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). :)

Perfect Picture Book Friday! At the Old Haunted House by Helen Ketteman

24 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 great counting book for Halloween!

theoldhauntedAt the Old Haunted House

By Helen Ketteman

Illustrated by Nate Wragg

32 pages – ages 3+
Published by Two Lions on August 12, 2014

Theme/Topic- Halloween/Counting

Genre- Fiction

-

-

-

Opening and Synopsis-
Opening – “At the old haunted house
In a room with no sun
Lived a warty green witch
And her wee witchy one.”

Synopsis – (publisher’s description) There are all kinds of creatures in the house: a big Ma monster and her wee monsters two, a scrawny black cat and her wee kittens three, a green Pa goblin and his wee goblins four, and more! Count along as the creatures prepare for the Halloween Fright. The text, written in the pattern of the popular poem “Over in the Meadow,” makes reading aloud fun, while the cinematic illustrations set the scene for an unforgettable romp through the old haunted house. Trick or treat!

 

Why I liked this book- This is a fabulous counting book with marvelous illustrations. The rhyming’s, slightly repeating rhythm makes it sing-song in a little. I like that a lot. The illustrations are cartoony and fit the book wonderfully! Look!

theoldhaunted2theoldhaunted3

They have a warm feeling to them, making it Halloweeny, but not specifically scary. I like the little details you can find in the pictures, the picture frames, with the ma monster and her two kids in them. The writing style is awesome and had me chuckling along as I read it. It was fun to pick out all the spooky creatures in the book. I think it is a great Halloween read for little kids – kind of spooky but not scary!

Activities and Resources-
On the back of the book it says there are 2 witches, 3 monsters, 4 black cats, 5 goblins etc. Use the book as a seek and find and find all the spooky creatures (up to 11 spiders!).

The All Kids Network website has a TON of cool Halloween worksheets for parents and teachers  check it out HERE.

Check out this very cute counting candy corn Halloween activity HERE.

candycorn

Want to learn more? Check out Ms. Ketteman’s website HERE and Nate Wragg’s website HERE.

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

Review! GoGo Ninja by Marco Garcia

23 Oct

gogoGoGo Ninja

By Marco Garcia

Illustrated by Manuela Soriani

35 pages – ages 6+
Published by KIKAI SPORTS on July 5, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.- ebook

SUMMARY - Gogo loves soccer, but he can’t seem to score a goal at all. He misses them all. At his Kendo lesson, he tells his sensei about it. During the Kendo lesson, the master shows his student how to become better. He teaches Gogo about focus and self-control and positive thinking.

WHAT I THOUGHT – I am a bit bias in reviewing this book because I believe in how a martial art can make you better at other things in life. I practice Taekwon-Do, Okinawan Gojo-Ryu Karate, and Jujitsu and I thought this was a very nice story. I like that Gogo is a kid with a problem that many kids deal with – having a tough time at a sport. I like how Mr. Marco incorporates a martial art into the story – Kendo, or the Japanese style of sword-fighting. It is because of Gogo’s sensei’s simple advice – eye contact, posture, and to commit without fear – that Gogo finally succeeds. The illustrations are very cool and it makes the picture books look a lot like a graphic novel. Amazon has the book for ages 6+ but I think some of the words in the book may be hard for younger kids to read (I think 8+ is good for the reading level), although it would make a great read-aloud. There are discussion topics included in the back of the book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Want to learn more? Check out the Gogo Ninja Facebook page HERE!

 

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