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Creative Kid Thursday! Guest Book Review by Rena Marthaler!

10 Apr

houseofhad

Welcome to Creative Kid Thursday where I like to feature the awesome things kids are doing and also host guest kid book reviewers. Today Rena Marthaler is going to review —

 

The House of Hades
By Rick Riordan
608 pages – ages 10+
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 8, 2013

Reviewed by 4th grader Rena Marthaler, author of the adventure novel “Magic The Crest” (click HERE to go to Rena’s blog).

The first sentence is my favorite: “During the third attack, Hazel almost ate a boulder.”

This book is perfect for people who like Greek gods and goddesses, sword fighting, giants, titans, and more monsters. It is the fourth book in the series “Heroes of Olympus.” (I recommend reading the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series and other three Heroes of Olympus first.) This book is really good.

In the book, Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Jason Grace, Piper McLean, Leo Valdez, Frank Zhang and Hazel Levesque go on a quest following the Prophecy of Seven in a heavily armed warship called the Argo II.

But only five of of the seven are on the ship. In the earlier book, Percy and Annabeth fall into a very dangerous place called Tartarus, and the only way to get out is to through the “Doors of Death.”

Piper, Jason, Leo, Frank, Hazel, and their rescued friend Nico Di Angelo go through many adventures to reach the Doors of Death and rescue their friends.

Meanwhile, Percy and Annabeth struggle through Tartarus, half dead, to reach the same destination.

Stay tuned for the fifth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, “Blood of Olympus,” coming out in Fall, 2014. I assure you it will be awesome!

 

Be sure to check back because I will be interviewing Rena about her book “Magic The Crest” on April 24th!

Remember on Tuesday, the Writing Process Blog Tour and I tagged Rena? Well, Rena has already responded! Click HERE to go THERE!

Faery Swap by Susan Kaye Quinn

9 Apr

faery-swapFaery Swap
by Susan Kaye Quinn
280 pages – ages 8+
Published by CreateSpace on December 16, 2013

Finn didn’t know what had happened. All he knew was that there was a strange kid in front of his sister’s school and the kid wanted Finn to hand him a coin that was laying on the road. Finn picked it up and gave it to him. The next thing Finn knew, his aman (his soul) was sent to a timeless world and the strange kid (a faery named Zaneyr)took over his body, impersonating him. Finn, with help from the faery Liranna, plans to get back to Earth. But all is not as it seems…

Well, if it takes a rocket scientist to write a good book, Dr. Quinn fits the bill. ;) Dr. Quinn has a PhD in Engineering and she combined Faeries, adventure, math and science into a fabulous story. Hmm I wonder if she can help me design Tomato and Pea’s rocket ship they need to get back to planet Oarg in my next book… – but that’s not the point! This is a great book! I really like Finn. He’s a good boy, practically being a parent to his younger sister, because after their mom died, their dad became reclusive. Zaneyr is actually pretty cool. You can understand why he does what he does. I really like the ending of the book – it was well done, and no questions are left with answers floating around. The story is well done and encourages math – this book is a winner in my book blog!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Dr. Quinn also has a ton of parent and teacher resources on her website. Teachers can even get free ebook copies or discounted paperbacks. On the official website, you’ll find:

a “9-minute Virtual Author Visit video called “Warrior Faeries and Math Magick” as well as a Teacher’s Guide for Faery Swap. [Dr. Quinn's] hope is that it will help teachers bring the story into the classroom and use it to show students the power of math and equations (in the story and in real life). You can find the video and the teacher’s guide, as well as a card-based Knowledge Seekers game designed for the classroom at [the official website].” CLICK HERE to go THERE!!!

Check out the book’s trailer!

Project X-Calibur by Greg Pace

2 Apr

Two things before I get to my review today.

First – today is Autism Awareness Day! I’ve turned my blog blue to bring awareness to Autism and ask that you talk to kids you know about it and help them understand it! Click on the picture below to find out how to help!

autismSecond – Felicia (A.K.A. Neighbor Girl of Stanley and Katrina fame) and I will be interviewing Rick Riordan live tomorrow (April 3rd) at 330 EDT on Huffpost Live’s “Tell Me Why” segment. The Tell Me Why program has kids asking professionals in different fields about their passions. Our passion is reading and writing. I am very excited and honored to be chosen to be on the segment (and, to tell the truth, super nervous). You can click on the graphic to go to the event and you may or may not see me there depending on if I pass-out due to nervousness or not. ;) KIDS – ask your parents first before clicking over to the Huffpost Live site!

