Tag Archives: this kid reviews books

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! The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

8 Dec

8thdayThe Eighth Day

Series: The Eighth Day (Book 1)

By Dianne K. Salerni

320 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCOllins on April 22, 2014

Synopsis- Jax Aubrey hated his eighteen-year-old ignorant guardian, Riley Pendare, and the town that he now lived in. He started living with Riley after Jax’s dad died (his mom died years before). Jax wished he could leave the stupid town and everyone in it forever. But when Jax wakes up one morning, and nobody is in town, not a single soul, he panics. This wasn’t what he meant! Where was everyone? But, the next day, everyone was back, and nobody knew that anything weird happened. Then, next week, it happened again. Jax soon learns there is an eighth day of the week in a different time-frame, and only certain people can traverse between the two. Jax live in both the normal 7 days and in the 8th day. Other people only lived on the eighth day. As it turns out, Jax, along with his not-so-clueless guardian, Riley, are protectors of one of the 8th day people, Evangeline. Evangeline is hiding from evil men (who also live in the eighth day) that want to get rid of the normal days and everyone in them, and replace it with only the eighth day. Jax’s days just got a lot more complicated!

What I Liked- This is one of those wild, crazy-good books that make you feel like you got off an awesome roller coaster when you get done with it. Ms. Salerni has written a one-of-a-kind exciting, and fun adventure book. The best part is that the writing is so well done that the story hangs together well and everything clicks. There is a cool setting that makes you feel like you are there with Jax. The idea of the eighth day is a creepy, yet cool, phenomenon. Imagine what could happen in a day, but to normal folk, it would happen in a minute. A lot of things can happen in a day. Lots of things could go wrong. I think it was a nice touch to have references to the Arthurian legends – as a fan of the legends, I really appreciated that.  I really liked connecting the dots in the story to figure out who was who. Jax is a realistic, normal tween whom you can relate to. Riley, his guardian, ends up being pretty cool, too. I sincerely hope that there is a sequel!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Hades Speaks! By Vicky Alvear Shecter

3 Dec

WOW! I have really read a lot of good books lately – let the run on good books continue!

hadesspeaksHades Speaks!: A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead 

By Vicky Alvear Shecter

Illustrated by J. E. Larson

Series: Secrets of the Ancient Gods

128 pages – ages 9+

Published by Boyds Mills Press on September 1, 2014

Synopsis- Have you ever wondered what it is like to be the Lord of the Dead? Or to have people coming to your doorstep, just because you could bring people back to life? That’s the Greek God of the Dead, Hades’, daily experience. Hades leads you through a friendly, behind-the-scenes tour of his realm. Have fun! And watch out for the Furies!

What I Liked- This book is written like I like them – good story with an edge of humor. For example, Hades, even though he is the Greek Lord of the Dead, actually seems like a nice guy, in a god of the dead sort of way. He has a witty sense of humor and is a good tour guide through the underworld. He talks to you, the reader, as he explains a bit about some of the Greek myths and traditions. That was really cool. There are great black and white illustrations scattered throughout the book. They portray the feeling of the book very well. I laughed out loud when Hades said that he was angry at Harry Potter for calling Hades’ hell-hound “Fluffy” and that Lord Voldemort copied his name “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” as Hades was called by the Greeks. I think that this book would be a good one for reluctant readers of any kids interested in mythology. I am interested in reading the other books in the Secrets of the Ancient Gods series after reading this one.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Wanderville: On Track For Treasure (Book 2) by Wendy McClure

1 Dec

wander2Wanderville: On Track For Treasure
By Wendy McClure
Series: Wanderville – Book 2
224 pages – ages  8+
Published by Razorbill on October 16, 2014

Synopsis- Set in the early 1900’s, Wanderville is a traveling “town” that was created by orphans in the first Wanderville book. The town is set up so that, wherever they are, it can come with them (see my review HERE), they are kind of like gypsies. The town now has 10 new residents but they all must leave immediately. The evil sheriff had found them and he is determined to round the kids up and send them to the work farms they escaped from. They hop a train, and find a home with a reverend and his wife. But the kids soon find out it may all be too good to be true.

What I Liked- Ms. McClure has written another great historical fiction story! The characters in the book are very real. They act and talk like kids – kids who are on the run and who are trying to find a home. The story is really interesting. I was very intrigued because there really were orphan trains and I found the 1900’s setting very fun to read about. The interesting plot twist is *DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT A SPOILER* The reverend and his wife do good, but they aren’t necessarily good. *OKAY YOU CAN READ AGAIN* The plot kept me reading and lost in the story. The length and language in the book makes it great for kids 8+ but older kids will enjoy the story a lot too. I love the covers in this series. I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

I give “On Track For Treasure” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

REVIEW! Time Square: UFO by S.W. Lothian

30 Nov

timeufoTime Square: UFO
Time Square Series – Book 2
By S.W. Lothian
214 pages – ages 8+
Published by CreateSpace on October 12, 2014


Synopsis- When Eva and Lewis’ dad put time itself in mortal danger (accidentally, of course – he’s really a nice guy), 163 time travelers were scattered throughout time. Rescue teams were sent out to save the travelers from whatever time they landed in. Eva and Lewis, along with their new friends, Max Wells and Razer Sharpe, become a team, and are sent to 1947 Roswell, the time of the supposed UFO crash-landing. Will the rescue team be able to find and help the lost time traveler in time (no pun intended – well, maybe a little ;) )?

