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Review! Leap Write In! by Karen Benke

26 Nov

leapwriteLeap Write In!
By Karen Benke
256 pages – ages 11+
Published by Roost Books on April 2, 2013

Synopsis [from the back cover]- In this book you’ll find: On-The-Spot Drops that offer “free-fall” prompts on different themes, such as short-winded poems and seven-line stories. Mini Memoirs to unlock personal narratives to share, or not. Suddenly A Story suggestions to explore feelings and states of being like fear, reluctance, compassion, kindness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, happiness, and more. Surprise Yourself Surveys for those who think they know everything about themselves. Untie-Your-Mind Word Lists to jump start stalled imaginations. Definition Decoders to introduce new ideas and styles of writing.

What I Liked- First off, I was very excited to read this book! Ms. Benke’s other book “Rip The Page!” was great, and really helped me with my writing. I found this book was a great follow-up to “Rip The Page!” because the writing challenges were a bit more complex. The prompts were realistic and slightly challenging to do, especially if you aren’t in your creative mind frame, like the activities “Stop Making Sense” and “Your Moody Monkey Mind” – two of my favorites. Ms. Benke gave several activities for each prompt, giving the reader a choice to do. She also included some examples, from real people, so you get your creative juices flowing, and have some real inspiration. The book covers a wide range of creative writing topics, from dialogue tags to – **ugh** – the necessary step of revision. There are some really fun things to do. Ms. Benke shares some “mini memoirs” of her life, and encourages others to do the same. This is a wonderful writing resource!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Check out one of the creative writing things I did! I wrote a pantoum (I never even heard of this poem type before reading this book).

A Pantoum Pantoum

               [   or   ]

An Ode to Pantoums Everywhere

            By Erik

A pantoum is
An interesting poem type
That’s fun to do
With simple steps.

An interesting poem type:
You can master it
With simple steps.
Can you see it take shape?

You can master things
With some effort.
I can see a poem
Forming from mid-thought.

With some effort,
It’s fun to do.
Forming from mid-thought,
Is a pantoum.

Review! Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain by Katrina Cope

11 Nov

jayden

Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain

by Katrina Cope

Book 1 of The Sanctum Series
262 pages – ages 11+
Published by CreateSpace on September 2, 2013

Jayden was a homeless child, one who ran away from home to get away from his father. When he is picked up by a rich, mysterious man, he gets the craziest offer of a lifetime – he can get a home, a fantastic college, and a loving community – all in one. The man, Avando, was picking up homeless tweens and teens and bringing him to his school, The Sanctum, to live at. There was one condition though – that they must try. They must try to get good grades, and try to be plain good. Oh – and there is the part where he has to learn all sorts of technology to help the man combat terrorism. Is it all too good to be true?

This was a good read. My interest was piqued from start to finish. The story started off a bit sluggish, but it picked up towards the end.  The academy Jayden goes to sounds amazing and the school was described well. There wasn’t a whole lot of conflict or action in the story while he is there, except at the end. I liked the technology use in the story instead of magic (love Harry Potter, but really like different story ideas!). As a note to parents, there was some mild cursing in the book – nothing over the top. The characters were likable, Jayden is good as the main character, one that you can connect with. The plot of the book had just enough mystery for me to wonder what was really going on.

Four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Double Play! Mutation by Roland Smith & Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

9 Nov

Get ready for some literary awesomeness in my post today! I have reviews of two books by two  of my favorite authors I waited for months to read!

mutationMutation

By Roland Smith

Series: Cryptid Hunters
352 pages – ages 11+
Published by Scholastic Press on September 30, 2014

Marty, Grace, and Luther are back in the thrilling conclusion to the Cryptid Hunters series! Wolfe, who is Grace’s dad and Marty’s uncle, and scientist specializing in cryptids (animals rumored to exist but were never proven (Ex: giant squid, Bigfoot)), and his strange group of employees have pinpointed where Marty’s parents disappeared in the Brazilian jungle. The cryptid hunters team get to a member’s research base in Brazil, only to keep having team members go missing. It almost seems like they are getting picked off one by one… It seems like an isolated tribe is to blame, but how do they know basic English, and how to disable modern-day electronics? What will happen when the kids are the only ones left to protect the cryptids that Wolfe has rescued?

