Middle Grade

A Star is Born by Sable Hamilton

23339905Scouted by stunt riders during a barrel-racing contest in her hometown, 13-year-old Kami Cooper comes to train at Stardust Stables with only the best of teachers. Leaving behind her family and her beloved horse Buttercup to train, Kami soon learns that stunt riding is one part talent and three parts hard work.

When Brad Morley, a renown movie director comes into town looking for two stunt doubles for the upcoming movie Moonlight Dream the excitement and nerves only rocket higher for Kami. Not only does she have to land all her stunts, she has to deal with jealous friends and the occasional sabotage from rival High Noon Stables which is also trying to land their own stunt doubles for Moonlight Dream. Will she be able to help fix the cash flow problems at Stardust Stables by nailing her audition? Will she be able to fly to California and work with a teen heartthrob?

It was fun to learn a little about stunt riders and what kind of stunts they practice and it was also great to learn about horses. I know that randomly I ran into some French trick riding competition on television the other day and was shocked by what I saw. A lot of the competitors looked like they were dancing and doing all sorts of flips and tricks on and around their horse. It was so beautiful and graceful. Every time I try to look it up I can’t find the exact name for what they were doing. It was like interpretive dancing or something. Anyway I thought it was cool to read this book after seeing performances like that.

It was interesting to read about the different horses in Stardust Stables and that each horse was better at different stunts than others. For example, some were better at working near fire and explosions, while others specialized in playing dead or with water stunts. I learned some horse tips here and there and found out that there are special equine aircrafts with stalls in them and everything. It was a fun and easy read. A Star is Born by Sable Hamilton is a sweet book. Any young girl with an interest in books and horses would love to read this.

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Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita

21996359Flunked by Jen Calonita is a middle grade book full of creativity and surprises. Anyone who is a fan of fairy tales and wants to see some of the main villains reimagined is in for some fun. The Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, the evil sea witch, and the evil queen are now newly reformed professors at Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS). Flora, Cinderella’s reformed wicked stepmother founded and now runs FTRS, where the motto and mission is to turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes. They all live in the kingdom of Enchantasia where Cinderella, Snow White, Rose (Sleeping Beauty) and Rapunzel reign.

It is here where we meet our main character, 12-year-old Gillian Cobbler, who after three repeated offenses involving petty theft must be taken to FTRS. She is the shoemaker’s oldest daughter, and only steals to help feed her family after the fairy godmother started stealing business from her father. How can she possibly be an upstanding citizen when she feels her only way to get by is by being criminally mischievous?

After meeting Kayla and Jax on her first day at school she discovers that her 3 month stint can’t be so bad when you have friends and are receiving lessons on etiquette, fencing, snake charming, and other various activities. Until she can figure out her next move it seems that she will try to endure her time there. Of course nothing is as trivial as it seems, as something strange is happening at Fairy Tale Reform School and Gillian and her friends are determined to figure it out.

I thought everything about this book was cute including the cover. There were some pleasant surprises and creative retellings throughout the story and it was fun to run into familiar characters and see them put in situations where they had to teach a bunch of middle school delinquents. I think that most middle school children will like this book and it was a joy to read.

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Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.