The Last Bear by Hannah Gold – A Review

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold – A Review

TITLE: The Last Bear

AUTHOR: Hannah Gold


PUBLISHER: HarperCollins

GENRE: Middle Grade

MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from HarperCollins India in exchange for an honest review.

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to this remote Arctic outpost for six months. But one endless summer night, April meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life…

This moving story will win the hearts of children the world over and show them that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. The Last Bear is a celebration of the love between a child and an animal, a battle cry for our world and an irresistible adventure with a heart as big as a bear’s.

Friendships are the sole reason why Middle Grade happens to be one of my favorite genres of all time and when I came across this book featuring an unlikely friendship between a young girl and a wild beast, I KNEW I had to get my hands on a copy! And guess what? Colour me super impressed!

April Wood, our 11-year-old protagonist, spends six months on Bear Island, near the Arctic Circle, with her scientist dad(who happens to be researching polar ice caps and global warming) and befriends a polar bear, OF ALL ANIMALS on the island! This unlikeliest of friendships will carve out a tiny piece of your heart and rest there forever! Trust me, this is one of those friendships that will make you giggle and smile and laugh and shiver and sniffle and sob and beam with pride!

Whilst having a gem of a friendship at the centre of its pulsating heart, this book is an extremely necessary reminder about climate change and its hazards, if not addressed soon. This book incorporates themes of global warming and climate change and how they impact the lives of not just humans, but of animals as well and ensures that every child who reads this book will take a small step towards making our planet a better place. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean, don’t they?

And did you know that the sun doesn’t set for SIX WHOLE MONTHS at the poles? I was super intrigued by this fact and ended up reading articles about this peculiar yet fascinating phenomenon! It’s just day, all day everyday!

Hannah Gold doesn’t shy away from packing the punches: this book deals with a few dense topics such as death of a parent, strained familial relationships, grief and bereavement. But fret not, the author has executed these seamlessly in the story.

April’s encounters with bear were written with a sense of anticipation and fear that gave me the “chills”! (Haha, see what I did there? 😉)

So here’s everything you have to do: keep a box of tissues ready, grab a copy of this book, snuggle up in your sheets, and dive right in! This poignant tale of heartbreak, loss, family, friendship, bravery and climate change is bound to take you on a wild, wild ride to the frozen glaciers and islands of the Arctic! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to admire Levi Pinfold’s GORGEOUS art that made me add visiting the Arctic region on my bucket list immediately!

“You just tell me whenever you’re ready. That’s the best time to tell a story. Not before and not after. But only when it’s ready to come out.”

The Offline Diaries by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené – A Review

The Offline Diaries by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené – A Review

TITLE: The Offline Diaries

AUTHORS: Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené


PUBLISHER: HarperCollins

GENRE: Middle Grade

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A universal story of friendship, falling out and unforgettable characters that will resonate with all readers of 9 and up – from the authors of Slay in Your Lane

Ade is about to start at a new school. She is NOT happy with her stepdad for making them move here. Shanice has been at the school for a year already. Since her mum died, she’s been living with her dad and annoying older brother, spending most of her time outside school in her dad’s hair salon.

When Ade and Shanice meet in the salon, and spot each other’s diaries, an instant friendship is formed, and they start to chat online… but offline is a whole other story!

The Offline Diaries is a fresh, funny and contemporary story of friendship, told in the captivating voices of Ade and Shanice – two utterly unforgettable Year 8 girls who will seize the hearts and imaginations of readers everywhere.

The Offline Diaries is an adorable, little book written from the perspective of two tweens, Ade and Shanice and the entire story is narrated in the form of diary entries and text conversations! I have never read a book narrated in this format and it had my interest piqued!

Extrovert Ade has moved to a new town(much to her dismay) with her siblings, mom and stepdad(whom she doesn’t like one bit) and is not excited to start at a new school whatsoever.

