Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween: Halloween Book Review

Happy Halloween to all my ghoulish readers.

Halloween Book Review: 

Trick or Treat on
Monster Street 

  Written by Danny Schnitzlein
    llustrated by Matt Faulkner  

After his teasing older brothers leave him alone on Halloween night, a young boy finds himself in a frightening situation. It's bad enough being left alone in the dark, but to be left on Monster St. is scarier than anything else. While the boy cautiously makes his way down Monster Street to trick or treat, hairy arms and tentacles drop spiders and dead fish into his bag.  He is relieved to meeet another trick-or-treater he thinks, but is surprised when his new friend removes his mask.

Danny Schnitzlein's clever prose delves into the monstrous fears of children. The young hero learns to conquer his fears and even has a twist for his older brothers that will make every child with an older sibling feel vindicated. The illustrations are a perfect fit for the story, moving the plot ahead without being too frightening for younger children. A great Halloween picture book for all your little ghouls and goblins. Your cute little pumpkin will like it too. Highly Recommended

Publishing Info 
  • Reading level: Ages 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (September 1, 2008)

 Click to purchase from the following retailers: 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HAL JUNIOR: THE SECRET SIGNAL by Simon Haynes Book Review and Giveaway

Hal Junior: The Secret Signal by Simon Haynes

Hal Junior is a lot like any average kid. He hates doing homework. He's constantly in trouble for goofing off and his best friend, Stinky Binn, is smarter than him. The only thing is that Hal doesn't live like the averagekid. 
Instead, he lives on board a futuristic space station.

Hal's class is invited on a field trip to watch the the docking of a spaceship and Hal decides to be the model of good behavior so he won't get left behind. When the class is kidnapped and held hostage, Hal must decipher a secret message from his chief scientist mum and save his class and ship.

Author Simon Haynes does a good job mixing humor and adventure with science. His illustrations inside of the book are especially clever and humorous. The protagonist, Hal Junior, makes plans that don't always turn out the way he expects, but offer fun twists to his escape. The inanimate character of the ship's computer is a great addition to the story. Hal Junior: The Secret Signal is a great science fiction novel for the middle grade boy ages 8-12. I don't often find great science fiction novels for middle grade to recommend so I was thrilled to read and review this book.


Want to learn more about author Simon Haynes? Visit

**Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the author for review and giveaway purposes. I did not receive monetary compensation for my book review. In no way were my opinions influenced by the author.

                                                                    BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS

One lucky reader will win an autographed paperback copy of HAL JUNIOR: THE SECRET SIGNAL by Simon Haynes.

Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway. If the form does not indicate the right book giveaway, please click on the title of the blog post and it will take you to the right rafflecopter form. Contest ends Wednesday November 2, 2011 at 10:00 p.m. MST

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Elliot and the Pixie Plot

Elliot and the Pixie Plot by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Elliot and the Pixie Plot (Underworld Chronicle #2) begins where the first book of the series, Elliot and the Goblin War, leaves off with Eleven year old Elliot Penster becoming king of the Brownies.

Elliot thinks his life is bad when he gets paired up with Cami 'Toadface' as his science partner. It gets worse when he has to host his nemesis, the former Tub Lawless for a sleepover. But when Harold the Shapeshifter shows up, real chaos ensues. The Pixie princess, Fidget Spitfly, wants Elliot to release Grissel, the Goblin's leader, from Brownie prison and sends Harold to threaten Elliot into releasing him.

In a humorous, action filled quest to meet the demands of the angry fairies, Elliot must navigate the dangers of the Underworld, like gripping mud, to find a certain creature to bring back items demanded from the fairies.

I loved the whimsical nature of the narrator in this book. The action filled plot made me want to keep reading. Though I did not read the first book in the series, I was able to easily able to get into this book without any confusion. Reading The Pixie Plot definitely made me want to read the first book and got me excited for a future book. Great as a stand alone book as well as an integral part of a light fantasy series which the middle grade reader will look forward to. Highly recommended for fun fantasy and humor for ages 8-12.

Publishing Date: Aug. 1st, 2011
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky



**Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book free of charge for review and giveaway purposes from the author. It in no way influenced my review of the book. I did not receive compensation in return for a favorable review. All opinions are unbiased and honest.

