Skyfall is the first book in the new Troll Hunters series. The story opens with a meteor shower that has the town enraptured. However it isn't just th...moreSkyfall is the first book in the new Troll Hunters series. The story opens with a meteor shower that has the town enraptured. However it isn't just the meteor shower that is happening this night. Four children soon discover that something much more sinister is going on, and that stopping it is the only way to save the whole entire planet. Talk about a big burden to put on their shoulders!
I loved how this story is the perfect combination of creepy and fascinating. It isn't so scary that a younger reader wouldn't be able to enjoy it, but it has that edge that keeps you guessing. I think it will be a great fit for readers who want more adventure in their reader, but aren't quite ready for older books. Michael Dahl writes simply, but his characters and plot are still perfectly engaging. I'm an older reader and I still loved this book.
So yes, Skyfall is a very well written fantasy story. The characters are will be easy for younger readers to connect with, and the quick moving story line is sure to draw them in! It always makes me happy to find a fantasy story that is appropriate for the younger audience. There simply isn't enough of it out there.
The one thing that killed me was the ending. Skyfall's ending is more like the end of a chapter than the end of the book. If you do happen to get these for a young reader in your life, you might want to wait until they are all out. If they are like me, they'll be clamoring for the next book to find out what happens next!(less)
What first struck me about The Moon Coin above all else, was the illustrations. Even before I read the synopsis, even before I tried the first page, I...moreWhat first struck me about The Moon Coin above all else, was the illustrations. Even before I read the synopsis, even before I tried the first page, I fell in love with the hand drawn illustrations. Call me old fashioned, but I really miss the days when all illustrations looked like these. Computers are a fantastic invention (without them this ebook wouldn't exist) but I sure do miss the gorgeous fruits of someone talented's labor. Carolyn Arcabascio's illustrations really bring the story to life. They are that little link that makes all the difference in becoming immersed in the story.
I'll honestly tell you that this book drew me in once I did start reading. Similar to a lot of fantastic middle grade reading out there, we start out the book by meeting the characters, and it's easy to fall in love with them right away. Lily and Jasper are precocious children to say the least. They love solving puzzles, getting into mischief (although not always on purpose) and going on adventures. The wonderful part about them is that they really defy their age. Both of them are malleable enough to fit into any child's imagination. Even as a reader who isn't necessarily the target audience, I fell in love with them as well.
The worlds in this story are vivid and beautifully descriptive. I really felt like I was transported to all of the places that were presented to me. New races pop off of the page, and the reader is swept away into far off lands inhabited by some of the most wonderful and unique characters. However, this is also why I am not entirely sure that this book should be labeled Middle Grade. The story itself is definitely Middle Grade friendly, what with the adventures and fast moving plot. A lot of the descriptions though are very word heavy and boast some vocabulary that might not fit into this label. That's not to say all Middle Grade readers won't appreciate them. I just wonder if a lot of the imagery might be lost on a younger reader. This does make The Moon Coin a great choice for a family read in my mind though!
Overall this was definitely a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it took me a little while to become absorbed in my reading, once I was I wouldn't have wanted to quit reading. The ending to The Moon Coin leaves just enough to the imagination to open it up to a sequel! I for one cannot wait to see where Richard Due takes us next. If you have a young reader who enjoys Fantasy, loves to be lost in a good story, or just wants something new, give them this book. You won't regret it!(less)
How to Make a Golem and Terrify People made me smile a lot. That's saying something, since right before reading this I was in a bit of a reading slump...moreHow to Make a Golem and Terrify People made me smile a lot. That's saying something, since right before reading this I was in a bit of a reading slump. I just don't know how you can feel down when adorable Scottish children are romping about on the pages of a book, getting into all sorts of mischief and mayhem. Add in a little bit of alchemy and a few life lessons, and you have a story that is a great read.
