Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dawn of Dreams (Destiny Book 1) by Bronwyn Leroux

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Jaden and Kayla’s lives couldn’t be more different. It’s 2073 and the two strangers are living worlds apart. Then something strange and terrifying brings them together. No one can see the hideous, malevolent creature but them. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the two discover that the beast stalking them isn’t the only thing they have in common. Venturing further down the path they have been forced onto, they join forces with strange and unusual comrades, suffer attacks from enemies beyond their imagination and begin unraveling the complex mystery of their mission. 

But discovering the answers to their questions comes with a price. Their lives will be forever changed. In a world on the verge of destruction, can this unlikely couple find a way to save it, all while trying to make sense of this inexplicable connection they feel for each other?

My Thoughts:
From the minute you begin this book you know something is not right in this world. The author has taken something as benign as a hike into the mountains and set the ball rolling into something that becomes terrifying for one of the  hiking team.  Jaden keeps seeing a creature and feeling its evil while no one else on the team can. They think he is losing it.

The second chapter introduces us to Kayla, a very likeable person from the very start. She reminded me of kids I’ve known who have had to move every couple of years because their parent(s) are in the military. You have just enough time to make friends and then poof they are gone. Kayla was lucky in that she found a friend by doing what she loved the most, running. However, like Jaden she too has seen the creature and felt its evil.

The first two chapters set everything up for an adventure I dove into head first. I liked both Jaden and Kayla. The connection they felt between each other seemed intense. However, they kept pulling away from each other and that annoyed me. The fact that there are secrets being kept and the story unfolds a little at a time is what kept me reading. Each of them discovered a medallion that had been in their family and passed down through the generations.Then there is the strange librarian, a mysterious book, a strange owl like creature who tells them they are the hope for the world Add the strange reactions of their mothers and you know the suspense can only get better. The book was so intriguing I had to know if the sequel was out. I am happy to say the second installment, "Dogs of Doom" came out in July. Yes, I did purchase it and will be reading and reviewing it soon. I also purchased a copy for my classroom shelves. This is exactly the type of book my kids will love. I am looking forward to continuing this awesome and at times terrifying journey with Jaden and Kayla.

 Author Bio From Amazon
From the gold mines of Africa to the glorious Bay views from Golden Gate Bridge to the spectacular Rockies, Bronwyn is an explorere at heart who loves to solve mysteries and avidly listens to audiobooks while playing in her sandpit (aka gardening). When she's not juggling the many balls she has in the air, she's following her passion and writing books for young adults.

You can find her::

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Shadow Stalker by Renee Scattergood

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Brief Synopsis:
A young shadow stalker is destined to enslave the people of the Serpent Isles, and the Galvadi Empire want this child of prophecy dead. Auren Trasks perfectly normal life is disrupted when the Galvadi invade, and she learns a startling secret about her past. A secret that will change her life forever.

Auren has literally lived a fairly protected life. She has lived with her step-father Kato whose job was to protect her. Protect her from what?  Ahhh… there are so many secrets that slowly unfold.  Auren like a lot of teens rebels against her step-father. When their land is invaded Kato whisks her away where she learns who and what she truly is. He trains her harder. This of course makes the tension greater.  The author leaves you asking so many questions as she complicates Auren’s life.  The world building the author has done is extraordinary.  For me I loved the fact that this is written as a series.  I loved how real Auren’s character felt.  Her teen behavior is spot on.  This book grabs you from the very beginning. I am always telling my students that when they write, their hook must grab the reader or else they have lost them from the very beginning. Scattergood’s story hooks you so well you can’t help but go along for the ride. The pacing is nice. We watch Auren change and grow in so many ways. She had created characters that you both love and hate. Kato was one of those characters.  I loved how protective he was of her, but really hated the way he demonstrated his protection at times.  If describing this book to my students, which I will, I would tell them that the scenes are electrifying.  I could picture this book as a movie in my head. The tension is tight enough you want to hold your breath to see what will happen next.  Although I received a copy of this first book to review, I have purchased #2 and #3.  I can’t wait to read them.  Well done Renee Scattergood.

