Book Reviews

Book Review: Ghost
Reynolds, Jason
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I had taken a break from reviewing books until I read Ghost. This book is really well written. The narrator is believable and the plot illustrates his struggles and growth. Ghost is a troubled kid who stumbles onto a track team and turns his life for the better. I both loved and hated the ending, because it was so good but I didn't want the book to end. Great quick read. I highly recommended giving it a whirl.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
96 Miles
Esplin, J. L.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

John and Stewart’s father is a survivalist. At their home in a remote part of Nevada, they have everything they need to sustain them for six months – water, food, gas, even a generator to keep the refrigerator running. So when the power goes out for half the country, the brothers aren’t too worried, even though their father is away. They’re doing better than a lot of other people who weren’t prepared. But then, a group of men come in pickup trucks and they take everything. They force John and Stewart to kneel on the floor at gunpoint and one man tells John, “I’m sorry, kid, but we need what
you’ve got.”
Now, their only chance for survival is to walk 96 miles in the blazing desert heat to a friend’s ranch. There’s also a time limit. It’s important that they make the trip in three days - no longer than that – and Stewart won’t believe that he’s not going to die.
Then they encounter another set of siblings, Cleverly and her younger brother, Will. Cleverly decides that her best option is to join them, but John is not certain whether having Cleverly and Will tag along will help or hurt his chances to get Stewart to the ranch in time.
Every day is a struggle to find food, drinkable water, and to keep Stewart on his feet. Together, the four of them experience the desperate things that people feel justified to do in times of crisis and the best and worst of human nature, both in themselves and in others they find along the way.

Reviewer's Name: Cynde
How I Became a Spy
Hopkinson, Deborah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

On his very first assignment as a civil defense messenger in World War II London, Bertie Bradshaw finds the diary of a spy lying in the street. He eagerly reads about the young spy’s training and how she parachuted into France to assume her new covert role. Things soon begin to sound dangerous as one by one her fellow agents are captured by the Nazis. Then the diary suddenly changes into code.

Bertie decides to trust a gutsy American girl, Eleanor, and his best friend David, who is Jewish, with the secrets in the diary. In a race against time, they must try to decode the final messages and then track down not only the spy who wrote them but also the traitor who is leaking information to the Nazis - information so vital that it will affect the success of the invasion of France and the lives of countless allied agents.

I immediately felt affinity for Bertie because he is a believable thirteen-year-old, forgetting his helmet and his training at first but then gaining courage and confidence as the story progresses. Bertie is also struggling with what seem to be panic attacks, stemming from the bombing of his house and the separation of his family, which makes his determination all the more admirable. I also enjoyed Little Roo, Bertie’s trained rescue dog, who has more to do with the success or failure of the venture than you might think.