Edda was such a sweet young protagonist. Although her character wasn't quite as vivid as I would have liked her to be, she definitely held her own. For Edda life is about familiarity. She's comfortable with her warm, loving home and her best friend. Then, on her twelfth birthday, Edda's life is turned upside down when a her home is burgled. It was easy for me to see how violated and scared she felt. From this point on the reader is treated to a view of Edda's transformation from "mouse" to "Edda the Brave".
The story line is simple enough in this middle grade adventure. All that Edda wants is to be braver. What she soon learns is that being braver simply means learning to believe in yourself. With the help of her friends, one old and one new, she faces her fears and learns to tame them. My one gripe was simply that, as adorable as they were, the characters weren't as fleshed out as they could have been. I had to remind myself multiple times that this is a middle grade book, and it's all about the journey. Honestly I anticipate young readers delightedly accompanying Edda on her spooky (but not too spooky) golem related adventures.
My final verdict on How to Make a Golem and Terrify People is that it is good, clean and fun reading! By the end I was wishing there was more, but then again I'm a sucker for cute protagonists. If you have a younger reader at home who enjoys an adventure, this is for them! A little bit of alchemy and a lot of friendship come together in perfect harmony to create a story that is a sweet and enjoyable read.(less)
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls Are you ready for something different? Ready for something deliciously creepy? Brace yourself and open the pages...moreThe Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls Are you ready for something different? Ready for something deliciously creepy? Brace yourself and open the pages of Claire Legrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.
From the first page I was completely enamored with Miss Victoria Wright. Practically perfect in every way, Victoria is the epitome of order. A pristine room, impeccably clean clothing, and an eloquence far beyond her age. This is why it is so charming to see her paired with Lawrence. The exact opposite of her in every way, he brings out the best in her even when it seems that the two of them are incompatible.
Which is why it is so much fun to follow them on the eerie journey that they undertake. In the name of friendship, Victoria faces nightmarish rooms and horrific entities. Fiendish things go on behind the doors of the Cavendish home, and it is the slow buildup that set the mood. Mrs. Cavendish is a baddie of the highest caliber. The kind that sneaks under your skin and brings on goosebumps while you read. Perfect, yet deadly. In fact, the perfect nemesis for our heroine Victoria!
I don't generally like to compare books, but the highest compliment that I can give to Claire Legrand's book is that it is on par with Coraline. A gorgeous mix of a coming-of-age story and a shiver inducing, fiendish plot. If you aren't a fan of critters that scurry in the dark, beware the tiny illustrations that pepper this book! I honestly can't gush enough about how bewitching this book really is. What I can say is that it deserves a place at the tip-top of your reading list!(less)
Oh, Kat Stephenson! To say this girl is incorrigible is spot on and, quite honestly, the reason I fell in love with her character the first time aroun...moreOh, Kat Stephenson! To say this girl is incorrigible is spot on and, quite honestly, the reason I fell in love with her character the first time around. She's back in a big way in Renegade Magic. Kat's sister is finally marrying the man she loves and Kat herself finally has a slight hold over her powers. What could possibly go wrong?
Once again I was drawn in by the setting Stephanie Burgis places young Kat in. She is a young girl surrounded by lectures on propriety and manners. Constantly told to squash her willful ways. For any other character it might be too much, but for Kat it's just the way things are. Her intelligence and her stubborn nature shine in front of this backdrop. It's so easy to fall in love with the way she is simply herself in a sea full of people trying to be someone else.
All of my favorite characters were back, and this time around I had a better glimpse into Lady Graves and Lord Ravenscroft. I thought Burgis did a wonderful job of weaving together the story of a wedding gone awry, and the sinister things these two characters were up to. Better still, the main setting for this book is in Bath. It sets up a perfect place for magic to mix with history, all culminating in an adventure that Kat and her family will never forget. This book moves quickly, and I couldn't get enough of it.
