Tag Archives: book review

Review! Wisdom of the Centaur’s Reason by LRW Lee

5 Dec

centaurWisdom of the Centaur’s Reason

Series: Andy Smithson #6 (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5)

By LRW Lee

212 pages – ages 9+

Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on November 19, 2016

Synopsis- Andy Smithson wants to get back to Oomaldee. But he can’t. Whatever brings him there (he’s still unsure) isn’t bringing him! Thankfully, he is then given a task – find the Heart of Oomaldee, hidden in our world, in America! He finds the heart, and restarts it inside Oomaldee, finally getting back to his people. But now, with that quest done, it is time that he returns to his main quest – breaking the curse. And if he breaks the curse, it means that he must come to terms with what happens after doing so – mostly the death of his mother, the King, and Mermin, beloved wizard. Can he do it?

What I thought- Wow! This installment of the Andy Smithson series really pulls at your heartstrings! There is a lot of tension in the story as everything draws towards the final showdown between Andy and Abaddon. Lee plays on the reader’s emotions as she leads them through this exciting story. The reader is totally connected with the characters and you empathize with the pains and troubles that plague them. The characters get more realistic and personable as the series goes on, so by now, you feel as if you know each of them rather well. The progression of Andy, as the main character, throughout the series is especially satisfying. He is coming to terms with a friend dying, and also with the fact that if he breaks the curse, his mom will die, along with the King and another close friend. WOW! That’s a lot for a kid. I appreciate that Lee has a fine sense of where to draw the line at the story being too dark, because it could easily fold into a depressing story. But it doesn’t. Lee keeps the characters’ hope up, and they will not give up even if things are looking down. She definitely has her target audience in mind. Lee’s vivid description of the setting and characters play like a movie in your mind, and make it so that you don’t want to put the story down. Very much looking forward to the next book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Guest Review by Josie! Natumi Takes the Lead by Gerry Ellis

29 Nov

natumiNatumi Takes the Lead:

The True Story of an Orphan Elephant Who Finds Family

By Gerry Ellis with Amy Novesky

32 pages – ages 4+

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

Summary by Josie: The story tells about an elephant that was orphaned when hunters killed off the rest of her heard. The elephant was rescued by some nice people who run an elephant rescue. Natumi was very shy and wouldn’t come out from behind her human rescuer’s legs. Slowly Natumi got more and more confident and started to be a leader of all the orphaned elephants. It is a nice story about how an elephant can grow up to be a strong leader even after having something terrible happen to her.

What Josie thought: The beginning of the book made me very sad because all of the elephants but Natumi got killed. I wish that things like that didn’t happen. I was happy to see that there are people who care about the elephants enough to run an elephant orphanage. That is very cool. I really like that there are real pictures in the book for illustrations –

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It was interesting to read about how the elephants are cared for at the orphanage. It was also cool to see how they can recover from loosing their family and form new ones. There were some fact pages in the back of the book that showed you where to go if you want to learn more about elephants and it had some information about Africa, the orphanage and elephants. That was a nice part of the book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Best Man by Richard Peck

15 Nov

bestmanThe Best Man

By Richard Peck

240 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on September 20, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn’t see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he’s the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.”

What I Thought- This was an interesting and very complex story. It is interesting that the subject of gay marriage is seen from a more innocent view-type, instead of jaded – one way or the other. It is complex because it really isn’t a story about gay marriage, it is a coming of age story of a boy trying to define himself  – as all kids do as they hit puberty. It is a story about family relationships, bullies at school and dealing with siblings. I liked it that the marriage wasn’t used as a tool but rather shown as a part of life. It is a reflection of the world we live in.  There were a ton of supporting characters, all which brought an interesting angle to the story. Although there was a lot going on (in terms of characters), the story was easy to follow, as if the reader is just another character in the story.  The one thing I didn’t like really, though was just the obliviousness of Archer – that just seemed a tad unrealistic for a fifth grader. This isn’t the action/adventure story that usually has me turning pages at a furious pace. It is a heartwarming look into a family that connects the reader with the characters and one that you can get lost in.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Review! Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins ** Checking in to #HotelBruce!

