Stella By Starlight
By Sharon M. Draper
336 pages – ages 9+
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on January 6, 2015
Synopsis- The year is 1932. Stella and her family are African-Americans living in a segregated southern town. Stella loves her family, her community and her schools, but isn’t comfortable with being second class because of her skin color. When the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is spotted doing a ritual near Stella’s house, Stellla’s community does everything they can to stay under the KKK’s radar. But when a conversation in church results in bringing up the fact that there is a chance for African American’s to vote, some of the men in Stella’s community go to sign up. And that’s when the KKK starts acting up. Stella decides to take a stand.
What I Liked- This is a marvelous historical fiction novel set in the segregated south. The description of the time and place brought vivid pictures to my mind. Ms. Draper really transports you into the story, and you can feel the strength of Stella’s community. It just makes you want to smile. Stella is a great main character whom you care greatly about and really understand her feelings. Stella is loosely based on Ms. Draper’s grandmother. I like the addition of Stella’s journal writings in the book, with misspelled words slashed through, and when she was typing, some simple mistakes on the typewriter, etc. It is an incredible authentic touch to the story, and it brought out Stella’s character even more. The story has great historical information about segregation and the civil rights movement. Ms. Draper has packaged an incredible history lesson in a captivating story.
I give “Stella By Starlight” five out of five bookworms!
Camp Bad Guy Episode 1: The Worst Kids in the World
By Ellis Weiner
131 pages – ages 11+
Published by Frederator Books, LLC on October 13, 2014
Synopsis: Jim Goode is a… Good kid. So why are his parents forcing him to come to Camp Bad Guy? It’s a summer camp that trains kids to be the world’s next dictators, supervillains, and just plain psychos! They’re encouraged to steal, cheat, trick, etc. And Jim is honest! After arriving at camp, Jim starts wondering if he really knows his parents after all. How will a good kid survive at Camp Bad Guy?
What I Liked: This book was awesome! It creates a new world that you will love and hate at the same time! I like how the descendants of the villains come from villains that are “real” (one of the counselors is James Bond’s best enemy’s grandson), while others are just made up for the book, like The Chuckler (the camp director), but are very creative. The story is hilarious and just a blast to read. The humor can be a bit edgy – like there is a class titled – “How to Make Sure a Person is Drowning” and “Junior Life-Taking” (a play on life saving) – but – hey, it’s Camp BAD Guy! It’s the same kind of snarky humor in Mr. Weiner’s Templeton Twins. There are a few minor cuss words (mostly “D***”). This stuff isn’t that bad, but I know some parents won’t like that for younger kids. Mr. Weiner’s story-telling abilities shine through in the book. I really liked the main character, Jim.
I give Camp Bad Guy five out of five bookworms!
The Story Catcher
By Donna L. Martin
34 pages – ages 6+
Published by Anaiah Press, LLC on January 20, 2015 (HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY! ;) )
Synopsis: Addie loves when her family members read to her. They are experts at catching stories! But for Addie, it has always been hard to catch her own story! The words always wriggle out of reach, squish out of sight, nettle out of the net! Will Addie ever become a story catcher?
What I Liked: First of all, I love that illustrations of the grandma has her in a type of aviator outfit – that is a great detail! The illustrations are gorgeous and really draw one in. They have a rather whimsical feel that makes you keep reading. Ms. Martin has written a wonderful story about learning to read, or “catch” stories, while just writing a good story. I like how Addie learns that with a little faith, you can do anything! Its amazing message is a really inspiring one. Ms. Martin’s debut picture book is extremely well written and fun.
I give this book five out of five bookworms!
Want to know more? Visit Ms. Martin’s blog – Click HERE
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS ONE!
Tombquest: Book of The Dead
By Michael Northrop
197 pages (ARC)- ages 9+
Published by Scholastic on January 27, 2015
Synopsis: You know that life isn’t good when you’re 12 and you’re gonna die. The doctors don’t know what disease you have and they can’t help you. That’s Alex Sennefer’s life. That is, until his archaeologist/museum curator mom (think Indiana Jones – she works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art) finds the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and uses it to bring Alex back from the dead (he had been dead for 10 seconds). Great, right? Well now a bunch of strange stuff is going on – museum mummies changing positions, strange weather patterns – and an ancient cult rising. The Death Walkers threaten everything in the world and Alex (and his best friend, Ren (who is a girl)) have to stop them.
What I Liked: This is a great start to a new series. There are 5 books planned for the series with the last one being published in March or April of 2016. Unlike Scholastic’s other multiplatform series, Tombquest will be written by just Mr. Northrop (the other series have different authors writing different books). Multiplatform means there is an online game to go with the books. I think that’s cool and a way to bring kids into reading when they may not be so interested in reading. Mr. Northrop really built up a great story. Alex is a great character, and Ren really reminds me of one of my classmates. The beginning of the book is a bit tense because Alex is always sick, but it builds up for the adventure that is going to happen. The book is non-stop action-packed. The dialogue was hilarious and very realistic. Plus, the online game (see it HERE) for it is really cool!
