Don’t Check Out This Book! Spotlight

Beneath Appleton’s mystery, there is a pure, unabashed celebration of words, and the rights of all readers to choose their own books. Hilarious, empowering, and exciting, Don’t Check Out This Book! is filled with clever winks to the audience, as if to say “You’re a reader. You get it.” And by the end, we do.

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

Bestseller and author of the popular middle grade series Confectionately Yours Lisa Papademetriou is back with a magical, page-turning adventure for readers of all ages—a touching tale about destiny and the invisible threads that link us all, ultimately, to one another.

Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first page—and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.

A heartfelt, vividly told multicultural story about fate and how our stories shape it.

The Mesmerist

Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead.

Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London’s supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners.

Can Jess fight these powerful forces?

And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help?

As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself.

Debian Perl Digital Detective: The Memory Thief

Megalopolis used to be the city hub for all the makers, doers, and dreamers. It was a better time according to Debian Perl, a technomancer known for her out-of-date computer programming skills. Now the city streets are filled with “Egg-heads,” those in thrall to the ease and simplicity of new technology as opposed to Debian’s way of doing things. Digits is one of those Egg-heads. She is a young social media guru and knows her way around all the newest, latest technology.

Debian and Digits cross paths when they both stumble across a 100-year-old lost robot named Ray-Bot. They soon learn that Ray-Bot’s CPU was suspiciously overclocked, leaving him unable to perform basic functions and commands. To find out where the robot came from, Debian must teach Digits everything she knows about computer coding and programming. Along their journey to bring Ray-Bot home, they begin piecing together the mysterious puzzle about his malfunction, and uncover some sinister secrets.

Debian Perl: Digital Detective is a five-book series in which middle-grade readers will join Debian and Digits on mystery adventures all while building practical knowledge of coding, algorithms, algebra, and logical problem solving.

The Okay Witch

Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl in this hilarious, one-of-a-kind graphic novel about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town and is doing her best to survive middle school now that she knows everything!

Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.

In this spellbinding graphic novel debut, Emma Steinkellner spins a story packed with humor and heart about the weird and wonderful adventures of a witch-in-progress.

The Friendship Lie

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

The Grave Digger

In 1875 Ohio, twelve-year-old Cap Cooper is an aspiring inventor—and a reluctant graverobber—enlisted by his father to help pay for his mother’s medical expenses. When one of the dead returns to life at his touch, Cap unearths a world of dark secrets that someone at the local medical school wants to keep buried. On the brink of discovery, he’ll have to use every ounce of cunning he has to protect those he loves most and save his own skin. The Grave Digger is an eerie mystery set in the aftermath of the Civil War, filled with action, friendship, and a hint of the paranormal, perfect for those who enjoy reading late into the night and long after the lights go out.

EXCERPT: The Dark Lord Clementine

Clementine Morcerous awoke one morning to discover that her father had no nose. This was not exactly unexpected. Several mornings previously, the Dark Lord Elithor Morcerous had greeted her with slightly less nose than usual, and a bit of a weaker chin. The difference was so small that Clementine, who was quite small herself, barely noticed it. She did notice something different about him—he was her father, after all—but she thought perhaps he had gotten a rather unflattering haircut.

The Mesmerist

Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London’s supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces? And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help? As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself.

Debian Perl Digital Detective: The Memory Thief

OKAY. WOW. HOW CUTE. I LOVE THIS. THERE’S SUBTLE QUEERNESS. THERE’S CODING AND SCIENCE AND THE ART. IS. AMAZING. *cough* Ahem. Now. Onto the review. This was seriously one of the cutest graphic novels I’ve read this year. I LOVED the art style–the poppy, bright colors, the funky future-punk designs. It was just a JOYContinue reading “Debian Perl Digital Detective: The Memory Thief”

Mice of the Round Table

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like his father and grandfather before him. For generations, Calib’s family has lived among the mice that dwell beneath the human Knights of the Round Table, defending the castle they all call home. Calib just hopes he will be able to live up to the Christopher name.

Then, on the night of the annual Harvest Tournament, tragedy strikes. The mice suspect the Darklings are behind the vicious sneak attack, but Calib has his doubts, so he sets off on a quest for the truth. Venturing deep into the woods beyond the castle walls, Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a threat far greater than the Darklings is gathering, and human and animal knights alike are in grave danger.

