The Missing Lunch (The Young Mystery Series) by B.K. Maxwell

5 Jan

youngmystThe Missing Lunch (The Young Mystery Series: Book 1)
By B.K. Maxwell
160 pages – ages 8+
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on June 17, 2014

Synopsis- When a friend’s amazing PB&J sandwiches go missing, siblings Kia and Marcus Young are called in to help solve the case! And thus, the Young Detective Agency is born! But which suspect at Rydell Elementary did it? No case is too small for the Young detective agency!

What I Thought - This book has a good plot idea. It is a fun story that kids who are into mysteries will like. The content is totally appropriate for all ages and is a good choice for young readers. I really liked how the dialogue was realistic and kid-like. I thought the school setting and the  characters were believable. The twists in the plot were a nice addition to keep the reader guessing. The ending of the story seemed a bit rushed to me and the mystery could have used a bit more at the end. Kia is a very self-assured character that thinks quickly. Marcus is a strong character who seems to accuse people a bit too fast during the search for the culprit, at times seeming a little mean. The team work and relationship between Kia and Marcus seems like a typical brother/sister relationship and it works well in the story. There are editing errors in the book that made the reading sluggish at times, bringing the pace of this fun mystery down. Overall, it has a good story line and worth a read for kids who enjoy a Cam Jansen type mystery.

I give “The Missing Lunch” three out of five bookworms.threebooks

Review! The Terror of The Southlands by Caroline Carlson

30 Dec

veryhonThe Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: The Terror of The Southlands (Book 2)

By Caroline Carlson

336 pages – ages 9+

Published by HarperCollins on September 9, 2014

Synopsis- [From the Jacket Flap] Hilary Westfield is a pirate. In fact, she’s the Terror of the Southlands! She’s daring, brave, fearless, and… in a rut. Maybe she hasn’t found any treasure lately. And maybe she isn’t fighting off as many scallywags as she’d like. But does that mean she and her loyal crew (including a magical gargoyle) deserve to be kicked out of the ranks of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates?

But when the Enchantress of the North goes missing (presumed kidnapped), and the Queen’s Inspectors are doing a terrible job, it seems like the Enchantress has only one chance of rescue – the Terror of the Southlands and her crew! But what if rescuing a friend isn’t considered a very piratey thing to do?

What I Liked- This is the second book in the “The Nearly Honorable League of Pirates” series. I enjoyed the first book, “Magic Marks the Spot”, very much. For all who like a moderate fantasy with the lure of daring pirates and and snarky High Society (rich people) families, this series is for you! Hilary is a daring girl who is crossing boundaries by being one of the first female pirates ever (and she’s good at it too!). Hilary is a good role model for young girls (except those in High Society, of course). She thinks cleverly and quickly. I especially like her companion, Gargoyle. He was always a source of humor to me. The action on this book never stops, and you can’t put the book down! I read this in 2 sittings (as in, I had to go to bed sometime… But then I finished it in the morning. :) )! Ms. Carlson is a marvelous author, and, after meting her, I determined she is a very nice lady. The book is very fun to read as well. There are letters, pages from newspapers, etc. (all fictional) from the characters (and their associates) between almost every chapter (if not all). Those were a great touch!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Fearless Joe Dearborne by Lisa Whitney Mitchell

27 Dec

fearlessjoeFearless Joe Dearborne

By Lisa Whitney Mitchell

198 pages – ages 8+

Published by CreateSpace on July 11, 2014

Synopsis- Joe Dearborne enjoyed being fearless. But when he gets bitten by a deadly snake and loses his legendary fearlessness (and almost his life), his world changes forever. Because his mother died a bit ago (just around two years), and because of the snake incident, his father hires a woman by the name of Mrs. Chill to look out for him. All goes well – until his father leaves on a business trip. Then Joe’s life gets horribly miserable. Mrs. Chill starts ruining his life! When Joe learns of a horrid conspiracy plot against his wealthy (but naive) great-aunt, he knows he must do something! But who will believe him?

