07. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire, read by Angie, on 08/06/2014

Elena is a poor girl from the Russian countryside. Her dad is dead, her mom is sick and her brothers have left. One day a train stops in her poor village and she meets Ekaterina (Cat). Cat is a privileged girl heading to St. Petersburg to meet the tsar’s godson. The train is stalled while a bridge is repaired. Cat is showing Elena the gift for the tsar (a Faberge egg) when the train starts up again. Cat and the egg are thrown from the train and Elena is left on it. The girls have suddenly switched places and have to make a go of it. Cat sets off to try and get to St. Petersberg and runs into Baba Yaga. Elena tries to hide until she is found out and then pretends to be Cat. She also finds a firebird’s egg in the forest and tries to use it as a replacement for the Faberge egg. Baby Yaga agrees to take Cat to the tsar after Cat gives her the egg. Turns out the firebird’s egg was supposed to hatch and since it hasn’t magic is all out of whack. After the group is reunited and Anton the tsar’s godson joins them, they head north to figure out what is wrong with magic. 

There is a lot of craziness in this story. There is the ibza of Baba Yaga (her chicken house who forgets where she puts things), the matryoshka dolls who unnest themselves and marry the tooth soldiers of the ice dragon, there is the monk narrator who witnesses everything through the eyes of birds, and of course there is Baba Yaga herself. She is perhaps the best thing about this book. She is completely insane but hilarious. She has knowledge of the future and the past and brings it all up with the knowledge of the present.

This is a very complicated story. I am not quite sure who the intended audience is. It is a little long for a middle grade book and the story tends to wander a bit. There is a lot going on in the story and I think younger readers might be a bit confused by it all. It was an enjoyable story but I will admit that I couldn’t read it for long at a time. I kept putting it down and going to something else. It is kind of a convoluted plot. It all ties together at the end, but it took a lot of effort to get there. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

06. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

The Ninja Librarian: the Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey, read by Leslie, on 07/07/2014

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Dorrie and her brother Marcus accidently open a portal to Petrarch’s Library, where they discover a secret society of warrior librarians who travel in time, protecting the world’s greatest thinkers from torture and death for sharing knowledge and ideas.

I picked this one because of the title, obviously!  It is a cute little story that kids might enjoy fantasizing that might happen to them.  You drop accidently into another world you never knew existed and find yourself wanting to spend more time there.  A good read, with both a main girl and boy protagonist, so it should appeal to both as readers.

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

Odin's Ravens by K.L. Armstrong, M.A. Marr, read by Angie, on 08/04/2014

Odin’s Ravens picks up right after the events of Loki’s Wolves. Matt, Fen and Laurie are headed to Hel to bring back their dead friend Baldwin. They hope that this mission will stop Ragnarok since Baldwin’s death is to start the apocalypse. In Hel they find Viking zombies, a river of acid, giants and Aunt Helen who agrees to help them. Once back in the real world they find that Ragnarok has not stopped and things are still progressing at a dangerous clip. Owen (Odin) enters the picture and decides to help them even though it limits his knowledge. Matt needs to find Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer). There are Valkyries, more Viking Zombies, wolves and battle goats! Seriously there are battle goats! It is an exciting time to be the living embodiment of a Viking God.

I think this series is a lot of fun. It is definitely for fans of Rick Riordan’s books and actually reminds me of them a lot. There is a lot of action and adventure, but you really learn about Norse Mythology. I like how the mythology isn’t shoved down the reader’s throat through a lot of exposition, but comes up naturally throughout the story. It is fun and fast-paced and I really can’t wait to see where the final book goes. The ending of this one was a bit of a slap in the face and I really want to see that resolved. 

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, read by Madeline, on 07/20/2014

Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive, but that means still possible. You should never ignore a possible. So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has – the address of the cello maker. Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie’s mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.

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

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, read by Angie, on 07/29/2014

Felicity Pickle has been wandering her whole life. Her mama has a wandering heart and they barely get settled in a place before they are moving on. Felicity is hoping Midnight Gulch will change that. This is a place that feels like home. They are staying with her aunt Cleo and she learns that their family has a history in the mysterious Midnight Gulch. It is a place of wonder and magic. In the past magic bloomed everyone and in everyone, but since the Weatherly Brothers’ famous duel all that’s left is little snickers of magic. Felicity wants nothing more than to break the Weatherly Curse and stop her mama’s heart from wandering. It will take a whole cast of curious characters to help her out and another duel to settle things once and for all.

