Book Review: Fiction for the Middle Graders

Today you get a book review two-for-one special.

On occasion, I just need something different, something simple and fun. So on occasion I pick up a middle grader novel.

Stop looking at me like that! Admit it. You’ve probably done it too at some point. Sometimes the Adult problems, the intensity, and sometimes the trash in adult novels can get a bit frustrating. It’s nice to go back to a slightly more innocent time. So today I’m going to be reviewing two Middle Grade novels I read recently and really loved, one for the Girls and one for the Guys.

1.    The Wide Awake Princess –

Description: Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie-blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic-can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.
But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn’t possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father’s guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.

My Review: In a world where nearly everyone is touched by magic, whether it be for beauty, personality improvements, or a hundred other little things, Annie stands alone. Literally. She is the only princess in the world without even a hint of magic.
This happened because her terrified parents wanted her safe after her “Perfect” and very magically gifted sister was cursed by the evil fairy. So, they ask Annie’s fairy godmother for protection. This gift comes in the form of not being able to be touched by magic at all. Even the magic surrounding her begins to fade in her presence. Everyone, even her own parents, fear being near her because they cannot bear the thought of being seen as anything less than perfect.
But when best efforts fail and the kingdom is plunged into a one hundred year nap, it is solely Annie who remains awake. and she is determined to break this curse once and for all.
The only problem is that she needs a prince to kiss Gwennie, and not just any prince, but her true love. How do you find someone’s true love?

I just love Annie. She is a very smart and determined girl. Even after the unkind way that her family and the people of the castle treat her, she is still willing to risk her life to save them all, and she won’t stop until she succeeds.
The rest of the cast was quite diverse and fun to read about as well.

Fairytales have always been a favorite indulgence of mine, and this book is just chock loaded with madcap fairytale-style mayhem! The Wide Awake Princess is a dizzyingly fun romp through probably a dozen classic fairytales which are mashed together into this one book and given a wild spin.

My Rating: Four Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: Rapunzel (Whom we never actually see) apparently was having affairs with several men – at least one of which is married. Now for adults this is relatively normal, but I was a bit shocked that this mention was put into a children’s book. There is also a handful of kisses.
Language: clean
Drinking / Drugs: No drugs recalled. One rather odious prince courting Gwennie does have a drinking problem.
Blood / Violence: There are several fights and chase scenes, but not really much blood besides the initial spindle prick.
Other: There is one cannibalistic old lady in a house of candy that apparently fattens up children to eat later.

Amazon Kindle Link:The Wide-Awake Princess (Tales of the Wide-Awake Princess Book 1)Amazon Paperback Link: The Wide-Awake Princess

2.    The Cloak Society – Jeramy Kraatz

Description: The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .

Twelve-year-old Alex Knight is a dedicated junior member of Cloak who has spent years mastering his telekinetic superpowers and preparing for the day when Cloak will rise to power again. Cloak is everything he believes in.

But during his debut mission, Alex does the unthinkable: He saves the life of a Junior Ranger of Justice. Even worse . . . she becomes his friend. And the more time he spends with her, the more Alex wonders what, exactly, he’s been fighting for.

My Review: Who doesn’t love a good superhero story? The trick is finding a good one!

The Cloak Society starts off with Alex Knight and several other young associates robbing vault under the tender watch care of Alex’s telepathic mother. (Can you imagine having a mom like that? Terrifying!)
The robbery goes south in a hurry once the Rangers of Justice arrive. After somewhat-accidentally saving the life of Kirbie, a Junior Ranger, Alex finds himself in a lot of hot water, and beginning to question everything he thought he knew. The Cloak Society has much bigger plans than they had ever let on, and it may cost a great number of innocent lives.

this story was simply set up and easy to follow, but still a fun romp through the dark side of supers. The author does not, however, make the tone of the story to dark or too serious, as anyone writing from the side of the villains would find it easy to slip into.

My biggest problem with the book is lack of consistency with Alex’s biggest physical difficulty – his powers have made him colorblind. Yet he often goes into full-color description of his surrounding and other characters, such as a detailed description of Kirbie’s golden hair when he first sees her. But that is just a minor quibble, and not enough to ruin the fun. I totally recommend this one you any young boys out there looking for something fun to read.

My rating: Four Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: nothing much yet. I don’t even recall a kiss
Language: clean
Drinking / Drugs: nothing I recall.
Blood / Violence: there is quite a bit of violence. This is a superhero story after all! However  it is quite clean.

Amazon Kindle Link:The Cloak Society
Amazon Paperback Link: The Cloak Society

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