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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!

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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? ;)

Interview with Author Lisa Orchard about her book series, The Super Spies!

23 Jul

Howdy, Readers! Have I got a treat for you guys! Not only do I get to tell you about a great, or should I say, SUPER series, I also get to enlighten you with a thrilling interview with the author!

What series is this, you ask? What author is this, you also ask? Why, it’s none other than the Super Spies series, and its author, Lisa Orchard!

lisaor

Ms. Orchard writes wonderful mysteries for middle grade readers.

Book 1
Book 1
HSbomb
Book 2

 

Book 3
Book 3

The Super Spies are about a group of girls (Sarah, her sister Lacy, her friend Jackie), but they do sometimes team up with Scott – the police chief’s son. They all work together to solve mysteries that are happening in their small town. They have plenty of adventures, and always get more than they bargained for. They have had a total of 3 adventures so far (see my review of book 1 HERE) and I have reviews of books 2 and 3 posted on Amazon and GoodReads. Check out Ms. Orchard’s Amazon author page HERE and her GoodReads author page HERE.

These books are amazing and full of adventures, and mysteries that kept me guessing “who did it?”!

Now, onto the interview! :)

bloglogoWhen did you get into writing thrilling mysteries? Is that your genre of choice?

piedpiperI became interested in mysteries at a very young age. I started writing my own in fifth grade, but didn’t pursue publication until I stayed home with my kids.

bloglogo Your stories remind me of a modern-day Nancy Drew. What were some of your favorite mysteries to read while you were growing up? Why did you like them?

piedpiperIt’s funny you should mention this because I devoured Nancy Drew books along with the Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden when I was younger. These books stand out as my favorite when I was growing up and I liked them because they had strong female characters in them. I’ve always liked a strong female who’s a bit of a rebel. ;)

bloglogoI like a good Nancy Drew mystery too. :) How did you get the idea for Scoop Davis, the veteran, retired investigative reporter (he’s possibly one of my favorite characters) for your Super Spies series?

piedpiperHe’s one of my favorite characters too. I felt the girls needed an ally who could travel through the adult world and gather information or act as a chauffeur and chaperon. I liken him to a kindly uncle who’s a kid at heart himself.

bloglogoScoop is one of my favorites too. The characters and plots are very believable in your books. How do you research your books? Do you look at real-life crimes or police work?

piedpiperYes, I do. I do quite a bit of research on the internet, but nothing compares to running my ideas by a detective with the State Police. When I get to a scene that needs some input, I give her a call and she tells me if my scene is accurate or not. If it is, I’m good to go. If it isn’t she tells me the info I need to make it accurate. She’s a great source and I appreciate all the help she has given me on the Super Spies series.

bloglogoThe research sounds cool! Your 3rd Super Spies book (The Pied Piper) ended very well and thoroughly. Do you plan on writing a 4th book? I really liked the series and think it ended well, but I just don’t want to leave the characters!

piedpiperYes. I’m planning on a fourth book and I have a couple of ideas that I’m mulling over. I’ve been so busy with the coming of age novel that I just finished that I haven’t had time to write it out yet. J Once, I decide on the idea, I’ll start writing it.

bloglogoAwesome! Any other projects you would like to share with us?

piedpiperYes. I just completed a coming of age novel that my publisher is dividing into three separate books. I’m really excited about this series. It was a lot of fun to write and I’m currently working on the next one in the Starlight Chronicles (that’s the name of the series).

 

Thank you Ms. Orchard!

To learn more about Ms. Orchard and her books, visit her website HERE!

