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Izzy Malone #2

The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby

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Violet Barnaby searches for the joy in life after losing her mother in this sweet and funny follow-up to The Charming Life of Izzy Malone .

Violet Barnaby is a having a blue Christmas. She’s still grieving the loss of her mother, and to make things worse, her dad has just married Melanie Harmer, a.k.a. the meanest teacher at Dandelion Hollow Middle School. But on the day Violet and her dad are packing up and moving into the new house they’ll share with Melanie and Melanie’s two children, Violet finds a letter her mother wrote to her before she died, asking Violet to enjoy Christmas, along with a Christmas Wish List—things her mom wants her to do during the holiday season . On the list are exactly the kinds of things Violet doesn’t want to do this year, like Be Someone’s Secret Santa; Give Someone the Gift of Your Volunteer; and Bake Christmas Cookies.

Violet shows the letter to her friend Izzy’s Aunt Mildred, who calls a meeting of the Charm Girls, a club Izzy and Violet belong to along with their friends, Daisy and Sophia. Aunt Mildred decides she will give them each a charm to put on their bracelet if they do all of the tasks on the Christmas Wish List, which Violet is not too happy about. She’d rather forget about the list completely, but feels compelled to honor her mother’s wishes.

And when Izzy’s crush confides a big secret to Violet, Violet feels like she is stuck between her best friend and the boy who she just might have a crush on, too…

272 pages, Paperback

First published September 19, 2017

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About the author

Jenny Lundquist

7 books437 followers
Jenny Lundquist grew up in Huntington Beach, California, wearing glasses and wishing they had magic powers. They didn't, but they did help her earn a degree in intercultural studies at Biola University. Jenny has painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes one day to write a book at a café in Paris. Jenny and her husband live in northern California with their two sons and Rambo, the world's whiniest cat.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for Isa (Pages Full of Stars).
1,061 reviews112 followers
August 7, 2020

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"I guess Gray Christmas actually hasn't been as gray as I thought it would be. I guess in some ways, it's been wondrous."

Another wonderful book by Jenny Lundquist! I read The Charming Life of Izzy Malone last month and absolutely loved it, and the sequel is just as wonderful.

This time, we're focused on Izzy's friend, Violet, who's dealing with the loss of her mom and struggling to fit into the new family, after her dad re-married. This second book touches upon different but just as important themes, and I really like how sensibly the author is doing it. It's all written the way that the tweens and teens will definitely relate to and it's great that its always showed how the characters overcome their problems and worries. Obviously, as a reader I got frustrated with some things and the characters' behaviour but I know it was all a part of the story and helped with the realistic portrayal.

Just like with the first book, The Wondrous... has both difficult, thought-provoking elements and some lighter parts. Like I mentioned, there's a theme of dealing with a loss of a family member, trying to fit in a new family, but also first crush and friendship issues. The writing flows very well and by the end of the book, the reader can understand the characters and their intentions very well.

I'm curious if Sophie and Daisy will also get their own books, because I'd definitely be up for reading them! I highly recommend this series for the target audience but also for the adults, who like contemporary middle grade novels :)
Profile Image for Gulshan Naqvee.
Author 5 books3 followers
October 17, 2018
Once again the book theme revolved death of a parent, new family ties and new half siblings. The attitude of Violet and her anguish in some parts was truly understandable. Her loyalty to friends is what I loved the most and the way she treats her father from the very beginning. Loved the book in all its parts. Very wholesome read.
Profile Image for Jessica Taylor.
Author 6 books229 followers
February 6, 2017
I adore Jenny's books, and I can't wait to get my hands on this one - what an amazing title! Hurry up, fall 2017!
1 review
September 29, 2017
The book The Wondrous world of Violet Barnaby was about this girl named Violet. Her mom died from cancer and since then Violet and her dad have been really upset and just now getting used to being alone without Violets mom. Then one day Violets dad and Melanie a teacher at Violets school, ( who the students call the hammerhead) got engaged. Violet did not want this to happen. When it was moving day Violet was making sure they had gotten everything out of the house but when she went and checked her dads room she found a letter. This letter was not just any letter this letter was from Violets mom that she wrote Violet before she passed away. Violets dad was supposed t give the letter to Violet last Christmas but forgot. He offered to let her read it before they left but Violet said no thanks I will open it later when I am not in a rush. When Violet got to the new house the hammerhead was complaining to the moving people helping them move. Violet knew this was not going to work out. over the next few days of living in the new house Violet felt left out and not cared about. Violet has a great personality and has a dictionary she highlights of all the words she knows and also has a purple journal that she writes her favorite words in. Violet has this club with her friends called the Charms Club with her friends Sophie, Izzy, and Daisy. They met up every once and a while and got new charms and did the things they needed to so they could earn the charms. Violet did not want to tell her friends about the letter because she didn't think they would care. On the letter her mom left her a Christmas check list to do. Violet did not know how she would complete this list before Christmas. In the end she ended up getting along with her family, completing the Christmas check list her mom made her before Christmas with help from friends and family, and she felt like she could tell her friends anything now even if the did not know the answer to her question or what to say. I think this book is a really good book and everyone should read it. This boom would be perfect for the type of people who love books that start sad but end happily.
Profile Image for J.C..
Author 4 books73 followers
July 24, 2018