You can visit her author website here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Who is Santa and How Did He Get to the North Pole? by Stephen W. Bigalow

Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a wonderful book that should be read every Christmas. This is the telling of Santa’s story. It goes into his very beginnings of making toys, where he lived and why he moved to the North Pole.  We learn how he met the elves and how they became such a big and important part of his life and his story.  The only question that is not answered is whether or not he sleeps with his whiskers inside or outside of the covers.  This is a very well written story. It was wonderful learning what keeps the elves going, why candy canes are red and white striped.  This book can answer just about any question your child can come up with. I am very happy I was asked to read and review this book.  The illustrations are beautiful.  This is a story that should be shared year after year. It is to be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Burning by D.E.L. Connor

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I purchased it

This is the third book in this wonderful series. The characters in this series are connected to animal spirits. For those who love to read Native American stories, then this is the series for you. These teens have done battle before.  They have been fighting the evil spirit of Machayiwiwi, who was at one time a very powerful medicine man. The teens are guided and helped through visions given them by ancient chiefs.

This book is full of real life. Each of the teens deal with personal things in their own life. There are so many things happening that any reader will find something t identify with. There are many teens who deal with divorced or alcoholic parents. These teens deal with their feelings of love and jealousy. This author really knows how to keep the story real, but include the elements of magic in just the right does.

This book doesn’t have teens just jumping in trying to fight the evil. You see them actually live their life and get involved in things that aren’t always right or best for them. In other words it is todays reality.   If you haven’t read the other two books in the series you need to do just that. Make sure you have plenty of tissues handy. The author doesn’t sugar coat her plot. People die and teens must deal with it. Pull up a chair and prepare to read a book you can’t put down. Join Emme, Ollie, Charlie, Bets and their friends for an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Rise of Ren Crown by Anne Zoelle

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I purchased a copy

From Goodreads:
Reeling from what the students at Excelsine University are calling "Bloody Tuesday," Ren is determined to regather her magical family. But the events of the attack were not without multiple costs. Magically broken and exposed, Ren is ripe pickings for multiple factions that want to use and chain her, and the Department is the scariest of the pack.

With only a limited amount of time to save her friend, and confined with the rest of the student body awaiting their fate, Ren stands a mere hairsbreadth from losing her freedom completely with each and every decision she makes.

My Thoughts:
I thought that this was the final book in the series, and was surprised to learn it is not.  Ren’s character continues to grow.  She continues to be the best friend that she can be. She still puts herself on the back burner for her friends. The bond between all of them is strong.  In this book we see more of the contrast between Dare and Constantine.  Ren’s magic makes her a target which in turn puts her friends in danger.  The loyalty and disloyalty in this book has been taken up a notch. Fighting the “Department” was terrifying to read.  This book in my opinion is much darker and more violent. Don’t get me wrong, I love dark novels. This one seemed to end so abruptly that I can’t wait to read what will be in the next one. I will warn that this one is a lot more violent.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Protection of Ren Crown by Anne Zoelle

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Barely surviving her first term at college, all Ren wants to do over break is relax and bond with her roommate—not get eaten by a sentient building or attacked on the street. But with increasingly open warfare brewing between the magical factions and Layers of the world, this time, Ren will not fail in making sure everyone she loves stays safe and protected. 

That includes doing things like filling her parent's house with personal art heavily embedded with wards, bubble-wrapping her increasingly imperiled roommate, and even making sure that a certain sexy thorn-in-her-side continues to breathe free air.

Finding herself on duty protecting the entire university alongside campus god Alexander Dare...was not what she'd had in mind. 

But this time it's not only her life on the line. And Ren will do anything to protect those she loves.

My Thoughts:

While I loved the first book in this series, the second was even better. We get to see the characters grow throughout the story. No stale, static characters here.  I really enjoyed getting to know Dare better.   Excelsine, the world the author has created just keeps getting better.  Ren has worked her magic when it comes to friending people. Olivia has started to come around now.  Reading this book is like peeling an onion one layer at a time. The story line gets sweeter and sweeter.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Awakening of Ren Crown by Anne Zoelle

From Goodreads:
Ren Crown is a high school senior searching for her identity when a devastating attack on her twin brother thrusts her into a hidden world of magic. Fighting forces that she is woefully unprepared for, Ren illegally enrolls in a prestigious secret university where magic is plentiful and danger is absolute.

