17. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Pink & Green Is the New Black by Lisa Greenwald, read by Angie, on 09/16/2014

Lucy is back in her third adventure. This time she is in 8th grade and wants to make it her best ever. Of course everything isn’t going the way she had hoped. Her proposal to make the school cafeteria go green is approved but she is having issues with her boyfriend Yamir. Yamir is now in high school and he is ignoring her. He doesn’t call or text or even really talk to her anymore and Lucy is getting tired of it. Then there is new boy Travis who seems to like her and does pay attention to her. Plus the 8th grade masquerade is coming up and Lucy has been roped into helping by mean girl Erica.

I think this is a good series for girls who are interested in realistic fiction, makeup and going green. Lucy is your typical teen girl with issues and problems. I like the fact that she seems more like a teen in this one instead of old-beyond her years like she has been in the other books. I’m not sure I always find her voice to be authentic but the issues she is dealing with definitely are. This is a solid addition to this series.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

Poppy’s life has been turned upside down lately. She is living in the local children’s home because her grandma had a stroke. Her grandma is her whole life and Poppy just wants things to get back to normal. Then she tries to go see her grandma and witnesses an armed robbery where a store clerk is shot. Police officer Trey is the one to question her and get her story and he is concerned because she saw the man’s face. So Poppy goes to live with Trey’s mom, Marti, in a sort of witness protection program. Through Marti, Poppy is introduced to Carol and Lizzie who work at a local animal shelter and to Gunner, the most beautiful dog she has ever met. Poppy is determined to help Gunner who has some issues. She is also determined to get back home with her grandma, but things don’t always work out how we want them to.

I loved Poppy’s story. It was touching and so very realistic. Ok, so not many 12 year olds witness robberies, but lots of them live with grandparents and I am sure lots of them have grandparents with health issues. I liked the fact that not everything went Poppy’s way, but she still ending up in a good situation that worked for her. Her relationship with Gunner really made me want to adopt a dog! This is a beautiful, heart-breaking story.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Guinea Dog 3 by Patrick Jennings, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

Rufus is looking forward to the annual camping trip to White Crappie Lake with his family and his best friend Murph’s family. Then his mom goes and invites his enemy Dimitri and strange girl Lurena. Dimitri is always trying to steal Murph as his best friend and Lurena is just strange. At the campground they meet Pablo and get to talking about their pets. Rufus has a guinea pig (Fido) who thinks she is a dog and whose daughter thinks she is a squirrel (Lurena got the guinea squirrel). Fido came from a pet store called Petoria which seems to have disappeared until Pablo says he thinks he saw one. So off they go to find Petoria and another guinea pig. Turns out this one is a guinea otter?

Such a strange little book. Even though this is the third in the series I don’t think you have to have read the other two to figure it out. I think younger readers will really enjoy this story. It has a lot of humor and fun in it. I liked the mystery of what exactly Petoria is and why the animals there turn out so different. I also like that the answers are not given to us in this book.

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Lug isn’t like the other caveboys in his village. He doesn’t care about headstone or getting the biggest jungle llama. He really likes spending time in his art cave and drawing pictures on the cave walls. He is also concerned about the fact that it is getting colder. He is banished from the village along with Stony, a boy more interested in his frog than anything else. He meets Echo, a girl from the rival village who wants him to help her with Wooly, a young mammoth. Wooly and Lug train to be the best headstone pair so they can get back in the village. Unfortunately, the cold has sent more than mammoths south. A group of saber-tooth tigers is also on the prowl and wants to take over the village’s caves. The two villages have to work together to survive.

This was a fun book, a bit silly perhaps, but with a nice message about accepting people’s differences and not having to conform. It was a bit different to read a book about cavepeople where they spoke in modern language for the most part. It makes it more relatable for young readers anyway. I thought the story was fine, but did think it was strange when the fantasy element of talking animals was introduced. I wish that element could have been left out, but with it in I wish it would have been used consistently. In the beginning Lug and Echo are special because they can understand animals, but by the end the animals are talking to everyone.

13. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags: ,

Magic in the Mix by Annie Barrows, read by Angie, on 09/13/2014

Magic in the Mix is the sequel to The Magic Half. Miri and Molly have settled in the present were everyone believes they are the middle twins in the Gill family. Only Miri and Molly remember that Molly is originally from 1935 and was rescued by Miri. When their dad tears off the back porch of the house he opens another portal to the past, specifically 1918 where the girls again see the evil Flo and meet Molly’s mom Maudie. A broken window opens another door into the past this one to 1864 and the Civil War. The girls rescue a couple of Yankee prisoners from the evil Clark, but find out they are not the only ones who can time travel when their brother Roy and Robbie end up in 1864 as well. Of course they are dressed as Yankee soldiers since they were on their way to a Civil War reenactment. It is up to Miri and Molly to rescue the boys and get back to the present time.

This was another nice book by Annie Barrows. I found it interesting that the littlest changes to the house opened up portals to different times and different openings went different times. I liked that all the kids had to think on their feet and figure out how to get out of a dangerous situation. I wish there had been more parental presence in the book. The mom and dad are barely around and barely make an impression throughout. Not a very realistic or likely story but one I am sure kids will enjoy.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

Somebody on this bus is going to be famous, but who? That is the story of this book. Almost all the action takes place on the bus which is interesting. There are three mysteries to solve. One: who is going to be famous? Two: who lives at the empty bus stop? Three: what happened during the class of 85 graduation? During the course of the school year we get to learn about the nine middle schoolers who are on the bus. Shelly wants to be a famous singer and is very self-centered. Miranda wants to be a writer and a good friend. Spencer is worried he isn’t the genius everyone thinks he is. Jay is worried about his Poppi who is suffering from dementia. Bender is good with numbers and wants to solve the mystery of the empty bus stop. Igor wants to discover more about his dad who is in prison. Kaitlynn becomes obsessed with helping people and starts a fundraiser on the bus to help a family in need. Matthew becomes interested in physics and wins the science fair. Alice is hiding who her family is and what their connection to the mystery of the class of 85. The bus driver Mrs. B also has secrets.

The book begins with the bus crash in May and then works its way through the school year. It is an interesting way to increase the drama as the reader wants to know how they get to the bus crash. This book reminded me a bit of Because of Mr. Terupt with the alternating student chapters. However, unlike Mr. Terupt there doesn’t seem to be a lot of character growth for the kids. For the most part they all end up the same as they started. I was hoping for a little bit more. I thought the story was interesting, but the ending left a lot to be desired. The mystery of who is going to be famous was almost a throw away that negated the rest of the story. It was like oh well we couldn’t think up a good ending so it turns out Mrs. B writes a book. Really? I wanted more details about the aftermath of the bus crash and what it did to the characters, but instead everything is wrapped up in about a page. The book was much better without that ending and could have been a lot better with a stronger one.

downloadimages (12 Bassahs7  This is a short biography of a African American born into slavery, then emancipated with his family, who loved working with horses, and ended up owning his own stables and showed horses at major events.  Bass was able to overcome a number of racial barriers because of his great skill with horses, and because other people, whites, stood up for him.  He was a quiet, gentle man, and one wonders if an African American with a different temperament would have succeeded in his place.

I liked the fact that so much of the story took place here in Mid-Missouri, in Columbia, Boonville, etc.  download (1) download (2) images

12. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Blood Ties: Spirit Animals Bk 3. by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, read by Kira, on 09/11/2014

blood ties elephantlarge_1download (2)This time the team heads to an Asian jungle with nasty leeches, snakes, crocodiles, and deadly insects, in search of the elephants talisman.

