Book two in the Unicorns in the Mist series by R.R. Russell, The Unicorn Thief piOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 star rating.
Book two in the Unicorns in the Mist series by R.R. Russell, The Unicorn Thief picks up where Wonder Light left off and brings the reader immediately into the current conflict – a thief is stealing unicorns from the castle in Westland in Terracornus.
I quite enjoyed The Unicorn Thief and feel it’s a strong second book. While it continues and expands the main plot line found in book one – Twig becoming a unicorn rider and the need for her and Ben to start taming the free herd on Lonehorn Island – it also introduces us to new characters in Westland and a larger story-arc involving Ben and his former home. Unicorns are being stolen, war is coming to Terracornus and Lonehorn Island and the herd is being affected despite being a world away. When Ben’s unicorn Indy goes missing, Ben and Twig venture to Terracornus where they encounter a dungeon, a thief, a Boy King and a secret that Ben has been hiding. There are some wonderful action sequences, some soft family scenes and heartwarming moments between the unicorns and their riders.
The Unicorn Thief by R.R. Russell builds nicely upon its proceeding book Wonder Light and sets up some great potential plot for future books. It’s a shorter book, sitting at only 200 and some-odd pages, and though I did enjoy it I found some parts felt a bit rushed. At one point, Ben receives a letter stating that something he needs to do will take place in six weeks. Those six weeks are covered in about two pages. Yes, we can’t see the entire time (that would be boring), but it would have been nice to get a few small moments highlighted. I also couldn’t help but have intense visions of the Fire Swamp from The Princess Bride when reading the parts taking place in The Death Swamp (just instead of ROUSs there are giant lizards). If you’ve never read or seen The Princess Bride, this won’t bug you!
Despite these few quibbles, The Unicorn Thief and its series will definitely find a home in my classroom – I can see the students really enjoying it!...more
WORLD CUP MOUSE by Richard Seidman is an adorable book about a French mouse who wisOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
WORLD CUP MOUSE by Richard Seidman is an adorable book about a French mouse who wishes nothing more than to play for the French soccer team and go to the World Cup.
This book is perfect for younger children, especially those with an interest in soccer, or sports. Louie is a determined, likeable, short-tempered (but working on it), and enthusiastic little mouse. Living in a world where animals can speak to humans, but are still treated as lesser, Louie has a lot to overcome in order to make his dream of playing soccer come true. But he has a wonderful best friend in Francois who encourages Louie at every turn and pushes him when he would give up. Although primarily about Louie and his journey to play soccer for the French national team, WORLD CUP MOUSE has so many wonderful messages about friendship, perseverance, passion and acceptance within it.
Readers will enjoy cheering on Louie as he goes about realizing his dream of becoming part of the French national team, and growing with him as he learns about such things as anger management, friendship (and the jealousy that can sometimes occur), good attitudes, coaching and playing soccer, and tolerance. WORLD CUP MOUSE by Richard Seidman uses easy to understand (but not overly simple) language and introduces the reader to some very basic French words and phrases as well. I can definitely see this book being a great one to have in a classroom or home!...more
Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire by Marissa Moss is an entertaining loOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 star rating.
Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire by Marissa Moss is an entertaining look at the life of one Edgar Stoker – 6th grade vampire. Despite Edgar being a vampire, he has many of the same experiences in school that a regular 6th grader would have, making the book fairly easy to relate to.
Edgar writes in his diary about the history of vampires, some of the “rules” of being a vampire (like garlic, stakes, sunlight and telling others), what it’s like at his elementary school (friends and bullies) and the Saturday Vampire Jamboree where he has to deal with all his relatives. Marissa Moss does a very good job of making Edgar and his life believable. The problems in gets himself into and Edgar’s solutions for getting out of those problems are engaging and even a bit funny at times.
I think my only issue with Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire would be the amount of time spent describing each cousin, each friend at school, and all the little nuances of being a vampire. Since in this case Edgar’s diary is being written for an audience and not just himself it’s a bit understandable. Over all, though, I think this book series (I hope it will be a series) will find good homes on shelves of younger kids who enjoy the supernatural....more
THE NIGHT IS FOUND by Kat Kruger is an excellent end to a wonderful trilogy. ConnerOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE NIGHT IS FOUND by Kat Kruger is an excellent end to a wonderful trilogy. Conner is so much more than he was in the beginning, and it was awesome watching his transition from teen to leader.
This third book takes us back from Paris to New York, Conner’s home city. There, he encounters the unified packs of the new world and discovers more intricate plans than he could have guessed at. He stands strong against the Founders of these unified packs and uncovers some useful allies in his fight against the Luparii and the Hounds of God.
I don’t want to give too much about THE NIGHT IS FOUND because it would ruin the entire trilogy! I found the action, secrets, reveals and even the epilogue to be wonderfully paced and attention grabbing. Only thing that threw me off a bit was the switch from Conner’s point of views to Madison’s, mostly because in that first chapter from her point of view she was never named and though I figured it was her, I was still a little thrown. Outside of that, the read was great. I definitely recommend this trilogy!...more
IF YOU FIND THIS by Matthew Baker is an intriguing book about a young boy who doesnOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
IF YOU FIND THIS by Matthew Baker is an intriguing book about a young boy who doesn’t quite fit in and his just-out-of-prison grandfather. Throw in two very unlikely friends, family heirlooms and a dreaded ‘For Sale’ sign (and some old smuggler tunnels) and you have the making of a different sort of adventure book.
Nicholas is the best part of IF YOU FIND THIS. His voice is fantastic. Nicholas is a junior high school student, and a genius. As such, he doesn’t really mesh with the rest of the school crowd. Terrified he’s going to lose his house (most likely, with the For Sale sign present) and the last connection to his brother, Nicholas gets some hope in the form of his grandfather – who’s just been released from prison and is more than a little senile. Wanting to find any means necessary to keep his family from moving, Nicholas latches on to his grandfather’s story about buried family heirlooms. And so starts a story filled with senior home breakouts, a haunted house, and the help of the school thief and school bully.
Right at the beginning of the book, I felt for Nicholas. If he leaves his house, he leaves that connection to his brother. If he believes his grandfather, everything could be fixed. If he doesn’t, he might be throwing away the chance to save his house. Does he believe or doesn’t he? I definitely think his choice is awesome, if nto a little unbelievable at times. Like stealign a boat to sail out to an island of tunnels where high schoolers hang out? Alright. Keeping two missing grandfathers in a haunted house and NO ONE manages to find them? Sure. A boy that gets away with stealing all manner of things, mostly high-top sneakers and reselling them (at school!) and nothing’s done about it? Ok. It’s a book, I’ll suspend disbelief for a good story. And Nicholas is worth the story. He’s brave and kind and a little reckless.