Determined to set her family back to rights, she is blocked at every turn and faced with a new reality of boundless fascination and possibility. Animated creations, enchanted gadgets, and marvelous machines vie with the students themselves: mischievous engineers, diabolical tacticians, battle-hardened warriors, and terrifying roommates.

But even amidst an eclectic student body, there is something off about Ren's magic...and the wrong people have started to notice.

Caught in a tightening web, Ren's values stand trial, as does the fate of the world.

My Thoughts:
I loved how thought out the characters were. They became real on the pages. The love Ren feels for her twin brother goes above and beyond. It made me ask how far I would go for one of my siblings, and would I know when enough was enough? I really liked that the romance/crush wasn’t over done in this book. I hate mushy romances, always have. We didn’t find what is found in so many stories, instant love. Instead the author let feelings develop slowly and naturally. The creation of all of the magical creatures shows how well developed the author’s imagination is. That for me is a big plus.
The title was the best at describing what happened to Ren, her magic awakens.  Awesome characters, great world building, make this a series to be read.   Come back tomorrow for the second book in the series, The  Protection of Ren Crown and then Saturday for the final book in the series, The Rise of Ren Crown.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Escape From the Past: The Dukes Wrath by Annette Oppenlander

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he's sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn't realize that 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game's rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever.

Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets' nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

My Thoughts:
I love time travel books. This one here was over the top. You have a kid transported to another time through a video game.  Every kid today will be able to identify with that. Imagine going from current time to medieval times. No matter what you have read in books, you would not have everything you need to fit in.

I loved that you were brought into the book and into the time period. This is what great Historical Fiction does. Students will be so enthralled with Max and his situation they won’t even realize they have been learning history until they start talking with each other. Through this book  readers will learn what life was like for everyone during this time from the lowly peasant all the way up to the life of a knight.

My problem with a lot of time travel stories is the manner in which the author chooses to  bring their character back to present time. I’m often left feeling cheated. I can tell you up front you won’t feel that way with this book.  You will love it.  This is a series I can say I will enjoy from beginning to end. I can’t wait for my first student to read it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Key to Tartarus by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
When Evangeline's best friend and "almost" boyfriend Raphe is kidnapped by a sinister, supernatural being, she must use her magical powers and wits to try to save him. Her journey takes her into a mythical underworld where she battles furious spirits, her own self-doubts, and ancient, cruel Gods, as she struggles to find Raphe. In the end she will be forced to make an unbearable choice. Either save Raphe, or condemn him, and others she cares about, to be tortured for eternity...

My Review:
How far would you be willing to go to save a friend. Would you go to Tartarus, the pit below hell? Evangeline, the latest descendant from Pandora does just that.  She has already lost so much. She lost her best friend who belonged to a secret sect that exists to protect her and all descendant of Pandora.  When people stopped believing in the Gods they began to wither away. Zeus has never forgiven Pandora for trapping annihilation in the box. He will do anything to make that happen. If he can just kill the one who holds Pandora’s key, then someone else will be able to take the key and open the box.

Zeus earns Evangeline’s trust. As an old man receiving chemo, he has convinced her to read to him. She is a volunteer at the hospital where her current guardian, a doctor works. This is the same doctor who is helping to keep her mother alive as Evangeline tries to find a way to break  the curse Zeus placed on her and her ancestors.  When he convinces Evangeline to bring her best friend Raphe to the hospital things are set in motion. A gate to the underworld appears in his room. He grabs Raphe and goes through the gate.  Even though it may cost her the life everyone is trying to save, she goes anyway.  The only other way to enter the underworld is to die. Many will be willing to sacrifice their lives so that she can live. Zeus is sure to change the rules if Evangeline is to survive.