2 Nov

hotelbruceHotel Bruce

By Ryan T. Higgins

48 pages – ages 5+

Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 18, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- When Bruce gets home from a southern migration trip with his goslings, he is tired. He is grumpy. And he is definitely not in the mood to share his home with the trio of mice who have turned his den into a hotel.

There’s a possum pillow fight wreaking havoc in one room, a fox luring guests into a stew in the kitchen, and a snuggly crew of critters hogging the bed. Bruce growls and grumbles and tries to throw them all out, but the entrepreneurial mice just can’t take a hint. Bruce is in a little over his head, especially once the goslings join the staff. Will this grumpy bear ever get his quiet, peaceful den back to himself?

What I Thought- Imagine my excitement to see another book about my favorite grump of a bear – BRUCE! This was a sweet sequel to Mother Bruce (see my review HERE).  Higgins’ illustrations have the richness and detail that I loved in the first book. Bruce is a favorite of mine. I love how Higgins draws him with his big uni-brow  that can relate so much emotion. Plus, there is a lot of humor hidden in the illustrations. Kids will love reading all of the things the animals say, and picking up on all of the little details. Higgins’ writing style is funny, and warm.  It makes it so that the book is a perfect read-aloud. Although this story doesn’t create quite the same feelings as MOTHER BRUCE,  HOTEL BRUCE was definitely a great story by itself. The plot is goofy and of course Bruce’s kind heart conquers all in the end. I can’t wait to see what Higgins comes up with next!

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I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Now I shall go check in to HOTEL BRUCE!

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Review! The Wishing World by Todd Fahnestock – Blog Tour!

31 Oct

wishingThe Wishing World

By Todd Fahnestock

224 pages – ages 9+

Published by Starscape on October 25, 2016

Synopsis- Lorelei believed in monsters. After all, a monster is what stole her mother, father, and her brother. Yet no one believes her. But when she summons a griffon into her bedroom, she learns that there is an entire world existing within all children’s imaginations. And that in that world she belongs to a select group of people that can create things with their minds. And the monster that took her parents is the most powerful of those people. Sounds like a fun adventure, right?

What I Thought- This was an imaginative book. Quite literally. The characters could create things from their imaginations. Which is awesome. This is definitely a book that you wish you could take place in. The Wishing World within the book is amazing. The characters are ones you can sympathize with, especially Lorelei. Honestly, the book started off kind of dark, but nothing too bad, just plopping you into the action  – a nice hook for the reader. The one thing I had was that the beginning seemed a little bit rushed for my taste (maybe because of the all the action), with a nefarious character suddenly introduced – but the pace is spot on for a middle grade audience. Bonus points for a cool cover too, and small illustrations at the start of each chapter. Mr. Fahnestock’s writing style is exciting, and keeps you reading.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Want to learn more?

Visit Todd Fahnestock on Facebook, or Twitter

BOOK SUMMARY FROM THE PUBLISHER

The Wishing World

****

In the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn’t know about any of that. All she knows is that a monster took her family.

It happened during a camping trip one year ago. Hiding inside the tent, she saw shadows, tentacles and a strange creature. By the time she got up the courage to crawl outside, the monster–and Lorelei’s mom, dad, and brother–were gone.

Lorelei is determined to find her family. When she accidentally breaks into the Wishing World, she discovers a way. It’s a land more wonderful than she could have imagined, a land of talking griffons, water princesses, and cities made of sand, where Lorelei is a Doolivanti–a wish-maker–who can write her dreams into existence.

There’s only one problem: the monster is a Doolivanti, too. What he wishes also comes true, and he’s determined to shove Lorelei out, keep her family, and make the whole Wishing World his. To save them, Lorelei must find the courage to face him, or her next wish may be her last.

