Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
I listened to the audio version of this book.  I loved the voice and southern accent of the woman who read it - perfect for the story!  Twelve year old Gi Gi, who has decided to change her name to Leia when she and her sister move to a new town so she can go to a new, swanky private school has decided to remake herself  because she is tired of always studying and having no friends.  Her older sister Di Di, an 8th grade dropout who is a hairstylist, and has raised her since their mother died, wants GiGi, aka Leia, to study hard and become a scientist, but Gi Gi wants to make friends and remake her entire life.  Her first friend, Tripp, who she literally trips over when she enters the school, becomes her best friend, but as she navigates middle school and her life, she learns there are secrets in everyone's families, including hers.  I really enjoyed the story , and the recipes included too, and I think that middle school kids will enjoy it as well.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker

The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

Everyone should read this book!  Really.  It is so important and people are so ignorant about what they eat.  Popular culture has gotten in the habit of villifying one food or product or another and blaming that one thing for the obesity epidemic in the US.  They have blamed sugar, so horribly unhealthy sugar substitutes became widely used.  Then they blamed fat and made lots of low fat food products that are high in sugar and salt and highly processed.  Gluten is a new scapegoat and vegans blame meat eating as the problem.  However, none of those are really what is making people fat.  The problem is that as farmers and the food industry have made food more plentiful, they did not pay attention to flavor or nutrition.  So we can grow lots more food faster, but it is bland and does not have the nutrients that our bodies require.  Therefore, the seasoning industry has grown, because when food is flavorless, we add more seasoning to it to make it palatable.  Then we eat more of it.  This book shows how the flavor of real foods - actual real produce and animals that are raised and fed properly - not on factory farms- indicates nutrition.  He shows how when we eat real, properly grown foods, it not only tastes better and is more nutritious, but it signals our bodies to feel full after eating the proper amounts so that we don't get overweight.  So, while Michael Pollen was correct that we should eat real food, mostly plants and nothing with ingredients we can't pronounce, that is not the whole solution to the problem.  Factory farm raised chickens are fed junky foods and they have no flavor and they are not nutritious.  There are people currently working on raising tasty, healthy chickens - but they take longer to grow and they cost more.  In France, people prefer the healthy chickens that taste like a chicken should taste and they are willing to pay twice as much for a good chicken.  In this country, most people prefer quantity over quality, which is why they are fat and unhealthy.  We need to educate people to want the real foods so that the food industry will put more effort into producing healthy and flavorful foods.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

I Become Shadow by Joe Shine

I Become Shadow by Joe Shine
I listened to the audio version of this book, which was well done.  The story is well told, but the details were not fleshed out which made the whole concept rather shaky.  Ren is kidnapped at age 14 and put into a training program at the super secret FATE facility which kidnaps 14 year olds who they know are going to die soon based on google-like photos that had been taken of the future that showed gravestones of the teens who had died at age 14. The teens are told they would have died anyway so they can take part in the program or be killed.  One problem with that scenario is the fact that FATE fakes the deaths of these kids and then they have gravestones so how do we know the kids would have really died or if the gravestones shown were a result of the FATE kidnapping and faked deaths? Then the kids are trained to be killers who can feel no pain so that they can protect FIPs - Future Important People who have also been identified and they are somehow "linked" to the FIP mentally/physically so that they feel like they must protect that person.  Ren's FIP happens to be a guy her age so she goes to college with him.  There is a sort of love triangle for those readers who like them - I personally despise love triangles - because Ren has these "link" caused feelings for Gareth, her FIP, and she likes Junie, a guy she went through FATE with.  The book is fast paced and ends in a cliff-hanger.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
I totally absolutely really incredibly love this book!  Seven year old Elsa tells the story and leads us through the fantasy lands that her grandmother has created on a journey of forgiveness.  I did have a bit of a hard time with the beginning of the book, because it did not seem to make a lot of sense, but once I got into the story, I never wanted it to end.  Granny said the most fabulous things like "Only different people change the world...No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing." And Elsa was incredibly insightful noticing things like "It's easier to get people talking about things they dislike than things they like," and "The mightiest power of death is not that it can make people die, but that it can make the people left behind want to stop living."  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and it is one of my most favorite books ever and I highly recommend it "because life is both complicated and simple. Which is why there are cookies."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Copper Magic by Mary Gibson

