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

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing

7 Nov

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a funny Thanksgiving story that is great for telling a kid’s perspective of the holiday! :)

 

thanksgiving_escapeThe Great Thanksgiving Escape

by Mark Fearing

32 pages – ages 5+
Published by Candlewick on September 9, 2014

 

Theme/Topic- Thanksgiving / family

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “It was another Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.

 

Synopsis (taken from the inside jacket) – “It’s another Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. Gavin expects a long day of boredom and being pestered by distantly related toddlers, but his cousin Rhonda has a different idea: make a break for it — out of the kids’ room to the swing set in the backyard! Gavin isn’t so sure, especially when they encounter vicious guard dogs (in homemade sweaters), a hallway full of overly affectionate aunts, and worse yet, the great wall of butts! Will they manage to avoid the obstacles and find some fun before turkey time? Or will they be captured before they’ve had a taste of freedom?

Why I liked this book- This is a hilarious book, and a great take on the traditional Thanksgiving story. Mr. Fearing has written an amazing book here! I love how Rhonda, using her imagination, crafts a super-thrilling, slightly dangerous (“vicious” wiener guard dogs!) adventure, and takes Gavin along with her! The illustrations are amazing! LOOK!

 

Image from MFearing.wordpress.com

Image from MFearing.wordpress.com

Isn’t Gavin’s expression priceless? I like how there are tiny little details through out it. My favorite part has to be the “The Great Wall of Butts” the kids have to navigate around. It’s a good thing to remember that family get-togethers may not be as exciting for kids compared to adults. It’s great how the kids turn every-day boring things into an awesome adventure. As a kid, I can say Mr. Fearing got the Thanksgiving dinner kid-perspective spot on! You’ll get a bunch of laughs from this book!

Activities and Resources-
Mr. Fearing and Candlewick Press have a great activity kit to go along with the book! There is a maze, word search, drawing activities and an activity for us to remember to be thankful. Check it out HERE.

Create your own “Thanksgiving Adventure” – take the events that happen at your Thanksgiving celebration and exaggerate them into a full-blown adventure! Maybe have your kids color a picture or write a short story. Hmmm… Ms. Hill? I see another writing contest here… ;)

If you have a Thanksgiving celebration at your house, try to plan something fun for the kids to do – games (pin the feather on the turkey!), toys, coloring pages, etc. Maybe let them go outside! :)

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Review! Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin by Elle Carter Neal

6 Nov

madisonMadison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin

By Elle Carter Neal

287 pages – ages 8+

Published by Elle Carter Neal on September 9, 2014

SUMMARY – Madison Lane was feeling exhilarated. Her aunt Ruby was coming to visit, and that meant more magical items! You see, the Lane family is involved in magical items, and they try to stay under the radar of an agency that is supposed to keep track of the magical items. This time, Madison receives a magical wand that apparently gives the user 2 wishes, and then must be passed to another person. Apparently, Ruby got it from Anastasia Romanov and Maria Rasputin. When a kid grabs the wand and wishes them to a different world, they are taken to Ground, a world that is billions of light-years away from Earth, yet linked through a wormhole. And both worlds, Earth and Ground,  may be destroyed if Madison doesn’t help them even out the magical Sources that keep the worlds in balance!

WHAT I THOUGHT – This was an amazing book. It kept me on the edge of my seat. It was edited well, and Ms. Neal’s writing style was fun and realistic.  I like the idea of Ground. It sounds like a fun place (besides the banshees!), and I love the play on words with Ground/Earth. :) I got lost in the story as I read it. There is just enough fantasy elements in it, mixed with the realistic elements, to make you wonder if such a world could exist. Madison is a strong female character. I think she acts reasonably at all times, and isn’t afraid to help anyone out, even if they are on the other side of the universe. I love the fact that her family collects magical items and the historical character references. At 287 pages, it is  a nice size for an MG reading fan. The content in the book is appropriate for all ages (unless you object to magic). Even though I enjoyed the ending of this book – everything tied up nicely, I am hoping there is a follow up book. There are two bonus short stories at the end of the book which are a nice addition.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms! fivebooks

November UBFP Column – Author Spotlight: Roland Smith

4 Nov


I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the November 2014 issue! The online version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE.