This was an amazing ending to the Cryptid Hunters series! Mr. Smith has a great series here, and I was sad to see it end, but I was very satisfied with the ending. There is enough action, adventure, and excitement to go around – I couldn’t put it down! Marty and Grace (and you as the reader) learn a lot about Noah Blackwood (the millionaire zoo-chain owner who is diabolically evil) in this book (for example, his name isn’t even Noah Blackwood!). I love how Mr. Smith mixes science and sci-fi together in his story lines. The characters in the series are ones that the reader gets to know well. The good guys are ones you will like and cheer for and the bad guys will make your skin crawl. The ending is great, but I also kind of thought it had to end the way it did (Noah was too popular to just go to jail). I really like how Mr. Smith pulled everything together in the end… now maybe he’ll reconsider and write another Marty and Grace book… pretty please?

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

~~~

bloodThe Blood of Olympus

By Rick Riordan

502 pages – ages 10+
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 7, 2014

Percy. Jason. Annabeth. Piper. Frank. Hazel. Reyna. Leo. Nico. Coach Hedge.  Greek demigods. Roman demigods. (and one satyr) Traditional enemies. (except for the satyr) And the fate of the world rests upon their shoulders. (including the satyr) They must stop the evil earth giant, Gaea, from rising to destroy everything of mankind. She’s kind of in a grouchy mood and has made it hard for those demigods to stop her. Especially since she’s convinced the two Greek and Roman camps to fight each other to the death. With about a week before Gaea rises, and the two camps warring, how will the team stop the end of the world happening?

This was a very thrilling conclusion to the Percy Jackson Saga. It was also sad to see this series go, but I still enjoyed reading it. Mr. Riordan sure knows how to keep you hooked and reading. He adds just the right amount of humor into this book, mixed with plenty of thrills and danger, and a dash of despair. I finished it in about 3-5 days, only reading it in school (except for the last day). I noticed that The Blood of Olympus is darker than the other books. It seems that everyone is at their wit’s end in it,  which makes sense, seeing how they are going to go against extremely powerful giants. Everything gets tied up neatly. It also makes a nice progression in the series. As this is the last official Percy book that Mr. Riordan is doing (he’ll be doing a series on the Norse gods next!) we readers couldn’t have asked for a better end – well maybe that it wouldn’t end! Mr. Riordan has written a rather stunning ending to the Heroes of Olympus series. I can’t wait to read the Magnus Chase books (the Norse god books)!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

 

Book Review – SEEING By Joseph Falank

28 Oct

seeingSEEING

By Joseph Falank

214 pages – ages 12+
Published by Winter Goose Publishing on June 27, 2014

Summary – 13 year-old Jake Sheppard has always been mocked in his class. After his father walked out on his mother and him, and his best friend became his tormentor, his life has been even harder. The fact that his grandfather, who has recently lost his wife, has come to live with them helps. His mom dating another guy doesn’t. Not in Jake’s mind.

What I Thought – This book is amazing. First off – the characters; Jake is a great kid. It’s not his fault that his life was turned upside down. Jake seems like a normal kid – nice boy, bullied, but still tries to keep positive. His life is harder than it seems to outsiders. Jake’s grandfather is the backbone of his family, after Jake’s father walked out on them. He props Jake and his mom up (emotionally), while doing the chores around the house, to help out. I like how Mr. Falank’s writing style shows the depth of the bond between Jake and his grandfather. Mr. Falank writes realistically. He seemed to get into Jake’s head well. Even though this isn’t the typical action/adventure book I usually go crazy over, the book really left an impression on me. The story kept me reading. I finished it in one day. The story, even though is one of loss, is also one of hope. It is motivating, in a way. The book is appropriate for all ages, but I think kids 12+ and adults will truly enjoy the message of the story. For anyone who says small press publishers don’t produce good books – check out Seeing. It will change your mind in many ways.

I give “Seeing” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Want to learn more? Check out Mr. Falank’s website HERE.

Review! The School for Good and Evil books 1&2 by Soman Chainani

9 Oct

 

goodevil1The School for Good and Evil

By Soman Chainani

Illustrated by  Iacopo Bruno

512 pages – ages 12+
Published by HarperCollins on April 15, 2014 (reprint) Originally published in 2013

Summary- Agatha and Sophie. Best friends. Polar opposites. Everyone believes that Sophie, who is beautiful and loves pink, will be chosen to go to the mystic School for Good and Evil, specifically the Good School. Agatha, who wears black, unshapely dresses, and has dark, misshapen hair, is expected for the School for Evil. But what happens when Sophie gets put into the School for Evil, and Agatha – the School for Good?

