Friday, September 29, 2017

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths

Max's life is a bit out of control.  His mom is very sick, his dad has stopped working to take care of her and as a result they aren't paying their bills.  When his mom and dad leave to seek treatment, Max is left with his cousin Alex.  As they are looking for things to sell to try to pay the bills they stumble upon an old chest and document left by none other than Jules Verne, a distant relative.  But Max isn't the only one interested in the chest, document, and the treasure it promises.  As Alex and Max embark on a worldwide journey they discover that Jules Verne's works may have not all been fantasy and a storybook villain may also have a relative.

There was lots of action and adventure here.  Lots of dead beat parents lately - just leaving Max with bills left unpaid.  But, kids won't mind.  It is the first in a series so some things were left unfinished.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Olive and the Backstage Ghost

Olive is under a lot of pressure.  She loves to sing but her mom, a former musician and actress, makes so many demands.  When a audition goes wrong, Olive runs away and discovers a vintage theater where she sings her heart out. Much to her surprise the theater owner, Maude, asks Olive to be in her play.  As things get worse at home, Olive spends more and more time at the theater with her new family.  But a runaway who hangs around the theater warns her that not everything is as it seems.  Has Olive found her true family or is it all an illusion?

Deliciously creepy!!!  I wish there had been a bit more back story of Maude and also Olive's dad but other than that I really liked it.

All's Faire in Middle School

When it is Renaissance Faire season, Imogene's whole family gets involved.  Her dad is an actor, he mom has a shop, and this year Imogene gets to be a squire which means mainly helping her dad and scooping up horse droppings.  But still, she gets to be involved, play with kids.  For the most part she loves this part of her life.

But, Imogene made a big decision this year.  Instead of being homeschooled she is going to attend middle school.  She doesn't know exactly how to fit in, make friends, and navigate the pitfalls.  Can Imogene learn to fit in and be true to herself?

I loved this!!!  It is a glimpse into Renaissance Faire culture but so much more.  It tackles middle school issues in a fresh way.  The illustrations are charming.  What a winner!

Paper Chains

Katie and Ana have just started to be friends.  They are getting used to each other and learning to trust but it's hard when they both has issues with trusting others.
Katie was adopted and has always wondered about her birth parents.  But it seems like her adopted parents know things they aren't telling her.  And they are so protective because of her heart issues.

Ana's family was perfect until her hockey playing dad left them when he joined another team.  Now her mom is a mess.  Ana is trying to keep things going for her brother and take care of her mom.  When her Babushka comes to help Ana is more confused and angry than ever.

Can the two girls learn to trust each other and fix their families?

Overall I liked this but I think I wanted a bit more at the end.  When there was an accident I felt some anticipation for a bigger ending and then...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Curious Chronicles of Jack Bokimble...

I am not really sure how I feel about this.  It was definitely unique and humorous in places but it was also pretty odd.

Jack Bokimble has an interesting talent.  He can control his shadow.  His shadow can touch things, feel things, carry things and can move around wherever it is projected.  Jack thinks it is pretty cool and feels like his shadow is his best friend.  But, when he tries to share this unique talent with people outside his own family they are afraid of him.  So how to proceed?  Ignore his talent or use it for good?

So...  I think they are some kids who will like this quirky book so I am debating whether to purchase...  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Once You Know This

Brittany's life is not what she would like it to be.  Her new teacher wants her to see a bright future but it's hard when you are living in poverty in Chicago.  Her mom's boyfriend is abusive, her beloved Grannie is getting old and forgetful, her brother is sickly, and her mom is scared and tired.  When her Grannie gets a letter from her younger brother in Alabama, Brittany starts developing a Plan B.  

What happens is...  once the doors open, once there seems to be a possible way out, once hope becomes evident... then things can start changing.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chasing Augustus

It has been a year since Rosie's papa had a stroke.  A year that she has lived with her grandfather.  A year since her mom gave away her dog.  A year of anger, disappointment, and bad grades.  All along Rosie has been trying to find her dog Augustus.  

