The Bookshelf Corner

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My Favorite Middle Grade Books Of All Time

Royalty Free Image via | Edited in Paint

I don’t read middle grade a lot but there were a few novels this past year that I’ve really enjoyed. After the most recent middle grade novel I read, it got me to thinking about all the MG books I’ve ever read.

Below are middle grade books that really left an impression on me. They were the first to come to mind because of their amazing stories and wonderful characters. I highly recommend any of these books.

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown (ARC review)

To Be Released: October 3, 2017

Image via NetGalley

Mustaches for Maddie is by far my favorite MG book of all time. I love this book. It’s delightful, fantastic, and beautiful. Definitely need to get myself a physical copy to add to me bookshelf.

Excerpt from my review:Mustaches for Maddie gets a golden mustache from me. Loved it and need to add this to my bookshelf. One of the best books of 2017 so far, one of my favorite books of 2017 and of all time, and my favorite middle grade novel. This novel is a must-read.”

The Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale

This is a series from my early days of reading that I’ve talked about before on this blog, specifically the first book, The Goose Girl. It’s such a charming series that holds a special place in my heart.

My thoughts from before on The Goose Girl: “This charming tale follows Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee of Kildenree who has the ability to communicate with animals. On her way to meet her betrothed, a mutiny is staged by her lady-in-waiting and the company she was traveling with. This leads to Ani becoming to the goose girl to the very king whose son she was supposed to marry. She must overcome her circumstance and harness her ability in order to reach her true destiny. This book is so pleasantly written and beautifully told. The Goose Girl is one of my favorite books that I could read over and over again.”

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Image via Goodreads

I was surprised with how much I liked this book. Everything about it was just wonderful to read. The story is so well-done and well-written that it definitely deserves a place on this list.

Excerpt from my review:The One and Only Ivan surprised me. It reads like a lyrical diary but the tone and simplicity of each chapter shows that Ivan is an intelligent gorilla, as intelligent as a human (if not more, in his opinion). Anything Ivan points out, describes, compares and contrasts comes off as wise and/or humorous. A very quick read, The One and Only Ivan is a fun read for all.”

The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix

One of my favorite MG book series for sure. What really interested me about this book that the antagonists are named after the days of the week and each embodies one of the seven deadly sins. The series is one big adventure that builds upon itself. Reading it is kind of like playing an adventure video game. Very cool all in all.

What are some of your favorite middle grade novels? What MG books would you recommend I read? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Links to The Books of Bayern Images Sources:
The Goose Girl | Enna Burning | River Secrets | Forest Born

Links to The Keys to the Kingdom Image Sources:
Mister Monday | Grim Tuesday | Drowned Wednesday | Sir Thursday | Lady Friday | Superior Saturday | Lord Sunday


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Double Book Release Day!!!

HAPPY BOOK RELEASE DAY! to two wonderful new books:

A Pattern for Pepper by Julie Kraulis and All Things New by Lauren Miller

Thank you again to NetGalley, Tundra Books, and Three Saints Press for providing me with e-ARCs to read and review.

*title/author links lead to my book review of each book*

Image via NetGalley

A Pattern for Pepper by Julie Kraulis

Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Book Summary (via NetGalley):
Pepper is getting a dress made for a special occasion. It’s the first dress that has ever been made just for her, and she wants it to be perfect. But what pattern is right for her? Pepper is particular, and nothing works at first. Dotted Swiss? Too plain. Houndstooth? Not enough color. Pinstripe? Too glum. As Pepper learns about each fabric, she finds a reason why it’s just not the one. Will Pepper ever be able to find the perfect pattern? 
Julie Kraulis takes readers on a journey through gorgeous patterns and their origins–from the mountains of Switzerland to the green grass of Scotland–in search of Pepper’s ideal pattern. The incredible illustrations make for a dress, a character and a book that are impossible to forget.

Image via NetGalley

All Things New by Lauren Miller

Publisher: Three Saints Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Book Summary (via NetGalley):
From the author of Parallel and Free to Fall comes a novel about how it feels to be broken and what it means to be real.

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels.

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but her anxiety only gets worse in the wake of the accident.  That is, until she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

All Things New is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.

