The Whispers by Greg Howard

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4stars

Title: The Whispers
Author: Greg Howard
Number of pages: 256 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: The story was so sweet and not predictable.
Bad things about this book: I can’t think of any, I enjoyed this little book a lot.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Look at me crying all the tears. I know I read this book was for fans of Bridge to Terabithia, and I still was surprised when the book was sad. I should have known better! It was exactly like that time I put on Netflix the movie I Fight Giants, thinking it was a movie about a girl fighting giants, and ended up crying all the tears I had inside me.

This book started with Riley being interviewed by Frank, asking him questions about the day his mother disappeared. I felt both sad and frustrated because Riley wasn’t telling him the whole truth. Why wouldn’t you do it if it helps find your mom? I was shaking my head hard, trying to remember what it meant being 13 and afraid. And you know what? I don’t remember. It’s been 20 years and the only thing that I remember is that of course I didn’t always tell the whole truth to grown ups. But what if the truth would’ve helped find someone I love? I would have told the truth, I’m almost sure of it.

But 13 years old don’t really know the weight of things, not really. They don’t understand how a simple detail that you think unimportant, can change everything. He is young, unexperienced, confused and afraid. Riley has a lot going on for him and I was saddened by his situation. I rooted for him to find the whispers, little fairies from tales his mom told him that could grant wishes in exchange for gifts.

The story is not as simple as it seemed, as I thought it would be. It was frustrating, infuriating, sad, and also hopeful. I didn’t get what I thought I was going to get and I’m happy for it. I read a beautiful and sweet story about a boy trying to understand his place in the world, to understand himself, and to get back the only person he thinks has his back.

The cover made me notice the book, so thank you cover for making me read this unique and heartbreaking story.

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Alan Cole Doesn’t Dance by Eric Bell

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5stars

“You know what a good friend said to me once?”
“What?”
“He said, I’d rather have a hard time being myself than an easy time being somebody else.”
“Whoah.”
“Yeah. You’re being yourself, and that’s what matters.”

Title: Alan Cole Doesn’t Dance
Author: Eric Bell
Series: Alan Cole #2
Number of pages: 288 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: Fantastic, important, emotional.
Bad things about this book: I want more books now but I’m happy how this ended.
Do I recommend it? Of course. You need to meet Alan.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Alan made me cry. He did it again with his innocence and good nature and his courage to be himself without having to endure bullism. Standing for himself and for all the people that don’t have the strength to do it. Defeating evil with kindness, with his art, one step at a time. To see the difference you want to see in the world, you have to start somewhere, right? If you don’t do anything, nothing will change, and that’s exactly what Alan thinks and why I love him so much. I adored this little book so much. I couldn’t put it down, finished it in one afternoon.

Alan is the sweetest of boys and Odin was a great addition to the narration. Odin and Alan were the cutest together; from “rivals” to art buddies. Smiles and laughter they didn’t share with anybody else, a past and present not so easy. Innocent and sweet. My heart couldn’t take all the adorableness. Alan’s friends, his family, things aren’t always great; they fight, because for things to get better, a little confrontation is necessary.

Having more queer books out in the world is the most amazing thing in the world and having more and more queer books for middle graders is even greater; this is the kind of book kids nowadays need, a book that normalizes their feelings because they aren’t wrong, they aren’t disgusting, their love is as much true as the ones of other people. They should never feel ashamed of who they are and books like this one give me so much hope they will have a safer world to live and be themselves.

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City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

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5stars

I have one foot in winter and one in spring.
One foot with the living, and one with the dead.

Title: City of Ghosts
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Cassidy Blake #1

Number of pages: 285 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: The way the city is beautifully described.
Bad things about this book: Nothing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, read it!

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Well, now I must go to Edinburgh. I must! Last year I was contemplating going, but the only month I could maybe go was also the most expensive of it all. After reading this book, though, I just know that I need to find a way because that city sounds both magical and spooky. I want to see with my own two eyes these haunted places. The graveyard sounds promising for some ghostwatching.

I always enjoy books meant for younger readers because we don’t get the usual, often forced, love storyline. You get to enjoy the story and its characters and that’s it. It’s refreshing to stop worrying about who loves who, so my focus was all on the ghosts and on the very sweet main character, Cassidy.

Cassidy has a best friend who is a ghost! Can you believe that? Sometimes I think stories in my head that stay there, and one of them was about a medium woman who has a sort of sidekick best friend who was a ghost. Loved the coincidence, loved the story.

Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.

Victoria Schwab writes in a way that keeps you glued to the pages. I wanted to read and read and read until I reached the last page, satisfied and extremely curious about what was to come next. That beautiful woman hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I doubt she ever will. A woman like that will have my attention and my love for years to come.

With the details that went into describing Edinburgh, I’ll be surprised if the readers didn’t want to go visit. This book will boost tourism, and it certainly will contribute to the growth of young readers. The description of every single place, and people, had me daydreaming of me one day walking around those same streets with a hot beverage in hand and my eyes sparkling with curiosity and delight.

This book is an easy read, but don’t let that fool you. The story is deep, emotional, magical, a bit scary but not much, and no matter your age, you’ll be glad you gave it a chance.

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The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

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That could be my life motto, I thought: He takes a lot of damage.

Title: The Burning Maze
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo #3
Number of pages: 448 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: I love mythology so I loved this book!
Bad things about this book: After you read it, you’ll know it.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I have been postponing this review because I honestly didn’t know what to say. I don’t know if I can write one thing without sounding like I’m trying not to reveal a spoiler but by being evasive, it’ll be only too easy to spot the spoiler. The fact that I read a major spoiler before starting the book doesn’t mean I want other people to know it in advance. I like my reviews as clean as possible.

Apollo is in California with Meg and Grover to find and free the third Oracle. We’re meeting the third member of the evil triumvirate and it’s one I know from my high school days but that I have to admit not remembering much about. Once again, after a long time, our heroes and Lester, are venturing into Daedalus maze, one part that it’s burning by some mysterious energy force. They have to find out what that is, defeat it, find the oracle, free the oracle, listen to the new prophecy and proceed with their quest. Easy, right?

There’s never nothing easy when it comes to Riordan’s books but this time I was unprepared for what was to come. New friends and old friends, happy times and sad times, everything is put there to play with our heart because why make it easy to get from point A to point B? We have to suffer every step of the way.

I loved the oracle and the way she told her prophecies. It was original and so unnecessarily complex. I loved it to pieces! I’m a fan already. Hope to see more of her in the future. So now we have a new prophecy and the promise of old friends coming along on the quest against the triumvirate. The emperors are all there, all sadly alive, and we have only two books left to fight them, defeat them, and save the world. What can go wrong?

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Alan Cole Is Not a Coward by Eric Bell

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5stars

My name is Alan Cole, and I am not a coward.
Not anymore.

Title: Alan Cole Is Not a Coward
Author: Eric Bell
Series: Alan Cole #1
Number of pages: 272 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: Adorable and it will be fill you with joy.
Bad things about this book: The parents and Alan’s brother were annoying but there was nothing bad about the book nor the writing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, and there’s a sequel
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Marvelous little book; it warmed my heart and filled me with joy and hope. I never turn down a book that appeals me only because its target age is and age that it’s more than half of how old I currently am. It doesn’t matter that I was 12 years old 20 years ago; if the story seems nice I’m going to try it. I have to admit that I don’t quite remember how it was being twelve. How was I? What were my problems? Did I enjoy being twelve?

I know that twelve was the age I moved from Ecuador to Italy and the impact, language wise and cultural, was immense. I was trying to fit in in school, learn a whole new language and not fail my classes. It was a lot but somehow I did it but I don’t really remember how it all went down. I certainly wasn’t like Alan; I have two sisters, one younger and one older, but we never bullied each other. We fought, that’s almost a must between siblings, but we were never violent and abusive. It made me so mad reading about Alan’s home situation, if I still think about it I want to slap someone, break something, drink a shot of tequila, scream my lungs out.

Not really remembering how was life as a preteen, I went almost blindly into Alan’s story. A young boy, tall for his age, hair long enough to cover his eyes when needed, who happens to realize he is interest in boys, with a devil instead of a brother, a mother whose happiness seems gone, a father too strict borderline abusive if not completely abusive, and living a low-key life with no friends. Alan is blackmailed by his brother who found out he is gay, and is forced into a CvC (Cole vs Cole) game: if he doesn’t complete 7 tasks in 7 days he can kiss his secret goodbye. If I had a brother like Nathan, I think I would’ve secretly learned martial arts and taught him a lesson.