With help from a host of unlikely new allies, including a young human boy named Galahad, Calib must get the Mice of the Round Table and the Darklings to put aside their differences and fight together. Only then will they be strong enough to save Camelot.

The Okay Witch

Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl in this hilarious, one-of-a-kind graphic novel about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town and is doing her best to survive middle school now that she knows everything! Magic is harder than it looks.

An Interview with Rebecca Donnelly

Join us this week for an interview with the author of The Friendship Lie, Rebecca Donnely. We talk about the hard-hitting stuff here: garbage games, Lulu VanRobot, book recs. Just how many sad questions can Maggie ask in a single episode? Get ready to sing some baby shark and laugh your little garbologist butts off.

The Dragon Waking ★★★★☆

An endearing tale of a girl who meets her best friend in the Nevada desert, who just so happens to be a dragon. The Dragon Waking by Grayson Towler is a heartwarming tale of friendship, adventure and a splash of magic. For thirteen-year-old Rose Gallagher, having a friend who is really a dragon and can performContinue reading “The Dragon Waking ★★★★☆”

Ice Wolves ★★★★★

I’ve only ever read one other book by Amie Kaufman, and that was Illuminae. So when I saw she had a middle grade piece about kids who turned into wolves and dragons well… I needed to get my hands on it! And Elementals: Ice Wolves did not disappoint! Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragonsare sworn enemies whoContinue reading “Ice Wolves ★★★★★”

Episode #31: An Interview with MarcyKate Connolly

This super special (totes late but you’ll love it) episode we were joined by none other than MarcyKate Connolly, author of Shadow Weaver, Monstrous, Ravenous, and more! If you’re unfamiliar with her work we highly recommend Shadow Weaver. You can, of course, listen to us gush over it in Episode #25 (which we also recommend). Join us as we talk about middle grade literature, writing, Shadow Weaver, and play a little game of Burn, Re-write, Re-Read.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm ★★★★★

LOVED THIS! Phoebe and Her Unicorn is one of my favorite middle grade comic series. Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be,Continue reading “Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm ★★★★★”

Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora ★★★★☆

Definitely one of my favorite pieces featuring a second language since Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost. Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL? For Arturo, summetime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies,Continue reading “Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora ★★★★☆”

WoW: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

That’s mah teachah!! I’m not going to lie, I’m mainly excited for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora because Pablo Cartaya was my mentor last fall at Sierra Nevada College and he was the #Best. Pablo is ridiculously talented and I’m 100% psyched for everything he does. And since, technically, Epic Fail is already out, I’m justContinue reading “WoW: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora”

The Mesmerist ★★★★☆

Jessamine works with her mother pretending to be spiritualists—until the day where the pretending becomes real and she finds out she has mysterious powers. Ronald L. Smith has made a dark and memorable middle-grade story in The Mesmerist. Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is aContinue reading “The Mesmerist ★★★★☆”

The Dragon Waking ★★★★☆

An endearing tale of a girl who meets her best friend in the Nevada desert, who just so happens to be a dragon. The Dragon Waking by Grayson Towler is a heartwarming tale of friendship, adventure and a splash of magic. For thirteen-year-old Rose Gallagher, having a friend who is really a dragon and can performContinue reading “The Dragon Waking ★★★★☆”

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic ★★★★★

Magic is my favorite thing in a story. I get to see how it works in the universe and how it affects the characters. Magic in a modern day world, like the one in A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, where cell phones and blogs make a regular appearance, always intrigues me. How will magic and technologyContinue reading “A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic ★★★★★”

Mice of the Round Table ★★★★★

I have been waiting to get my hands on a copy of this book ever since I heard about it from the author herself. I’m so happy that it’s finally out and that I can review it. Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like hisContinue reading “Mice of the Round Table ★★★★★”

Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls ★☆☆☆☆

I’ve been meaning to read more easy readers and middle grade, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with this one. Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls reads like an easy reader but it tried desperately to enter into the heftier realm of middle grade. Jemima- Puddle to her friends- helps out in her Mum’s shop and discovers WorryContinue reading “Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls ★☆☆☆☆”

Return to Augie Hobble ★★☆☆☆

Augie Hobble lives in a fairy tale world… well… more like the run down amusement park, Fairy Tale Place, that his father manages. His life is horrible: he failed creative arts and has to take summer school, the girl he likes doesn’t bother with him, and the school bullies won’t leave him alone. To topContinue reading “Return to Augie Hobble ★★☆☆☆”