I hope you like it!

Author Spotlight: Roland Smith

One of my favorite authors is Roland Smith. Mr. Smith writes middle grade fiction and nonfiction stories and he co-authors picture books with his wife, Marie. The biography on his website (RolandSmith.com) shows an interesting path for him becoming a writer. Mr. Smith says he was always in love with writing and wanted to be a writer when he grew up so he became an English major at Portland State University. One day, while he was looking for part-time work while he was in school, he saw an ad for help wanted at the children’s zoo in Portland. One thing lead to another and Mr. Smith ended up working with animals for over twenty years. The good thing for us readers is that his experiences with animals gave him great ideas to write about.

Why do I like Roland Smith’s books so much? Let me tell you. First of all, his novels are packed with on-the-edge of your seat excitement. He writes great action/adventure stories that are completely appropriate for middle grade readers and his writing style will keep you reading. Mr. Smith knows how to mix the right amount of humor into his books. I really like how he will diffuse very intense scenes with a bit of humor. It really adds to the enjoyment of the books.

iqzachs

The characters in his books are very realistic. Most of his characters are early teenage – aged and I think they act and talk like kids do in real life. He has great male and female characters and I think both boys and girls would think his books are a great read. I also like how Mr. Smith has characters from his different series show up in each others’ books. It’s a cool detail and all the more reason to try out different Roland Smith books.

storm

The topics of his books are wide, ranging from searching for cryptids (creatures in folklore or mythology rumored to exist) across the world to learning to living with huge secrets to taking down terrorist ghost cells. Then there is all of Mr. Smith’s nonfiction works on animals. Mr. Smith write exciting action packed books that are appropriate for middle grade readers and young advance readers. He has books with airplane hijackers, people in the witness protection program, countries in war, terrorism, and tying to survive natural disasters. Mr. Smith’s writing style keeps a reader hooked until that last page.

mutation

Mr. Smith’s Cryptid Hunters series is one of my favorites from him. The fourth and final book in the series, MUTATION, was just published at the end of September and it was a book I’ve been waiting for. The Crypid Hunter series follows teen-cousins Marty and Grace and their friend Luther all around the world as they try to track down mythical creatures and locate Marty’s missing parents. Although I am sad to see the series come to an end, I was not disappointed with the finish. MUTATION is the kind of on the edge of my seat exciting adventure I am always looking for as a young reader. I highly recommend the whole Cryptid Hunter series or any of Mr. Smith’s works.

Want to know more? Visit Roland Smith’s website at RolandSmith.com

For more on books and reading, visit my website at ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

 

Win a New Touch Screen Kindle Loaded with 50 Books!

3 Nov

This is a cool giveaway hosted by a great group of authors – the Emblazon Authors. I have read and reviewed a bunch of their books and I think this is a cool idea – win a Kindle pre-loaded with 50 books! The Emblazon authors write age-appropriate novels for tweens and middle school aged kids. Check out the giveaway below!

emblazontour

Attention teachers, librarians, tweens, and parents of tweens! Announcing a contest just for you…

The Emblazon authors are giving away a brand new touch screen Kindle loaded with over 50 of their books. That’s a $300 value and hours of reading entertainment!

Emblazon is a collection of authors who seek to create lifelong readers by creating top-
notch literature for kids. They have a particular focus on ages 11 to 14. They’re hosting this fabulous giveaway to celebrate their first year and to treat you, the readers.

The Rafflecopter contest runs November 3 through November 17 and is open to anyone who loves tween literature.

A Rafflecopter giveaway can be found here.