What I Liked- This book was AWESOME! I’ve read a lot of Mr. Lothian’s books and this one is my favorite. I loved the adventure in it and the writing was top-notch.  Even though this book is technically the second book in the series, it is really Eva and Lewis’ first adventure through time with their new friends. This is a really action-packed book. There is a race against time to stop a mad scientist from trying to hurt a lost time traveler that is mistaken for an alien. The book is appropriate for all ages. The mad scientist (the bad guy) is quite funny and I enjoyed his character very much. The whole story was enjoyable and the time travel parts were done really well. The story takes place at Roswell, at the time of their famed alien sighting, so that makes it even more dangerous for the main characters (and fun for the reader), whose time traveling portal closes with a bright flash!

I give “The UFO” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Secret of King Triton’s Lair (The Expeditioners Book 2) by S.S. Taylor

28 Nov

exped2The Secret of King Triton’s Lair (The Expeditioners Book 2)

By S.S. Taylor

Illustrated by Katherine Roy

320 pages – ages 9+
Published by McSweeney’s McMullens on September 23, 2014


Synopsis- After their escapades in Drowned Man’s Canyon (see my review HERE), Kit, Zander, M.K. West (and Sukey) are back in another adventure! When Kit’s supposedly dead father gives him clues that lead to an island in the North Carribean, Kit finds the perfect excuse to go there – via an expedition request! After the Drowned Man’s Canyon fiasco, the Wests joined the Academy for the Exploratory Sciences (a school for expeditioners). The Academy has a yearly program that allows the students to make a request to go on an expedition of their choice. But when their rival at the Academy, Lazlo Nackley, steals their idea, he is one of the ones to get chosen, and becomes head of the operation. It all starts to go downhill when Lazlo’s evil, controlling father comes along as a chaperone (the nice teacher that is supervising them can’t come because he is seasick and wouldn’t have been able to help).  The Wests (and Sukey) know that they have a hard journey coming on, but there is much more they aren’t expecting.

What I liked- This was a marvelous sequel to the first book. It has all of the steampunk-y, futuristic-ness that I came to love in the first book. It explains some more about how the world got into its “current” state, with all of the dystopian-ness of it. The new adventure that the West’s go through was cool and exciting, and they really make use of their surrounding events perfectly. I think that they go to the Bermuda Triangle (although it is called something different, in this world-frame), and visit a mysterious island in it. The setting is a fascinating place, and plays an important part in the series. The characters get stuck on a deserted island, full of unknown animals, and the island isn’t charted as existing. Like the first book, the book jacket is reversible, and has a blueprint-y feel to them, as it shows a machine from the book. This is a great adventure story that a lot of kids will like. I really like this series, and I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Leap Write In! by Karen Benke

26 Nov

leapwriteLeap Write In!
By Karen Benke
256 pages – ages 11+
Published by Roost Books on April 2, 2013

Synopsis [from the back cover]- In this book you’ll find: On-The-Spot Drops that offer “free-fall” prompts on different themes, such as short-winded poems and seven-line stories. Mini Memoirs to unlock personal narratives to share, or not. Suddenly A Story suggestions to explore feelings and states of being like fear, reluctance, compassion, kindness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, happiness, and more. Surprise Yourself Surveys for those who think they know everything about themselves. Untie-Your-Mind Word Lists to jump start stalled imaginations. Definition Decoders to introduce new ideas and styles of writing.

What I Liked- First off, I was very excited to read this book! Ms. Benke’s other book “Rip The Page!” was great, and really helped me with my writing. I found this book was a great follow-up to “Rip The Page!” because the writing challenges were a bit more complex. The prompts were realistic and slightly challenging to do, especially if you aren’t in your creative mind frame, like the activities “Stop Making Sense” and “Your Moody Monkey Mind” – two of my favorites. Ms. Benke gave several activities for each prompt, giving the reader a choice to do. She also included some examples, from real people, so you get your creative juices flowing, and have some real inspiration. The book covers a wide range of creative writing topics, from dialogue tags to – **ugh** – the necessary step of revision. There are some really fun things to do. Ms. Benke shares some “mini memoirs” of her life, and encourages others to do the same. This is a wonderful writing resource!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Check out one of the creative writing things I did! I wrote a pantoum (I never even heard of this poem type before reading this book).

A Pantoum Pantoum

               [   or   ]

An Ode to Pantoums Everywhere

            By Erik

A pantoum is
An interesting poem type
That’s fun to do
With simple steps.

An interesting poem type:
You can master it
With simple steps.
Can you see it take shape?

You can master things
With some effort.
I can see a poem
Forming from mid-thought.

With some effort,
It’s fun to do.
Forming from mid-thought,
Is a pantoum.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

23 Nov


By Raina Telgemeier

208 pages – ages 8+

Published by GRAPHIX on August 26, 2014

Synopsis- Raina and her family are going to Colorado for a family reunion. She, her sister, brother, and mom are going by car, and their dad will fly in later. Along the way, a lot of things go wrong for Raina and her family. Raina and her sister never get along, even though Raina wanted a sister for years. The arguing made the car trip even longer. After pretty much everything goes wrong, especially her parents hinting that they don’t get along anymore, Raina starts to wonder if anything will get better.

What I liked- This is a really cool graphic novel. It’s pretty interesting how, along with the story-line, there are also “flashbacks” that Raina has. That was fun. Raina (the character, reflects Ms. Telgemeier, because another one of Ms. Telgemeier’s books, Smile (also a great bookand Sisters are memoirs) is an average 14-year-old, with an average, slightly angry younger sister. They have a normal, argumentative, at times humorous, relationship. It was a nice touch that Raina and her sister were kind of brought together by the fact that their parents might get divorced, and that they were scared of what would happen. The story is full of humor, and seems very realistically done. It is a nice story, and the illustrations are top-notch. I hope that there will be another book!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

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


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