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Review! The Buccaneer’s Code by Caroline Carlson

4 Feb

the-buccaneers-codeThe Buccaneer’s Code

Series: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #3

By Caroline Carlson

320 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins on September 8, 2015

Synopsis- Hilary Westfield, the Terror of the Southlands, and her ragamuffin crew of pirates are back in an all new adventure! And it all started when three pirates came out to Westfield manor (Hilary’s parents’ house, where she was staying for a little vacation) in regards to an ad that she didn’t put out. The ad, apparently, said that Hilary was going up against the pirate Blacktooth’s presidency of the Very Nearly Honourable League of Pirates. After all, Captain Blacktooth was part of the kingdom-threatening Mutineers – without proof of course. But how can Hilary get the necessary 200 pirates needed to compete against Blacktooth? Especially when there are punishments for pirates that even look at Hilary or her crew!

What I Thought- Ms. Carlson does a fabulous job of weaving humor into a serious adventure. The characters are wacky, and they keep you laughing as they go about their days. The adventure in the story is something young readers will appreciate and get lost in. Between the chapters, there are little mail correspondences and newspaper articles, etc., between characters – it’s a cool addition. The dialogue is spot on for the characters and the care Carlson takes with it adds dimension to the characters. I should mention the series features a female pirate as the lead character and she is awesome. The story keeps you hooked from the very beginning. I can’t say enough about Carlon’s writing. She keeps a reader enthralled with the story. Even reluctant readers will devour her books. I love this series and I am sad to see it come to an end with this, the third book in the trilogy.  Will pirate Hillary Westfield sail again? I can only hope.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Review! Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

26 Jan

mysteryinventFires of Invention

Series: Mysteries of Cove #1

By J. Scott Savage

288 pages – ages 9+

Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing on September 29, 2015

Synopsis- In the underground city of Cove, the worst insult you can call someone is an inventor. It’s the worst of the cuss words. Trenton Coleman was shocked and mostly insulted when, after hooking up two approved devices (power generator+swing=motorized swing), and the power goes out in the city, he is blamed for it and *gasp* called an inventor. The math didn’t add up for how the swing shut off the power, and sure enough – there had been a clog in one of the mine’s power grinders. Only Trenton could fit in there, so he goes in, and finds… a strange device… that isn’t made from an approved metal! And then Trenton starts to find out that Cove isn’t all that it says it is…

What I Thought- This is probably the best steampunk-ish/dystopian book I’ve read in a while and it’s an MG book so it will appeal to a wide range of ages. Trenton is a great main character who you really connect with – he doesn’t mean to cause trouble (at least, not at first), he is just naturally adept at mechanics and I really enjoyed his character. Kallista, his friend, and the daughter of a deceased inventor, is an interesting person who you want to get to know more about. Mr. Savage has written an entertaining and engaging book (so much so I got into trouble several times for reading the book when I should have been doing something else!). I found it really cool that at the beginning of each chapter in the heading, they show a “penciled” dragon blueprint, and with each chapter, more is completed. I enjoyed how Mr. Savage has created a dystopian world and put the city underground. The reasoning behind it rings true and makes sense, making the plot all the more entertaining.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Vision of the Griffin’s Heart by LRW Lee

25 Jan

smithtour

Today I am part of a blog tour for Linda Lee’s fifth book in her Andy Smithson series! I have enjoyed this series very much.

lee

Author Linda Lee

Here is the series summary from Ms. Lee:

Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Now on to my review!

 

visionsVision of the Grifin’s Heart

Series: Andy Smithson #5

By LRW Lee

218 pages – ages 9+

Published by Woodgate Publishing on January 13, 2016

Synopsis- Andy Smithson is back – back in Oomaldee, the land where he is the sole heir, and the land he is trying to save from a terrible curse. He is almost done finding the ingredients. The evil king Abaddon who is invading the land has found a way to take over the minds of the people who he has turned into the bodies of his minions (bird-like people) so that they do his bidding. With rumors of an attack on Oomaldee’s capital, and an ingredient to find in a nearby country, Andy sure has his hands full!