What I thought- This is a great book about how looks can be deceiving. Sophie and Agatha are really great, realistic characters, who you really route for, although, I knew at once that Sophie would really be Evil (her state of mind in her old town kind of set me up for it). With this story, Mr. Chainani really prompts deeper thinking about what is really good and what is really evil. I like how the characters develop in the story and Sophie and Agatha decide who they really are and what is really important in their lives. The ideas of the schools for good and evil is cool. I like that it is where fairytale characters get their “training.”  I also like how it references common fairytales (or not so common), as in that some of the characters are related to the main characters from the fairytales (someone is the daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood), for example). This book is a marvelous debut from Soman Chainani! It kept me up at night reading **Oops. Sorry Mom! ;) ** It is very well written, and is quite funny! The black and white illustrations are a great touch.

goodevil2School for Good & Evil: A World Without Princes

School for Good and Evil (Book 2)

By Soman Chainani

Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

448 pages ages 12+
Published by HarperCollins on April 15, 2014

Summary- All is well. Sophie and Agatha are back in their hometown. When Agatha accidentally wishes for a boy she fell in love with, she and Sophie get drawn back into the world of the School. Only to be completely befuddled. Upon their return, they find out that there is no School for Good and Evil anymore. Now it is just the School for Girls and Boys! After what happened in the last book, all of the princesses and witches realized that they didn’t need princes to have a happy ending, and the boys were kicked out, taking refuge in the Evil School. The Princes (and warlocks) are out for revenge, and with Sophie apparently on the verge of becoming a full-blown witch again, Agatha has her hands full! And don’t forget the mysterious new Dean Evelyn Sader who seems to be hiding something…

What I thought- This is a magnificent sequel to The School for Good and Evil. It captures all of the greatness from the last book, plus more! I love the chaos created when the schools are split. All the girls realized they don’t need princes, but do they? I also like the twist in the book about who is really behind all the decisions at the schools. There is a cool back story there too. This book has the perfect amount of drama and mystery in it, creating the feeling of hopeless despair, and the need for a resolution. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think the story was depressing, but it really made you feel for the characters! It kept me hooked – so much, that I couldn’t put it down, and stayed up past my bedtime to finish it. **Yup. Again, Mom. Sorry.** The ending sets it up for another book, which I hope will happen. I can really see this series as a movie (and yipee! I read on the official website that they are making it into a movie – I hope it is as good as the books!). The black and white illustrations, again, are a great addition to the story!

I am really enjoying this series!

Five out of five bookworms fivebooks

Want to learn more? Check out the official School for Good and Evil website HERE!

Review! The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel (Vol. 1) by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russel

1 Oct

graveyard1

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel (Vol. 1)

Adapted by P. Craig Russel

Original novel by Neil Gaiman

192 pages – ages 11+

Published by HarperCollins on July, 29 2014

Summary (from the inside cover)-

“Nobody Owens, known as Bod,  is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead.”

What I liked- I am not one for horror stories. The Graveyard Book is not really a horror story – it is more a supernatural story. I am a fan of graphic novels especially when they are done well (just like with movies – it’s sad to see a graphic novel adaptation of a favorite story fall short). I am glad that this book has finally had a graphic novel adaptation, and this one was marvelously done. It really captures the spirit (no pun intended!) of The Graveyard Book. The illustrations add feeling to the story and the text tells the complete story. I like the look of the artwork. Bod was done very well – he’s just what I imagined.  I don’t like how Silas was represented. He was pictured as a stereotypical vampire. I wish he was more mysterious and not so obvious. Still, the artwork was excellent and the story was adapted very well. I think it is cool that more than one artist worked on this book. Someone did Chapter 1, another did Chapter 2, etc. (there are 6 chapters in this volume). I am glad the book is broken into 2 volumes and that Mr. Russel took his time adapting the story to graphic novel form.  I like the Volume idea – there will be two volumes. As a kid, I think the graphic novel makes the book easier to understand. There is a bit of violence at the beginning (Bod’s family is dead, killed by the man Jack.), so it is for a slightly older audience (the same as the original book). I am anxiously waiting for the next volume which comes out October 7th!

 