HuffPostLiveSqueeCollage

Graphic courtesy of Cool Mom

NOW ON TO TODAY’S REVIEW!!!!

 

caliburProject X-Calibur

by Greg Pace

256 pages – ages 9+
Published by Putnam Juvenile on October 31, 2013

Synopsis - It took some convincing to get Ben Stone to believe that this odd little kid in front of him was Merlin, THE  Merlin. It turns out that the 1000-year-old wizard really was in the form of an 8-year-old boy. If that’s not weird enough, Merlin tells Ben that aliens are about to attack and conquer Earth, and that Merlin is here to recruit Ben to be part of the super secret group – The Round Table Reboot. Merlin needs Ben to fly X-Calibur (X-Calibur being a high-tech space ship not the sword, but the sword DOES exist) to fight off the aliens. X-Calibur runs best in the hands of kids. Merlin and Percival Pellinore (who is immortal because he drank from the Holy Grail back in King Arthur’s day) are forming a new group of knights (who happen to be kids) to face an even bigger danger!

What I thought - Think of King Arthur meets Science Fiction and ends up in your back yard. WOW. I am a fan of the King Arthur legends and I thought this modern story idea was cool. I get nervous when people rewrite stories I love, but Mr. Pace put an awesome slant on this story! I love how there is no magic in the book – it’s all done with electronics and technology. Ben is a great main character. He’s a typical kid who has a kind of rough life so you end up rooting for him and liking him. The other kid characters that get recruited are also enjoyable to read about. They all have very different personalities. Mr. Pace writes incredible action scenes that kept me turning the pages. I’d love to see another book in this series.

Five out of five bookworms for Project X-Calibur. fivebooks

Almost Super by Marion Jensen

26 Mar

I’m feeling a little purple today!

I’ve turned my blog purple too. Why? Today it epilepsy awareness day!

elilepsyPurple Day was founded by 8-year-old Cassidy Megan (she’s now 15). Epilepsy is a serious disease that affects about 50 millions people. Please show your support and help make people more aware of this disease. Please visit purpleday.org or the Purple Day  Facebook page HERE. Follow Purple Day on Twitter @PurpleDay

Now on to my review!

almostsuperAlmost Super

by Marion Jensen

256 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins on January 21, 2014

Every February 29th, members of the Bailey family (if you are legally part of the family (adopted, marriage, etc.), it counts too!) 12-years-old and older go through an amazing transformation. This year, at exactly 4:23PM (as always) on February 29th 13-year-old Rafter Bailey and his little brother, 12-year-old Benny Bailey will get their SUPER POWERS! You see the Baileys are a family of superheros. Rafter and Benny are excited to see what super powers they get. Will they fly like their dad? Be super-strong like grandpa? Have fire powers?!? When the time finally comes they receive AWESOME super powers! Well… not awesome… more like… umm, well, the powers are lame and pretty much useless.  Rafter can light matches on polyester and Benny can turn his innie belly button to an outie. How are Rafter and Benny supposed to help their family save the world from the evil family of supervillains,  the Johnsons, with these pathetic powers?!? When things look the worst, the boys find an unlikely ally and realize that together they really are heroes.

Books like this make me think I should change my rating system from number of bookworms to rating it as the number of times I get in trouble for reading the book when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I got yelled at, well, at least 6 times because I couldn’t put this book down. :) I actually ended up hiding under the covers in my bed (when I was supposed to be asleep) using my alarm clock for light (my parents confiscated all my flashlights a while ago because of me reading way past my bedtime) to finish reading the book. It was that awesome.

Mr. Jensen has written a fun superhero story that has a different twist. The book is packed with lots of humor and written in a style that all ages can enjoy, especially fans of comics and superheroes. It is a great choice for young advanced readers who are looking for something more than a chapter book. Rafter is a great guy. You really understand how he feels. He’s surrounded by totally super family – his great-aunt (whose power is way less than it was when she was younger) has a stronger power than he does! Benny is a character you just hope succeeds. He’s the really nice guy and he keeps trying and trying. I ended up cheering for Benny. :) The story also has a good message – Don’t draw conclusions based on rumors/gossip or what other people are telling you. People aren’t always what other people tell you they are. I really hope there is a book two, even though the story ended well. But, it’s sort of a cliff-hanger. Sort of.

 

Five out of five bookworms for this most certainly super book! fivebooks

Grimmtastic Girls by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams! Plus a giveaway!

