Review! The Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson

22 Aug

shatteredlensThe Shattered Lens

Series: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (#2, #3)

Written by Brandon Sanderson

Illustrations by Hayley Lazo

336 pages – ages 9+

Published by Starscape on July 19, 2016

Synopsis- Alcatraz Smedry is back! Well, actually, he’s still been where he was, and you’ve just picked up the fourth book. Anyways, the country of Mokia is under siege by the Evil Librarians, and Nalhalla cannot send help because there is not a legal technicality enabling them to. Until Alcatraz and his family (plus Bastille!) decide to change that, that is. The Knights of Crystallia, the guardians of the royalty, are excellent warriors, and are supposed to protect the royalty. So, Alcatraz decides to do something stupid – he decides to visit a capital under siege. But will it be enough to change the outcome of the war?

What I Thought- This was an awesome book! It is a well-written for kids, and is clean. The book has a lot of humor that pokes fun on how books are written. Sanderson’s writing style is captivating.  I love the narration of  “Mr. Smedry” (the book is a “memoir” of Alcatraz), breaking the fourth wall with witty humor, and a way of making fun of everybody while not being 100% insulting. His snarkiness is just amazing. The story keeps the reader laughing through the entire book. The book is just as good as the others, if not better. You really see Alcatraz turn into a better leader, and learning responsibility (to a certain degree, after all, he is a 13-year-old boy and a Smedry!). There are illustrations throughout the book that add another dimension to the story, making the book even more funny. The book is a great read, and I cannot wait to read book five!

I give this five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Go to Sleep, Monster! by Kevin Cornell

19 Aug

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 fun, unique bedtime story.

gotosleepGo to Sleep, Monster!
By Kevin Cornell
32 pages – ages 5+

Published by Balzer + Bray on April 12, 2016

Theme/Topic- Facing your fears/Bedtime

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “‘George,’ said Anna, ‘turn off the light!'”

Synopsis from publisher: “Getting George to sleep is a nightmare. But getting a monster to sleep? That’s an adventure.

This is the first book written and illustrated by the bestselling artist of the Terrible Two series, Kevin Cornell.”

What I Thought- This is a fun bedtime story. The kids go down the line of scary monsters, and try to figure out what is scaring them. It encourages facing fears, and helping others. The book is funny, and kids will love having it read to them. Mr. Cornell’s illustrations go perfectly with the story, and really add another dimension to the book. I think that kids will enjoy poring over the illustrations, looking for extra details.

gotosleep1

The lighting effects in the illustrations are very cool. I even like the font used.

Activities and Resources- If you need help calming your kids down before bedtime, Parenting.com and Modernparentsmessykids.com both have great activities HERE and HERE.

Parents.com has a nice article about how to deal with fears in little kids HERE.

Read a sample of this book at the publisher’s website HERE.

Learn more about the art and concept art behind this book at Mr. Cornell’s website HERE.

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

AAARROOO!!! Its the The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Blog Tour and Giveaway!

18 Aug

Full Moon of the Were-Hyena banner
Welcome! Today, I am taking a part in the blog tour for Bruce Hale’s “Curse of the Were Hyena!”

TCURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA hi reshe Curse of the Were-Hyena

Written by Bruce Hale

224 pages – ages 8+

Published by Disney-Hperion on July 5, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Two likable fourth graders–Carlos and Benny–are a little freaked out since their favorite teacher, Mr. Chu, has started acting strangely, like sniffing people’s homework, laughing hysterically, and chasing chickens. When they decide to find out what’s happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And that’s just the beginning . . . .”

 

When I got the information for the blog tour, I was asked if I wanted anything”special” from Mr. Hale. Well, I couldn’t resist asking for his best photo of himself as a were-hyena and a description of his night as a were-hyena. Thinking Mr. Hale would politely pass on my request, I was surprised to  get this back –

BruceHale_werewolfSnapshot-1 (2)

Who knew? Bruce Hale was a were-wolf in his earlier days! The picture was accompanied with a great story about his night as a were-hyena wolf.

Born to howl

By Bruce Hale

   I’ve always had a thing for werewolves. Maybe it’s innate in me. Or maybe it dates back to when, at nine years old, my buddies and I were watching The Wolf-man on TV, and my dad burst into the room wearing monster hands and my mom’s fur hat, howling away.

