Recent Reads & Purchases (11/01/17)

Thanks once again to #MGBooktober, I’ve done more book-buying than book-reading these past couple weeks. Fortunately, the majority of the books included in this month’s #MGBOOKBATTLE — a month full of daily “battles” in which readers will be asked to determine their favorite of the 64 most-loved books of #MGBooktober — are ones I’ve already read or already own. Hopefully, I’ll now have a chance to do some reading and catch up on the books I’ve been adding to my shelves.

Below you’ll find, first, brief reviews of some of the books I have managed to recently read. A little further down, you’ll find information about some of the books I’ve recently bought, and now am eagerly looking forward to reading. As always, you can consider ALL of these books, even those I haven’t read yet myself, strongly recommended. I added them to my shelves because they’ve received TONS of praise from a variety of trusted sources.

Any recent reads or purchases YOU think deserve a shout-out? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

. . .

Recent Reads

THE CHOCOPOCALYPSE, by Chris Callaghan


A silly and hilarious story about a scary and serious subject — the end of chocolate! Can you even imagine?! Chris can, and does, and the result is a laugh-out-loud mystery-adventure full of crazy characters and spot-on sendups of power-hungry businessmen, put-upon teachers, hopeless parents, irritating classmates, and the shallow nightly newscast. This book will have you on the edge of your seat, your sides split, and your stomach grumbling for a bar of chocolate.



This book starts off looking like one thing — a story about a girl being forced to move halfway across the country, from the sun and sand of Florida to the clouds and cold of Chicago — but then abruptly veers into darker, creepier territory. And the surprises don’t end there. Lindsay deftly handles readers’ expectations, bit by bit revealing that plenty of other things about her world — dolls, for instance, or statues or sketchpads — might not be what they seem. Throughout it all, she keeps your heart pounding with plenty of frights and fast-paced action, and keeps your interest piqued by gradually unspooling the mystery at the story’s center. True to form, the book ends unexpectedly, too, as Lindsay warms up your now well-exercised heart by bringing her thrill ride to a touching conclusion.



A book about so many things — grief and goldfish, dogs and deadlines, best friends and books, honesty and runaway hens — all told in a voice absolutely bursting with spirit. Vilonia’s approach to language — playful, quirky, and oh-so-very inventive — and life itself are things to behold. An absolute delight. Middle Grade literature at its finest.

WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi


A fun, funny, and all-around delightful picture book that has at its heart an important message about leadership, teamwork, and compromise. Kids will love the silly bits, and the gentle conflicts among this group of treehouse-building friends will get them thinking about their own relationships, and about the benefits of being kind, fair, and open-minded in all of their endeavors.



A masterfully crafted, sharply written mystery-adventure with a unique, exciting premise and a cast of complex, intriguing characters. Mabel is a realistically flawed but exceptionally admirable protagonist, her ingenuity, loyalty, and courage standing out amid the story’s shadier individuals. She’s also just plain funny. Action, humor, and a bunch of excellent characters, all wonderfully written and bound up in a cleverly concocted mystery — what more could a reader possibly ask for?

Recent Purchases

IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE!, by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

pig face

Eleven-year-old Tracy Munroe and her family have just gotten back from their family vacation—why did no one realize that her little brother, Lester, a.k.a. Pig Face, was allergic to sand, salt air, and the ocean before they decided to go to the beach?—and now she has three big goals to accomplish before she goes back to school:

  1. Figure out a fantastic end of summer adventure with her best friend, Ralph, budding Michelin-star chef. (And no, Ralph, perfecting a soufflé does not count.)
  2. Make sure Pig Face does not tag along.
  3. Get the gorgeous new boy next door, Zach, to know she even exists.

But when Tracy and Ralph discover an envelope stuffed with money in the dugout at baseball field (and Lester forces them to let him help), they have a mystery on their hands. Did someone lose the cash? Or, did someone steal it? St. Stephens has always seemed like a quiet place to live, but soon the town is brimming with suspects.

Now they’re on a hunt to discover the truth, before the trio is accused of the crime themselves.

