Book Review: Bingo Summer

4-stars
Bingo SummerTitle: Bingo Summer
Author: Dawn Malone
Genre: Upper MG
Book Blurb:
On her thirteenth birthday, Summer Haas scratches the lottery ticket her mom tucked into her birthday card and the down-on-their-luck family become instant millionaires. Then the attention gets crazy in their small Illinois town, and the family moves north to ‘disappear’ in the Chicago suburbs. Summer’s new home might as well be on the Moon, it’s so different from where she used to live.Suddenly, Summer is a candidate for student council, trades her t-shirt and jeans for mall-brand clothes, and throws a party for her entire grade even though she didn’t invite a single guest. Everyone wants Summer to be someone other than herself, including the super-popular Suri who Summer hopes will be her new best friend. There’s Mara who wants Summer to forget about competing with her for third base when softball season comes. And Summer just wants to avoid Dink and Anna even though she has more in common with them than she wants to admit.

But when Mara discovers how Summer’s family made their millions, and threatens to tell the whole school, Summer needs a friend more than ever. Can Summer fit in AND stay true to herself?

My Review:
Winning the lottery is one thing everyone dreams about, but how would your life change if it actually came true? Summer finds out in this enjoyable novel.
The characters in this book, especially Summer’s quirky, eccentric mother, are well-written and relatable, and the book moves at a good pace. There’s good conflicts and lessons learned (dealing with “mean girls”, overcoming the “shame” of coming from a poor background, the scary thought of losing old friends) and a nice hint at romance.
I’d consider this a more upper-level middle grade book, almost YA, but would recommend it, definitely. It was well-written and fun to read. The story might be strengthened by more up-to-date references (emailing instead of writing letters–I doubt many kids know what a postage stamp is nowadays), but besides little things like that, I had fun reading this one :D

Book Review: The Great Cat Nap

3.5-stars

 

 

Cat NapTitle: The Great Cat Nap

Author: A.M. Bostwick

Author’s Blurb:

Ace is a hard-core newspaper reporter. He’s tenacious, confident, and assertive. He’s also a cat. When the famous show cat Ruby the Russian goes missing, Ace is on the story. But he bites off more than he can chew when he agrees to play detective and find the prize-winning cat, believed to have been kidnapped by animal smugglers. Calling on his feline friends, a few dogs, and even a boastful rat nemesis, Ace’s investigation will lead him from the most respected parts of town to the lowly haunts of the underground alley cat system. He’ll have to try to break a cat out of the pound for priceless information and get into a single-pawed battle with smugglers before getting his shot at solving the dangerous crime, culminating on a chilly October night in the gray and lonely streets of downtown.

My Review:

I did enjoy this book. I liked the cats’ very human characteristics, and the hijinks they get into. Ace and his friends are off to solve the mystery of a missing show cat. Was she stolen? Ran away? Ace is determined to find out, and many of his adventures are fun to read.

The first half of the book is mostly Ace chasing down leads, most of which don’t seem to go anywhere. So it takes a while to get to any real action and danger. I think the book could have been made a little stronger by introducing elements of danger sooner. It would have made for a more gripping read.

Still fun though, especially if you like cats!

 

Book Review: Lycanthor the Werewolf

3.5-stars

 

 

lycanthorTitle: Lycanthor the Werewolf (The Dragonfyre Blade Series, #1)

Author: Aiden Storm

About the Book:

Thirteen year old Jack is spending the summer at his Aunt’s house in the country. Unfortunately, it’s done nothing but rain and he’s stuck in her old mansion without cable or internet. Bored and alone, he sets out to explore the house. When he reaches the attic, he finds an intricate and unusual mural painted on the walls. Life for Jack gets turned upside down when he stumbles and is transported through a portal into a magical world.

For Jasyra, the daughter of the High King, life couldn’t be worse. Her father has been turned to glass, her kingdom has been taken over by the Demon Emperor, and she and her friend, Evooku, have been exiled. The only way to save the land is to reassemble the Dragon Fyre Blade, but the Demon Emperor has hidden all six pieces and each is guarded by great mythical beasts. There is only one person who can help restore peace, but it has been said that he is not of their land.

When Jack awakens in the Great Forest of Karandur, he encounters Jasyra and Evooku. He discovers the only way home is to band together to fight the evil Lycanthor, a giant werewolf that guards a piece of the Dragon Fyre Blade. But first they have to make it through an enchanted land full of danger.

