By Jen Barton
201 pages – ages 9+
Published by Flickerfawn on September 3, 2012
It wasn’t Jaydin the fairy prince’s fault. He was framed. Fiona Thorn, his best friend, knew that. She was going to break him out – ER rather BLOW him out of jail. After all, she IS an explosive worker. Taught by the Demolitions master McClane, Fiona knows just about everything about explosives. She’ll use that knowledge to bust Jaydin out. Riding her trusty Bright Eye horse (Bright Eyes are extremely smart animals, as in that they can talk to humans), Manzanita Rose (or Manzy, for short), Fiona knows that nothing can stop her. What she didn’t expect was 3 princesses to get in her way. 3 spoiled princesses, at that. Soon Fiona finds herself (and the royal pains) on the run from the King because of a misread letter, which made it seem like Fiona kidnapped the princesses. It doesn’t help that there is a murder plot against the king, his brother, and Jaydin. What will Fiona do?
This was a fun book. I think that Ms. Barton did a great job of creating this fantasy world. I really felt like I was there. I loved the sense of adventure and the fact that Fiona is a demolition expert. The magic in it was pretty cool. I loved the “gifts” that the 4 girls got. Fiona is a great female heroine for this book. I loved that she always kept her cool (despite her being hotheaded) and knew what to do. Manzy is a great supporting character. The book is a good reading level for middle grade readers or young advanced readers. At 201 pages, the book was a quick read for me but the story felt very complete. I would really like to read another book by Ms. Barton.
Ms. Strang has offered to give away a copy of her book to one lucky person (USA addresses only)! Read to the bottom to find out how to enter!
The Starburst Juju
By Monica Strang
278 pages – ages 12+
Published by Pants on Fire Press on January 3, 2014
15-year-old Pepper Jones was shocked. The Maddocks, aliens that are kidnapping the best of the best humans on Earth (the best architect, the best artist, the best scientist, etc.), just kidnapped her parents. Two ordinary, run-of-the-mill school teachers. So, what were they the best at? Pepper and her best friend Parker wondered that, until they were met by a human-like cat-looking man. He says his name is Ando and that he is a Popoki (not a cat!) and that he was a friend of her parents – brilliant inventors from an academy on a different planet! Pepper and Parker go to the academy and hatch a plan. They plan on how to save her parents by finding the Starburst Juju, a powerful alien stone that can help free her parents. But Pepper and Parker are only two humans and they are up against an entire race of aliens.
This was a great story. I loved all of the cool gadgets, especially the Orico. I really want one – they are bracelets that can do a bunch of things at a command. I love that the book made me think about some things. For example the story says all planets that can support life are about the same size, same distance from their sun, same temperature range, etc. compared to Earth – I never thought about it like that. But I guess that only goes for life-forms like us but what if there are other types of life… okay getting off topic… Back to my point – I like books that make me think! :) The characters in the book were developed well. The aliens were fun to read about. I like Ando. He is really interesting, and I would love to spend a day with him. Pepper is a great character – smart, realistic, and nice. I also liked Parker. He’s a great friend to Pepper, and an
immature normal teenage boy. ;) I think that this book is awesome, but I am slightly sad that this is a stand-alone novel. It ended well though. I think Ms. Strang closed it very nicely. Ms. Strang has a great writing style. I think this is another cross over type book – one that advanced MG readers will love as well as younger YA readers.
Watch the awesome book trailer!
Now, for the GIVEAWAY!!!
To enter in the contest, all you need to do is comment and say that you want to win a copy of this great book (USA addresses only please)!
If you want to make it fun, name your favorite alien from any novel, TV Show, comic, movie, etc. For example, I would say “Superman” or “General Grievous”.
Next week my sister Josie will pick the winner from all of the names put in a hat! :)
Good luck and thanks for reading my blog!
I reviewed Ross Rosenfeld’s The Stolen Kingdom a while ago (see my review HERE). I thought it was a great “cross-over” book that is kind of YA and kind of MG. It is a great action-adventure story and I enjoyed it very much.
Mr. Rosenfeld has written 2 companion stories (novellas) to go along with The Stolen Kingdom.
These short, companion stories to The Stolen Kingdom tells the stories of Winkle, the Pooglie-Wooglie who was high-elder of the Pooglians when The Stolen Kingdom took place. (The Pooglie-Wooglie people (or Pooglians) are a group of ugly, disfigured, scarred, handicapped, etc., people whose ancestors had been banished from the face of the Earth because they were so ugly and the people didn’t want them to have children, so they lived below ground) These books tell of Winkle’s adventures as a young man.
