Review: Ordinary Magic

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Ordinary Magic by: Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society.

The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary—it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!

Beware spoilers ahead!

This book was recommended to me by Sierra! Click on her name to read her review. 

I heard about this through Twitter. Sierra was doing one of those 1 click= 1 book and out of curiosity I looked at the thread. Out of 50 plus reccomendation’s Ordinary Magic caught my eye. I love reading Middle Grade especially books with magic in them! I was happy to see that this was in my library. While this wasn’t what I was expecting I still enjoyed it!

The book begins with Abby and her family getting ready for her Judging. Abby has been looking forward to this day. She can finally practice magic! She’s a bit nervous about the level she’ll be and the Judging in general. Luckily her whole family are going to support her.

Once Abby and her family reach the place where she’ll be Judged they go their separate ways. Abby to be Judged and her family to wait. Abby is told that she needs to step through a barrier and then her test will begin. She does so but nothing happens. Abby doesn’t feel any difference. The people Judging her look shocked and ask her to walk around the barrier several times. They inform Abby that she is and Ord. She has no magic in her whatsoever. Abby is in shock and really upset.

Her parents are called in and they in just as much shock as Abby is. The man informs Abby’s parents that because she is an Ord they will need to get rid of her. Her parents deny doing so and leave. Her siblings are in shock as well but quickly try to cheer Abby up. When they leave the building word has gotten out and everyone is avoiding Abby’s family.

They arrive home to have a party for Abby nonetheless. Abby remains upset because none of her friends came and some of her other family members didn’t come. Her aunt left early and her parents told her that if she was going to leave early then she shouldn’t come back. Abby’s family make sure that she has a good day.

The next day Abby wakes up to her family having a heated discussion. Abby joins her family and asks what’s going on. Her oldest sister Alexa say’s that their counsel has requested buying Abby. Abby then asks her parents whether they are going to sell her to anyone. Her family replies with a firm ‘No’. Alexa then mentions that as her work for the King there is a school for Ord’s. And that they are going to enroll Abby in it. Abby is quite shocked when she hears this as Alexa doesn’t mention her work. But she’s willing to give it a go seeing as she’s not sure what to do with her life.

I was expecting to love this book. But nonetheless I did enjoy it! I really liked the writing style. The author did a good job of writing about a 12 year old. This book is written in first person in Abby’s point of view.

Now when I saw Sierra mention this book the only thing that I remembered about it was that it had magic and that Abby was an Ord. I didn’t realize just how brutal this book was going to be! I was so surprised and angry when I read about how Ord’s are typically treated. Normally they are sold off to basically anyone asking for them. Simply because they have no means of survival in society. Most people treat Ord’s as objects and avoid them like their contagious. I’m not even exaggerating. This book was also action packed! Surprisingly so. 

The family aspect was amazing! I loved reading about their interactions with one-another! I always had a huge grin on my face whenever Abby’s family came in! I liked Abby’s friends Fran and Fred. And I kind of liked Peter. I also liked Abby. And while Abby still didn’t really stand up for herself she did grow.

Once Abby gets to school she’s not well liked. Quite a few people are jealous of her because her family cares about her. People also don’t like the fact that Abby talks a lot about her family. They always seemed to forget that Peter also had his mother. But that might just be because Peter’s mother is an Ord and Ord’s seem to stick together. The ending was bitter sweet but realistic. 

I had 5 problems with Ordinary Magic. I felt that the book started to loose it’s appeal once Abby started attending school. I also felt that while Abby went through character development the other characters did not. I would’ve liked to read more about Peter just to understand his character. I really did not like the way Cook Bella treated Abby. She was unfair through-and-through. I think that it may have been her way of teaching Abby. I never felt that Abby ever became one of the kitchen staff. It seems that it is implied but I never felt it.

Overall this was a good book! I recommend to anyone looking for a standalone fantasy middle grade book. 