What I Thought- This is a marvelous book in a great series. Andy Smithson is not your average fourteen-year-old boy! He is sucked out of our world and tossed into another; the world of Oomaldee. To top it off his mom is their long lost queen. Andy was charged with the task of helping to lift a 500-year-old curse on Oomaldee. Ms. Lee has a way of writing a totally believable, on the edge of your seat adventure that nails the content for her intended audience. Lee’s writing combines wit with a sense of suspense to keep readers on their toes. The fifth book in this series gets a little dark, with characters dying and some mild violence but nothing graphic or gory. It would be appropriate for any audience above nine or ten years old. I really like how the book has Andy coming to terms with the effects of lifting the curse, such as the king will die (he was the reason the curse started, and has lived 500+ years). I especially like that Andy really matures as a person in this book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd

19 Jan

nightonfireNight on Fire

By Ronald Kidd

288 pages – ages 9+

Published by Albert Whitman & Company on September 1st, 2015

Synopsis- It is 1961 in Anniston, Alabama, and the Freedom Riders-black and white people riding Greyhound Buses crossing state borders to fight segregation-are stopping on Mother’s Day. When Billie hears about it from her African-American nanny, she decides to go and see them. After all, that’s a good thing, right? But when her neighborhood friends burn the bus and beat the riders, she is shocked. She thought she knew them! After meeting her nanny’s daughter, and realizing the extent of segregation and the limitations set upon the African-Americans, they decide to ride a bus together to Montgomery, Alabama to attend a church meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What I Thought- Mr. Kidd has masterfully written a book about racism in the early 1960’s. Billie realizes that even though she doesn’t bear bad wishes against the African-Americans, she still held prejudice against them because of the way she lives. It never occurred to her it was wrong. When the Freedom Riders’ bus drives through her hometown of Anniston and her neighbors end up burning the bus and beating the riders, she just watches. Reflecting on the event, she hates that she just stood by and starts changing inside, becoming more tolerant of others and breaking down the “wall” between the two peoples. Jarmaine, the African-American who befriends Billie, is a more constant character. I found her to be the character I was drawn to. She helps Billie realize more about the segregation. The main characters as well as the minor ones are nicely developed so that you get a real feel for the fabric of the community the story takes place in. The description of the Southern USA in the 1960’s rings true. Besides being a well executed historical fiction novel, the story engages the reader and keeps them interested during the entire story. I really enjoyed this historical fiction story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

13 Jan

Hi Readers! Today, I have a special treat for you all! I received a review request from the 3rd and 4th grade students of Kyoto International School in Kyoto, Japan to review Kate DiCamillo’s “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” and hey – who wouldn’t want to review a Kate DiCamillo book? Thank you to grades 3 and 4! Can’t wait to hear what you thought about it also!

edwardtulaneThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Written by Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

224 pages – ages 8+

Reprint published by Candlewick on May 27th, 2009

Synopsis- Edward Tulane was a rabbit. A marvelous rabbit. But, he was not like normal rabbits, for he was made of china. He wore silk suits tailored to him, and fine leather shoes. He had special made hats, and a working gold pocket watch. Edward belonged to a young girl named Abilene Tulane, who loved him very much. But when Edward is lost overboard in the ocean, he only cared for his own well-being, not about how Abilene would cope without him. Months pass at the bottom of the ocean, but during a storm, Edward is brought to the surface, and rescued by an old fishermen. As Edward is then passed around, he starts the miraculous journey of learning what love truly is.

