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.

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.