McLeod MacKnight’s debut middle grade novel is a funny, charming window into small-town life, with a focus on the importance of friendship and family and the struggle to figure out where you fit in, perfect for fans of Polly Horvath and Sarah Weeks.

HOWARD WALLACE, P.I., by Casey Lyall

howard wallace

“What’s with the get-up? Is that the company uniform or something?”
“This? All P.I.s wear a trench coat.”
“Dude, that’s a brown bathrobe.”
I shrugged and straightened out my sleeves. “First rule of private investigation, Ivy: work with what you’ve got.”

Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. He knows more than anyone how to work with what he’s got: a bathrobe for a trench coat, a makeshift office behind the school equipment shed, and not much else—least of all, friends. So when a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he’s ready to take it on himself . . . until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner. As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick—and a friend—is such a bad thing after all.



When a provocation from his dad irks twelve-year-old evil genius Oliver Watson, he’ll have to put his plans for world domination on hold in order to beat the pants off the competition and win the middle school election!


voyage to magical north

Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past―if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship, the Onion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, on this adventure, she’ll find her place in the world. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way in Claire Fayers’ The Voyage to Magical North, a middle-grade fantasy that is just as magical as it is funny.



Darkmouth: The Legends Begin is the first book in a spirited tween fantasy series that Kirkus Reviews called “Ghostbusters meets Percy Jackson as written by Terry Pratchett.”

For generations, Finn’s family has protected Darkmouth from the fierce magical creatures known as Legends. Now the Legends are plotting a major attack, and it’s Finn’s turn to defend his hometown. So it’s too bad he’s the worst Legend Hunter in history.

The world’s unlikeliest hero is also its only hope in this middle grade series full of madcap adventure and mythological creatures—perfect for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.



Denzel is having no luck with his maths homework. First, it’s too difficult, then there’s a terrifying mess of smoky black tendrils that wants to kill him, then two teenagers explode through his window holding guns and throwing magic. They are the Spectre Collectors, and spooky is their speciality.Realising that Denzel has a special gift, they sweep him off to their headquarters for training. Tested with awesome weapons and ancient magic, Denzel realises just how little he knows. But there’s a serious problem on its way from the Spectral Realm, so Denzel has a lot to learn. FAST.

THE 13TH HORSEMAN (AFTERWORLDS #1), by Barry Hutchison

13th horseman

The first hilarious book in Barry’s AFTERWORLDS sequence. Drake has just met the Horsemen of the Apocalypse but is that really the end of the world? Pratchett meets Python in this dark comic fantasy with plenty of action, perfect for 11+ boys

Drake is surprised to find three horsemen of the apocalypse playing snakes and ladders in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they insist that he is one of them. They’re missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths and they think that Drake is the boy for the job. At first he’s reluctant to usher in Armageddon but does being in charge of Armageddon have to spell the end of the world?

An apocalyptic blend of riotous comedy, heart-stopping action and a richly imagined fantasy adventure.

MR. MUMBLES (INVISIBLE FIENDS #1), by Barry Hutchison

mr mumbles

Kyle’s imaginary friend from childhood is back… with a vengeance.

Kyle hasn’t seen Mr Mumbles in years. And there’s a good reason for that: Mr Mumbles doesn’t exist.

But now Kyle’s imaginary friend is back, and Kyle doesn’t have time to worry about why. Only one thing matters: staying alive…

4 thoughts on “Recent Reads & Purchases (11/01/17)

    1. Hey Brenda! I sure have. I’ve also purchased several copies to give to others. It is extraordinary. One of the best books I’ve read all year! I can’t recommend it strongly enough!

  1. You’ve got so many good ones in this post. I keep hitting up Goodreads and clicking that Want to Read button!! From your list, I’ve only read Lindsay Currie’s book. I really enjoyed The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street and the 2 copies I now own have been checked out over and over again since I got them. Many students are also on the waitlist for their turn.

    1. Yes! Lindsay’s book is great! Not surprised the kids love it! I think the ones that do would really like Mabel Opal Pear — it’s got some spooky Halloween vibes, too, and is a great mystery with an intrepid, admirably awesome girl working to get to the bottom of things. If your students read it or any others, let me know what they think! I’d love to hear from them!

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