What I Liked- This was a very good book. I couldn’t put it down! Joe is a character who you can’t help but feel sorry for and end up wanting him to succeed. His life, while (somewhat) normal, is turned upside down, when he looses his legendary fearlessness. No one can see the evil in the woman who is housekeeping for his family, except for Joe (and the reader) and no one will listen to him about it! The book has adventure, and also excitement. Ms. Mitchell really keeps you captivated! There is some humor (usually resulting from a very naive great-aunt) that ties into the story very nicely. The plot is tight and the writing entertaining. This is a fun book, and one I would gladly recommend.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Today is my 13th Birthday! I am a TWEEN no more! :D

24 Dec

Today is my 13th birthday! WOO!

Now that I am 5’9″ it’s hard to believe I was this small once –


Me at 3 days old

The stocking was my baby blanket in the hospital. Now I use it as my Christmas stocking. :)

At 13 years, sadly I am no longer a tween, but am I YA? My birthday party is going on over at Beth Stilborn’s blog. She is asking people to recommend early YA books for me to read now that I am officially not a tween anymore. Click HERE to join  the party

I am excited to read some of the suggestions that are over there already but I think I will always love reading middle grade books… and picture books… and magazine articles… and newspapers… cards at the grocery store…  ingredients on cereal boxes… Okay, I’ll pretty much read anything and I find good things in almost everything I read.

I also did an end of year round-up over at Jennifer Alvarez’s blog of some of the books I read this year that really stuck with me. Click HERE to go THERE!

Now that I am 13, I was wondering, should I be This Teen Reviews Books not This Kid Reviews Books? I think I can still be Kid for a while longer (although my parents did reserve for me). :) What do you think?

The biggest birthday present anyone can give me is more stories, more blog posts, more plot lines, more adventure, more information, MORE TO READ (actually the best present I could get would be an eighth day to the week that is just for reading, but I don’t think that is going to happen). All the writers and bloggers out there who give me the great opportunity to read what you create is the best present of all.  I am proud to say I am a reading geek and if YOU keep writing, I will keep reading!


Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

23 Dec

rhymeschemerRhyme Schemer

By K.A. Holt

176 pages (hardcover) – ages 10+

Published by Chronicle Books on October 14, 2014

Synopsis- Kevin Jamison is a bully. And the entire school knows it. But when Kevin’s jerk of a brother, Petey, chucks Kevin’s poetry notebook (the whole book before that point) through the car window, a kid that Kevin had been bullying, Robin, finds the notebook. Now Robin is using it to blackmail Kevin and Kevin has to do everything Robin says. Now Robin begins to bully Kevin and Kevin is powerless. What’s even worse, is that the teacher is turning  a blind eye to the situation! What can Kevin do?

What I Liked- Even though Kevin isn’t a good kid, you still end up falling in love with his character. His plight, while well-deserved, is still unjust. It is sad that Kevin’s teacher does nothing at all. Ms. Holt has written a wonderful novel-in-verse that tugs at your heart-strings. Kevin goes through a huge character change from start to end. I like the touch of the “ripped-page poetry” that Kevin does being present in this book. They were pretty funny and creative. Mrs. Little, the school librarian, is a cool character and is the librarian that every school should have. (well, any librarian is good. But she’s a good role model.) :) The point-of-view of the story is unique – from the bully’s view, and how he gets bullied. It kept me interested.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Do You Have a Hat? by Eileen Spinelli

19 Dec

Before I get to Perfect Picture Book Friday I’d like to tell you that Felicia and I have the latest episode of The Write Chat up! In this episode we hunt track down and interview award-winning author/illustrator MATT PHELAN! CLICK on over to -

