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 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 in Originally 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 a Originally 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
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful middlOriginally 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 a Originally 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
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