Initial thoughts: This was so much fun to read! Child ghost busters fight scary ghosts with all sorts of iron, salt, and explosives. Full review to co...moreInitial thoughts: This was so much fun to read! Child ghost busters fight scary ghosts with all sorts of iron, salt, and explosives. Full review to come...
The Review: With Halloween coming up at the end of the month, it only feels appropriate to review a scary book – a ghost story. The Screaming Staircase is aimed at children from ages 8 and up however, the kid in all of us should enjoy the book.
The Screaming Staircase is the first book in Jonathan Stroud’s new series Lockwood & Co. I discovered this author a year ago while on a family road trip when we listened to The Amulet of Samarkand. The kids stopped arguing over silly things and we were all captivated by Mr. Stroud’s excellent storytelling skills. So when I saw that a new series was available for review, I jumped at the chance.
The Screaming Staircase was a lot of fun to read. Imagine Ghostbusters and Scooby Doo with a touch of Harry Potter thrown in (for the kids and English accents). The story is set in London during a great plague of ghosts or “Visitors.” These “Visitors” are extremely dangerous, causing death if they manage to touch the living. They must be eradicated by teams of Psychic Detection Agencies. Ideally, the source of the haunting must also be removed. Unfortunately, only children are able to see the ghosts, so we have some pint-sized and teenaged ghost hunters. Lockwood & Co. is one of those agencies run by Anthony Lockwood.
Anthony hires Lucy Carlyle to work for his agency. They, along with Lockwood’s other associate George fight ghosts using plenty of iron, salt, silver, and their rapier swords. There is a lot of ghost swash-buckling as well as plenty of the requisite tea breaks. After one of their ghostly escapades causes their client’s house to burn down, they are fined an exorbitant amount. They accept an assignment at the very spooky Combe Carey estate, the home of The Screaming Staircase.
This book was scary good. It was full of action, hairy moments, really scary spooky ghosts, and some really funny moments. I love the author’s writing style and wit. He has a way of making a scary scene less scary by inserting some humor into the moment. The interaction between the characters was well done. I loved the banter between Lucy and George – it was almost adversarial at times as if Lucy was a threat to Anthony and George’s relationship. Anthony was an intriguing character. There seems to be a lot more to him than was revealed. I liked that he had an air of mystery about him. Lucy was very brave and resourceful.
This was a fast paced book and it would make an awesome movie. My only criticism is that it took nearly two thirds of the book to finally get to The Screaming Staircase and that is a very small niggling point because the book was awesome and the journey to that part was definitely worth it.
I’d recommend The Screaming Staircase to anyone who loves ghost stories. While the book is being marketed to middle school aged children, don’t let that put you off. This book should appeal to middle school, young adults, and even their parents, making this the perfect book to read with your kids.
Series Reading Order:
1. The Screaming Staircase 2. The Whispering Skull (To be released August 2014)
Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for a review copy of this book.
This is a review of the audio book which I received free from Sync Audio's Summer 2013 program.
The audio book was well done, the narrator did all sor...moreThis is a review of the audio book which I received free from Sync Audio's Summer 2013 program.
The audio book was well done, the narrator did all sorts of voices and this audio book should appeal to younger readers. I had difficulty paying attention to it, so perhaps it was just me as I understand that the book was quite good.
I would recommend this book for the family car trip if you have younger children. (less)
6/8/13 - Sync free audio book download - week 2 - The narrator for this one did a great job on Bloody Jack, so I'm looking forward to listening to thi...more6/8/13 - Sync free audio book download - week 2 - The narrator for this one did a great job on Bloody Jack, so I'm looking forward to listening to this one. Here's the link.
An engaging little story made even more captivating by the wonderful narrator. I would not have picked this up on my own and had it not been for Sync audio, I would have missed this delightful little story about a teenage governess and her 3 wolfie charges. Cute story with the right amount of mystery to make me want to continue reading the series.