As a music lover, I also enjoyed the musical knowledge put into IF YOU FIND THIS. Unlike Nicholas, I didn’t play violin, but it was nice to see band class represented in a middle grade story. However, the musical terms did at times distract me from the story. As Nicholas narrates, he included musical notations like forte, piano, etc. to denote how people are speaking, things are sounding, etc. I eventually started skipping over them and reading the sentences as if these words weren’t there – mostly because, at least in the e-ARC version, they were not formated very well. Unfortunately, I have no copies in a local book store that I could go check to see how it’s formated in the finished published version – I guess I’ll just have to order it to read to my class this year! This book is definitely one that I could see reading out loud to my students. They’d love the mysteryof the missing heirlooms....more
THE CREEPING by Alexandra Sirowy is not my usual read. But between it and Survive tOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE CREEPING by Alexandra Sirowy is not my usual read. But between it and Survive the Night, I think I’ve managed to getout of my reader slump! There’s something to be said about reading books different from your usual. I’m not one to like horror – either movies or books – but THE CREEPING was horrifically great, and exactly what I wanted.
When Stella was six, she and her friend Jeanie went missing. Only Stella returned, with no memory of what happened. Now, years later, things start happening which bring up past events. It’s the anniversary of when the girls went missing and another girl has just turned up dead. Stella is rightfully freaked out! Especially with the return of Daniel, Jeanie’s older brother, who over the years has blamed, stalked and tormented Stella. With the help of an old friend, Stella is determined to fifure out what really happened the day she disappeared. But that’s not always a good idea.
I was holding my breath throughout most of this book, wondering at what would happen when Stella recovered her memories (if she recovered them) and who or what kidnapped the girls. Alexandra Sirowy does a fantastic job at setting the mood. The nights were dark and creepy, Stella’s thoughts and memories were sporadic and abrupt, the forest was looming and terrifying and the cast of characters were unforgettable. I could have done without some of the Sam/Stella romance, but it was realistic. Stella is in high school, trying to solve Jeanie’s disappearance, yes, but also navigating popularity, friends and boys. One doesn’t stop because the other starts. So Sam and Stella were believeable, if not my favourite parts. Zoey was not my idea of a best friend. I can see why Stella stuck with her, loved her and would do anything for her, but oh man was she bossy, rude and a bit self-absorbed. You basically have to trust Stella that she’s a good person.
I was definitely surprised by the end of THE CREEPING. Even with everything seemingly wrapped up and explained, there is that small little tidbit left behind that makes you wonder: was it really? Could there be more to this? I was hooked from the beginning, and engaged until the end. I don’t suggest reading this one while you’re home alone in the dark, especially if you don’t like horror, but outside on a deck in the bright sunshine withpeople around? Go for it! If you like, horror? You’ll like this one....more
I initially bought PIE to read aloud to my class – no other reason, besides the ideOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
I initially bought PIE to read aloud to my class – no other reason, besides the idea of a book revolving around pie appealed to the baker in me. I had so far exclusively read books that had male narrators (no real reason why, and nothing wrong with that at all) and my girl students were begging for a book with a female narrator. I had been recommended Sarah Weeks, and PIE seemed like the best choice. Before I even read the book, I used the Chocolate Cream Pie recipe inside and made one for my boyfriend (he loved it). Each chapter is started with a different pie recipe and my kids made me read each one – even though the measurements meant nothing to them.
I loved PIE. And so did my students! We were enthralled with the mystery of who owned the green Chevrolet, who broke into Polly’s pie shop, and who might want to catnap Lardo. We were enamoured with Alice and Charlie, and sad about Aunt Polly. We were made hungry from all the talk of pie, and learned some new tips and tricks for making them. We felt bad for Alice (because of her mother, and Aunt Polly) but then felt better at the end. We couldn’t figure out why Aunt Polly would leave a pie crust recipe to a cat and then all said “Ohhhhh!” at the end when we figured it all out. We were angry at Alice for comments she made to Charlie, and then were happy when things worked out.
In PIE, Sarah Weeks tells a heartwarming story about a young girl who loses her beloved Aunt, but finds that even though she’s gone, her Aunt Polly still lingers in memories and recipes. She finds unexpected friends of both the human and cat variety, and grows her relationship with her mother. Alice’s story is interwoven with flashbacks of herself and her Aunt Polly, stories of the people who also loved her Aunt Polly and her pies, a few well-done mysteries and even a jump forward in time at the end, to see how it all turns out. I will definitely be picking up more books by Sarah Weeks, and I think my students will too....more
It’s rare that I take a break from reading YA and MG, but I couldn’t say no when SOriginally posted at Esape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
It’s rare that I take a break from reading YA and MG, but I couldn’t say no when Savvy Fox offered me an e-ARC of Jillianne Hamilton’s MOLLY MIRANDA: THIEF FOR HIRE and I am SO glad I said yes! It’s a short read, at only around 150 pages, but still. I was planning to read it in bits and pieces as a break from lesson planning and correcting. Instead, I sat down to start reading and didn’t put it down until I had hit 100% read. I read through lunch and was starving, but it was so worth it.
Molly Miranda is a professional thief. She’s hired by a middle-man (or in this case, woman) to steal items for clients. Of course, or good-looking nice-guy roommate things her parents own a ski resort and pay for her gorgeous NYC apartment, but what are a few lies between roommates? Nthing, until things heat up between them! Of course, we can’t be good chick lit with the sexy, kind-of-a-dick at first professional thief she’s hired to do an assignment with. Rhys is all charm and Scottish accent, with a head for stealing and gadgets. But he’s not the nicest in the beginning. He flips attitudes pretty fast, but it fits. Thankfully, this book is not a full on crazy love-triangle or I might not have liked it as much! I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, thieving, car chasing and gun-slinging going on in MOLLY MIRANDA: THIEF FOR HIRE. It kept me on my toes and turning pages!