Reviewer's Name: Cynde
Rita & Ralph's Rotten Day
Deedy, Carmen Agra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Having a fight with your best friend can really ruin your day. This is exactly what happens in Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day by Carmen Agra Deedy and Pete Oswald. Right in the middle of a crazy fun day an accident happens, someone gets hurt, feelings get hurt and that brings trouble. The ups and downs of friendship are beautifully portrayed in this charmingly illustrated book for kids age 3 - 8.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot!
Bell, Cece
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Enter the wacky world of Chick and Brain. Chick insists on politeness, Brain struggles to understand Chick, and Dog has a chicken dinner in mind in the book Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot by Cece Bell. Kids who are getting the hang of reading will enjoy the comic book style of this early reader as well as the absurd humor. This is a laugh-out-loud read for kids age 5 - 8.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Allies
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Alan Gratz has given us a gripping tale in the book Allies. The invasion at Normandy during D-Day is seen from the viewpoint of a number of allies who's stories weave in and out of the fray during that first day of fighting. True to life characters, from soldier to resistance fighters, and and edge-of-the-seat story line will compel readers age 9 -15 to keep turning pages.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Genres:
The Willoughbys
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The four Willoughby kids have a problem. Their parents don't like them and they are planning to go on vacation, permanently, without the kids. Put into play an abandoned baby, a very sad old man and a pretty great Nanny and you have an endearing and entertaining plot by beloved author, Lois Lowry. The Willoughbys can be described as a winning combination of the Penderwicks and Series of Unfortunate Events for kids age 8 - 12.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Awards:
Genres:
The Unmapped Chronicles: Casper Tock and the Everdark Wings
Elphinstone, Abi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When Casper hides from the boarding school bullies, he finds himself magically transported to a land of enchantment and is immediately arrested as a criminal by a cranky girl named Utterly Thankless and her little dragon. Thus begins a headlong crash into a quest to save Utterly's kingdom complete with monsters, magicians, witches, trolls, griffins and other unearthly dangers. Kids 8-12 will enjoy the fantasy escapade Casper Tock and the Everdark Wings by Abi Elphinstone.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
The Lions at Night
Boehman, Jessica M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Two stone lions who guard the entrance of the New York Public Library jump off their pedestals one night and scamper into the subway. I wonder where they will go? Join lions, Patience and Fortitude,as they enjoy a night out. This wordless picture books is an enchanting gem to read and explore over and over again. Ask your child questions about what is happening. Let them tell the story and practice creating sentences and story lines. You'll be surprised at what they come up with. For ages 3 - 9.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Awards:
Book Cover
Hardinge, Frances
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Hark is an orphan who forms a bond of brotherhood with Jelt, a fellow orphan. So when Jelt asks Hark for help executing a job for a local gang, Hark reluctantly agrees. And gets caught, natch. He ends up as an indentured servant of a scientist studying the leftover pieces dead sea-monster gods that ruled the island until they all fought each other to death 30 years prior. Hark talks to the former priests who worked with the gods and is largely enjoying himself, until Jelt shows up with a new job that threatens Hark's new life.

There is obviously a lot going on in this book, and the worldbuilding was next level creative. Each sea-monster/god is different, and the descriptions of them were fantastic and a bit creepy. The mysteries of their existence and sudden disappearance unravel throughout the course of the book. That's kind of half of the book, and the other half is the adventures of Hark (they are, of course, intertwined), which I didn't love as much due to his blind devotion to Jelt. But even still, Hark's story goes down a very interesting and unexpected path and I think a lot of young teenage boys will identify with him. The book's message ends up being about your story/legacy and storytelling, which resonated with me as it will with anyone who understands the power and value of good storytelling.

This is a perfect read for tweens and teens graduating from middle grade fiction to YA who love adventure with a touch of horror. If this book finds it's audience, I can see it being really popular. I really enjoyed it! 4 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and MacMillan for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Deeplight is available now - put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Hundred and One Dalmations
Smith, Dodie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book falls into my "all-time favorite" stories, something I will come back to again and again because of its charm. It "could" be a Christmas Story, a crime novella, a dog-lovers "tail", or a unique investigation into 1950s English culture. Truthfully, it is all of these. The book opens with an introduction to the main players, Pongo and Misses, and their pets, the Dearly couple. The family is cared for by the two beloved nannies, Nanny Cook (Mrs. Dearly's nanny) and Nanny Butler (Mr. Dearly's nanny) and let a smart flat off Regent's Park. Mr. Dearly is a wizard of finance and unusually rich due to helping the British government get out debt. Mrs. Dearly is a housewife. Both love their dogs immensely and the dogs love their "pets" just as much. Then comes the glorious news that Misses is expecting puppies, what could be better?! Enter Cruella De Vil, an old schoolmate (but not friend) of Mrs. Dearly who has devoted herself to wealth and furs. The second passion encouraged her to marry a furrier...and to explore avenues for exotic furs, even dog! Pongo and Misses come to realize that they and their puppies are a central element of this sinister plot of dogdom. How will it end? You will have to read it to find out!

Reviewer's Name: Caitlin
Book Review: Race to the Sun
Roanhorse, Rebecca
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Nizhoni Begay is a normal seventh grader in many respects, minus the thing where she can see monsters. One day, she gets home from school to see a monster in her kitchen masquerading as her dad's potential boss. Sure enough, the boss-monster kidnaps her dad, and Nizhoni, her brother Max and their best friend Davery take off on a race to the House of the Sun to find weapons they can use to defeat the boss-monster and save Nizhoni's dad.