You don’t forget something like that.

Whatever the cause, this werewolf love has led me to watch lots of spooky movies and to write monster stories like my newest, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA. And once, it led me to get wolfy myself.

Back when I was living in Hawaii, a friend passed me a free ticket to the Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s costume ball fundraiser. As this was right before Halloween, my favorite time of year, I immediately agreed to go.

For days, I agonized over a costume. A professional children’s theater could generate some pretty cool outfits for the other attendees. What could I wear to keep up with them?

And then it hit me. Time to go full wolf-man.

With the help of a friend, I rounded up some fake hair and spirit gum, and shredded some old clothes. I put on some spooky makeup, and she painstakingly applied the hair to my clean-shaven face.

It looked great. With a wild howl, I hopped onto a borrowed motorbike and set out for the party. It wasn’t a long ride through that October night, but it was a memorable one.

I got so many double-takes from other drivers that I couldn’t help cracking up. What, they’d never seen a werewolf biker before?

Soon I reached the party, which was held in an old-timey mansion that could’ve doubled as a haunted house. I didn’t know anybody, which normally would’ve been a cause of concern.

But not this time.

I played the werewolf role to the hilt—howling, dancing like a wild man, and savaging the trays of appetizers. I even tried to sniff the people I met, not all of whom cared for this.

In short, I had a terrific time.

Other partiers tried to guess who I was under all that makeup and hair, but since they’d never met me before, all their guesses were wrong. I preserved my werewolf identity, never revealing my real name.

And when at last I mounted my motorbike and rode off under a gibbous moon, I rode with a smile. Many sons don’t want to end up just like their fathers, but when you’ve got a dad who’s a wolf-man, it’s just too much fun to resist.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!!

The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Howling Good Giveaway!

Ten winners will receive a copy of Bruce Hale’s The Curse of the Were-Hyena. Four Grand Prize winners will receive The Curse of the Were-Hyena plus an advance reading copy of the second book in the series, Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! And as a bonus, Grand Prize winners will also get a signed photo of Bruce Hale disguised as a were-wolf! Click here to enter.
Photo Credit Jose Carpizo

Photo Credit Jose Carpizo

Author Bio: Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 35 seriously funny books for children, including the popular School for S.P.I.E.S. and Chet Gecko Mysteries series; as well as picture books such as Clark the Shark, Snoring Beauty, and Big Bad Baby. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Bruce’s book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist and Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and dog.

Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook!
BUT WAIT! EVEN MORE!
What is a post about a book without me telling you what I thought about it?CURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA hi res

What I Thought- I really am not into monster stories but I really liked Hale’s writing in his School for S.P.I.E.S. series and figured I’d give it a try. I am happy I did. Although the story is about a fictional monster, Hale made his characters realistic. The characters in the book are fourth-graders and the dialogue is spot on. The illustrations throughout the book are a good addition and are great for the story’s intended audience. While I do not normally read monster books, this one is less on the horror, and has a decent amount of humor tossed in it. It is good for kids who want a scary story that isn’t too scary. There are still stakes (as in plot stakes, not vampire stakes), but the book is completely appropriate for an 8-year-old+ audience.  This is a great start to a new series!

Visit Mr. Hale’s website to get the discussion guide and activities!

Review! 101 Things to Do Outside

17 Aug

101outside101 Things to Do Outside

by Susan Hayes

Illustrated by  Shahid Mahmood

Editors Fay Evans, Lydia Halliday

144 pages – ages 8-12

Published by  Walter Foster Jr, (Division of Quatro) on March 1, 2016 (Published by Weldon Owen in  Great Britain 2015)

Synopsis from Publisher- “From animal tracking and survival skills to using a compass and growing vegetables, 101 Things to Do Outside is the perfect guide for young explorers and aspiring adventurers longing for a taste of the great outdoors. Right outside your front door, there’s a world bursting with adventures just waiting to be explored. This pocket-sized book is overflowing with things to try, do, learn, and remember (plus it has a handy checklist!). Includes helpful step-by-step illustrations and plenty of activities and lessons. Actvities include: Outdoor games such as beach basketball and giant chess; Outdoor art projects such as build a hammock and making bark rubbings; Outdoor nature activities such as bug hunting and fossil hunting; Outdoor gardening activities such as planting a boot garden and creating an herb window box; Outdoor exploring activities such as cooking on a campfire and sending message with a flashlight. The fourth installment of the 101 Things series encourages children to step away from the computer screen and experience nature firsthand from their very own backyards.”

