGee’s education have been a curriculum in humiliation. Now she is on a quest for redemption, and a little bit of revenge.

From her kindergarten self-portrait as a bacon with boobs, to fourth grade when she peed her pants in the library thanks to a stuck zipper to seventh grade where…well, she doesn’t talk about seventh grade. Ever.

After hearing the guidance counselor lecturing them on how high school will be a clean slate for everyone, Pipi–fearing that her eight humiliations will follow her into the halls of Northbrook High School–decides to use her last year in middle school to right the wrongs of her early education and save other innocents from the same picked-on, laughed-at fate. Pipi McGee is seeking redemption, but she’ll take revenge, too.


*Many thanks to Hachette Canada for sending me an ARC*

The Likes

Pipi was an absolutely phenomenal character. I loved almost everything about her. From her tragic, self-pity to her rock hard determination, her guilt and shame to her newfound confidence. She had such a grueling time growing up being *that kid*, the one that everyone either tries to avoid or makes fun of. I just wanted to cuddle her and tell her it’s going to be alright, but obviously that couldn’t happen! Besides all that, Pipi is such a wonderful, authentic voice for this story. She is funny, self-deprecating, selfish and sweet, all in one. Perfectly flawed because she’s still just trying to figure out who she is.

There are lots of other character to talk about. Pipi’s family is one colourful bunch. They are far from the conventional nuclear family and I loved them! There is a lot of hilarity to be had from them and also some really heartfelt moments. Then there are the characters from Pipi’s school and THEY are QUITE and INTERESTING bunch. There are so many antics that happen at school, it is truly cringe-worthy and laugh out loud funny.

The actual plot itself is a revenge story. And like all revenge stories there are some major scenes of “Oh SNAP” and trust me you get those kinds of scenes in this book! Are they perhaps to the same degree as other revenge stories? Maybe not. They are on a whole other level of fun and frenzy. I loved every step of the way as Pipi tried to seek out vengeance for all the embarrassment she has suffered over the years, but of course not everything goes as planned.¬†

But if we get down to the nitty-grittiness of it all, this is a story about bullying. The cause-and-effect of it and what happens when you try to forgive. Middle school is rough and Pipi goes through some harsh stuff. Like we’ve all had embarrassing episodes, Pipi’s are on another level and Vrabel perfectly captures the brutality of being laughed at for messing up. It’s not funny when it’s you who is being laughed at. It’s hard and I empathized with Pipi and all the she went through. Especially the tragedy of 7th grade, but we don’t talk about that. If I’m being honest though, I experienced something similar to that too although mine was very low-key.

I can’t say for certain if I learned my lesson in forgiveness after reading this. It’s a shameful confession I know. I still wanted to exact vengeance at the last moment there (because it was one of the cruelest things done to Pipi!) But forgiveness and moving forward is a lesson that is constantly being reaffirmed throughout the story which I think is super important for kids to read so they don’t become cynical adults (like me).¬†

The story is also one of identity. Lot’s of characters in the book are struggling to find out who they are and where they fit in this dysfunctional world. I think a lot of the identity stories will resonate with all kinds of kids who are just trying to be comfortable with who they are.

And the book is just funny okay! It is freaking hilarious. I had the absolute best time with it. (How many times do I have to say this?!) If I had to mention the one questionable thing is that it takes a while for things to get moving, but you almost don’t notice because you are either laughing or cringing from second-hand embarrassment!


Overall, I loved this book! I highly recommend it for anyone really! For those readers in middle school and those who have already past that stage. It’s a heart-wrenching and heart-warming coming of age story. It’s funny, kind of outlandish but also so, so important because bullying sucks and this book politely gives it the finger.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Absolutely!

Let me know what you think! How was your life in middle school? Do you like reading Middle Grade books that combat themes like bullying? Have you ever had something so truly embarrassing happen to you in school? No need to share if you don’t want to! ūüėČ

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Girl Who Sailed The Stars | Review // MG reads are coming for my heart

Greetings readers!

