First of all, this cover is AMAZING! It is the kind of cover that made me not even care what the book was about, I knew I wanted to read it. And I lucked out because what was under the cover was good too!
This is a non-fiction account of Olive MacLeod. In 1910, she found out that her fiancé had gone missing while in Africa. So…she packed her bags and went to find him. Olive MacLeod is the kind of woman I would have liked to know. She was fiercely independent, wildly disregarding of the early 1900’s social restrictions, and extremely adventurous!
A Curse of Mayhem was a wonderful next book in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series! This is a middle-grade fantasy story filled with magic and adventure!
The story begins six months after the end of the first book, The Frights of Fiji. 13-year-old Alyssa is living with Alex, someone who supports her and believes in her, which is such a nice change from her uncle in book 1. She has put magic behind her…or so she thought. But then, she is cursed by a skeleton named Errol. The curse causes mayhem in Alyssa’s life.
Errol’s curse gives Alyssa magic that is out of control. It causes all kinds of problems that give the book an exciting sense of adventure. Alyssa, ultimately, must defeat Errol to overcome her curse, but can she do it?
The Frights of Fiji is a fun middle-grade adventure with characters that are easy to connect to and a story that children will enjoy!
The story follows Alyssa, a young girl who lost her parents when she was only 7 years old and now lives with her less-than-perfect uncle. As she works to understand her new situation and how to deal with a caretaker who is not so caring, her life takes another crazy turn!
In her window, a message appears:
“Your life will never be the same again, as magic will interfere.”
Alyssa is kidnapped by a sorcerer, Master Beau, who has lost his powers and is hoping that she is the key to gaining them back. For Alyssa to escape, she must beat Master Beau. Does she have the strength and power to do it?
The world that Debbie L Richardson built for Dog Town was adorable! I loved the separation of the big dogs and the little dogs into two different parts of town: Big Rover and Little Rover. There are dog laws that must be followed and rules that, while not laws, are obeyed just the same. It was easy to drop right into this world and enjoy the story.
How I Felt:
The characters are so easy to love. Harry, a Little Rover resident, is the main character and is a good boy who follows Dog Law…well mostly. He loves running and enters the little dog races all the time. When he wins, he secretly leads a group of dogs into Big Rover, which is against Dog Law. So, maybe, there’s one or two laws he likes to break 😃 Harry’s group of friends, Junior and Fleabag are great sidekicks for him, each offering a different personality that makes them an adorable trio.
The adventure and excitement in Legends of Lost Causes Series was perfect for middle-grade readers! I loved the mixture of old west location and fantasy creatures. It created an excellent story that a young reader would love!
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
How I Felt:
Legends of the Lost Causes features Keech and Sam, two orphans living in the wild west. The time frame and bad-guys for this book make it extremely unique. Set in the 1850s, it has that old feel, yet there are zombie-ish outlaws and magic. The two together created this amazing adventure that I’m sure little readers will love.
I am unable to say the right words to express to you just how much I loved this book. The author’s ability to utterly hypnotize me with her words was wonderful. I was 100% invested in Wildland and could not put it down. What an excellent job Rebecca Hodge has done with this book!
The Story: The idea of this book is pretty interesting. A music box that grants wishes to those that are without malicious intent. If you do have malicious intent…well who knows what will happen.
The Plot: I feel like I still have a few questions about things that happened in this book. There were things eluded to early on that I’m not sure if I ended up getting the whole answer or not. Some people really enjoy when a book doesn’t tie up lose ends, so this wouldn’t bother every reader. Overall, the plot and progression of the story were find. The book is fairly short, so it moves quickly. Each next step that the group takes made sense to me. They followed the clues and continued down their path. There were times were I felt that we went a bit too fast. For example: I would have liked a bit more information on how the trio went from reading the story of the music box to their next step. I felt like it was a huge gap in the story and my mind wasn’t able to fill in how the three of them decided on this course of action.
The Characters: I did not connect with any of the characters the entire way through this book. I honestly felt like all three of them are jerks, and kind of deserve what life has to throw at them. This was my biggest point of struggle with reading this book. It’s hard to be invested in a story when you don’t care for the characters. I want to stress that this issue is truly a personal one. You may pick this book up and completely connect with one or all of the characters. I just found that they were not people I cared to know.
Editing: There were some minor editing errors every few chapters, but that could get cleaned up in a second edition. Overall, I was not terribly affected by these. I would sometimes have to go back and re-read a sentence, but it was fine.
To Read or Not To Read: Overall, I found this story to be an interesting one. While I did not connect with any characters, I did WANT to know what was going to happen. I would recommend this for readers that:
Enjoy historical settings, as this book seems to be placed somewhere in the past
Victor’s father has just been murdered and he is wandering the streets in the aftermath. Previously the son in a wealthy family, the King’s Guard has seized his father’s assets and unless he returns to his home in another town, he cannot claim any of the funds. He is now penniless.
