12. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 01/11/2015

Annie is on her way to see her dying grandmother who she has never met. Grandma Mary lives in an empty hotel and is a mean, cranky woman. During a storm, Annie travels back in time to 1937 and meets her grandma as a young girl. Mary goes by Molly and is locked in the “lonely room” because she has asthma and her parents don’t want her to die. Molly is unhappy and a bit self-centered until Annie arrives. Annie helps Molly escape the room and they go on adventures throughout the town: roller-skating in Woolworths, experiencing a fair on the docks, traveling through the laundry chute and the dumb waiter at the hotel. As much as Annie enjoys getting to know her grandma and experiencing 1937, she really just wants to get back to her own time and mom.

This book has a bit of The Secret Garden and a bit of The Magic Half and a bit of Eloise. It was a fun historical read with a time travel twist. I loved the setting of the hotel and all the mischief the girls could get into. I do wish there would have been a bit more about the historical time period. It is set in the Great Depression, which Molly being a rich, white girl doesn’t really experience. The girls notice it more on their trips out in town, but it is barely mentioned at all. Molly seems to have lots of money to spend, but no concept of how much things are actually worth, which makes sense when you realize she has never been out of her room. I enjoyed the book overall, but just wanted a little bit more from it.

12. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Twin Powers by Robert Lipsyte, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 01/11/2015

Tom and Eddie are very special twins. Tom lives on EarthOne in 2012, Eddie lives on EarthTwo in 1958. They are half-aliens and have telepathic powers. They are the Earths’ only hope for survival because the aliens want to destroy both worlds. There is no mention of the mother, but Tom/Eddie’s father and grandfather are both aliens who happen to be able to be in two places at once. Eddie comes to EarthOne and the twins and their friends embark on a tour to promote TechOff! Day. Of course the men in black are after them because they think the twins know about the aliens. People keep disappearing off the tour with no explanation. There are car chases, Guantanamo style torture of kids, alien rescues, displays of telepathic power and a spaceship chase into space. All of this adds up to one crazy story that makes little sense. It is told from multiple points of view which lead to a less than cohesive narrative. I think everyone got a chapter and was surprised when the dog didn’t. I think the book would have been stronger if told in a third person narrative that gave more cohesion to the story instead of multiple first person narratives. As it was there was a lot of tell and very little show to the book. I haven’t read the first book and maybe that would have cleared up some of the mess. But this book does claim to be a stand alone novel. The story was so implausible and senseless that it was difficult to read. The aliens created EarthTwo as a type of experiment; cloning the planet and putting it 60 years in the past. Yet they take no responsibility for it and their interest really isn’t explained. The whole men in black scenario was so ridiculous I felt like I was reading a mish-mash of bad scifi movie plots. This is definitely a story you can pass on.

12. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise, 160 pages, read by Kira, on 01/03/2015

index  9780152057275-dyingmeetyou1_zoom9780152057343-overmydead1_zoomFormer best-selling author, I.B. Grumpy, has rented a Victorian Mansion in an attempt to cure his writer’s block.  Unfortunately, he didn’t read the clause in the contract specifying that he had to take care of the owners kid Seymour Hope whilst Seymour’s parents are in Paris, maybe for the summer, or maybe permanently.  There is a sweetness to this book, and I liked the just deserts delivered to the parents.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman, 56 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

  How well do you remember the tale of Hansel and Gretel? I thought I recalled it pretty well, but then I read Gaiman’s version and realized how much of it had slipped my memory. I won’t likely forget how the story played out again though, because Gaiman’s take on it is exceedingly memorable. It’s one of the traditional variations on the tale, which are all fairly creepy to begin with, but the addition of Lorenzo Mattatti’s chilling black-and-white painted scenes add an even more ominous tone. Blurbs on the cover describe this as a “definitive” rendition, an assessment I can’t find any fault with. Notes at the end of this slim volume tell readers about the history of this classic tale, as well as some of the variations in the narration.
08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Sarah

Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George, 212 pages, read by Sarah, on 01/05/2015

This delightful book is the third in a series about the Castle Glower.  Princess Celie and a few others were sent to where the castle came from originally and find 2 wizards, more griffins, and a tomb of the master builder of the castle.  This is an exciting book that will keep you guessing.  Only problem was I should have re-read the series before picking this one up!  Took a little bit to remember who everyone was.  Enjoy.

07. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Frostborn by Lou Anders, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/06/2015

Thianna is half giant half human and doesn’t feel like she fits in with her giant family. She is picked on because she is only seven feet tall instead of the normal 18 feet. Because of this she has become stronger and more sneaky than a regular giant. Karn is a twelve-year-old human who just wants to play his Thrones and Bones board game. He doesn’t want to learn to run the farm like his father, he doesn’t want to learn to barter or do anything. Thianna and Karn meet when their fathers gather to trade. Soon after they both end up on the run and relying on each other for survival. Karn is tricked by his greedy uncle into releasing draugs (zombies) which ends up with his father being turned to stone and his uncle in control of the farm. Thianna is being pursued by three women on wyverns who are after something her mother stole. Their journey across the country brings them closer together and makes them realize just how strong they really are. Karn learns that the strategy he employs playing Thrones and Bones can be used in real life. Thianna learns that her mixed heritage comes in handy in many ways. Together they must find a way to defeat their enemies and save their families.

I had really low expectations for this book (not sure why) when I started it. Those expectations were quickly blown away by the extremely interesting world Lou Anders has created. I loved the mixture of fantasy elements and Scandinavian history. I also really enjoyed Thianna’s character. She is such a strong female who takes pride in her strength and resilience. Karn took a little while to grow on me. I wanted him to look up from his board game long before he did, but he too became a strong character to cheer for. It was a fun story and I look forward to the sequel.

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, 224 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/24/2014

They’re back! Except Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene of the Enchanted Forest, and she is on a very important mission with Kazul the dragon king, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named Killer. It’s not going to be easy.

The wizards have become very smart (sort of) and have found a way to capture the most powerful source of magic in the Enchanted Forest — King Mendanbar’s sword. If the sword is not returned to the forest in due time, the forest will begin to die. And you can bet your last dragon scale that Cimorene won’t stand for that!

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, 304 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/12/2014

Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academymasterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Schooled by Gordon Korman, 224 pages, read by Madeline, on 12/15/2014

Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie. But when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a school counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sports

Fantasy League by Mike Lupica, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 01/05/2015

Charlie Gaines is a HUGE football fan. He loves everything about the game even if he doesn’t think he plays that well. He is best friends with Anna who is the granddaughter of Joe Warren, the owner of their beloved L.A. Bulldogs. Even though the Bulldogs aren’t doing very well, Charlie and Anna still cheer for them every game day. Charlie is also a fantasy football master. His picks for his fantasy teams always win. Anna convinces him to start a podcast where he can share all his football knowledge. She also convinces him to tell Joe what he thinks about the Bulldogs. This leads to the Bulldogs signing two of the players Charlie suggests. Suddenly Charlie is thrust into the spotlight and made out to be a football boy wonder.

Usually I don’t enjoy sports books very much, but this one really captured my attention. Sure I had no idea what was going on when Lupica was describing football plays, but I really didn’t care. It was the human part of this story that was so enjoyable. Charlie is a truly likeable character with his strengths and his weaknesses. Charlie doesn’t have a father so his growing friendship with Joe was really touching. I also liked Anna a lot. She was a strong female in a male dominated sport. She knew just as much as Charlie about football and wasn’t afraid to let him know it. This is a very strong story about following your heart, sticking with your gut and being a good friend. I think sports fans and non-sports fans alike can find something to like here.

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

Fairy Tale Christmas by Michael McLean, Scott McLean, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 01/05/2015

The fairy tale villains want to change the endings of their stories. They are tired of good always winning. So they concoct a plan to kidnap Santa and force the heroes to give up their endings. They have Rumpelstiltskin as their inside man posing as an elf and an evil queen, a witch and a giant to do the kidnapping. Of course things don’t turn out like they planned at all. This is a fun little Christmas tale. I enjoy fractured fairy tales and this was pretty inventive. It is short and very readable so kids could read it very quickly or it could be read aloud at Christmas time.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Emma and the Blue Genie. by Cornelia Funke, 90 pages, read by Kira, on 01/01/2015

0385375409 emma-and-the-blue-genie-illustration2-kerstin-meyer-001 emma-und-der-blaue-dschinnI’ve really enjoyed Cornelia Funke’s works, and was delighted to see another of her works translated into English.  This is a short story of a girl having an adventure in elsewhere with some genies.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Evil Fairies Love Hair by Mary G. Thompson, 320 pages, read by Angie, on 01/04/2015

