14. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull, read by Angie, on 07/12/2014

Sky Raiders is the first in a new series by Brandon Mull. Cole and his friends visit a spooky haunted house on Halloween and are kidnapped by people from another world. Cole follows the kidnappers to the Outskirts where he too is caught. They are all slaves off to be sold to whoever wants them. Cole is bought by the Sky Raiders, a group that raids the floating castles for whatever treasure they might hold. Cole befriends Mira and they develop a plan to escape. Mira is more than she seems and needs to leave Skyhold before the Grand Shaper finds her. Cole, Mira, Jace and Twitch make their escape but are pursued by hundreds of soldiers. They make their way across this strange country to fight the Carnag and make Mira whole again.

This was a fun book. I thought Cole was a really interesting character full of loyalty for his friends and a daring risk-taker and hero. I can see how this series will be shaped with each book dealing with each of the princesses and each of the five kingdoms. This is a fascinating world Mull has created full of magic and mystery and intrigue. I think the series will be one kids will really enjoy. It is fast-paced, filled with interesting kids and a fabulous adventure.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, read by Angie, on 07/06/2014

A baby is discovered floating in a cello case after a shipwreck. She is taken home by Charles and raised as his daughter Sophie. Sophie and Charles are not conventional people. They eat off of books because Sophie breaks plates. Sophie wears trousers even though girls are supposed to wear dresses. Children’s services doesn’t always approve of Charles’s methods, but they leave Charles and Sophie alone until she turns 12. Then they decide it isn’t appropriate for a young girl to live with a non-relative. So Charles and Sophie escape to Paris to find her mother who Sophie believes is still alive. In Paris they are thwarted by the police but not discouraged. Then Sophie meets Matteo who lives on the rooftops and introduces her to a whole new world in the sky. She enlists his help in finding her mother. 

I was completely charmed by this book. The language is beautiful and lyrical and reads almost like poetry in some places. Sophie and Charles are not conventional, but they are interesting and unique. I really loved the world Rundell created both in England and on the Paris rooftops. I think the only criticism I have of the book is that I wish the ending would have been a little more fleshed out. I wanted to know more of the whys and the what happens nexts. Other than that it was a completely enjoyable read.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction

Archon by Lana Krumwiede, read by Angie, on 07/05/2014

Archon is the continuation of the Psi Chronicles that started in Freakling. Taemon has successfully gotten rid of psi in Deliverance and the community has fallen into chaos as people try to figure out how to live without psi and do things manually. Taemon learns that when he asked the Heart of the Earth to get rid of psi it left everyone except him. So not only did he destroy everything he kept power for himself. Taemon also discovers that his father has been taken over the mountain into the Republik. Taemon and Amma venture over the mountain and discover the Republik is building up an army of psi warriors to invade Deliverance. Taemon’s action hasten the invasion and he has to bring all the communities of Deliverance together to fight back the Republik.

For some reason this book took me forever to read. I got about half way through it and then put it away for several months. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t nearly as excited about it as I was the first book. I still like this world where people have mental abilities and thought it was interesting to see them figuring out how to live without them. I didn’t think it was ever fully explained how psi existed in the Republik when it was only supposed to be a part of Deliverance, but that is a minor issue which may be resolved in the next book. 

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, read by Lisa, on 06/30/2014

When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Lisa, Science Fiction

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, read by Lisa, on 06/20/2014

Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure in this New York Times‑Bestselling graphic novel trilogy for middle grade readers.
 
Zita the Spacegirl has saved planets, battled monsters, and wrestled with interplanetary fame. But she faces her biggest challenge yet in the third and final installment of the Zita adventures. Wrongfully imprisoned on a penitentiary planet, Zita has to plot the galaxy’s greatest jailbreak before the evil prison warden can execute his plan of interstellar domination!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine , read by Lisa, on 06/10/2014

Once upon a time…A kind sister and a cruel one. A charming prince. A spiteful fairy. A hundred-year snooze. A pea under a pile of mattresses. A kiss.

All the familiar ingredients, but why is the punished sister happy? Where did that extra prince come from, and what does a flock of balding sheep or a fleck of tuna in a chocolate cake have to do with anything?