Absolutely fantastic and highly recommended. The audiobook version of this series is very well done read by the most capable Katherine Kellegren who b...moreAbsolutely fantastic and highly recommended. The audiobook version of this series is very well done read by the most capable Katherine Kellegren who brings all the characters to life with her amazing voices.
This installment of the series finds Jacky taking a stand on slavery. It's the early 1800's and Jacky is surprised when her arch-nemesis Clarissa brings her slave girl Angelique to the Peabody Lawson School for girls. The irony is that in a few short days, almost all of the girls from the school will be kidnapped and taken aboard a slaver ship on their way to become slaves for rich Sultans.
Lucky for the girls, Jacky is part of the kidnapped cargo and her resourcefulness, bravery, and general knowledge of sailing help her hatch a plan for escape. To help pass the time, Jacky tells stories about her time in Cheapside. An especially poignant story is told about baby Jesse that blew me away. Jacky Faber is one amazing girl.
What amazed me was the girls' determination to get out of a hopeless situation. Even Clarissa comes through for Jacky in a way that I could not even imagine after reading the previous books.
Those last few chapters were exhilarating. I could have driven around aimlessly, just to keep listening to the story.
This series is suitable for middle school and up. As Jacky is around 11 or 12 for the first book, that book would be suitable for Grades 5 and 6. In this book, Jacky is about 15 or 16 years old. The audio book is a lot of fun for long road trips, or even for that boring daily commute. (less)
Free audio book download from audiobooksync.com August 2011.
OK, this audio book wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It is geared to middle school kids an...moreFree audio book download from audiobooksync.com August 2011.
OK, this audio book wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It is geared to middle school kids and I think that boys would enjoy this story. The audio version was OK with the narrator doing the voices of each character. He wasn't too believable for the girls, but, oh well.
Storm Runners is the story of Chase and his father the owner of Masters of Disasters, a company that chases storms and helps people rebuild. Chase and his father are in Florida just as Hurricane Emily, a category 5 hurricane is set to make landfall. Chase and his friends are sent home on a school bus as the hurricane approaches and the wind sweeps the bus off the road into water. The bus driver dies and Chase and his friends must brave the weather and hungry alligators in order to get to safety.
Having listened to this a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit the NY/NJ region, I feel that this story was really unbelievable. *What adults would send children by school bus home as a hurricane is fast approaching? Surely a safer place to ride out a storm would be a school gymnasium rather than a school bus. *The children were able to walk (albeit with difficulty) in Category 5 Hurricane winds. I don't think so. *The children were able to swim out of danger in Category 5 hurricane winds. Don't think that would be possible. *The adults in charge of the children were idiots. *The kids were way too smart for their age.
The story ends on a cliffhanger, so you need to listen to the next book to find out what happens.
The audio book version included an interview with the author where he talks about his research into storms and animals.
Recommended for middle grades, boys especially. (less)
What an awesome book to listen to on a very long car trip! The narrator was incredible. He was able to change up voices and input just the right amoun...moreWhat an awesome book to listen to on a very long car trip! The narrator was incredible. He was able to change up voices and input just the right amount of pomposity into Bartimeus' character to make him both believable and humorous. For those looking for a book in a similar vein to the Harry Potter series, this story of a young apprentice magician is a must read. I would recommend the audio version to children ages 9+. The parents in the car enjoyed the story, too.
This audio book was downloaded from audiobooksync.com as part of their Summer 2012 free audio book promotion.
Once again another great performance by the narrator. This audio book had me laughing, crying, and sitting on the edge of my seat. This series is perf...moreOnce again another great performance by the narrator. This audio book had me laughing, crying, and sitting on the edge of my seat. This series is perfect for middle school ages and older and the narrator does all sorts of voices and song well.
I love Jacky and I can't wait to listen to the next installment.
The books are overly descriptive but it works for the audio books. (less)
And why, oh why, is Wal-Mart always the best place to stock up and hole up during a zombie invasion?
I had a...moreWhy is it that zombies appeal to all ages?
And why, oh why, is Wal-Mart always the best place to stock up and hole up during a zombie invasion?
