The Rubicus Prophecy

The Witches of Orkney series

by Alane Adams

 

 

The Rubicus Prophecy is a fast paced action packed fantasy novel for middle grade readers. I do think many kids at the elementary level would enjoy this as well. Really any fantasy reader would love this series. The first book The Blue Witch was such a fast read I finished it the day I started because I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. So I was happy that I had book 2 of the series ready to go when I was done. This is a series that you have to read in order otherwise you will be lost. The writing is smooth and flows well. There is world building but it’s not so long and lengthy that  you want to skim over those parts. I’ve found a lot of fantasy really goes very deep into the descriptions. I love when an author describes things to the reader but lets the reader visualize it for themselves. All the great characters I loved from book 1 returned as well as a few that are just down right mean. This series is great for some Spooktober reading with all the alchemy and it taking place at the Tarkana Witch Academy.  I hope the author continues on with The Witches of Orkney series because I will continue reading it and will be checking out any other books this author has. This series is just plain magical and captivates the reader. I would truly recommend this to any reader of all levels both listeners (it would make a great read aloud) to adults. 

About the book:  Abigail has just started her second year at the Tarkana Witch Academy and is already up to her ears studying for Horrid Hexes and Awful Alchemy! Worse, Endera’s malevolent spellbook has its hooks in her, whispering in her ear to use its dark magic. Meanwhile, the entire school is talking about the Rubicus Prophecy; a sign has arrived that the chosen witchling is among them, the one who will one day break Odin’s curse over them. When an Orkadian warship arrives carrying troubling news, Abigail and her friend Hugo are swept into a new mystery after a young boy from the ship, Robert Barconian, asks for their help retrieving a missing item.

Along with the former glitch-witch, Calla, the four friends end up deep in the catacombs beneath the Tarkana Fortress—a place where the draugar, the living dead, wander about. Abigail discovers there is more to the Rubicus Prophecy than anyone ever imagined. Can she stop it in time before she and her friends are destroyed?

Thank you Sparkpress for sending me a copy of The Rubicus Prophecy. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book. 

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Look! Babies Head to Toe

by Robie Harris ; illustrated by Anoosha Syed

free printable note cards

I love board books for many reasons. They are sturdy, with stand lots of handling from drooling to chewing. I also love board books because they make great learning to read books. They are short but sweet stories. They don’t contain hard words and build confidence in the beginning reader. LOOK! BABIES HEAD TO TOE is a great little board book. The story is sweet and describes babies from head to toe. The illustrations are simple but sweet. Abrams Appleseed created some note cards that are great from new mom’s and teachers. They include tips on reading and sharing LOOK! BABIES HEAD TO TOE making it a thoughtful gift any new mom or infant – toddler teacher would love!  I am interested in the process that goes into writing children’s books.

About the book: Look! Babies Head to Toe is an exuberant introduction to the parts of the body and the senses. Filled with fun, repetitive sounds and a melodic voice, this book will captivate babies and toddlers. It’s the perfect follow-up to Harris’s first board book, Who?: A Celebration of Babies.

Mrs. Harris was great and answered some questions I had in what goes in to creating a children’s board book.

I’m taking Children’s Lit and curious as to the thought process behind creating a board book? Do you come up with the concept first or just let the ideas flow?

LOOK! Babies Head to Toe and WHO? A Celebration of Babies are the first two board books I have written. As for my thought process in creating the words for these two board books, it is not all that different from the way in which ideas pop into my head for my books for older children. I do come up with a concept first. Almost immediately after that, ideas flood my mind. Here is an example: One day, this memory popped into my head: I was playing a game with a young infant I was holding in my lap. The baby was trying to grab its toes. And then I tried to grab my toes. And the baby looked at me and uttered. “O-o-o-o-o.” And I said, “Toes.” And we went back and forth doing this for a few minutes. Then I patted my tummy and said “Pat-A-Pat!”. And the baby uttered, “a-a-at.” I was fascinated. And that memory put this idea into my head: I need to write a board book that introduces our youngest children to many parts of their bodies with fun, repetitive sounds and a melodic voice that names body parts from head to toe. And that’s just what I did when I wrote LOOK!