Our hero, Alan, has to win because he doesn’t want his secret to be revealed; I don’t think he is ashamed of who he is, it’s more like he knows how the world is and wants to postpone the derision that will come with coming out. Twelve-year-old kids can be immature and he wants a quiet life for as long as possible. The time will come, it’s inevitable but he wants to decide when and how to come out, his brother doesn’t have the right to take that from him. He has a huge crush on a boy and screams when a girl wants to kiss him so, yeah, the time to come out will have to come sooner or later.

I love how Alan’s unstable table, made of two rejects (three counting himself) become his safe place and the boys become his friends. Madison who doesn’t have friends because he is a little know-it-all and is too fat to be consider cool. Zack who has his head well beyond the clouds and is fascinated by every little thing, be it a cloud, a shadow or a rock. The three kids will form a unique trio and they will help each other. Their friendship is cute and I’m furious about anyone that made them feel that they were not enough and never will be.

“People often think the only way to be a hero is to be an extrovert, because they work better around people. But introverts can problem solve too. Just because you’re not going out fighting crime in long underwear doesn’t mean you can’t be a hero. You don’t need superpowers to be super. Or a good kid. Remember that, Alan.”

The parents play an important part in this story. Alan’s parents are awful and, even after knowing what made them that way, their behavior was still inexcusable. There is no excuse to put guilt he didn’t deserve onto your child, no matter how much you were hurting. You don’t get to treat your child like a thing, like whatever he does has to be to make you look better, to prove the world you are valid. You don’t get to disregard your kid’s passions or destroy their work because you don’t see the point. Oh my, some scenes made me so furious I think I got a new set of wrinkles.

Super long story short, this book may not be long but it faces tons of themes and it gets to your heart with its hope and feelings. It’s a wonderful story and it has a sequel I can’t wait it’s published so that I can read it. Alan deserves to be happy and I’m sure happiness will find him one way or the other.

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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5stars

You don’t need your eyes to love, right? You just feel it inside you.

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Series: Wonder #1
Number of pages: 410 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It’s emotional and it makes you think which is always a good thing.
Bad things about this book: Nothing, it’s the right length and it’s well-written.
Do I recommend it? Yes, to everyone.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Lovely, emotional, important. Everything I like in a book. I received Wonder for free during the International Book Day a couple years ago. Of course I then proceeded to put it in my bookshelf and I forgot about it. Thanks to the movie being released this month, I finally decided to read it. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner; it was an adorable book with the most adorable little main character. He warmed my heart.

August is a good kid, no, a great kid! Smart, curious, and above all very brave and mature for a 10-year-old. People can’t seem to understand what it’s truly like to be like him, being born with a face that’s not quite like the others. If they did, they’ll probably see how his appearance is just one piece of the complex puzzle of Auggie! He is so sweet and he doesn’t deserve what the world is giving him!!

Sometimes you don’t have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone.

At one point in the book a character said that the world hasn’t been kind to Auggie and the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t his face. The unkindness referred made me think of all the times people had been mean to him, either if they didn’t know they were and when they were being mean on purpose. I hated grown up people being scared, treating him like he’s less that their own children because he doesn’t have an ordinary face. What’s wrong with you, people? What are you getting from being an awful person? Nothing, that’s what. No, wait. You’re getting bad karma, that’s what you’re getting from being the bane of mankind. Really Bad Karma.

People being unnecessarily mean are the worst kind. They also usually think what they do is right and justified. Privilege at its worst. Bullies make me so angry; why the hell do you enjoy spending your time tormenting someone you don’t like? Making the life of someone you dislike for reasons that usually are dumb and childish is pathetic. Reading about bullies makes me furious. If only I was more intimidating I’ll be volunteering in schools like a vigilante putting bullies where they belong with my very long speeches about why they have to start behaving like human beings.

He’s just a kid. The weirdest-looking kid I’ve ever seen, yes. But just a kid.

Auggie is a ray of sunshine. He knows his appearance makes people stare, whisper behind his back, and it drives them away. Yet he learns to be himself and soon you forget about his face and start really seeing him. The Auggie beyond; the Wonder. This amazing kid whose bravery teaches lessons of humanity every single day and he doesn’t even notice it. He is just himself. He is a kid and has a kid’s brain. He may have some baggage other kids don’t have, but beyond all that, he is simply just a kid facing the world and learning from it. Making friends, studying, shielding himself from the worst and getting used to the usual. Auggie doesn’t even realize how brave he is but his kindness doesn’t go unnoticed, and the people who meet him find themselves changed.