I had a lot of fun reading MJA Ware’s Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. The book was relatively short (eBook version was about 96 pages) and illustrated with simple black and white stick figure drawings. I chuckled while reading this book, even giggle-snorted a few times.
SZJMB begins as our two young heroes Nate and Misty return from an “unauthorized” camping trip. They arrive to find the town deserted. Well, not exactly. The mayor is there to greet them, but he is behaving a little out of character. There are some zombies running around and they are looking for a quick bite.
I loved Nate and Misty. They were remarkably resourceful for two kids that found themselves all alone in their town. By accident, the kids discover how to neutralize zombies. They also rescue Kali the boy genius as zombies are chasing him down. Together they develop the Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb and save their town from the zombie hoard and even from the zombie chickens. Yes, zombie chickens.
This book is not gory or bloody so even readers with weak stomachs could enjoy this. I don’t think it could frighten young readers as the pictures are quite funny. I’m guessing this will appeal to 12 year old boys, only because I have a 12 year old boy who really wants to read this.
Max likes to play videos. Non-stop. His parents tell him that he needs to stop. He plays the parental guilt card and tells them that he is developing...moreMax likes to play videos. Non-stop. His parents tell him that he needs to stop. He plays the parental guilt card and tells them that he is developing excellent thumb muscles. I like Max. I think I know a kid just like him...
This is part of a series of short little comic books in French. The beauty is that while they are comic books, the subject matter is perfect for learning and practicing French.
My 11 year old enjoyed this and we will be hunting down the rest of the series. There are at least 60 of them out there, so he'll be busy for the next little while.
Brought to you by Suzanne Collins – yes – the same Suzanne Collins that wrote The Hunger Games, Gregor the Overlander is a fun and entertaining read....moreBrought to you by Suzanne Collins – yes – the same Suzanne Collins that wrote The Hunger Games, Gregor the Overlander is a fun and entertaining read. Geared towards younger audiences, the Gregor books are a kind of Alice in Wonderland for boys.
Eleven year old Gregor is stuck babysitting his baby sister Boots. They are in the basement of their apartment building where Gregor is doing their laundry when Boots disappears into an air duct. Gregor follows Boots and falls into another world. They end up in an underground world where cockroaches are really huge – 4 feet tall. And they speak! It is also a world where the humans live in fear of really huge rats and super sized spiders. There are also very large bats. These bats are bonded for life with the humans that live in this world. Cockroaches, rats, spiders, and bats. I think boys would enjoy this.
Oh – I forgot – there is a prophecy. (Cue ominous music now…)
Overall, a fun and exciting read perfect for the young and possibly reluctant reader in your life. My boys can’t wait to get their hands on this book. (less)
Jason's (age 10) rating 5 stars, my rating (much older than Jason) 3 stars...so we averaged out at 4 stars
I won this book in the Goodreads first reads...moreJason's (age 10) rating 5 stars, my rating (much older than Jason) 3 stars...so we averaged out at 4 stars
I won this book in the Goodreads first reads giveaway. The book arrived a few days ago and disappeared from my to-read pile. My 10 year old son found it. Fascinated by the subject matter - fossils and some sort of mystery, my son proceeded to read. And read. He did not put the book down. He then surprised me by saying that he finished the book. He liked the characters, the mystery, and that the book had very short chapters. Not bad for a reluctant reader. It gave him a sense of accomplishment. Jason says - 5 stars.
So I sat down to read the story. Set in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, it is the story of a young girl who had recently lost her father in a tragic accident. Grace is 13 and an avid fossil hunter. She searches for fossils with her friends in abandoned mines. One day, Grace receives an anonymous note that her father's death was not an accident. Grace and her friends set out to solve the mystery.
As a childrens' novel the book had an easy to follow storyline. The kids are the heroes in this book, and most of the adults are scary villains. There is just the right amount of action and suspense. My only concern was that the kids were hunting for fossils in rather dangerous places.
This book would appeal to school aged children and younger teens. The characters act like kids. There is also a great environmental theme running throughout the book. A solid effort on a first book published. Jason and I look forward to reading more books by this author.(less)