Note: Signing up for the catalog is required for entry. Current subscribers are also eligible for entry. Winners must reside in the United States or Canada. (Sorry!)

 

List of Stops on the Blog Tour:

November 3rd:

November 5th:

 

 

November 11th:

 

November 12th:

November 15th:

 

You can help even more by sharing this post with your friends and family. If you know teachers or librarians, let them know about how awesome the Emblazoners are by sharing the link to their website: http://emblazoners.com/

Review! Future Flash by Kita Helmetag Murdock

2 Nov

futureflashFuture Flash
by Kita Helmetag Murdock
208 pages –  ages 9+
Published by Sky Pony Press on June 3, 2014

Laney Magee has always been different. She’s the girl that draws on her falling-apart-sneakers, and always wears her favorite black hoodie. It doesn’t help that she has this weird power that when she meets someone new and makes contact with them, she sees a short vision of their future, to the exact detail. A new student comes to their school, and Laney is dreading it. She touches his hand in gym class (they are learning about square-dancing), and she gets a horrible vision, the worst she sees – the new boy, clothed in flames, in a burning building. Laney decides to stop his fiery fate from happening. To do that, she must stay close to him. Which might be hard, because he, well, kind of hates her.

This was a cool book about an ordinary girl with an extraordinary power – when she makes contact with someone, usually for the first time, she catches a glimpse of something in the future concerning that person. Laney is a nice, art-loving, “oddball”-type girl who risks her skin to try to save someone she doesn’t even know, who doesn’t really like her (at first – they become friends). She is a marvelous role model, and a great female lead character. The setting is perfect for the story – a small, rural town. Literally – there are only 13 kids in Laney’s class! My school is small, but it isn’t that small! The cover is gorgeous and fits well with the story. I like the silhouette on it a lot. Ms. Murdock’s style kept me reading. I like how she gave every character a unique personality. For example, you know that saying “Never trust a skinny chef” – well, apparently the town baker is super skinny. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms.fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Memory of an Elephant by Sophie Strady

31 Oct

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a very cool and somewhat odd book. ;)

thememoryofelephantThe Memory of an Elephant: An Unforgettable Journey
by Sophie Strady

Illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin

38 pages – ages 5+
Published by Chronicle Books on September 9, 2014

Theme/Topic- Elephants/memories

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis-
Opening –  “Marcel is an elephant – a very old elephant. Like all elephants, his skin is gray and wrinkled, so it is difficult to tell his exact age.

Synopsis – (publisher’s description) Memory and meaning are at the heart of this oversized, content-rich picture book celebrating the life of Marcel, a soulful elephant. From the towering buildings outside his window and his recollected world travels, to the friends, flora, and fauna that flourish around him, Marcel finds significance in his surroundings and, most importantly, in life’s abundant details. Marcel is writing an encyclopedia, after all, and his entries are featured in full-page spreads packed with facts, elegantly situated alongside the story of his day and his life. Part story and part miscellany, this unforgettable book with dream-like illustrations will transfix both parents and children.

Why I liked this book- This book is very unique. I had a hard time thinking of the theme and genre – it’s a pretty odd book (but I like odd ;) ). Even the size of the book is odd – it’s a large 10×14 – but Marcel is a very large elephant so I guess that makes sense. There is a fictional story in the book – the story of Marcel and his memories, but there is also a ton of facts about everything you can think of (Marcel is writing an encyclopedia). Take a look at what I mean:

memoryeleph1The illustrations are incredible. I love the detail in them (check out Marcel’s tattoo ;) ) and the old-fashioned feel.

memoryeleph2The story of Marcel is nice. He thinks about his life and the things in it and what he’s experienced. We get to meet some of his friends. It’s a nice story by itself but when you put it together with the awesome illustrations and all the fact information packed into the book, I think the book is just super cool. The publisher rates the book for kids 5+. Kids that young probably wouldn’t be able to read the book independently, but this book would make an awesome read aloud. It is the kind of picture book I would have loved when I was little. I always loved books with lots of fact boxes and tons of stuff I could look at. This isn’t a “normal” picture book, but if you are looking for something a little unique – I recommend this one!

