Tag Archives: book review

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

thornghostThornghost

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! Real or Fake? by Emily Krieger

24 Aug

realorfakeReal or Fake?: Far-Out Fibs, Fishy Facts, and Phony Photos to Test for the Truth

Written by Emily Krieger

Illustrated by Tom Nick Cocotos

208 pages – ages 7+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on May 10, 2016

Synopsis from publisher- “Can you tell the truth from a tall tale? Spot a phony photo a mile away? Figure out a fib in five seconds flat? Put your amateur detective skills to work in this fun and wacky book. See if the truth triumphs as you encounter suspicious stories, fishy facts, lying lists, and more. You’ll also learn about history’s greatest hoaxes, secrets behind a good fake, internet urban legends, plus bonus information that will leave you second-guessing everything you’ve ever read. Complete with awesome photos and hilarious collage art, this is one book that you have to read to believe…or not!”

What I Thought- This is an interesting book, encouraging attention to detail and common sense. The book is fun, and kids will like reading about the hoaxes. The book challenges you to use your judgment, and figure out whether it really happened or not. There are several things in it that I didn’t expect, and I enjoyed the challenge immensely. The illustrations are neat, with a collage-y, cut-magazine look. I think that this is a neat nonfiction book that will challenge kids to re-think what they see..

National Geographic Kids has a “Real or Fake” video series kids can view. Click HERE to go to it.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

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

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!

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

Review! Who Wins? by Clay Swartz

31 Jul

whowinsWho Wins?: 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!

Written by Clay Swartz

Illustrated by Tom Booth

104 pages – ages 7+

Published by Workman Publishing Company on July 12, 2016

Synopsis from the Publisher- “Let’s say Charles Dickens challenges Mother Teresa to a lightsaber duel—they’re both equally fit, so will his superior artistry overcome her advantage in bravery and leadership? Or who wins karaoke—Nelson Mandela or Jane Austen? They certainly both have a way with words, but Mandela’s over-the-top courage might take the day.

whowin2

Mixing and matching 100 historical figures in 50 competitive categories, from Ping-Pong to climbing Mount Everest, Who Wins? turns history into a compelling game, which means kids learn while having fun in the process. Each of the famous people is given a short bio and ranked in six categories—bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness.

And because there are no right answers, the reader decides, and in the very act of deciding and justifying the answer, real learning has taken place.”

What I Thought- This was a really neat nonfiction book! There are three columns of flip-able papers, with the outer two being the historical figures, and the middle one being the event they are competing in. Kids will love flipping through the pages and matching up the real-life figures. Here is a picture of the book I have –

whowins3

I like that there is a short biographical paragraph for each figure, along with fun facts. Swartz notes that the categories (such as wealth, leadership and intelligence) that each historical figure is ranked on a scale of 1-10 are his take on the people he chose to put in the book. He points out that the reader can feel free to argue about his rankings and they are meant as a reference point. I definitely found some that I would argue on – Abraham Lincoln only getting a 6 for intelligence – Sacagawea only gets an 8 for leadership – seriously? Seeing as how the rankings are meant for fun I won’t file a formal complaint. ;)  I think that I disagree with some of the rankings makes the point of the book – it gets a person thinking about who these people were and brings them to life. Each informational section on the historical figures is meant to give a brief overview of the person. While I found some prime information a bit glossed over in some instances (Josephine Baker being a spy for the French revolution), the majority of the bio’s were enough to give the reader an understanding on who the people are. I found quite a few people I have never heard of and found it enjoyable to learn about them.  Booth’s illustrations gave the book an extra kick. They really make the people come to life, giving a glimpse of the personality of these people.  The “Who Wins” game itself was fun and as I said before it really makes the reader think about who these people are. I love the uniqueness of this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

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