I give “The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel (Vol. 1)” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooksgraveyard2

Review! The River Way Home by Mary E. Dawson

8 Sep

riverwayThe River Way Home: The Adventures of the Cowboy, the Indian, & the Amazon Queen
by Mary E. Dawson
338 pages – ages 12+
Published by WRB Publishing; 1 edition on December 31, 2013 (ebook)
Published by AQ Press; AQ Press edition on March 12, 2014 (paperback)

Summary – It was the year 1914, and Queenie (an African-American girl) never could have imagined how running into a white fishboy (Billy) and a Seminole Indian (the Chief was his nickname) would change her life. But change it they did. It all started out with a simple boat ride onto a lake. It turned into an all-out adventure! From running from an outlaw to getting struck by lighting, join the tale of 3 unlikely friends on an adventure through the Everglades!

What I thought – Historical fiction is a favorite of mine and this book did not disappoint! It is chock-full of action, history, and excitement! Queenie is a great main character, and she sounds like someone that I would love to go on an adventure with. I like how Ms. Dawson teaches her readers about the Everglades and the time period while wrapping a great story around it. I also like how she works in the Odyssey, the Iliad, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Seminole Legends, and more, into her story, while making it all sound good and come together. I would read another book by Ms. Dawson!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms.fivebooks

Check out the awards his book had received -

2013 Best Florida Fiction from the Florida Authors & Publishers Association
2013 Best Florida Young Adult Book from the Florida Authors & Publishers Association
2014 James J. Horgan Award Winner from the Florida Historical Society

To learn more about this book and Ms. Dawson, please visit her website HERE.

Follow Ms. Dawson on Twitter HERE.

 

The Choice of Twilight by Tyler Wise

29 Aug

thechoiceThe Choice of Twilight

by Tyler Wise

288 pages – ages 12+

Published on March 17, 2014 (ebook)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Summary – Ty’s first day of middle school was horrible. He was late to school, lost his schedule, got himself lost in the halls, was late for every single class and he got homework on his first day because of it! To make matters worse, Ty’s grandpa passed away the day before he started school. Months later, his life doesn’t seem to be getting any better, in fact it’s pretty bad. Ty’s 13th birthday comes and he gets a present from his late grandpa. It is a puppet that his grandpa made when Ty was born. That night when Ty goes to sleep he wakes up in a strange land ruled by a giant tyrannical skeleton. Apparently,  in this world, kids get help facing all the stuff they have to face growing up. Ty’s friend and ally in this strange world is a giant, living version of the puppet he got from his grandpa. But facing the big issues in his life is not something Ty thinks he’s ready for.

This was a great coming-of-age book! It was a very fun and adventurous venture into the land of imagination. I love Ty’s addiction to LEGOs (and the LEGO room) – he’s my kind of guy! Ty is altogether a great character. He’s pretty much what I am looking for in a main character. I must admit, I wasn’t that sure if I would like this book. The cover and title threw me off. I was expecting a dark, moody story (not my favorite kind). This was nothing like that. It was a cool adventure that, as a kid, I could totally relate to. Mr. Wise’s imaginary world was very creative and I think it’s a pretty unique idea. The imaginary world created by Mr. Wise was vivid and very cool to read about. I’d be happy to read more books by this author!

I give “The Choice of Twilight” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger and Audubon Zoo WINNERS!!

18 Aug

HELLO blogosphere! I’ve missed you while I was away camping – okay not really the blogosphere but the awesome people I get to talk to on it. :)

So the big question was – how many books will I read while I was away camping for a whole week –

Here is the run down –

12 middle grade books and 2 graphic novellas (so I am not sure if I should say I read 12 or 14) and yes I did go fishing, hiking, bike riding, visited touristy things, roasted marshmallows and got bit by misquotes had a really great time! :)

 

What books did I read?

1. Spirit Animals #3 Blood Ties by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

2. Cassidy Jones and the Luminous by Elise Stokes

4. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

5. After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

6. Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger

7. Hardy Belch and the Internet Predator by William G Bentrim

8. Choice of Twilight by Tyler Wise

9. Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting by Erin Dionne

10. The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

11. Mystery on a Church Hill by Steven K. Smith

12. Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger

13. Toto Trouble by Thierry Coppee

14. The Legend of Chima: The Right Decision