 

Review! Write Back Soon! by Karen Benke

12 Oct

writebacksoonWrite Back Soon!: Adventures in Letter Writing

By Karen Benke

208 pages – ages 8+

Published by Roost Books on September 22, 2015

Synopsis- Have you ever had the joy of receiving a letter from a close friend? Followed closely by the comfort of writing a letter in reply? When was the last time that happened? Karen Benke has written a comprehensive guide to letter-writing. She includes prompts, with room on the paper for you to write in. There are also letters from authors providing advice, and little facts and inspirations are also scattered throughout the book.

What I Thought- Ms. Benke has written more than just a book about writing letters, and the reader leaves the book a better communicator. One of the things I really like is that Benke encourages the reader to write letters to themselves and reflect on their thoughts and writing. It makes the reader analyze what they wrote, and also things going on in their lives. The prompts are realistic, and thought-provoking. There is a lot of great advice from the author and guest authors that really help the reader. There are lists and other facts in the book, such as a list of most of the countries in the world, and the US state abbreviations. It also talks a little about the James Farley Post Office, which has a really neat pneumatic air delivery system. (That’s really cool!) I really enjoyed this book, and think it is great for kids and adults as well. Letter writing is becoming a lost art form and this book will encourage a new generation to “write back!”

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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

12 Oct

101books

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).

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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.

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schulzeABOUT THE AUTHOR

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!

Review! Frazzled by Booki Vivat

29 Sep

frazzledFrazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

By Booki Vivat

240 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins on September 27, 2016

Synopsis- Abbie Wu knows that Middles get the worst of it all. Just take the Middle Ages for example – they were pretty terrible (what with the no electricity and the plague)! It’s also pretty terrible being a Middle Child (Abbie would surely know – she’s one!), and if that’s not enough to convince you, Middle School is the epitome, the middle of middles! This, of course, means that Abbie Wu is most certainly doomed. How will she ever survive, or even get to the middle of, middle school?

What I Thought- This was a pretty funny book! I think the main reason I found it funny is that I have similar classmates that overreacted to everything in sixth grade (some still overreact to things!😉 ). The book is very realistic of school life and the kids who inhabit it. Ms. Vivat’s writing style is very over-the-top in a very good way – including immense exaggerations and other such things. The stroy gets into the head of a 6th grader perfectly, and keeps the readers chuckling throughout the book. There are pretty awesome doodles throughout the book, drawn by Ms. Vivat, which help tell the story – quite literally, as phrases, dialogues, and even entire scenes happen within them. I thought that was a nice way to make the book easier to read for younger kids and they add to the fun feel of the book. The book is hilarious, and kids will enjoy reading about the (mis)adventures of Abbie Wu!

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I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!

Check out the book’s trailer!

Review and book birthday! The Ominous Eye by Tracey Hecht

20 Sep

nocturnals2The Ominous Eye

Series: The Nocturnals #2 (#1)

Written by Tracey Hecht

208 pages – ages 7+

Published by Fabled Films Press on September 20, 2016 (TODAY!)

Synopsis- “Join Dawn, Bismark and Tobin as they set out to investigate the source of a violent jolt that fractures the earth! Along their journey, the Nocturnal Brigade meets an unfamiliar reptile—a tuatara named Polyphema—who reveals that a giant beast caused the destruction and will soon strike again. Polyphema with her special insights, is the only one who can help the Nocturnal Brigade stop this fearsome predator… but can she be trusted? With help from an owl, the jerboas, and some kiwis, the animals set a trap since surrender is not an option against this relentless beast.”

What I Thought- This was a nice sequel to the first Nocturnals book. It still has the same feel, but it also shows the characters changed just a bit, and become more mature. The book gives enough background so that the reader doesn’t have to have read the first book (but do because it was good!). I like that it has a friendship message that kids can follow, while still being an enjoyable book and not preachy. The friends that make up the Nocturnal Brigade are fun and a but zany. The characters are funny and personable, and their personalities develop throughout the story. There are nice watercolor illustrations throughout the book that really add to the overall feeling of the book. Hecht’s writing really sets the readers imagination on fire! I think that this is a great series, and I hope the next books are as great as the first two!

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

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