Introvert Shanice is not happy about having to return to school for the new year and loves pouring her heart out into her pink journal, while spending a chunk of time at her dad Mathew’s hair salon.

When Ade visits Mathew’s salon with her mother and spots a girl in the corner with a journal similar to hers, there is an instant spark of friendship between the two girls and what follows is a star-crossed friendship that is so real and tender you would want to give these girls a warm, bear hug!

It makes my heart swell with joy to say that friendships are an integral part of every Middle Grade book and this book has spades and spades of it! This is an account of the start of a new friendship, with its own share of laughter, conflict, joy and sorrow, a sour fallout and how it all falls back together again.

In the current generation, where social media occupies a major part of everyone’s daily routine, this book focuses on the pros and cons of social media not just in everyday life, but also in friendships and how it has the dangerous potential to make or break them.

Personally, if a book deals with dense topics and addresses them in a perfect manner, it’s an immediate extra star from me! This book highlights themes of broken families and how they tend to have an impact on the development of children. Shanice warming up to her brother while also dealing with the loss of her mother and Ade warming up to her stepdad had me smiling from ear to ear!

If you’re a fan of friendships in books and want to read one that radiates #blackgirlmagic in all ways possible, then this is the one to pick up next!

What are some of your favorite books that radiate #blackgirlmagic? Let me know in the comments!

Tales from the World by Geeta Ramanujam – A Review

Tales from the World by Geeta Ramanujam – A Review

TITLE: Tales from the World

AUTHOR: Geeta Ramanujam


PUBLISHER: Puffin Books

GENRE: Middle Grade

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tales as old as time, retold
for readers, both young and old

Collected from storytellers on snow-capped mountains, and in eerie forests, opulent palaces and countries near and far, the captivating folk tales in this book have mesmerized generations.

Injected with freshness, mystery, adventure and magic, Geeta Ramanujam retells her all-time favourite stories with a song here and a twist there.

Travel along with this imaginative storyteller as she shares peculiar myths and incredible trivia from around the world in this magnificently illustrated volume of twenty tales from Russia, Japan, France, Tibet, India, Korea, Scotland and more.

From the glens of Scotland to the mountainous landscapes of Tibet, from the backwaters of Kerala to the cobbled streets of French towns, master storyteller Geeta Ramanujam takes us on a whimsical journey around the world in this potpourri of 20 tales, each of which will make you smile from ear to ear!

A huge shout-out to the illustrator Arkapriya Koley for adding a magical touch to these beautiful stories through her adorable illustrations, which definitely make this book a collector’s edition you would want to treasure!

What makes these stories even better is the fact that the author has added a note at the beginning of every tale about how and where she came across these tales in her 30+ years of storytelling experience!

Having been an avid reader of folktale anthologies right from childhood, this book was right up my alley and it didn’t disappoint one bit!

Nerdy me loves knowing random trivia and fun facts and the facts sprinkled throughout this book were the perfect dessert for a delicious entrée!

If you’re someone who has read the Jataka tales and loved them as a child(or as an adult, because there is no age limit to enjoying stories) and would like to read more such tales from around the globe, this amalgamation of stories is the perfect pick for you!

Did you read fairy tales and folk tales as a child? Do let me know in the comments below!

The Astoundingly True Adventures of Daydreamer Dev by Ken Spillman – A Review

The Astoundingly True Adventures of Daydreamer Dev by Ken Spillman – A Review

TITLE: The Astoundingly True Adventures of Daydreamer Dev

AUTHOR: Ken Spillman


PUBLISHER: Puffin Books

GENRE: Middle Grade

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Forever daydreaming-that’s Dev. Sitting in class or watching the clouds from the roof of Kwality Carpets, he floats off to places all over the world and has wonderful, bizarre adventures.