~Watch me make a fool of myself Witness the mayhem that occurs when Erik & Felicia forget to book their guest.
~Find out what Mr. Phelan would do with Jeanne Birdsall’s shopping list.
~Find out what the set rules are to make a graphic novel.
~PLUS we have a fun quiz where you can win prizes. :)
Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of when our monthly Vlog goes live and stay up to date on our future guests. On the website you can submit your own questions to ask our upcoming guest. They include; New York Times award-winning author, Chris Grabenstein; Amazon best-selling author, Bart King; Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, author of the awesome new series The Guardian Herd, Tara Lazar author of The Monstore, mastermind and  head honcho of PiBoIdMo; and award-winning author/illustrator (and all around very cool guy) Tom Angleberger ! 
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? CLICK HERENO WAIT!!! First read my Perfect Picture Book Friday post – :D

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, as an avid collector of hats, I think this book is awesome!

doyouhaveDo You Have a Hat?
By Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated by Geraldo Valerio

40 pages – ages PreK+

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 1, 2004

Theme/Topic- Famous People

Genre- Historical Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Do YOU have a hat? Something fuzzy, warm, and red, to keep the snowflakes off your head?

Synopsis – From Inside cover:

A fancy hat. A hat that’s plain.
A hat for keeping off the rain.
A glowing hat. A hat with fruit.
A hat for that new dress or suit.
All herein have hats, it’s true —
fantastic, magnificent hats!
Do you?
What do Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, Russian-American composer Igor Stravinsky, South American entertainer Carmen Miranda, African-American cowboy Nat Love, and President Abraham Lincoln have in common?
HATS! Unique, distinctive, wonderful hats! And this bright and cheerful picture book from best-selling author Eileen Spinelli and colorful newcomer Geraldo Valério will have you thinking twice before going outside without yours!

Why I liked this book- I love hats. There. I said it. Happy? I collect hats of all types. So, learning about famous people and their hats, to me, is just plain awesomeness. Mrs. Spinelli has written a fun factual story that makes you want to smile. I loved reading about the famous people and what hats they wore. The illustrations are warm and are full of things in the fore- and background that catches your eye. Plus, this is a good time of year to talk about hats. For those in the Northern Hemisphere – hats that keep you warm. For those in the Southern Hemisphere – hats that keep the sun off! This is a perfect book for young kids (and old kids)! Mrs. Spinelli is a master of picture books!

Activities and Resources-

The Deep Space Sparkle website has a great  art lesson/activity plan to go along with this book – click HERE to go to it.

I think a cool activity would be to learn more about the people with hats shown in Mrs. Spinelli’s book. Just pick one that is mentioned and research more about them.

Another activity would be to gather a bunch of hats and have one kid pick out a hat for another kid and they have to act like the person who would be wearing the hat. Can you guess who I am?


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

Double Play Review! “Lowriders In Space” and “The Thing With No Head”

18 Dec

Today I give you very different (but yet awesome in their own way) illustrated books!


Lowriders in Space
By Cathy Camper
Illustrated by Raul the Third
112 pages – ages 8+
Published by Chronicle Books on November 4, 2014

Synopsis- All Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria want is a car garage of their own, to run their own business. They especially like working on and creating “lowriders,” a funky type of car that hip-hops down the road. When they see a car show that offers an amazing prize – a carload of cash! – they start to design a car that is out of this world. Will they win the prize and get their dream of owning their own garage?

What I Thought- Okay, I will admit I was not the least bit interested in this book when it came to me as a review copy. I am not into cars and had no idea what a lowrider was, but I can’t resist a graphic novel so I cracked it open. This is a cool graphic novel. The characters are Mexican-American, so they speak a little Spanish, which also has the English translation. The fact it is a comic focused on the Latino culture is a nice find.  I learned some new Spanish words and phrases. The characters are great role models, working together to reach a goal (plus they are male and female – working on cars). The illustrations are cool, mostly done in red, black, and white, with some other basic colors added. The illustrations flow well with the story. This is an excellent choice for those looking for a multicultural book and anyone looking for a good story with strong characters. This is a great graphic novel that is very unique!

thethingThe Thing With No Head
By Mark Fearing
Available as an iBook HERE
26 pages – ages 8+
Published by Mark Fearing on Oct 20, 2014
Print Length: 26 Pages

Synopsis- A thing with no head invaded a small town and it is such a terror! Or is it?

