Monday, February 17, 2020

Chirp by Kate Messner

Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source:  Purchased

I absolutely loved this book. Mia and her family move to Vermont to be near and help her grandmother who had recently had a stroke. When they arrive her mother is determined to help her grandmother slip into retirement. Mia's grandmother has other plans. She has a cricket farm that she plans to expand.  Unfortunately, someone seems to be sabotaging her crickets.
Mia, a former gymnast, has been told she must join two different day camps. She makes friends, finds a way to help her grandmother, and most importantly finds herself, and her courage to speak up.  This is a book that is so important for middle school students. Middle grade years are when students are learning who they are. It is also one of the most vulnerable times for them. So many are taken advantage of at this age and some get lost and never find themselves. In Mia's case she finds her voice and the courage to help someone else.  This is an absolute must read.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Watch Hollow: The Alchemist's Shadow by Gregory Funaro

Gregory Funaro’s first book “Watch Hollow” was a book that had my students lining up to read it. It was full of everything a middle school student loves in a book. It had characters they could identify with and a mystery to be solved. When I told them that I had an advance reader’s copy of the next book "Watch Hollow: The Alchemist's Shadow" they wanted to know if I would be buying it. I will most definitely be buying it.  This is a creepy mystery that kept the action going.
The Tinker family managed to keep away the great evil and set the house right. We all know that it would be boring if things didn’t go south again. This happens when Agatha and Algeron, along with their governess show up claiming they are the heirs to the house.  Of course, you need to expect whenever something or someone strange shows up, there is going to be something that will create chaos in Blackford House once again. A new evil has created a labyrinth along with a minotaur.
The children must work together to solve this mystery, get the governess back and take care of the evil. This is a daunting task, but they will receive help from the wooden animals of the clock. I am really loving this author’s work. I am probably the biggest lover of mysteries and this one has all the elements that I love.  I am hoping there is a third book on its way. This is a must-read series.

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Book Coming Soon by Mark Restaino: Two Robots

This is the first book I have read by this author. It is not yet published. As a beta reader, I often get books to read in advance of publication. I have to say I am very impressed by this author and his work. To me, the quality of writing has always been important. However, books like this that have a message to get across is even more important. Mark writes faith-based picture books. They are not preachy in the least. I as an adult loved these books. The story is of two robots built by two scientists. Both love their creations. One of them creates a robot who obeys everything and does everything right. The other scientist creates a robot that has the ability to learn. It is only when the two robots meet that true learning happens. The lesson learned by the scientist of the blue robot is just as important. This is a modern-day parable for modern-day kids. Every kid loves robots and will be able to relate. I am looking forward to the date this is published and for sale. This along with all of his other books will soon be in the hands of my grandchildren. Finding books to recommend to parents is important to me. Finding books to give to my children and their children is even more important. When this book comes out, run, don't walk to Amazon or his website:  

About the Author Mark Restaino (from his website)

I am a full-time youth minister and live in the Chicagoland area with my wife and two daughters. I got the idea for my first story while on a retreat with my youth group students. My other stories also seem to come to me in the quiet moments when I reflect on my life and faith. I am personally drawn to the symbolism and foreshadowing that God weaves throughout the Bible and I believe it serves as a beautiful defense of the faith. In reflection of my creator, I strive to write stories that capture readers' hearts and minds and symbolically share the faith  and gospel message. I pray that my stories kindle the fire of the faith within you, your family, and your church community.