I don't think I'll ever tire of Ms. Kat Stephenson. There's something to be said about the fierce loyalty and love that she has for her family, even when they drive her crazy. Even if you don't generally read Middle Grade books, I can guarantee you'll fall in love with this series. Stephanie Burgis has expertly crafted a way to mesh magic and mayhem into something you won't be able to put down. Get started! Kat and her family are waiting.(less)
When your name is Goldenrod, how can you not be destined for amazing adventures? Saddle up to join a courageous young adventurer on a quest unlike any...moreWhen your name is Goldenrod, how can you not be destined for amazing adventures? Saddle up to join a courageous young adventurer on a quest unlike anything you've ever seen before!
Eleven year old Goldenrod Moram (named for her mother's favorite hobby) is an adventurer at heart. She shines off the page! Her thirst for adventure is infectious, and I loved that her hobby was so different from most other young people When her best friend moves away, Goldenrod sets off to make the most detailed map of her hometown ever! After all, that is what her idols Lewis and Clark did. Little does Goldenrod know that an adventure awaits her, deep in the woods of her very own town.
To be honest, Tash’s entire cast of characters is simply fabulous. My favorite was Goldenrod’s little brother, Birch. A sweet boy, his relationship with his older sister was so adorable! It's not very often that you see a little brother character who looks up to his older sister so much. When they get involved with the Gross-Out Gang, a group of ragtag misfits who love to be gross, Goldenrod and Birch show what they are really made of. It has been a while since I've seen a brother and sister duo who were so in tune. It made reading this book so much fun!
Fast paced and filled with twists and turns, this is a story that will hold the attention of readers of all ages. I read through it in one sitting! Tash’s writing is right on target for her intended audience, but she doesn't speak down to them either. I picked up a lot of facts while reading. Learning and being part of a quest? Who could ask for more? Goldenrod’s quest for the blue rose mixes wonderfully with her battle against the Gross-Out Gang and this book just flies by.
If you have a young reader at home who is looking for an adventure, pick up a copy of The Mapmaker and the Ghost as quick as you can! Goldenrod and her friends are waiting to take you on their quest.(less)
Now you might be thinking that a book for Middle Grade isn't for you. That you're too old to enjoy a book entitled Scary School. That, my friends, is...moreNow you might be thinking that a book for Middle Grade isn't for you. That you're too old to enjoy a book entitled Scary School. That, my friends, is where you'd be wrong. I have no qualms at all with telling you straight out that I adored this book! Yes, I'm in my late twenties. You know what though? Derek the Ghost is one heck of a narrator, and the stories in this book are pure awesome. Fan girl ramblings shall now ensue. You've been warned.
From page one Scary School is pure madness in the best way possible! If you've ever been to Wayside School, you'll know that sometimes the sheer ridiculousness of the stories is what really the draw. I found myself giggling through chapter after chapter of hilarious happenings. The teachers here won't just discipline you, they might actually eat you! Never fear though, you'll probably come back as a zombie, or a vampire, or you know, something else. Your best friend might be named Frank (pronounced Rachel) and you might even get in trouble for reading something you shouldn't have. In a word, being a student at Scary School is, well, scary!
The characters here are all vivid and so much fun. Scott M. Fischer's illustrations really bring them to life, and I found myself laughing out loud over the pictures more than once. After all, who doesn't love a T-rex in a dress? Lest you think that this is all just silliness though, I can assure you that there are actually very important lessons hidden in all the fun. Charles and his friends teach readers to be kind, to listen carefully, to be good friends, and even not to judge people for what they look like. Lessons and laughs? How can you go wrong?
If you have a reluctant reader at home, this is a book to put into their hands. The stories will make them laugh, the illustrations will delight them, and I'll guarantee that you won't be able to get them to stop talking about how funny it all is. I will happily admit that I'm a fan. Derek, you have me on board. I'm ready for more!(less)
For Greg Hart, fantasies are a part of life. His journal is a place to share the person that he wishes he was. A hero. A strong, quick and brave chara...moreFor Greg Hart, fantasies are a part of life. His journal is a place to share the person that he wishes he was. A hero. A strong, quick and brave character who slays vicious baddies with one hand tied behind his back (and of course always gets the girl in the end). Little does poor Greg know that he is destined to set off on a actual dangerous quest! In this story Greg really is the hero, and one false move will land him on the dragon's lunch menu.