I really liked this one! All of Rick Riordan's books and the books on his imprint have something of a sameness to them, but that's not necessarily a bad thing (I'd compare it to the Marvel Cinematic Universe). You know you're going to get a snarky teenager narrating an epic quest to save the world where they'll be attacked non-stop by monsters from some sort of mythology. That's what you get here, but its the Navajo edition. I liked it a lot - I think it helps when the mythology being referenced originated more or less in your backyard, and as a Coloradan, it was a lot of fun to read. Plus, the mythology itself is just cool; Black Jet Girl, Spider Woman, and Crystal Rock Boy were particularly fun.

For readers who like mythology, action, adventure and snarky main characters. I really enjoyed this one, and will add this series to the list of books I listen to while I run! 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchanged for an unbiased review. Race to the Sun will be released on 14 January, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Pippi Longstocking
Lindgren, Astrid
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a parent, Pippi really stressed me out, but I still loved the book. Zoe adored it. The final paragraph was perfect.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Girl with Brush and Canvas
Meyer, Carolyn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Learn about artist Georgia O'Keeffe in this fascinating novel about her life. Beginning with her early life in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin when she announced her plans to be an artist and following with family hardships where she refused to give up her dream, you'll learn about where she found her inspiration and how she persevered. Girl with Brush and Canvas, is a well-written, entertaining story about one of the most interesting artists of the 20th century.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Hero Next Door
edited by Rhuday-Perkovich, Olugbemisola
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Hero Next Door is published as part of a partnership with We Need Diverse Books. It's a collection of short stories by 14 award-winning authors. It's a celebration of everyday heroes that make a difference in their worlds and challenges each of us to be a hero in our world. While every story may not speak to you, there's something in this book for each of us as we work to make the world a better place.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Perfect
Amato, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

How do you define perfect? For eraser, it's a flawlessly clean piece of paper. For pencil, it's a paper full of squiggles and more. Is there a way that they can learn to work together, get along, and become friends? Read this simply "perfect" book to find out. You'll enjoy the ways that pencil and eraser come to life through the illustrations.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Moo, Moo, Chew, Chew Sounds from the Farm
Shand, Jennifer
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Consider reading this this interactive book to your youngster as they transition from board books to picture books. Its tear-resistant pages make it ideal! The guessing game format will delight your child as it introduces new vocabulary and concepts related to the farm.Together you will hear a cow, pig, horse, and more. A delightful book!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Book Cover
Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Artemis Fowl is back!

Well, not really. But his little brothers are a more than sufficient replacement. Twins Myles and Beckett have lived a life of education and luxury (with some mild kidnapping thrown in). But everything changes drastically when a small troll appears on their island. Before they know it, they find themselves kidnapped by ACRONYM (a government organization that deals with magic) and working with a fairy to escape from not one, but two baddies - an evil, mustache twirling duke and a deranged nun that are themselves at odds. Will the Fowl Twins escape in time to save their lives and, perhaps more importantly, human-fairy relations for the rest of time?

This was very cute. Colfer was in top form here, and this held all of the characteristics of a middle grade book that I find to be readable (they aren't always my favorite). Myles is snarky. Beckett is a loose cannon (who can talk to animals!!!). The duke has access to insanely quirky gadgets and wouldn't be out of place as a Despicable Me super-villain. The evil nun is an evil nun. The pace moves quickly, but we still get to know our characters. Aside from its general predictability (adults will see all the twists coming before they happen), it's a fantastic middle grade read. If the narrator is any good, I'll add this series to my list of books that I listen to while running.

TLDR: If you loved the Artemis Fowl series, you'll love this one too! It has all of the best elements of the original series with some fun new quirks and characters. 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Fowl Twins is available for purchase on 05 Nov, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
I'm Trying to Love Math
Barton, Bethany
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using abundant humor, Bethany Barton makes this book about math interesting to all. Her facts and explanations show how math is used in our everyday lives and why it’s important. Math is used all around the world and even in space. We used math when we bake cookies, make music, and explore. It’s part of many of the patterns we see in nature. Since math is part of so many of the things you already love, you may just already love math.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Mysterious Experiments
Claybourne, Anna
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There’s nothing magical about these experiments – just everyday science. Experiment with raisins, sugar cubes, eggs, and more. You can just use simple materials that you already have around the house to test things out and learn something too.

Reviewer's Name: Carol

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