Mild-mannered schoolboy Dev is no stranger to survival in extreme environments. Classroom trances and home-made flights of fancy take him all over the place-what other kid could have visited Amazon rainforests, summited Mount Everest and crossed the Sahara? Along with the challenges of all this, he also needs to avoid the wrath of teachers and make Amma and Baba proud . . . Not so easy when your brain lives elsewhere!
In this volume, three wacky yet adrenaline-filled stories transport the reader into situations they can only dream of.

Set out with Dev on a solo expedition to reach the South Pole and report back to his teacher on global warming.

Find out which Dev finds more terrifying-going down a volcano or the baffling truth that a girl from his street has arrived there with him!

Join Dev and his trivia-mad friend OP as they become the first space stowaways on a moon landing mission.

For Dev, it has always been Access All Areas and no holds barred!

Are you in the mood for an adrenaline rush-inducing, action-packed-to-the-brim book that takes you on a wild journey to a volcano, Antarctica and outer space?!

Dev, a middle-schooler who is known for frequently escaping into his vivid daydreams and who went on a journey to the Amazon, across the Sahara and up the Himalayas, is back in the second instalment of the series with some thrillingly imaginative adventures to an active Volcano called Whakaari in New Zealand, to the South Pole and to the MOON! I kid you not, this kid has a wiiiiiild imagination! (Hehe, see what I did there😉)

Not only is this book super creative and fun-filled, it’s peppered with really cool science facts, ranging from moon rovers to the polar ice caps! I was today years old when I found out that there are no polar bears in Antarctica and they inhabit only the Arctic region. 🥲🙈

And, is a Middle Grade book complete without illustrations? Suvidha Mistry’s illustrations throughout the book make the experience all the more amazing!

What really impressed me about this book is the fact that the author actually asked children during one of his author visits where they would like to see Dev travelling to next and incorporated those ideas in this book! Can’t wait to go on more whacky adventures with our resident daydreamer!

Which place is at the top of your travel bucket list? Do let me know in the comments! Australia is at the top of mine!

Here Are 5 Reasons Why The Agathas Should Go On Your TBR Right Away!

Here Are 5 Reasons Why The Agathas Should Go On Your TBR Right Away!

  1. THRILLING TO THE T – This fast-paced, action-packed, whodunnit murder mystery will take you on a wild, wild ride! Brooke Donovan, popular girl extraordinaire plummets to her death after a scuffle with her boyfriend at a party. And to nobody’s surprise, the police pin it on the boyfriend. But are things EVER what they seem? Put your detective glasses on and nab the perp with Alice and Iris! Make sure you have 4-5 hours on your hands before you pick this one up because trust me, you CANNOT put this down!
  2. UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIPS – Alice, an elite-class queen bee who’s fallen from grace and Iris, a wallflower with a broken family, strike up an unlikely friendship that’s like no other! Seeing the two cosy up to one other and become the best of friends made my heart melt with joy! 🥺And Alice getting inducted into Iris’ group of nerd buddies? GIVE ME MORE! I am a huge sucker for friendships in books and the authors have handed it to us on a platter! chef’s kiss
  3. AGATHA CHRISTIE REFERENCES – The authors have done a great deal of justice to the title with a ton of Agatha Christie references peppered throughout the book! Alice is a huge fan of Christie’s and if you are one too, all you need is a glimpse of the title and you’ll devour this book in one go!
  4. PLOT TWISTS AND JAW-DROPPING SURPRISES – You are SO not ready for the plot twists coming your way! This is one of those books where you don’t see it coming WHATSOEVER! Kathleen and Liz will definitely knock you off your feet!
  5. A SATISFYING, WELL-CRAFTED MYSTERY – Everything wraps up perfectly towards the end which will make you sigh with relief. The authors have managed to stitch it all up without any plot holes or unaddressed subplots. What more do you need than the satisfaction of having read a perfect mystery? 😌And if your hunger for crime fiction isn’t satiated, don’t fret: book 2 is coming your way in 2023!

TW: This book deals with domestic violence and it’s aftermath. While the authors have deftly handled the same, I would advise you to proceed with caution.

