Friday, December 27, 2013

Best of 2013: Middle Grade Reads

So, it's the end of 2013 and I decided to share some of my favorite books that I've read this year. I have loved, or at least enjoyed, almost every single book I've read this year so this hasn't been easy. Today, I'm going to share my favorite middle grade reads and Monday and Tuesday, I'll share my top 20 fiction books (since I just couldn't narrow it down to 10). I've enoyed every non-fiction book I've read so you can look at those under my non-fiction label.

Twerp is the only book that isn't part of a series. My reviews will take you to the most recent review I've done in the series and there are links included in those posts to my other reviews on the other books in the series. There are three that I haven't reviewed so I've given more information on them in this post. So, in no particular order, here they are:

My Review
My Review

My Review
My Review

My Review
My Review
My Review

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, by Brandon Mull
2011, 457p, Fantasy
My Rating=4 Stars (5 stars to book 2, Seeds of Rebellion)
Source: Own a copy

Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

I'm reading this series with my children and we'll start book 3 in January. Even after reading the summary, I had no idea what to expect in this book. I enjoy Brandon Mull's world building and liked the second book better than the first because I felt it moved faster. I'm excited to read book 3 and see how it ends!

Janitors, by Tyler Whitesides
2011, 300p, Fantasy
My Rating=4 Stars (4 stars to book 2, Secrets of New Forest Academy)
Source: Own a copy

The magical, secretive society of JANITORS will sweep the country in the fall of 2011. Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children's fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You ll never look at a mop the same way again.

This is another series I've been reading with my children and, again, we'll start book 3 in January. Another fun series with lots of adventures! My children would most likely give these 5 stars. I give them 4 because I found myself losing interest at times and I'm not sure why (maybe there were a few too many scenes with strange creatures for me).

Nerds: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley, Illustrated by Ethen Beavers
2009, 316p, Spy, Science-Fiction
My Rating=3 Stars
Source: My daughter owns copies of all 5 books

Michael Buckley is at his comic best in this madcap new series sure to appeal to kids looking for a quick, exciting read.

Combining all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school, NERDS, featuring a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school, hits the mark. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities! They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.

My daughter bought the first 4 books in this series and I just bought her book 5 for Christmas so we'll finish the series next year. Again, this series doesn't necessarily keep my attention but my kids love it!

Have you read any of these, and if so, what do you think of them? Also, please feel free to share any middle-grade series you have found that you enjoy! I have lots of ideas but am always looking for more!


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