Copper Magic
While desperately missing her mother and little brother, who have left for somewhere and for reasons unknown to her, twelve year old Violet unearths an old Indian grave and finds a copper hand within it.  She is one quarter native American herself and she sees a vision when she finds the hand and is sure it is magic.  She wants the magic hand to bring her mother and brother back to her, but even magic may not be able to do that.  Set in 1906, this is a nice historical novel for middle grade kids.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
There are a lot of mature issues that are addressed in this book.  Thirteen year old Stewart has a genius IQ, but hardly any social skills.  I think he is meant to have an Asperger's type personality. It has been almost two years since his mother died and his father is now dating a woman and they move in with her and her daughter, fourteen year old Ashley.  Ashley is beautiful, popular, shallow and mean and since Stewart is so smart, he is moved up to her grade when he transfers to her school rather than spending hours on the bus each day to continue attending his old private school - Little Genius Academy.  Ashley is still upset over her parent's divorce, which happened around the same time Stewart's mother died, when Ashley's dad came out as gay.  She still has not told her friends about her dad.  Stewart is bullied, Ashley is nearly raped, and several other difficult issues occur.  Stewart's character seems rather immature but likeable while Ashley is not very likeable at all.  I think that teens will enjoy this book because it is intense and does include difficult issues that may make them think about things a bit differently. I listened to the audio version of this book and it was done well.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Vida Loca by Jacqueline Jules

My Vida Loca by Jacqueline Jules
Cute, bright illustrations accompany this chapter book that is best for children ages 5 to 7.  Seven year old Sopfia has adventures that are chronicled in three stories in the book as she becomes a singing superstar with a toy microphone, helps her abuela cook arroz con leche and has some trouble while washing the family's car.  There are some Spanish words and phrases in the book and a Spanish glossary is included at the end.  I think that children will enjoy this book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Little Bo Peep and Her Bad, Bad Sheep A Mother Goose Hullabaloo by A.L. Wegwerth

Little Bo Peep and Her Bad, Bad Sheep by A L Wegwerth
Bright, busy, silly illustrations make up this fractured nursery rhyme adventure.  Each page is a busy mash up of nursery rhymes as Bo Peep searches through them for her sheep.  Actual nursery rhymes are included at the end of this cute book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The Plantiful Table by Andrea Duclos

The Plantiful Table
This is a lovely vegan cookbook filled with simple and flavorful dishes. It is accompanied by nice photographs and the instructions are well-written and easy to follow. I got some good ideas from this cookbook - like making shepherd's pie using lentils instead of beef. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Night Divided byJennifer A. Nielsen

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Totally amazing book!  Set in East Berlin when the Berlin wall was built overnight with no warning, it is the story of a family who was divided in two by the wall and their struggle to escape to freedom in the west as a family. The story really shows what life was like in East Berlin and is the story of the courage twelve year old Gerta who is determined to help her family to be reunited by digging a tunnel under the wall and the death zone adjacent to it.  I listened to the audio version of this book which was excellent.  The story was compelling and I did not want to stop listening until I found out what happened.  This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Unmarked (The Legion #2) by Kami Garcia

Unmarked (The Legion, #2)
This is the second book in the series and it ends in a cliffhanger. Kennedy and the other members of the Legion are now trying to fight the demon that they accidentally released in the first book. They use salt and holy water and incantations and drawings to fight the demon. I felt like this book dragged a bit compared to the first one.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Contact by Laurisa White Reyes