I initially picked this book from the list Penguin sent out because I saw on Goodreads that it was compared to The Penderwicks. And I’m sure we all know how I feel about the Penderwicks…I’m talking a minor obsession here that was a decade in the making.

So here I am ready to feel all the gush…but I ended up feeling feeeeelllllzzzzzz

The Girl Who Sailed The Stars by Matilda Woods

The Girl Who Sailed the Stars

Pub Date: June 25th, 2019
Publisher: Philomel Books
Price: $22.99 CAD
Goodreads

Adventure, friendship, and magical realism come together in this heartwarming, whimsical story. Perfect for fans of A Snicker of Magic and The Penderwicks . 

When Oona Britt was born in the magical town of Nordlor, where all of the homes are built from wrecked ships, her parents never expected her to be a girl. Having listened to a faulty prediction from a washed-up soothsayer, they were promised a “bold and brave son,” so as the youngest of seven sisters, Oona’s birth became a disappointment — especially to her sea captain father, who doesn’t believe there’s a place for girls aboard ships.

But Oona is different from the rest of her family. She longs for adventure and knowledge. So she steals aboard her father’s ship just as he’s about to set sail for his annual winter whale hunt, and suddenly finds herself in the midst of a grand adventure! The ship has its own sea cat, Barnacles, and a navigator named Haroyld, who show Oona how to follow the stars. But for all that, Oona’s father is furious. Can she prove to him that she’s worth his love and pride, even though she’s not the bold and brave son he was promised?


BUY IT!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon CA


The Likes

The Characters:

Oona was an incredible heroine. She was a plucky, stubborn and curious girl who has been basically shunned her entire life for not being the “prophesied boy” that her captain father was expecting. Her family was so horrible to her. Like this was not Penderwick-like at all, I don’t know who came up with that lie. And still, I found the Penderwick vibes in Oona herself. I saw it in her bravery, her drive and her desire to be loved by the only family she has ever known until she discovers a new one.

As you already know, I hated her family. They were despicable. It was a funny despicable but still…ughjufsn I wanted to take Oona away from their clutches and give her a big hug because she deserved it. I think the dad was the worst of all bleh.

I am not the biggest cat person, but this cat was sure interesting. I really enjoyed how Woods played with his nine lives.

This Incredible World

I felt the cold. I smelled the sea salt. I heard the wind. It was all so incredibly vivid for me. Woods did such an excellent job in explaining how the North worked in contrast to the South. The origin story bits weren’t tedious but very interesting and helpful in understanding the culture of the people. Moreover, I loved how she incorporating the shipwrecks into the village. I would be scared to live in a house made of potentially haunted wood, but still cool! There was a whole mythology that Woods set up that enriched this world with each turn of the page and each risk Oona took!

Then the actual Sailing was Something Else

This is a pirate MG book! And I hated how the pirates treated my darling little Oona, except for one character of course. But wow oh wow this was more than just sailing to go whaling. This was an adventure of myth and fancy. The waters of this world held so many fantastical creatures that brought this story to life and made the title of this book a thing that actually happens. *Is that a spoiler…oops*

There was a lot of twists and turns to be had on sea. (And on land) Oona goes through many trials to try and win the favour of her father, but I loved that she finds something else instead.

Q: What children's books will you be reading into your old age? I've got lots of answers for this one. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall takes the number 1 spot. (yeah yeah Narnia is in 2nd let me live) There's just something about the Penderwicks that completely fills my heart with joy. Pure, good hearted happiness. And there are so many overtones of sadness in those books but I just can't help but feel happy when I reread them! THE GIRL WHO SAILED THE STARS is said to have Penderwick vibes~~ so you know I had to pick it up! Many thanks to @penguinteenca for the advanced copy! Day 6 of #flbmythicmay | Illustrated Cover #thegirlwhosailedthestars #matildawoods #bookstagram #reader #books #fantasy #mgbooks #middlegrade #kidlit #bookstagram #illustratedcovers #magicalrealism #bookishcanadiansThe Illustrations were cute

Umm not like drop dead gorgeous Oh ma gosh! but they definitely added some charisma to the story. Especially when the more magical and fantastical bits were designed!!!