Molly is definitely the best part of this book. Boys, guns and cars aside, we spend the book in Molly’s head and it’s awesome. She’s a smart (but not good at geography), sarcastic, kind narrator who loves to steal and get paid for it. She tries the 9-5 thing and it does not go well. She has boy troubles, enemies, a best friend who’s not as straight in business (or in love, which was awesome) as you’d first expect when Molly mentions her, and a dad who can order a hit. Kind of awesome! I would have loved to read another 100 pages of Molly’s thieving ways and am hoping for a sequel!...more
Ever since reading the synopsis for BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by ApriOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Ever since reading the synopsis for BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Tucholke I had wanted to get my hands on it. I finally decided to purchase it – and went with audiobook. I am so glad I did! I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of audiobook and this one certainly helped! I listened to BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA fully in my car while commuting back and forth to two jobs, and finished it quickly. Thank goodness, too, because this book is full of moments that hook you and drag you in.
Violet and her brother Luke are living alone in their big, old gothic-like mansion when our story opens. Though their parents are off traveling, Violet (our narrator) does not often concern herself with them. Instead, it is her late grandmother Freddie she thinks of, and her warnings about the Devil. It seems like good luck that when Violet and Luke are in need of money, River West sees Violet’s aid for a border and comes to apply. Since this is a YA book, billed as gothic-romance/horror, you know right away that River West is going to be bad news. Or very good bad news, if you get my meaning. And really, it’s a bit of both. Along with River comes a whole host of problems for Violet, Luke and Violet’s best friend Sunshine (who I found rather over-the-top). Some of these problems are River’s fault – others, are not.
Along with the horror aspect of the novel, which is done exceedingly well, full of deaths and visions and mind-control, is a small mystery involving Violet’s grandmother and family. It’s melded very well with the horror of the book, and surprisingly lends quiet moments to the story. I am a big fan of April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing – the plot unfolds both quickly and quietly at the same time. Small moments give way to bigger ones, and new revelations lead up to crazy ones in the end. I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Violet, or Luke or Sunshine or River but then again…I don’t think we’re supposed to be? They all had their moments in which I went “really??” and “so stupid” and “of course!” but they also all had moments of “awww” and “oh geez!” and yes. What I’m saying is that the characters are refreshingly flawed. I didn’t even mind the insta-love, since it’s kind of explained!
BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA was both what I was expecting, and no where near what I was expecting. I was looking for gothic romance/horror and I was given gothic romance/horror. I was also given flawed, human, relatable (surprisingly) characters that changed and matured, or were broken and carefully pieced back together. River’s story and grandmother Freddie’s mystery mesh and blend beautifully together. This is definitely a book outside my usual fare, but one I thouroughly enjoyed experiencing. I’m excited for the sequel, and will definitely be purchasing it on audiobook. I hope it’s the same narrator!...more
I love the story of Peter Pan, so I knew right away that SECOND STAR by Alyssa B. SOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
I love the story of Peter Pan, so I knew right away that SECOND STAR by Alyssa B. Sheinmel would be finding its way into my hands. While not a traditional retelling by any means, it is a wonderful interpretation of the story of Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys. Surfers, drugs, run aways and a narrator who is not all that reliable make for an addictive read.
I figured out fairly early on that we as readers would need to come to our own conclusions about whether Wendy was really experiencing life in the cove with Pete, Belle and the boys or if she was lost in her own mind. Alyssa B. Sheinmel does a wonderful job of keeping the Peter Pan narrative alive in this entirely modern story. Instead of a pirate, Jas is a drug-dealing bad boy who Wendy finds herself falling for. But at the same time, she has feelings for Pete. I know I usually hate love triangles and insta-love, but this is different. Not quite either, but so real to Wendy. Her search for her brothers is heartbreaking and the run-around she gets from Pete and Jas, and Belle (so like jealous Tinkerbell, I loved her) makes you feel so badly for her. Wendy has a tough time in the book, so while I may not have loved her actions the entire time, it all makes sense for the plot.
The idea that Wendy is just hallucinating the whole experience due to drug use and desperate need to believe that her brothers are alive and waiting to be found and brought home permeates the second half and end of the book. SECOND STAR takes you through this journey to reunite Wendy, Michael and John and then drops you into the hospital with Wendy. But like all good books, it leaves you guessing. The smallest bit of evidence that maybe, Pete and Jas and Belle do exist, and her brothers are out there arises – but so does the idea that Wendy is just hallucinating again. It’s very well done!...more
Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri is a wonderfully light-hearted mystery novel. POriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri is a wonderfully light-hearted mystery novel. Portia Adams is a delight – nineteen years old in 1930, Portia inherits 221 Baker St. and is whisked from Toronto, Canada to London, England with her guardian Mrs. Jones. Once there, Portia finds herself going to law school, aiding in solving crimes and delving into her own family tree.
Divided into three case files, Jewel of the Thames presents the reader with three different mysteries (a jewel thief, a murder and a kidnapping) that Portia finds herself participating in solving all while efficiently stacking up the clues for Portia to dig deeper into her family history, and the history of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, the famous tenants of 221B Baker St. I highly enjoyed Portia. An intelligent, capable, kind young lady who possess the wits and desire to help and solve cases around her. She has great interactions with her downstairs neighbours the Dawes family. Son Brian is a Constable at Scotland Yard and enables Portia to better access the information she needs to solve her cases. Despite the flirty undertones to their interactions, there is no real romance in the book and I, for one, found it quite refreshing.
The writing in Jewel of the Thames is intriguing and unique. Angela Misri has managed to convey both a sense of the 1930s and old Sherlock Holmes novels through her prose and dialogue. I was very easily able to see myself in 1930s London with Portia as a proper young lady, and as the detective – the language used is very methodical and calculated. And while the mysteries to her past are quickly hinted at and any Sherlockian will pick them up immediately, it was still fun to see Portia put everything together. Jewel of the Thames is a wonderful addition to the Sherlock Holmes universe and I can’t wait for book two!...more
Broken by CJ Lyons is an intriguing medical mystery that you think is heading inOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 star rating.
Broken by CJ Lyons is an intriguing medical mystery that you think is heading in one direction, and then completely changes trajectory – and that’s cool. Scarlet has a condition called Long QT Syndrome that means her heart could stop at any time. She gets three days to prove that she can handle high school (she wants to live a little after spending most of her life in hospitals and home) but what starts as a trial run to see if she can survive her condition, turns into a race to see if she can help herself and her new friends survive something much worse.