I honestly loved Greg as a character, and I know that the reading group this book is aimed at will as well. He is funny, honest, and downright noble at times. Beneath the scrawny boy that everyone sees on the outside beats the heart of a hero. Greg has a quick wit that made me laugh out loud more than once. I adored how the author allowed his character to have doubts and fears. Greg isn't certain the prophecy is about him, and he's willing to (loudly) voice that to anyone who will listen. Still, he knows that a princess' life is at stake. Despite his fears, off he goes on an epic adventure.
Bill Allen weaves a story that will have you glued to your seat, with your eyes in the book, from page one. Trolls, dragons, witches, you name it and you'll probably find it in this fast moving story. The trials that Greg faces are too much fun! (Well maybe not for him, but definitely for the reader.) You get to follow him as he grows and changes, and by the time the end of the story comes it is almost heartbreaking. I know I'm definitely looking forward to more of Greg's adventures.
The last thing I want to mention, because it amused me so greatly, is the word play that is present in this book! How to Slay a Dragon is peppered with puns, jokes, and just plain silliness. I am not afraid to admit that I giggled. A lot. There are some parts of this story that are just so absurd that you have to! Fans of fantasy stories will love this. I'd absolutely recommend this to upper middle grade readers as well. They might not get all the puns, but I guarantee they'll fall in love with Greg.
Long story short? Get a copy. How to Slay a Dragon is a great addition to any adventure lover's shelf. (less)
Narrator Review: Overall, I thought that Keith Nobbs did a pretty fair job at narrating this book. His girl voices could use a little work, but then ag...moreNarrator Review: Overall, I thought that Keith Nobbs did a pretty fair job at narrating this book. His girl voices could use a little work, but then again it's tough to be a girlish girl when you have a deeper voice :). I accept that. His pacing is spot on, and I loved the way that he would pause for dramatic effect at important points. Nobbs also does a great job at intoning danger and excitement.
Audio Book Rating: 4/5 - It's a great listen!
Book Review: First off I find it only fair to say that I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that this was the third book in the series. I'm a long time fan of Andrew Clements, and when I saw The Whites of Their Eyes I knew I wanted to read it! So, I picked it up. Unfortunately for me that meant I came in at the middle of the story. I'll warn you, this is not a stand alone book. I had to go back and pick up pieces from the other two in order to understand what was going on. If you're looking at this series, make sure to start from the beginning!
That being said, I was pleased to see that Ben and his friends fit so wonderfully into the world of Clements' writing. They are vivid, funny, and smart. His characters always know how to hold their own. In particular (and I may be a little biased) I loved Jill. She not only has the wit to keep up with Ben, but a lot of the good ideas they come up with start with her. These two are fun to follow, even when they head off into dangerous situations. It's nice to see a female and male main character who both shine so boldly off the page.
The story does move a little more slowly than most books geared toward this age group generally do. There is a lot of historical background, and Ben does a lot of explaining about what his mission is. I had no problem with it as an older listener/reader, but I'm not sure that the younger audience would be as patient. Still, once the story picks up it does it very well! Clements' writing shines as Ben and Jill take off on a hunt for the ultimate treasure, and try to find a way to save their school from being torn down.
As a last comment, I really think that this installment should be coupled with the other two in one entire book. This was a short read, and it would be nice for readers to be able to get the entire story in one fell swoop. Despite everything though, I really did end up enjoying the story overall! If you have a young reader who loves adventure, pick up a copy of The Whites of Their Eyes and Ben's previous two adventures.(less)
If you haven't yet discovered The Goddess Girls Series, allow me to introduce you. This wonderful set of books is all about mixing classic mythology w...moreIf you haven't yet discovered The Goddess Girls Series, allow me to introduce you. This wonderful set of books is all about mixing classic mythology with modern day girls and guys. Trust me, it's a ton of fun to read! Although these books are slated for Middle Graders, I see no reason why older aged readers wouldn't like them as well. After all, I'm almost 30, and I love them still!