What I Liked- Okay, I will admit I was all over this one when I got a review copy – a weird, quirky picture book is the thing for me! I was not disappointed with it. I was happy to also find a nice story in the book. It is a story about assumptions and how they can be wrong – you can’t judge a book by it’s cover or a Thing by its head missing head. The story and illustrations have a weird, dark-ish feel to them in an Adamms Family kind of way, but on the other hand, the story is sweet. The black and white sketch illustrations are perfect for the book and the cover is awesome.  Mr. Fearing has written a great story in rhyme about a kid who makes friends with a “horrid” headless beast. The boy and the beast have fun together and accept each other, even though everyone else is scared of the beast and want it to be gone. I think the book is a different kind of picture book – very cool! I hope to see more like this one from Mr. Fearing.

Five bookworms for both of these brilliant books!fivebooks

Review! Frostborn by Lou Anders

15 Dec


By Lou Anders

Series Throne and Bones

336 pages – ages 8+

Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on August 5, 2014

Summary- Karn Korlundsson hates the farming life and the fact that he is to become hauld (head leader) of the traveling farm village he lives him. He wants to see the world. Thianna is half-giant, half-human. She is content to stay in her frost giant village, and she strives to be excepted. It is hard being half the height of every giant around her, you know! When dangers arise for the the two of them, they happen to meet up and band together. Thus begins the journey of a life-time for the small boy and the giant girl. They are chased by draugs (evil undead people) and evil female warriors riding winged reptiles. Will these two misfits survive?

What I Liked- As a fan of Norse mythology, I am a huge fan of this book, and its Nordic-like setting and lore. The frost-giants are just plain cool. Literally. I like the fact that there is a tough (7′) female protagonist, along with a short boy who can’t even swing a sword. They were great opposites in characters. The Nordic legends are a wonderful touch, and I can’t help but want more. Mr. Anders has written a fine book. His style is a spot-on epic fantasy for middle-graders, with tons of humor, friendship, and adventure. I can’t wait for the next book, especially after that dang-blasted awesome cliffhanger that makes me both happy and angry! (happy that there will be another book, angry (or maybe sad) that I will have to wait)

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review and Interview! All About China by Allison “Aixin” Branscombe

13 Dec

chinaAll About China: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More for Kids

By Allison “Aixin” Branscombe

Illustrations by Lin Wang

64 pages (hardcover) – ages 7+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on November 11, 2014

Synopsis- From Amazon: “Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.”

What I liked- This is a great activity-filled ,information PACKED book that teaches you about life as it  is and was in China. It talks about the dynasties of China, daily life in China, games and traditions of China, and much more! There is a huge diversity in the things to read about. Ms. Branscombe has written a wonderful encyclopedia-like resource. Lin Wang’s illustrations bring the book to life. They are realistic and captivating. I could see schools or homeschool families using this book to teach a whole unit on China.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks


Now for an interview with the author, Allison “Aixin” Branscombe!

Erik: All About China is packed with all sorts of information about the country. How did you go about researching the book and how long did it take you to do it?

Ms. Branscombe: This book is the result of about 15 years of research!  At first, I did not know I was going to write a book, I just wanted to learn about China after I adopted my daughters.  It happened over time, as I wrote about China for the Families with Children from China Newsletter and other articles I wrote, help set up and run playgroups and crafts fairs.  I am a curious person, and  I made friends with people in the Chinese American community through my kids’ school, the local Chinese Culture Foundation, the Organization of Chinese Americans and other groups.  I also bought lots of books on Chinese culture for all ages of readers!

Erik: I was amazed at the amount of information you put into 62 pages and how well-organized it is. What part of the book was the most difficult to write?