What I Thought- I really enjoyed this book – I read it in one evening, I found it so gripping. Ms. DiCamillo has a unique way of making us look to our inner selves. This is a common trait in most of her books – they encourage self-reflection and internal changes in characters. Her writing style is unique, in the way that it seems to “Tell” more than “Show”, as in, she states more than she describes. Yet, somehow, every word paints a huge picture of the story. It all comes together. There are nice colored illustrations (at least in my version) and they add a lot of depth to the story. Edward is an interesting character–he does not move on his own, he cannot shut his eyes for they are painted on, and he cannot keep track of passing time–but he is full of life at the same time. The reader will be able to see Edward change from a selfish, vain doll into a loving, caring, selfless character. Ms. DiCamillo has written a heart-warming story that is more about finding what is important in life through doll who learns to love. The setting of the book varies, but can be in any country, really. It adds to the imagery in the story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou

11 Jan

 

highlyunusualA Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

by Lisa Papademetriou

320 pages – ages 8+
Published by HarperCollins on October 6, 2015

 

Synopsis- Kai doesn’t know what to expect when she is staying with her great-aunt in Texas for a while. Her great-aunt is a poet, listens to rap, and wears red tennis shoes. When Kai is looking around the house, she discovers a book that is blank except for one page, called The Exquisite Corpse. On an impulse, she writes a sentence into the book. Strangely, the next time she opens it, the book has more paragraphs written!

On the other side of the world, in Pakistan, Leila is visiting her father’s family. She is walking through the family library and finds a strange book with only one full page, and a handwritten sentence. It is called The Exquisite Corpse. She ends up writing another sentence after the paragraphs ended.

And so the adventure begins connecting two different worlds.

What I Thought- This was a fun book. I really enjoyed reading about how the two girls and how they interacted without realizing it. It was neat seeing how the stories connected to each other as the book unfolded. The characters are realistic, and Ms. Papademetriou does a great job at making it so that it is a believable story. Kai and Leila are both out of their comfort zones – Leila is in a mostly Muslim country with more strict expectations but she was raised in a more liberal environment. Kai’s single mother is slightly protective of her, and Kai’s great-aunt lets her run around the small town after dark. It is a culture shock to both of them and you can see as they both get accustomed to their surroundings a little, and they find out more about themselves in the process. I found it funny that by the end of the book, it turns out that Leila and Kai live in the same city (but the book doesn’t say if they meet) – Awesome ending!!!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

6 Jan

looneyThe Looney Experiment

By Luke Reynolds

208 pages – ages 11+

Published by Blink on August 4, 2015

Synopsis- 8th grader Atticus Hobart has it pretty tough. Not only is he bullied, but he has an overactive imagination (to the point of seriously distracting). Add the fact that his dad just up and left his family, and you can see why Atticus doesn’t know what to do now. When his English teacher takes off for maternity leave, and a crazy seventy-seven year old man named Mr. Looney is their substitute, he takes the class by surprise and teaches in a completely unpredictable manner, helping the students unleash their inner selves. Atticus soon finds out that there is more to meets the eye to Mr. Looney!

What I Thought- I really liked this book. Luke Reynolds has written a compelling story about finding yourself and who you really are. Mr. Looney is that teacher who you don’t want to have, and then find out you love him. He is the type of character that you wish was real. This character-driven story is the kind you can loose yourself in. I like how you can “see” the changes occurring in Atticus throughout the story. I highly recommend this book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

13 Year old This Kid Erik will no longer be reviewing books.

28 Dec

Dear blog readers, it is with a sad heart that I announce today that 13-year-old Erik will no longer be reviewing books.

Why? – you ask (well maybe you didn’t but I am going to tell you)

Because…

As of Christmas Eve, I am now 14!

cake-308576_1280

As my first official review as a 14-year-old, I give you…

 

Keeper-Sep-2015-rev-front-cover-697x1024Keeper

Series: Seed Savers #4

By S. Smith

209 pages – ages 9+

Published by Sandra L. Smith on November 17th, 2015

Synopsis- Keeper is the fourth book in the Seed Savers series. The series starts off in a world where government controlled food processing in the law and it is illegal to grow your own food. The story centers on siblings Clare and Dante and their friend Lily who all seek ways to learn about growing their own food and trying to save a mislead world. Lily had found her dad, who just so happened to be the leader of the Seed Savers Resistance. They were hiding in the Smoky Mountains, waiting to be able to visit Seed Savers Headquarters. Clare and Dante are finishing up their training in Canada and plan on returning to their mother. With GRIM at the verge of falling, and Seed Savers getting into government positions, it looks like the US may be heading for a change. But when someone starts leaking federal information, the citizens start rioting, and it looks as if all of the work of the Seed Savers is for naught.