What do think is the most important things to include in board books since the stories are short and more direct in the point of the story/concept?

—A text that is simple and repetitive and fun for infants and toddlers to hear. A text that can be read aloud, or sung, or read in a loud voice or a quiet voice. A text that includes repetition. Repetition matters because over time most older infants or toddlers will mimic the words in the text, perhaps not exactly, but that does not matter. Mimicking the words in the book is a wonderful way, not the only way, for infants and toddlers to add more and more words to their repertoire of words so that they can communicate more clearly with others and over time become a more socialized person.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking of writing children’s books?

—As soon as you have an idea for a children’s book, sit down at a quiet time with no distractions and either make notes about your idea or just start in writing. And know that it takes most children’s book authors months or even longer to write a children’s book. Also know that your idea can and may change as you are writing. Try and write for a period of time, even a small bit of time, each and every day. Don’t be afraid of asking friends and colleagues to look at what you have written and critique what you have written. But do remember that you have the choice to makes changes that they suggest or to reject any and all suggestions. It’s your book and you know best what you want to say in your book.

With children’s books especially board books illustrations are very important. Do you have a general idea behind what you want them to look like or do you let the artist create what they think fits the book?

—While writing any book of mine, including my board books, ideas of what the drawings might be constantly pop into my head. I keep a list of any and all of them. But although I share my ideas with my editor, at first they are usually not shared with the artist. That’s because we want to give the artist the chance to see the manuscript and come up with their own vision of the book. However, once sketches are sent in, both the designer and the editor weigh in with their comments and I do the same. In my case, that continues up until the point that the art is almost completed. For me, creating a book has always been a collaborative effort. From the get-go, Anoosha Syed, the amazing illustrator of LOOK!, came up with ideas that I had never thought of and that is the joy of having such a gifted artist as Anoosha create the art for LOOK!—art that engages and delights infants and toddlers and parents and caregivers as well. Lucky me to have talented artists illustrate my books! —While writing any book of mine, including my board books, ideas of what the  drawings might be constantly pop into my head. I keep a list of any and all of them. But although I share my ideas with my editor, at first they are usually not shared with the artist. That’s because we want to give the artist the chance to see the manuscript and come up with their own vision of the book. However, once sketches are sent in, both the designer and the editor weigh in with their comments and I do the same. In my case, that continues up until the point that the art is almost completed. For me, creating a book has always been a collaborative effort. From the get-go, Anoosha Syed, the amazing illustrator of LOOK!, came up with ideas that I had never thought of and that is the joy of having such a gifted artist as Anoosha create the art for LOOK!—art that engages and delights infants and toddlers and parents and caregivers as well. Lucky me to have talented artists illustrate my books!

Thank you Abrams Appleseed for sending me a copy of LOOK! BABIES HEAD TO TOE. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book. 

The Okay Witch

by Emma Steinkellner

 

I loved this middle grade graphic novel. I am shocked to find out that this was the author’s first graphic novel. lt was so well put together in both. The story line and illustrations that I assumed that it was from an established author. The graphic novel touches base on belonging, bullying, family, family history, and Halloween. There are magical elements being that they are witches. I liked that we got a bit of a history lesson and learned more about the Salem Witch trials. I also enjoyed that the author included the Greek goddess Hecate. She is not heard of but very interesting.  I liked how she mixed the two and told the story of Moth Hush’s family.

Moth has a hard time at school. Other students bullied Moth Hush. This Halloween some 8th grade bullies pick on her but her magical powers come into play. She freaks out and runs home, there she learns from her mom that she comes from a family of witches. Being that she is 13 she has come into full powers like the rest of the women in her family. She is beyond thrilled she loves all things witches and witchcraft. Yet having powers won’t be a cake walk. She will have to tackle a talking cat, enchanted diary and even locates a magical hidden witch world.