In this particular installment, we get to see a lot further into Medusa's past and why she earned the title "Queen of Mean". The thing is, Medusa isn't really all that bad! Sadly she's just been told her whole life that she isn't special, and that she shouldn't try. Now here is why I love Medusa as a character. Despite everything else, this girl has dreams! She works hard for them and I see her as a way to teach young readers that if you work hard for something, chances are you can achieve it.
What's really sweet about Medusa the Mean is that you get to see her blossom. Making new friends, realizing that sometimes you have to trust others, and even finally seeing how her "supercrush" really is on the inside. The story line in this book is so fun! It's quick moving, there are silly jokes, and the way that the characters interact is perfect. I loved the fact that in this book Medusa is no longer just the "mean girl" character. She really comes into her own, and it's fabulous!
Long story short, this is a great series and Medusa the Mean is no exception to that rule! If you have a young reader at home, put this book into their hands. These work great as standalone novels, or you can go back to beginning and let them experience the whole series. Either way, these are sure to be a hit in your home! (less)
Emily is trapped in a destiny that she isn't sure is actually hers. Named for the poet Emily Dickinson, her mother has big dreams that Emily will beco...moreEmily is trapped in a destiny that she isn't sure is actually hers. Named for the poet Emily Dickinson, her mother has big dreams that Emily will become a famous poet someday. Unfortunately, Emily isn't a big fan of poetry. In fact, she'd much rather read Danielle Steel and swoon over the happy endings. Who wouldn't?
I fell utterly in love with Emily and her friends. Each and every character in this book pops off the page. Emily is inquisitive, bright and witty. Some of the things she says made me giggle out loud, especially the dialogue between her and her best friend. With an intelligence far beyond her age, she's quite a charming little girl! Surrounding her are characters with all types of personalities, from Mortie who is a little army survivalist, to Cecily Ann who is the true poet. The tapestry of personalities here is wonderful and full. I can't gush enough.
Best of all is the story line. This isn't just your typical coming-of-age story. Emily is on a mission both to find her true path in life, and to find her missing father. Watching her navigate the roadblocks that pop up in her way was exciting, and the question of destiny vs. choice plays a big factor here. Young readers will be enamored with her journey, and the lack of any real angst in the story helps keep things light.
Even if I wasn't a giant fan of Middle Grade fiction, which I completely am, I'd still recommend this charming book! This is a light, sweet and enjoyable read. Ready to dive into something fun? Destiny, Rewritten is definitely a book to add to your reading list.(less)
Okay, it's official. I'm declaring it to all of you now. Jack Blank is my new favorite hero. Move over Harry Potter. Once again Matt Myklusch managed...moreOkay, it's official. I'm declaring it to all of you now. Jack Blank is my new favorite hero. Move over Harry Potter. Once again Matt Myklusch managed to capture my heart, and my imagination with the second book in this wonderful series! The Secret War was everything that I was hoping it would be plus so much more.
For those of you who haven't yet had the privilege of traveling to the Imagine Nation, let me fill you in. Take a moment to go back in time and remember when you were young. When the world held infinite possibility, and magic was a reality. Are you there? That's the Imagine Nation. Full of superheroes, villains and futuristic technology, this is a world that is a pleasure to get lost in. In my opinion, it's the most fantastic world I've ever visited in a book and I can't wait to go again.
In this installment, Jack Blank is a little older, a little wiser, but still the same kid that I fell in love with before. Strong, witty, and full of incredible potential. However The Secret War also brings a different light to Jack's life. This is a darker book, full of plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading on. Jack has secrets. Deep, dark secrets that he can't seem to share despite how much he knows he should. What he soon learns is that the more secrets you hold, the harder it is to dig yourself out of the pit that they become.