I loved this book! It was similiar in feel to its predecessor, but so different—though connected, it could easily be a standalone. I loved Violet; she was such a fantastic protagonist and so relatable, too. We so easily see the world through her eyes and understand her and why she does the things she does. We groan when she makes mistakes, but we understand why, too. We laugh with her, we cry with her, and we love her.

I loved seeing her interactions with the Charm Girls, and loved the friendship themes with both Izzy and Olivia; I found it very authentic to middle school dynamics. The novel dealt with some harder themes—such as death and stepfamiles—but ultimately handed it in a gentle, yet genuine, way. It was a highly inspiring and encouraging novel of hope and friendship, full of beautiful themes and I would highly recommend it to ages 8+.

Negative Content/Notes:


Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, even though I am definitely above the recommended age range. It was clean and free of negative or questionable aspects, and it promoted a message of hope and strength amid struggles in a relatable way that I believe will be very impactful to younger audiences.

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0

Recommended to: Ages 8+.

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Profile Image for Kimberly.
822 reviews92 followers
December 31, 2017
Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Jenny Lundquist just hit it out of the park with this sequel. I adored Izzy Malone, but I fell in love with Violet Barnaby. Her emotions were raw, heartbreaking and incredibly relatable.

At the end of the first book, we learned that Violet’s dad was remarrying. This book picks up right where that left off. We watch Violet deal with moving, adjusting to a new stepfamily and struggling to find where exactly she belongs. She’s also trying to navigate her first crush and learning to open up to her friends about all of her feelings.

Violet lost her mother to cancer and this part of the story is what truly touched me. Upon moving, she discovers a letter from her mom talking about the difficulties of enjoying Christmas after loosing a loved one. Her mother left her a checklist of activities to complete to help her make new happy memories and enjoy the holiday season. She talks about the pain that follows death. How it never goes away, but it eventually gets easier to manage. She referred to it as the Terrible Beautiful Ache. I myself have lost two loved ones close to Christmas. That heartache still lingers every December.

I love that we still get glimpses of the Charm Girls and characters from the first book. It’s fun watching their storylines continue to develop in the background. I have a feeling book three will focus on Sophia. I highly recommend this series. It effortlessly covers a ton of issues in a delicate and smooth manner. It’s a definite must buy for me and one that I will look forward to reading with my daughter one day.
Profile Image for Kim.
506 reviews31 followers
March 2, 2018
I would've enjoyed this significantly more if the onus for adjusting to the loss of her mother and being thrown into a new family and a new home hadn't been almost exclusively on Violet. None of the adults in her life—her father, her new stepmother, even her guidance counselor—seem to think they bear any responsibility for addressing her grief or uncertainty or anger or frustration.

When she finally explodes with all the harsh words she's been holding inside, instead of sitting down and talking through her frustrations as a family, they berate her for hurting everyone's feelings and tell her she's not trying hard enough. And Violet, already a people-pleaser afraid to say what she really feels for fear of hurting others, does as demanded and tries, reaching out again and again even after her initial attempts are met with punishing coldness.

Eventually, after Violet has already done most of the heavy lifting in her new relationships, her stepmother concedes that she could've done a better job in their first month as a family. And while her father swiftly acknowledges that he's made it difficult for Violet to come to him for fear of upsetting him, at no point in the remaining 100 pages after this admission does he attempt to check in with her, to make sure she's all right.

I understand that this is middle grade fiction and there are a lot of moving parts to cram into 240 pages, but I would've appreciated if a few more of those moving parts included Violet learning that it's okay to be unhappy and that it's okay to express that unhappiness with the adults responsible for helping her cope.
Profile Image for Nancy Luebke.
1,405 reviews43 followers
November 20, 2017
I enjoyed this middle school read. I voluntarily chose to review it. This was a fun, a little bit wacky of a girl who lost her mother when she was young. My granddaughters enjoy this author and this is a second in a series. This addresses a lot of tough issues and I wanted to expand the reading of my grandchildren. This is wonderful for this age group.
Profile Image for michelle.
877 reviews23 followers
February 8, 2018
Thank you to the #kidlitexchange and author Jenny Lundquist for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I adored this book. Violet pulls at your heart strings and I wanted to keep reading about Violet and her friends. I fully enjoyed The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, but this one was even better. In the first book we learned that Violet's mother died a little more than a year ago from cancer. So while Izzy was trying to find herself in the chaos of life and dealing with issues of jealousy towards her sister and neglect from her mother, Violet has a completely different set of issues to tackle.