The story line was great and wasn’t rushed. The story unfolds and takes the readers on the journey with Moth. The illustrations are rich and colorful and set the mood through out. I will grab any and all graphic novels from this author from this point forward. Grab a copy of THE OKAY WITCH its perfect for some Spooktober reading. I know for me it’s one of my top 10 books I’ve read this year!

About the book: Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.

Thank you so very much Simon and Schuster Kids and Aladdin for sending me a copy of THE OKAY WITCH. All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book. 

 

T – Minus

By Shannon Greenfield

 

 

T-Minus was such a great thrilling ride! I really enjoyed it and found an excellent new author to read more books from. T-Minus is being described at the TV show 24 but for teens. I agree with this description but for me this was way better than 24. I loved all the non stop action that the CIA jr training kids are running the show and saving the day. The 4 some of Sophie , Zeke, Jonathon and Callie were a great dynamic and 4 kids I would have loved to be friends with or hang out with, I figured out 2 key elements but nothing else and it was not anything that ruined the story line. If you or your middle grade or YA reader are looking for a thrilling action packed ride grab a copy of T-Minus and plan to be captured into the world of politics, corruption and some kick butt teens.

 

While it is classified as YA I think it would be fine reading this. It is pretty clean and while there was one scene described very briefly it was done tastefully. If you are worried you can always read the book before hand.

About the book:

I am the daughter of the first female POTUS, and today is about to become the longest day of my life…

24 hours—that’s how much time I have to save my mother before terrorists assassinate her. But now my father and brother are missing, too. This goes deeper than anyone thinks. Only someone on the inside would know how to pull this off—how to make the entire First Family disappear.

I can’t trust anyone, so it’s up to me to uncover the conspiracy and stop these madmen. Because little do they know, they picked the wrong person to terrorize.

My name is Sophie Washington, and I will not be a victim. No one, I repeat no one, is taking me or my family down. But the clock is ticking…

Thank you Netgalley and Entangled Teen for allowing me to read T-MINUS. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Brave The Page

by National Novel Writing Month

 

About the Book:

The official NaNoWriMo handbook that inspires young people to tackle audacious goals and complete their creative projects.

Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing, partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals, Brave the Page is the go-to resource for middle-grade writers. Narrated in a fun, refreshingly kid-friendly voice, it champions NaNoWriMo’s central mission that everyone’s stories deserve to be told. The volume includes chapters on character, plot, setting, and the like; motivating essays from popular authors; advice on how to commit to your goals; a detailed plan for writing a novel or story in a month; and more!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. They provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds–on and off the page. With its first event in 1999, the organization’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.

NaNoWriMo month is coming up and growing in popularity each year. Writers of all levels take part in NaNoWriMo month and I love that it’s such an encouraging community . My freshman in college is going to take part for the first time this year. Writers tend to either be paper and pen to electronic. There are many options out there to fit every writer. Brave the Page is a writers handbook for the younger writer in mind. I’d say middle through high school would be a good age range. College might be pushing it but I still think they would get something out of it. Your budding writer will want their own copy so they can do the writing prompts. They could also use any of the following items to use for the writing prompt exercises. 

First up anyone 13 and over can sign up and participate in NaNoWriMo month it’s free and offers some much. Now I’ll hand it over to my writer and freshman college student since she has been writing since she was 7.

For pen and paper writers:

Pens: Inkjoy pens write so smooth and they come in a wide variety of colors which can up with developing ideas and keeping them organized. A nice set of highlighters is always good as well.

Journals: I have a wide variety of journals but really my favorite ones are spiral notebooks in all different sizes. They are sturdy and easy to take with you and when you mess up it’s a lot easier to rip out a page. Also they are available everywhere and very affordable. Stock up now while they are on sale.

Post its: Post its are great to use! I am planning on using them for NaNoWriMo month. I’ve already started creating my story board and blocking out things for what I want to include in my book. I also use them to create writing time and sprints for me so I don’t push writing aside for something else.