Activities and Resources-
I didn’t have to go far for activities. There is a bunch right in the back of the book. There are 2 pages of information on Marcel’s friends who happen to be endangered species. You can use the thumbnail pictures as a look and find in the book for all the endangered animals. There is an “encyclopedia” section on Marcel’s favorite foods, and his furniture. There is also a recipe for “La Crèpe Marcelette” (which I need to try)!

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has a bunch of lesson plans, videos and information in a section called “Elephants, Never Forget.” Click HERE to go to it.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

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.

My Entry in the Susanna Leonard Hill 4th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

27 Oct

It’s the 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!

Google Images

Google Images

Get ready for some great Halloween stories! You can check out all the entries in the contest at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE and mine right below!

The rules for the contest are (copied from Ms. Hill’s blog) –

“Write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words pumpkinbroomstick, and creak.   Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!). Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT”

Now – onto my entry! I hope you like it!

A Halloween Errand (100 words)

© ray8 - Fotolia.com

© ray8 – Fotolia.com

 

The run-down store was deserted, except for the bored check-out clerk.

I searched the shelves for the trick-or-treat candy Mom wanted.

“Pumpkins and broomsticks,” a voice whispered.

Creeeak, groaned the floorboards.

Goosebumps crawled up my back.

Wasn’t the store deserted?

“Pumpkins and broomsticks.”

Creak.

Closer.

I turned.

No one.

“Pumpkins and broomsticks.”

Creak.

My heart pounded.

Forget the candy! I’m out of here!

A hand grabbed my arm.

I spun in terror.

THEN –

PHEW!

“I can’t find the pumpkins and broomsticks,” said an elderly lady holding a shopping list. “I’m going to a party tonight. Can you help me look?”

 

 

Review! Lobo Goes to the Galapagos by C.L. Murphy

27 Oct

AAAROOO!

No that’s not my Halloween werewolf imitation!

It’s my “I’m going to tell you about a howlin’ good book” cry!

A book starring my favorite Canis Lupus -

LOVABLE LOBO!

 

lovableloboLobo’s newest adventure takes him to the Galapagos Islands!
Lobo Goes to the GalapagosThe Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos

Written and Illustrated by C.L. Murphy

32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Peanut Butter Prose on August 22, 2014

Summary - (author’s summary) Lobo returns in this adventure, sweeter and a bit salty this time. This lil’ wolf pup finds that there’s nothing like a little sea air to bring out the best in him and his unlikely tag-alongs. Take a trip to the Galapagos with Lobo and his right-hand raven, Roxy, as they help an injured, new feathered friend return home. Lobo faces some fears and witnesses the joy that comes from helping others in this “birds of a different feather DO flock together” tale.

What I thought - Lobo is a great wolf pup. He is a character that lots of young kids (and older kids!) will love. He is cute and friendly, and will help anyone in need. Lobo is a great friend. Ms. Murphy is a great author who has written a great addition to a marvelous series. I like how this book includes a lesser known species in it – the blue-footed booby. To be more specific, a blue-footed booby named Bobby (HA!). The adventures that Lobo goes on are very fun to read about. I like how this book tells about the Galapagos Islands, even including a map of the islands. The illustrations are cool and kid-friendly. They are realistic, fun to look at and have great detail in them. I like how they kind of look 3D-ish too.

lobo1Lobo is a great character and I always enjoy reading about his adventures. In this book it is nice that Lobo helps a new friend by helping him get back home. There is also a great message of trust in the book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Check out the trailer for the book!

 

Want to learn more?!? Find Ms. Murphy on  Twitter, Facebook, or her blog HERE (her website is really fun and had activities you can print out to go with her books). :)

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