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Review! 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up By Bianca Schulze Blog Tour! AND GIVEAWAY!!!

12 Oct


101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up

Series: 101 series for Kids

By Bianca Schulze

Published by Walter Foster Jr on October 1, 2016

144 pages / ages 8-12

Synopsis from the publisher: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up provides a comprehensive list of kid-friendly books for children to read before they grow up. This must-read review list acts as an interactive journal where kids can document the books they read, why they like them, and how they rate them. Divided into sections by subject, from fairy tales and fantasy to sports and nonfiction, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up celebrates the importance of reading and encourages family participation to develop lifelong readers. The perfect reference guide for book lovers of all ages, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up helps both kids and parents decide which books to read next!

What I thought: This is a nice addition to the 101 Series for Kids. When I first saw the title of this – 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up – I immediately thought – come on, how can you possibly come up with this list? There are SO MANY books you should read before you grow up! Then I read the following author’s note –

“There are so many amazing books to be discovered and read—and far too many to list in one fun book. The 101 awesome books contained in these pages have one collective message: Be kind, be brave, and make good choices. Remember the struggles of those that came before you and those who will come after you. Be true to yourself, and with every page you turn, live your life like an epic adventure.”

Makes sense.

Plus, Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review so she knows what she is talking about. Scanning through the table of contents, yes I did see some books I think should have been listed, but I can’t argue against any of the books Schulze lists (well maybe one). And, she only got to name 101 (although in the “What to Read Next?” section following each book description Schulze got to list a few more).


As with all the books in the 101 Series for Kids, the pages are well-organized and colorful. Schulze gives a brief synopsis of each book and some comments as to why the book belongs on the list. There is also a section below each book named for kids to record that they read it and write what they thought of it. The variety of books Schulze suggests is wonderful – ranging from classics to adventure, humor to historical fiction. Schulze even gives a nod to graphic novels. There is a nice selection of culturally diverse books and I was happy with the mix of classic and more modern titles represented.



Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, a resource devoted to children’s literature and recognized by the American Library Association as a “Great Website for Kids.” She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s bookseller, Bianca’s goal is to share her passion to help grow readers.


To enter the giveaway to win this book, all you need to do is comment telling us what book you think everyone should read!

Reviews! Mystery & Mayhem books by Tom McCarthy

3 Oct

survivalSurvival: True Stories

By Tom McCarthy

128 pages – ages 10+

Will be published by Nomad Press on October 24, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Tales of survival are as old as humanity! In Survival: True Stories, readers discover accounts of survival that required innovation, a thirst for adventure, and even a bit of brutality. Whether it’s Shackleton on the frozen landscape of Antarctica or William Bligh and his loyal followers adrift in the Pacific after mutiny on the Bounty, survival is a fascinating topic for readers ages 9 to 12!

Survival is the second book in the Murder & Mayhem series, which features true tales that whet kids’ appetites for history by engaging them in genres with proven track records—mystery and adventure. History is made of near misses, unexplained disappearances, unsolved mysteries, and bizarre events that are almost too weird to be true—almost! The Mystery & Mayhem series delves into the past to provide kids with a jumping-off point into a lifelong habit of appreciating history.”

What I Thought- This was a good book. I like that in the introduction Mr. McCarthy points out that he chose true stories that make you wonder whether you would actually survive, and not think that anybody could just do that. The stories are all true, and kids will enjoy reading about them. They learn a little bit of history, and they may not even realize it. There should be a little bit of reader discretion, as there are parts where it is pointed out that there may have been cannibalism, or just mentioning the death of explorers. The book doesn’t go into detail, but it does mention those parts. A neat part of the book is that there are fact boxes at the end of each chapter that tell of other important events going on at the time. Altogether a really neat book.

I give the book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

shipwreckPirates and Shipwrecks: True Stories

By Tom McCarthy

128 pages – ages 10+

Will be published by Nomad Press on October 11, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “When Daniel Collins and the crew of the Betsey set sail for Cuba in 1824, they have no idea of the horrors that lie ahead. This is just one of the stories in a collection of five true tales about pirates and shipwrecks that introduces readers to the perils of the high seas.