There were parts I liked - Rosie's dedication to her dog mainly but...  Rosie was not very nice and overall she didn't seem to grow much.  I also didn't like the "retribution" given to a town bully with no consequence.  I also wish the father had played a bigger role because even when she finally went to see him there wasn't much about it.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker

Add Beatrice Zinker to names like Ramona, Junie B. and Clementine.  Beatrice's way of looking at the world is fresh and fun.  In this first installment Beatrice has a plan with her best friend Lenny which involves spying.  But, on the first day of school Beatrice finds out that Lenny has changed over the summer and is playing with a new girl Chloe.  Can Beatrice think of a creative way to keep her best friend and adjust to some changes?

Caleb and Kit

Kit says they were destined to be friends.  Caleb says he was just taking a walk.  Regardless of whether it was destiny or chance, Caleb and Kit met one day in the wood's behind Caleb's house and started a magical friendship that lasted the summer and helped both of escape their reality, even if it was only temporary.

Caleb has Cystic Fibrosis.  The book lays it out well - more so than other books I have read.  Caleb's disease affects his home life - his brother and mother are very protective, his dad couldn't deal with it so he left.  It also affects his friendships, his confidence, the way he treats others.  Kit seems like a breath of fresh air as she tells Caleb to just do what he wants which includes skipping out on camp everyday to hang out with Kit.  But slowly Caleb realizes that Kit is hiding a terrible secret.  Can their friendship survive Caleb's disease, Kit's secret, and the truth?

I really enjoyed this.  I wish there had been a bit more about the time Caleb and Kit spent together though.  The story really focused more on Caleb and his attempt at a bit of freedom.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library

When Eddie's Aunt Min goes missing Eddie feels he has to go save her.  She went to the school library days ago and never returned.  The school library?  What's the big deal?  Well, it is a big deal when you belong to a family of bugs living in the wall behind an old chalkboard and the library is way down the hall.  Eddie has to find out what happened to Aunt Min and he really wants to see the library.  When he gets to the library he finds Aunt Min injured.  But things get worse from there.  The wonderful librarian goes on maternity leave after giving birth to triplets and the new substitute (and her brother who is the superintendent) want to get rid of the librarian and turn it into a testing center.  Can Eddie help others to see the value of the library before it's too late.

I loved this book in a way a school librarian whose program has been threatened would.  I loved the allusions to popular children's books and Eddie's tenacity.  The question will be whether readers enjoy it as much.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Monster, Human, Other

Wren and Isaac have traded places.  Isaac is a monster who lives with a family of humans.  In turn, their daughter Wren, lives with a family of monsters.  This exchange program is supposed to improve relations between the two races but it's not really working.  Then to top it off another race, the Voracans, are on the move.  When the Voracans kidnap Isaac, his adopted parents are actually accused of killing him.  Can Wren figure out where Isaac is and come to the rescue?

This was a pretty interesting story.  The two kids were both likable and the plot was done well. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Loved the connection to girls and coding plus some important digital citizenship lessons as well.  This was a great middle school book.

Allie spent her summer at a coding camp where she developed a game called Click'd.  It was so good that she has been asked to present the game at a Games for Good competition.  Unfortunately her nemesis, Nathan, has a game that was also chosen.  

Worried that her game, that promotes friendship, might not have enough "good" she decides to release it to her school early to get success stories.  Unfortunately she soon discovers an issue with the app choosing pictures out of a device's camera roll instead of just from Instagram which leads to some embarrassing situations.  Can she fix her popular game before the competition.

Really liked this!!!  It will be a great discussion starter.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ban This Book

Amy is an avid reader - it is her escape from her crazy family.  In fact, she would love to run away just like the characters in her favorite book, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler.  Imagine her surprise then when she finds that her favorite book and others have been removed from the library shelves.  While the school board debates, the eager parent keeps removing books, and the librarian gets fired Amy decides to start a secret library in her locker of all the books that have been banned.  But can Amy truly stand up for what she believes and can she make a difference?