25 Mar

About the Books: The Grimmtastic Girls

I know, I know, you’re saying “Erik, this is a series for girls. Isn’t it?” Well I am here to admit, I love Ms. Holub’s and Ms. William’s Series The “Goddess Girls” and when I saw the chance to get to review their newest series “The Grimmtastic Girls” I jumped at it. Plus,  I think a lot of boys enjoy reading “girly” books and I say there’s nothing wrong with that! HUZZAH!

Here’s what I thought of the first two books in this new series:

These are a great series, and I love the concept of fractured fairy tales in an early MG book. ;) I love that the teachers come from many fairy-tales – Mrs. Jabberwocky, Mr. Hump-Dumpty, etc. Kids will love to recognize the names and fairy tales they come from. I like that Mother Goose is the librarian at Grimm Academy. :) Ms. Holub and Ms. William’s have a playful writing style that is fun to read. Grimm Academy is a very cool place that I think a lot of kids will love to read about. The books are a quick read for me but very enjoyable. These books (much like the Goddess Girls series) are great for young advanced readers and MG kids looking for a fun story.

Keep reading on for your chance to win a $50.00 Amazon gift certificate!

Book #1

Title: Grimmtastic Girls #1: Cinderella Stays Late | Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams | Publication Date: March 25, 2014 | Publisher: Scholastic Inc. | Pages: 192 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Grimmtastic Girls: Cinderella Stays LateSummary: The authors of the hit Goddess Girls series put a fun and girly twist on another super-popular theme: fairy tales!

Once upon a time, in faraway Grimmlandia…

A Grimmtastic girl named Cinderella is starting her first week at Grimm Academy on the wrong foot. Cinda’s totally evil step-sisters are out to make her life miserable. The Steps tease Cinda, give her terrible advice about life at the academy, and even make her look bad in front of her new friends, Red, Snow, and Rapunzel! But when Cinda overhears the Steps plotting a villainous deed that could ruin Prince Awesome’s ball, Cinda, her new friends, and a pair of magical glass slippers have to stop them–before the last stroke of midnight!
AmazonGoodreads

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Book #2

Title: Grimmtastic Girls #2: Red Riding Hood Gets Lost | Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams | Publication Date: March 25, 2014 | Publisher: Scholastic Inc. | Pages: 192 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Red Riding Hood Gets LostSummary: Red Riding Hood might have a terrible sense of direction, but her grimmtastic friends are always there to help!

Once upon a time, in faraway Grimmlandia…

Red Riding Hood is thrilled to try out for the school play. Acting is her dream, and she’s great at it–too bad she has stage fright! After a grimmiserable audition, Red decides to focus on helping her friends Cinda, Snow, and Rapunzel save Grimm Academy from the E.V.I.L. Society. But when Red gets lost in Neverwood forest and runs into Wolfgang, who might be part of E.V.I.L., she needs her magic basket and a grimmazingly dramatic performance to figure out what’s going on!
AmazonGoodreads

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About the Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Joan Holub

Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated more than 130 children’s books, including Little Red Writing (illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet) and Zero the Hero. She lives in NC and is online at www.joanholub.com

Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Suzanne Williams

Suzanne Williams is the author of nearly 50 books for children, including the award-winning picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg). She lives near Seattle, WA and is online at www.suzanne-williams.com

Author Blog | Goodreads

Co-authors Joan and Suzanne have written the Goddess Girls, Heroes in Training, and Grimmtastic Girls series. Though they live in different states and hardly ever get to see each other, they spend lots of time together in Grimmlandia.

Facebook (Grimmtastic Girls) | Facebook (Goddess Girls Books)

Online Author Visits

WOO HOO! A $50 Book Blast Giveaway!

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 23, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Click ME -Win $50!

 

MDBR Book Promotion Services

Hank of Twin Rivers: Journey of Change M. C. Arvanitis

24 Mar

hankHank of Twin Rivers Book 1: Journey of Change

By M. C. Arvanitis

214 pages – ages 8+

Published by Agate Beach Press on July 15, 2013

Hank Heaton lives in Buck Creek, Iowa in the 1860s. Sadly, his mother and sister died of cholera and Hank  was left with a limp after suffering from the disease. Soon after his mom’s funeral, Pa decides that it’s best for them to head out West. Hank, Pa and Uncle Mac (his mom’s brother) pack up and head to Nebraska in hopes of starting a new life. The trail they follow is full of dangers, like floods, claim jumpers, and rattle snakes. The Oregon Trail is harsh but Hank manages to meet some good friends along he way to his new home.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I also think it’s one of the hardest to write because you have to make the setting, plot and characters accurate and believable and be entertaining all at the same time. Ms. Arvanitis does this very  well. I was drawn into the story right away. Hank is a very believable character, especially for the time period in the story. Hank’s dad is very strict but that is balanced with Hank’s jolly Uncle Mac. I really got a good picture of what the Pioneers dealt with on their journey.  My only problem with the story is that it ends rather abruptly. I would have liked a bit more, but there is a second book in the works. The adventure and story in the book is enough to keep a kid entertained while learning about the Oregon Trail and life of a Pioneer. This book definitely earns a spot on my book shelf.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

