Cover Image: Puzzleheart


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Member Reviews

The title and cover immediately sucked me in and the story did not disappoint. I love that the Puzzle House is given representation throughout the book. Every other chapter the reader gets to hear from the unique point of view of the house and it is so intriguing! There is constant excitement as the characters try to solve the puzzles and mysteries contained within the walls of the ever-changing Puzzle House. Each character in Puzzleheart is working through their own emotional struggles, and I love the way the dialogue between them is what does the most in communicating how people can grow through feeling and discussing emotions. Perigee is the main character in the story and so you hear most of their thoughts and reasoning, but you also get plenty from the supporting roles of their dad, grandma, and new friend Lily. One of the wonderful things about middle grade books is that you often find a great takeaway (here mine was about handling emotion and family relationships), but that it is woven into the threads of a compelling story. I never like it when you feel the message being conveyed is shoved in your face on top of the story. Reese does a beautiful job of creating an engaging story while also delivering beautiful words we can all grow from.

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This review of Puzzleheart by Jenn Reese is courtest of NetGalley. #Puzzleheart #NetGalley

Rating: 5/5
Upcoming publication date: May 14 2024

Growing up reading books, I thought the idea of secret passages in a house would be cool. The closest I've gotten was in modern day escape rooms. Had this book been available when I was young, I'd have gobbled it up. As an adult, I loved it. Puzzles and a practically magical house.

It's a very welcoming book. The main character is nonbinary with a unique name which allows for anyone to identify with aspects of the main character.
It starts off with some very lovely, almost poetic descriptions of the surroundings which I enjoyed.

The middle portion of the book gets emotionally hard as mistakes are made and characters get hurt but there's learning and growth to make for a good ending.

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Unfortunately, I did not finish Puzzleheart by Jenn Reese. I think this book will be great for kids between the ages of 10-18. I would definitely recommend to middle and high school students. Jenn Reese writing is easy to read and imaginative. I did like the diversity she included by having a non-binary character. I also like that the main character was close to their father and the father was supportive and understanding. Personally, I couldn't quite connect to the main character which could be because I'm not the target age group for this book. Again, I feel this book will do well with older children and young adults.

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4.5 Stars

This was an absolutely delightful book. This story has a lot of pieces just like a puzzle. Puzzleheart centers on Perigee, a non-binary child, and their father taking a trip back to his childhood home. Except that the house is special - magical - alive. Perigee, with their new "friend" Lily need to figure out the clues to solve the puzzle the house has presented before it's too late. Touching on themes of loneliness, belonging, depression and grief in an age appropriate manner.

This story reminded me a little bit of Mr. Lemoncello's Library, with a dash of Pee-Wee's Playhouse thrown in, while still being it's own unique story. I believe this will be book children enjoy quite a bit. I think it would also do well as a graphic novel. I know I'd love to "see" the house in all its glory.

Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for giving me access to a digital copy of the book for my honest review.

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I have always loved books about puzzle houses or even just about houses with hidden passages, so this book was a no-brainer to read. The story follows a non-binary main character named Perigee as they and their father are reunited with an estranged grandmother who has banned all puzzles from the house. In theory, this lends to an interesting dynamic: we have a family in crisis who are being forced to play games with a sentient house. However, in execution, this house is less about the puzzles and more about the emotional/mental health issues of a family that suffers from depression, abandonment, guilt, etc.

When I receive an ARC for a children's book, I often try to read it with my child to get their point of view. Unfortunately, I finished this book on my own because my 9-year-old could not get into it.

I received a free digital copy of Puzzleheart through NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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As an adult reading a book for a middle-school aged audience, I did not expect to find Puzzleheart so endearing or engaging. Our protagonist Perigee is delightful to follow and explore in the halls of the House. It was fun to experience the smart puzzles and interesting with our young main characters. As a bonus, it was refreshing to have a nonbinary child protagonist just be a child and not making a huge deal about gender. This story had heart with dashes of real problems families go through, and seeing the side of how it affects children. Puzzleheart is an all-around fun read that I believe the younger audience and their parents would enjoy reading together.

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“Puzzleheart" offers a unique narrative enriched by its innovative use of perspectives, notably incorporating the viewpoint of a house. This unconventional approach of hearing the story from Perigees perspective and then hearing how the house sees it and its motives is a unique vantage point that was fun to explore.

However, the introduction of "they/them" pronouns, while commendable for its inclusivity, occasionally muddled the storyline for myself. Admittedly I have a hard time getting this adult brain to visualize or comprehend they/them can be one person, when there is frequently two characters. This was the first book I have encountered featuring the use of these pronouns. I anticipate that familiarity with this narrative style will enhance readability with subsequent readings.