Ms. Branscombe: Thank you!  Part of the “big picture” organization came from the publisher, Tuttle, which  has published other books in the series (All About Korea, Japan and Indonesia). However, I added some of my own categories, and made the organization work for what I wanted readers to know.   The part that was the most difficult to write was the information on the dynasties and inventions, because I had “word budgets” of about 100 to 200 words on each dynasty (and I only had room for a few dynasties).  It was tough to choose what was most important to include, to boil it  down and make it interesting for the reader.

Erik: What surprised you most when you did your research?

Ms. Branscombe: Great question!  Because of all the people who have researched China before, and written about it in English, there have been some inaccurate translations from the original Chinese words.  Sorting out which version was most authentic was sometimes difficult.  Having Chinese experts to consult was very helpful to me.

Erik: You are the adoptive mother of two children from China (just so you know, I am adopted too ;) ), and it says in the author description in the book that you wrote this book to help your children know about their heritage. Do you have any tips for other adoptive parents on how to connect their children with their heritage?

Ms. Branscombe: Just what you and I are doing:  read, read, and read some more!  And make friends with people of your children’s heritage because they have lived it and can be a fantastic bridge to understanding.  Besides getting to know Chinese and other Asian American adults, I made opportunities to get to know some adult adoptees of all different backgrounds. The adult adoptees can be great guides to understanding and discussing some of the cultural, adoptive and racial issues faced by our children.  Helping their kids connect with something special in their birth heritage is really helpful also, whether it is through language learning, sports (such as the Asian sports leagues, tai chi, gong fu), dance, music, cooking, art/painting, or similar efforts helps the child get more personal insights into their heritage.  Plus, it is fun!  Who does not want their horizons broadened?

Erik: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell my blog readers about?

Ms. Branscombe: I don’t have anything concrete in the works.  I am pondering a specific Chinese crafts-only workbook for kids. On a completely different subject, I am thinking about a book for kids on how to stand up for themselves and educate other kids when they get both friendly and mean questions about differences, such being adopted, having a physical, health or learning challenge, and other things kids must deal with.

Thank for you reviewing my book and sharing your thoughts and my experiences with your readers.

Thank you, Ms. Branscombe! I really appreciate you doing this interview with me!

Review! Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rocklif

13 Dec

The elves at my blog seem to have stolen the post from yesterday (okay, I got really busy and I completely forgot to post this review). So – better late than never!

This is a great picture book I picked up at the Litiz Kid and Teen Literature Festival I went to last month. I met the author, Mara Rockliff there and I am happy I got her book Chik Chak Shabbat!

chickchakChik Chak Shabbat
By Mara Rockliff
Illustrations by Kristen Brooker
32 pages – ages PreK+
Published by Candlewick on September 3, 2014

Theme/Topic- Shabbat/diversity/friends

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Every Saturday, a wonderful smell wafted from apartment 5-A.

Synopsis – Amazon’s Description: “When Goldie Simcha doesn’t joyfully throw open her door to welcome everyone in to her apartment for a meal of her famous cholent, her neighbors wonder what could be wrong. Little Lali Omar knocks on the door to 5-A, only to learn that Goldie was feeling too sick on Friday to cook, and everyone knows you can’t make cholent in a hurry, right away, chik chak! But it just isn’t Shabbat without cholent. What can her neighbors do to save the day?”

Why I liked this book- Ms. Rockliff has written a wonderful story about a lady celebrating the Jewish Sabbath. The story doesn’t focus on religion but rather tradition, making friends and sharing a meal. It is a beautiful story, one that gives you a nice feeling inside. The illustrations are gorgeous, and really lend to the story. They portray the feelings of all of the characters realistically. This story is one of friendship, and of a caring community. I really like it. The book explains what cholent is and there even is a recipe in the back of the book to make it. This is a great choice for Hanukkah or just a wonderful book about tradition and community.

Five bookworms!fivebooks

This book was nominated as a Perfect Picture Book (if it wasn’t already, I’d be doing it again ;) ) over at Sally’s Bookshelf – click HERE to read it. To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!





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