The hardest part about this book was believing that the characters were 4th graders.  I think if they had been 6th graders I could have "bought" it more.  Other than that I enjoyed the book and its message.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Guardian's of the Gryphon's Claw

Sam London is pretty average.  He has tried to find something he is good at but...  nothing.  He does love to read about cryptids but that's not really a skill.  Then he starts having weird dreams for weeks of being out in the desert near a gas station and a rock formation.  Each time he dreams he gets farther until one night he meets a gryphon in the dream.  The next day he sees the location from his dream on tv and decides to go there.  Then, he meets a real gryphon and life as he knew it is changed forever because cryptids are real, they have just been cursed to be invisible to humans.

Filled with action, adventure, mythical creatures, twists, and turns this was a fun fantasy.  There was a strong hint of a sequel at the end but it didn't really leave one hanging.  I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastatlantic

This is a really interesting concept.  The earth has changed as a result of a Time Collision.  Now people from different eras have been forced to live together in a much altered world.  Diego's father, Santiago is a genius builder and has created steam substitutes since electricity no longer works.  But there are those who do not like the way the world is now and would seek to turn things back if they could.  

Diego's father is kidnapped early in the book and Diego and his friends Petey, Lucy, and Paige join a band of pirates who are going to rescue Santiago and others.

First, the illustrations.  My eBook version is not doing them any justice - I am sure they are beautiful in the physical copy and in color.  

I loved the concept but ...  for my library the characters are too old and there is a bit too much romance (that to me bordered on cheesy - but maybe that's my age).  I think this could find a place in a junior high library and I did like the Steam Punk feel of it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Eye of the North

Oh, I struggled with this book.  It took me a long time to read.  I just never felt invested.  The book jumped from Emmeline to Thing (yes, that is a character's name) every few pages and it was jarring to me.  I never really understood the whole point or got to know the villain(s) much at all or at least not til the very end.  Soory, didn't work for me.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Notations of Cooper Cameron

Ever since the death of his grandfather 2 years earlier Cooper has felt compulsions - read every word three times, count his chews, wash his hands, and protect the rest of his family any way he can.  No one really seems to understand what is going on.  His mom is supportive in a way but isn't really helping, his sister is in turns understanding and extremely frustrated, and his dad is downright awful.  His mom, sister, and Cooper decide to spend the summer at the grandfather's cottage.  There Cooper suffers mostly in silence - with some instances of happiness or friendship.  Unfortunately, every time his father comes to visit things get worse.  In time Cooper starts to work his own way through and by the ending there is hope that he is really getting  better.

I get what the author was doing, especially after reading the author's note.  I had a hard time reading the book though because I was so frustrated for Cooper and the lack of help and understanding he was receiving and his father's treatment was awful.  I could see the hope by the end but overall the book was very sad for me.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart

Aventurine is a dragon who longs for adventure but her dragon family will make her stay in the cave until she is 30.  Instead, she escapes, eager to prove that she can survive and maybe even find her passion in life.  What she finds instead is chocolate.  The smell of it draws her in and she meets a many making hot chocolate.  She demands that he give her some before she eats him.  Unfortunately for her he is a food mage and he is able to magically inject the hot chocolate with something that turns her into a human.

How can Aventurine survive as a human and even more importantly can she still pursue her new passion of chocolate?  

This was a lot of fun - a lighter fantasy combining two of my favorite things - dragons and chocolate.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball

Leon (Americanized name) and his older brother have been sent from China to study in America.  The goal is to learn English and to learn more about technical advances and then take that knowledge back to China with them.  At first, Carson (Americanized name) the older brother seems to have all the advantages - age, he was a better student in China, and as eldest he deserves more respect.  But whether it is from his injury on the train when robbers strike, disappointment over a failed love interest, or just an inability to learn English, Carson soon becomes bitter and angry which leaves Leon wondering if he should continue to obey his older brother or strive for his American education.

This was a strong historical fiction book and a good luck at the difficulties any immigrant might experience but particularly the Chinese experience in the 1800s.