This book, was Not as well written as others, the tension was problematic, where I just wanted to skip ahead, and Not endure the will this person succeed at jumping high enough, or some such thing.  I suspect Garth Nix didn’t contribute as much as Sean Williams, having read Nix before.  Still I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

11. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

Grounded by Kate Klise, read by Angie, on 09/10/2014

Daralynn Oakland survived because she was grounded. She had gone fishing at Doc Lake without permission so her mom grounded her and she didn’t get on the plane that crashed and killed her dad, sister and brother. After the funeral, her mom starts doing hair at the funeral home and takes over the local hair salon. Her mom becomes more and more withdrawn as time goes by and everything seems to irritate her. The biggest irritant is Aunt Josie. Aunt Josie runs the Summer Sunset Retirement Home for Distinguished Gentlemen out of her home and is always taking care of old men with no family. Her new beau is Mr. Clem who has just opened the new crematorium in town. Daralynn and her mom are unhappy because Mr. Clem steals their idea for living funerals and they are afraid he will put the funeral home out of business.

This book contains an interesting case of characters. They are all eccentric and just a little bit different. The story is a bit over the top but it is fun and definitely keeps you interested. I thought the reveal about Mr. Clem was easy to spot and just a bit predictable but kids might not be able to spot it. I did like the glimpse into how people deal with grief in different ways. It would bring up several good discussion points for parents and kids to talk about. I think my favorite moment in the book was when Daralynn was talking about her brother and his love of peanut butter and tomato sandwiches. I had no idea anyone outside of my family ate such a thing! Guess it must be a Missouri thing.

09. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Wild Born: Spirit Animals Bk1 by Brandon Mull, read by Kira, on 09/06/2014

In
images Spirit Animals_thumb[4] Animal_spirits_squares_black_detail AnimalSpiritCircle The beginning of the Spirit Animals series.  At the start of the adventure, 4 11-yr olds drink the special honey liquid and are able to call spirit animals.  But Not just any spirit animals appear to these 4, rather the Great 4 Fallen, who died in the old battle with the Destroyer.  Each youth is from a different country on Erdras and from a different segment in society.

 

This is a fast moving, action filled adventure.

04. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little, read by Angie, on 09/03/2014

Larissa is bitter about the scar on her face. The scar that was caused when she was pushed through the old Bayou Bridge by Alyson Granger and her friends. Larissa and her family have a long history in Bayou Bridge but her mamma doesn’t like being back in town. She is bitter about Larissa’s accident and the fact that her own sister drowned in the bayou when the bridge was hit by lightning. Larissa gets a mysterious phone call from someone telling her to trust the fireflies. Only problem is the phone isn’t connected to anything. The fireflies keep trying to lead her across the bridge to the island where her family used to live. When she makes it to the island she discovers she has been transported to 1912 and witnesses events in the life of her ancestor Anna. She also witnesses events in the life of each subsequent generation. In each generation there is some kind of tragedy and the creepy doll Anna Marie is always present. Larissa has to figure out what it all means before the doll strikes again and hurts her mamma who is pregnant with her baby sister. 

This was a pretty captivating mystery if you suspend your disbelief a bit. There is no explanation given for the magic of the fireflies or how Larissa receives the phone call from the future. The doll also doesn’t really get a very good explanation, but I did enjoy the journey Larissa went on to figure everything out. I think more important than the mystery of the doll and the family tragedies was Larissa coming to terms with her scar. She was so fixated on the scar and her hatred for Alyson that it blinded her to actual events. Once she came to terms with everything things started to become clearer. It was a nice added part of the story. 

I received this book from Netgalley.

indeximg-thing 6a00e54efdd2b38834015393b5f173970b A delightful set of guidelines on how to live your life, especially if you live within fairy tales.  Some of the wisdom applies to our reality on this earth as well.

01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Battle for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi, read by Eric, on 08/30/2014

This final book in the WondLa trilogy puts Eva Nine amidst the war between humans and alien species, to decide the fate of Orbona. It also illustrates how much she has matured, and how powerful she has become, since The Search for WondLa. She has gained abilities which put her on par with most anyone on the planet, and she will need all of them in order to do her part in stopping the machinations of advisor-turned-usurper, Loroc.

