First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:
Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
Finally… reveal the book!
If you’re using Twitter, don’t forget to use #FirstLinesFridays!
We’ve made it to another Friday, which means that it’s time for First Lines Friday! Today, I’m featuring a book that I started reading recently and am absolutely loving! It’s hard putting this one down when I start reading and that’s always a good sign.
The story certainly already has me hooked. Now let’s see if the first few lines can capture your interest, as well!
“They shouldn’t have been out on the snow. ‘The snow hides death,’ the Fira people would claim, one of the many cheerful sayings taught to their children as soon as they were old enough to learn. And with good reason. The snow was a deadly place to be. But the ball wasn’t that far away.”
This is a middle grade novel that is the first in a series.
This book is a perfect read for the winter season.
It has incredible illustrations that really add to the story!
Today, I’m bringing you a batch of mini-reviews for some middle grade novels I’ve read recently. I have to say, before 2020, I really didn’t get into middle grade books beyond the wildly popular ones. Then I joined in with the Middle Grade Marvels group and I’ve discovered some truly incredibly tales! I’m loving being able to chat about this wonderful books as we read and, honestly, middle grades are just good for the soul. They’re usually so freaking wholesome and, sometimes, that’s just what you need.
The books I’ll be reviewing today are the first three Middle Grade Marvels picks from 2021. Because I’m v. behind on my reviews 😅 That being said, why don’t we jump in!
We kicked off the year with a pretty amazing pick! A Pinch of Magic follows the Widdershins sisters, Betty, Charlie, and Fliss. Betty wants to explore the world beyond their small town, but her grandmother has strictly forbidden it. Through a series a misadventures, Betty finds out why: all Widdershins are curse to die if they ever leave their town of Crowstone. Now Betty and her sisters are determined to find a way to counteract this curse and they are racing against the clock.
This was a lot of fun to read and, I have to say, much darker than the cover would lead you to believe! Which I kind of loved, if I’m being honest. I had a lot of fun following the Widdershins on their spooky adventure. There were moments where Betty could get under my skin. She’s headstrong and makes some rather impulsive decisions. I had to remind myself constantly that we all do dumb stuff at that age… though maybe not so life-threatening.
Overall, I loved getting to know all three of the sisters and I really enjoyed the story. The pacing was great, the atmosphere was wonderfully developed, and it had a very satisfying ending. It’s a strong start to a middle grade series and I’m definitely interested in reading more about the Widdershins!
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.
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!
After the tragic death of her mother, Ollie Adler finds herself engrossed in a creepy book about Beth and the smiling man, which may hold more truth than Ollie realizes.
“Wherever you go in this big, gorgeous, hideous world, there is a ghost story waiting for you.”
As y’all may know, I’ve been a lover of horror books for awhile. Though fantasy will forever and always be my top genre, there’s just something about a frightening tale that I love. That being said, I tend to stick to adult horror novels. Why, you ask? Mostly because those are the ones I see marketed! But I’ve recently begun to dip my toes into YA horror and, most recently, middle grade horror. I had heard about Small Spaces from various sources and was curious about how I would get on with a horror novel geared towards a middle grade audience. Then the book was picked for the Middle Grade Marvels group book in August and I knew it was time!
In this novel, we’re following a young girl names Ollie Adler. Ollie is smart and brave, but also reeling from a recent tragedy. She’s closed herself off from people at school and even a little bit from her loving father. But one thing she does still enjoy is reading. That’s why, when she finds a woman about to toss an old book into a river, she quickly saves it from a watery demise. When she starts to read it, she’s immediately pulled in by the creepy and bizarre tale. But when her class goes on a field trip to a local farm, she can’t help but notice some eerie similarities. Then, on the way home, the bus breaks down and things take a turn for the spooky…
Y’all, this book was a creepy delight! I haven’t had that much fun being freaked out in quite a long time. The tone is expertly set and matches the fall theme so well, it felt like October when I was reading it at the height of summer! I think my favorite aspect of the book was the foreboding atmosphere that is built throughout the tale. It ramps up as you go, the tension building and building, until you find yourself on the edge of your seat. I think the author did a good job of making this frightening, but not overly so for the intended audience.