The Queen of Light appears to Jack and delivers a gift, as well as a revelation. He, Jasyra and Evooku form an unlikely friendship along the way and lasting bonds are made when they realize they are Karandur’s only hope. Will the trio be able to defeat
Lycanthor and save the kingdom from an eternity of despair?

My Review:

Overall, this is a book I think kids, especially boys, will like. There’s pretty much nonstop action without any down time, which will keep kids interested. The idea behind the story is a good one–a sword has been shattered and the only way to restore things is to find all the pieces and bring them back together. Fighting off werewolves is always exciting and appealing, and one part of the sword is captured in the end, paving the way nicely for other short books to follow.
The reason I didn’t rate this book higher was because there was very little character development, so I did have a hard time getting interested in or having much sympathy for the characters. Jack is a bored kid with nothing to do, but he doesn’t have a defining trait that sets him apart–some weird quirk or an internal struggle he’s trying to overcome–and because that’s missing, the book seems very one-dimensional. And while that’s not going to have much effect on young boys who want to read about kids fighting werewolves, it might be hard to make this into a sustaining series, without adding a bit more depth to it.

Book Review: Wishing Will

4-stars

 

 

 

Wishing WIllWISHING WILL

by Daniel Harvell

MG Mystical Realism/Fantasy

About the Book:

Outcast middle schooler Will Cricket spends all of his time wishing for a better life. He wants a new look, popular friends, cool parents and enough coordination to dribble a basketball – but he never actively pursues any of it. When the magical wishing corporation known as the Sky Castle Network and Enterprises (a.k.a. the SCENE) agrees to grant him his ultimate wish to be someone different, he must work for his reward. Becoming a super-powered agent for the organization, Will teams up with a celestial wish agent with delusions of Hollywood stardom, a shape-changing half-Genie, a narcoleptic Dreamweaver and a stick-in-the-mud wish lawyer. Together, they grant the wishes of Will’s classmates and family members, helping the same people who pick on Will every day. As if these challenges weren’t enough, there’s a mystery surrounding his peculiar grandmother and a malevolent force bent on enslaving humanity. In order for his dream to come true, Will may have to fight for not only the wish but also for the entire world!

My Review:

The idea behind “Wishing Will” is incredibly cool and original. I really enjoyed this story–the character development is great, and the struggles Will has to overcome are very real struggles that kids can relate to. You end up liking everyone in this story–the good guys anyway–they all have their faults and foibles, which is what makes them interesting.

The story is definitely unique and has some great twists and turns to it. It isn’t too long or too short–just right for a middle grade book. There are quite a few characters
though, and sometimes I had a hard time keeping track of them, and because of that, the story got a little confusing in places, but not enough to put a damper on the fun of reading this. I’d definitely recommend this to kids–and adults too!

Get it here: AMAZON

 

 

Book Review: Jack Templar Monster Hunter

4-stars

 

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00040]Book Title: Jack Templar Monster Hunter

Middle Grade Fantasy

Author: Jeff Gunhus

About the Book:

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack’s fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he’s the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he’s destined to be in the family business. Second, that there’s a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits…until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren’t enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the “One?” Why do the monsters want him dead so badly?  Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

My Review:

This is a fun start to the series. I enjoyed it–it had just enough of a different twist to make it interesting. There’s a lot of action to keep kids’ interest, a bunch of gory monster fights, lots of surprising twists and turns, and a neat background story. I liked how Jack starts this book with a warning to all readers (although I thought it went on a little too long) on how if you read the book, you’re now under the curse of being a monster hunter too (kind of like “The Ring” curse, for kids). The character development was pretty good; I especially enjoyed Jack’s friends, the snarky Will and the wussy but determined T-Rex.

The crux of the story pretty much all takes place in one night, and I did feel like everything happened a little too fast, but I think that’s what the author intended. By the end, nothing was what it seemed like at the beginning, and I never felt like the story dragged, and the ending does set up the scene for following adventures.

This book will probably appeal more to boys than girls, but I think any kid into monsters and some mythology will enjoy this story.