Scarlet is a hard character to pin down. She’s spent her life listening to her mother about everything to do with nutrition, health and activities. So she’s fairly meek in some instances. But in others, Scarlet is defiant. She wants to be at school, to have friends and to live. In small ways, she is trying to break out from under her mother who she knows has good intentions, but is smothering her. With a father who is mostly absent due to work, Scarlet starts to find acceptance and companionship in her support group at the school. And the cute boy Tony in her biology class.
The book is a decent size, with small chapters. The writing is very engaging and the pace keeps up well throughout the book. The mystery builds through Scarlet’s friends – finding out why they are in the support group, why her mother dislikes them, and what’s really in her medical records that she can’t see. In three days, Scarlet’s life is turned upside down – and it’s not because of her illness.
Broken turned out to be so much more than I was expecting, and I really enjoyed it. As for the final mystery, the reveal and solution, I’m a little sceptical that no one uncovered anything over fifteen years worth of hospital visits and medical records and that a high school sophomore put all the clues together. Also that Scarlet takes very little time to come to terms with things (she does freak out a bit, but it goes very fast once we hit the end section of the book). But it works in this case, and didn’t detract from the story and plot. I would definitely read more from CJ Lyons....more
Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson is an enthralling, emotional trek through aOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson is an enthralling, emotional trek through a teen girls experience with an unplanned pregnancy and a couples desire for a child of their own. Through alternating narratives, Ella’s and Katherine and Danny’s lives slowly converge to a heartbreaking but heartwarming conclusion.
In the beginning, I was worried I’d have flashbacks to the movie Juno while reading this book, but that is definitely not the case! The two couldn’t be more different. Ella is a junior in high school. A talented basketball player, she has a plan for how her life is going to unfold in the next few years. Unfortunately, after Halloween night and her only time having sex with her boyfriend Sam, Ella finds herself pregnant. Everything is immediately turned upside down for Ella, but she handles everything with an inner strength that everyone can see but she doubts she has. With a supportive family and some great friends, Ella makes some very grown up decisions and comes through the other side intact and maybe even a bit stronger. Katherine and Danny, having failed again at trying to have a child of their own decide to go the route of adoption. After many ups and downs that test their resolve, they finally have a silver lining in Ella and her baby.
I very much enjoyed Natalie Corbett Sampsons writing style and characterization. The narrative flowed very well, with months of the pregnancy outlined by major events in the characters lives as Ella finishes school, handles a less than ideal situation surrounding Sam, and Katherine and Danny struggle to adopt a child. One of Ella’s friends, Karen, irked me a little. Let’s just say she’s a less than good friend and I just don’t understand people like that (though I know they exist). Alex, her brother Ben and Ben’s best friend Charlie, on the other hand, certainly make up for Karen and others. They are absolutely awesome.
Game Plan is very emotional, and while I have never gone through either trying to adopt a child, or trying to decide to give one up, I feel the book really highlights the experiences and emotions involved and handles both with care. By the end of the book I was as torn as Ella in deciding what to do, but anxiously nervous with Katherine and Danny and hoping everything would work for them. It’s an interesting feeling and one that just made me enjoy the book more. I definitely think this is a great one to add to your reading list, especially if you’re a fan of contemporary fiction. Well worth the read!...more
The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday is a novel steeped in suspence and thOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages by a guest reviewer.
The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday is a novel steeped in suspence and the macabre.
This being a companion novel to The Hollow trilogy I would highly recommend going back and re-acquainting yourself with Abbey’s life in Sleepy Hollow. This story deserves to be read without that annoying feeling of not quite remembering what a revenant actually is, or the first time we were introduced to Cyn, our main character.
Although I found this story to be much more intense and quite a bit darker than The Hollow trilogy, Jessica Verday still allowed me to live alongside Cyn and Avian and hope for the best for these characters. Cyn believed she was doing all these awful things, but doesn’t remember them. She’s a good person who doesn’t want to be doing harm, but she blacks out and doesn’t remember. Avian, caught between heaven and hell, does his own thing. He fights for what’s right, and though he is really old, is very appealing. There is a small hint of a romance between Cyn and Avian, though both won’t admit to it. It just makes you want everything to go right, since they’ve had such bad things happen.
I’m hoping there are more books to follow The Beautiful and the Damned because I feel as if Jessica Verday has just scratched the surface of this story and has left me needing to know more. The whole book builds up to who these characters are, and you get up to really knowing them and then it ends. Is it going to continue with a romance or more information about Cyn and Avian and what their roles are? A sequel is definitely wanted! ...more
THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen & Thomas Docherty is an adorable children’s book aboutOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen & Thomas Docherty is an adorable children’s book about the mysterious disappearance of story books. The heroine Eliza Brown finds the culprit and hatches a plan to get the books returned and keep everyone happy – including the elusive thief.
This book is so much fun to read out loud. The rhyme scheme of the narrative lends the words a musical quality and is perfect for catching and keeping a child’s interest. I’ve already read this one to a grade one class and they had a blast figuring out who was stealing all the books (one bright kid guessed right away it was the Snatchabook who “flew into town”), spotting the little creature on different pages and then recommending their own favourite books that they could share and read out loud if they were ever visited by the Snatchabook.
THE SNATCHABOOK is graced with quite wonderful illustrations that set the mood of each page and really allow children to explore Burrow Down and easily follow the progression of the story. Helen and Thomas Docherty have crafted a picture book treasure that I will definitely enjoy sharing with any and all future students....more
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful mOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful middle grade series The Cupcake Club. Each books has focused on a different member of the club, and this time it’s Jenna, the official taste-tester of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
Along with the sweet recipes and hijinks that the club finds themselves in, each story deals with subjects and issues that students may find themselves facing on a daily basis. In ICING ON THE CAKE Jenna has to come to terms with her mother re-marrying. Jenna maintains her dislike of Leo and it’s only through her friends, the club and the love and attention of a sweet little puppy that Jenna starts to think differently. Of course, this is in the midst of Easter – the biggest cupcake holiday for the club – making her mother’s wedding cake and dealing with a last minute Elvis impersonator who has a request of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is a sweet story about family, friends, changes and learning to roll with the punches. Jenna has a lot of things thrown at her in the course of only a couple months but she doesn’t let them bring her down. She is, after all, an important member of Peace, Love and Cupcakes and she has her friends to keep her strong and proud....more
MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira is a whirlwind of a sci-fi ride through alternate universOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira is a whirlwind of a sci-fi ride through alternate universes and (not-so) alien invasions. Tanya is a fairly normal high school student until she finds herself sucked through the Membrane into an alternate universe where she meets her alternate self. Crazyness ensues!