This young adult paranormal thriller/romance is fast paced and I think that teens will enjoy it.  Sixteen year old Mira has tried to commit suicide twice because since receiving a new vaccine, any time she touches anyone she immediately knows everything about them and she cannot stand the pain of it.  Her father is running for governor and does not have time for her and when her mother goes into a diabetic coma, things are looking bleak.  David, who she has recently met although he knew who she was from school, turns out to be a big help to her.  The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, so there could be others to follow it although there don't seem to be any yet.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kate Walden Directs Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata

Kate Walden Directs by Julie Mata
This is a cute book about Kate, who is in 7th grade, and has had to move away from her friends to a farm outside of town because her mother has decided to become an organic chicken farmer.  Although Kate still goes to school with her friends, she is no longer close by and her best friend becomes friends with the most popular girl in her grade and leaves Kate feeling quite left out.  Bullying and mean girlness show up in the book along with Kate making a silly movie about zombie chickens.  I think that girls in grades 4 through 7 will enjoy this book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

UFiles #1: A Dark Inheritance by Chris d'Lacey

A Dark Inheritance by Chris d'Lacey
This is a fun, although a bit dark paranormal science fiction fantasy action adventure mystery story for kids in grades 4-8. Michael has discovered that he can alter reality and he becomes part of the paranormal secret detective agency that his father, unknown to others, had been part of until he disappeared three years ago.  Michael tries to figure out his powers, solve a mystery and find out what happened to his father.  Kids should enjoy this fast paced mystery. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows

The Tale of Rescue
This is a beautiful book!  The watercolor illustrations that accompany the short story about a family who gets lost in a whiteout blizzard and are rescued by a cattle dog and a herd of cows are bright and just perfect for this story.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

This is a touching and timely story that follows a harmonica through several owners from it's fabled creation to 3 children during World War II. We see how the Nazi party mistreated people in Germany, how orphans lived in the US, and how Japanese people were treated in the US during WWII as well as how Latino children were sent to segregated schools in parts of the US during that time. The three characters, 12 year old Friedrich, who lives in Germany and wants to be a composer, 11 year old Mike, an orphan in Pennsylvania, and Ivy Lopez, whose parents are migrant farm workers in California. Each child loves music and their lives are touched by the magical harmonica and are drawn together at the end of the book.  I listened to the audio book, which has music included that goes with the story and I also looked at the print version of the book, which has different fonts and colors of pages for parts of the story.  I enjoyed the book and think that young people will enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Woof (Bowser and Birdie #1) by Spencer Quinn

Woof (Bowser and Birdie #1)
This story is told by a dog - Bowser, who has been adopted by Birdie, an 11 year old girl who lives in Louisiana with her grandmother while her mom works on an oil rig.  Her grandmother runs a bait and swamp tour shop and when her family heirloom mounted fish is stolen off of the wall of the shop, a mystery ensues and Bowser and Birdie try to find the thief, learn some family history and get in trouble with some bad guys.  A lot of details are left out because they don't matter to the dog.  This is the first book in a new series.  Children who like dogs and mystery stories should enjoy this book.

Crenshaw by Catherine Applegate

This is a touching story about ten year old Jackson and his imaginary friend, Crenshaw, a very large cat who likes to skateboard, take bubble baths, and stand on his head.  Jackson is a smart boy, who is concerned about his family's finances since they are often hungry and are preparing to sell off most of their belongings to try to pay the rent.  His parents try to hide the situation from Jackson and his five year old sister, but Jackson remembers when they lived in their van a few years earlier and he does not want to do that again.  He knows that he is too old for imaginary friends and thinks he may be going insane when Crenshaw returns, but he learns that imaginary friends are always waiting to help children through difficult times.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Time Smugglers by Rosie Morgan

This is the second book in this King Arthur inheritance series.  Twelve year old Arthur has inherited the title of King Arthur and in this book, set a year after the first one, he and his companions, after a quiet year, have once again encountered magic and enemies and have to fight to survive.  This book should be read after reading the first book.  I think that children will enjoy it.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Space Case
I thoroughly enjoyed this space mystery/adventure story!  Twelve year old Dash is living on Moon Base Alpha in the year 2040 with his family as both of his parents are scientists and have skills that the moon base needs.  When he overhears a conversation that Dr. Holtz has and then the doctor is found dead, Dash is sure that foul play has occurred.  As he tries to find out who done it, we are presented with a large array of suspects.  I think kids will enjoy this book!  I look forward to the next book in the series. I listened to the audio version of this book.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Undertow by Michael Buckley