Thanks to HarperCollins India for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The most popular girl in school is dead – and everyone’s blaming the wrong guy. 

When Alice Ogilvie ran away last summer, her disappearance was Castle Cove’s biggest mystery. But then her ex-best friend Brooke Donovan vanishes. Initially dismissed as a copycat case, Alice suspects there is something darker at play. 

Joined by outsider and unlikely investigative partner Iris Adams, AgathaChristie-obsessed Alice sets out to get to the bottom of what is really happening in Castle Cove. There are clues the police are ignoring and a list of suspects a mile long. But Alice and Iris have no idea just how many secrets their little town is hiding…

What are some of your favorite murder mystery novels? Let me know in the comments!

Tara and the Friendship Theorem by Chitra Soundar – A Review

Tara and the Friendship Theorem by Chitra Soundar – A Review

TITLE: Tara and the Friendship Theorem

AUTHOR: Chitra Soundar


PUBLISHER: Puffin Books

GENRE: Middle Grade

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tara and her best friend, Farida, are experts at the traditional Indian game of Pallanguzhi. But when Tara’s family relocates to the UK, Tara has to say goodbye to her best friend. Who shall she beat at Pallanguzhi now?

As Appa and Amma get the new home ready, Tara and her brother check in to a weekend retreat, Camp Wilderness. Wow. Do Tara’s parents even know who she is? She’s more what you’d call an indoorsy person, with her love of coding and maths. 

To distract herself from all the trees and animals and general wildlife – shudder – she sets out to find a new friend. No one can ever replace Farida, but Tara’s determined to find someone almost as awesome. This is the perfect opportunity to test her Friendship Theorem!

Maths has never let Tara down before – surely it can help now? But as Tara applies her theorem at Camp Wilderness, could she miss a friendship that is blossoming right under her nose?

It should come as no surprise that friendships are my favorite aspect of Middle Grade books and a book with ‘friendship’ in the title itself which revolves around making new friends? Sign me up already!

Tara and her family move to the UK from Chennai and she is not one bit happy about having to leave her bestie Farida behind. When her parents enrol Tara and her brother, Kapil in a Wilderness Camp in the woods, Tara makes it a point to use the Friendship Theorem from a book gifted to her by her grandmother(also called the Professor) and test it out at the camp, while making a new best friend in the process. Will Tara find the said best friend? Will the Friendship Theorem work? Is it foolproof? Read the book before I end up spilling the beans!

Reading a book with a nerdy, geeky protagonist made my heart swell with joy! 10-year-old me would have squealed with delight while reading about someone who is proud to be a nerd! This made me want to leap into the pages of the book and give Tara a nice, warm hug!

Full disclosure: I am someone who has detested maths since the very beginning, to the extent of mugging up entire derivations and regurgitating them all out on the exam paper(shhhh)! Not only does this book have fun math factoids at the beginning of every chapter, it also made me realise how maths can be fun too! Did you know that 3 is the only prime number preceding a square, or that 7 is the only prime number preceding a cube?

The entire story revolves around friendship and how friendship can be logical and not at the same time. No two friendships are the same and at times, friendship transcends logic too. Follow Tara on this journey of discovering what it means to have a friend and how sometimes, some of the best friendships you make in life lie just outside your comfort zone! Annada Menon’s adorable illustrations peppered throughout the book only make the reading experience better!

I am all for mental health rep in books: there are times when I have added an extra star to my rating simply because the mental health rep is executed perfectly, and needless to say, this book is one of them! Having lived with severe anxiety for quite a while now, the discussions of anxiety and therapy in this story and how they formed the basis of friendships had me beaming with joy! #friendshipgoals! Mental health representation is so important in Middle Grade and I can’t emphasise this enough. Kudos for the same, Chitra Soundar!