 

Book Blast: Blackout

Blackout_1563x2500_300dpi copy 2Check out Madeline Henry’s new YA book BLACKOUT!
One wall divides life from darkness. After the worldwide Blackout, America built a concrete wall—the Frontier—across the middle of the nation to isolate its precious electricity in the top half. Everyone below the Frontier was forsaken, and now only a few survive in the grim region known as the Dark Zone.
Sixteen year old Phoenix Troublefield endures the dark with his girlfriend, Star Windsong. When America announces that it will trade electricity for immigrants, Phoenix and Star sacrifice themselves for the power that might save her younger brother. On the other side of the Frontier, they find America is not what they expected, and instead they are thrown into a shocking and deeply personal contest that threatens to destroy their love. When the chance comes to escape back into the Dark Zone, it may already be too late.
 
Check out the book and author here:
 
The BOOK TRAILER:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Madeleine Henry was born and raised in New York. This spring, she graduated from Yale University and began her adult life in New York City.
Madeleine majored in psychology and wrote her senior essay on the extreme popularity of the Twilight book series. In college, she also ran a marathon and had a brief but enthusiastic stint as a stand-up comedienne.
BLACKOUT is Madeleine’s first book. Parts of the story are drawn from two weeks she spent foraging for food and water in desert Utah while enrolled in a survival skills field course. She has since recovered.

Book Review: Hello, Bali

4.5-stars

 

 

Hello Bali

Title: Hello, Bali: A Kids Yoga Island Adventure Book

Author: Giselle Shardlow

Illustrator: Emily Gedzyk

About the Book:

Say good day to the magical island of Bali! Join Anamika, one of the Yoga Kids, as she travels with her family to Bali, Indonesia. Surf like a surfer, dance like a Balinese dancer, and sit like a monkey.

The book includes a list of Kids Yoga Poses, Map of Bali, Basic Indonesian Phrases, and a Parent-Teacher Guide with tips on creating a successful yoga experience. This yoga book for toddlers and preschoolers (ages 2 to 5) is more than a storybook, but it’s also a unique experience for children.

My Review:
Well, I love Bali, and I try to love yoga! I enjoyed this book–how the author intertwined a story with the simple yoga poses. The illustrations were great, the writing simple and easy for kids to understand. I liked how the author infused the Balinese culture into the book. Makes me want to go back to Bali! And maybe do some yoga too :D
If you have a kid who’s interested in yoga, or if you want to get your kids interesting, get them this book. Easy to follow, easy to read, this book will get your kids up and moving!
Buy at: Amazon      Barnes & Noble

Book Blast: Prince Iggy & the Kingdom of Naysayer

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer

About the Book

Title: Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer | Author: Aldo Fynn | Illustrator: Richie Vicencio | Publication Date: November 5,2013 | Publisher: Boa Press, LLC. | Pages: 156 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Summary: All Iggy Rose wants is for the kids at the Naysayer Academy to like him, and one special girl in particular. But instead, he gets teased and taunted. Every day, he eats alone in the cafeteria and gets beaten up after school on the playground. But when a cruel prank leads to Iggy’s escape from the academy, a wild, unimaginable adventure begins.

Why is King Naysayer offering a hefty reward for Iggy’s capture? When Iggy joins forces with an eclectic cast of characters, he discovers the answer. But before he can escape from the kingdom of Naysayer, Iggy must first reclaim what is rightfully his. Does this sad, lonely boy have the courage to battle the biggest school bully, a mean headmistress, and a greedy, cruel king? Will Iggy finally believe in himself and discover his true destiny?

 

Purchase

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Print)

 

The Buzz

“An entertaining fantasy with a quirky, inventive storyline that shows how things invariably turn out badly for bullies.” Kirkus Reviews

“The book is going to be devoured by readers of any type, whether they’re looking for some fun fiction, a comical read, or a page-turner.” 5 Star Review, San Francisco Book Review

“Fynn’s book reminded me a bit of Harry Potter, but he adds his own cast of characters and a boy (Iggy), fun dialogue, and an amazing story that you can’t help but root for. If you are looking for a great book to get your kids hooked on, then I recommend the Prince Iggy series.” 5 Star Review, The Pen and Muse Book Reviews, Amazon