What I Thought- This is a decent guide to doing things outside. The instructions are thorough and easy to understand. I really liked the format of the book – it’s spiral bound like a notebook. Each page has a description of an activity along with illustrations to help and a list of materials.  There is also a little check box at the bottom of each activity so you can mark that you’ve done it – nice feature.

101outside1

The pages are colored and have an “outdoorsy” feel about them.  The instructions also point out good times to ask an adult for help. There are games, crafts and some science based activities. Most of the activities are probably good for third graders and younger, with a few things for older kids. I took the book camping with us last week and read it. It gave us some ideas of things to do! I can see parents handing the book to kids who say “I’m bored” or using it as a way to get their kids outside more.  Overall a fun book that is a great boredom buster!

For a full preview of the book, visit the publisher’s website by clicking HERE.

I give this book four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Review! Miist by Kamilla Reid

16 Aug

miistMiist

Series: The Bone Grit Historeum (#1)

By Kamilla Reid

313 pages – ages 9+

Published by Kamilla Reid on October 3, 2015

Synopsis- In a fantasy world where humans aren’t the only intelligent life forms, there lived a girl named Root. Root wasn’t an ordinary girl – every human in the land has a Pyre, or a magical talent, and Root’s was one of the most infamous; the “Bone Grit”, or cursed Pyre, which enables the user to find objects considered lost forever. When the Guardian of the Land (a corrupted “governor”) issues a Marrow Bind, a mandatory call for service intended for kids of Bone Grit blood and Root is called, she realizes that all is not what it seems, especially when kids without wealth (AKA her) mysteriously “disappear” afterwards. It doesn’t help that the Guardian wants a magical vessel called the Miist of Kalliope found. The Miist can heal anything, was thought to be lost in an infamous battle, and is also an extremely dangerous object in the wrong hands…

What I Thought- This was a pretty good book! Ms. Reid’s writing style has a way of drawing you in and making you sympathize with the characters. The book is a little on the darker side, but it is a really well-written book. There are scary monsters, but the book is not graphic or anything like that. The characters are realistic, and the fantasy world makes sense. I really enjoyed reading about the adventures the characters go through. Root is a tough character who has a lot going on in her life, but still manages to pull ahead. I like how Ms. Reid wrote the book, the style being both serious and light-hearted. The plot keeps you interested, and the setting is dark, but the characters are like beacons of light in the world. The book is a great example of a well-executed self-published book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

BOOK TRAILER REVEAL for The Arrow Realm by Donna Galanti Plus EXCERPT!!!

15 Aug

Joshua and the Arrow Realm ebook.jpg

BOOK TRAILER REVEAL + GIVEAWAY FOR JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM!

I’m thrilled to unveil the trailer for book two in Donna Galanti’s fantasy adventure Lightning Road series, JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM, arriving August 30th. The Midwest Book Review calls book one, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, “a heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.”  Grab book one for just $.99cents now through September 20th.

Be sure to enter the fun giveaway package at the bottom of this post that includes a paperback of book one, poster of the Lost Realm, bookmarks, and a $25 B&N gift card (U.S. only). Sign up for Donna’s Thunderclap book release campaign and help her zap the world through social media with her lightning message!

ABOUT JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM:

On August 30th take the lightning road back to a world of beasts, bandits, and heroes in book two of the Lightning Road series. Join Joshua in a new fight for power in the Arrow Realm. Can Joshua and his friends conquer an unstoppable evil?

Joshua never thought he’d return to the world of Nostos but is soon called to the Arrow Realm to free his imprisoned friend, King Apollo, kidnapped as a power pawn in Queen Artemis’s quest to conquer every realm. With his loyalties divided between our world and theirs, Joshua wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs and save all those enslaved. But when he finds himself abandoned in his quest, he fears he cannot only save those imprisoned—but himself as well.