Review: Tooth Goblins

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Tooth Goblins by: Ash Toroid 

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

When Ellie’s older brother is turning thirteen, she want’s to see the ‘transformation’ into a teenager for herself. Ellie hides in a cupboard and waits. She is shocked to witness her brother kidnapped by goblins and replaced with a clone. A passing Tooth-Fairy is drawn by the use of magic and gets caught up in the commotion, to discover that Ellie is descended from the legendary Merlin. Together they embark upon an adventure for Ellie to rescue her brother, whose destiny begins to take shape as he must attempt to incite a rebellion against the goblins that try to enslave him. The siblings’ combine their efforts with the fairies in their fateful struggle against the Tooth-Goblins.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF 

I received this E-ARC via the author in exchange for an honest review.

When Toroid emailed me asking whether I would like to read her book, I jumped and agreed! It sounded so cool and very unique! Unfortunately I did not enjoy this book.

The book begins with Ellie explaining that her brother is turning 13. She’s not looking forward to it. Ellie has heard that teenagers are terrible people. She’s afraid that her brother will have a drastic change overnight.

As Ellie is getting ready to go to bed she hears a noise coming from her brother’s room. She goes to check it out and to her shock she sees pixies carrying her brother away. Having no idea what to do Ellie hides in the closet and tries to find something she can hit the pixies with.

This was a case of ‘It’s not you but me.’ I didn’t like the writing style. I found it to be weird and couldn’t bring myself to read any more. I have given this book two stars because it sounds like an interesting book. 

Overall this book is not for me. I recommend it to anyone looking for a Middle Grade fantasy standalone. 

Review: Diary of Anna the Girl Witch 1: Foundling Witch

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Diary of Anna the Girl Witch 1: Foundling Witch by: Max Candee

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Set in the Swiss countryside, “Diary of Anna the Girl Witch” blends ancient folklore with a classic coming of age tale about a young witch on the brink of womanhood.

Anna Sophia has always known she was different. She just didn’t know how different until now.

On the eve of her 13th birthday — in the orphanage where she’s spent most of her childhood — Anna wonders about her past. She never knew her parents, doesn’t even know where she came from.

All she has to go by is an unbelievable fairy tale her uncle used to tell: that she was found as a baby, tucked among a pack of bear cubs in the wilds of Russia.

To make matters even more complicated, Anna has discovered that she can see and do things that no one else can. So far, she’s kept her powers a secret, and they remain strange and frightening even to her.

It’s only when Anna receives a letter from her mother — a mother she will never meet — that she discovers some of the truths about her past, and begins to uncover the possibilities in her future.

As Anna continues to learn more about her secret abilities, she finds out that her neighbors are hiding something of their own: a plot to harm Anna and her friends.

Can Anna Sophia use her newfound supernatural powers to stop them? Can she fight back, without endangering her own soul? And maybe, just maybe, is her own secret tied up with theirs?

Through a story of otherworldly magic, Anna Sophia finds a sense of real-world belonging. With its cast of strong characters, inventive setting, and engaging storyline, this fantasy adventure is a relevant novel for middle grade children or young adults.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Helvetic House and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF

When I got the email from Netgalley that this book was available for ‘Read Now’ I immediately requested it! I love MG fantasies! Unfortunately I did not enjoy it.

The book begins with Anna writing a letter to her Uncle Misha. She’s getting worried because he hasn’t responded to her previous letters. When she was born her Uncle found her with a few bears. Her parents are dead and he took after her for some years. Then when she was 6 years old he took her to school. At some point she was transferred to the orphanage that she is currently in.

Anna is extremely excited for her 13th birthday! It’s not because she is becoming a teenager. She can feel it in her bones that something life changing will happen on her birthday. Anna has started noticing strange things lately. For example when the sun is out she can see the moon.

The only reason I didn’t enjoy this is because of the writing style. In the beginning I wasn’t bothered by it. But as I continued to read on it started to bother me.

I liked Anna’s character. And the relationship she had with her Uncle. It was cool to read about some of Anna’s abilities! Hence why I rated it 2 stars.These aspects couldn’t save the writing style for me.