Overall, "Puzzleheart" is a quick read that’ provides a thought-provoking journey with puzzle solving included. It also offers readers a fresh perspective on mental health and grief from multiple character portrayals and narrative structures.

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Give a Houses POV and I’m there!

A visit to Eklund’s Puzzle House… a mysterious bed and breakfast that never opened. Built by the main characters, Perigee’s grandparents… Perigree is excited to see the marvel of the house as well as their grandmother, though their father is more on the reluctant side. Arriving alongside a blizzard. Perigee and all inside find themselves involved in a curious game the house has started.

I enjoyed this story and think it’s a great addition to the puzzle/unique house sub genre I’m assuming younger middle grade readers will enjoy the adventure. I recently just read a very similar book that had me wishing that the puzzles/riddles in Puzzleheart leapt more off the page…for me I never felt pulled into them.

The cover is absolutely stunning and having the houses conscious as a POV was thrilling! This was my first book by Reese and I will definitely be on the look out for more!

Thank you Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Henry Holt and Co (BYR)
Releases 5/14

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This is a well-plotted middle-grade mystery for puzzle fiends and oddball misfits who don’t quite fit in, featuring a sentient house (which is bigger on the inside), rambunctious kittens, a morbid loner intrigued by death, and a science-loving misfit struggling with anxiety. I didn’t love the interstitial chapters from “The House," and felt its emotions and motivation were better explained by Lily and Perigee as they came to understand it through the natural arc of the novel. While there were moments of real danger and quite heavy grief, I think tweens and teens will love figuring out Puzzleheart’s clues along with Perigee, and ultimately grow fond of The House as much as I did.

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I liked it. The House is quite a cool character even though the get carried away with protecting himself and grandma. \

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Thank you to Henry Holt & Co. and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Perigee, a nonbinary twelve-year-old, travels with their father, Grayson, to his childhood home in hopes that Dad might make amends with his mother. Perigee’s grandmother, still in grief from the loss of her husband when Grayson was Perigee’s age, has forbidden puzzles and games of any kind and is planning on selling the Puzzlehouse. But there is a problem – the House, sentient, does NOT want this. The house was built by Perigee’s grandparents to be a fun B & B/escape room. The House, wanting Savannah to be happy again, takes matters into its own hands, so to speak, and starts a puzzle based on Grandpa’s note Perigee found in an old coat pocket. Perigee and houseguest Lily work together to solve the various puzzles and get the special coins before time runs out.

Disclaimer – I am no good at escape rooms so I was not often able to solve the puzzles with Perigee and Lily but I had fun reading this book. I would definitely recommend this book for puzzle lovers in grades 3 and up and will be ordering for my library.

#Puzzleheart #NetGalley

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One of my most favorite books, and the one I loved most as a kid, is The Westing Game by Ellen Rankin. It's a classic, and one I still reread yearly for the childish joy I get from it (and because I still find it inspires me to write my own stories). Jenn Reese's Puzzleheart filled me with the same sort of joy and wonder that I get from The Westing Game, but with a little paranormal twist.

The main character, Perigee, is a precocious non-binary kid overly concerned with taking care of their father following a family tragedy. They get the bright idea to try to rebuild the burnt bridges between their father and their grandmother - who experienced a mirrored tragedy themselves.

The plot device, the puzzle house, is really just there for Perigee and their new friend, Lily, to learn a couple moral lessons. I appreciate a kids' story that does this, as I know I learned a lot from all the books I read as a kid, and I want the books I buy my nieces and nephew to do the same thing. This story is about acceptance, understanding, proper parental/child relationships, problem-solving, and friendships. Perigee and Lily come to blows a couple times due to their differences in upbringing and personalities, which provides some of the lesson learning and character growth.

This is definitely for younger middle grade readers though, with Rees writing in a sort of Dora the Explorer way - it's very narrator driven in that way, but that sort of device lends to children's fiction because it feels like you're being told a bedtime story. The puzzles are cool but not very clever, and Rees could've done with a bit more explanation at each part so that kids following along could try to solve it on their own, rather than just being told everything.

While Rees doesn't quite live up to my expectations (The Westing Game sets a high standard), I think this is a solid effort and a book I'm thrilled to share with my niblings, and which I know for sure they'll love!

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"It had hurt itself, tying to fix something unfixable." - Ch 26

Puzzleheart is a quirky, character-driven story about a kid named Perigee who thinks it's their mission to save everyone. They orchestrate a visit for their depressed Dad and estranged Grandma to reconnect at the grandparent's (sentient) rundown puzzle-filled House in an attempt to help their Dad find joy again.