The game is easy to use and appropriate for kids. It requires a Scholastic account (free to sign up for). I think it would have been better to have an example of the game on the main page so kids and parents could read what it is about before signing into it, but that’s only a minor point. The graphics are very cool. You can build your own tomb and raid others’. It is a nice compliment to the book.
I like how there are lots of little touches in the book – like the chapters are numbered with Egyptian numbers and there is an Egyptian alphabet in the back of the book. Mr. Northrop wrote a great adventure with a satisfying ending but left a ton of questions and plenty to write about in the next book. I am looking forward to the next adventure!
I give “Book of The Dead” 5 out of 5 bookworms!
Want to know more? Check out Mr. Northrop’s website HERE or Scholastic’s website HERE.
Galaxy’s Most Wanted
By John Kloepfer
Illustrated by Nick Edwards
224 pages – ages 9+
Published by HarperCollins on July 22, 2014
Synopsis- Kevin Brewer and his science camp friends (Tara, Warner, and TJ) are at the best STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Camp in America. Basically it’s a science summer camp for nerds. Alexander Russ has won the Invention Convention (a competition) four years in a row, and Kevin isn’t going to give up yet! It doesn’t help that Alexander is a snobby rich kid. So, to beat him, Kevin and the other Extraordinary Terrestials (Kevin’s team) must do the impossible! Getting their idea from a comic book, they decide to make a Galactascope – a device that can communicate with aliens! To their surprise – no one really expected it – an actual alien, named Mim, responds, and appears through the sky! But what if Mim isn’t all that he seems?
What I Liked- I LOVED THIS BOOK! The world that Mr. Kloepfer creates is pretty much my heaven – nerd science camp – with aliens! And just plain cool stuff! The plot is really good! I like how there is a great plot twist in it that was somewhat unexpected (when it happens, it feels like there is no foreshadowing, but after thinking back, I realized that there was). The characters were believable, and very realistic. Kevin is a normal geeky nerd. So are his friends. It is really cool how they all have a specialty. Looking forward to reading book 2!
I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!
Ghosts of Belle Isle – The Virginian Mysteries Book 3
By Steven K. Smith
228 pages – ages 7+
Published by MyBoys3 Press on October 9, 2014
Synopsis- Derek and Sam are back, along with Sam’s friend Caitlin. Derek and Sam’s parents are going to Paris on a honeymoon (in the last book, they redid their marriage vows), and they left a college-aged cousin in charge of them for the time-being. The cousin turns out to be a terrible chaperone (she’s more interested in her boyfriend). But she lets them do whatever (that’s part of the ‘only caring about her boyfriend’ thing). After hearing a ghost story from an older neighbor, Derek and Sam go to Belle Isle. They see a ghost drawn on the wall of a run-down factory, and hear strange voices. Altogether, very creepy. Add in a biker gang led by Mad Dog DeWitt that has a secret hideout in the factory. Will the kids figure out what’s going on with the biker gang and the ghosts?
What I Liked- This is a great addition to The Virginia Mysteries series. Mr. Smith really knows how to write a fun mystery. He puts in some thrilling parts, but still keeps it age-appropriate for his readers. Derek and Sam have a “normal” sibling relationship, which led to some humor in the book. The writing style is very good. I like how they go throughout Richmond, Virginia and see the historical sites. The reader thus learns some things about the Civil War in a fun way. This series is a perfect example of how small publisher/indie authors can turn out great books. I really hope that there is another book in this fun series!
I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!
Read to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!!!
All Hallows Eve and the Menace of Mutantula
By David Eveleigh
pages – ages 8+
Published by on
Synopsis- All Hallows Eve is back again! When a tarantula in a laboratory escapes, all is (somewhat) normal. Add in the fact that a growth liquid is the experiment that is currently undergoing there. Then, you get a big spider. A REALLY big spider. As in, hundreds of feet tall. Hundreds. And Eve is a mere human (well… with superpowers). Will the Halloween Heroine be able to stop this monstrous beast? It’s Harvest Time!
What I Liked- To start off, I have to tell you that I am a Godzilla and Ultraman fan at heart. I am a comic giant-monster geek.
This book brought back great memories of two of my favorite comics. :)
If you aren’t familiar with the All Hallows Eve series, the books are novellas. They aren’t comics but the stories and action in them are very much comic bookish. The heroine of the series, Eve, is a great role model for kids. She is also a great superhero too. It’s cool to see another really good female superhero. The stories Mr. Eveleigh writes are action packed but also kid-friendly. In this book, Mr. Eveleigh really does a great job at creating the Cold War era that the books take place in. I felt like I was really there with Eve! Mr. Eveleigh has really cool little comic illustrations that begin each chapter. They were a marvelous detail for the book! The story-line is fun and realistic (or as realistic as a superhero and giant monsters can get). This is a wonderful addition to the All Hallows Eve series!
I give this book five out of five bookworms!
Now, for the giveaway!
Mr. Eveleigh has generously donated 3 e-copies (.Mobi file) to be given away!
And all you have to do is comment! Comment with a guess of how many books I read last year! [not including picture books]
The giveaway will end on Tuesday, January 13th (2015), 11:59PM EST, and the winners will be announced on the 14th. The closest 3 guesses will win!
The 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.
The 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!