By Ross Rosenfeld
Illustrated by Erick Romero and Christine Choe
50 pages – ages 10+
Published by Fun Books on April 16, 2014
The Pooglie-Wooglie village was running low on food, and the land above them was covered in frost (for a few miles). An expedition of 8 Pooglians (love that name!) went to find food. Winkle had volunteered to go, thinking that it would have been a normal hunting trip. Boy, was he wrong! The Pooglians only came back with 3 of them alive…
By Ross Rosenfeld
Illustrated by Erick Romero and Christine Choe
51 pages – ages 10+
Published by Fun Books on May 15, 2014
Winkle is back with another one of his stories. This time, on a hunting expedition, above ground, getting veggies from a field, a human above ground spots one of the Pooglians. They call the Pooglians “demons” and rush to tell the nearby village. The Pooglians flee. The elders decide that the Pooglians have to move out of the area, in case the locals above do an intense search of the area around them. On the way, the Pooglians, gathering food above ground, spot a castle with slaves coming into it. They watch the evil lord of the castle whip a woman for doing nothing. The Pooglians are moved, and want to help. But how can they?
This is a good series. I loved “The Stolen Kingdom”, and these books are marvelous follow-up short stories/novellas. The stories are imaginative and original and fun to read. The settings are creative and you feel like you are there with Winkle. There is some violence, but nothing graphic (just fighting). In “The Greenest Valley”, there is a monster that eats the Pooglians. In “Orisow”, the Pooglians raid the castle. Winkle is a cool character, and he is a great soldier. I think that you can really connect with him. I love Mr. Rosenfeld’s writing style in these books. I like how they are told in first person, because Winkle is writing them as if he were telling the young Pooglie-Wooglie children the stories, which was really cool. The illustrations in the book are very nice, colorful, and they add to the story. The books, at 50-ish pages, are perfect for reluctant readers or kids just looking for a good story. While it would probably be better to read The Stolen Kingdom first, it isn’t needed because enough back-story is included in these novellas. I am looking forward to other books in this series!
By Monsieur J and Mister F
Illustrated by Papaya
139 pages – ages 9+
Available as an ebook
Published by Monsieur J & Mister F on November 10, 2013
Wesley is a 5th grader who just happens to be a zombie. He and his family have just moved to Stuff Falls, and he will go to Stuff Falls Middle School, which is a regular human school. Everyone knows that he’s a zombie, so he makes a friend with a half-zombie (whose mom is human, and dad is zombie), who shrinks every year because of him being half-zombie (I don’t really understand that, so please don’t ask detailed questions ;) ), and is obsessed with acting. He also becomes friends with a young yeti girl. The school bully, a human, is not one of Wesley’s friends, and has challenged him to a hard, deadly game, which will decide if he will be left alone (or tormented) by the bully for the rest of the school year.
I usually do not accept books about zombies or monsters. It usually isn’t my thing, but I try one every now and again. This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved this because it didn’t focus on the scary “zombie brain-eater apocalypse” part of zombies. True, the zombies eat organs, but Wesley’s parents eat animal organs, and Wesley is a vegetarian. I love how in the story, zombie is passed via genes (like the half-zombie kid). I like that the story is about a young zombie trying to make friends and fit in. That was pretty funny. I like how Wesley’s dog is allergic to humans. :) The illustrations are cute and cartoon like. They are fun to look at and add to the story. You can see examples above this paragraph, and below it too. The story isn’t really about monsters, it’s about having a good family and good friends. I like how the authors puts a zombie in as the “new kid.” This book is a quick, humorous read, great for reluctant readers, especially boys. I can’t wait for book two!
Visit the Wesley the Zombie website HERE.
Like Wesley on Facebook HERE.
Follow Wesley on Twitter HERE.
Let me start the New Year off right with a review of a great book! :D
By Michelle Isenhoff
244 pages – ages 9+ (ebook reviewed)
Published by CreateSpace on January 1, 2014
Taylor Davis is back, along with Elena Camila Velasquez Cartahena, and their guardian angels/agents, Mike (short for Amikim) and Ranofur! They need to save the world from chaos and destruction, before a third World War erupts! The team is sure that Bartholomew Swain (a horrible pirate who ate a rotten piece of fruit from the Tree of Life who they thought they got rid of in the first book – Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findul – see my review HERE) is behind several hypnotized students, friends of Taylor, who have tried to beat him up, but they have no proof. The trouble isn’t just at Taylor’s school though. The whole world is going wonky. When the European Union, British Parliament, and the United Nations erupt in violence, Taylor knows something very bad is up. How will he and his team stop it – whatever it is?