“Fast-paced and endlessly inventive, Joshua and the Arrow Realm is a high-stakes romp through a wild world where descendants of the Greek gods walk beside you, beasts abound, and not everything—or everyone—is as it seems.” ~ Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of the TombQuest series

JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM BOOK TRAILER:

EXCERPT:

A faint rumble groaned through the whistling wind.

Boom!

Thunder ripped the sky overhead.

Charlie reached the frozen pond, spinning across it. “Woohoo! I win! You Americans can’t beat us at speed!”

Lightning flashed. It zinged across the pine trees like brilliant sunlight. A seed of terror flickered inside me.

Boom! Boom!

Another flash scorched the sky.

Charlie’s smile fell to a frown as he raced across the ice, peering up into the swirling clouds.

We both knew what lightning could do.

Suddenly, sneaking outside for a moonlit sled ride before Bo Chez got home from his monthly poker game didn’t seem so smart.

The sleet turned to snow. Icicles flew off trees like glass splinters, shattering on the hard snow. As I shot toward the pond, a tree on the edge moved. Its branches swayed in the swirling snow.

It wasn’t a tree, but a girl! She stumbled through the mad flurry, arms outstretched.

“Charlie, look!”

Gusts snatched the words away as my sled hit the ice and careened out of control on the bumpy surface. The girl staggered and fell onto the pond. I twisted my sled away to avoid hitting her and smashed right into Charlie. With a yelp, he pulled me up, and we clumped toward the girl. We lifted her up, half dragging her back up the hill to the house in the pelting snow and sleet.

“Who is she?” Charlie yelled.

“No idea,” I yelled back.

He said more, but his words were lost in the wind.

My lungs burned with the cold and effort. There was only one reason someone would appear with lightning—to steal us. This girl might appear like a waif unprepared for a storm but I couldn’t trust that’s all she was.

PRE-ORDER JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM:

Amazon: HERE!

Barnes & Noble: HERE!

MEET DONNA GALANTI:

Donna

Donna Galanti is the author of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. You can find her at http://www.donnagalanti.com.

BOOK REVIEWERS:

E-book ARCs (Advance Reader/Reviewer Copies) are available for this next thrilling book in The Lightning Road series! Email donna(at)donnagalanti.com for copies and specify the format you’d like.

GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecoptegiveaway

Joshua and the Arrow Realm ebook.jpg

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Silly Wonderful You by Sherri Duskey Rinker

5 Aug

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 sweet book about a mother’s love.

sillySilly Wonderful You
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by Balzer + Bray on January 5, 2016

Theme/Topic- Mother-Child/Love/Family

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I never imagined, before you came along…that our house could get this messy and LOUD!

Synopsis from publisher: “Before YOU came along, so many things were different! But now there’s a giggly baby, a house full of adventures and toys, a million little surprises. . . . And so much love.”

What I Thought- This is a really sweet book, with gentle humor. You can obviously see the love the mother has for her daughter, even if she is saying that her kid can behave a little badly sometimes. The illustrations are simple, but they are perfect for the book. The words are also perfect, bouncing around the page, acting like an energized toddler, engaging the reader. Just to mention, I also thought it neat that the art was done by the creator of the MUTTS comic strip. Ms. Rinker has written a great story to encourage discussions between parents and their children. The story is perfect for a bedtime book.

Activities and Resources- Momentsaday.com has great activities to teach about love HERE.

Naturalparentsnetwork.com has a great list of things to do with your kids before bedtime HERE.

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

Creative Kid Thursday! The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey as reviewed by Olivia and Oscar!

4 Aug

Hi Everyone! Today, I am featuring two kid book reviewers, who blog at Kidbookreviewer.com. The book they are reviewing is called “An Author’s Odyssey”, and is the fifth book in “The Land of Stories” series, written by Chris Colfer.

I’ll hand over the reigns to them now!

Hey there! We’re Olivia (12) and Oscar (9), brother and sister, and we both have a giant love of books. We started our book review blog about a year ago because we found we both loved passionately talking about books, and wanted to share that love with young kids all over the world. Since then, we’ve also interviewed a multitude of our favorite authors. Besides reading, reviewing books, and interviewing authors, we love writing, traveling, swimming, and hanging out with our family and friends.

61nae8ovpsl-sx337-bo1-204-203-200_origRating: High Five! [Note from Erik, see their rating system HERE!]