The Questionable

I took off one star just because I would have liked a little more risk…If that makes any sense. Things were too easy. Like I adore my precious Oona, but I wanted her to suffer a little bit more (???) Wow I am an evil, evil person and read too much YA.


Overall, this was a gorgeous quick and easy read. I’m sure MG readers will find many things enchanting about this story and will be hopping up and down to go on a nautical adventures themselves!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! It is a fast, fun and magical read!

Let me know what you think! Have you read any of Woods’ work? What are some of your favourite Pirate books? What MG books have you been loving as of late?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Clara Voyant | Review

Greetings readers!

Let me tell you that one of the best features of this book is the title. When I first saw it at the Penguin Teen Canada social event I went to in May, and read the glorious title, I was 100% ready to read it. I am also just a huge fan of the zodiac signs, so I knew that I really wanted to pick up this book. Lucky for me, the lovely people at PenguinTeen CA hooked me up with a copy!

Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney

Publisher: Puffin Canada
Pub Date: May 15th, 2018
Price: $19.99 CAD
ISBN: 9780143198536

A wannabe journalist and reluctant astrologer turns out to be clairvoyant in this charming middle-grade coming-of-age novel; for fans of Rebecca Stead’s novels.

Clara can’t believe her no-nonsense grandmother has just up and moved to Florida, leaving Clara and her mother on their own for the first time. This means her mother can finally “follow her bliss,” which involves moving to a tiny apartment in Kensington Market, working at a herbal remedy shop and trying to develop her so-called mystical powers. Clara tries to make the best of a bad situation by joining the newspaper staff at her new middle school, where she can sharpen her investigative journalistic skills and tell the kind of hard-news stories her grandmother appreciated. But the editor relegates her to boring news stories and worse . . . the horoscopes.

Worse yet, her horoscopes come true, and soon everyone at school is talking about Clara Voyant, the talented fortune-teller. Clara is horrified — horoscopes and clairvoyance aren’t real, she insists, just like her grandmother always told her. But when a mystery unfolds at school, she finds herself in a strange situation: having an opportunity to prove herself as an investigative journalist . . . with the help of her own mystical powers.


Buy It!

Amazon | Chapters-Indigo | McNally Robinson | Book Depository


*I was provided a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review!*

This book was absolutely positively adorable and I loved every second of it. It was a fast and funny read, and I found the zodiac element very entertaining. Plus, it is set in Canada, specifically Toronto, so stay tuned for an appearance by Patriotic Rendz later on in this review!

What I Liked:

Characters:

Clara: My fellow Cancerian, she was an absolute rock star and I loved her! Clara at the beginning of the book would probably roll her eyes (just a little) at the fact that I called her a Cancerian and say it’s all woo! But she goes through such growth in this book! She learns that its okay to embrace some of your eccentric abilities and that it’s important to pursue every goal you have with all your heart. Clara was intelligent, caring and quite practical throughout the whole book, until her sense of adventure kicks in and she finds herself doing things she might have never imagined doing before! It was all quite fun and I really enjoyed reading about her!

Clara’s mom, Gabby, was quite–how do I put this–special, she really loved all things supernatural, and while I felt that this sometimes blinded her from seeing Clara’s distress, I think she was fun addition to the story!

Each and every character had this spunk that I just loved to read about!

Zodiac fun!:

Clara writes her own original horoscopes for each sign in this book and the way that Delaney made them play out was fantastic! The way in which her fortunes affected different people in Clara’s life was both hilarious and heart warming. Clara’s journey to managing her clairvoyance was exciting and caused a lot of trouble, but it was all in all a perfect element to keep the plot moving forward!