Book Review – There is One of Everything in the World by A.T. MacDonnacha

5 Mar

oneofeverythingThere is One of Everything in the World

By A.T. MacDonnacha

198 pages – ages 8+

Published by Little Boy Blue Productions on November 20, 2012

Baboogan and his father, Haiyugen, lived on an island. The place they, and the others they lived with, thought was the only habitable place in the world after the Great Floods happened. Now they are lost at sea. Angry for being banished to the other side of the island for being outspoken and disagreeable, Baboogan and Haiyugen left the island. Then they got completely lost when they sailed through a terrible storm. That is, until they beach on a strange island. To their amazement, the strange island had people on it. There, they meet a man who has a map that shows the world before the great floods, and may have Haiyugen and Baboogan’s island marked on it. They see if they can find a crew who will sail with them, following the winds and waves, to who-knows-where; maybe back to Haiyugen and Baboogan’s island or maybe to new wondrous worlds, or maybe just getting them hopelessly lost.

I like the dystopian feel to this story. The Great Floods idea is pretty unique (the story isn’t about Noah’s Ark – it mentions electricity in the prologue, and there are modern things in the book, too, so it happens in “modern” times). I like Haiyugen. He’s a pretty cool guy and I like how logical he is. Glic (the guy with the map) is another character that stuck out for me. The islands the crew journey to are very unique (one has 12-inch high people on it!) and interesting (one has only birds on it!). The story had a Jules Verne/Odyssey feel to it. The places the characters visited were described vividly and Mr. MacDonnacha made them pretty believable. Mr. MacDonnacha has a great writing style, the story didn’t drag at all. One part of the plot that rang a little odd to me was there was hardly any conflict among the crew on the ship. They were wandering around the sea, it seems like a good place to put some conflict, but that’s just my opinion. I think this is a great book for kids that love sci-fi/dystopian adventures! I’d readily read the next book in this series.

I give this book four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

To learn more about the book, check out its Facebook page HERE.

Lola Zola and the Lemonade Crush by Marcy Winograd and Jackie Hirtz

3 Mar

lolaLola Zola and the Lemonade Crush

By Marcy Winograd and Jackie Hirtz

209 pages – ages 9+

Published by CreateSpace on July 28, 2012

Lola Zola’s family is in a fix – both of Lola’s parents have gotten laid-off of work. They need money. But, how can Lola help? After all, she’s only a 6th grader! But, what if she sold lemonade? Lola and her best friend set up a lemonade stand to help raise money for her family. But, the thing is, the no-good, horrible, rich kid Buck has set up a stand across the street from them! And, he has a bunch of cool things like a limo, a famous basketball player, and much more, to attract buyers! Lola decides she has to make her lemonade even better. When Lola adds a special ingredient that makes people think that her lemonade has magical qualities, sales rocket! But Lola soon figures out the lemonade war is getting out of hand.

I think that this is a great book for kids who like realistic fiction stories. All the characters in the book and the setting (a town in the desert called Mirage) are very believable. The plot is something that could happen in any kid’s life and I think that makes it more enjoyable to read. I am now curious to try lemonade with Lola’s secret ingredient (I’m not going to tell you what it is). :) Ms. Winograd and Ms. Hirtz have a great writing style and even though this isn’t the action/adventure book I typically pickup, the writing is great and the story is told very well so it kept me turning the pages. Though it is a self-published book, the story is thoroughly edited and hangs together well. I hate saying this, but I even liked the tad bit of romance-twist at the end of the story (romance – *yuck*). This is a book that I think kids, boys and girls, will enjoy.

I give Lola Zola 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

To learn more visit the Lola Zola blog HERE.

Like Lola Zola on Facebook HERE.

Follow on Twitter HERE.

Creative Kid Thursday! Guest book Review By Samantha!

27 Feb

Today I have a great Creative Kid to tell you about! Samantha is the 13-year-old, 7th-grade blogger at The Young Writer’s Cafe blog (click HERE).  Be sure to hop over to Samantha’s site and check it out.She reviews books and blogs about writing.

Now on to her guest review!