Pirates and Shipwrecks: True Stories is the first book in the Mystery & Mayhem series for 9–12 year olds, which features true tales that whet kids’ appetites for history by engaging them in genres with proven track records—mystery and adventure. History is made of near misses, unexplained disappearances, unsolved mysteries, and bizarre events that are almost too weird to be true—almost! The Mystery & Mayhem series delves into the past to provide kids with a jumping-off point into a lifelong habit of appreciating history.”

What I Thought- Mr. McCarthy has written another book that is just as good as the Survival book. Also nonfiction, these true stories tell of real-life pirates, and also real-life shipwrecks that almost (or even did!) turned into disasters. It was an interesting look into a different time. The one thing I like about both books is that they include maps of where the events take place. Mr. McCarthy’s writing style is well organized and well written, with a lot of information for the readers. The book does mention cannibalism, and some of the people were beheaded by pirates, but the book doesn’t go into detail, and only writes what had to have been written to write an accurate novel. The books are shorter, and good for a quick read, especially chapter by chapter. A really nice nonfiction series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Joshua and the Arrow Realm by Donna Galanti

12 Sep

Joshua and the Arrow Realm ebookJoshua and the Arrow Realm

Series: Lightning Road Book #2 (#1)

By Donna Galanti

278 pages – ages 9+

Published by Month9Books, LLC on August 30, 2016

Synopsis- Joshua is back in another book! When he and his friend Charlie are brought back to the land of Nostos, where the heirs of the Ancient Greek gods control realms, they are needed to rescue their friend, the new King Apollo, from the Queen Artemis. But all is not what it seems when they themselves get captured and a cherished ally turns traitor. Is there any hope of Joshua and Charlie getting back home?

What I Thought- This was a thrilling sequel to Joshua and the Lightning Road! Ms. Galanti really carries on the spirit of the first book, while also making it different. Joshua grows as a character, coming to terms with being the Oracle. Almost all of the characters changed throughout the story, and you really begin to care for them. The story starts off with a bang, kickstarting the latest adventure. The book has a few deep themes that the characters explore, such as loss and true loyalty. This was a really well-written installment in this series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Release Day Book Review Blitz! The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson! GIVEAWAY!

6 Sep


Welcome to the Release Day Blitz of “The Dark Talent” by Brandon Sanderson!

The Dark Talent coverThe Dark Talent
Series: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #5 (#2#3, #4)
Written by Brandon Sanderson
Illustrations by Hayley Lazo
304 pages – ages 9+
Published by Starscape on September 6, 2016 (TODAY!)

Synopsis from the Publisher- “The Dark Talent is the fifth action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. This never-before-published, fast-paced, and funny novel is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, illustrated by Hayley Lazo.

Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary—known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders—the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?

“Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review”

What I Thought- Wow. This book was great. And unexpected. There was a huge plot twist I wasn’t expecting at the end, honestly one of the biggest I’ve ever encountered. I won’t give it away, but I was really surprised. I will say that this book is extremely well-written, and doesn’t break the style of the rest of the series. Alcatraz and his family is still very wacky, and you still really enjoy reading about their adventures. Alcatraz continues to make fun of himself and almost everything as the book goes on, while also going on and on about how he is a coward. There is a nice resource section at the back of the book, for reading discussions. The book is a thrilling…conclusion…to the series…or is it?

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Author Image

Author Bio: BRANDON SANDERSON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Rithmatist and Steelheart, both of which were selected for the American Library Association’s Teens’ Top Ten list. He’s also written many popular and award-winning books for adults. His middle grade series, Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians, is now available in deluxe editions.
Visit his website HERE!

The giveaway!

There is a giveaway for a copy of “The Dark Talent” (Along with a really cool button-pin!) for one lucky winner in the US or Canada! You can enter if you live in another country, but just as long as you know someone willing to hold the package for you! We want to share the Talents book love with everybody!

OR you can just by the book HERE!

Review! Argos by Ralph Hardy

31 Aug

argosArgos: The Story of Odysseus as Told by His Loyal Dog

By Ralph Hardy

400 pages – ages 9+

Published by HarperCollins on May 31, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to Ithaka. After ten years beneath the walls of Troy, he begins the long journey back home. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He does whatever it takes to reunite with his family.

And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure whether they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master. Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s voyage—and what a voyage it is!

These tales bring hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king. This rousing story of devotion and determination is an original take on one of the most beloved myths of all time.”