This is the second book in the trilogy. The third book “Fate’s Key” will be out this spring. This series is a definite must read.  The first book sucks you in, the second book thrusts you forward into her life and adventures, making you want her to succeed for all of mankind.  What will the third book hold? I guess that in some ways we are all like Pandora, curious.  It is this curiosity that will drive you to read this series.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Kind of Battle by Elizabeth A. Patterson

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Come on, Henry said, stepping up onto the window ledge. Estelle is right. We can't let anything happen to Sersha. Henry s bravery encouraged her and she nodded her head as he jumped. She watched his wings become visible, spreading wide as he sailed through the air. Climbing onto the ledge Haley jumped after him. It has been a while since teenage twins Henry and Haley Miles moved to the Bonner homestead in Idaho, stumbled onto a map and key, and discovered a portal into another world filled with fairies, magic, and danger that eventually led them to uncover the mystery behind a long-held legend. Now fairy Princess Sersha is trapped on the wrong side of the portal and her brother, Prince Valian, is injured and unable to leave the city of Roan. After the twins are visited by Estelle, a witch, who tells them they must protect Princess Sersha at all costs, the four return to Roan through her postern. As soon as they arrive at Hilda s brick cottage, the twins learn that Prince Valian is healing, but that the land of Wisen has been overrun by strange occurrences. Its creatures are going berserk and fights are abundant. As they begin to investigate, Haley discovers she is competing with Prince Valian s callous nurse for his attention, even while she is being pursued by a dark, handsome sorcerer. Worse yet, now Queen Lilia has disappeared. As the famous foursome split up in search of the missing queen, they are forced to embark on a journey into unknown territory as love, jealously, rage, and humor leave their mark upon the fairies. "

My Thoughts:
Haley and Henry are twins who find themselves going back through a portal to Roan. They are going back to check on Prince Valian who was injured. Hayley had feelings for the prince and was sure he had feelings for her. However, his nurse seems to be getting in the way. Things are changing quickly for the fairies. If you are looking for a quick paced book to read that is full of adventure then this is definitely the book for you. It picks up where the previous one left off. Definitely a great book to start off your new year of reads

Monday, December 28, 2015

Three by Jeff and Erynn Altabef

Second Chances by Jeff Altabef adn Erynn Altabef
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Story
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
One night changes everything.
One chance meeting forces a young man to make a choice.
Will he do what’s right?
Or what’s easy?

Ayden is forced to remember old secrets he’d rather not reveal when his daughter returns home with questions about his shadowy past and dangerous legacy. Will she understand when he tells her about the night mysterious strangers came to his sleepy Arizona town looking for a local medicine man?
As his tale unfolds, Ayden pieces together the mystery that connected a recent murder, the strangers, and the medicine man’s bizarre behavior. Will he allow old demons to rule him, or will he get a second chance?

My Thoughts:
This book is a short story that fills in the gaps after Wind Catcher. It is precise and not only answers questions you had left, but leaves you with more so that you must read the next book.   It is a must read, eventhough it is short.

Brink of Dawn by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabeff
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The Opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
They walk among us as if they are gods.
Only the Chosen know what they are.
Only the Chosen know to fear them.
And only the Chosen can defeat them.

Evolved Publishing presents the second book in the multiple award-winning Chosen series of young adult mystery thrillers, which feature an American Indian fantasy and supernatural theme, from the same author who brought you the award-winning thriller Shatter Point, and his daughter.

Juliet Wildfire Stone and her best friend, Troy Buckhorn, barely escaped their sleepy Arizona town alive. Now they’re speeding to New York City to find the three other Chosen. The Chosen must band together to face an ancient foe that threatens all humanity.

Yet Juliet doesn’t know whom to trust, and strange things are happening in the City.

The Chosen will be tested, their resolve questioned, and their flaws exposed. Each must decide whether he or she will fulfill their destiny—or run. To defeat the enemy, they must stop battling among themselves and overcome their own struggles.

Only one can lead them. Will Juliet embrace her powers in time?