As this book starts, everyone is getting ready for Christmas. It will be Violet's second Christmas without her mother, but now she has a new step-mother and step-siblings. She has to negotiate how to make her new family work and how she fits in. But her mother left her a letter before she died which also included a Christmas checklist of things to do so that the holiday would not be a sad period of her life and to help her move on.

One thing that Violet had learned from her mother was that if she didn't have something nice to say, she just shouldn't say anything. Unfortunately, that has wound up leaving Violet unable to discuss important matters with her friends. She struggles with thinking that they don't understand what she is going through and has negative emotions towards the fact that they complain about their own mothers while she is suffering. When her therapist suggests that she write things out, even as a letter that she never sends, she gets the inspiration to write to her mother - an act that is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

While she is trying to navigate her new step-family, she is also dealing with her first crush. She keeps her crush and the relationship as a whole secret from her friends as well because she fears what they will think. Throughout this episode, Lundquist manages to illustrate the challenges that we all face when new relationships come into our lives. Fortunately, in the end, Violet realizes how important Izzy, Sophia, and Daisy are in her life.

What is really special about both of these books is that they are told from the perspective of the individual character and feel incredibly true to their voices. At the same time, no one exists in a void, and Lundquist does an excellent job letting the other characters' shine through and impact the main character. Both girls have a lot of issues that they need to deal with and are allowed the space within the book to make mistakes and find solutions. This is a marvelous series and I look forward to reading more!
Profile Image for Christina.
216 reviews2 followers
January 28, 2018
@kitlitexchamge #partner

"When someone you love dies, no one tells you that you've lost more than just that person. You've lost a lifetime of memories that won't get made. You've lost a lifetime of getting to hear that person's voice..." -Violet Barnaby

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange
program- for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

📝Violet is dealing with the loss of her mother who died of cancer. And it's going to be her second Christmas with out her but her first with "The Hammer" and her two kids. Her father remarried and now they are moving into a new house, leaving her old life behind. For any young girl that's a big change and its never easy. Violet feels lik she is not part of the family and she feels like she has no one to talk to.

📝Upon moving Violet comes across a letter her mother wrote her that was ment for her first Christmas without her. In it she leaves a checklist for Violet naming it Violet's Christmas to-do list! to help her make some new memories. With the help of her friends and Austin she gets most of the things done, and someone she didn't expect help her with the last thing left on her list!😢

📝 Throughout the book we see letters that Violet writes her mom telling her about how her life is going; how hard it is to try to accept that her life has changed, having a new stepfamily, a crush on a boy her friend also has a crush on, feeling like she has no one to talk to, and the Terrible Beautiful Ache of losing her.

📝Violet keeps her feelings bottled up inside her mother once told her "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". But we all know we always come across a time in our lives where we finally can't contain it anymore. All the ugly things Violet's been keeping inside come out, brining a hard patch for her family and with her friend. The book discusses friendship, honesty, and losing a loved one. So many life changes and in the end everything will be okay!

📝I loved that Violet has a word list for pretty much everything. Words she loves, words that are funny, words she finds annoying, and words she hates. I think that is amazing and one of the reasons why I love Violet so much. Her personality is unique, loving, and wonderful. I loved Violet's story! I was moved by her wonderful world. It made me smile, laugh, and cry!
Profile Image for Jo-ann Walsh.
163 reviews5 followers
April 22, 2018
@kidlitexchange #partner
Thank you to @kidlitexchange for the copy of The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby to review. This is a companion to The Charming Life of Izzy Malone.
After reading The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, I was anxious to read on and learn more about Violet’s life and what happened with the “Charm Girls.” Violet Barnaby has not had it easy. She lost her mother to cancer, and now her dad has gotten remarried to an English teacher at her school (Melanie Harmer, aka the Hammer). Violet is having a hard time adjusting to a new home and life with a new family, which includes a step-brother, Joey, and a step-sister, Olivia. She has partnered up with Austin Jackson for a Social Studies project, and thinks that she has a crush on him. This could be a problem, since her best friend Izzy had “crush dibs” on him. She is trying to balance her new family, homework, and friendships, while also trying to complete a Christmas List that was written for her by her mother before she passed away. While she navigates her way through a series of life lessons, especially “remembering to try,” Violet’s friends and family help her complete her mother’s Christmas To-Do List.
I adored this book. There were times I found myself crying, over Violet dealing with the loss of her mother, and times I laughed and smiled at the dealings with her friends. This is a great middle grade novel. It would be wonderful for anyone who has had to deal with a loss, or even having an understanding of what it might be like for friends who have experienced loss. The letters that Violet wrote to her mother were so real and heartfelt. Many of us can sympathize with Violet, having a “Terrible Beautiful Ache” over the loss of a loved one. I love how Jenny Lundquist continues to develop the characters in this story (Aunt Mildred, Izzy, Sophia, Daisy, “the Hammer,” etc) while keeping the focus on Violet. In the end, I found it “wondrous” how everyone came together to help Violet complete her list, and that Violet felt comfort in the fact that she had a second chance family.
Profile Image for Jessica Dudenhofer Beery.
233 reviews3 followers
December 29, 2018
How does grieving the loss of a loved one fit into the joys of the holiday seasons? How do you be a friend to someone who needs to talk, but doesn't? These are some tough, real-life challenges...with no easy answers.
I thought the author did a great job telling the story of a middle-school girl adjusting to a new step family while still grieving the loss of her mother a little more than a year earlier...and how her friends/family try to be there for her. But will she let them? And, wait...maybe they're grieving their own losses too. She never really considered that.
This book was good and hard. It left me with a beautiful, terrible ache...but one that is always worth it in the end.
Profile Image for Duckyyy (mattheo riddles wifey).
48 reviews17 followers
November 28, 2022
I would classify this book with the 3 e’s. Emotional, excellent, and exciting. It was emotional for me personally because I share the same first name with the character, and there are parts where (spoilers) she writes letters to her dead mom and at the beginning of the book where she received one, and every time I would burst out in tears because it felt like I was receiving those letters and I was writing them.