But, also, I may never look at a scarecrow the same way again…
I also think Katherine Arden did an amazing job developing her characters. I just wanted to hug Ollie so many times throughout this book. The depiction of grief will tug at your heart-strings. I loved the characterization of Coco and Brian, the other two main characters in this story, as well. Coco has a quiet strength to her that I absolutely adored. Brian is just so dang likeable and I love how he interacts with both Ollie and Coco. Together, they are a trio of complex, layered characters and it was a joy getting to know them in this short book.
I will say that I’m glad that this is just the first book in a series because I felt like I didn’t get enough! I wanted more as soon as the book was done, which is why I immediately bought the next book in the series, Dead Voices. I can’t wait to continue on with Ollie, Coco, and Brian!
Final thoughts: Don’t sleep on this middle grade horror! This is a creepy, dark, and intense book that will have you on the edge of your seat. The characters are compelling, the setting is wonderfully ominous, and the scares will sneak up on you! If you or your kid are looking for a book to read to get in the mood for Halloween, if you’re looking for something that has heart and jump scares, then I think you would love Small Spaces.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these books, click on the cover to be taken to the Goodreads page.
No Truth Left to Tell by Michael McAuliffe: Y’all, I’m never going to finish this book 😫 I swear, every time I pick it up, I can only get through a few chapters before I want to read something else! Courtroom thrillers just might not be my thing… But I got this book from the publisher so I am going to finish it.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown: Remember how I said every time I started reading the last book, I wanted to pick up something else? It’s because of this book. THIS BOOK IS SO. GOOD! I just want to hide from all my responsibilities until I’m done reading this beautiful thing! I would fight for both Karina and Malik. Seriously. Just throw down with whomever. I can’t wait to finish this one!
The Three Muskateers by Alexandre Dumas: I downloaded this audiobook after finishing The Count of Monte Cristo because A) I really loved that book and this one is by the same author and B) the same narrator performs this audiobook and his voice is just *chef’s kiss* I’ve been listening to it at work, so I’m not terribly far into it, but I’m liking it!
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker: I FINALLY FINISHED THIS! How pumped are we?! Well… I’m super excited. This book was a bit of a slog at the beginning and I ended up giving up on the e-book. Once I picked up the audiobook, however, I was completely sucked in! You can read my full review HERE.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London: This was another audiobook I downloaded mostly because of the narrator. Hint: it’s the same guy who narrated The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Muskateers. It’s a short, little classic which was compelling but, holy shit, the animal abuse 😬 Still, it kept my interest and I ended up enjoying the experience.
Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen: This book has a super fun premise that I was instantly drawn to. It was a good book, but it definitely wasn’t as engaging as I had hoped. There were a lot of conveniences that I had a hard time getting past! My full review will be up soon.
Crossings by Alex Landragin: This was such a weird, interesting book! I love the fact that there is an alternate way to experience the story: you can read it from front to back or follow the Baroness reading, which skips you around the various stories. I read it the traditional way, but I think I might try it again reading it as the Baroness intended. My full review will be up soon!
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips: I’m on a #TheWriteReads blog tour for this middle grade novel. I honestly don’t know much about it, but it looks and sounds like it’s going to be a fun time! I’m excited to pick it up.
The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen: MY MOST ANTICIPATED SEQUEL OF THE YEEEEEAAAARRRR! And I’m on the TBR and Beyond Tours book tour for it!! I am both excited and scared to read this. Excited because I know I’m going to devour it. Scared because the author keeps hinting at THINGS on Twitter and my heart can’t take it!
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden: I’ll be reading this spooky middle grade for the Middle Grade Marvels book club in August and I’m so pumped! This book has been on my TBR for months and I’m eager to dig in. Plus, how often do you get to read middle grade horror?
What are you currently reading? Read any new favorites lately? Let me know in the comments!
Morrigan Crow, a cursed child who has been told her whole life that she will die on Eventide, finds herself whisked away to the enchanting world of Nevermoor and competing in a trial that could change her life.
“Death is boring. Life is much more fun. Things happen in life all the time. Unexpected things. Things you couldn’t possibly expect because they’re so very… unexpected.”