I was charmed by this quirky book. It is full of strange and wonderful characters both in the past and the present. I love the everyday magic that inhabited the people of Midnight Gulch and the snickers of magic that were left behind. It seems like there are lots of books in this genre: quirky, small town folks who band together out of love and hope and community. My only complaints were the overuse of specific words. Felicity sees words in the air and captures them in poems and her notebook. These words are wonderful and unique; however, her vocabulary is not. I got sick of reading spindiddly and what the hayseed and factofabulous. They were overused and unnecessary when such a rich vocabulary was introduced throughout the book. Other than that I really enjoyed it. 

29. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Children's Books, Fiction, Pamela

The five lives of our cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin, read by Pamela, on 07/06/2014

zookIn this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat, Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, Oona tells the stories of his previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives have echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

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

Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 07/26/2014

Creel and Luka are engaged to be married and the dragons are safely living in the Far Isles. Creel is working hard on her wedding dress, but wants to visit Shardas and Velika before she gets married. While they are visiting Velika is kidnapped and spirited away to a far off land. Creel, Luka, Shardas and the others follow them to try to get Velika back. She has been kidnapped by rogue dragons who are failing and believe they need a queen to make them better. Problems arise because Velika is so close to giving birth to her clutch of eggs. Then the volcano blows and things go from difficult to impossible. 

I loved this conclusion to the Dragon Slippers trilogy. We get even more information on the dragons and we get to visit yet another exotic locale. I really enjoyed seeing Creel’s aunt again; it added a lot of comic relief to a somewhat dark book. I also really had to laugh at the saga of the wedding dress. This series just reinforced the fact that Jessica Day George is one of my favorite authors. It was fun and entertaining.

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

Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 07/18/2014

It has been a year after the events of Dragon Slippers. Creel has become a famous dressmaker and is still friends with the dragons and Prince Luka. They find out that dragons are being trained in a neighboring country and invasion is imminent. Creel and her friends and dragons must try to figure out a way to free the captive dragons and stop the war. Turns out dragons are being bred for war and there are thousands to save. It also turns out that the the country is under the control of a rogue dragon who wants revenge on the King of the Dragons Shardas. 

Yet another fun book by Jessica Day George. I liked the continuation of the Creel story. I also really enjoyed getting to know more dragons and finding out more about their culture. Creel is again the heroine of the Dragon War with the help of her friends. She also gets a little closer to Prince Luka, who she has a big crush on.

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

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 07/25/2014

Creel has been sacrificed to a dragon by her aunt. Since her parents died she is just an extra mouth to feed for her impoverished family. Creel goes into the dragon’s lair, but the dragon doesn’t want her. So he gives her a pair of blue slippers from his hoard (not gold) and sends her on her way. Instead of heading back to her family, she takes off for the capital city. There she makes friends with another dragon and a prince of the realm. She finds a job in a dress shop because of her amazing embroidery work. She also runs afoul of the princess-to-be who is going to marry the older prince. The princess turns out be evil and steals Creel’s slippers. Turns out the slippers are dragon slippers and control dragons. War comes to the realm and it is up to Creel to figure out how to stop the evil princess.

I am a huge fan of Jessica Day George and this series is another winner. While it might not be quite as charming as the Castle Gower series, it is still pretty awesome. I loved Creel as the spunky, talented heroine. I also really loved the dragons. They all have unique personalities and I loved the different things they hoarded like shoes and dogs and stained glass. 

17. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, read by Angie, on 07/16/2014

Tree-ear is an orphan in 12th century Korea. He lives under a bridge with Crane-man. They live in Ch’ulp’o, a small village on the sea that is renowned for its celadon pottery. Tree-ear becomes the apprentice of a great potter named Min. Tree-ear labors for Min hoping that one day he too will be a great potter. In order to secure a royal commission, Min sends Tree-ear on a long journey across Korea with priceless pottery vases. Disaster strikes but Tree-ear manages to complete his mission and return with the commission. 

I actually liked this more than I thought I would. I thought the characters were very relatable and the story gripping and interesting. I also liked the fact that it is based on historical facts. I had to look up celadon pottery and the Thousand Cranes Vase after I was finished reading. Both are truly beautiful and you can tell that it took great skill to make these items. 

15. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Sisters (Smile #2) by Raina Telgemeier , read by Angie, on 07/14/2014

I had no idea there was going to be a sequel to Smile. I love everything Raina Telgemeier writes and Sisters was no different. Sisters tells the story of Raina and her sister Amara’s rocky relationship. Before Amara is born, Raina can’t wait to have a sister. Once she arrives it is another story however. They are completely different and don’t really get along. They fight and squabble and are interested in different things. Things come to a head when the family takes a cross country car trip. As the oldest of three girls I could completely relate to Raina and Amara. You always love your sisters but you don’t always like them (especially during those tween/teen years). I thought the fights were pretty typical as was the instances where they were allies. Another winner from Telgemeier. 

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. It had mostly black and white illustrations so I can’t wait to see what it looks like in full color.

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.