Follow Ms. Orchard on Twitter HERE

Like her on Facebook HERE

The Dark Eagles Book 2: Wells In Desolation by David R. Smith

21 Jul

wellsThe Dark Eagles Book 2: Wells In Desolation

By David R. Smith

320 pages – ages 12+

Published by Vrigham Distribution on February 13, 2014

Kief and his friends are back in an all new adventure. After breaking Flinch, a friend, out of jail, Kief and Tarc, along with Flinch flee their country, which was invaded by soldiers from Gar. They are going to Gar to find Kief’s father, who had been held captive there for a long time. When mysterious “Stone Hunters” start chasing Kief, going after the mysterious stone that his grandfather gave to him, the friends get reckless and get a job on a ship that will take them to Gar. Little do they know that they will soon become prisoners for no good reason. Making a friend with a fellow prisoner, they escape. The man joins them and they head towards the Wells In Desolation – where Kief’s father is being held. But will they make it there, and back, ALIVE?

This was an action-packed book, much like the first book (to read my review of it, click HERE)! I love the thrills. Mr. Smith has got the fantasy world down! I love the descriptions and the humor in the dialogue. At first I was confused at the beginning of the book because it didn’t recap the first book (and I read the first book a while ago), but I soon got past it and just enjoyed the story. Kief is a great main character. He acts like you would expect him to act. At first I wasn’t sure about his age, but apparently, because Fundautum is a different planet, they age differently. That really helped, it’s just that it explained the aging differently at the end of the book – I wish it was sooner. I DO think that it was cool and nice of the author to have information about Fundautum at the beginning and end of the book – nice touch. The story is good and the plot is solid. I really like how the characters get along with each other. The book is a tad violent but not graphically. It is a great read for middle graders.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Check out Mr. Smith’s website HERE!

 

 

Book Review! The Starburst Juju by Monica Strang AND GIVEAWAY!!!

25 Jun

juju

Ms. Strang has offered to give away a copy of her book to one lucky person (USA addresses only)! Read to the bottom to find out how to enter!

The Starburst Juju

By Monica Strang

278 pages – ages 12+

Published by Pants on Fire Press on January 3, 2014

15-year-old Pepper Jones was shocked. The Maddocks, aliens that are kidnapping the best of the best humans on Earth (the best architect, the best artist, the best scientist, etc.), just kidnapped her parents. Two ordinary, run-of-the-mill school teachers. So, what were they the best at? Pepper and her best friend Parker wondered that, until they were met by a human-like cat-looking man. He says his name is Ando and that he is a Popoki (not a cat!) and that he was a friend of her parents – brilliant inventors from an academy on a different planet! Pepper and Parker go to the academy and hatch a plan. They plan on how to save her parents by finding the Starburst Juju, a powerful alien stone that can help free her parents.  But Pepper and Parker are only two humans and they are up against an entire race of aliens.

This was a great story. I loved all of the cool gadgets, especially the Orico. I really want one – they are bracelets that can do a bunch of things at a command. I love that the book made me think about some things. For example the story says all planets that can support life are about the same size, same distance from their sun, same temperature range, etc. compared to Earth – I never thought about it like that. But I guess that only goes for life-forms like us but what if there are other types of life… okay getting off topic… Back to my point – I like books that make me think! :) The characters in the book were developed well. The aliens were fun to read about. I like Ando. He is really interesting, and I would love to spend a day with him. Pepper is a great character – smart, realistic, and nice. I also liked Parker. He’s a great friend to Pepper, and an immature normal teenage boy. ;) I think that this book is awesome, but I am slightly sad that this is a stand-alone novel. It ended well though. I think Ms. Strang closed it very nicely. Ms. Strang has a great writing style. I think this is another cross over type book – one that advanced MG readers will love as well as younger YA readers.

I give “The Starburst Juju” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Watch the awesome book trailer!

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!!!

To enter in the contest, all you need to do is comment and say that you want to win a copy of this great book (USA addresses only please)!

If you want to make it fun, name your favorite alien from any novel, TV Show, comic, movie, etc. For example, I would say “Superman” or “General Grievous”.

Next week my sister Josie will pick the winner from all of the names put in a hat! :)

Good luck and thanks for reading my blog!

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