This was a great second book in the Taylor Davis trilogy. I love how Mrs. Isenhoff writes an exciting adventure appropriate for middle grade kids. The action kept me on the edge of my seat and the story kept me wanting to read more. Taylor and Elena are great characters that I enjoy reading about. I love the mix of angels/villains/humans in the series. Taylor seemed to have changed at the end of the book, more mature, I think, but in a good way. I guess saving the world will do that to a character! I like the sounds (but not the looks) of Simgali the Trickster – very interesting character. Mrs. Isenhoff writing style gave me a great picture of the story without being dragged down with too many details. It made the book enjoyable to read. I could have done without the tad bit of romance (Elena has a boyfriend, and a thing at the end of the book), but that’s just me. ;)
To learn more about Mrs. Isenhoff and her other books, please click HERE.
To find where to buy Taylor Davis 2 – click HERE.
Granpa Guff is a master story-teller. In Book 2 of this series, Granpa Guff’s grandkids are visiting him for the weekend. He tells them a story about how Italians came to America and started to make Italian food products. Well, it turns out that those Italians really take food and business seriously. They take them SO seriously, they team up to sabotage the Italian whose product is doing the best at that moment! It gets so bad that they do everything – from tossing cats and dogs with parachutes off a skyscraper (that’s where the phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs” comes from. :) ) during a grand opening of a restaurant to putting snakes in cans of pasta sauce! What will happen? How will these wars end?
This is the second book in the Granpa Guff series. I enjoyed the story because it had a bunch of things in it that I like. The plot idea is cute (a grandpa telling his grandkids these outrageously strange stories – that turn out to be real-ish). The story is the type I like, fun to read and just plain silly. I like the illustrations throughout the book a lot (although I thought the cover seemed a bit dark and scary and didn’t match the story). They are whimsical and sometimes hilarious. G. Guff’s writing style is fun and appropriate for all ages. The reading level is good for advanced young readers and older kids. I think it would be a fun read aloud too. I couldn’t figure out who the narrator (one of the 2 grandchildren) is. Other than the narrator thing, there are a few editing mistakes and places where the conversation between characters is a bit confusing. An editor would have picked these things up. With the edits, this book could turn into a favorite bed-time story for a lot of kids.
Check out Granpa Guff’s website HERE.
Before I get to a review of one of the best books I read this year…
At 4pm today (EST), you can join me today for a TWITTER PARTY for Bruce’s Hale’s book, Playing With Fire (School for Spies Book 1 – my review of this fun and exciting adventure story will be coming soon)!!! The chat is moderated by @DisneyHyperion (Mr. Hale’s twitter name is @storyguy1 and my twitter name is @ThisKid_Erik). Mr. Hale will be answering questions about being an author and writing and publishing. Disney Hyperion will also ask Mr. Hale to summarize his book in one tweet! I’m looking forward to that! :) Look for hashtag #PlayingWithFire! Hope to
see TWEET you there!
Now to the review!
By Michael Ende
240 pages – ages 12+
Published by McSweeney’s McMullens Anniversary Edition edition on August 13, 2013
Momo is a young orphan girl living by herself in an abandoned amphitheater who has many friends from town because Momo listens. Momo is so good at listening that people from town come to tell her their troubles and Momo makes them feel good again. Momo also helps kids imagine. But it all changes when the “gray men” come to town and start to convince the townspeople to “save” time by doing things very quickly. In reality, everyone who agrees loses time and becomes super grumpy! No one visits Momo anymore except for the kids, who have no where else to go. Momo realizes she must save everyone from the gray men.
This edition of Momo is a 40th anniversary edition (just released yesterday!) and it is a MUST READ book. The plot of this book is very unlike anything I’ve read. It is unique and fun to read. I love Master Hora, the guy in charge of keeping time going. He’s cool. I like the idea of the gray men as bad guys. They are really creepy. Momo is a great character. I like her “power!” I wish I had a power like that. I love the adventure in this book! I really like Cassiopeia, Master Hora’s turtle, which can see exactly 30 minutes into the future and she can also “talk” by having letters appear on her shell to spell out sentences. I find that very cool. The illustrations scattered through the book are awesome. I like the last picture – Cassiopeia showing two words that appear only to the readers – The End!