What I Thought- This was a very unique idea for a retelling of the Odyssey – through the eyes of his faithful dog, who stayed on Ithaka. While at first, that may not sound like a great premise, it was turns out to be a very compelling story and an amazing read. I found it neat how the author told of the trials of Odysseus. Various animals visit the island and tell Argos of Odysseus’ travels. As the story goes on you become attached to Argos. Sadly you know he will die at the end. I did like is how the author handles it, thinking of a clever way to finish the book, as Argos does not witness his master’s revenge. It is a really good book, with a neat look into how a loyal dog would think. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Having said all the great stuff about the book, I think the writing is a bit difficult to catch the attention of the average middle grader – the book’s intended audience.  The story idea is excellent but the dense text makes it more appropriate for an older kid.

I give this book four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Review! The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

30 Aug

shelbyThe Great Shelby Holmes

By Elizabeth Eulberg

256 pages – ages 9+

Will be published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 6, 2016

Synopsis from publisher- “Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen-always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.

When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.”

What I Thought- First off, I just want to say that I appreciate that the book parallels the Sherlock Holmes stories, while not mirroring them. It is more of a referencing, with obvious ones being the name of Shelby’s dog, Sir Arthur, after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, along with John Watson, and him wanting an alias name of Sherlock Holmes. But there are more subtle ones, such as the apartment building the two share is 221 Baker Street – the building the original Holmes and Watson shared. But then it is its own story. There is a good amount of intrigue, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Shelby is an interesting character, and you are always trying to figure her out. I really enjoyed this first book, and want to read another!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Thornghost by Tone Almhjell

25 Aug


By Tone Almhjell

368 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on August 16, 2016

Synopsis- Niklas Summerhill has had nightmares for as long as he can remember. His mother died when he was younger, and he vividly remembers her last word – “Thornghost”. He has no idea what it means. But that is pushed out of his mind when livestock are being slashed by a mysterious beast, who ends up being from the depths of Niklas’ imagination. Pair that with a lynx that can speak and a world full of children’s imagination, and you get a fantastic adventure!

What I Thought- This book was both dark and fun at the same time – a weird combo, I know, but it actually works out pretty well. There is a lot of introspection going on, as Niklas thinks about all that he thinks he knew. Almhjell’s writing style is subtle, but marvelous. As the book goes on, Secret, the lynx, is slowly becoming more and more like the upright animals in the dream world. But, instead of saying that,  Almhjell shows us that by never addressing the fact that it was happening – sure, she wrote that it would probably happen, but showed us by having the lynx do more and more things that the upright animals would do. It was really neat. Niklas really grows as a character as well, from the kid who is afraid and tries to hide it by acting brave and pulling pranks, into a thoughtful boy with actual courage. It was a nice touch. This book is more on the serious side, but it is really good.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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

Review! Miist by Kamilla Reid

16 Aug


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

Review! The Thief’s Apprentice by Bryan Methods

19 Jul

theifapprenticeMaster Diplexito and Mr. Scant: The Thief’s Apprentice

By Bryan Methods

272 pages – ages 9+

Will be published by Carolrhoda Books on October 1, 2016

Synopsis- The Ruminating Claw. A name with no face behind it. The greatest thief London – perhaps all of England, even – has ever know. The butler at Oliver Diplexito’s house. Of course, Oliver Diplexito (and his family) didn’t know this at the time. That is, Oliver didn’t know until the Claw was in their gallery battling a man with a sword. The Claw, AKA Mr. Scant, soon figures out that Oliver knows, and through some chain of events, Oliver gets caught up in the Claw’s thieving schemes. That is, if the Claw was the actual thief. It appears as if an elitist society has been trying to steal the priceless artifacts, which the Ruminating Claw steals back, and returns. An honorable ploy, yes, but one that doesn’t leave one with no enemies…

What I Thought- This was an awesome book! It is set in the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, and has a fair amount of steampunk mixed in – most of the world is average, but the claw that Mr. Scant wears is very steampunky, along with a few other details. I like that sort of mix. The plot is very thrilling, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more. The small details really make the book, as you can really imagine as if this took place yesterday, or 100 years ago, which creates a timeless sort of feel. I really enjoyed this debut from Mr. Methods, and wish to read more of the series (of course, when they come out!)

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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