The House itself gets its own perspective in this book. Both Perigee and the House are facing generational conflicts and hurts. Perigee and the House learn that you will make yourself miserable by trying to make sure everyone else is happy. Make no mistake, this is a joyful and funny book with an incredible amount of heart. I definitely laughed out loud!

I adored the side characters, especially Lily. Every character was fleshed out and multidimensional, and I really sympathized with the adult characters. You can feel that the story is filtered through a kid's perspective, and the way Perigee interprets what's happening is around them is very well done. 10/10 and perfect for fans of The Mystery of Locked Rooms by Lindsay Currie.

This book was written by an expert craftsperson ❤️🏠

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Clever, brave, and whimsically charming, this story fed my soul and opened my heart!

I have loved all of Jenn Reese's novels but this one has a special place in my heart because of the wonderful and relatable main character Peri, the charming and fascinating House, and the plethora of puzzles complete with lovely illustrations that really bring the entire story to life.

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Thanks so much to the publisher and netgalley for the arc of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I unfortunately will not be finishing this book. I didn't connect with the characters or the story. I didn't really like the writing style either. I hope others really like this one but it was not for me.

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Perigee and their dad make a trip to visit grandma at her puzzle house. Perigee hopes that the visit will help their dad find himself once again. But what was intended as a restorative trip is becoming a nightmare as the puzzle house seems to come to life attempting to restore a life it once knew as well.
This book is a wonderful escape room in a book. I loved the characters and all the puzzles. I didn't care for the fact that the child was trying to take care of the parent, which is a common element I've noticed recently, but overall a great, intriguing story!

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Thank you so much to Jenn Reese and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the eARC of this book to review. This is the perfect mystery book for middle school-ers and young adults. It was a fast read and had a good amount of tricky puzzle solving.

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I have been trying to branch out more into middle grade recently. As a teen librarian, my focus tends to lean more toward YA and sci-fi/fantasy books. However, I have just seen a lot of fun and interesting MG recently and I wanted to have better recommendations for the younger library humans. This story was really fast-paced, with lots of puzzle solving and intrigue. I also liked the themes present in the story--solid discussion on mental health like panic attacks and depression, as well as nonbinary rep! I do feel like where the story lost me a bit was how repetitive it could seem, even though it was pretty fast-paced. The dialogue and general talking points (like that the mom is out doing a rescue) could get really tired, but I think that I am picking up on that as an adult who has read a lot, and I don't think my younger library patrons will take too much issue with that.

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This was cute! A fast lower MG read with a nice amount of puzzle solving tricky enough to keep me guessing. I also appreciated the nonbinary rep and the way this book touches on mental health topics including panic attacks and depression.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc! Opinions are my own.

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Perigee and her father are traveling to visit her estranged grandmother, Savannah Ecklund, who lives in the puzzle house that she built with her husband, Herbert. After he died suddenly when Perigee's father was young, Savannah sent her son to live with relatives because she was so consumed with grief. Perigee hopes that by bringing their father to visit, it will help him with his depression after losing his job and reconnect him with his mother. The house on Enigma Lane was supposed to be open to the public, and never was, so the puzzles Savannah and Herbert had planned never got to be operated. Savannah is in the house with Lily, whom she is watching while Lily's mother is doing search and rescue training, and the two have to sleep in the library because the rest of the house is so dangerous. Lily and Perigee are determined to solve the puzzle and make the house safe, but the House is not happy, and we hear from it in alternating chapters. The two children are able to find some coins that operate some of the puzzles, like a waterfall behind glass, but get lost in some of the secret passages, which is dangerous. They make some good progress, but Savannah is not happy at all, and threatens to raze the house because she wants to be left alone. This hurts the House's feelings, which makes things more dangerous. Will Perigee and Lily be able to solve the puzzle and reconcile Perigee's father and grandmother?
Strengths: Perigee's desire to help their father and reunite their family is admirable, and the idea of a puzzle house is enthralling. The details of the house are endlessly fascinating, and I sort of want a wooden puzzle version of the house to make, complete with tiny squirrel statues! Lily is a good foil for Perigee, and willing to go along with all of the plans while having ideas of her own. This has a happy ending, which is not always the case when a sentient House is angry with you.
Weaknesses: I always have a hard time believing that parents are so affected by grief that they abandon living children who need them, but I suppose it does happen. The father's depression is hinted at, but since it affects Perigee so much, more details about how the two deal with this might have been instructional for younger readers.
What I really think: This is very similar to Currie's The Mystery of the Locked Rooms (4/2/24), which had a puzzle house that had long been abandoned until children break in and solve the puzzles. This will be a big hit with fans of this author's Every Bird a Prince and A Game of Fox & Squirrels or books with sentient houses like Funaro's Watch Hollow or Josephson's Ravenfall.

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