Believathon Wrap-Up (May 2020)

Hello everybody. Today I am reviewing five middle grade books that I read for Believathon, which was a readathon hosted by Gavin over at How To Train Your Gavin on YouTube. This readathon was so much fun! If you’re not familiar with it, this readathon is essentially designed like a magical quest. Gavin has put together a really nice compendium where you can find all the information regarding this magical quest, as well as the gorgeous map featured below. You can find and download the map and the compendium by following the link in the description box of Gavin’s Believathon 2020 Readathon Announcement video.

 

Leaves are falling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, all participants start at the same point on the map, Poacher’s Pocket Inn, and based on which road you decide to take to travel across the map, you will visit different locations, each inspired by places featured in well-loved middle grade books. For each location that you visit, you get a reading prompt and must then read a middle grade book based on that prompt. I actually listened to the audiobooks of my five middle grade picks and I had a wonderful time! There is just something about listening to a children’s story that makes it extra magical and cozy.

Believathon II Map - Colour 2020

My Belieavathon Reading Wrap-Up (Non-Spoilery)

 

Here are the five books that I had to read based on the path that I took on my magical quest:

1. The Poacher’s Pocket Inn: Read the first book in a series

The book I picked: A Pinch Of Magic by Michelle Harrison (A Pinch Of Magic #1)

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Book 1

Book synopsis: Three sisters discover that they are under an ancient curse that has plagued their family for generations. After receiving three magical objects, each with its own unique power, the sisters decide to try to break the curse, setting out on an adventure filled with magic and danger.

My thoughts: This book was filled with magic, adventure and wonderful characters and I had such a fun time reading it. The Widdershins sisters, Fliss, Betty and Charlie, were fabulous main characters. They were all so witty and brave and their sisterly bond was wonderful. They reminded me a little of the Halliwell sisters from Charmed actually (the original one of course), but in a middle grade setting. The narrator of the audiobook, Nicky Diss, also did a fantastic job. Overall, I really enjoyed listening to this book and I’m very happy I decided to start the Believathon with this book!

 

2. Baba Yaga’s House: Read a book featuring a family relationship

The book I picked: The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Book 2

Book synopsis: Every year, Xan, a kind, elderly witch, inexplicably finds a baby abandoned in the forest where she lives. She rescues the babies and gives them to welcoming families who live in a nearby village. Unbeknown to her, these babies are in fact offerings made by the people who live on the other side of the forest. Believing her to be an evil witch, they offer the babies as a way to keep her from harming them. One year, Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, immediately filling the child with tremendous magic. Since this is irreversible, Xan decides to keep the enmagicked baby, naming her Luna and deciding to raise the girl herself. 

My thoughts: This was by far my favorite book of the Believathon! The writing was gorgeous and the story was absolutely magical. I loved all of the main characters. Xan, the witch, was so sweet and grandmotherly. And Luna, both as a baby and when she grows up, was so, so adorable! The story was very charming, imbued with a fairy tale quality that I found delightful. It also had poignant moments, which I thought were handled beautifully. I actually teared up several times listening to the book, which doesn’t happen very often for me! And speaking of the listening experience, the audiobook was a delight to listen to. Christina Moore, the narrator, was amazing. She created different voices for the different characters and conveyed very well the fairy tale quality of the story through her narration style. If you enjoy audiobooks, I would highly recommend you try this one.

 

3. 100 Acre Wood: Read a book with yellow on the cover

The book I picked: And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid by Laura Kirkpatrick

My Goodreads rating: 2 stars

Book 3

Book synopsis: When Molly Seabrook turns thirteen, she discovers that like the rest of her sisters, she is half-human and half-mermaid. Her life immediately turns upside down as on top of having to navigate school life, she must now also learn how to control her newfound mermaid abilities.  

My thoughts: Unfortunately, this was my least favorite book of this readathon. It was not bad per say, and I do think that a lot of younger readers would really enjoy this, but it just didn’t work for me. I think part of it is that the book was not as ‘magical’ as I expected it to be. The book actually focuses a lot more of school life and friendship drama than on the mermaid stuff, which I thought was a little unfortunate because I found that a little boring. I also found the book very cliché. A big recurring theme in this book is that Molly, our main character, really wants to be popular and fit in with the cool kids. I mean, come on, really? That’s like the oldest cliché ever. Also, continuing on with the clichés, Molly has a huge crush on the most popular guy at school while at the same time, this totally sweet guy she’s friends with has a crush on her, which she is naturally oblivious to. On the plus side though, the book did a good job with queer representation, including lesbian and ace rep, which I thought was very well done, especially in a middle grade book. The book also featured a character who had survived cancer and handled the discussion of cancer very well. I would still recommend this book for younger readers, especially those who love mermaids. Sadly though, I found it a little disappointing and will not be continuing with the series.

 

4. Black Ice Bridge: Read a book featuring an expedition or adventure

The book I picked: A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry

My Goodreads rating:  4 stars

Book 4

Book synopsis: Based on the fantastic true story of a real wolf, the book follows the story of a young wolf after he is separated from his pack and must go on a journey to find a new home. Alone and scared, the young wolf travels across the Pacific Northwest, facing numerous perils along the way. 

My thoughts: This book is told from the perspective of a wolf, which I really enjoyed. The writing was excellent and very descriptive and depicted life in the wild very well. The story was full with adventure and danger and was both absolutely beautiful and also occasionally heartrending. I also appreciate that the author never shied away from the hardships faced by the wolf on his journey, portraying everything very realistic while also keeping things to a level that suits a children’s book. If you enjoy books such as White Fang and The Call of the Wild (both of which I absolutely love), you will also really enjoy this book.

 

5. The Book-Keeper’s Stronghold: Read the next book in a series

The book I picked: A Sprinkle Of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison (A pinch of magic #2)

My Goodreads rating:  4 stars

Book 5

Book synopsis: The sequel to A Pinch Of Magic. Click here for the full synopsis.

My thoughts: While I cannot say much about this book, this being a sequel, I will say that this book was just as fun and magical as A Pinch of Magic was. The sisters were once again an absolute delight to follow and I really liked how the story progressed, with the introduction of some new characters along with some new magical things. I look forward to reading the third book when it comes out!

 

I had such a fun time participating in this readathon. It had been a while since I had last read a middle grade and I’m really glad I got to discover all these amazing new books. I can’t wait for the next Believathon, which I believe is happening later this year. If you also enjoy middle grade books, do share your favorite with me in the comments! I would love to see your book recommendations ^^

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