‘Shall we make a new rule of life … always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?’

As Auggie’s mom said, they are always going to be mean people but as long as there are good people standing up for what’s right, the world we live in is going to shine a little bit brighter. Be the light, be the difference, don’t turn a blind eye because it doesn’t concern you or because it’s easier to stay away. Choose to make a difference if you are in the position to make it. Choose to be kind, always. You really don’t know how important it is. Be the better you.

I will take this little book with me and wear it like glasses. I’ll watch the world through it and I won’t take for granted what I have. I’ll fight for the ones that can’t fight. I’ll raise my voice when it’s necessary. I’ll be part of the solution. I’ll always choose to be kind; I may be small and only one in billions, but I’m still me, not afraid to fight, and I’ll use all the tools I’m given to make this world safer for whoever doesn’t feel safe in it.

“You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder.”

Told from various points of view, this story is enlightening and perfect for people of all ages. A year in the life of wonder boy, August Pullman, a boy you all should meet.

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The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

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5stars

The world will end. The big picture cannot be changed. But in the meantime, as Loki once said, we can choose to alter the details. That’s how we take control of our destiny.

Title: The Ship of the Dead
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3
Number of pages: 423 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: Funny, intriguing, mysterious.
Bad things about this book: The lack of fluidity of Alex seemed done on purpose. I didn’t like it very much.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I always recommend a Rick Riordan.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

As soon as I read this was going to be the last book of the Magnus Chase series I knew my book was going to be late because I’m lucky like that. I placed a pre-order that was mysteriously refunded a couple days before the release and that was the beginning of “The Epic Journey of Kristel and the missing Magnus”. It took it one whole spoiler-avoiding month to get here and now that I’ve read it my mind is trying to come to terms with what happened and is going to happen in the next Apollo book. I’m scared!

Magnus and friends are set to sail towards the place where they know the ship of the dead, made of toenails, is, defeat Loki, his undead army, and stop Ragnarok from starting. Sounds easy, right? No, it doesn’t, and it’s not even only those things they need to do. How do you defeat a god? How do you stop an army of zombies when you don’t have a plan? You wait for godly advices and try your best not to die in the meantime. That’s the plan; wing it until you win it.

My first task was my favourite one – getting out of the way.

As usual I loved Magnus, everything about him and his inner monologues. I also loved the whole set of characters accompanying him on this almost impossible quest; we get to know more about all their background stories, the way they died as heroes earning them a place in Valhalla. Each one of them has so much to give to this quest and each one of them is essential for this quest to be a success. I always love how the story is never about a single hero who magically wins everything: this is a team effort and I wouldn’t have loved it as much as I did otherwise.

Alex Fierro, Sam’s green-haired gender-fluid half-sibling chaperone of doom.

One thing I didn’t like was the Alex situation. Alex is gender fluid, right? So if you give us a character that is fluid then you have to allow them to be fluid, on page. When Alex was male it felt through the pages, he was different and I couldn’t wait to get to know him better. I have read books with gender fluid characters and their fluidity was wildly shown and we got to see every aspect of what made them the wonderful beings they were. Instead with Alex we got three scenes with him as a male, three scenes, two right at the beginning then the issue was kind of forgotten! With more scenes it will have shown us more about how Magnus felt about Alex as both male and female. It will have given him and us more info about who he was more interested in. If the whole fluidity was shown off-page, I don’t think I’m okay with it. Give us representation the way we deserve it. All things said, I love Alex and I hope we’ll see more of them, even just a tiny mention, in future books. I’m hoping we get a short story. That’ll be nice!

I will have given this book a 5++ rating if it wasn’t for the Alex situation but The Ship of Dead is still one hell of a book. It has everything I like. It was entertaining, full of mythology, diverse characters, originality, and it has The Lord of the Rings references. Who doesn’t love pop references, right?

My friends were all dressed like me, in white wool, so we looked like a secret society of very clean monks – the Fellowship of the Bleach.

I think it’s time for a Lotr marathon. I just need almost 10 free hours, maybe double if I also want to watch The Hobbit. I will do the re-watch while anxiously waiting for the next Apollo book. I think bad things are going to happen and I will never be ready for those! Please, Rick, don’t kill anyone; make them lose a leg, an arm, but not their lives, I’m begging you! We’ll just have to wait and read, I suppose. Patience is not always a virtue I’m fond of.

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