Part old school paper part electronic: RocketBook! This is cool I got it for my 18th birthday. It’s just like any old spiral you jot down your notes, or chapters and when your ready to load them up you open the app that is on Google Play and Apple. Scan the pages and it syncs with your cloud service and then wipe clean. This is good for when your on the go and can’t type out our story ideas, etc…

  • It does use certain pens so be sure to have them: FriXion Pens. and it can be a little pricey but then again it’s a spiral that you use over and over and never gets full so in the long run you might be saving money. It’s the best of both old school paper and up to date technology. Amazon has some good deals most of the time for RocketBooks so worth checking out.

Electronic Writers:

I’ve tested out several different sites when I took a creative writing class last year in high school. The plus side to electronic writing is easy to erase mistakes, it’s always there and a lot easier to edit and you can back it up. The down side to this is alot of these cost money and it can get pricey.

Free:

Writing:

Google Docs: It is very user friendly, backs up your writing as you go. Many published writers use it and you can download your finished story or book in a pdf format and create a book easily.

Microsoft Word: I don’t have any thing much to say about this one. It isn’t a favorite of mine. I didn’t find it as easy to navigate and my teacher preferred Google.

Editing:

Hemingway App: A great easy way to edit your writing and create more professional stories. Very user friendly and can be used for everything from school assignments to writing a novel.

Grammerly: This tool is great to use and is similar to the Hemmingway App. Very user friendly and can be used at home and for school. Personally I like the Hemingway App.

I was going to do some paid for sites but really most kids can’t afford to pay for writing sites and there are a lot of great free apps, books ( check them out at your local library) and forums. So if you want to check out a paid site there is one called Dabble. It has a lot of nice features and the best part you can do a 14 day trial and no credit card is needed for the trial. So no forgetting to cancel if your not sure or just checking it out.

Thank you Viking Books for Young Readers for sending us a copy of Brave the Page. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book. 

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The Pumpkin War

by Cathleen Young

 

 

The Pumpkin War was an entertaining book. You get a full on lesson on how to grow pumpkins the size of a boat, how to take care of bees and even some information on Einstein. In many ways this fiction book was also a STEM book. It also has family diversity the main character Billie is part Irish and part Ojibwe Indian. Many of the other characters are from other countries and I love that aspect. Billie is not a likable character, she was actually a complete and utter brat. Usually that turns me off when I’m reading especially when it’s elementary/ middle grade books. The author hooked me though with the great cast of characters and her little sister is just adorable! Sam is trying to keep the friendship alive with Billie and every one is on his side but Billie can’t let go what she believes happens when she lost to him during the great pumpkin race the year before. Does she really know what happened? Has time and her anger at loosing to Sam made a new narrative in her mind? Can she finally let go of her anger or does she risk losing not only her oldest friend but her other friends as well?

About the book: Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race, when his pumpkin crashed into hers as she was about to cross the finish line, and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin, and beat Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins, since weather, bugs and other critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

Thank you Random House for sending me a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Stonewall Riots

Coming out in the Streets

by Gayle E Pittman

 

 

The Stonewall Riots is a very powerful book. This non fiction doesn’t hold back any punches. The author does an amazing job at placing the reader right in the center of the riots that happened in the late 60’s. Riots hold a key place in history through out the years but the 60’s were probably some of the most prominent years for riots. The Stonewall Riots were about fighting for LGBT rights. This middle grade non fiction tells the full story and includes artifacts: newspaper articles – pictures – arrest sheets and so much more. I had not heard of these riots till I read the book and I’m so glad Gayle Pitman wrote this book. So many people will now know about a time in history that you won’t learn about in school , or at least I hadn’t. I think this is an excellent addition to any school or home library.

About the book: This book is about the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement. The author describes American gay history leading up to the Riots, the Riots themselves, and the aftermath, and includes her interviews of people involved or witnesses, including a woman who was ten at the time. Profusely illustrated, the book includes contemporary photos, newspaper clippings, and other period objects. A timely and necessary read, The Stonewall Riots helps readers to understand the history and legacy of the LGBTQ+ movement

Thank you Netgalley and Abrams Books for Young Readers, I learned so much! All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.