Who We’d Recommend to: Fans of Peter and the Starcatchers, fractured fairy tales, and the Whatever After series.

Synopsis (from Amazon):
In the highly anticipated continuation of the Land of Stories series, Conner learns that the only place to fight the Masked Man’s literary army is inside his own short stories! 

When the twins and their friends enter worlds crafted from Conner’s imagination, finding allies no one else could have ever dreamed of, the race begins to put an end to the Masked Man’s reign of terror. Can the twins finally restore peace in the fairy tale world?


 

Olivia’s Review; I’ve eagerly anticipated this next installment in the Land of Stories, and it hasn’t disappointed! The characters were all spot-on, and I loved getting to see Connor’s imagination through his stories and how they reflected the Bailey twins’s adventures. The writing was humorous and fast-paced – there was never a slow moment in the story. The plot was exciting and suspenseful, a perfect read for kids of all ages. I fell in love with this series a while ago and am thrilled that there will, indeed, be another book in the series after this one. Overall, an exciting, action-packed, super creative, funny, clever fifth installment to the Land of Stories!

Oscar’s Review: I really loved this book. In every chapter when you thought something was going well, the ship would sink and everything would be submerged and the story would be shaken. I really don’t have that much to say about this book because I love it so much, but I do have one thing: most who read this book will love it as they’ve loved, in turn, the first, second, third, and fourth books in the series. There was also a HUGE, interesting, and unexpected twist that really shook up the story and increased the suspense and excitement levels by a tenfold. I think this book would really appeal to reluctant readers because it is an action-packed, fast-paced fantasy story that pulls you into the book from the start.

 

Thank you very much Olivia and Oscar for reviewing this book! Don’t forget to check out their blog HERE!

Review! 20,000 Nerds Under the Sea by Jeff Miller

3 Aug

2000020,000 Nerds Under the Sea

Series: The Nerdy Dozen #3 (#2)

By Jeff Miller

208 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins on December 8, 2015

Synopsis from the publisher- “Can the nerds handle the high seas? It’s anchors away for this motley crew of middle grade, video-gaming heroes. In the exciting third book of the Nerdy Dozen series, Neil Andertol and his friends are in for their toughest mission yet!

Neil and his crew have reunited at Reboot Robiski’s video-game convention in order to try the brand-new underwater game, Captain Jolly’s Shark Hunt. Except that their win only leads to trouble.

Neil, Sam, and Biggs are captured by the real Captain Jolly, who needs their video-game skills so she can destroy the world. As they embark on an underwater adventure, can the Nerdy Dozen save the day before everything is KO’d?”

What I Thought-I really like this series. Mr. Miller has a fun writing style that really gets into the minds of young tweens, making the story pretty believable. And this has nothing to do with the fact that I am a nerd.:) The story is at the same time possible, yet completely wacky. It is neat how the characters are changing from book to book. They slowly become more mature and developed as characters. I like that there is a subtle message of forgiving your enemies, because in all the books, the characters make friends with the “villain” – in a completely plausible way. I really enjoyed how it makes video games into a pretty important thing, seeing as they have helped save the world several times. The action is realistic, spot on for Miller’s audience and makes a great story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up by Lisa M. Gerry

2 Aug

100things100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up

By Lisa M. Gerry

256 pages – ages 7+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on March 8, 2016

Synopsis from publisher – “It’s fun to be a kid, but are you ready for what comes next? Challenge yourself with these 100 things and you will be! Jam-packed with tips, tricks, and skills that every kid should master before turning 18, this is the ultimate guide to becoming a fun-loving, well-rounded, totally competent and confident young person. Complete with expert advice from real life explorers, adventurers, and masters of their craft, it’s perfect for jump-starting an amazing life!”

What I Thought- This is a good nonfiction book. It has several neat things to know. The tips are good, there are inspirational interviews, and practical advice. There is a nice mix of things to know, with things just for fun, such as balancing a spoon on your nose, and practical things to know, such as how to load the dishwasher. The only thing I didn’t really like is that it didn’t tell you how to do everything. For example, #30 (Page 78-79) is “How To Edit A Video” – but it just says it is a nice thing to learn. The pictures are a nice addition that jazzed up some of the sections. Overall, a nice summer read!

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

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