Reading Popcorn Reads for Escape the Readathon

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Escape the Readathon is underway and as a Snack Squad member I decided to focus on the Food Court building which is reading popcorn reads. Since middle grade is super easy to read, I chose to read that. We did have a prompt open up so I read 1 book for that.

It's funny how excited I can get for readathons. I guess since I knew I was planning on posting about my books read every week I read a lot more than I expected. Also, I really want my team to win! Team challenges are always so much fun. So what did I get to read you ask? I read five books total in the first week of May. Although one book went over into midnight on Sunday I'm counting it for my first week's reads. I'm going to do a couple of quick reviews of my five books in this post. Let me know what popcorn reads you have read lately.

Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.

There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie reluctantly embarks on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls. Will she ever find Des, or is The Clackity planning something far more sinister?
Very enjoyable! Evie's voice and determination to break through her fears made her a likable character. I think adding that she frequently had panic attacks will really help kids who are anxious see her as a role model.

I got some Coraline vibes while reading The Clackity especially with her having to go into a portal world and go from house to house receiving help or meeting a new obstacle. And of course the ghosts. I thought the world-building and characters were so imaginative. The villains were also pretty scary for a middle-grade. But for some, this is the perfect kind of scary.

I did think there could be a tad more build-up before Des has to be saved from the villain. I also thought that there were never any real stakes. I mean there was but things worked out for Evie at every turn. I never thought she wouldn't make it and would have liked more heart-racing moments. I will read the next book and appreciate there was no cliffhanger to this one. I'm curious about the mystery behind her parent's disappearance and who Evie will face next time.

Meet Whisper, Frannie, Sophie, Gemma, and Zuzu, five friends who tell eerie tales by night and navigate middle school drama by day. In Misery Falls, Oregon, it is the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of the town’s most infamous killer, Silas Hoke, and the town is abuzz. When a mysterious text message leads the girls to the cemetery—where Silas Hoke is buried!—life can’t get any creepier. Except, yes, it can, thanks to the surprise storyteller who meets them at the cemetery, inspires the first-ever meeting of the Graveyard Girls, and sets the stage for a terrifying tale from Whisper that they’ll never forget.
Book one in a five-book series, Graveyard Girls blends popular scary books for kids (think: Goosebumps ) with strong teen girl characters into a fresh, genre-blending middle-grade series. For kids ages 9­­–12 in search of girl friendship stories and mystery books, you’ll find horror and heartfelt relationships in 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War.
The cover of 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War basically indicates this is going to be a not-to-scary story. It features a friend group that loves telling scary stories. They are all unique but it did take a minute to distinguish them. This was mostly Whisper's story and I've got to say I do like her best. She's dealing with problems feeling isolated at home with her father's girlfriend and her phone obsessed daughter. I enjoyed that there was a spooky story within this because I mean you need to have something other than friend and family drama. The cliffhanger makes me think they might lean more into the supernatural.

In the opulent, sinking city of Dantessa, the Great Game rules all. Pia Paro believes that so long as you follow the rules, you always have a chance at winning. But after her beloved Gramps is sentenced to a life of servitude, Pia accepts a dangerous offer and joins a team of players seeking to win the most perilous game of Noctis.

The Seafoxes—Pia’s new teammates—are unlike anyone she’s ever met. There’s brash, bold Carlo; macabre Serafina; kindhearted Pasquale; and their dashing ringleader, Vittoria. Each has their own reason for playing, and soon, Pia begins to question all her long-held beliefs. Maybe the rules Pia once trusted to lift her up have only been keeping her—and thousands of others like her—down.