Having spent his last few coins, he wanders aimlessly through this foreign town. He is attacked in the street and then stumbles across the doorstep of Sabrina who happily takes him in.
Here, he meets Bella and gets to know Sabrina. While he seems always wary and untrusting of both of them, he agrees to a wild plot to track down a long-lost music box that grands wishes and dreams. Together the three of them embark on an adventure to follow the clues that could lead them to the mysterious music box. This trip, however, is much more dangerous than any of them could have dreamed.
Blind Man’s Song by Alexandra Killworth
Page Count: 180 pages
Pub Date: November 20, 2019
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my honest, unbiased review voluntarily.
What I Loved: Vince Ramsey, our main character, is so savvy and makes for a great lead in Realm of the Unknown. I enjoyed his character the moment he entered the book. He’s knowledgeable and reads people well and I felt that he made decisions I understood and agreed with.
How I Felt: The writing in Realm of the Unknown was done so well! The descriptions of the locations in the book gave me such a great visualization of the scene! I was hooked on this book from the very beginning. The prologue gives you that sense of urgency and danger immediately, and I mean from the first sentence!
I appreciated the pace this book set. The action starts right at the beginning and I don’t think it ever slowed down! The story quickly built layer upon layer and felt a bit like The Da Vinci Code. Tons of occult and secret societies, then add the assassins that are after the main character and it all made for a fabulous read.
To Read or Not To Read: If you enjoy Dan Brown’s books, you will definitely enjoy Realm of the Unknown! A fast-paced, action packed book with lots of secrets to be revealed.
Vince Ramsey is an investigator of artifacts at the Ministry in Israel, so he’s used to getting calls to check one thing or another out. He receives a call to investigate a mass murder that took place the day before and jumps right on it. At the scene he finds the remnants of a much older corpse and with it, an artifact.
Taking it with him, he starts to research the item’s history and begins working with April, another historical professional. They quickly realize this is no ordinary artifact and they have stirred up a ton of trouble asking questions about it. With assassins on their tails, they must get the answers they need before it is too late.
Realm of the Unknown by James B. McPike
Book 1 in Ramsey Series
Page Count: 329 pages
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing
Publication Date: December 11, 2019
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
What I Loved: The main character Kick is EVERYTHING! She is adorable and funny and full of energy and smarts! I loved her adventure and was so glad she was written the way she was. She is the perfect example of being who you really are.
How I Felt: The Monster Hypothesis has such a fun story that had me so interested in the story. The main character, Kick is into science and I really loved how that was woven into the story. We always need more science in our children’s lives and this book makes science so fun!
To Read or Not To Read: This book is perfect for middle graders that enjoy a little bit of spooky and mystery! My third grader can’t wait to start this one!
Kick is starting a new school in a new town while she temporarily moves in with her grandmother, a fake psychic. After a trio of mean girls set their targets on her, she tells everyone that she is a psychic like her grandmother.
With her newly exposed (and fake) abilities, people turn to her to help with the town’s curse. Every 100 years, the town’s children will turn into monsters. Believing this curse to be fake, she tries to figure out this mystery. The clues, though, begin to make it look like this curse might actually be real. Using her science knowledge and her friend’s help, she creates theories and tests them to figure out this curse.
The Monster Hypothesis by Romily Bernard Audience: Children’s Middle Grade Page Count: 304 pages Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Pub. Date: December 10, 2019
Romily Bernard graduated from Georgia State University with a literature degree. Since then, she’s worked as a riding instructor, cell-phone salesperson, personal assistant, horse groomer and exercise rider, accounting assistant, and, during a very dark time, customer service representative. . . . She’s also, of course, now a YA novelist.
So don’t let anyone tell you a BA degree will keep you unemployed.
Romily currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and Find Me is her debut novel. It placed first in the 2011 YA Unpublished Maggie Awards (given by Georgia Romance Writers) and won the Golden Heart Award for YA Romance from the Romance Writers of America in 2012.
What I Loved: Catt and Simon are an adorable pair of superheros! Their inner thoughts and their dialog are fun and extremely entertaining! I found myself utterly enjoying their adventures!
How I Felt:With the Curiosity of a Cat is written with the perfect amount of adventure for a young reader. While it has an overarching plot, there are little adventures that immediately grab the attention of the reader. Very early in the book, Catt and Simon have a skydiving incident that leads them to the discovery of the monkeys that are trapping and selling animals to the zoo. This experience gave me a chance to see how the two characters react in strange situations and got me ready to sit back and enjoy the action!
