Be Prepared, Messy Medieval Magic!

Posted May 22, 2018 by shooting in Book Review / 26 Comments

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add to Goodreads): All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Review: This is the second graphic novel I’ve read by Brosgol, the first being Anya’s Ghost, and I can say that I’m definitely a fan. Be Prepared is a graphic memoir – the author states how she took some liberties in an author’s note at the end, mixing two summers into one, etc – that really hooked my attention. I actually read this on one of the days I was dealing with really bad allergies and I felt so miserable and just wanted to read. Be Prepared was a nice little reprieve for me and I hope people of all ages will check it out – it’s a middle grade book, but it’s something that anyone could enjoy, especially during the summer. The book is about Vera and her brother going away to a Russian summer camp, which I found fascinating as you get to learn a bit more Russian culture (they are even supposed to speak Russian during camp the entire time). While at camp, Vera desperately wants to go home because she can’t make any true friends, the toilet is basically an outhouse, she’s rooming with two older girls who are already best friends, and more. Obviously things start to get a bit better – especially when Vera makes a good friend. I liked that the book didn’t say that camp is for everyone though or that it’s always amazing. Vera found herself liking camp as the weeks went on, but she wasn’t all that enticed to go back! Definitely a quick, fun read!

Two fun middle grade reads: Graphic novel Be Prepared and A Very Messy Medieval Magic #bookbloggers #ontheblog Click To Tweet

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic by C. Lee McKenzie

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from author/publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution – fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost – will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again…

Review: This book is a really fun, quick middle grade read. It’s actually the third book in a series but I didn’t have any trouble jumping in and getting to know wizard Pete and his best friend, Weasel. They are sent back in time to 1173 England to take the place of a missing page, who has been sent to another point in history. An event is coming that the page is intended to stop – and if he’s not there, it will greatly affect history. Pete is now in the page’s place, to either stop the event, or at least wait it out until the real page can be found and placed back in his rightful spot in history. Of course, Pete ends up stuck in the page’s position for a lot longer than he’d wish, and he needs the help of many trusty friends, including Weasel who went back in time with him, if he’s going to stop the big event from happening and ruining history forever.

Like I said before, this was a fairly quick read, but it never felt too short. You still got to know the characters well, including some of the great secondary characters. The book was just as long as it needed to be and in a world of too-short or too-long books, I loved that! I think it would appeal to middle grade boys and girls, and of course older readers too! I loved the time period that Pete and Weasel now found themselves in and how they had to learn to adjust so as not to stick out too much. This time in history might include some historical information and facts, but it’s also full of magical liberties like a talking horse (and an alligator familiar of Pete’s who is also sent back in time to help), castles under water, mystical druids, and more!

26 responses to “Be Prepared, Messy Medieval Magic!

  1. These look fab. I’m a member of a book club and we’re always looking for new and interesting books to try. Thanks for the tip 🙂

  2. Be Prepared is so great! Relatable and quirky, I have read it twice and my kids love it. I’ll look for the Messy Medieval Magic series — first I’ve heard of it!

  3. Summer camp is always a great setting for middle readers—lots of drama. I remember going myself at 10-12 YO and boy, the fun! The candy, the horses…but this is Russian camp. Interesting twist. Medieval England? That sounds very cool too. Nice reviews, Lauren. I don’t have this age group to buy for at the moment but if I did, these books would be on the list.

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