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The Worst Witch Strikes Again - Jill Murphy, Jill Murphy
I loved The Worst Witch growing up and, as an adult, was very excited to learn that it was a series. This book is just as funny and heartwarming as the first one.

I love Mildred's character and all of the silly situations she gets herself into. A great quick read that is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Lions At Lunchtime - Mary Pope Osborne

As with the other Magic Tree House books, I loved this one. Lots of adventure and cool ways to learn about Africa.

I love how Annie's inclusiveness and Jack's researching skills work together in the book. In this books, Jack and Annie work on their third riddle in order to become Master Librarians. I really like this plot and think it adds new depth to the series instead of just having Jack and Annie wander around in books.

I also love how Osborne uses fan suggestions in her writing. These books really feel like they are written for the reader.

A great quick read. I can't wait to continue Jack and Annie's adventures.

Phantom of the Auditorium - R.L. Stine
Growing up, I didn't read much of R. L. Stine, because I was an easily frightened child. I found this in the Lending Library and wanted to see what my adult self thought of it.

I'll start by saying it's not scary. It's a bit suspenseful, but for the most part the chapters end with a cliffhanger that then turns out to be nothing at the start of the next chapter.

The plot was a bit predictable and horribly corny.

I did really like that Zeke and Brooke were just friends and there was no weird secret love thing going on. I'm a sucker for friendships that don't turn into creepy love triangles. 

Overall, it was a good read, but was more sad than scary.
Facing West: A Story of the Oregon Trail - Kathleen V. Kudlinski, James Watling

This is the first Once Upon America book I have read.

I found a copy of this in the Little Free Lending Library and wanted to check it out.

I was blown away by what a great read this was. The writing was simple, but engaging. It is like the next step after The Magic Tree House books. Very educational and enlightening.

I love how Kudlinski worked so much into the narrative (women's roles, dangers on the trail, daily routines, systems of communication). It was very cool to learn about the Oregon Trail while still being entertained.

I also liked the added element of Ben's asthma and how this effected him on the trail.

A very good read, highly recommend for young readers who are interested in history.

Never Underestimate Your Dumbness - Jim Benton

This is the first Dear Dumb Diary I have read. I found it in the Lending Library and thought I'd give it a read.

This book took me a bit to get into. I didn't really like the beginning. Jamie's hatred of Angeline (for no reason other than her prettiness) and weird, dysfunctional friendship with Isabella (trying to push her down the stairs???) had me grimacing.

I hated how Jamie's character was so jealous and shallow all of the time. It's another middle grade book about insecure girls tearing down other girls to make themselves feel better. I think we can do better than that. I prefer books with meaningful female relationships.

However, I did like the ending. The book wraps up nicely and there is a teeny tiny glimmer of a message by the end, that (doesn't redeem the whole book, but) negates some of the awfulness in the beginning.

There were some funny bits, but I wouldn't say the whole thing was funny, mostly because there were so many times Jamie was mean out of jealousy. I did like the silly illustrations and some of the lists.

A solid two-star book for me, but the ending bumped it up to three-stars.

The Worst Witch - Jill Murphy

I stumbled across my copy of this book while cleaning out my mother's attic. I used to read it all the time as a child. I was fascinated with the story. I even remember watching the film version of it and dreaming about being a witch.

Rereading it, I loved it just as much as the first time. The writing is simple, making it easy to understand for young readers. The plot is very fun and interesting. I really loved Mildred's character. She is loveable and relatable, despite always getting into trouble.

This pre-Harry-Potter witch school book is a fantastic read.

I am so excited to learn that it is part of a sequel. I know what books I'll be on the hunt for next.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging - Louise Rennison

This book is pretty much what Bridget Jones would have been like in school, although less charismatic in my opinion.

It was okay. It was a pretty quick read, but for me it wasn't entertaining or insightful. It's a pretty run of the mill tween book filled with fat shaming, jokes about suicide, homophobia, and girls tearing other girls down to get the boy.

The only redeeming thing about this book was Libby and Angus. I want either of them to somehow write a diary. I'd read that for sure.

Overall, this was an alright read, but I prefer books for young readers that actually have a message of some sort.

Ghost Town At Sundown - Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca

A great continuation of the series.

I am so in love with these books. A nice quick read that is very entertaining.

I love how different Jack and Annie are, but how well they compliment each other. Annie is so impulsive and intuitive while Jack wants to plan and research before acting. They work so well together.