Pallanguzhi(called Alaguli Mane here in Karnataka) is a game that originated in South India and forms an integral part of the story. Reading about it took me back to my crèche days where we had a pallanguzhi board with tamarind seeds as counters! #nostalgia 🥺

This book was indeed a breath of fresh air! If you’re in a reading slump which you’re struggling to get out of and want to lighten your mood with a fun, cute read, this is right up your alley! Visit the woods of England with Tara and get to know Millie, Chloe, Toby, to name a few, because “Strangers are friends we haven’t come to know yet”! 😉

What was your favorite subject back in school? Let me know down below! My favourites were geography and biology!

Gupshup Goes to Prison by Arefa Tehsin – A Review

Gupshup Goes to Prison by Arefa Tehsin – A Review

TITLE: Gupshup Goes to Prison

AUTHOR: Arefa Tehsin


PUBLISHER: Duckbill Books (Penguin Random House India)

GENRE: Elementary Readers

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Khalid’s cat Gupshup has run away to a prison. An open prison, it is called, but everyone knows that prisons are full of horrible, evil people. Or are they? And how on earth will Khalid get Gupshup home?

Did you know that there are prisons where the inmates aren’t locked up in cells but are actually allowed to live freely and even seek employment OUTSIDE of the prison? Before you look at me like I’ve grown an extra head, let me tell you: yes, they’re a thing! They were started in Rajasthan back in the 1950s to help the inmates adjust back to the normal way of life towards the end of their term. How cool is that! Okay, before I go all info-dumpy on you, let me tell you about the book, hehe.

Khalid moves to the town of Sanganer and has heard all about the infamous jail for criminals. So, what happens when, one day, his cat Gupshup runs over the wall of the dreaded prison and hops over to the other side and Khalid has no choice but to enter the prison in order to retrieve her? What follows is a fun, action-packed tale full of new discoveries and jaw-dropping surprises with Shubhangi Chetan’s quirky illustrations making it all the more fun!

One thing about this book that totally had me smiling is how the author has conveyed the fact that people are so quick to judge others and jump to conclusions and assumptions without knowing all sides to a story, in a way young readers can easily comprehend!

There are few books in Middle Grade that discuss serious but extremely important topics and this book is proudly one of them! Discussing topics like prison, crime and law is no mean feat when it comes to inculcating them in books for young readers so kudos to Arefa Tehsin for doing that!

Friendships are one of the reasons why Middle Grade is my favorite genre of all time and Khalid making new friends in this story had me smiling from ear to ear!

And oh, do you love cats? Then, you need absolutely no motivation to pick this one up!

Have you read any Middle Grade books that discuss sensitive but important topics? Let me know in the comments!

The Girl Who Climbed Mountains: Bachendri Pal by Lavanya Karthik – A Review

The Girl Who Climbed Mountains: Bachendri Pal by Lavanya Karthik – A Review

TITLE: The Girl Who Climbed Mountains: Bachendri Pal

AUTHOR: Lavanya Karthik


PUBLISHER: Duckbill Books (Penguin Random House India)

GENRE: Picture Book for Younger Readers

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Before Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to climb Mt Everest, she was a little girl with dreams as big as the sky.

Have you ever read a book that leaves a huge smile plastered on your face? A book that makes you content and satisfied and just plain happy? This is that book for me! This cute little biographic picture book will carve a place for itself in your heart!

Bachendri Pal is the first Indian woman to climb Mt. Everest. I am a 100% sure we’ve all come across this fact during GK exams in school. But before that, she was a little girl with a big heart and an even bigger ambition. Read this book to find out more!

Not only does this book inspire young readers, it also sheds light on the misogyny that’s rampant in India and shows every little girl who picks this book up, how she can go on to achieve anything under the sun!

The author has drawn inspiration from Thangka art in illustrating this book and I love how it’s an ode to Bachendri Pal’s place of birth.

Okay, can somebody please stop me before I end up telling everything about this book? 😂

All in all, this is a fun book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, because, you know, the sky is the limit(in this case, quite literally hehe😉)!