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Additional Skills for Writers

As a writer we need to know how to write professionally, creatively, analytically, and persuasively. We likely seek to earn degrees in English, Creative Writing, Journalism, or any other related fields. But I feel there are additional areas of study that can provide additional beneficial skills to writers of all levels. Of course, you don’t have be an expert in these areas to be a successful writer, nor do you have to learn them. But it never hurts to acquire new skills.


Knowing and understanding marketing techniques is key to building a brand, gaining readership, and putting your writing out there. You’ll want to stay up to date on current trends and be actively present on social media to effectively engage/network with others and promote yourself.

Having a website where people can learn about you, your writing, and upcoming works is a good things to have. You don’t need to be a pro to create the perfect website. And knowing the basics of HTML and CSS is good for sprucing up your website and posts. There are plenty of websites – WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Squarespace, for example – that have great user interfaces and options to building the perfect website/blog for your needs. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can create a website from scratch.

Making your own graphics can be fun (as long as what you create is of your own creation and doesn’t violate copyright laws). Creating promotional materials/graphics can help “sell” your work. You can create more engaging graphics for social media or your website. You can look up examples of graphic design in use online or search through your local library or bookstore. You can also try sites/programs like Canva, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign, or Microsoft Publisher.

Whether for bookstagram or your website or for an article, learning the basics of photography and photo editing can come in handy. To edit photos or graphics you’ve made, you can use software like Autodesk Pixlr Editor (a web application) or Adobe Photoshop.

Not a skill but something to know and understand: copyright laws (a must), the language of contracts (rule of thumb: never sign something without reading what it says first), and tax information (this can be a tricky area but a must) for wherever you call home.


Of course there are probably other skills that could be useful to writers but these, in my opinion, seemed liked the most important. I advise doing your own research into the sites/programs I mentioned above; I’ve used them all except for Blogger and Squarespace (but they seem like good sites to make websites/blogs). I hope this was helpful, even if just a little bit, to you and that it made sense. I’m a big believer in having a variety of skills because you never know when they could come in handy.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s post. What other skills do you think would be useful for writers to learn? What more should people know about the skills I mentioned above? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

As always, happy writing!

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Beautiful Covers For New Anticipated Books

I’m a bit late to this but the covers for two books I’m looking forward to reading were recently revealed! I am so in awe of these beautiful covers. Just gorgeous. Sadly, these books won’t be released until early 2018. But for now enjoy these lovely book covers!

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Kingmaker Chronicles, book 3
Publisher: Piatkus
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Image via Goodreads

Such a pretty and beautiful cover! Loving the blend of colors, especially where the power is emanating from Cat’s sword. She looks strong and stunning on this cover, like an Amazonian gladiator. This is sadly book three of the trilogy but I anticipate an epic conclusion to Cat and Griffin’s story.

Past Reviews: A Promise of Fire (Book 1) | Breath of Fire (Book 2)


Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The Numair Chronicles, book 1
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 6, 2018

Image via Goodreads

Interesting and stunning cover. I am loving this cover. I have a guess of what the feather symbolizes but the dripping of gold has me at a loss (perhaps related to where the story takes place?). I might have to re-read the Immortals quartet again where Numair is primarily featured. I’ve been waiting for Numair’s story (from his younger days) to be told for many years so I have high expectations. But if it’s anything like this cover and author, it’s going to be fantastic.

Past Post: My Literary Hero: Tamora Pierce


Blog Milestone: 100+ Followers!

Wow! This week The Bookshelf Corner reached 100+ followers – incredible!

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has viewed my blog, read/liked/commented on my posts, and decided to follow. I’ve been blogging for about a year and three months now and it’s been awesome writing about all things books and writing, and reading about all things books, writing and more from other bloggers.

To celebrate this milestone, I’ve decided to do a book review blitz. Below are 5 short reviews of books I’ve read in the past an loved – all of them I would give a 5/5 rating.

Image via Barnes & Noble | Cover Reprint Dec 7, 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness, book 1 | Published by: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing | (First) Released: September 28, 1983

Follow the tumultuous journey of young Alanna of Trebond who disguises herself as a boy to fulfill her dreams of becoming a knight. Book 1 of 4, it’s an incredible beginning towards an even bigger adventure. Along the way you meet fun and interesting characters. The world set up is simple but lovely. This is one of my favorite series and Alanna is one of my favorite literary characters/heroines!