Overall I did not enjoy the writing style. I still recommend it because it sounds like a sweet story.

Review: Grayling’s Song

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Grayling’s Song by: Karen Cushman

My Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

When Grayling’s mother, wise woman Hannah Strong, starts turning into a tree, Hannah sends Grayling to call “the others” for help. Shy and accustomed to following her mother in everything, Grayling takes to the road. She manages to summon several “others”—second-string magic makers who have avoided the tree spell—and sets off on a perilous trip to recover Hannah’s grimoire, or recipe book of charms and potions. By default the leader of the group, which includes a weather witch, an enchantress, an aspiring witch, a wizard whose specialty is divination with cheese, and a talking and shape shifting mouse called Pook, Grayling wants nothing more than to go home.

Kidnapping, imprisonment, near drowning, and ordinary obstacles like hunger, fatigue, and foul weather plague the travelers, but they persist and achieve their goal. Returning, Grayling finds herself reluctant to part with her companions—especially Pook. At home she’s no longer content to live with her bossy mother, who can look after herself just fine, and soon sets out on another journey to unfamiliar places . . . possibly to see the young paper maker who warmed her heart.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Houghton Mufflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF

When I first saw this on Netgalley in December I fell in love with the synopsis! It sounded really sweet and I love Middle Grade fantasy! You can imagine my excitement when I was able to request this. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this.

The book begins with Grayling doing some chores for her mother. They don’t really have the best relationship as her mother makes it point to tell Grayling that she’s no good. After completing some chores for her mother she goes home. Her mother is a doctor and will be having some patients. Grayling will have to babysit one of the patients children.

The next day Grayling is daydreaming when her mother calls her in to come immediately. Grayling still lost in her own head doesn’t go right away. Her mother shouts for her again. Grayling goes to her house thinking of why can’t she get a moments peace.

When she reaches her house she sees that it’s on fire. She runs to find her mother. Much to Grayling’s relief her mother is alive. But her feet are rooted to the ground and she is about to become a tree. Grayling freaks out and is unsure of what to do. Her mother tells her to get everything that survived the fire and to get the ‘others’.

The reason why I didn’t like it is because of the writing style. The way Grayling and her mother spoke to each other was weird. She actually called her mother by her first name. I could barely understand what they were saying. It seems that the author has written in some old type of language. I’m not really sure how to describe it. Some of the narration was alright but again hard to understand.

Overall I really did not like the writing style. I cannot bring myself to recommend this to anyone.

Review: Flunked

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Flunked by: Jen Calonita

My Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.

Full of regret, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she’s not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its sweet mission. There’s a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villain really change?

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

This book was recommended to me by my GR friend Irena! I was really looking forward to reading this book! I loved how the synopsis sounded and I am always on the hunt for a good fairytale retelling. Unfortunately I really did not like this book.

The book begins with an announcement about how Cinderella’s stepmother founded the school and it’s high success rates. You are then taken to Gilly who is going to rob some blonde girls hair pin.

Gilly’s been following the blonde girl and her friends for awhile now. As far as she’s concerned they’re all stupid because they like fashion. Once the girls make their way into a store Gilly sees this as her chance.

Gilly and the girls enter the store. She pretends to be looking at some scarfs so that the owner doesn’t find her suspicious. She then makes her way over to the blonde girl and talks to her for a bit. Then tricks her into leaving her hair pin on the table. The girl forgets all about her hair pin allowing Gilly to steal it without getting caught.

I really did not like the writing style or Gilly! I found the writing style to be very childish. Gilly was annoying and thought that she was all that. She was very rude when judging those girls. Thus I dropped this book.

Overall this was not a good book. I do not recommend it.

Review: Summerlost

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Summerlost by: Ally Condie

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-Sampler via Penguin Young Readers Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF

I was really excited when I heard that Ally Condie (who wrote the Matched series) would be publishing her first middle grade book! I was even happier when I got an email from Netgalley about the sample. Unfortunately I will not be reading the whole book. Which is why I have marked this book as ‘DNF’.