Gail Carson Levine has waved her magic wand over three well-known fairy tales, and presto! They are transformed — and sparklingly funny-in these delightful retellings:

The Fairy’s Mistake
The Princess Test
Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep

Happily ever after has never been so hilarious!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Drama by Raina Telgemeier, read by Kristy, on 06/20/2014

PLACES, EVERYONE!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, read by Kristy, on 06/15/2014

From the artist of BSC Graphix comes this humorous coming-of-age true story about the dental drama that ensues after a trip-and-fall mishap.

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

01. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin, read by Angie, on 06/30/2014

Little John is working with his father trimming trees for Mr. King during the summer. One day he hears the most amazing music. He discovers it is a little girl who sounds like a magical bird. She is an orphan living with Mrs. Cutlin whose property borders Mr. King’s. Gayle is just like a little bird, more comfortable in the nest she built in the tree than on the ground. Over the next few days Little John and Gayle become very close. Little John needs something good in his life. His family is not the same since the death of his little sister. His dad is drinking a lot and spending their rent money on booze. His mom still talks to the little sister Raelynn as if she is still alive. They are about to be evicted and have no where else to go. So when Mr. King offers John $500 to bring Gayle to his house and let him record her voice, John accepts. Mr. King is a bit creepy but John doesn’t think he would actually hurt Gayle. However, after he records her Gayle acts as if she has been wounded. She claims Mr. King stole her voice. There are a series of unfortunate events that leads to a horrible accident and the loss of the rent money. Little John has to make things right with his family and with Gayle.

I am still not sure what I think about this book. It was a very engaging story and one I really didn’t want to put down. However, it is based on a fairy tale I am unfamiliar with, which made the story a little more difficult to understand. Magical realism is also not my favorite genre. With that being said I think it is a magical little book that will definitely find fans.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

Smek for President! by Adam Rex, read by Angie, on 06/28/2014

Smek for President! is the sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday, a book I adored. I love the fact that J.Lo and Tip are back for another adventure. In this book, things have settled down on Earth now that the Gorg are gone and the Boov have moved one of Saturn’s moons. J.Lo is still a bit of an outcast as a Boov on Earth and he and Tip have not revealed how they actually saved the world. Dan Landry has taken all the credit and fame. J.Lo decides he needs to talk to Commander Smek and make things right. So he and Tip head for Saturn, but the trip doesn’t turn out like they thought it would. Turns out the Boov are having an election for High Boov and Commander Smek might not win. He throws J.Lo in jail and sends Tip on the run. Tip has to find J.Lo, free him, convince all the Boovs they are heroes not villains and not get killed by a mysterious masked Boov chasing them. She makes friends with Bill the Billboard and FunSize the garbage man, who help her along the way. This is a fun trip back into the world of the Boov. I find this series hilarious. J.Lo and Tip are a great team and pretty entertaining. I enjoy their interactions. This book also has some interesting thoughts on the democratic process, celebrity and the media. I’m not sure why more people aren’t reading Adam Rex but they really should.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.

27. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo, read by Angie, on 06/26/2014

Jade is spending her summer in Wyoming with her aunt Elise who she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. She meets Roy Parker who styles himself as a true cowboy and a descendant of Butch Cassidy (real name Roy Parker). Roy’s family is going through some hard times since his father had to close his hardware store. Roy blames Kip Farley for all the troubles because he built a giant franchise store not far from the Parker’s store. Roy devises all kinds of schemes to get back at Farley; everything from fish heads hidden throughout the store to planning to sell his stuff on ebay to robbing the local bank (Roy only actually does the fish). Jade wants to be supportive of Roy, but isn’t comfortable breaking the law. All Jade’s previous summers have been quite, but this one is full of adventure and fun. 

I thought this was an excellent book about family and adventure and finding yourself. Both Jade and Roy go through transformations during their summer together. Jade loosens up a bit and learns that real adventure can be a lot of fun. Roy has to come to terms with his family situation and his heritage. The bonus with the book is that you also learn a lot about Butch Cassidy and star gazing. I think there is something for everyone here. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

24. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, read by Tammy, on 06/20/2014

familiarsThe first book in a fun new children’s series. Aldwyn the cat runs into an alley to save his life and ends up ducking into an unusual pet store. All the animals in the store have magical abilities. They are called Familiars and the human companions are Loyals. Aldwyn decides to play along and pretend he has abilities to make a clean escape and is chosen by Jack, a young wizard.To keep up the ruse and have his meals provided, Aldwyn must convince the other familiars, a blue jay named Skylar and a tree frog named Gilbert that he is a powerful familiar too.