Are there any people who inspire you to be the best version of yourself? If yes, let me know in the comments!

The Boy Who Loved Birds: Salim Ali by Lavanya Karthik – A Review

The Boy Who Loved Birds: Salim Ali by Lavanya Karthik – A Review

TITLE: The Boy Who Loved Birds: Salim Ali

AUTHOR: Lavanya Karthik


PUBLISHER: Duckbill Books(Penguin Random House India)

GENRE: Picture Book for Young Readers

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Before Salim Ali was a world-famous ornithologist, he was a boy curious about the mysteries around him. Especially the mysteries of birds.


Firstly, the illustrations in this book are probably some of the best I’ve come across! They’re inspired by miniature art from the Mughal era, which also happens to be Dr Salim Ali’s favourite art form. Kudos, Lavanya!

Dr. Salim Ali is a famous ornithologist (we had a whole chapter about him back in Middle School!) who has won many awards and has two sanctuaries and a bird named after him! Like, woah! But before he achieved these feats, he was a young, cheerful boy with a very curious mind. I don’t want to give it all away in my review, so please do pick up the book and read it for yourself!

Having read two books in this series now, I’m excited to pick up the rest of the books in this series and trust me, you’ll want to as well! Dear Lavanya, please write more books in this series and I will pick up every single one of them! ❤️

If this book could be summed up in a few words, it would be this: never think your dreams are unattainable. Never ever give up on your dreams, no matter how far fetched they seem. Strive to achieve your goals and work hard towards them, because who knows, one day, you will be living that very dream! Soar high!

What are some of your favourite picture books? Let me know down below!

The Absolutely True Adventures of Daydreamer Dev by Ken Spillman – A Review

The Absolutely True Adventures of Daydreamer Dev by Ken Spillman – A Review

TITLE: The Absolutely True Adventures of Daydreamer Dev

AUTHOR: Ken Spillman


PUBLISHER: Puffin Books(Penguin Random House India)

GENRE: Middle Grade

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sitting in class or watching clouds from the roof of Kwality Carpets, Dev’s flights of fancy land him in challenging environments all over the globe. He brings home notes from his teacher so regularly that Amma only rolls her eyes as she fishes them from his satchel. Baba says that if there were medals for daydreaming, Dev would be an All-India Champion-maybe even an Olympic hero.

These action-packed stories transport the reader to three iconic locations, each one testing Dev’s survival skills while teaching him to respect environments and cultures that seem alien to him. Follow Dev as he accompanies the ghost of a Sherpa woman on a quest to conquer Mount Everest. Ride with Dev as he traces the Amazon River, which proves much more difficult than going with the flow! Join Dev and his pal OP as they set out from Timbuktu to cross the Sahara on malodorous camels.

For Dev and his colourful imagination, it’s Access All Areas and No Holds Barred.

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

Ever heard of this saying? Well, that’s EXACTLY what this book does!

Dev is a young boy with an imagination so immense he could get an Olympic gold if daydreaming were a sport! Of course, much to the dismay of his teacher and his strict father.

Mind you, Dev’s imagination is WILD! Follow him as he “travels” to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, the lush green canopies of the Amazon rainforest and the blistering sand dunes of the Sahara and learns quite a few important life lessons along the way, all thanks to his imagination! The illustrations only add to the fun!

It didn’t escape my notice how the author Ken Spillman has emphasised on the need to respect cultures and traditions of other peoples and countries through his stories while also highlighting the need to preserve various environments.

Dev’s best friend OP reminded me so much of the younger, nerdy Middle School me(still super nerdy hehe)! He constantly keeps spewing random facts from his mouth and you learn quite a bit of fun stuff while you read these action-packed, thrilling stories!

So, what are you waiting for? Join Dev on some wild, wild adventures through different terrains of the world and don’t forget, the only limit to what you can do is your imagination! Let it run wild!

What are some of your favourite adventure stories? Let me know in the comments!