Definitely can't wait to continue this series. A perfect fit for young readers who want to learn while having an epic adventure.


Electromagnetism - Samie Sands, Kevin Hall, L Davis, Martin Smith, Andrew Lucas, Alex Winck, T Iain, McKenzie Richardson, Sheri Velarde, Rob Shepherd
As a contributor of this book, I feel it would be unfair for me to give it a star rating. However, here are some of my thoughts on the book.

The theme of this book is technology and each author has his or her own spin on this. There are so many creepy things in this book and it is splendid.

Two of my favorites (besides my own) were "Touch" by TW Iain and "Domain of the Dragon" by L.H. Davis. The writing in each of these is fantastic. I love how unsettling "Touch" is.

My story is called "From the Depths" and is for all of the shark-lovers out there. Hope you enjoy.
Horrible Harry and the Christmas Surprise - Suzy Kline

This was a very easy read. There are only four chapters, each of which are pretty short.

This book was okay. It is the first Horrible Harry book I have read.

It was cute and the writing was simple. I did like the ending, but overall it wasn't a very interesting read for me.

Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker - Megan McDonald, Peter H. Reynolds

A cute, quick read.

Just like the first book in this series, it was a good read, but I didn't like it as much as the Judy Moody books. The events in the Stink books feel more superficial than those in the Judy Moody series. I did like that Judy appeared a little nicer in this book in comparison to the first one (and less animal cruelty).

This was a nice read.

Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan

A beautifully written story of faith, hope, and perseverance. This is a fantastic read. I loved it. I'll admit, the start of it was very hard to read. So much tragedy at the beginning. But as the novel went on, I really enjoyed it. I love how much Esperanza grew and matured. A very good book for young readers. I liked that it followed a child's perspective, making difficult concepts more relatable to a young audience (striking, immigration, unfair working conditions, livable wages). The writing of this book was amazing. It is so beautiful and lyrical. And of course the ending was perfect.

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid - M. McDonald, Megan McDonald, Peter H. Reynolds

A cute branch off of the Judy Moody series.

I didn't like this as much as the Judy Moody books I have read. The whole thing didn't go as in depth as the previous series in my opinion. The writing was more simplistic, making it easier for younger readers to read. I did really like the comics.

The narration also follows Stink's point of view, which was interesting, although it did paint Judy as a pretty intolerable sister.

Not a bad book altogether (although I could have done without the newt bit). A good read, but a hard sell for those of us who are #TeamJudy.

Inkheart - Cornelia Funke, Anthea Bell

I will admit, it took me quite a long time to get into this book. But by the end, I loved it.

I remember trying to read this book multiple times growing up, but I just couldn't get through it. The first few chapters are interesting, but they really drag on. The book is written in a similar style to many old children's books like Treasure Island and Peter Pan where the action is slow to come and the narration is filled with lots of details and descriptions.

However, once I got into it, the book was fascinating. I loved the plot and I especially loved Meggie's character and how she grows throughout the novel. This book is filled with fascinating characters and situations. I also really enjoyed all of the quotes and references to other works of literature.

The whole idea of the book was magnificent and I really enjoyed it. This is a perfect fit for book lovers. The only drawback for me was how detailed it was. The world building was great, but after a while I just wanted the action to get going. There are so many interesting interconnected things, but it takes a really long time for them to all come together. I'm not surprised that my middle-school self gave up on it, but I am so glad I came back to it as an adult.

A great book with a fantastic plot that is long and slow at times, but overall a very cool read.

Judy Moody Declares Independence - Megan McDonald, Peter H. Reynolds

Classic Judy Moody.

This is such a great series. I loved how this book was educational and still entertaining.

Judy Moody is such an independent character in general, but her independence is really highlighted in this hilarious story as she tries to convince her parents not to treat her like a baby anymore.

A great, quick read. Nice continuation of the series.

The Twits - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

A very silly book that has Roald Dahl written all over it. Very entertaining with a little moral thrown in.

This is a pretty quick read. I liked the descriptions and illustrations a lot.

Since this book was published almost 40 years ago, there is some language in it that many modern parents may not approve of. However, I don't think you'd expect anything less from a book entitled The Twits. None of the words are bad in and of themselves, but I can see how most parents wouldn't want their children to pick up on calling people "freaks" or telling them to "shut up".

Still a good book and a very funny read.