It’s always fun to read books that take place where you live, since you get to recognize street names, places and events. So like Tanya, when she finds herself through the Membrane into a parallel Nova Scotia, I too was struck by the differences. Tanya has had a rough time of high school and the alternate universe experience doesn’t help her any. Tanya is kind, sensitive, a little anxious and depressed, but has a good head on her shoulders and ultimately really cares for others. She’s a quick thinker and helps get herself, her double (called P for Princess, and boy is she) and others out of sticky situations. P on the other hand, is quite opposite of Tanya. She’s very sure of herself to the point of arrogance at times, and while she can be cruel she is kind at heart.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of the alternate universes (Tanya visits two) and the Membrane that separates them. Tanya finds herself wrapped up in quite the mystery where an invasion may not be an invasion, and another may be going on behind the scenes. There is a wonderful “bad guy” who you can tell has secrets and agendas galore. While Tanya and P come from very close universes, the Others that are invading P’s world are quite different. I could have done without the numerous references to how beautiful they are, but other than that they were fascinating and the source of much of the worry and fear felt by P and Tanya.
I’m a huge sci-fi fan, and quite enjoyed MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira. While I found a few parts of the narrative a little jumpy and confusing at times (I’m still not exactly sure who the Fabricists are) the major plot points, resolutions and set up for a sequel (maybe? It’s certainly left open for one!) were all wrapped together rather well by the end of the book. Tanya had some good growth throughout the story, as did P through her interactions with Tanya and some world-shattering truths. MEMBRANE is engaging and unique, and I would be happy to recommend it to young adult sci-fi readers (and not-so young adult ones)....more
As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appealOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appealed to me in a number of ways. The beautiful illustrations highlight the story of Claire, a glasswing butterfly who finds herself separated from her family. She makes the best of her situation and everything turns out ok for Claire in the end.
The story of Claire’s journey is filled with wonderful tidbits of information on not just glasswing butterflies, but the role that butterflies and other animals and insects (like pigeons, ants and ladybugs) play in nature. So even though Claire has been whisked away from her family and home, she begins to create a new home around her, through new friends and a small abandoned city lot with a few flowers in it. It’s a nice story of making the most of a situation, maintaining hope and forming new friendships all with an educational background of environment.
Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven works perfectly with the curriculum in my area. Primary and grade one learn about habitats and life cycles, and many of the classes even hatch moths or butterflies. This story will fit in perfectly, and I can’t wait to read it out loud to them!...more
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell is the first book in an exOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell is the first book in an exciting new middle grade series. Discovering a ghostly boy who is all too real and brings unicorns in his wake at the school for troubled girls that Twig is sent to starts Twig on a path she never could have imagined.
Despite being sent to a school on a pony ranch that has five other girls at it, this story is really all about Twig, Ben (the ghost boy) and Wonder Light, the unicorn that is born in front of Twig. We get to see a bit of the youngest girl, Casey, but barely anything of the others. I’m hoping we’ll get a bit more of them in the sequel(s). Over the course of the book, Twig goes from a near-silent, worried, upset and unsure twelve-year-old to a confident, happy and protective thirteen-year-old. Not to say she still doesn’t have worries and concerns about her life before coming to the Murley’s ranch/school/home, but she’s learning to accept and cope with those problems. Ben helps a lot in that, the mysterious boy who cares for the unicorns on the island and has his own mystery about him that I am crazy curious about. He’s patient with, and kind to, Twig – and the unicorns. He helps show her what she’s capable of when she begins to doubt herself.
It is a bit curious that Twig is able to so easily sneak out of the house at night (for a year) without anyone taking much notice (especially after she did get caught once. You’d think that would make it harder in the future). I also found it strange that these girls are at the ranch for a year, with little mention of going home for visits or family coming to see them. The year does move very quickly in the smaller book (220ish pages) so I’m just assuming there are many moments we don’t get to see.
The unicorn lore in the book is quite interesting and the dark, angry herd leader Dagger a stark contrast to the light and joyous Wonder Light – the unicorn that Twig raises from its birth. Unlike the pure and good unicorns you usually see in stories or mythology (though not all!) Dagger is vicious, attacking other unicorns, the horses and ponies at the ranch and even people. Twig, Ben, Wonder Light, Ben’s unicorn Indy and others are out to stop Dagger and help save the herd.
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell brought me back to childhood. I loved unicorns when I was younger, and this is a book that I would have happily devoured and re-read many times. R.R. Russell mixes the fantasy of the unicorns and a parallel world wonderfully with that of Twig’s new home on the ranch, and her journey to finding her own true self, and her courage. I can easily see this book, and series, being a popular one in grades three through six classrooms – with a relatable character, a good mystery and the fun fantasy elements, WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST will definitely keep you reading....more
Where to start with HALF LIVES by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very liOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Where to start with HALF LIVES by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very little idea what to expect from this book, but I was hopeful, and it surpassed any expectation I could, or did, have. I was stunned and crying by the end of the book, and amazed at how Sara Grant managed to blend together two completely separate yet intricately linked story lines.
Icie narrates a good half of the book, telling her story of how she is given cash and supplies and told by her parents to find a mountain outside Las Vegas where an abandoned toxic waste bunker that was never used will hopefully keep her safe from an imminent viral attack. On the way, she encounters a cheerleader, Marissa; a twelve-year-old wanna be rockstar, Tate; and mysterious Chaske. Together in the bunker, with no idea how the outside world is faring from the attack, Icie and the others try to survive. Icie is so much stronger than she thinks. She goes through crazy heartache and horror while trying to keep herself and the others alive, and wait for her Mum and Dad to come find her as they said they would. And while she may be terrified and has no clue what she’s doing, she keeps it together and survives as best she can.
The other half of the book is narrated generations in the future, primarily by Beckett, the teenage leader of a society that lives on the mountain that Icie fled to, but also by a few other characters who help flesh out the action and Beckett’s story. Surviving on the mountain, Beckett’s people fear the terrorists of the outside world, the broken city they call Vega just on the horizon both helping them survive and a source of worry. Beckett is the direct link to their god, the Great I AM, who once walked the mountain and gave the society their Just Sayings, their Facebooks and the hope of one day that Mumanda will come to save them all. The chapters are interspersed with each other and I was always so excited to see something that Icie and the others did become the direct influence of the language and culture of Beckett’s society. By the end of the book I was a mess of tears at all the pain Icie, Beckett, Marissa, Tate and everyone went through, but also because of revelations that Beckett has that nearly broke my heart, and the hope Icie still held. I am just in awe of how the two story lines blended together, and how much I came to care about these characters.