It was excellent in sooooooooooooooooooooo many ways I could even fit it into one 15 page essay if I wanted to.

This book was exciting because it kept me on my toes and I could wait to read the next chapter.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stephanie Faris.
Author 16 books92 followers
September 9, 2017
The star of The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby is Violet, a sixth grader who is celebrating her second Christmas without her mother. Weeks before the holiday, she finds a letter her mom wrote before she died, which included a list of tasks Violet should complete during the holiday season. But Violet's father has remarried and she's dealing with the challenges of integrating into a stepfamily, as well as her first crush on a boy her friend used to like. You'll fall in love with Violet and love every minute of living in her wondrous world!
5 reviews
November 9, 2017
My daughter and I loved reading this book together. We laughed over many scenes and never wanted to put the book down. I cried many times over the scenes discussing her losing her mom a.k.a. the Terrible Beautiful Ache. I loved how the author talked about how people say they want you to be honest yet they really don't want to hear the ugly inside of you most of the time and how to navigate that issue. So many great things to discuss with my daughter regarding friendship, honesty and life changes. A great read for a girl of any age!
Profile Image for Eve Culley.
Author 10 books5 followers
September 27, 2017
Ms. Lundquist is an author who draws you into her written world with ease. I cried my way through a lot of the pages, especially the letters that Violet wrote to her deceased mother. The pain of adjusting to life without her mother is gently and painstakingly shared with the reader. The meshing of two families becoming one is given voice by the members of the new family unit. I would heartily recommend this book to everyone.

35 reviews
January 23, 2023
I loved this book. It’s about a girl who lost her mother two years ago. Then her dad married one of the meanest teachers at her school the hammer. And then on the other hand she thinks she has a crush. But one other really important thing is she got a letter from her mom before she passed away. Will she read it? Will her friends help her complete the list? Will her friends understand what she’s going through. Or will everything go wrong? I would recommend this book. Thank you for reading!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
9 reviews
January 9, 2023
Excellent! Heartbreaking, deals with a death of a parent and integrating into a step family which is hard, but can work. I loved the mix of humor and grief. Great to read around Christmas. This book made my 5th grader love the author. She has read more of her books than I have. I intend to get in on the fun and read more. We did this one as a read-aloud.
Profile Image for Ania Aileen.
7 reviews
March 24, 2022
I absolutely love this book. It really melts my heart by how fluffy it is but at the same time wreck me with the feels. It also teaches me to not judge someone whose story you did not know. I really recommend this book to people who wanted to have an escape from the chaotic world.
Profile Image for Greta Turnbull.
56 reviews4 followers
October 4, 2017
I personally did not read this, I entered the contest for my daughter. She told me that she really enjoyed reading this book.
Profile Image for Jaymie.
2,050 reviews16 followers
February 17, 2018
4.5 - a delight! Loved spending more time with the Charm Girls. I really connected to Violet’s story. Lovely.
Profile Image for Melissa.
2,385 reviews26 followers
August 29, 2018
I liked the characters of Daisy and Sophia and hope they are each slated for a book of their own.
Profile Image for Sheeja.
6 reviews
February 10, 2023
A wondrous story about pain, second chance, and trying to live life in spite the terrible beautiful ache.
Profile Image for Silvia Garcia.
24 reviews
July 28, 2023
Was this book amazing?
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I think thats all you need to know for now.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews

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