The book begins with Cedar and her family when they move into their new summer house. Her father and brother passed away last summer and her mother has decided to buy a house close to their family members. Cedar and her other brother Miles are happy about this because they like their Grandparents and Uncle Nick. And they can all talk about Ben and their father together.

While Cedar is sitting on the porch she sees a boy about her age riding a bike dressed in peasant clothes. She finds this odd but the boy rides off before she can even talk to him. Her mother comes and ushers Cedar into the house.

Over the next few days Cedar spends some time with her family. She and Miles play some games. And their family members come to visit. Cedar still sees the boy on the bike passing by. At the end of the sample Cedar decides to follow the boy.

The only reason I won’t be reading the whole book is because of the writing style. The first time I read it the writing style sounded broken and the topic changes were weird. I didn’t understand how this could be because I loved Condie’s writing style in Matched. I read it two more times. While it sounded a bit better the writing style still bothered me. And I cannot bring myself to read the whole book.

However I did enjoy some things. I liked the relationship that Cedar had with her family. When it came to deciding rooms Cedar chose the room with a diamond window because the other room had a window seat and her mother loves window seats. I also liked how Cedar describes that her family is against labeling other people because it hurt Ben. It was really sweet. Unfortunately this was not enough to save the book.

Overall this was not a bad sample, just not well written. However I still recommend it. This sounds like a really sweet story with an emphasis on family and friendship.

Review: The Door by the Staircase

The Door by the StaircaseThe Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can’t stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn’t go quite as well as she’d hoped, Mary fears she’ll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. 

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron’s all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn’t dreaming!

But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z’s true identity. If Mary’s not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.

Award-winning author Katherine Marsh draws from Russian fairytales in this darkly funny middle-grade fantasy novel 

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.

When I first heard about this it sounded right up my alley. I did not hesitate to select ‘Wish it’ on Netgalley. Needless to say I was very happy when it was available for request. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

The book begins with Mary trying to escape the orphanage. Her mother and brother died in a fire. The only reason she is alive is because she snuck out to read a fairytale book that her brother gave her. She awoke in the snow to the sounds of her mother and brothers screams. She has been in the orphanage since then.

Although Mary does not like it. The woman who owns the orphanage is rude and extremely mean to all the girls. Mary does not wish to live there any more so she devised a plan to sneak out through the chimney.

After some struggle she escapes the building. Once she is outside though a whirlwind starts. She tries running through the whirlwind but it is no use. Mrs. Boots (the owner of the orphanage) awakes and finds Mary trying to sneak out. When she goes to get her the whirlwind stops. And Mary assumes that she must have been seeing things.

The next day a woman is looking for a girl to adopt. Much to Mary’s surprise she chooses her. Mary excitedly gathers her belongings and leaves the orphanage. The woman who adopted her is Madame Z. She’s Russian. She promises to feed and take care of Mary.

After some time they arrive in the town where Madame Z lives. Iris. It’s a very odd town. She serves Mary some food and promises to go shopping for Mary’s essentials. Madame Z takes Mary to get her a coat. After she has gotten Mary a coat, Madame Z allows Mary to explore the town meanwhile she runs some errands.

Mary comes across Jacob, the son of an illusionist. The two quickly become friends. Over the past few days life is perfect for Mary. She is well feed and taken care off. Then she starts to notice odd things. Like the orange light at night, and the tiny door that has no key. Soon she realizes that Madame Z is not who she claims to be. Together Jacob and Mary try to uncover Madame Z’s real identity while trying to stay alive.

This was a really sweet story! I loved the friendship between Jacob and Mary. They fit so well together. Madame Z is not what I expected to be. In the end I actually liked her. It was nice reading about all the various characters that come in with their quirks. What I especially loved was how this story is about family and finding your home with your family.

I don’t have any criticism for this. It’s four stars because while I thoroughly enjoyed this I didn’t love it.

Overall this was a sweet story! I recommend it to fans of fairytale retellings and fantasy.

View all my reviews