Then Jack and the other two young wizards in training are captured and the familiars set out to rescue them. Humor and a grand adventure ensue.

 

23. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones, read by Angie, on 06/19/2014

Sam Toop lives with his father in their funeral home Constable and Toop. Sam is different from most people in that he can see and hear ghosts. He is known as a “Talker” in the ghost community. Sam is surprised when his uncle Jack, who he didn’t know existed, shows up one night. Jack is on the run after killing a copper and Sam’s dad reluctantly lets him hide out. 

Lapsewood is perfectly happy to spend his afterlife shuffling paperwork for the Bureau. His afterlife is thrown into a tizzy when he is sent into the human realm to figure out what has happened to one of the Bureau’s agents. Lapsewood discovers that someone has been exorcising the residential ghosts in London and a house without its ghosts becomes contaminated with the Black Rot. Lapsewood teams up with a rogue ghost named Tanner to figure out what is happening to the ghosts of London. 

Sam and Lapsewood and Tanner all become embroiled in the case of the disappearing ghosts and the mysterious exorcist and must figure out who is behind it all. This entertaining book gives a new look at the afterlife and what kind of bureaucracy and dangers exist for ghosts. I like the uniqueness of the story. I do however think it is a little dense and could have been pared down a bit for this age group. It is a fun story with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, a bit of danger and a bit of horror.

20. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction · Tags:

The Young Healer by Frank N. McMillan III, read by Angie, on 06/18/2014

Feather and her grandfather set out on a quest to heal her young brother Peter. Spotted Eagle is a Lakota medicine man and he wants to teach Feather the traditions of their people. Their quest leads them throughout New York City during a raging snowstorm as they meet a Chinese herbalist, a homeless woman, a bear at the zoo and a grandfather at the Empire State Building. Their journey is full of magical coincidences that help making the vision quest more special. Feather’s mom, Ann, is resistant to the old ways and doesn’t want anything to do with a traditional healing ceremony, but Feather and Spotted Eagle are determined to help Peter. 

I really enjoyed the fact that this book highlights a culture not seen in children’s realistic fiction very often, the Native American culture. I also liked that it was not only set in modern times, but also in a modern city. It highlighted how Native Americans can adapt their cultural traditions to fit a modern world, but still honor those ancient customs. I thought Feather and her grandfather were both fun, dedicated, interesting characters throughout the book. I did think Feather’s parents were a little one-dimensional, but they didn’t play a very big role in the book. I liked how the reader was left wondering if there was really magic playing a part or if it was just coincidences. A very special book that I am sure would be great for discussions.

17. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 06/16/2014

I think Jessica Day George could be one of my favorite authors. For sure, the Castle Glower series is a must read for me. I never tire of reading about the adventures of Celie and her family. Thursdays with the Crown picks up right were Wednesdays in the Tower left off. Celie and the rest of the group have been transported to Glorious Arkower along with a couple of towers from The Castle. Right away they discover griffins, specifically the parents of Rufus, Celie’s griffin. They are also introduced to two different wizards with opposing views on who created The Castle, who poisoned the water in Arkower, and basically who is the evil one and who is the good one. Celie and crew must decide who to trust and figure out how to get back to Sleyne. This is yet another fabulous adventure in the Castle Glower series. I love the introduction of the griffins and all the history we learn about Castle Glower and Celie’s family. I really can’t wait for the next adventure for this fun series. 

Thank you to Netgalley for letting me read this book before it comes out. 

16. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Battle For WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi, read by Angie, on 06/15/2014

This is the final book in the wonderful WondLa series. Eva Nine and her companions must find a way to stop the evil Loroc before he completely destroys the civilizations of Orbona. We see the cast of characters we met in The Search for WondLa and A Hero for WondLa plus a few new ones as Eva travels across the land trying to save everyone. I loved her journey in this series and how much she has grown and changed. I thought the ending was a very satisfying one and I enjoyed the epilogues that told of the future of Orbona in the centuries to come. It had been a while since I read the previous books and this one made me want to read the series all together so I could really enjoy the progression of Eva’s character and the story. Fabulous series and one I would definitely recommend. 

13. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge, read by Angie, on 06/12/2014

Every night at twelve minutes to midnight the patients at Bedlam start writing. They do not awaken and do not remember what they wrote when they wake. The modern reader will recognize the writings as events of the 20th century. However, the story takes place in 1899 and the people reading the writings have no idea what they are. Penelope Treadwell is an orphan and a writer. She is the owner and managing editor of the Penny Dreadful paper and has created storytelling sensation Montgomery Flinch. Of course, Penny herself has penned all the writings so she has to hire an actor to portray Flinch in public. The readers of the Penny Dreadful would never believe a 13-year-old girl could write such amazing stories of horror and mystery. Penny is determined to solve the mystery of the Bedlam Midnight Papers. Her investigation leads her to Lady Cambridge, the Spider Lady of Kensington. Turns out Lady Cambridge is using spider venom on the Bedlam patients so they can see the future and she can control the future. Her schemes don’t stop there however, she wants to bring all of London into madness. Penny must do some incredible things in order to stop her.

I thought the majority of this book was wonderful. I loved the mystery of the Midnight Papers and how the writers could see into the future. I thought Penny was really smart and resourceful and determined. I was entertained by Monty, the actor hired to be Montgomery Flinch. I also thought Lady Cambridge was an interesting villain. Then I got to the last section of the book and I thought it all went a bit loopy. I like mysteries that are atleast a little bit believable. I can buy a mysterious spider whose venom allows the victim to have visions. That wasn’t bad. It was when another spider’s venom was ingested by the legendary writers of the day (Doyle, Wells, Haggard, Kipling, etc.) and they were able to infect everyone with the madness who read their words. That is when Edge lost me. I wish the ending could have been stronger as this book started out so well. Not sure it will bother kids as much as it bothered me, but it was still disappointing.

05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Steam-punk

Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino, read by Angie, on 06/01/2014

Uncrashable Dakota is an alternate history/steampunk middle grade adventure novel. During the Civil War, Samuel Dakota discovered the power of flight. Seems a certain kind of beetle really likes whiskey soaked sap. You feed it to them and they can fly. Put the beetles in a ship and the ship flies. This discovery ended the Civil War years early, started the flight industry in the 1860s and allowed Lincoln to live to be an old man. Fast forward to 1912 and Dakota Aeronautics is getting ready to launch its biggest ship ever, the Dakota. On board is the elite of society as well as the general public. The Dakota family, consisting of Hollis and his mom and her new husband and his son Rob, are ready to set sail with the ship. During the voyage the ship is hijacked and Hollis, Rob and their friend Delia have to save the day.

This was a pretty hefty book with a lot going on. Not only do we have the hijacking story, but there is also a lot of backstory for when Samuel Dakota invented flight. I thought it was pretty inventive to have beetles be the mode of flight, especially ones who like to eat whiskey sap. There was definitely a Titanic vibe to this story (giant ship, best of its kind, supposedly unsinkable/uncrashable, disaster). I do with the book would have been just a tad shorter or better edited. I think a lot of the story of the kids running around the ship could have been condensed. That being said I also wish the ending would have been expanded a bit. You have 300 pages of the hijacking and just a couple pages of the crash and its aftermath. I also thought the story of Rob and his father kind of went off the rails a bit and its ending was just about the worst thing in the book. I think the book had potential and it was an enjoyable read, but the ending was too rushed with too many loose ends for my tastes. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Lisa

Vader's Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown, read by Lisa, on 05/25/2014

In this irresistibly funny follow-up to the breakout bestseller Darth Vader and Son, Vader–Sith Lord and leader of the Galactic Empire–now faces the trials, joys, and mood swings of raising his daughter Leia as she grows from a sweet little girl into a rebellious teenager. 

Smart and funny illustrations by artist Jeffrey Brown give classic Star Wars moments a twist by bringing these iconic family relations together under one roof. From tea parties to teaching Leia how to fly a TIE fighter, regulating the time she spends talking with friends via R2-D2′s hologram, and making sure Leia doesn’t leave the house wearing only a skirted metal bikini, Vader’s parenting skills are put hilariously to the test.

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tracy · Tags:

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein, read by Tracy, on 05/22/2014

Is the kingdom’s fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn’s always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

He just has to convince the other familiars the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert that he’s the powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.