My Thoughts:
This is the second book in the Chosen series. I reviewed Wind Catcher here. In this book we find Juliet and Troy trying to locate the other “chosen”. This is the only way they can battle the Deltaite and have a chance of winning. Juliet and her friends must each learn to control the special ability or ‘gift’ they have.  Juliet has a gift of “seeing visions” yet she doesn’t trust herself enough with her gift. This is what makes this book stand out among others with similar plot lines. You have characters, who have a gift, yet they are not robotic. They are very dimensional and fleshed out. They are flawed and we the reader are privy to their flaws. This makes them a character the reader can relate to.
There is enough here to make you wonder if they will be able to save the world; just enough to keep you coming back for more. Definitely an author you want to watch.

I am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy, Scorched Souls.  As far as I’m concerned it can’t come soon enough.

Enemies of the State by Jeff Altabef
Genre: Adult, Thriller, Short Story
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Steven Cabbott is fighting some serious personal demons, and with America on the brink of civil war, knowing whom to trust is almost impossible. Especially when the person he trusts least of all is himself.
After joining a special operations unit at a young age, the government turned Steven into a killer, and worse—someone who enjoys killing. He tells himself that was a different version of him, and he has changed. Yet one simple question haunts him: does he really want to change?
As civil war threatens to rip America apart, he yearns only for redemption and a good night’s rest. Two young dissident leaders may hold the key to Steven’s absolution, and to peace, but the government is poised to abduct them.
Faced with near impossible odds, Steven must extract the dissidents, but he encounters treachery at every turn, and he’s running out of time. Can he keep his personal demons in check long enough to save the rebels, or will the government claim them all as Enemies of the State?

My Thoughts:
This short story is sure to get your blood pumping. Steven has lived a life full of killing. He grew up in the ghettos where he saw his mom deal with her own demons. He escaped the ghettos and signed up for the military where he became a special asset, a killer. He could kill without blinking an eye. Then one day he walked away from it all. He hired out to work for a man who lives in one world, but he believes truly wants to make a difference in the world Steven came from. When one of his bosses' employees ends up dead it is his job to interrogate the killer and do what he has to do to protect his boss.  The question is, can he keep his demons at bay or will they resurface and turn him back into the man he tried to leave behind?  This is going to be one great thriller. This short story is like a prequel to what is to come.  Love reading the work of this author.

I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Diary of an Ugly Sweater by Cassi Eubank

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I have read books from many different perspectives. This is the first time I’ve read a book told from the perspective of a sweater. That made this book very interesting. Sophie is the sweater’s name and she is a Christmas sweater. Her story is told in diary form. The beginning is charming. She describes her family as the “Tree with Pom Balls” family. She is a sweater with a Christmas tree on the front and pom poms that decorate it like ornaments. She refers to other sweater families such as the “Santa Sitting on the Toilet” family. From the different “families” she mentions you get the idea of what each sweater looks like. She addresses issues such as judging others based on looks, attitudes, how to get what you want out of life. This is a unique way  to teach life lessons. The story is charming and the lessons are subtle enough not to detract from the story. It is so well written that you can feel the emotions throughout the story.  This is a book that is for young and old alike.  I don’t think  I will ever look at an “ugly” sweater the same way again, and never without thinking about this story.  This is the perfect read for the Christmas season.

Author Bio from her Site:
Results Coach Cassi Eubank is passionate about showing women how to create extraordinary success and fulfillment in their life by changing their BS (belief system) and connecting with their purpose and passion. After spending over a decade studying the psychology of success, she has created an innovative and effective system, implementing techniques which will unconsciously keep you motivated and focused, increasing your level of success and abundance in all areas of your life. As a speaker and author, she shares with others to guide them to the results they desire and deserve through her Train Your Brain for Rock Star Success programs. She is also passionate about health and wellness and hosts a KYSS Retreat (Kickstart Your Skinny Self) which is mostly about taking care of yourself and having a mindset for living a healthy, active life. That with her famous accountability calls will give you results in your waistline and your frame of mind. Visit her website to learn about upcoming speaking engagements, workshops and events where you can connect with Cassi, or to read her blog along with other valuable freebies that will be gifted to you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review.

