Monday, June 29, 2015

Almost Magic

Image result for almost magic 

Apple Bramblewood comes from a good, magical family.  But, she is having trouble fitting in and learning the spells herself.  Her older sister doesn't have any trouble but so far Apple has had to be homeschooled and can't seem to get anything right.  Then odd things start happening - she helps locate a necklace, she has dealings with an alien, she finds a dragon's egg, and she starts attracting objects.  When she loses her journal and then attracts an evil magician when she tries to get it back, Apple must pull all her resources and friends together to save the world.

At first the book seemed disjointed and just seemed to bounce around to different events and didn't seem to tie together at all.  But, in the end everything comes together.  This hasn't been my favorite book but overall I liked it.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Me likey!!!!  

Nels has wanted to be a knight for as long as he can remember but his reclusive, overprotective mother won't let him out of her sight.  It isn't until Nels dies that he finds out the secrets of his past.  Now he has to convince the Princess, Tyra, to help him find a mysterious needle so he can be woven back into his body and "mend what has been torn".

This was a fun fantasy.  I loved the characters of Nels and Tyra and their developing relationship.  There was good action and movement throughout.  It was a decent length.  If it is going to be a series it wasn't overly obvious which is good.  I felt that the ending was a bit off with Bosh disappearing and the rumor of Tyra being engaged to Arek and then it was resolved pretty quickly.  Other than that I really enjoyed the book.

Certain Poor Shepherds

Oh the bane of the reprint.  Again, didn't know it was a reprint when I saw and requested it on NetGalley.  So, it isn't eligible for MSBA.  I liked it well enough.  I don;t typically like stories with animals as a main character but this was kind of sweet.  There was a bit more sadness to it than I liked.  Also, I felt there should have been more about the actual Christmas Story - like why didn't the animals hear the angels singing?  Anyway...cute but probably not something I will buy.

The Ghastly McNastys: Raiders of the Lost Shark


First of all when I requested this on NetGalley I didn't not know it was in a series and not first.  I had never heard of it.  Second, while I can appreciate that many kids enjoy reading the over the top, silly stories...I don't think I have enough of an audience to justify this.  There were parts that I found slightly amusing but for the most part I didn't really enjoy it...sorry.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


This is the story of "book".  From the scrolling (rolling) days, to papyrus, the alphabet, moveable type, and even to the eBook.  This book follows the history of the written word.  It was interesting but having the "book" as the narrator was a little odd and I felt disjointed at times.

The Tale of Rescue

Image result for tale of rescue 

This was a nice little bog about a herding dog who rescued a lost family during a blizzard.  It was only a bit over 100 pages.  The thing I didn't like was the epilogue where the boy from the family went back to where it all happened many years later.  I think the book would have been just as good or even better without that.

The Memory Game

Image result for the memory game book sant 

Okay, I will open up with the "I'm Bumming" part first.  NetGalley shows this is published in April 2015 but when I stated looking at the look it looks like it was first published in 2013 as an eBook.  Bummer because....

This was really good.  The story opens with David's death.  He hasn't moved on, he attends his funeral, sees his parents, sees his best friend making out with the girl he liked...  Then someone actually sees him...Bethany.  Ironically, she is the girl no one else sees.  David starts hanging out with Bethany and they become friends.  Together they try to figure out why David is still around.  While there are hints leading up to what Bethany is struggling with it isn't until the climactic ending that everything comes together.

Beautiful, tragic, sweet in it's simplicity.  Too mature really for my age level and not eligible for MSBA anyway.  But a good book.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Emperor of Any Place

Image result for emperor anyplace 

Wow, this book was something.  In a way it reminded me of Kensuke's Kingdom but then again not so much.  This book alternates between events that happen now - the death of Evan's father, the arrival of his grandfather Griff, and a mysterious book.  The book tells the story of a Japaneses soldier stranded on an island, an American soldier also stranded on the island, and Evan's grandfather Griff.  What really happened on the island that Griff doesn't want people to find out about?

With a mix of ghosts, zombies, war, and regret this was a really powerful book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it except for the f-bombs.  Because of the searing I will not have this in my library and I don't feel I can recommend it for MSBA but I would recommend it to young adult readers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence

  Image result for zodiac convergence

When Steven follows the sounds of screaming and a mysterious tour guide he stumbles upon an ancient cavern with zodiac symbols.  There, an evil mastermind, Maxwell, is trying to harness the power of the zodiac - starting with the dragon.  This convergence is interrupted by the tour guide and her helper Carlos.  Steven gets himself caught up in the middle and finds himself with the power of the Tiger.  Maxwell would like to get all the powers under his control but Jasmine, Carlos, and Steven know they need to find the people who inherited the powers that got away and keep them from being caught by Maxwell.

The author is listed as Stan Lee (yes, that Stan Lee) and Stuart Moore.  The book - though long - has illustrations throughout and a very comic book, action feel.  It is the first in a series but ends well.  I enjoyed the book quite a bit.

I did forget to mention the two typos I found on page 57 - both within the same paragraph.  One was the word we'ev.  The other was the use of know instead of now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Symphony for the City of the Dead

Image result for symphony for the city of the dead 

This was not what I was expecting at all.  Maybe I didn't read the description carefully enough but I missed that it was non-fiction.  I was thinking a fictionalized account of some sort.  But...even though it wasn't what I was good.  This book told the story of Dmitri Shostakovich, a composer who grew up in St. Petersburg (later Leningrad) and lived through the Revolution, the rule of Lenin, Stalin, and WWII and who wrote symphonies.  The symphony in the title was his 7th which was written and first performed during the siege of Leningrad during WWII. Although at points the author had to concede to possible errors due to the conflicting accounts and censorship in the Soviet Union, this was a powerful portrait of the composer's life and what was happening in Leningrad.  For students who love history and music this will be an interesting read.  I feel that it is too mature for my particular audience and even for the MSBA list.