HALF LIVES by Sara Grant is a book about one girl’s journey to save herself in the face of impending disaster, and how choices she makes affect the lives of hundreds throughout the coming generations. It’s about finding strength in yourself to continue on, about making the hard decisions but also the right decisions, about confronting your fears and believing in your faith (whatever it may be). It’s about love, and sacrifice, about realizing what matters in the long run and discovering yourself through hardship. HALF LIVES is also about the threats we face every day through fear, weapons, secrets and lies. It’s about change and growth and the human need to survive and live. All tinged with an innate humour of how culture and language can change and reflect a caricature of words, phrases and things that what we have today in our society. Guys, I want nothing more than to dive right back in to HALF LIVES and live it again. I love this book like crazy, and I hope you do too....more
BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff turned out to be something I was not expecting – in aOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 star rating.
BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff turned out to be something I was not expecting – in a pretty good way. A teen assassin, “Ben” through most of the book, is sent on yet another mission by his handlers at The Program, but this one is different. With a timeline of only five days to get close enough to the mayor of NYC in order to kill him, he has to act fast. But the daughter, Sam, complicates his mission. As well as some unexpected followers, most certainly enemies but who and why? I was unsure through most of the book how I felt about it, but the ending saved my opinion. It went in a direction I was not anticipating at all from the synopsis. It was awesome.
So the book takes place over a very short time period – five or so days – in which Ben, our Boy Nobody, goes through a mini-crisis over his role in The Program and what happened to his life and his parents, and whether he wants to continue or go back to a normal life away from all things killing. Meeting Sam kind of starts pushing him in that direction, enough that he hesitates to complete his mission to kill her father. Ben is very cold and driven, since he’s been conditioned that way, but you get to see glimpses of the boy he must have been before The Program. Lets say that his morals start to shine through a little bit. While he manages to keep mostly on track for his mission (mostly), he does start to go beyond The Program’s back a little bit, firstly and mostly by enlisting the aid of a teen hacker. Ben’s starting to plan a way out, methinks. The action was swift and intense, and I loved the descriptions of NYC, especially places I knew. But even if you’ve never been, it is very descriptive and easy to paint a picture of places and events.
Most of BOY NOBODY is spent with Ben figuring out how to complete his mission, finding out who the people following him are, and quick flashbacks to a past that start to tell us why he may be having second thoughts about his “career choice” (as well as a visit from an…old friend). The book is like a quick snapshot into his life, and while there is a very fast romance start-up (two days?) it went in no direction I ever thought it would. The ending kind of comes out of left field (kind of) and is very awesome in the sense that it fits the feel and tone of the book and I am so glad it happened (but sad). I think anything different would have been disappointing, honestly. BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff is a fairly quick, entertaining book that I think will definitely appeal to mystery and thriller readers, and anyone wanting to step into that genre. I’m interested for the sequel!...more
My opinion is definitely the minority on this one, but THE CAMP by Karice Bolton –Originally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
My opinion is definitely the minority on this one, but THE CAMP by Karice Bolton – while having an interesting premise and solid writing – just did not really work for me. It certainly delivers on the synopsis, and I had no problems with Karice Bolton’s writing style, but there were things that did not add up and the book was very quick, plot-wise.
First and foremost, I enjoyed the premise. Emma is sent to ReBoot, a camp for juvenile delinquents, even though she is not one – let’s just say a wicked step-father and uninterested mother comes into play here. While at the camp, Emma finds romance and danger in spades. The book had some very creepy moments and some very swoon-worthy moments. But what ties them all together had issues. At the beginning is the question of why this camp of juvenile criminals is co-ed. That right there seems to be a bad decision (as is shown by a moment of sexual assault near the beginning). Likewise, how did Emma who has no criminal record get sent to this camp? Wouldn’t that be something the people who run the camp look into? Questions, I has them.
Insta-love is not my thing. While I have no problems with a dive-right-in romance if it’s well-formed, insta-love with no real explanations as to why makes me frown. Emma and Liam don’t even really know each other. For all Emma knows, Liam’s a criminal and for all Liam knows, Emma is! And when she says she is not, they all believe her immediately and Emma kind of joins the camp leaders. It isn’t long after the romance begins and the stage is set that the creepy stuff starts happening. Emma seems to be being stalked by an un-known guy (camper? Leader? Someone else all together?) and though Liam and two of the other guys catch the creep the next day, people start being injured or disappearing, so you know there’s someone else still around. And I was creeped out! Very well done intense moments.
Even though I liked the horror-movie creep factor, I didn’t enjoy it as well as I could have because there were just too many characters, not enough face time. Outside of Emma, Liam, camper Chelsea and camp leader Steph, I had issues keeping everyone straight. I had a hard time remembering who was a camper, a leader and how many people were actually at the camp. That makes it hard to know who’s left when people start disappearing. And then there were little things – like, Liam mentions at one point that someone knew bought the camp, but shouldn’t he know this person’s name? Wouldn’t interviews for camp leaders been done? (this also goes back to Emma even going to the camp – that, thankfully, is explained later but the fact that Liam and Steph never clued in to the owner is odd) I was also confused as to why some people lived and some died – I mean, I’m glad people lived, but I don’t understand the motivation. Same goes for the final reveal. The whole camp thing seems like an awful lot of work and murder for something that could have easily been done another way (I’m sorry if this is really vague, but I’m trying not to spoil things).
In the end, I think THE CAMP by Karice Bolton showed promise but could have benefited from being a longer book. Everything felt rushed, from the creepy guy, to the disappearances, to the romance and the conclusion. There are some good intense horror moments and the romance does turn up the heat at points, enough so that I was kept entertained throughout my reading of the book. I would definitely suggest that if the synopsis sounds like something you’d enjoy, dig in! ...more
As some of you may remember, I loved The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfater. I couldOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
As some of you may remember, I loved The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfater. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on THE DREAM THIEVES – which I did, at BEA 2013 and later from Scholastic Canada. I was pumped! I sat down to read it…and couldn’t. Now wait! That doesn’t mean it was because it was horrible (obviously not, I gave it 4.5 stars) but because I could only hear Will Patton’s voice in my head while I was reading! So I bought the audiobook and listened to it in my car to and from work every day.