Guess what else I found on vacation? A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY! It was right in Lackawanna State Park where we were camping! How cool!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

Now for a review of a great book I read while I was away!

 

greenhornGreenhorn

By Anna Olswanger

Illustrated by Miriam Nerlove

48 pages – ages Middle grade

Published by NewSouth Books on December 3, 2012

Aaron, a young Jewish boy living in 1946 Brooklyn, attends a yeshiva (boarding school for Jewish boys). When 20 boys who survived the holocaust and came from a concentration camp arrive at the yeshiva, they fit right in. All except one. Daniel barely talked, and he always kept a hold of a small tin box. Daniel goes through relentless teasing from the other boys (except Aaron, who is also teased because of his stutter, and became a friend of Daniel’s) because he would not say what it contained. When the boys get fed up, they manhandle the box away from Daniel. When the rebbe (teacher) walks in on this, he has Daniel open the box (after stopping the boys, of course). It contains a bar of soap. Not a big deal, right? Not quite. Apparently, the Nazis had experimented making soap in the concentration camps. Daniel has it to remember his deceased parents.

This was a well-written nonfiction story about a holocaust concentration camp survivor and the friend he makes in Aaron. But, it is also about so much more. The story is for middle grade readers but it is only 48 pages (with illustrations). The writing was solid and the story was incredible but I would have liked the story to be expanded into a full novel – it was that good and it would be better for kids my age to have more details/backstory.  The book is based on a true story. Aaron is a real person (with a different name of course) and I think that I would’ve liked to have met the young Rabbi Rafael Grossman (AKA Aaron). The color illustrations were a nice addition to the story and went well with it. The history taught in the book and the message – is very important. I’d just love to see this as a novel. The publisher has a parent and teacher guide to go along with the story. You can find it HERE.

 

To learn more about Ms. Olswanger, Greenhorn and the film that the book is being turned into, please visit her website HERE.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

 

And, remember that post 2 weeks ago? What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo? Well, remember the giveaway? Guess what?

WE HAVE WINNERS!!!

I get to give away 2 copies of the awesome picture book “What the Sleepy Animals do at the Audubon Zoo!”

sleepyanimals

They are -

Anne McKernan of the Itsy Bitsy Mom blog HERE

Donna Marie from The Writer Side Up blog (click HERE)

CONGRATULATIONS! :D

 I will send you an email to get your mailing address!

Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny by Malia Ann Haberman

9 Aug

chase3Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny

by Malia Ann Haberman

211 pages – ages 8+
Published by Crossroad Press; Otherside Press Digital Edition edition  on May 27, 2014

Chase Tinker is back for a third adventure! When two Marlowes (the evil British family that is the arch-enemies of the Tinkers) show up at the Tinker House (a magical house that the Tinkers live in) with a message – Surrender or die. At the end of August, we are coming. – the Tinker family realize that they are out-numbered. They do the only thing that they can think of – go to the magical communities to ask for help. The team of Tinkers taken to see the communities are shocked – the leprechauns’ shillelaghs are useless sticks, and their rainbows are gray; the vampires are all tired and wimpy and lazy; the witches’ and wizards’ wands are just twigs, and they couldn’t make a potion to save their lives (which explains why they can’t save themselves) – all of their magic is gone! The Marlowes are stealing it!

Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny is the third book in the series. Read my review for book 1 HERE and for book 2 HERE. The third book in the series was great! Ms. Haberman knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat! This book is full of action and adventure! I loved the plot (and character) development in the book. It really revealed a lot about the characters. I think that Ms. Haberman has gotten into the minds of her characters really easy and realistically. The vampire section was pretty funny, as were using a “vicious” magical hugging plant as a “torture/interrogation” base. I do think that this book got a bit dark and somewhat depressing at times (especially the ending). At times I got “angry” at Chase for being so arrogant and stubborn, when if he had thought it through, he would’ve realized something (can’t tell you what ;) ). I think this also shows how talented Ms. Haberman is as a writer and really getting the reader involved in the story and how well she gets into her characters’ minds. I can’t wait for book 4!

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms!fourbooks

 

Check out Ms. Haberman’s website HERE!

 

Find Ms. Haberman on Facebook HERE.

 

Follow her on Twitter  HERE.

 WAIT! – BEFORE YOU GO – 

I am taking a couple of days off. We are going camping. :) I will be back next week! How many books do you think I’ll read while I’m gone? ;)

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