Ali is determined to raise her flock of fairies and get her wish. She wants to be smarter so she won’t be compared unfavorably to her sister anymore. Raising fairies isn’t easy however. There are lots of rules that have to be followed and you have to feed them constantly. What do fairies eat? Hair of course. That is why you must wear your hair up in a bun and spray it with hairspray so the fairies don’t get your hair. Ali doesn’t know it but the fairies have a plan of their own. They don’t want to be tied to children and hair anymore and just need a few more flocks to complete their plan. Ali learns that all is not as it seems. Breaking fairy rules have consequences like being turned into a fairy slave. Ali must convince her friends to stop the fairies and free the slaves. This was definitely not my favorite book. I thought the concept was kind of clever but the execution was a bit tedious. I really didn’t want to finish the book and ended up skimming the last third of it to see how it all turned out. I think the story could have been streamlined a bit to make it more readable.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction

Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom by Dan Yaccarino, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 01/03/2015

Luno comes from a long line of Zorgoochi. They have been in the pizza business for generations, delivering pizza across the galaxy. Luno finally gets to start delivering and his first deliveries are doozies. He doesn’t make it back with many tips, but he does seem to improve his skills. Zorgoochi deliveries are dogged each step of the way by Quantum Pizza who wants to take over all the pizza business in the universe. Luno must find the golden anchovy and save his family before the evil Quantum completes its takeover. This was a silly book, but fun. I can see where fans of Captain Underpants will be comfortable moving on to this book. It was a bit too far off the believable spectrum for me to truly enjoy, but it had its moments.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Greenglass House by Kate Milford, 384 pages, read by Angie, on 12/27/2014

I really wish I had been snowed in while reading this book. I would have been the perfect book to be reading while cozy on the couch with a quilt and hot chocolate as the world turned white outside. As it wasn’t snowing, I still enjoyed my couch and quilt while reading this book. Greenglass House is a hard book to categorize as it seems to shift about or meander every which way depending on its mood. I had a hard time pinning down if it was set in the real world or an alternative and whether it is in the past or the present. But in the end it did not matter. I enjoyed Milo’s story thoroughly and would definitely recommend it.

Milo lives with his adoptive parents in Greenglass House, an inn that caters to smugglers and is difficult to get to. He is looking forward to a quiet Christmas with just mom and dad. Then the guests start arriving, one after another. Milo’s quiet Christmas disappears as a strange group takes up residence in the inn. The cook is recalled along with her daughter and granddaughter, Meddy. Milo and Meddy are the only kids in the house and on their own for a lot of the time. Meddy introduces Milo to a role playing game and they don their new identities of Negret and Sirin. These new identities come in handy when items start disappearing from the guests and someone starts sabotaging the inn. They must figure out who the guests really are, what they are looking for at the inn, and who is behind the thefts.

I think the thing I enjoyed the most was Milo’s transformation throughout the book. He goes from being a quiet, unassuming boy to a confident detective. He gains confidence in himself and his place in the world through the investigation and Meddy’s influence. I also liked that his parents are present and an active part of his life. He is adopted and that fact weighs on him but never makes him doubt his place in the family. This is a longer book and because it doesn’t fit with conventional genres may lose some readers, but those who stick with it are in for a treat.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Cool Beans: The Further Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 12/23/2014

Tucker thought life would be so much better after he created comic hero h2o’s new sidekick in a contest. But things at school are the same as ever. He is still bullied by super-jock Wesley and his minions. The art club is losing members and its one and only bulletin board. Tucker has to somehow make the Art Club popular so it won’t get cancelled. He convinces the principal to let them have a pep rally. The pep rally is awesome until the sports teams highjack it. Next, Tucker starts distributing comic panels of his Beanboy superhero fighting for the arts. To his surprise, the students start really responding to Beanboy, but that doesn’t help the Art Club. Then Tucker gets the bright idea to enter the school dodge ball contest. He just has to convince his fellow art clubbers to do it and get them good enough to win against the jocks. He gets help from surprising places and learns more about himself and his friends.

I have not read the first Beanboy book, but that didn’t stop me from really enjoying this one. I will admit that I didn’t really have high expectations for this one. I thought it would be along the lines of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Middle School books, but it was much better than that. Tucker’s story was inspiring and highly enjoyable. I found myself cheering for the art club kids and hoping that would triumph in the end. This is definitely a story about the little guy coming out on top, triumphing over the popular bully. I enjoyed it and I hope kids will as well.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tracy

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, 240 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/12/2014

The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world. (description from Goodreads.com)

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tracy

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, 224 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/09/2014

On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself. (description from Goodreads.com)

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tracy

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 206 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/05/2014

They open a door and enter a world

NARNIA…the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy…the place where the adventure begins.

Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old house. At first, no one believes her when she tells of her adventures in the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund and then Peter and Susan discover the Magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. In the blink of an eye, their lives are changed forever. (description from Goodreads.com)

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tracy

The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis, 221 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/02/2014

When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.

Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia. (description from Goodreads.com)