As an adult, Kate Messner's book, The Seventh Wish took me back in time. She opens with the main character looking for ice flowers on the lake. You are immediately immersed in the magical winter wonderland. The main character's fear of the dark ice is a foreshadowing of darker times ahead for Charlie. I loved the descriptions of Irish dance. Kate was spot on with it. I know this from my daughter's years of dance. My daughter delved into dance as a way of dealing with her grandfather's death. There are raw emotions throughout this book. I've been in Charlie's shoes when it came to the problems her sister had. Issues of drug abuse and alcoholism tear families apart. Some ever recover. I cried right along with Charlie when she realized she'd helped her sister lie. I felt her pain at the denial, lying and stealing. Most of all I felt her pain and understood when she felt her sister's problems, trumped all she had worked for. This hook is not about finding all the right solutions. It is a book about looking for and holding on to love and hope. Not since reading Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak have I felt such raw emotions.

This is  one of the most gut-wrenching, hope-filled books I've read in years. It is a must read for young and old alike.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading

Genre:  Middle Grade , Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

The 13th of each month is a very special date for Ayana Fall and Tyler Travers. They are brand new members of The Dragon of the Month Club. Their adventure begins with Ayana, hiding in the library after a run in with her worst nightmare, Heather van der Sloot, who constantly bullies her. It was because of her hiding in the library that she meets and becomes best friends with Tyler.  While sitting in the library she finds a magical book. They take the book and try to conjure up a dragon. They are finally successful.  One bad spell attempt and they find themselves traveling through strange worlds. These worlds are related to the books lying around Tyler’s world. Now all they need to do is find a way back home.  They meet several people along the way who try to help them, and some not so nice people.

Iain Reading has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I started reading his Kitty Hawk books and now I’m introduced to a fantastical world.  This is the type of book I would have spent hours in my room, wishing I could slip into the pages and have an adventure.

He does an excellent job when it comes to creating characters that the reader can relate to. His world building, as always is excellent.  I loved the idea of being able to call up different kinds of dragons. They aren’t your ordinary dragons. I loved the idea of a fog dragon. Even more than that, I loved the idea of a dragon of the month club where you could summon a dragon each month on a specific day.

I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. More importantly, I’m looking forward to sharing these with my students.


There is an ongoing contest for readers to win a one-of-a-kind hardcover version of The Dragon of the Month Club with their artwork as the cover.

“Draw a picture! Write a story! Take a photograph! Bake some cookies! Mold a dragon out of clay! Knit one out of yarn! Make one out of LEGO! Whatever you want! Just let your imagination run wild because anything goes – the more creative the better! Send your dragon in and then on the 13th day of every month one entry will be chosen at random and featured on the official Dragon Of The Month Club website. Each month’s lucky winner will also receive a free one-of-a-kind personalized hard-cover edition of The Dragon Of The Month Club book featuring their winning artwork (or other creative content) on the cover or inside the book itself,” says Iain.

To learn more, go to 

About the Author:

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain writes young adult novels. He is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to

Connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The King of Average by Gary Schwartz

From Goodreads:
James isn’t the world’s greatest kid, but he’s not the worst, either: he’s average! When he decides to become the most average kid who ever lived, James is transported to another world where he meets Mayor Culpa, a well-dressed talking Scapegoat who recruits him to become the new King of Average.

He’s joined on his quest by a professional Optimist and his grouchy companion, an equally professional Pessimist. Together, they set out on a journey of self-discovery that leads them all the way from the Sea of Doubt to Mount Impossible, the highest peak in the Unattainable Mountains. When James stumbles into a Shangri-la called Epiphany, he uncovers the secret of who he really is.

Follow James on his hilarious, adventure-packed journey to find self-worth in this heartfelt middle grade novel The King of Average by debut author Gary Schwartz.