Undertow by Michael Buckley
This is an interesting YA paranormal dystopianish romance.  It has been 3 years since the Alpha, a varied group of undersea dwelling peoples have come ashore on Coney Island. Fourteen year old Lyric Walker has learned, when they came ashore, that her mom is one of them.  Now, they are being integrated into her high school and she has been assigned to make friends with the prince.  No one knows what her mother is, and it is best to keep things that way.  There is mystery and intrigue in this novel.  I felt that some things were not explained well, but there are two other books to come so perhaps they will be explained better in future novels.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
This is a slightly creepy and disturbing, rather intense psychological thriller.  It is told alternately by Heidi and her husband Chris, who tell the current story of Heidi bringing a homeless girl and her baby into their home and by Willow, the homeless girl, who tells about her past that lead her to where she is now. Together the three characters tell a story that becomes increasingly more disturbing.  Mystery and suspense draw the reader through this  well written story.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

The Seventh Most Important Thing
Oh so much wowness!  When 13 year old Arthur, whose father recently passed away, threw a brick at the neighborhood junk man for wearing his father's hat and was sent to reform school, he had no idea that the junk man would be his source of redemption.  Sentenced to help the junk man as his probation, Arthur learns that St. James, as he referred to himself was collecting junk - foil, cardboard, light bulbs and other items to create a work of art.  That work of art is real and is shown at the end of the book and is rather amazing in and of itself.  I loved the story and the real life historical trash to treasure artwork tie-in.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton

Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton
In this creepy ghost story, Mary and her ghost friend, Lacey go on vacation with Mary's parents to Nettleby where they encounter a vengeful, murderous ghost and a hot guy named Seth.  Now, it is up to them to put the ghost to rest.  Can they and their friends put her to rest, or will she add them to her list of murders?  This is a fun to read YA paranormal romance ghost story.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Welcome to Night Vale
My sixteen year old son introduced me to the Night Vale podcasts several months ago.  I totally love them and understand why my son loves them too.  I listened to all of them before getting the book.  My husband asked me if the book would make sense to people who have not listened to the podcasts.  I think it could be read/listened to without having heard the podcasts, but you would not have a lot of the background information and it is better if you have been following the podcasts.  I got the audio book and the physical book and listened to most of it and read some of it.  I think I like the audio better than the written book. I love the narrator and I think he adds something to the story that is just not the same without him.  The story is a bit like the old Twilight Zone TV series in that many inexplicable and creepy things go on in Night Vale, but are seen as perfectly normal for the most part by the people who live there.  This story follows Jackie Fierro (I have a cat named Fierro - had him and his name long before this podcast and book came out though) who is the perpetually 19 year old pawn shop owner and Dianne Crayton whose son Josh changes his physical form on a regular basis.  Their lives become entwined as they both need to find The Man in The Tan Jacket who everyone forgets and Troy, who proves to be quite elusive.  I thought the plot twists in the book were quite interesting and I enjoyed it very much!  I hope they keep up with the podcasts and perhaps write another book - or maybe it could make an intriguing movie.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Daylight Monsters by Sarah Dalton

My Daylight Monsters by Sarah Dalton
In this novella that is a prequel to a series of books, we are introduced to Mary, as she is admitted to a mental hospital.  At first, we are not sure why she is there, but later we learn that she sees dead people.  The story is creepy and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff (Author), Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator)

Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff
Scientific method and history together in one book as Benjamin Franklin debunks mesmerism in France in the late 1700s.  The book has excellent illustrations, facts and graphics and a very good explanation of the scientific method along with the story of Ben Franklin and how he debunked mesmerism on a visit to Paris.  I enjoyed the story very much and I think it will be an excellent addition to libraries and schools.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sunrise by Mike Mullin