It was all so Punny!

The puns in this book! Can we start by appreciating the title because I am still not over its genius! Trust me there are a lot more puns in this story to be read and laughed at. As an aspiring journalist, Clara goes out of her way to make catchy headlines and whats catchier than a well put pun? But honestly this book was hilarious. I’m usually just a silent laugher when it comes to reading, but this book actually made me giggle.

*Incoming of a red and white dressed blogger*

The Setting:

Hi everyone, this is your new captain speaking, Patriotic Rendz! And I have dropped by to yell about how perfect the setting was for this book!

Other than taking place in the homeland of Rendz, this book takes place in one of–what I might say– the most funkiest and eccentric places in the city. Kensington Market.

Kensington Market in Toronto is a neighbourhood filled with different stores, restaurants and attractions. And it is home to some…very exciting people. It’s the place where you’ll find lots of interesting stores that sell interesting products, similar to how Clara’s mom sells herbs and natural medicines/elixirs. You can find a psychic on basically every corner and it has its fair share of dark alleys.

It was the perfect setting for this book because it contrasted so well with Clara’s personality. Where she wanted the pristine and beautiful sanctuary of High Park (A beautiful park in the city), she instead got the very rundown and outlandish market. (The market is not all bad, but is definitely not where Clara would choose to live!)

What I Disliked:

Not much really. Could it lag here and there, a little. But it was a really short book and it kept me tuned in for the most part so not much for me to complain about!


Overall, I loved this and clearly Patriotic Rendz has never been more happy about a book set in Canada. It was fun, fast and colourful. There were lots of funny moments and triumphant moments and other moments where I was quite quite taken aback with a wide-eyed expression. All I’ll say is that people really do love their horoscopes!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

Recommend: Absolutely! So much fun!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you follow your horoscope closely? Have you ever found one that is so YOU!?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show | Review

Greetings readers!

As someone who didn’t grow up reading like I do now, I often take my time to revisit the middle grade section of the bookstore or library. There is just something about middle grade that makes it adventurous even if it isn’t an adventure story per se!

Stories about little Latinx kids makes me jump at the chance to read, so when I saw this in the publishers catalogue, I knew I had to read it!

Hatchette Book Group CA was nice enough to send me an advanced copy of this, so my gratitude goes out to them!

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show
via Goodreads

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
Price: $12.99 CAD
ISBN: 9780316306898

Enjoy carnival rides and deep fried pickles in this warm, funny middle grade novel about family and friendship.
Miranda is the lead singer in her family’s musical band, Miranda y Los Reyes. Her family has worked hard performing at festivals and quincea√Īeras. Now, they have a shot at the main stage. How will Miranda make it a performance to remember?
Flor’s family runs the petting zoo at Mr. Barsetti’s carnival. When she accidentally overhears Mr. Barsetti and Miranda’s dad talk about cutting the zoo to accommodate Miranda y Los Reyes’s main stage salary, she knows she has to take action. Will she have the heart for sabotage once she and Miranda actually start to become friends?


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon


*I am reviewing an ARC provided by the publisher which does not affect my opinion.*

This book was everything I expected it to be and a little bit more. I absolutely adore carnivals, and although I haven’t been to one in a while, reading this book made me want to go to one this summer! Just like a carnival, this book was fun, light, and easy. It was full of great people and greasy food! Plus I have never related to the family so hard!