This isn’t my favorite story of the trilogy, but even so, it is far from disappointing. Former antagonists become allies, treachery is revealed, and in the middle of it all is Eva. She is a great character, and her companions just as strong. Their effectiveness is enhanced by DiTerlizzi’s artwork, which is consistently excellent throughout the trilogy. His character and world designs are wonderful, and the perfect guide in case someone wishes to put all this on the big screen. Please?

29. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, read by Courtney, on 08/12/2014

The town of Alexandriaville, OH has been without a library for 12 long years, but they’ve just built a new one that will, quite possibly, be the most fascinating (and fun!) public library ever. That’s because it’s being built to celebrate the birthday of one of the town’s most famous residents: master gamemaker, Luigi Lemoncello. When it is announced that 12 lucky 12-year-olds will be given the opportunity to spend the night in the new library, Kyle jumps at the chance. He’s a huge fan of Mr. Lemoncello’s games and cannot wait to see what what’s inside. Naturally, Kyle becomes one of the 12 lucky kids to be the first to enter the library. The night is full of fun games, but little do any of the kids know that the real game hasn’t even started yet. As the lock-in draws to a close, a new and more exciting contest is announced: the first one to escape the library will win the prize of a lifetime. They can only use the resources within the library and cannot go out the way they came in. Since the library used to be a bank, it seems pretty impenetrable. Kyle teams up with some of the nicer kids so that they can be the first to exit and share in the prize.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this book is a lot of fun. The library itself sounds like an extremely cool (and extremely expensive) building. The narrative is peppered with references to popular children’s and teen books. There are puzzles here and there that the kids in the book have to solve and the reader gets to go along for the ride. Unfortunately, readers aren’t given a chance to solve anything on their own (something my middle schoolers were anxious to do), so it feels like a bit of a let-down when the answer comes right away. The prize is one that, to me, doesn’t feel very appealing, but perhaps to a 12-year-old, it might be. The characters aren’t particularly well-developed and most of their actions are predictable. There’s a definite “Willy Wonka” vibe to this book, except you would replace “chocolate factory” with “library” and “Willy Wonka” with “Luigi Lemoncello”. And instead of golden tickets, you have winning essays. This is an entertaining read, but I can’t help but think it could have been better executed.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Nine Open Arms by Benny Lindelauf, read by Lisa, on 08/26/2014

An intriguing novel with a classic feel, featuring three vividly alive young sisters, an eccentric family struggling against the odds, and the slowly revealed story of a house with a past.

At the end of the world, near the border with Germany, stands a house as long as nine open arms. Half hidden behind trees and shrubs rises a wide brick wall, topped with two attic windows, each no bigger than a dishcloth. The walls have been whitewashed and the wooden floor is bare, as if the house is waiting. Waiting for someone to move in. 

It is the summer of 1937, and it hasn’t rained for seven weeks when Fing and her family of nine move into Nine Open Arms, along with their handcart of meagre belongings. ‘The Dad’ is a man who does all kinds of jobs and none of them well, while Oma Mei courageously holds everything together, including the family’s history in her Crocodile bag full of pictures and stories. But as the year progresses, the family just gets poorer.

Meanwhile, Fing and her two sisters, wild Muulke and fearful Jess, begin to discover strange mysteries…a bed that looks like a tombstone, and an unmarked grave in the cemetery.

Nine Open Arms is an exceptional imagined historical mystery – the story of a very special home, the eccentric families who have lived within it, and the unexpected ties that emerge between the two..