This second book introduces the reader to a couple intriguing new characters – Kavinsky and they Greyman. I loved the fact we got more Ronan and Adam point of view, and Calla is still my favourite of the ladies from 300 Fox Way (besides Blue!). THE DREAM THIEVES builds wonderfully on the story from the first book and takes us deeper into Ronan’s dreaming abilities, and his family history. He and Kavinsky get into some major issues that result in an epic blowout at the end of the book. Blue has some boy troubles between Adam and Gansey (Gansey all the way!) and honestly, she just needs to TELL Adam about her “prophecy”.
THE DREAM THIEVES is an awesome sequel to an awesome book! The boys are ridiculous in that “oh geez” kind of way. I love how driven Gansey is, and how protective they are of Blue (even Ronan, though he doesn’t admit or show it). The introduction of the Greyman gives an air of suspense to the in-your-face crazyness that is Kavinsky and Ronan. There’s something going on with the Greyman and Maura and he is definitely going to be around for book 3 (which I have finally read). I can honestly say I think this is Maggie Stievfater at her best. ...more
FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman is a hilariously ridiculous story about a dadOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman is a hilariously ridiculous story about a dad who steps out to buy milk and takes quite a while about it. When he returns and his children ask where he had been (talking to a neighbour, most likely) their father spins an amazing tale of aliens, dinosaur police, a volcano god, pirates, wumpires, ponies, piranhas, and a hot air balloon.
The story of how the father winds up captured by aliens and then time traveling with Professor Steg, a dinosaur of some intelligence, in a hot air balloon all while avoiding nefarious pirates and wumpires and other nasties by aid of the milk (the milk is always there to save the day it seems) is extremely entertaining. Punctuated by remarks from his children that seem to both question and help further the story they’re being told, and accompanied by amazing illustrations that help you visualize the father’s journey, FORTUNATELY, THE MILK is very much a tale of “believe it or not.”
At the end, we’re first immediately aware (through the children’s observations) that the story is completely made up. But than the father produces the milk and the last illustration makes you really think twice about whether the father was actually on this amazing journey. FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman is a perfect bedtime or classroom story. Even without the aliens and pirates and everything else, the dinosaurs alone would make this story great. Dinosaurs are always a good choice. This is one book that can definitely be enjoyed by anyone and everyone – I loved it!...more
I had so much fun reading Amanda Sun’s debut novel INK. Set in Japan, INK followsOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
I had so much fun reading Amanda Sun’s debut novel INK. Set in Japan, INK follows Katie as she meets and falls for Yuu Tomohiro, finds out kami (gods) are real, and that she has more to do with everything than she thinks.
There are so many aspects of INK that worked for me. I’m going to break it down and talk about a few reasons why. First, characters. I loved Katie. She’s very smart, determined and capable of looking after herself (with a bit of help sometimes, but everyone needs help sometimes). Katie is incredibly curious, a little awkward, sad (understandable, considering the reason she is living with her aunt in Japan is because her mother passed away) and even a little lonely. Throw in Tomohiro who is mysterious, protective, artistic and caring with a dash of angry loner boy thrown in and there is some awesome scenes and interactions between the two. The pacing of the book works very well with a mix of quieter moments and action packed, breath-catching ones. There are some secondary characters that throw quite a wrench in things, and really help flesh out the mystery and mythology of the story.
Which leads me into the love I have for the setting and mythology of INK. I’ve always had a fascination with Japanese history and culture (it’s the history major in me, that I love old cultures, I swear) and I feel that INK delivered a descriptive and engaging, though brief, glimpse into Japanese society. Amanda Sun herself lived in Japan for a time, so I felt comfortable trusting the picture she is showing us. Language is used wonderfully, and there is a glossary in the back for the Japanese words and terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. The mythology that Amanda Sun created around the kami is very well developed and intricate – and though I’m still a little confused where some of the ink that is a sign of the kami comes from, I still quite enjoyed it!
INK by Amanda Sun is a slow-burn romance that winds its way through Yakuza thugs, gods in human flesh, high school, mysterious pasts, secret societies and family. There is a wider threat to Tomo and Katie that comes because of Tomohiro’s connection to the kami, and this first book only touches the tip of it. The out of control powers and the interest from the Yakuza are only the beginning. I am very excited to see where the sequel takes Katie, Tomohiro and the others involved. Should be an interesting ride!...more
Unbreakable by Kami Garcia is a creepy, intense ride full of demons, ghosts, kidnapOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Unbreakable by Kami Garcia is a creepy, intense ride full of demons, ghosts, kidnappings and fear. There were some amazing moments in this book that had me worried our characters might not make it.
Kennedy’s decent into the supernatural begins after her mother has been killed in their home. Thinking it was natural causes, Kennedy soon learns the difference when twin brothers Jared and Lukas break into her home one night and save her from having her breath stolen by her ghost-possessed cat. She goes on the run with them and two other teens, Priest and Alara, after being told about the Legion and how she is a part of it and must help save the world from the demon Andras. Kennedy is pretty tough. She doesn’t think she belongs and that the brothers are wrong about her being part of the Legion, and she accidentally makes some blunders but she steps up to help when needed and doesn’t back down.
I enjoyed the backstory of Andras and how the Legion came to be formed, and the scenes with the ghosts (all of them, from the creepy well to the terrifying prison) are wonderfully suspenseful and heart-stopping. Unbreakable is one of those books where things may not be what they seem, and characters have to trust their instincts and hope they’re not screwing things up. There is a bit of a romantic sub-plot going on with Kennedy and the brothers, but it doesn’t distract from the action or overall plot of Kennedy and the others trying to find a weapon that will put away Andras for good. The ending tied up book one and set up book two very nicely.
Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed Unbreakable a bit more if so many aspects of the brothers, ghosts and how they’re killed, the demons and the hunting didn’t remind me of Supernatural (I know these things are not unique to Supernatural, but I draw comparisons). If you’ve never seen Supernatural, than Unbreakable by Kami Garcia will be an incredibly refreshing look at the paranormal genre – it does deliver some awesome action and interesting characters. However, if you have seen Supernatural, you will probably make the same comparisons I did. But you’ll also understand me when I say that Jared? He has Dean levels of guilt over something he did in the past and is keeping secrets from Kennedy. I enjoyed Unbreakable and will definitely be on the lookout for the sequel, since the final scenes threw a wrench in everything we had known up until then and I’m curious to see it all play out....more
VICIOUS by V.E Schwab is fantastic. One of the best books I’ve read lately, differeOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
VICIOUS by V.E Schwab is fantastic. One of the best books I’ve read lately, different from my current usual, it was just what I needed. Sometimes a nice break away from the young adult and middle grade is just what the doctor ordered. Sci-fi/fantasy with a superhero twist and unreliable heros and villians (heros who ARE the villians!), VICIOUS delivers amazing characters, world-building and writing.
Our cast of characters is few, but oh man. They are large! Victor and Eli are our two main hero/villians. Friends from university, everything starts to go pear-shaped when research into the relationship between EOs (ExtraOrdinary people) and near-death experiences results in, well, near-death experiences. In the end, Victor goes to prison and Eli doesn’t. As the story progresses, we pick up Mitch and Syndey on Victor’s side, and Serena on Eli’s. All of them with secrets, four of them with powers, and some really crazy views on what makes a hero or villian. Told in alternating past and present chapters, we see how Eli, Victor, Sydney and Serena wind up connecting and colliding in a show down that is both awesome and frightening.
I am completely enamoured with V.E. Schwab’s take on superpowers. She has created a world in which EO’s exist, but not because of radioactive spiders, or meteors, or mutant genes, etc. Instead, they’re gifts come from a flirt with death and having their body completely traumatized. So what begins as a fascination for Eli and Victor, turns into confusion, a little hatred and a sense that really, EOs are wrong and unnatural (on Eli’s part, anyway). The present story in VICIOUS takes place over two days, while the past talks about events ten years prior. I would love to read more in this world; to know what happens after the end – because oh, what an end! – and get another glimpse into the characters lives....more
TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts is a story about the end of the world thatOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 star rating.
TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts is a story about the end of the world that doesn’t really revolve around the end of the world. Told from the point of view of three teenagers, the story is one of family, friendship, love, lose and surprisingly, new beginnings. When you know your way of life is about to end, maybe permanently, how do you spend those last few days? Zan, Sienna and Caden each go through an incredible journey over the course of the novel.
All three characters are living on the same island and while their stories never really intertwine, they do cross paths at moments to create a cohesive end to the story. Caden lives with his sister and their alcoholic mother, and while he doesn’t have any spectacular plans for his last few days before the asteroid hits, that all changes when his father shows and takes Caden away to the mainland for very sketchy reasons. Caden’s point of view was probably my least favourite, mostly because a lot of the motivations didn’t make sense to me, and it was very removed from the tone of the rest of the book. Zan’s scavenger hunt for a girl her deceased boyfriend Leo had a phone number written down on a receipt for was my favourite storyline. Along with Leo’s best friend Nick, Zan takes off for Boston to see if she can locate this girl and put to rest the question of whether Leo had been cheating on her. It’s an interesting view on questioning every thing you had known, and not being able to get answers from the person involved. It talks about trust, moving on, guilt and love. Sienna also has an interesting story, revolving more around family and what it means, and young love. I definitely felt she and Owen, a boy she knew from when her family used to summer on the island, fell in love extremely quickly, but Sienna is a teenager, and it’s the end of the world. Why wouldn’t she think she was in love. Usually I’m very against insta-love in books, but this time it made sense and worked.
The idea that an impending asteroid hitting the earth could wipe out life as we know it creates an intriguing background for a story that deals with a lot of tough themes; from depression, alcoholism, love and kidnapping to trust, what it means to be family, and kindness. Caden, Sienna and Zan all have a moment where their lives cross near the end of the book and then the last day before the asteroid is supposed to hit and everyone on the island comes together in moments of solidarity and hope and fear and waiting. I was extremely happy with the ending and even though some may not like the ultimately unresolved nature of it, I felt it fit the book perfectly and couldn’t have been done any other way.
TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts is a quiet sort of disaster book. Focused more on the characters and how they choose to spend their possibly last days, the ideas of forgiveness, togetherness and hope in the face of despair really underline and highlight this slice-of-life story. Zan, Caden and Sienna all have wonderfully distinct voices that draw you in to their predicaments, decisions and lives. I couldn’t help myself from wondering what I would decide to do with my time if I knew the end was mostly inevitable. Who would I surround myself with and what would I do? What would you do? ...more
WINNER BAKES ALL by Sheryl and Carrie Berk is the third book in the very fun middleOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
WINNER BAKES ALL by Sheryl and Carrie Berk is the third book in the very fun middle grade series The Cupcake Club. The series follows four friends (Kylie, Sadie, Jenna and Lexi) who start a Cupcake Club in fourth grade, that slowly turns into a business. While book one was from club founder Kylie’s point of view, WINNER BAKES ALL is narrated by Sadie (and the girls are now all in fifth grade).
Despite not having read book two, I was easily able to read WINNER BAKES ALL and still highly enjoy my reading experience. It’s great that the series tells each book from a different characters point of view – I liked getting to know more about Sadie. From her fear of ever understanding math (I can relate!) to worries about how much her parents have been fighting lately (divorce??) and the fact that Peace, Love and Cupcakes is slowly making less money, Sadie has a lot on her mind and plate. But she handles everything wonderfully, and is able to help kick butt in the Battle of the Bakers competition that the club enters. I got a laugh out of the descriptions of the competition, the judges and the cupcakes they had to make. And I loved the little nod to Buddy Valestro, the Cake Boss!
This book, and series, is wonderful in how it portrays strong friendships. The girls help each other through their ups and downs and have so much fun. They rely on each other and make a great team. The worries about divorce and learning disabilities like dyslexia in WINNER BAKES ALL (and topics like bullying from the first book) go a long way in helping make the series appeal to a broad range of readers, who will find something and someone to connect with in the stories.
I wouldn’t hesitate to hand WINNER BAKES ALL by Sheryl and Carrie Berk to any of upper elementary students. Most would read it just because a kid like them helped write it! The smooth and descriptive writing, relatable characters and situations and the fun of a group of fifth graders running their own business make this book very approachable. The cupcake recipes found at the end of the book are so tempting to make and a nice touch. A series that combines reading and baking, my two favourite things – how could I not like it? I’m looking forward to book four!...more