What I Thought-  The next book in the Seed Savers series is here! It is a well-written story, and one I whole-heartedly recommend. Just one thing I would like to say – the first chapter of the book was somewhat confusing, as it didn’t refresh the previous book much, but I think the reader can catch on and enjoy the story. From the end of book 3 and into book 4, there is a lot of tension building, and Ms. Smith does a great job of escalating the story while keeping it believable. I like the fact that the characters (and the reader by extension) are uncovering/figuring out the conspiracy as the story goes along. This keeps you involved in the story. Ms. Smith has a great writing style that has a way of making it all seem real and possible. Plus it ties into some of the things going on in the world today, which kind of makes it a bit frightening.  The different perspectives of Lily, Clare (and Rose) in the story make it an interesting read and lets you see a bigger picture (but not all of it, of course). The plot was compelling, and rather unique. The US is almost having a revolution over government control of food supplies – very cool and pretty scary!

fivebooks

I give this book five out of five bookworms.

You can read my reviews of books 1-3 HERE, HERE and HERE.

Review! Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli

17 Dec

norsemythTreasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge

Written by Donna Jo Napoli

Illustrated by Christina Balit

192 pages – ages 9+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on September 22nd, 2015

Synopsis- Forget the Avengers – get the real mythology of Thor and Loki here! Thor, Odin, Loki, Frey, and giants OH MY! This book sums up the most common myths about the Norse gods and giants.

What I Thought- The first thing I noticed was the stained-glass look to the illustrations. They are breath-taking and add another dimension to Ms. Napoli’s writing style. Ms. Napoli has written a wonderful collection of Norse mythology for kids. She explains in her author’s note that there are inconsistencies in the myths, but she said that she did her best to avoid the obvious ones. The stories were crafted wonderfully and if there were inconsistencies, this discerning reader did not pick up on any. This book has a great selection of myths, and serves as a great introduction to Norse Mythology for children. In addition to the stories, there are fact boxes, maps, Scandinavian history, a bibliography for further reading and a guide to the characters in the myths. The stories can be read individually and should suit a wide range of reading levels. I enjoyed every page of this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Audiobook Review! Island of Fog by Keith Robinson, narrated by Fred Wolinsky

10 Dec

islandfogIsland of Fog

Series: Island of Fog [#1]

Written by Keith Robinson

Narrated by Fred Wolinsky

Time: 9 hours, 48 minutes – ages 9+

Book Published by Unearthly Tales on July 27th, 2009

Synopsis from the Publisher-A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined than ever to find out what their parents are hiding.

But their lives are turned upside down when Abigail reveals her closely guarded secret. According to her the children are slowly changing into monsters! Are they freaks of nature or subjects of a sinister experiment?

What I Thought- This was a great story. Mr. Robinson creates realistic characters (well, besides the whole changing-into-monsters thing)  with distinct personalities that make sense. There are a lot of characters in the story, but each serve a purpose and none felt like they were “filler.” THe story is told from the perspective of Hal, one of the children. I like this point of view because the reader gets to discover the island’s secrets along with Hal. The book is kind of post-apocalyptic, as in a virus killed off most the population in the world, and drove the rest insane. Strangely enough, it is all believable. Even the part about another dimension-thingy. The setting adds to the mystery of the story and I like how bits of the plot are revealed slowly at first and then the last part of the book is jammed packed excitement. Mr. Robinson explains things well, and keeps you hooked. Now, onto Mr. Wolinsky’s performance. If I didn’t know that this was one person, I might have believed that it was (at least) two people. The number of distinct voices Mr. Wolinsky is able to pull off is astonishing. That is talent. I found that the audio book took a lot longer to listen to than it would have taken me to read (I am a pretty fast reader). I think I like that though. It forced me to slow down and kind of added more suspense to the story for me. Plus it became a family activity. Once I started listening to it, my parents and sister would sit down next to me as it was playing. We don’t listen to many audio-books, but maybe we will now. An all-around great audio-book!

I give this five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

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