“Has the flavor of a Dickens and a Harry Potter story while remaining wholly original. It just shares those characteristics that make it such an enjoyable read. This book should be on every child’s must read list and if I’m to be perfectly honest it should be on every adults list too. It has enough subtle adult humor well within its boundaries to make it an entertaining read for the parents too. It certainly has a modern message. It shows just how heartbreaking bullying can be by children as well as adults. It’s a story about losing yourself and finding yourself. It shows being a bully doesn’t pay off but believing in yourself does.” 5 Star Review, April S., Amazon

 

About the Author: Aldo Fynn

Aldo FynnAldo Fynn enjoys writing wacky, fantastical stories. Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer is his debut novel. It’s the first book in the Adventures of Prince Iggy Series. He’s also written two wacky, laugh-out-loud picture books. He lives under his desk and promises he won’t come out until Book 3 in the series is complete. Which is a shame because his desk is based in Los Angeles, where it’s sunny and 70 degrees most of the year.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: June 4, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

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Book Review: Big Honey Dog Mysteries

4-stars

 

 

HoneyTitle: Big Honey Dog Mysteries: A Secret in Time

Author: H.Y. Hanna

Middle Grade Fantasy/Mystery

Book Description:

Haunted dog show. Jealous rivals. Serious slobber.
When Honey the Great Dane arrives at a dog show, the last thing she expects to meet is her doggie doppelgänger! But things get even stranger when her famous ‘twin’ is poisoned and Honey is asked to take her place in the show ring… She soon finds
that the glamorous world of champions hides some ugly secrets. Are the Showgrounds really haunted by a Phantom Hound? What really happened ten years ago when a mysterious fire claimed two lives? And just how far will someone go to win the title of ‘Best in Show’?

My Review:

Like the first book in the series, I was slightly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. I’m not the greatest fan of giving animals human characteristics–especially like being able to read–but the story is clever enough so I find I really don’t care that the dogs can translate writings and crazy things like that. I just enjoy the mystery for what it is.

The dogs all have great personalities–excuse me, doginalities–and that’s what makes these stories so entertaining, along with the mystery the dogs end up getting embroiled in. I’ve got my favorites–Ruffster and Biscuit especially–but Honey is the dog who binds them all together. I’d say this Great Dane was a direct descendent of Scooby Doo, except Honey is both braver and slobbier.

The mystery is just complex enough to keep kids guessing, but not so complicated that they’ll lose interest. This time around, Hanna doesn’t expose us to a cool mythological mystery, but there is a spooky phantom in it, so the supernatural shivers are still there, to be enjoyed by readers.

I still crack up at the dogs’ use of “pee-mail,” and Hanna peppers the story with other clever doggie inventions as well. The book is a little long, but it should hold kid’s interest, and will definitely capture the imagination of any dog-lover out there!

Buy this book at:         Amazon      Barnes & Noble

Author sites:  Goodreads     Website

Book Review: Chasing Xaris

4-stars

 

 

 

xarisBook Title: Chasing Xaris

Author: Samantha Bennett

Book Description:

Chandler Bloom starts her day like every other—on her surfboard and away from her smothering grandparents. It’s the only way she’s been able to cope since the hit-and-run that killed her parents two years ago. But when a shark nearly turns Chandler into breakfast, a loner surfer named Ari saves her life. Which is great, except that he also triggers new questions about her parents’ deaths. Before Chandler can ask him more, Ari disappears.

Desperate for answers, Chandler decides to track down Ari with the help of her best friend Jordan, a surfer guy who’s totally in love with her. The search leads to Ari’s home—a hidden island that can only be found with a form of light called xaris. But Chandler isn’t the only one searching for the island or the unearthly elements found there. Her parents died protecting it, and if Chandler doesn’t come to grips with what she’s really chasing, she could be next.

My Review:

This is a quick, fun read that teens, especially girls would enjoy. It’s got romance, intrigue, mystery, and surfing, and is well written. I liked the idea of this story; the hidden island and the xaris, even the strange group that lived on it. The book was easy to read and kept my interest.

However, I do think parts were rushed. It was also hard for me to believe some of it. This didn’t really make it any less interesting to read, but I would have liked the story a little more complete. It is mostly an action story, some reflection but I was left with a few unanswered questions by the end of it.

But Samantha Bennett does write in a nice, flowing way, and the situations and characters will appeal to teens.

Check out Samantha Bennett here:  Website     Amazon Page    Goodreads

Purchase Chasing Xaris here:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble