Strange Star

by Emma Carroll

 

 

Strange Star is such an enchanting tale. It is like you’re getting 2 stories in one book. The book is divided into 3 parts. Part 1 sets the ground work for part 2. In part one you meet most of the cast of characters included in Strange Star. What really intrigued me is the inclusion of the Mary Shelley. She is the writer of Frankenstein, one of the all time horror classics. The author even includes some history of the author and book and why it inspired her to write this book. In the first section of the book (Part 1) the characters are all together for a dinner and ghost story session. The only requirement for the storytelling is to tell a story that will freeze your blood. They are all telling stories, interesting enough Mary Shelley has a problem coming up with one and passes. Then something very strange and mysterious happens and in walks Lizzie. Now you begin the middle section (Part 2), in this you learn all about Peg, Lizzie and the mysterious scientist. This story is very mysterious and fast paced. This section is full of adventure and testing one’s will to not only do what’s right but reunite family. It is also full of all kinds of mad science as they would call it. That scientist lady was mad crazy and definitely the idea behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein I think. The last section is thinner and from here the reader will be  back at Villa Diodati and the dinner party that Lizzie was able to locate and crash. She is a very strong-willed girl to travel from England to Switzerland not only by herself but also she was blinded by the lightning strike that happened in part 1. Her bond and love for her sister Peg is what gave her the will to never give up. The last little section and the epilogue wraps everything up quick and fast, maybe a little to fast but it was still a great book and ending. This book was really enjoyable and one I’d recommend to upper elementary and middle school readers looking for a good book with a tiny bit of creepy but a great story of sister bonds that can’t be broken, as well as a semi introduction into a classic: Frankenstein. My middle grader (6th grade) read Frankenstein recently and really enjoyed it. Maybe gift your middle grader with Strange Star and Frankenstein this summer for something different for their summer reading.

About the book: 

They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. ‘A tale to freeze the blood,’ was the only rule.

Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire. Felix, their serving boy, can’t wait to hear their creepy tales. Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn- more chilling than any tale. Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars. She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley. Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified.

 

Thank you so very much Delacorte Books for Young Readers and Emma Carroll for allowing my middle grade reader and I read this wonderful book. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

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The Science of Breakable Things

by Tae Keller

The science nerd in me loved that each chapter was set up like a middle grade science notebook. STEM and girls is a huge movement right now. This book is more than a book about STEM it tackles a subject that some middle grade books haven’t touched on much: depression. Depression in a parent is one I’m not sure I’ve read about in middle grade lit. So I was interested to see how it was handled in this book. I feel in love with this book, it was heartwarming and touched me.

The main character Natalie’s science teacher has assigned a big school year-long science project. They have to create a scientific question and use all that they learn to research it and present everything they have learned in their science notebooks.  Natalie isn’t sure here question really counts as scientific inquiry but she is going to try because she really does want to know:  How do you grow a miracle? See she needs a miracle to get back the mom she use to have before the sadness took over. Natalie’s scientist mom is very sad and doesn’t get out of bed. She is suffering from depression and no one is addressing it. Natalie is going to do everything she can to get her family back to the way they were before. Natalie has 2 great friends that will do anything to help their friend. Twig and Dari are just who Natalie needs right now and sometimes just having great friends can help more than you realize. Depression is a hard thing to understand for anyone who doesn’t have it, even harder for kids to understand why does their parent not want to be with them. The author Tae Keller does an amazing job at showing how the depression of a parent can effect a child and family. Yes The Science of Breakable Things was sad but it wasn’t unbelievably sad. It shows sometimes families can’t be happy go lucky and sometimes we need to heal before we can get back to where we were before. She has created a well written book that might show a child who is also experiencing the same thing Natalie is that it is alright and it will be Okay. The Science of Breakable Things tackles family members depression,  the challenges of friendship in middle school, not giving up hope when you really feel like there is nothing you can do.  I really loved this book and I think and hope it helps a reader who might just need a glimmer of hope in a trying time.

About the book: How do you grow a miracle? 


For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that’s important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not. 
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She’s going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it’s up to kids to save them, right?

Thank you so much Random House and Tae Keller for sending me a copy of The Science of Breakable Things. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line

Young Reader’s Edition

by Andrew Maraniss

 

So many times it’s hard to get non fiction books into the hands of young readers. I know many love non fiction – my middle grade reader really only likes non fiction. So many though don’t, but that is changing thanks to Young Reader’s Edition books. They take a popular adult non fiction and give a detailed but condensed version of the book with younger reader’s in mind. My middle grader reader and I have read many Young Reader’s Editions and have enjoyed them so much we’ve seeked out the adult book as well .

Strong Inside The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line follows Perry Wallace through out his young school days through his college years. This book is a sport biography but also a historical biography as well. He grew up in an era that was full of racism and people who didn’t want to see him succeed. He didn’t let them hold him back. He had a dream, the talent and the strength and character that took all the way! There is some tough language in here. The author has a note in the beginning saying to whitewash the language would be a disservice and I agree. We need to read about this time in history, we can not forget or go back to that era. If generations going up know don’t know about it history repeats itself. Perry Wallace is one I hope many kids will read about and look up to. He would be an excellent role model that I used his good heart, brains and talent and made something of himself. It wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to work 10 times harder than most high school and college players but he didn’t let that stop him.  He was not only talent on the basket ball court but he was also very well-known in the courthouse as well. He became a trial attorney and worked with environmental law. He was appointed Environmental Policy Advisory Council by the EPA but also a professor at American University Washington College of Law. I enjoyed this book very much and was quite surprised I’m not a sports gal but he was such an inspiring man! If you have a sports minded boy reader, reluctant reader or a non fiction book-worm hand them a copy of Strong Inside. Don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t stay on your bookshelves much. I have a filling this will be a very popular book choice for upper elementary, middle grade and high school readers.

About the book: The inspirational true story of the first African-American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at a historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially integrated state tournament.

The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Thank you Puffin books for sending me a copy of Strong Inside. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Ostrich and Other Lost Things

by Beth Hautala

Publication Date: February 20th 2018 : AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks Depository Chapters Indigo

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I simply loved The Ostrich and Other Lost Things! This was a 5 star read and I want to place this in the hands of all upper elementary and middle grade readers. The book is mainly told through the eyes of 11 year old Olivia. She lives at home with her mom, dad and older brother Jacob who is autistic. Life doesn’t always go as planned with Jacob around and Olivia loves her brother so much but sometimes she just wants things to be different. She wants one thing that is just her’s since she feels sometimes her life is overshadowed by her brother. She has her superpower according to her dad: she is a finder of lost things. So not being able to find the toy ostrich that her Jacob loved so much really bugs her. There is a traveling zoo in her little town while the big zoo in Oklahoma is getting fixed. She meets Charlie, his mom is the keeper at this part of the zoo. They become best of friends and it is just what Olivia needs. Charlie is able to keep Olivia in check and has an understanding of Jacob and how hard it is to not be like everyone. Charlie was in an accident and is now blind. So he can give Olivia a perspective that she can’t understand. He also is a great friend in listening and telling her when she needs to be nice and that not everything is about her. He is her support and friend for this trying summer of growing up and trying to figure out what she likes, who she is becoming and how Jacob’s violent outburst are changing their family home. The story is realistic and one I think the reader can learn from. Olivia loves her brother so much but she is just a kid and sometimes she gets upset and frustrated but doesn’t express her outburst that well since she is just 11. I liked that in my eyes the author portrayed her very realistic, really I think the whole story seemed very relate able.  There is more to the story: the mystery of the missing Ostrich toy, The real life Ostrich that keeps getting out and coming to Olivia’s window and the moment when Jacob runs away after a very bad fight where Olivia says things she can’t take back. This scene is a good lesson in not talking to someone when your mad at them. Sometimes you say things that you want to take back instantly but it’s to late. Grab The Ostrich and Other Lost Things for yourself, your upper elementary reader or middle grade reader.

About this Book: In this beautifully written novel, the bonds and challenges of caring for a sibling with autism are bravely explored, along with the pain and power that comes from self-discovery. 

Eleven-year-old Olivia Grant has a knack for finding lost things. She can find lost rings, pets, and even her elderly neighbor’s misplaced glasses. There’s only one thing Olivia has never been able to find–her brother Jacob’s toy ostrich. It wasn’t until the day Jacob lost his ostrich that Olivia noticed how different he was: Jacob is autistic, and though she’s his little sister, Olivia often feels like the older of the pair, his caretaker. And with her parents so heavily focused on maintaining status quo for Jacob, it’s Olivia who has stagnated in his shadow–unable to explore new opportunities, or to be her own person. In fact, apart from being Jacob’s sister, Olivia’s not really sure who she is.

So when summer break begins, and the local community theater announces auditions for an all children’s production of her favorite show, Peter Pan, Olivia jumps at the chance to claim something for herself. But what begins as a promising opportunity and a wonderful escape quickly becomes pure chaos. The visiting zoo with an odd assortment of animals–including an ostrich that causes even more trouble than Jacob’s missing toy–only make matters worse, as Olivia’s summer is shaping up to be just as consumed by Jacob’s needs as the rest of her life has been.

In time, and with the help of some unlikely alliances, Olivia must learn what it means to be separate from her brother and still love him, how to love herself in spite of her own flaws, and that not all lost things are meant to be found.

Thank you Penguin Young Reader and Philomel Books for sending me a copy of The Ostrich and Other Lost Things. All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

I am not an affiliate so I will not receive any money from any purchases made by clicking the links to buy the book.

Dolphins Voices in the Ocean

by Susan Casey

 

Dolphins Voices in the Ocean is a young readers edition to her adult non fiction book Voices in the Ocean A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins. I love dolphins so much, when I lived in Florida it was so neat to see them swimming in the ocean. Dolphins are fierce animals that are gentle to humans. Well I’ve never heard of a dolphin attack so I’m going with the are gentle to humans. They are highly intelligent and while it’s not scientific study results I would say most people who want to be marine biologist it is for their love of Dolphins.

Susan Casey hadn’t really thought much of dolphins till she had an encounter with a pod that changed it in so many ways. She decided to research and really get to know these amazing ocean mammals. The reader will learn all about how dolphins are treated around the world. Some stuff they will read are going to be upsetting but some are so inspiring. She talks to not only marine biologist but locals who live day to day with dolphins. For me I liked that she also talked to activist trying to save dolphins and bring to light the fisherman and towns that kill them for sport!  I learned a lot about dolphins and their treatment that I didn’t know. I felt this book was a fast enough read that readers that are not into non fiction would still enjoy this book. I know I’m not a non fiction reader – this year I’m trying hard and will be reading more.  This book is for older elementary through middle grade, really I think even a high school and adult reader would enjoy this book. It doesn’t go to deep into information, just enough to hold a non fiction reader and the not so non fiction reader alike. Overall I really enjoyed it and it has me looking for more books like this. My middle grade reader read it in one setting, she loves non fiction. She loved it so much she has asked me to get a copy of the book it is based on from the library so she can get  more in-depth information about dolphins.

About the Book: A thrilling journey into the spiritual, scientific and sometimes threatened world of dolphins. Based on Susan Casey’s bestselling adult work Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins, this young readers adaptation, which includes an 8-page photo insert, explores the extraordinary world of dolphins in an interesting and accessible format that engages as well as entertains. Inspired by an encounter with a pod of spinner dolphins off the coast of Maui, author Susan Casey embarked on a two-year global adventure to study these remarkable beings. Casey details the extraordinary connection between dolphins and humans, including shared characteristics such as capacity for emotion, playfulness, sociability, and intelligence, the sophisticated navigation ability innate in dolphins, and the dangers they face from people who aim to profit by putting them in captivity or far worse.

Thank you Delcorte Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of Dolphins Voices in the Ocean. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Christmas series by Matt Haig

Matt Haig writes books for all ages from this Christmas series for the older elementary reader to adult books. The Christmas series tells the story of Father Christmas AKA Santa Claus. The Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas to me read more for the older reader. I’m thinking mid to upper elementary. If your younger bookworm wants to read these books I suggest reading them yourself first to decide if they are a-okay for your child. I would have given these to my 3rd grader if they had come out at the time since she was already reading a collection of Grimms fairy tales, these 2 books would have been right up her alley. There are some intense times through out both books and some sensitive readers might find it a bit scary. For me personally I LOVED these books! They were funny at times, a bit dark and creepy at times – thinking Tim Burton would have a hay day with making these into movies. I loved that the darker parts were a bit Dickens -esque , I mean have you read some of the Victorian classics they are dark even the kids books are. I loved reading what could possibly be the read story of Father Christmas I mean who knows what he went through to become the great guy that we all still talk about. 🙂 The Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas would be a fun set of books to read this holiday season. Pop some popcorn, make some cocoa, snuggle under the blankets and get wrapped up in some great holiday reading!

The Boy Called Christmas

by Matt Haig – illustrated by Chris Mould

Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him. 

Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . . .

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

by Matt Haig – illustrated by Chris Mould

Amelia Wishart was the first child ever to receive a Christmas present. It was herChristmas spirit that gave Santa the extra boost of magic he needed to make his first trip around the world. But now Amelia is in trouble.

When her mother falls ill, she is sent to the workhouse to toil under cruel Mr. Creeper. For a whole year, Amelia scrubs the floors and eats watery gruel, without a whiff of kindness to keep her going. It’s not long before her hope begins to drain away.

Meanwhile, up at the North Pole, magic levels dip dangerously low as Christmas approaches, and Santa knows that something is gravely wrong. With the help of his trusty reindeer, a curious cat, and Charles Dickens, he sets out to find Amelia, the only girl who might be able to save Christmas. But first Amelia must learn to believe again. . . .

Thank you so much Penguin Random House for sending me copies of these great books. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

If you and your bookworm really love these 2 as much as I did you might want to check out their other one called Father Christmas and Me.  These one looks like it might have been a England or Europe only release. I wish I could have read it right along with these 2 books. I might have to nab a copy since it sounds just as great as the others.

LET THE BATTLE FOR CHRISTMAS BEGIN

It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas.

For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold.

But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive. Before it’s too late . . .

The Devlin Quick Mysteries Digging for Dinosaurs

by Linda Fairstein

 

 

 

Twelve-year-old supersleuth Devlin Quick heads to Montana to dig out dinosaur bones, but instead she uncovers a mystery.

After successfully apprehending a map thief at the beginning of summer, Dev is going to spend the second half of her summer vacation in Montana with her best friend, Katie, exploring the outdoors and NOT getting into trouble. But after participating in a dinosaur dig, Katie and Dev suspect that someone bad is in the Badlands when Katie’s found fossils are switched out for old rocks. The good news? With Mom back in New York, no one can stop Devlin from investigating! But the fossil thief isn’t the only danger here, as snakes, scorpions, and bears abound, making Montana a treacherous place for finding answers.

This is a first Devlin Quick book I’ve read by Linda Fairstein. I’ve read her adult books and liked them so I thought I should definitely give her middle grade mystery series a chance. Devlin Quick is a spunky quick-witted girl who not only likes to solve a good mystery but knows the ins and outs of solving a mystery. She has learned from the best Commander Quick her mom the first Police Commander of the NYC police force. So you could say detective – police work runs in the family. She has a great partner in her best friend Katie and between the 2 of them nothing goes unsolved. The writing and characters are very well developed and while this is book 2 in the series I feel they are also stand alone. I have not read the first book but was able to jump right into this book and not once felt like I was missing something that I should know.  This book revolves around a dinosaur dig in the upper midwest of Montana and possible poachers. These poachers come onto a dig in the middle of the night and take the biggest and best dinosaur bones to sell to collectors and museums. What they do is not only illegal but not fair in the fact that they are ruining all the work the excavation team of Paleontologist and their workers are doing. Devlin Quick thinks for this dig it just might be paleontologist Steve’s right hand man who is helping the poachers on this dig site. Can Devlin Quick and her trusty helpers solve the mystery before any more bones go missing? Grab a copy of The Devlin Quick Mysteries Digging for Dinosaurs to find out.

This book would appeal to mid to upper elementary through middle grade readers who are venturing into mysteries for the first time as well as seasoned mystery readers. While the 2 main characters are girls I think some boys might enjoy this as well as girl readers. It’s hard for me to judge since I only girl readers in my house but I can see my nephew’s reading this one and enjoying it. I will be reading the first in the series The Devlin Quick Mysteries Into the Lion’s Den since I enjoyed this one so much. I say add this to your holiday gift buying list and gift the mystery series to a bookworm you know would really enjoy this fun book series.

Thank you so much Dial Books for Young Readers and Penguin Random House of sending me a copy of The Devlin Quick Mysteries Digging for Dinosaurs. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.