My Thoughts: 
From the moment I began reading this book I had several thoughts go through my head. The first was how
sorry I felt for James.  As a teacher I've actually heard parents tell their kids they hated them and wished they'd never been born. I've heard them blame the father's. This book immediately resonated with me as I am sure it will with so many of my students. The author has commented that his ideas came from several places, especially his favorite book, "The Phantom Tollbooth".  I can see how the worlds resemble each other.  I loved this world. It is a world I was very familiar with.  My students have a difficult time believing there was a time I didn't believe in myself. I considered myself no one special. I would try on occasion to better myself, only to have someone say something that made me feel like I was only average. James is whisked away to the land of Average where he is to be tested to see if he is to be their next king.  I thought it funny that he wanted to excel at being average because he thought that was the best he could hope for. His journey to find out what happened to the last king will change his life in ways he never saw coming.  I think this should be required reading in every class, in every school.  There are so many people out there like James who need the message in this book.  The funny thing is, at age 57, there were lessons I could still learn. Learning to step above seeing yourself as just average or not worth anything for some of us in some situations is an on-going process.  I will definitely recommend this book to my fellow teachers and readers, and parents.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Blaze by Ginger Lee Malacko

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Nathan and his wayward angel crew are back in this thrilling, action-stuffed, sequel to SPARK - and so is the king demon, Wrath, and his army of minions. When the entire county around Temple Hills is threatened by Wrath's smoke-spewing technology, the misfits of Section #71 finally get the promotion they've been working for. But life is hardly a slice of Heaven as Nathan is drawn ever deeper into the mystery of Lazarus' failing strength and the meaning of his own alarming premonitions of the future. 

With the help of a mortal who can see angels and an army of special agents, Nathan and his friends embark on their dream job only to discover it's not he exciting adventure they had hoped for. Perilous missions, dangerous secrets, and a possible traitor in their midst wreak havoc on the section as the angels of Mount Ember go to war. 

Nathan will need much more than courage and a good curve ball to halt Wrath's plans for world domination and restore the balance between good and evil.

My Thoughts:

Nathan and his crew are not the top of the list angels. As a matter of fact they are considered the misfits of the group. In a demonstration they show off what they as a group are able to do when it comes to battling demons. They are doing things they shouldn’t be able to do.  They have been working in secret honing their gifts, working for a promotion. The question is, when given the promotion are they really prepared? He has got to stop Wrath’s plan to not only stop him from taking over Temple Hill but the hold world. I thought it funny that after Nathan and his crew worked so hard to get recognized, he actually had second thoughts about whether they had gone too far trying to get a promotion. He knew he previously had issues and got into all kinds of trouble. He didn’t want go back to his former self. He had truly changed.  This showed his character growth. I think that is what makes these books so good. The author does a great job of not only keeping the pressure on so that you have to keep reading, but they also do an excellent job of making sure the characters are growing and changing.  This was another page turner. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves middle grade reads and can’t wait to recommend it to my sixth graders this year.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Good Intentions by Pembroke Sinclair

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Katie has been through Hell—literally—and discovered that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.  In fact, she kind of enjoyed it.  She got to be with Josh, found out about her past, and discovered who she wanted to be as a person.  Katie didn’t care that her actions went against social norms.  She was happy.

But things are changing—again.  Wes has come back into her life, and that can only mean trouble.  His presence threatens to unravel her new-found happiness.  She can’t allow that.  She won’t let him back in.  Yet, Katie can’t push him away.

Thrown back into a state of confusion and uncertainty, Katie is once again forced to pick sides, and in the process, she may lose herself.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Youngtimer: Adventures In Time by Glynnis Rogero

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Carly is this super smart, nerdy girl who has been recommended to skip two grades.  She decides to do everything in her power to get lower grades so that she can stay at that school with her best friends Patti.  This is just one of the adventures Carly creates in this book.