What I Liked:

Characters:

They were all so saucy!!! I loved it!! Flor¬†is a character I was immediately drawn to. Her spunk and passion for her family’s petting zoo is adorable and admirable. She is willing to do everything she can if it means saving her family’s business and staying in the one place that truly feels like home. Then there is Miranda who at first I was a little meh towards but as the story gets deeper, I begin to understand her a lot more. Especially with her desire to have everyone¬† like her or at least not think she is a bad person. I understand it. Miranda is also very passionate though a little too hesitant to take hold of her own choices. I’m not saying she is a push over, but she has been quite pushed over. This story explores her venture into taking even just a bit of control of her own decisions and the length she is willing to go to make them. In the end, I related to her a lot especially with her struggle to get the right Spanish accent! XD

Both girls are intelligent and funny. They have their flaws, fears and triumphs and I really enjoyed reading both of their perspectives.

The Plot:

The story is quite easy to follow and very entertaining. The whole books spans a matter of hours and many things happen in between. I liked Flor’s story and her plan to take down Miranda by pretending to befriend and trick her into missing her show. It was a devilish act and nothing goes according to plan, but she doesn’t give up. Miranda’s story was also fun. As she falls for Flor’s tricks, she is making her own plans to be free of her father’s planning and learning the ways of the carnival. Both stories interlace quite nicely, but I do feel there was just a bit more emphasis on Flor’s arc.

The Atmosphere:

I loved the carnival setting. I have to hand it to Torres, she knew exactly how to invoke all the feelings of the carnival. From the stands of delicious food, to the games to the rides and let’s not forget the sweltering heat! I have been to quite a few carnivals in my time and the fictional one in this book had all the essentials! It was so much fun exploring the grounds with Flor and Miranda, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was there at the fair with them!

The Family/Cultural Values:

If there is one thing you can get out of this book, it is how important family is. Both girls come from Latinx families and while they have their differences, they are quite similar. Both girls’ families struggle with money, a very important motif in the story. It is the centre of everyone’s worry and yet it is what brought both girls together (sort of). Money may not be the most important thing in the world, but it definitely is hard to live without.

I also liked that it showed the general structure of a Latinx family. Both had the head patriarch followed by the mom and then the kids. The patriarch was the one in charge of making sure the family had enough money to live and they are the ones who make all the big decisions (Which isn’t always the best thing.) Obviously, neither family is perfect and this book does a wonderful job of exploring that despite their imperfections, family is always #1.

Relate. Relate. Relate.:

On top of this book having a great portrayal of Latinx family structure, the way they act and behave was sooo relatable. When Latinx people go anywhere, we are literally not willing to spend a penny on something we can easily get at home. At least that is how it was when I was growing up. When I used to go to the carnivals, we would get a free pizza lunch and free ride-all-day passes as part of the package we got to enter the fair. And that was it. Dinner was packed by my mother, we brought our own water and snacks. No one was allowed to waste money on those game stands or frozen drinks with the cool drinking straws. If I wanted a slushie, my dad offered to shave me ice and drench it in syrup when we got home. I have never seen anything like this written in a story, until now! AND I WAS HOWLING. When Miranda mentioned how her mom used to sneak snacks into stadiums/movies, I was just nodding and nodding. That was my entire childhood experience at the carnival. Have fun, enjoy, but don’t waste money on things we didn’t need.

It was the best.

What I Disliked:

I liked this book far too much to think of something that was not satisfactory. But if I have to be 100% honest, the ending was left really open. There wasn’t a clear resolution to any of the girls’ problems which I think was the intention. I would have liked some more clarity, but that’s just me.


Overall, this story was a breath of fresh air. It was light, fun and oh so fast. I finished it in one day and considering how slow of a reader I am, I’d say that’s an accomplishment. It has a great message about friendship and family. It has amazing characters and the whole carnival setting itself was so much fun, I ache to get to one myself this summer!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars!

Recommend: Need a fast middle grade with some fun themes, I definitely say you should read this!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Have you ever attended a carnival? What is your favourite part about carnivals?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Penderwicks At Last |Blog Tour – Review & Giveaway

Greetings readers!

I am so, so excited to be a part of this tour. The Penderwicks series my Jeanne Birdsall is one of my favourite children’s series ever! I will one day put up a post describing the significance of these stories to me, but for now let’s stick to my review!

