Hi there, MMGM readers! I know it’s been forever since I did a middle grade review. It should be no surprise that a James Riley book would bring me back into the fold, considering how much I love the HALF UPON A TIME series. I’ve been meaning to read STORY THIEVES for a while, and I’m thrilled it lives up to my expectations for a James Riley book. Here’s what it’s about.

Story Thieves by James RileyLife is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores. 

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…

…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.

Here are the five things I loved most:

1. The cover – Normally I don’t talk about the outside of a book, but I have to with this one. I brought STORY THIEVES along with me to a couple of my kids’ activities, and people kept asking me, “What is that book? What’s it about?” So obviously the cover grabs attention and makes people want to read the book! Way to go, Vivienne To! (Yes, I just looked up the illustrator so she can have credit.)

2. The premise – Um, seriously, who doesn’t want to jump into their favorite book and hang out with the characters? I so identify with Owen. Poor Bethany, trying to rein him in and explain that mixing the real world with the fictional world is a bad idea. And it so is …

3. The stakes – That bad idea? Do you really want to become Harry Potter? Or Katniss Everdeen? Think about what they go through. No thanks. Now think about the havoc Voldemort or President Snow could cause if they got out into the real world and had the same power. Pretty terrifying.

4. Kiel Gnomenfoot – I love this character so much! I love that he delivers zingy liners whether he’s in the book or in the real world–which, ok, is still a book that I’m reading, but whatever.

5. The ending – I love where the characters are at the end and the adventures they have left to explore. I’m so ready for the next book, which is already out, by the way.

Man, I already used up my five things, but you know James Riley’s books are hilarious, right? Even the acknowledgements, where he promises to send all readers a thousand dollars in cash … but I already tried, and he says his publisher nixed it. Oh well :). Still worth the read!

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