Skip to main content

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Cyd definitely knows how to pick a great middle grade read – she totally called all the awards for The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and she’s done it again by loving this book way before it was shortlisted for the National Book Award.  Read on to hear what she has to say about this great book!

One of my favorite fictional characters is Forrest Gump. I have never known anyone as honest, sincere and truly GOOD as Forrest, but I would love to meet someone like him one day.  In this book, The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle, I found Forrest Gump once again.

Meet Mason Buttle, an extremely large, extremely sweaty 7th grader.  Mason also happens to have a severe case of dyslexia and can be a little slow in understanding some things.  He does, however, know how to be a true friend. Loyal, honest and good-natured, Mason is a favorite target of bullying by the neighborhood boys. Grieving over the death of his best friend, Benny Kilmartin, who turned up dead in the Buttle family’s apple orchard, Mason has also been under a cloud of suspicion.  The lead investigator, Lt. Baird, is sure Mason is not being truthful about what he knows about Benny’s death.

There are two bright lights in Mason’s life – his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky and Moonie, his mean neighbor’s sweet dog.  When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in even deeper trouble. He HAS to find out what happened to Calvin…and Benny. Will anyone believe him?

Author Leslie Connor fills this story with intriguing and well developed characters – and many twists and turns as we are led through the back story following Mason’s conversations with the detective and his own journals entries he composes (using a speak-and-write computer program).

A 2018 National Book Award Finalist and Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2018 recipient, this book is a must read – don’t let the “Young Teen” classification dissuade you! I would love to have you to meet Mason Buttle.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Brilliant, stubborn, and very prickly Felicity Montague has set out into the world on her own, determined to gain entry to medical school and the recognition of the men who reign supreme in the world she so fiercely desires entry to,  a not-so-easy task for a young lady no longer of means in 18th century Edinburgh.  When an unwanted marriage proposal sends her rather abruptly back to London to stay, unannounced, with her brother Monty and his partner Percy in their tiny (and, let’s be honest, rather squalid) flat, Felicity is bedraggled and irate, but undeterred.  So when, after a disaster of an interview with the board of surgeons at a London hospital ends in still more rejection, Felicity hears that her hero, the revolutionary Dr. Alexander Platt, is gathering scientists for an expedition after his impending wedding in Stuttgart, she knows that this must be where her path lies.  Especially because Dr. Platt is marrying her childhood best friend, Johanna Hoffman.  Never mind that Felicity and Johanna’s friendship is, perhaps, currently a bit non-existent due to a spectacular falling-out.  Or that Felicity has neither means nor transport to travel to the Continent in under three weeks.  She is nothing if not resourceful.

When Monty’s pirate friends turn up with new sailor in tow who also has an interest in Stuttgart and the Hoffman family, Felicity decides to ignore the perhaps slightly dubious motivations of a pirate wanting to gain entrance to the home of a wealthy society family.  Together, she and Sim, the pirate girl, set off for Germany and the future.

What follows is a quest across oceans and into the realm of the impossible as Felicity travels deep into the heart of her own passions and thirst for knowledge – and to feel as through she deserves to not just take up space in the world, but to be in complete control of her own fate and future.  Fiercely feminist, wickedly funny, and full of historical detail, this marvelous tale of friendship, family, exploration, thievery, pirates, one very large (and very slobbery) dog, the high seas, exotic discoveries, and sea dragons (!!) was so much more than I wanted it to be.  If you’ve already read the tale of Monty, Percy, and Felicity’s Tour in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, you already love these characters, so pick up The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and follow them off the map of the known world – and learn just how versatile petticoats really can be.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

From our guest blogger, my co-story time host extraordinaire Cyd, comes this review of a spooky read perfect for a blustery fall evening!  It’s on my to-read pile too, and now I really can’t wait to give myself the shivers with this ghost story.

Cassidy Blake has a rather unusual life. Cass is a girl who almost (well, actually DID) drown, was rescued by a ghost and now has the ability to see dead people. Her parents are a slightly inept ghost-hunting duo known as The Inspectres and her best friend Jacob IS an actual ghost.  But hold on, folks…..things are going to get even more interesting.

Cass’s family is heading to Edinburgh, Scotland – known as one of the world’s most haunted places – where her parents will be hosting their first episode in their new docuseries – where they investigate haunted locations.   Jacob, of course, will be coming along.  Cass finds herself surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. When Cass meets Lara, another girl with the same “gift”, she realizes that there is much she does not know or understand about the world of the dead. She will have to learn quickly, because she soon finds herself drawn into a dangerous fight with a malevolent spectre – and must draw on her own powers to save herself.

City Of Ghosts is a “just right” middle grade tale packed with history, hauntings and real life locations (like Greyfriars, the most haunted cemetery in Europe). Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab, this book is a spine tingling thriller that will leave you anxiously waiting for more Cassidy Blake adventures!