PS – My parents were surprised I never heard of or read “The Never Ending Story,” Mr. Ende’s most popular book (he wrote Momo six years earlier than The Never Ending Story). Guess what I will be checking out of the library next? ;)
By M.J. Shaughnessy
135 pages – ages 9+
Published by Jumping Jackalope Press on June 13, 2013
Available as an ebook sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Dane Winter, the 6th, was rich. He had everything he could want… well maybe not everything. Dane’s parents give him everything he could want but they really pay no attention to him. His parents travel to Outer Cambria a lot to help poor/sick kids, which is pretty ironic because their own kid feels so alone. Plus there’s the “little” matter that Dane has a rare disease where he’s super allergic to the sun and he can’t go outside except at night (that’s why his nickname is Gloom).
When his parents buy him a super-special suit that protects him from the UV (Ultra-Violet) rays from the sun, Dane gains his “freedom”. The suit is great and all that, but it means that he has to go to Outer Cambria, by order of his parents, which Dane doesn’t want to do because a) he has friends here in Winterville, where he lives and b) he’s pretty angry at his parents. The suit projects holographic images of Dane, so that anyone looking at him sees the real Dane, and not a weird suit. With his new suit, and his best friend, Jinx Bellamy (her nickname is Doom), Dane decides to take on the Mad Dogs, an evil group of terrorizing citizens of Winterville who are trying to take over the town (they burned down a doughnut store and a library! Can you believe that?!?), which Dane heard about from Jinx. Even though Dane and Jinx have no actual superpowers (although, the suit CAN turn into different costumes, or just plain invisible), Jinx is a black belt in TaeKwon-Do and Dane knows how to use a sword. But is that enough to stop the Mad Dogs?
I loved this book. The characters in this story are awesome. I like how Dane is rich, but is neglected (ex: his parents come from Outer Cambria to be with him on Christmas, but they do NOTHING together!), and how he seems to have it all but he has a horrible sun allergy. I think it gives more depth to the plot. Dane (the 6th) is a great character. I like him a lot. He’s got guts, a lot of money, and a nice home, but he has problems he has to overcome. This all makes Dane more “likeable” I like the idea of a normal person (especially a kid) becoming like a superhero even though they have no superpowers. I think it’s very cool. I hope that there is a Book 2 (there should be because this is a book 1 ;) ), even though this ended at a place where the book has a great ending and I felt like this part of the story was complete.
Lucy the Wonder Weenie by Nina Clark and Horace the Tortoise At the Water’s Edge by Krystal Russell!21 Jun
First off to start the day, I want to wish my Mom a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” :D She turned 27! ;)
by Nina Clark
Illustrated by Sara Pulver
32 pages – ages 4+
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on February 11, 2013
Lucy, the Wiener dog, loved to lick everyone. Sadly, everyone didn’t like to get licked. But when Lucy eats some magic beans, she turns into… LUCY THE WONDER WEENIE!!! She uses her licking powers to make EVERYONE happy, whether they lick it… er… like it or not!
This was a cute picture book (and I love a good doggie story). I like the message the story gives – “use your strengths”. It is important for kids to learn this! Lucy was a great character and she is based on a real dog! I liked the illustration style used in the book. I thought it was different and colorful. The book would make a great read aloud for parents and kids.
I give this book four out of five book worms!
You can visit the Lucy the Wonder Weenie blog HERE.
Horace the Tortoise At the Water’s Edge
By Krystal Russell
Illustrated by Tabitha Smith
58 pages – ages 5+
Published by Tall Tails Publishing House on January 9, 2013
Horace the tortoise didn’t like the day if it was sunny, cloudy, or rainy. It was never a perfect day. As always, he goes to the edge of the water and checks it with his foot. But it’s always too warm, too cold, or too wet. Except for one day, he fell in, and met a new friend – Todd the Toad. Will Todd change Horace’s grumpy outlook?
This book has TWO great messages – “Don’t be a pessimist” and “Try new things” and “Make new friends”! Oh wait, that’s three great messages. :) I like the story and the messages it gave. I thought the illustrations are really well done and went well with the story. The length and word difficulty of the book makes it a parent read aloud book, but that can be nice too because parents can use the book to talk to their kids about making friends and trying new things.