Nevertell by Katharine Orton – MG eARC Book Review

Title: Nevertell
Author: Katharine Orton
GenreMiddle Grade / Fantasy
Publication Date: April 2020

A snowy adventure, set in the wilds of Siberia, full of magic and wonder.

Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan. As the pair journey across a snowy wilderness, they are pursued by a vengeful sorceress and her pack of shadow wolves. The children will need every ounce of courage – and a whisper of magic – if they are to survive…

I’ve been in an MG mood lately with everything still being so intense and crazy out in the wide world. MG books have been a saving grace. Their wonder, whimsy and wholesome themes have kept my sanity safely in place and anxiety at bay. So this ARC couldn’t have come along at a better time.

Nevertell was a perfect read for my mood this week. With fantastical wolf-beasts, a vengeful sorceress and themes of friendship and love this story kept me happily entertained! Orton’s writing is fast-paced and full of energy. I was expecting a wild, adventurous ride and Nevertell certainly delivered on that.

Lina and Bogdan were easy-to-like characters that had a level of strength I hadn’t been expecting, considering their age. Forced to grow up fast in the Soviet Camp, these children faced battles head-on with a maturity well beyond their young teen years. While this would usually be considered to be a lack of effort to accurately portray a younger character, in this case it seemed appropriate. These children had suffered so much. Anything extra in the fight for freedom just seemed like the norm to them.

That said, the characters’ complete and unwavering strength made it hard to connect with them and story overall. I was expecting there to be a lot of emotional impact in this book due to the Soviet Camp and their fight for freedom but it didn’t really come across that way. Instead Lina and Bogdan took me on a fantastical, adventurous ride but I wasn’t overly invested in their plight. I hoped for a happy ending but would have been okay without one.

Additionally, I was expecting a lot more depth with the inclusion of Lina’s magical powers and soviet themes in this book. There was some growth of powers and the camp was present however, I wish Orton would have gone in to more detail on these. These issues made me reduce my rating to 3.5 stars, as opposed to 4.

3.5 Stars

*ARC provided via Walker Books Ltd via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Wish Had Been Published When I was a Child

Hey all,

It’s been a LONG while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday post but it seems I came back perfectly in time for this week’s fun theme: Books I Wish I’d Read as a Child. I was an avid reader when I was a child and there are so many good books released now that I wish I’d have had a chance to experience reading as a child/young teen. This is my list of books I wish would go back in time and be published 20 years early, haha.

As always, thanks go to the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl for this week’s topic and for creating this meme.

The Trials of Apollo Series by Rick RiordanI fell in love with Riordan’s writing from reading the Percy Jackson series after having seen the movie (yes… the book is certainly better!). After that I was excited to try another series by this author, The Trials of Apollo, and was not disappointed!

Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief by Rick RiordanMy beginning in to the love that I currently have for Riordan’s writing. It’s fast paced, exciting and has just the right amount of mythology to spark and keep my interest!

The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniI read this book as part of a tutoring program, to help a young teen read and gain interest in reading but was surprised to find myself immersed in the story along the way. I picked up on this series where the tutoring left off and devoured the rest of the series. This is good vs evil drama without all of the angst that usually is associated with books of this theme.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney I saw the movie and it pulled on my heart strings. I had to give the books a try after that. They’re so quick and easy to read – I was hooked!

The Treehouse Series by Andy GriffithsThis is another series I initially read for tutoring and was swept up in it’s whimsy, fun and The Faraway Tree vibes. I was obsessed with the Magic Faraway Tree as a kid and this has some serious links to that. It spurred on my sentimental heart and I fell in love with this series which felt like an extension of The Faraway books of my childhood.

Nevermoor by Jessica TownsendI loved the cover and blurb of this book when in the book shop. This is one of those perfect fantasy series that can be appreciated by children and adults alike. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should!

Star Wars Box SetI only discovered Star Wars in my early 20s by watching the movies (yes, I know I was waaaaaay behind the ball on this one) and loved them so much I decided to buy the children’s box set. It’s fun, easy to read and perfect for when you’re in the mood to escape current reality.

The Red Pyramid by Rick RiordanYes, yet another Riordan book on my list but in my defence: they’re awesome. Carter and Sadie’s adventure was so thrilling to read and the story itself was full of sibling banter, whimsy, magic and featured a Goddess Cat. What more could you want??

The Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John FlanaganI found this series through a friend’s recommendation and was hooked from the very first chapter. Flanagan writes stories that remind me of Tamora Pierce’s writing. It’s a magical world full of brave characters, bows and arrows and exciting adventure.

Wonder by R J PalacioI watched Wonder the movie when it came out and was completely caught off guard by how emotional it made me. Picking up the book after that was a foregone conclusion and I loved it! Wonder is the perfect story to teach children that it’s okay to be different – and adults too it seems. This was a wholesome delight!

Have you read any of these? Do you also wish you’d had a chance to read them when you were younger??

Top 5 Sat: MG Books Under 300 Pages

Hey all,

I hope you’re all enjoying the start of your weekend. I don’t have much planned for mine but it feels like we’ve been cooped up inside for AGES now. This week’s Top 5 Sat theme, created by the wonderfully kind Mandy over at Devouring Books, involves books Under 300 Pages. I’ve been reading Middle Grade books lately and have decided to list my most anticipated upcoming MG reads. These are the perfect length to read in my current mindset. They’re short and easy to read but can still pack the same intense punch as longer novels.

Here they are:

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts – It’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town—and that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all.

ReStart by Gordon Korman – Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name. He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return.

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed – The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude. Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga – Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman – When Viji and her sister, Rukku, whose developmental disability makes her overly trusting and vulnerable to the perils of the world, run away to live on their own, the situation could not be more grim. The sisters manage to find shelter on an abandoned bridge. There they befriend Muthi and Arul, two boys in a similar predicament, and the four children bond together and form a family of sorts. As their predicament worsens, Viji and Arul must decide whether to risk going for help–when most adults in their lives have proven themselves untrustworthy–or to continue holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

What do you think, do any of these spark your interest? Do you read MG as well when you’re in the mood for a shorter read?