 A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

320 pages, ages 8+

Published by Scholastic Press on February 25th 2014

snicker

Felicity Juniper Pickle is used to her mother’s nomadic lifestyle. They live somewhere for a few days, weeks at best, and then move on.  But when Felicity, her mother and her younger sister roll into Midnight Gulch, Felicity knows that there is something different about her mother’s peculiar hometown. That’s no surprise. Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place. The inhabitants were able to summon winds; or turn invisible; or make marvelous ice cream. Not that the ice cream isn’t still remarkable, but ever since the troublesome Brothers Threadbare duelled and ran off a century ago, everyone believes that there is no more magic in Midnight Gulch.

They are wrong. Felicity knows it. The magic is still lurking in Midnight Gulch and Felicity is going to bring it back. Maybe then her mother will stop wandering and her family will be able to settle down. But her only assets are the help of the eccentric townspeople, namely a mysterious do-gooder named the Beedle. Plus, Felicity has the ability to see words (usually emotions or thoughts) floating around people, a talent she has deemed mostly useless. Will the goodness of the Beedle and the cleverness of the townsfolk be enough to bring the magic back to Midnight Gulch? Or will Felicity need to find the power in her words and create her own kind of magic?

When I read the blurb of this book, I got really excited. A girl who collects words? A cursed town? Enchantments? Oh…yes, please! I was not disappointed. Natalie Lloyd’s debut novel is magical in more ways than one.

I once read an article about how an interesting novel setting is just as important as gripping characters. I agree with this. A novel may have the most well-developed characters ever, but if the setting is described in a cliché manner or worse, is unbelievable, my liking of a book drops. Fortunately, Midnight Gulch is the sort of splendiferous town that anyone would love to visit. Ms. Lloyd put much care into describing her fictional town and it shows; I could vividly imagine strolling through Midnight Gulch alongside Felicity.

I enjoy most of the books that I read but I rarely find a middle grade novel that is inspiring but doesn’t have a main character that survived depression or cancer or something otherwise scarring. A Snicker of Magic is one of those novels that make you realize that it’s the little things in life that count, that sometimes a love-filled moment or quiet good deed is worth more than you realize. Felicity’s new best friend Jonah is a secret do-gooder. Anonymously, he gifts flowers to the ill, shovels driveways when no one is looking and drops off money to those in need.

I know that disabled children are underrepresented in childrens’ books and I love finding an interesting book with a disabled main, or in this case, supporting character. Jonah uses an electric wheelchair to move around. I appreciated that Natalie Lloyd showed that even though Midnight Gulch is an enchanted town, its occupants are all shapes and sizes with different abilities and limitations.

Overall?  I really, really loved this book. It is a rare day that I find a book I want to analyse, bit by bit, just to see how the author managed to pull it off so well. A Snicker of Magic is that novel. I found that this book was very similar to the novelSavvy by Ingrid Law because of the protagonist’s southern voice, magical abilities and that the two middle grade novels share many of the same themes.

Thanks Samantha! Be sure to stop by The Young Writer’s Cafe blog (click HERE), everyone, and come back here tomorrow for Perfect Picture Book Friday! :D

The Wavering Werewolf: A Monsterrific Tale by David Lubar

26 Feb

waveringThe Wavering Werewolf

by David Lubar

144 pages- ages 8+

Series: Monsterrific Tales

Published by Starscape on January 14, 2014

Norman was just an everyday kid. That is, until he happened to get bitten by a wolf during a school science field trip through a forest. Suddenly, Norman is getting weird wolf attributes, like his nails are growing into claw-like things, and he doesn’t need his glasses anymore. He realizes he is becoming a wolf – a WEREWOLF! Fortunately, a man on the streets gives him an amulet that can turn him back to normal. The amulet, though, will only work on a night with a full moon. But the thing is, Norman kind of likes being a werewolf. Will he choose to be plain Norman again?

I seem to be finding a lot of “monster” books (not usually the type of book I pick up) lately that I really enjoy. I thought this was a great book! It isn’t a typical “monster” book (no blood, guts or gore). It’s more about a kid’s struggle to figure out who (or what ;) ) he wants to be. I love how Mr. Lubar writes humor into the story. He definitely knows how to keep a reader interested in his book. Norman is a cool character that the reader cares about. I like how he doesn’t realize he’s a werewolf at first – nice touch. There were a few black and white illustrations scattered throughout the book that were a nice addition to the story.

Five out of five bookworms for this fun book! fivebooks

To learn more about Mr. Lubar and his books, please visit his website HERE.

 

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