I think that people who enjoyed the first and second books in this series will enjoy this one as well.  If, however, like I did, you enjoyed the first book and thought the second book was too long, you might also find this book to be a bit long.  This book covers about a two or three year time period during which Alex emerges as a leader and Darla's mechanical skills come in very useful.  There is a lot of fighting, towns raiding one another, and graphic violence and cannibalism along with some people going insane as they try to survive in this ashen winter/mini ice age that has been brought on by the massive volcanic eruption.  The book is brutal and gory and long.  It is probably rather realistic and preppers and survivalists may enjoy it a lot.  I received this book free to review from  Netgalley.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Quantum Spirit Apocalypse by Sallie Haws

Quantum Spirit - Apocalypse
In this YA paranormal romance, 13 year old Salena is psychic and has a spirit guide.  Like a new-age Harry Potterish story, only Salena has the ability to save the world because she is the only person who can travel from the 3rd dimension to the 5th dimension.  In this new-agey story, she and her group of friends and her parents and some of her friend's parents all are fine with the whole psychic realm and together they try to find a cure for the blue flu, which is not a virus, but something that attacks people's energies and their chakras and Salena can see people's Auras so she can also see the blue flu.  The book includes a love triangle of sorts.  I was a bit surprised that being all new agey and  into the psychic energies and all, the people still ate hamburgers and meats.  I would have thought they would have been vegan due to the negative energies and all.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Jake's Monster Mess by Ken Spillman

Jake cleans the way I sometimes do.  I call it ADHD cleaning because you start out cleaning one thing then decide to clean another area to make room for some of the things from the first area and then you get distracted by something else and decide to clean it too and then you wind up with a bigger mess than you started with.  The book is cute and silly and I think kids will definitely be able to relate to it and enjoy it.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little

The Time of the Fireflies
A creepy antique doll, time travel, mystery and historical fiction all combine into one excellent book for young people.  When twelve year old Larissa answers a phone call - on an antique phone in her family's antique store that is not connected to anything, and a voice tells her to trust and follow the fireflies, Larissa is thrust into a time travelling mystery to learn about her family's past and save the lives of her mother and baby sister.  To do so, she has to make amends with the girl who is her enemy, the one who gave her the scar she wears on her face.  I enjoyed this creepy thriller and I think that kids in 5th to 7th grades will enjoy it too. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Chernobyl's Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone by Rebecca L. Johnson

Chernobyl's Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone
This is an interesting book for young people about the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster's effect on animals and plants in the area around it.  While most scientists thought that all plant and animal life would die or be deformed, some animals have proved to be very resilient and for the most part, unharmed, while others do suffer from the radiation.  The study of these plants and animals is important due to the proliferation of nuclear power plants.  The book also includes a chapter about the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster and it's effects on wildlife.  With photographs, maps and charts and a glossary at the end, I think this is an excellent book for middle grade children.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Chris Riddell

The Sleeper and the Spindle
Intricate highly detailed illustrations with lots of lines in them accompany this rather creepy Gaimanified fairy tale that is a cross between Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  A week before she is to be married, something she did not view as a good thing, the queen is told by 3 of her devoted dwarves that a sleeping sickness is creeping across the land, so she goes off with the dwarves to defeat the sickness which is accompanied by spiders spinning webs all over everyone and everything.  Due to her background, having been Snow White, the queen is familiar with magic and sleeping spells and she is tough and can handle this - she believes.  Interesting story and illustrations.