For me, Jack in this book was even better than in the first. Having to battle with the parasite inside him, the secrets that he keeps, and trying to live up to his potential really takes a toll on him. We see Jack at his lowest points and yet he still manages to be inspiring. He's a real person on these pages. Best of all, The Secret War brings in tons of new characters to love. I won't spoil, but I will tell you that one of the characters I liked most makes a come back. I almost laughed out loud with joy.
The lessons in this book are amped up as well, but once again they blend in beautifully with the overall story. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will all the better for it. Let me tell you, this is fast becoming my favorite series of all time. If you haven't started already, please do. A role model of the highest kind, Jack Blank is a vivid character who will steal your heart!(less)
What a fun and wacky read! Not since my days of Roald Dahl have I fallen this in love with a story line. The Whippet Hotel is a place built out of the...moreWhat a fun and wacky read! Not since my days of Roald Dahl have I fallen this in love with a story line. The Whippet Hotel is a place built out of the imagination of a very interesting man. Merganzer Whippet, the hotel's designer, was told that he would one day invent wacky things! If this hotel is any indication, that's completely right. From a room with edible furniture, to one that is built just like a pinball machine (that you can PLAY!) this is a hotel that I would be happy to stay in! I think middle grade readers will fall in love.
When Merganzer Whippet goes missing, it's up to Leo to solve the mystery of the hotel. There's something to be said about a young, brave protagonist. Leo is smart, kind, and adorable the entire way through the book. I loved how Patrick Carman built his relationship with his father, and with the other characters in the story. It's easy to fall into step with Leo as he sets of on a zany adventure through the hotel. You'll find yourself cheering him on, and wondering what fascinating thing he is going to find next!
If that's not enough, the other characters in Floors will definitely sate your need for silliness. Each one has their own unique personality (and in the audio book their own voice). They mean well, but each one has a pretty interesting set of quirks. After all, doesn't an amazing hotel need equally amazing people to inhabit it? It's so much fun to read about their daily lives, and see how they fit into the overall mystery. Kudos to Patrick Carman for writing such a wonderfully vivid cast of characters.
I see this as the type of book that is going to fly off your library shelves. Or, if you have a young reader at home, one that they'll beg you to read over and over. There is so much to love in Floors! Silly, fun, and just downright wholesome. This is the type of stuff that Middle Grade stories are made out of. Definitely recommended! (less)
I wish I had found Walk Two Moons when it first came out. In fact, I wish it had been on my reading list in school because I know I would have eaten i...moreI wish I had found Walk Two Moons when it first came out. In fact, I wish it had been on my reading list in school because I know I would have eaten it up. I know this because, despite my current age, I still fell deeply in love with this book. It's ageless, and it's wonderful.
Salamanca Tree Hiddle (Sal)is a thirteen year old narrator who will steal your heart. We embark on a car trip with Sal and her eccentric grandparents, all the while learning bits about their lives, her life, and the life of her best friend Phoebe. Let me please tell you how much I loved each and every character in this book. Sal is sweet, kind and witty far beyond what her age dictates. Her grandparents are the picture of what true love really is. Even Phoebe, the girl who worries about everything, fits perfectly in the story. There is everything to love in Creech's characters and they make the story come to life.
Sharon Creech weaves the stories of Sal and Phoebe into a story that took my breath away. A story that is funny, honest, and at times so heartbreaking that you'll find yourself teary eyed. During the car trip Sal's thoughts take the reader on a journey through her innermost self. I adored watching her grow, make observations, and just become even more amazing. I'm not even certain I'm making sense at this point. That's how much Walk Two Moons threw me off. It's beautiful.
This is a must read for people of all ages, but I definitely suggest you put it in the hands of your middle grade reader as soon as possible. Young readers will learn from, and walk with Sal. Older readers will get the chance to revisit some of those hidden feelings we hide. The raw ones that we push down as we grow up. It's a wonderful, and terrifying, feeling all at the same time. In my opinion, Walk Two Moons is a book that will make a reader out of a non-reader. I sincerely hope you love it as much as I did.(less)