When Carly's grandfather passes away he leaves her a mysterious letter and wooden box.  The instructions tell her not to open the box until she reads the letter.  She has always been her grandfather's favorite.  She even had a secret knock that allowed her, and her alone,  into his garage/workshop.  She places the box under her bed where it stays until her best friend Patti finds it and pulls it out. She has been asked by her grandfather to wait until she is eighteen to open it.  But, as Patti points out that is six years away. What her grandfather has left her is tucked away in a corner of his workshop. Carly can hardly believe he has left her a time machine.  Carly tries it out while her friend is there in case something goes wrong.  Then she talks her friend into going on a trip.  But, what happens when Carly uses the machine to try to fix a family problem and changes things?  The tension was taut enough I kept thinking, don't do that....what happens if...

Parts of this story reminded me of the movie "Back to the Future" where Marty has to be careful how he changes things because it could have dire consequences.  This is Carly's situation.  Will she make the problem she has at home better or worse?  This is a must read book.  It is full of humor and situations that my middle school students would definitely be able to identify.  I will definitely recommend this book to them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dragon’s Future by Kandi J. Wyatt

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Every child of Woolpren dreams of becoming one, but only a few are chosen. Now, ten-year-old twin brother and sister, Ruskya and Duskya, have been selected to join an elite group of riders: dragon riders. Full of awe and excitement, the twins leave their mother, and their home, to train for their new lives.

Fifteen years later, dragons are becoming extinct and riders are rare. One day, Ruskya is at the general store in town when a man announces that he is recruiting new dragon riders. Ruskya goes undercover, and discovers that there is another colony of riders with their own agenda—a quest to find a mysterious plant that could restore the dragon population, or destroy it. When a battle erupts between the two colonies, it’s up to Ruskya and his friends to fight for their dragons’ future, and their lives.

Follow Ruskya’s quest as he finds courage and friendship in this exciting middle grade fantasy series by new author Kandi J Wyatt.

My Thoughts:
Not since reading Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon” have I read a book about dragons that made me want to be a part of that world.  I felt myself wishing I could be in the procession and chosen by a dragon. The book is full of adventure, danger and courage.  All of these are qualities I look for when searching for books for my students to read.  The author has given special gifts to these dragon riders and used simple plants to create the magic that makes all of this work together.  I read this book much slower than I usually read because I wanted to savor every word and didn’t want it to end.  The world the author created was so well described and authentic I could visualize it.  There are subtle lessons and themes throughout the story about friendship, trust, courage and the abuse of power. This would fit right in with my first or second teaching unit on adversity because the characters face some of the most adverse situations ever.   It is at times an emotional read as you feel the pain the twins feel as the story of what happened to their father is slowly unfolded.  This author is truly gifted at feeding in back story a little at a time in just the right places to keep it flowing. She never creates an information dump.  The book ends with so many possibilities for future books I the series.  I can hardly wait for the next book.

Kandi Wyatt has created a story that keeps you flying high like her dragon riders, making this a story for everyone from the reluctant middle school reader to the adventure seeking adult. This is a book that should be on every fantasy shelf, in every school.

About the Author:

Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.” To learn more, visit:

You Can Find her here:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Karmack by J.C. Whyte

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Sully is the leader of a group of bullies that include his friends Gonzo and Breeze. While chasing down a kid from music class who had the audacity to squeal on him, he sees something on the bank building roof just before a pile of snow buries Gonzo.  The next day at school everyone is laughing at Gonzo and what happened.  When Breeze targets the new girl in the school cafeteria things once again go bad. Sully sees the same creature who dropped the snow on Gonzo, trip his friend Breeze.
The creature’s name is Karmack and it is his job to stop Sully and his friend from bullying.  There will be terrible consequences if they don’t stop. It is his job to make Sully understand that the pranks he plays are another form of bullying.  The author touches on several different types of bullying.  I thought the things that happened to Sully and his gang to be very funny.  I also thought it great that the only one who could see Karmack was Sully.

This is such a rewarding book.  Instead of seeing the bully punished for what he has done, or getting his just desserts, we find a different take on this story.  The bully is actually encouraged to be a positive leader and role model instead of leading people into bullying and intimidating others.  I do think this would be a great book to put on my shelves.  Any time you can find a book that touches on the topic of bullying and shows the importance of stopping bullying is enough of a reason to put the book on your shelves.  I would definitely read more from this author.