Mini Reviews: Middle Grade Edition

Hello, reader!

I’ve been reading quite a bit of middle grade recently, all thanks to joining in with Middle Grade Marvels! I had forgotten how much fun middle grade books can be! I do love a whimsical book and I’ve been getting a heavy dose of that lately joining in on the monthly reading for Middle Grade Marvels. But, though I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade, I’ve fallen behind on my reviews. I mean, I’m behind on all of my reviews, but let’s not talk about that 😂 Today’s post is me catching up! I’ll be reviewing three middle grade novels I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

Title: Keeper of the Lost Cities

Author: Shannon Messenger

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Borrowed (Scribd)

CW/TW: Depictions of grief, violence

Rating: â˜…★★★

Links: Bookshop::Indiebound::TBD::B&N::Amazon::Goodreads

When this book was picked as the September Middle Grade Marvels read, I have to admit I was stoked. I had heard a lot about this series from people all over the bookish community. And the concept instantly captured my attention! We’re following a young girl who has the ability to read minds. Not that she wants to… ever since Sophie fell and hit her head at the age of five, she has been assaulted by other people’s thoughts. It’s something she’s come to live with as she also keeps it hidden… until she meets a strange boy who seems to know all about her telepathy. Soon, she is whisked into a magical world where she learns that nothing she knew previously was at it seemed.

I have to say, this book was definitely a wild ride! It also did not go where I thought it was going to at first. The pacing will have you tearing through this book at breakneck speeds. I really enjoyed all the fantastical elements of this story and I think the author does a great job of capturing your interest throughout the book. I will say, if you’re not a fan of the Chosen One trope, you might want to give this one a skip because Sophie is about as Chosen as One can get! It even started rubbing me the wrong way and I don’t mind that trope at all. It just felt a little over the top at times. Still, I really enjoyed Sophie as a character and I thought the supporting cast were interesting, as well.

Overall, this book was a lot of fun and it had a lot of heart. Though it is thoroughly entrenched in the Chosen One trope, it was still an enjoyable read, with it’s fast-paced story and lovable characters. I’m definitely interested in continuing the series!

Title: Dragon Pearl

Author: Yoon Ha Lee

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Source: Bought

CW/TW: For a full list of content and trigger warnings, please check out

Rating: â˜…★★★

Links: Bookshop::Indiebound::TBD::B&N::Amazon::Goodreads

Ahhh, Dragon Pearl. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile, so when it was chosen as the October read for Middle Grade Marvels, I was excited! I didn’t know much about it other than it was a fantasy with sci-fi elements that had aspects of Korean mythology woven throughout. The story centers around a young gumiho named Min, who lives on a dusty, boring planet but dreams of becoming a space cadet just like her older brother. But then a mysterious man comes to her home, claiming that her brother has gone AWOL in search of a mythical artifact known as the Dragon Pearl. Min knows her brother, though. She knows he would never willingly abandon the position that he worked so hard to obtain. So she decides to go and find him herself so that she can clear his name.

This was such an interesting story! I absolutely loved the Korean mythology that was peppered throughout and I loved watching Min become more in tune with her gumiho powers. I will say that the book started off pretty slow to me. I actually didn’t even finish it until November because I kept getting a bit bored and putting it down! But, once I hit about the halfway point, when Min is well and truly on her way to find her brother, I go completely sucked in. I adore Min! She is such a solid and well-rounded character and her journey is a beauty to behold. I also enjoyed the world-building and the glimpses we got of life as a space cadet.

All in all, this book had a slow start, but it wow’d me in the end! I loved the world, I loved the characters (mostly Min), and I loved the overarching journey. I kind of wish this wasn’t a standalone, tbh, because I want to follow Min on all of her adventures!

Title: Shadows of Winterspell

Author: Amy Wilson

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Bought

CW/TW: Depictions of grief, violence

Rating: â˜…★★★

Links: TBD::B&N::Amazon::Goodreads

This was the Middle Grade Marvels pick for November. I had actually never heard of this book of the author before it won the poll! I decided to give it a go for two reasons.

  1. I love discussing books with the MGM folks! It makes the whole reading experience that much more fun.
  2. Dat cover 😍

This story follows young Stella, a girl who lives on the edge of a magical forest. She has been hidden away by her Nan for years, but a secret life gets lonely. In a rebellious streak, Stella decides to enroll in the local school so she can try and make some friends. What she discovers there starts to unravel secrets about the forest she lives near and her own past.

If you look up the definition of ‘whimsical’, I’m fairly certain there’s a picture of this book next to it. This was absolutely captivating! It was magical and beautiful and kept you intrigued from page one until you closed the book. I thought the author did an incredible job of describing this world, especially the beautiful yet sinister forest. It was so atmospheric that you almost felt you were walking alongside Stella! I loved the characters in this book, as well. It was definitely an eclectic cast and I found them all rather endearing. The ending felt a bit rushed to me and I kind of wish this was the start of a series and not a standalone, but it was still an enjoyable read!

I’m so glad I’ve gotten into reading more middle grade because, as you can see, they tend to be rather fun! Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

And, as always, happy reading!


9 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Middle Grade Edition

  1. I wasn’t able to join in during October because I was too busy and then in November I couldn’t get a copy of the book. But, I have both books for December and I am ready to go! I am so excited to get to join you all. I am glad to have read your reviews though because I really want to read these three. I want to get to know Min if for no other reason than I love mythology and I think I could get hooked on that one.

    Liked by 2 people

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