The Chicken Squad (the first misadventure) by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure (Chicken Squad, #1)
This is a cute, silly early chapter book about a group of young chickens, a squirrel and a dog who are on an adventure to find out what the big and scary thing is that has the squirrel so upset.  It is written on a first to third grade reading level.  The illustrations are cute and the story is fun to read.  I think children will enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson

The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson
This story is touching and heartbreaking and quite well-written for children around 4th to 6th grade level. Ella is in around second grade or so and has a rather tragic time of things. Her mother goes into a coma when she gives birth to Ella's baby brother leaving Ella with her newish step-father whom she does not really like much to care for both her and the new baby as they visit her mum daily in the hospital hoping that she will come out of the coma and get better.  In the meantime, Ella also has to deal with a bully and the loss of her best friend at school.  She occupies herself with studying whales and making a book about whales for her mother to enjoy when she comes out of her coma - if she ever does. I think that fans of Because of Winn Dixie and Where The Red Fern Grows will enjoy this book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Amazing age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Don Tate

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
This beautifully illustrated picture book includes historical notes, a timeline and notes from the author and illustrator at the end of the book.  The story of John Roy Lynch, son of an Irish father and enslaved mother, who went from being a teenage field slave to a US Congressman in ten years - from 1862 to 1872, is told in a way that children can understand and relate to and the illustrations help to tell the story.  The story tells about the life of John Roy Lynch and about the Civil War and Reconstruction period that followed it and how  he fought for civil rights during that time.  The story is informative and touching and I love the illustrations.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)
This YA dystopian story is told by 15/16 year old Alex, who has stayed home for the weekend while his parents and sister went to visit relatives. When the Yellowstone volcano erupts, throwing the area into an ashen disaster area, he is alone and skis off on the ash to find and join them. He runs into bad guys and trouble along the way and is rescued by a mother and daughter whose farm he stumbles into. They save his life and in turn, he also saves 18 year old Darla's life. This is a good first book in the series and I look forward to reading the others.

When by Victoria Laurie

When by Victoria Laurie
I read this intense YA paranormal psychological thriller/murder mystery novel today.  It was a quick read with plot twists that kept me guessing who the murderer was.  Sixteen year old Maddie has always seen the numbers on people's foreheads, which, after her father died, they realized were death dates.  Only knowing when someone will die, but not how or why makes Maddie believe there is nothing she can do to change anyone's death date.  Her mother, who became an alcoholic after her father died, has made Maddie go into business as a sort of psychic reader telling people their death dates for money to support her mom's alcohol habbit.  The story is dark and chilling and I think that YA readers will enjoy it.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Returning to Shore by Corinne Demas

Returning to Shore by Corinne Demas
This is a lovely story about 15 year old Clare.  After her mother gets married for the third time, she sends Clare, who is pining for her stepfather, her mother's second husband, off to visit her father, whom she has not seen since she was too young to remember him.  On an island with a virtual stranger, Clare discovers who her father is and what his secrets are.  It takes some time, but they forge a relationship as they care for the terrapins that her father catalogues and tries to save even as nature and washashores thwart them. The story is a quick read, and I enjoyed it very much.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible
In this modern, hamsterfied version of Sleeping Beauty, Harriet the hamster princess has been cursed by a wicked rat fairy to prick her finger on a hamster wheel on her 12th birthday and fall asleep forever, modified by a few good fairies so she would not need to sleep or go to the bathroom and could be awakened by the kiss of a prince.  When Harriet learns of the curse at age 10, she realizes that she is invincible until her 12th birthday and she goes off fighting dragons and cat ogres and has a jolly couple of years, returning to the palace before her 12th birthday so the curse can take place.  Harriet, however, has no intention of taking the curse lying down, so to speak and thwarts the curse only to be thwarted herself.  Now she must find a prince to break the curse anyway.  Harriet is a brave and adventurous princess and the story is funny and fun to read.  I enjoyed it very much.

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, Jory John

The Terrible Two

I totally loved the audio version of this book. The reader used a variety of voices that made the book much funnier than I would have thought if I had just read it. It is an exaggerated spoofy story about a couple of boys who pull pranks at school and become friends in the process.