Content Warnings: None.
To Read or Not To Read:With the Curiosity of a Cat is book 2 in the series Superhero School, however, I have not read the first book in the series, and felt that it was not necessary to enjoy and understand book two. However, based on how much fun book 2 was, I think book 1 will be just as great! This book is perfect for any second grader through late-elementary age student. It is a chapter book, but incorporates illustrations every so often to help the reader visualize.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
A group of Superhero animal friends, led by Catt, the cat, and Simon, the mouse, must stop the monkeys! These evil beasts are trapping animals and selling them to the zoo!
Catt and Simon discover this terrible plot after accidentally parachuting into the jungle. Ready to rescue the poor, trapped animals, but without a good group to back them up, Catt and Simon mail themselves home to round up the troupes and devise a rescue plan.
Where To Find This Book:
Interested in the Whole Series?
Book 1: With the Courage of a Mouse by Donna Sager Cowan
Catt the cat is without a home or even a real name. After she is dumped in an alley, snarling dogs chase her straight through a hidden portal and into Sweet Meadows.
Catt sees a mouse fall from the sky. He’s not just any mouse, he is wearing a vest and coat.
Simon Cheddar is a mouse with a plan. He’s also a collector. He likes to recycle, but he feels safer with full pockets. Simon wants to be a Superhero, so he enrolled at the Superhero School in Sweet Meadows. Today is his first class and he doesn’t want to miss a thing.
Outside Sweet Meadows, in Mouseville, Simon’s home is attacked by cats. Everyone suspects Catt, except Simon. Did she do it? Or, is she being set up?
Where to Find This Book:
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
What I Loved: Ben’s imagination is huge and I loved it! Not only did he imagine away his classroom, he took me with him. I loved the way the story developed from clearly being in a classroom, to the beginnings of an imagined story, then onto full-blown Big Top Fun!
How I Felt: I grabbed this book, *again* because the title and cover drew me in. I, as per usual, did not read the synopsis. So, I was very excited and surprised when I realized that we weren’t going on a field trip, we were going to use our imagination, and it made the book so wonderful. I read this with my daughter, and she was loving every page. She had questions here and there about something; she was fully invested in this book.
To Read or Not To Read: This is a book that any toddler through 1st grade would enjoy. The imagination theme will offer some good question/answer time afterwards if you would like.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
Ben and his siblings are headed to school. As they start to sit for carpet time, Ben looks around and envisions things slightly different. His teacher is a teacher, but might just be . . . a ringmaster, the child throwing blocks is maybe . . . a juggler. We get to experience a day at the circus through the eyes of Ben. It is an adorable story that all children will love.
Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation: Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation was founded in partner with the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley spring 2017 by Rob & Elizabeth Gerlach close to a year after they lost Benjamin. Ben Smiles is dedicated to enhancing the playing, learning and living of special needs kids and their families by gifting toys and other important devices to kids like their son Ben. A portion of the proceeds of Ben’s Adventures book sales will support Ben Smiles’ mission.
This book was provided to my son by the author in exchange for his honest review. He was very adamant that he wanted to write the review, so below are his honest thoughts.
My Son’s Thoughts:
What He Loved: He loved that there were pictures in the book “about every two pages”. It helped him to visualize what the author was trying to convey. One of his favorite parts was the form of respect by throwing grubs at people. He thought that was hilarious and silly! He loved that this book was at his reading level too. He said it felt like he was reading with a friend.
How He Felt: He said he felt happy through the entire book. “I’m a reading guy, and that book is an especially good book to make me visualize the story.”
To Read or Not To Read: People that enjoys stories with laughs, action, adventure, and surprise will like this book. It had all of these things.
What I Loved: This book is full of humor, making my child, and even me, laugh! I loved the illustrations, which were created by the author, making this book even more special.
How I Felt: I was so pleased to see the under lying tone in this book focused on children learning to accept themselves for who they are. I loved that this quirky, funny main character could really show kids that it is ok to be just who you are.
To Read or Not To Read:My son is in 3rd grade and this book was perfect for him. I would say that any child 3rd through the rest of elementary school would really enjoy this story. It’s an adventure filled with funny moments making them laugh out loud.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
Doug Underbelly doesn’t seem to have everything going his way. He finds himself living in a creepy old house with his family. His dad makes meals out of eels. He has a cemetery for a back yard. He is bullied at school. Finally, he is King of the Mole People.
Doug finds himself balancing between his underground cavern and his life in the “Up-World”. As he’s a bit unwilling to be the King of the Mole People, this new adjustment takes some time, but offers him a chance to be himself. He must learn to love himself for who he is to help solve the Giant Worm Problem for his kingdom of Mole People.
A huge thank you to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for our honest review.