Today I will be presenting to you my thoughts on the long awaited finale of this series! (I waited three whole years for this!) Make sure you head to the end of the post for a chance to win a copy! It is US only, but I do believe there are a few Penderwicks fans in my audience!

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

Pendwicks at Last Cover

Pub. Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 256
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, B&N,
iBooks, TBD

The finale you’ve all been waiting for: The Penderwicks at Last is the final, flawless
installment in the modern classic series from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jeanne Birdsall!

Nine years, five older siblings, a few beloved dogs, and an endless array of adventures–these are the things that have shaped Lydia’s journey since readers first met her in The Penderwicks in Spring.

Now it’s summertime, and eleven-year- old Lydia is dancing at the bus stop, waiting for¬†big sister Batty to get home from college.

This is a very important dance and a very important wait because the two youngest
sisters are about to arrive home to find out that the Penderwicks will all be returning to Arundel this summer, the place where it all began. And better still is the occasion: a good old-fashioned, homemade-by-Penderwicks wedding.

Bursting with heart and brimming with charm, this is a joyful, hilarious ode to the family¬†we love best. And oh my MOPS– Meeting of Penderwick Siblings– does Jeanne Birdsall’s¬†The Penderwicks at Last crescendo to one perfect Penderwick finale.

*Thank you, Penguin Random House CA for providing me with a copy. All opinions are my own*

This final book revolves around the youngest Penderwick sister, Lydia, who had a minor role in the previous novel, The Penderwicks in Spring. Despite this book being about a new character, we are taken back to the setting of book one and even though much has changed, including the older Penderwick sisters, there is still a lot of fun to be had!

What I Liked: 

Characters: The characters were the most important reason why this series means so much to me. In this book we follow only one sister, but the other Penderwick personalities were definitely present despite being more background characters!

Lydia: Lydia was a spark of pure delight (though don’t tell her I said that because she might argue against it XD). As the youngest of the Penderwick family, this was Lydia’s first trip to Arundel and after hearing all the incredible stories that her sisters told, she was excited to see the actual estate herself. Lydia was quite charming, she was a dancer and found a reason to bounce and twirl and step, whatever the occasion. Contrary to the sassy attitude she evoked as a toddler, the 11 year-old Lydia was quite curious and always found the best in people. She, like all her siblings, had a distinct personality. She was a dancer, free-spirited and quite imaginative, but also stubborn!

Alice: Alice was also quite fun to follow. Much to Lydia’s delight, they became fast friends on this summer vacation and she showed Lydia all the secrets of the estate. Alice herself was also very funny and blunt. Her tendency to say exactly what is on her mind was hilarious and I loved her competitiveness with her brother, Jack. Although we don’t get to exactly walk in her perspective, she always added more humour and mischief to the scene.

The Writing: 

While I wouldn’t say that Birdsall has a purple/flowry prose, she does have a way with words. She knows how to make me feel wonder as I’m reading about the adventures that Lydia is having. But I think where she really wins with me is that she gives everything a personality. She most certainly gives them to humans, but also to the creatures and animals surrounding the characters. There is always, always a dog personality on scene and in this book comes a sassy chicken. I’d like to say that Jeanne Birdsall’s writing is pure joy put in words!

Bringing Back the Old:

Since this book didn’t star any of the original Penderwick sisters, I really enjoyed every moment when Jeanne would remind us of those times. Since she used the same setting from the first book, it was really nostalgic visiting the old gardens where the sisters had had so many adventures before. This was–of course–Lydia’s story and her experience in Arundel is slightly different. However, despite the fifteen year distance between book one and this book, readers will get to see many familiar faces and revisit many familiar places!

The Ending:

Before reading the ending, I knew that Jeanne was going to do something special. She wasn’t exactly going to leave it open (which it is, but also not), but she wasn’t just going to say this is the end. So when I did read the ending, my heart burst. Like it literally burst. She 100% did THAT. It might not even be something many readers notice, but I did and JEANNE, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I’ll leave a hint for those who don’t catch it after reading it, so please remember: the tunnel.

Honourable mention: Not only does Jeanne throw in many Narnia references, which fulfilled my little fangirl heart, she also has one character travelling to Canada! So you know Patriotic-Rendz came out and was squealing with glee!

What I Disliked:

I am going to knock off 0.5 and I’m not 100% sure why. It was just something I couldn’t fully grasp with this story. I laughed, I teared up a bit, it had everything, but maybe it’s the speed to the finish. Everything moves so quickly (and I’m complaining because I really would have liked to read about the wedding XD).


Overall, I am overjoyed. This truly was a spectacular finale to one of my favourite series. It had all the right humour, the best personalities, the touch of nostalgia and the bittersweet knowledge that this is the end. I absolutely adored this series and this final installment is cherry on top!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars (It’s really a 5….I’m being picky!)

Recommend: I WILL SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOF TOPS. IF YOU LOVE SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS, ANIMALS AND ADORABLE FAMILIES THEN READ THESE BOOKS!



About Jeanne:

Jeanne-Birdsall-Photo-214x300

Jeanne Birdsall grew up in the suburbs west of Philadelphia, where she attended wonderful public schools. Jeanne had lots of great teachers, but her favorites were: Mrs. Corkhill, sixth grade, who encouraged her intellectual curiosity; Mr. Tremonte, eighth grade algebra, who taught Jeanne to love and respect math; and Miss Basehore, second and fourth year Latin, to whom Jeanne (and Mr. Penderwick) will be forever grateful.

Although she first decided to become a writer when she was ten years old, it took Jeanne until she was forty-one to get started. In the years in between, Jeanne had many strange jobs to support herself, and also worked hard as a photographer, the kind that makes art. Some of Jeanne’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of museums, including the Smithsonian and the Philadelphia Art Museum. Her work can be seen in several galleries, including the R. Michelson Galleries in western Massachusetts.

Jeanne’s home now is with her husband in Northampton, Massachusetts. Their house is old and comfortable, full of unruly animals, and surrounded by gardens.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Giveaway!

Details:
–¬†3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE PENDERWICKS AT LAST
– US Only

Enter:

Rafflecopter Link


Follow the Tour Schedule:

Week One:

5/7/2018-¬†Bri’s Book Nook–¬†Review
5/8/2018-¬†Christen Krumm–¬†Review
5/9/2018-¬†RhythmicBooktrovert–¬†Review
5/10/2018-¬†Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers–¬†Review
5/11/2018-¬†Reading with Rendz–¬†Review¬†(You are here!)

Week Two:

5/14/2018-¬†Little Red Reads–¬†Review
5/15/2018-¬†Buttons Book Reviews–¬†Review
5/16/2018-¬†Will Read Anything–¬†Review
5/17/2018-¬†Two Points of Interest–¬†Review
5/18/2018-¬†The Desert Bibliophile–¬†Review

THE PENDERWICKS AT LAST


Let me know what you think! Have you read any Penderwicks books before? Which book was your favourite? How excited are you to read the finale? What sibling-hood would you love to be a part of?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Story Girl | Review

Greetings readers!

Despite the cold temperatures I’m experiencing here in my corner of the globe lately, I feel like it is the perfect time to read those spring/summer books. It’s also my favourite time of year for middle grade. I don’t know what it is exactly, but something about the spring sun (and rain) gets me in the mood for a good heartfelt adventure.