Image via Goodreads

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn

Dragonback, book 1 | Published by: Tom Doherty | (First) Released: February 1, 2003

This was an interesting book and an even more interesting series. The story follows a young human, Jack Morgan, and Draycos, a dragon whose species live like tatoos on humans’ backs but can exist for a short time on their own. I read this book many years ago so I don’t remember everything. But this turned out to be a great YA science fiction book, which I was surprised at because it was a little outside the genre I normally read. I also enjoyed watching Jack and Draycos develop into a dynamic duo.

Image via Goodreads

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Books of Bayern, book 1 | Published by: Bloomsbury | (First) Released: 2003

This charming tale follows Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee of Kildenree who has the ability to communicate with animals. On her way to meet her betrothed, a mutiny is staged by her lady-in-waiting and the company she was traveling with. This leads to Ani becoming to the goose girl to the very king whose son she was supposed to marry. She must overcome her circumstance and harness her ability in order to reach her true destiny. This book is so pleasantly written and beautifully told. The Goose Girl is one of my favorite books that I could read over and over again.

Image via Goodreads

My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

Soul Screamers, book 1 | Published by: Harlequin Teen | (First) Released: January 1, 2009

This YA fantasy story/series follows a girl named Kaylee who has the unnerving ability of knowing when someone near her is about to die, which causes her to emit a loud, terrifying scream. This premise was so peculiar that I was highly interested in seeing what this book was really about. And I’m glad I did because it was so good. All the covers are gorgeous and each story builds upon itself. I found Kaylee to be a strong, likable main character. All the other supporting characters are interesting as well. The Soul Screamers series is a unique concept and was worth the read.

Image via Goodreads

The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill

Chronicles of Icemark, book 1 | Published by: The Chicken House | (First) Released: January 3, 2005

After her father is killed in battle, warrior princess Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield must protect Icemark by forging unexpected alliances. This book and the world within took my breath away – I loved it so much. Thirrin is such a great character and warrior, and I love reading her full name – it’s so her. The author has created a fantastical world and incorporates a whole lot of magical and mythical beings you’d find in fantasy books. I would really like to re-read this trilogy someday in the future. The Cry of the Icemark book was a big win for me!

Again, thank you everyone for taking the time to view and follow my blog and all that other good stuff – I really appreciate it.

If you’re new to The Bookshelf Corner and want to learn more about it, check out the About Me page. You can also follow me on Goodreads to keep up to date on the books I’m reading, as well as by checking out the side bar on the blog or the Currently Reading page.

Thanks so much! Have a great day!

And, as always, happy reading and happy writing.

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Dream Author Squad

Yesterday, I was reading a cool post on Julia @ Owl Reads‘s blog (which I recommend you check out) and at the end of the post she asks readers which author they’d want as a best friend. It was a very interesting question so, after much deliberation, I said John Flanagan. Then that question got me to thinking and imagining if I could be in a friend group with any authors who would I choose.

So today I thought I’d be fun to do a sort of take off of “squad goals” (but not quite) and write out a list of my dream author squad – that is, a friend group I wish we could all be apart of but know will never happy (wishful thinking):

John Flanagan

Author of the ‘Ranger’s Apprentice’ and ‘Brotherband Chronicles’ series. He would be the culture, animal, and weapons expert of the group.

Tamora Pierce

Author of various quartets, including ‘Song of the Lioness’ and ‘Circle of Magic.’ She would be the magic expert of the group.

Maria V. Snyder

Author of various trilogies and such, including ‘Study,’ ‘Glass,’ and ‘Healer.’ She would be the other magic expert of the group (because you can never have enough ideas about magic).

Lynn Kurland

Author of the ‘MacLeod,’ ‘De Piaget,’ and ‘A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms’ series. She would be the romance expert of the group.

Dianne Sylvan

Author of the ‘Shadow World’ series. She would be the fighting/weapons expert of the group.

I love all these authors and their books so much. I imagine between the six of us we could write an amazing novel filled with diverse characters, insane plots, crazy adventures, loads of magic, and a love like no other. Though this will never happen, it would be an amazing collaboration of ideas.

(Again, this is fun, wishful thinking only. I adore the friends I have right now and would never want to be without them.)

Which authors would you want in your friend group and why? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading! Happy writing!