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Sea-Cat and Dragon King by Angela Carter, Eva Tatcheva (Illustrator), read by Lisa, on 08/13/2014

This is a magical story of the love between mother and child and the gifts of kindness and understanding. Dragon King and Sea-Cat both live under the sea. Sea-Cat lives with his mother who sews him fabulous jewel-encrusted suits that shimmer and capture the attention of all who see him. Dragon King, the ruler, lives a sad and lonely life as he is so ashamed of his ugliness. When he sees Sea-Cat in his beautiful suit, he is overcome with jealousy and wants the suit for himself. But Sea-Cat is clever and kind and befriends Dragon King. Sea-Cat knows his mother can turn the Dragon King’s ruby tears into a most dazzling suit, just for him! 

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, read by Lisa, on 08/15/2014

This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut,Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler, read by Lisa, on 08/01/2014

In this middle-grade Bridesmaids, hilarity ensues as triplets have to stop a wedding!

One bride. Two boys. Three flower girls who won’t forever hold their peace. What could go wrong with this wedding? Everything!

The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, would usually spend their summer eating ice cream, playing with their dog, and reading about the US Presidents. But this year they’re stuck planning their big sister Lily’s wedding. Lily used to date Alex, who was fun and nice and played trivia games with the triplets, and no one’s quite sure why they broke up. Burton, Lily’s groom-to-be, is not nice or fun, and he looks like an armadillo.

The triplets can’t stand to see Lily marry someone who’s completely wrong for her, so it’s up to them to stop the wedding before anyone says “I do!” The flower girls will stop at nothing to delay Lily’s big day, but will sprinklers, a photo slideshow, a muddy dog, and some unexpected allies be enough to prevent their big sister – and the whole Brewster family – from living unhappily ever after?

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, read by Angie, on 08/20/2014

Splendors and Glooms is a 2013 Newbery Honor Book and kind of reinforces my idea that the Newbery Award is not about books that kids would choose to read themselves. It is about books that adults think kids should read or need to read. Which means the books are generally not popular and are not going to be books kids will pick up on their own. Splendors and Glooms is a heavy book that deals with some very tough topics like child abuse, unwanted male attention, death and evil all the while set in Victorian England. It is a long read with a lot of descriptive language reminiscent of Victorian literature. It is a book that I would actually say is more geared towards older kids because of the situations and language (there are a couple of swear words). 

Splendors and Glooms is the story of three children: Clara, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall. Clara is a privileged girl who is the only surviving child of a cholera epidemic that killed all her brothers and sisters. Her house is one of mourning even years after the fact. Lizzie Rose is a child of the theater who was orphaned when her parents died who plays at being a lady. Parsefall is another orphan who was rescued from the workhouse, loves being a puppeteer and picks a pocket or two. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall live with Grisini the puppeteer. He doesn’t treat them very well, barely feeds them and makes them work for him. The three meet when Clara begs to have Grisini do a show at her birthday party. She disappears the next day with no trace. Then Parsefall and Lizzie Rose discover a new puppet who looks just like Clara and come to believe that Grisini is a magician who turned her into a puppet. Grisini disappears leaving the children on their own until they discover a letter from Cassandra asking them to come live with her. Cassandra is a witch who has visions of being consumed by fire because of the fire opal she possesses. Grisini tells her that a child must steal it from her in order to free her (thus the request for the kids). The kids arrive at her country castle and start trying to figure out what is going on and how they can get out of it. 

So not my favorite book. The story was overly dramatic and gruesome at times for a children’s book. The ending was way too simple to be realistic and diminished the drama of the previous 400 pages. And the plot got a little convoluted and a bit boring to tell you the truth. 

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags:

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection CD by Neil Gaiman, read by Angie, on 08/19/2014

Four short children’s stories by Neil Gaiman are contained in this collection and they were all wonderful: Crazy Hair, Cinnamon, The Wolves in the Walls and the Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. I think my favorite might have been the Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish just for the plain fun and silliness of the story. The Wolves in the Walls was a bit scary. Cinnamon was a touching story. Crazy Hair was just fun with its rhyming text. I think the best part was the fact that Gaiman read the stories himself and the fact that his daughter interviewed him at the end. Wonderful collection.