Friday, October 30, 2015

We are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

Fifteen year old Nell tells this story of her relationship with her older sister Layla, her first year of high school and discovering that her older sister is having an affair with a teacher.  The book is short and the plot has some intense elements and being told by the sister's point of view is interesting, but I felt like it was a bit detached. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Fate of Ten by Pittacus Lore

The Fate of Ten (I am Number Four #6)
This is the 6th book in a 7 book series.  I am so sad that I have to wait for the last book.  For those unfamiliar with the series, it is similar to the Percy Jackson books, only the teenagers are not hero offspring of the gods, they are aliens with super powers and it is up to them to save the world from the bad aliens.  In a classic war of good against evil, the surviving members of the Garde, the gifted teenage aliens from the previously destroyed planet Lorien, must save earth from the mutant Mogadorians who are lead by the evil Setrakus Ra. The story ends in a heartbreaking cliffhanger leaving us all to wait for the final book of the series.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler

The Good Dog
There are two stories going on in this book, both of which, in my opinion, are not really appropriate for the children this is directed towards.  The first story is that of a dog, whom a boy finds as a stray puppy and brings home, which is nice, but then the boy's parents say that if the dog is bad, he will be sent to the pound, which is depicted as an evil, nasty place.  I think the emphasis on being good without taking any excuses for "bad" behavior into account,  along with the inaccurate depiction of the dog pound are not appropriate for young children.  The second story is of a large processed food bakery that makes tasteless sweets that people eat because there are no better options, that is then threatened by competition from a small, family owned bakery that makes delicious sweets. This is the family that takes in the dog. The evil processed food factory owner tries to make his old tasteless sweets look prettier without actually making them any better and when that fails, he takes bugs and mice from his own factory and puts them into the family owned bakery to sabotage it.  I don't really see that as an appropriate topic for first graders either.  The book is an overly long picture book and while the reading level is about right for first and second graders and it is well written, I think it might be easier for kids to read if it were divided into chapters.  The illustrations are very well done and are my favorite part of the book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen by J.L. McCreedy

Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen by J.L. McCreedy
This is a mystery/adventure story as 10 year old Libby Frye goes to Germany with her overprotective parents to meet a grandmother that she had not known existed.  Once there, trouble compounds and it is up to Libby's best friend, Ginny to help her out.  There are witches, an old fighter pilot, an international traveling goose, mysteries and magic in this fast paced story.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Landfall by Ellen Urbani

Landfall is a story of two women, Rose and Rosy, who share a name and a birth year and whose lives intersect due to hurricane Katrina.  The story is as intense as the storm itself as Rose attempts to track down Rosy's family after being in a car wreck that claimed both Rosy's life and that of Rose's mother, Gertrude.  We learn about the lives of both girls along with a view of the hurricane and it's tragic aftermath.  The story is heartbreaking, sad, and intense.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Tower of Giraffes Animals in Groups by Anna Wright

This is a beautifully illustrated book with interesting facts about the groups of various animals that it names. The illustrations are different, interesting and lovely and the facts are unusual and interesting as well.  I think that adults will enjoy this lovely book as much as children will.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

They're There on Their Vacation by Brian P. Cleary (Author), Jim Paillot (Illustrator)

This brightly illustrated book focuses on the proper usage of the homophones they're, there and their.  Seeing those words used incorrectly irritates me and I am thrilled to see a book that addresses the problem.  This simple and silly children's book follows the Tuckabee family on their unusual vacation to visit places like the world's largest underwear display and the Cheezie Pops factory.  I think that kids will enjoy the book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Marked by Sue Tingey

Lucky sees dead people and debunks psychics.  When she is called in to investigate a case she finds more than just ghosts and is drawn into the realm of demons.  She learns that her best friend, a spirit named Kayla, is not really what she thought she was and neither is Lucky herself.  Remember the cartoons where a character would have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder?  Kayla meets those guys, only they are really hot and both are interested in her.  Fans of Twilight should enjoy this paranormal romance.  Lucky is a strong, independent, fun character to read about.  I look forward to other books in the series coming out.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

This is a cute, fun to read memoir in which Josh tracks down all the girls he ever dated in an attempt to find out why things did not work out with them. He uses handwritten charts and graphs and diagrams to show various information like a bar graph that shows his success with math, science, and girls and a venn diagram showing parents, true friends and enemies.  Josh is easy to relate to and funny and I think people will enjoy this book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.