As she struggles with these revelations, Pia must survive a gauntlet of clockwork soldiers, perilous underwater adventures, and even a game against Death herself. But with Pia’s grandfather’s life at stake, Pia must finally decide whether she’s brave enough to not just break the rules, but to change the very nature of the Game.
The only thing that would have made this better if it was a trilogy. I could have easily seen this storyline drawn out with more POV from the people of Dantessa and how unfair the games are. I had that feeling again which I haven't had since reading Skyborn that this was going to be amazing from the start. Such a clever concept and a fascinating world. Interesting motives for each character in Pia's team to win the games. I particularly liked Pia and Vittoria's friendship since they were probably the most strategic out of all of the teammates. Although, doom and gloom Serafina has a little piece of my heart. Ugh. I wish this book was a trilogy! It deserves that level of time spent in this imaginative world.

After accidentally wishing on a family heirloom to hear what boys are thinking, Clara wakes up the next day able to do just that. Every idea, every worry, every generous or petty thought crossing their minds—somehow, they now form a chorus of voices in hers.

But why couldn’t her newfound powers have arrived sooner? Then, maybe, she could have stopped her ex–best friend Leo from betraying her and ditching her for the more popular kids. At least her dad is open to the idea of moving her off O‘ahu and out to Arizona to be with him.

If Clara can use what she hears to solve her problems, then her powers might just be able to make up for lost time—but instead, she ends up making a bigger mess of everything! While scrambling to fix her mistakes, Clara must question old friendships, enter into new ones, and try to figure out what makes a home, and if she is willing to leave hers behind.
Since I'm planning to do a full review of this ARC here are a few thoughts I had after reading:

  • Loved the relationship between Clara and her tutu (grandmother).
  • The heart of this book is about listening to others especially your friends which offers a great message to young readers.
  • I wish Clara's power wasn't just boy-related since who wants to read boys' minds for the rest of their lives?
  • I wish there was a glossary. When I read books with Spanish words it feels like home so I can understand it could be the same with Hawaiian words but I think it might frustrate younger readers especially since there were a lot of Hawaiian words.
  • I enjoyed how everything got resolved and how Clara finally had her dad by her side. I found it strange that both her dad and mom hadn't lived with her in a year.

Rosie Vo hates racquetball. Her hatred for the sport comes from the pressure she feels from her racquetball-obsessed dad, Miles. Despite her feelings, Rosie really wants to beat Erica Garcia, the girl she ends up battling for last place with every year!

Thankfully, new kid Hayden Blair moves to town and becomes fast friends with Rosie. Even better, she’s amazing at racquetball. Rosie’s convinced she’s found the answer to all her problems and decides she’s going to get Blair to take her place in the tournament where she’ll win the whole thing and represent the Vo name with pride! But Blair can sense that isn’t really what Rosie wants, and knows that if she can show her how fun racquetball really is, everything will start going Rosie’s way.

I've been needing a wholesome read like this. Rosie is such a lovable character. Her easy jokester side and scheming skills were fun to read. I couldn't help but feel for her as her dad seriously was not listening to her about her hatred of racquetball which he gave her with his competitive side. I think the resolution to that was a little too easy since there was a good amount of conflict and negativity Rosie felt toward herself for not being good enough. On the other hand, her friendship with Blair was so sweet. I liked their easy banter and how much they cared about each other. I did find it weird that Blair's hobby was dumpster diving (other than racquetball). Even though she was bullied for being weird adding that particular hobby for a child to have is weird. It would make more sense if her nerdiness for racquetball made people necessarily mean to her. But otherwise, the art was great and so was the friendship. Nice, quick read.

I don't plan on reading five books like I did last week. I'm reading all the Avatar books (Kyoshi sequel and Yangchen's books) which works for the building Cutthroat Circus which has you matching book covers to one of the host's past thumbnails. I am basing it on the colors so it won't match completely. It's pretty impossible to do that unless you are reading the same book they have on the thumbnail. If I feel like it I'll read some graphic novels for the prompt my team is working on escaping a certain building. The Avatar books don't count for any of the prompts and I figure I'll be helping unlock another building. I think we will unlock the second building soon but we have to hurry because who knows how the other teams are doing!? I'm feeling really competitive this month if you can't tell!