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

Publisher: Tundra Books
Pub Date: January 9, 2018
Price: $12.99 CAD
ISBN: 9781101919491

Sara Stanley is only fourteen, but she can weave tales that are impossible to resist. In the charming town of Carlisle, children and grown-ups alike flock from miles around to hear her spellbinding tales. And when Bev King and his younger brother Felix arrive for the summer, they, too, are captivated by the Story Girl. Whether she’s leading them on exciting misadventure or narrating timeless stories–from the scary “Tale of the Family Ghost” to the fanciful “How Kissing Was Discovered” to the bittersweet “The Blue Chest of Rachel Ward”–the Story Girl has her audience hanging on every word.


Buy It!

Amazon | Chapters-Indigo | McNally Robinson | Book Depository


*A huge thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a honest review!*

I have only read one other book by L.M. Montgomery which was none other than her masterpiece,¬†Anne of Green Gables. I absolutely adored it and I cannot wait to continue the series in a near foreseeable future. So in picking up this book I was really hoping to immerse myself in Montgomery’s beautiful writing and quirky characters!

What I Liked:

Characters: There were lots of them, so I’ll highlight a few things for each!

Story Girl: She was an absolute delight. Montgomery definitely gives her a way with words and a mischievous personality to match with all those fancy terms she uses. I really liked reading the stories she told and the way she charmed kids and adults alike.

Beverly: He is actually the narrator which I found quite interesting. It’s probably the best since if it were in the perspective of the Story Girl this novel would probably go on and on. He also has a way with words and the fact that it is actually an adult Bev reminiscing on his childhood days really amps the sense of nostalgia!

Cecily: Oh she was my favourite! Maybe it was her curiosity and leadership that showed up sporadically when she wasn’t second-guessing herself. She was adorable and I loved her sassy one-liners too.

Peter: Another favourite. He added a lot of humour to the story, since he wasn’t raised “proper” like the other kids, but I loved that about him.¬† I wish he wasn’t chasing after a girl who didn’t appreciate him, but who knows what could happen to this little crush of his.

 Dan & Felix & Sara Ray: They added a lot of fun to the story too! So much bickering sass, and crying (<- mostly from Sara Ray) came from them. They gave the story a healthy dose of spirit.

Felicity: She was actually my least favourite…far too snobby and self-entitled for my liking. Yet, I also kind of liked her sassy and blunt ways. I’m conflicted.

The Setting:

Prince Edward Island has always been a dream destination of mine! It sounds liked such a scenic and beautiful place. Of course the PEI of today is much different from the PEI in the story, but still. The glowing sun of the summer in PEI was the perfect backdrop for the adventures of these kids!

The Writing:

Montgomery’s writing is absolutely stunning. The descriptions she uses to emphasize the innocence and beauty of the children and their adventures in growing up were perfect.¬† Some passages were simply stunning and I couldn’t help but remark at their beauty.

The Stories within the Story:

How can I not talk about all the great little stories that the Story Girl told within the pages of the book. Some were heartfelt, others were tragic and some were very funny. It was really cute reading about the reactions of the other kids and the spell bound wonder they would be trapped in every time the Story Girl told a new tale!

What I Disliked:

What Was the Final Point?:

This was a really good story because of the amazing characters that Montgomery created. Otherwise in terms of plot, it was a little everywhere. I could not catch the direction of the story, other than it being a recount of the summer in the eyes of Bev.

Slooooowwww:

My, my it was a very slow story. Or perhaps it just felt like that because I didn’t know what the point of the story was. It was a little repetitive at times and that made me kind of want to put the book down.


Overall, it was a cute story. A perfect book to get my middle grade reading mood going. Yes it was a tad boring in places and quite outdated. (Whenever they mentioned converting the Heathen, I cringed..so just keep that in mind if you read this book.) Despite that I thought it was a fun read and I look forward to the sequel!

Rating: 3 / 5 stars 

Recommend: Yes! It’s the kind of book you read when it’s raining out and you would rather bask in the warm light of the summer sun, with a light breeze keeping you cool at the same time.

Let me know what you think! What is your favourite L.M. Montgomery read? What is your go to middle grade author/book/series? What books do you like to read during the spring season, if you have a preference?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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