                              BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS

One lucky winner will receive a hardback copy of Elliot and the Pixie Plot by Jennifer A. Nielsen. 

To enter: Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form. If it doesn't look like the right form, please click on the blog title and it will bring up the right form. It may take a minute to load. Contest ends Monday Oct. 31, 2011 at 10:00 p.m. MST.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: THE BILLIONAIRE'S CURSE

                                    The Billionaire's Curse by Richard Newsome

Gerald Wilkins is a normal thirteen-year-old. That is until he inherits twenty billion pounds from a great-aunt he never knew. When he arrives in England from Australia, he finds he not only inherits his great-aunt's estate, but also a note from her which states she was murdered and it is up to him to find her killers. Gerald doesn't have to look very far as the killer doesn't waste anytime time trying to murder him as well.

His parents are more concerned with their new found wealth than they are with Gerald and dump him in England with his aunt's hired help. Gerald meets a likeable set of allies, twins Sam and Ruby, at the British Museum. With their help, they unravels the mystery of the murder, a missing diamond and a priceless diamond casket.

The mysteries lead them to social clubs, breathtaking mansions and creepy underground chambers where everyone they meet becomes a suspect in THE BILLIONAIRE'S CURSE, a fast paced adventure novel by debut author Richard Newsome. Great action from the beginning. I could hardly put the book down and it will especially appeal to the mystery and adventure reader. The novel also alludes to a family secret which sets up a sequel which I'm sure the reader will look forward to with great anticipation. Recommended for the middle grade reader ages 8-12 but will appeal to ages 13-15 as well.

  • Published by Waldon Pond Press
  • 344 pages
  • Ages 8-12
Click retailer button below to purchase this book.

**Disclosure: I received this book at no charge from the publisher for review purposes. In no way does that influence my opinions of the book. I have not received payment for reviewing the book. 

                                                 BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS

I am giving my review copy away to one lucky reader. Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. If it looks like the wrong form, just click the blog post title and the right form will load. Contest ends Oct. 27, 2011 at 10 p.m. MST. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS: Book Review and Giveaway

A collection of short stories aimed toward the boy reluctant reader, GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS contains humor from some of the best writers in children's literature. As part of the GUYS READ initiative spearheaded by Jon Scieszka, FUNNY BUSINESS is the first book in the series.

What happens when your dad decides you aren't man enough because you don't like "boy centered" acitvities and decides to bring home a turkey for you to raise for Thanksgiving dinner? It seems your dad starts treating the turkey like a son and would rather have him around than you. In A Fistful of Feathers by David Yoo, get ready to laugh out loud when that deranged turkey becomes bent on destroying the narrators life and see who really gets cooked on Thanksgiving Day.

Dean would do anything to get the chance to jump into a pool of chocolate milk, even kiss up to the most annoying kid in school. Every other kid in school is eager to do the same. In Mac Barnett's Best of Friends, one hilarious scenario after another is played out to see how far both sides will go to gain friends.

Okay, admit it. We've all done it. Wait for the last minute to start that school project. When two friends in Kid Appeal by David Lubar, are assigned a project to show the history of their town, they can't agree on what to do. The morning the project is due, they make a desperate attempt to finish the project which involves a mummy, adhesive bandages, raw skin and a trip to the hospital. This story was one of my favorites and had me laughing on more than one occasion.

One of the standouts in the book is Your Question for Dear Author by Kate DiCamillo and John Scieszka. When Joe decides to write a letter to author Maureen O'Toople, he forgets to use his manners. Mrs. O'Toople does not let that slide and in her return letters, forces Joe to think. The interaction evolves in a very fun and life changing way. Very snarky, funny and heartwarming.

Eoin Colfer's Artemis Begins gives us a hysterical look and how he might have got his inspiration for Artemis Fowl from his little brother. Any boy can relate to breaking mom's things. A funny look into childhood antics.

You'll think twice about telling your gramps you got it rough after reading What? You Think You Got it Rough  by Christopher Paul Curtis. You'll also think twice about obeying your parents after reading My Parents Gave My Bedroom to a Biker by Paul Feig. Be prepared to be grossed out by Jack Gantos in My Bloody Souvenier. In Unaccompanied Minors by Jeff Kinney, we are reminded of the fun tricks that happen when an older brother gets left babysitting his younger brother. And last, in Will by Adam Rex, it's hard to feel special when everybody else gets to go to hero school. But Will gets a chance to prove he is anything but ordinary when a super villain crashes through his school.

GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS edited by Jon Scieska will not disappoint in the humor department. There are some really gut busting funny stories. A great choice for the boy reader ages 9-12 and chances are, girls will like some of the stories too. Recommended.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press (September 21, 2010)

**Disclosure: I received the book at no charge from the publisher for review purposes. I did not receive payment of any kind for a positive review. The book I received is the same book I am giving away.

                                                        CONTEST DETAILS

I am giving one lucky reader a chance to win my review copy. Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Wait for a minute for it to load.  Giveaway ends Sunday Oct. 23 at 11:00 p.m. MST.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Kitt Pirate: Snaggletooth's Treasure

Kitt Pirate is the youngest buccaneer captain to sail the Caribbean. That doesn’t stop him from successfully leading his crew to Caverock Island in search of Captain ‘Snaggletooth’ Gustavo’s legendary treasure.

Once Captain Kitt and his crew dock their ship, the Bonita, their adventure begins. With Snaggletooth’s treasure map in hand, they set out through the jungle in search of riches. They have to fight off humidity, giant spiders, and worst of all, doubts, in their quest for gold. 

The treasure map leads Kitt and his crew to a cave. Confident the buried treasure is in the cave they forge ahead only to find a horrible sea creature instead. They must get past the sea creature to get to the treasure. Can Kitt Pirate pass a test of wits or will he have to leave the treasure behind?

The author, Ben Oliver, does a good job with character development within a short time. Kitt’s adventures are exciting with twists and turns that keep the reader on edge, wondering what is next.  Great vocabulary for the young reader. I recommend this book for boys first through fourth grade. A strong chapter book/early middle grade book for ages 7-10.

Click HERE to purchase from Barnes and Noble.

 Or click below image to purchase from Amazon.


**Disclaimer: I received the book free of charge from the publisher for review and giveaway purposes. I did not receive payment of any kind. I was never asked by the publisher for a positive review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Book Giveaway: I will be giving away my review copy to one lucky winner. Please use the rafflecopter form to enter. Contest ends Monday Oct. 17, 2011 at 11:00 p.m. MST.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Galaxy Games Tour Stop for Oct. 9

Galaxy Games Puzzle Piece #9
Galaxy Games Tour Stop and Puzzle Piece #9

Thank you for stopping by on the Galaxy Games Book Tour. I hope you are having fun finding the puzzle pieces. Don't leave yet. Read on for an awesome interview with Greg Fishbone, the author of Galaxy Games: The Challengers. After reading the interview, you will be directed to two giveaway links. Make sure you enter both the authors tour contest and my blog contest to win my review copy of Galaxy Games.

Author Interview: Greg Fishbone

Describe your elementary-school self in three words.
Imaginative, helpful, and friendly. But my daughter has those three traits down even more than I ever did.

If you were chosen to lead an intergalactic sporting event, which sport or event would you hope it was?

The Galaxy Game, of course! Any other game you can think of can be part of it, and the rules are different every time.

If aliens invaded the earth, what’s one technology you would hope they’d bring with them and share with earthlings?

If they’ve already taken control and it’s not purely a social visit? In that case I’d hope they’ve come because they think we’d make cute and cuddly pets, and not because we all look so delicious… Maybe the aliens would bring a technology to provide us with endless hours of excitement and entertainment, like the way we use laser pointers with our cats!

What are two MG books you’d recommend and why? 

There are so many! Readers looking for other books that combine science fiction with humor will enjoy THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex. I’d also recommend the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer–the books seem like fantasy at first, because there are fairies, dwarves, and centaurs in them, but they’re all creatures of science and advanced technology. Colfer takes tired old myths and reworks them in an original and refreshing way.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you there yet?

When I was a kid, I wanted to run a multinational corporation. I imagined they sat around all day until they suddenly came up with an idea like, “What if we put superhero toys in all the Happy Meals?” and then a zillion people would leap into action and make it actually happen, probably within a day or two. I think what I really wanted was a way to turn my ideas into reality, and I can kind of do that by being an author. If I think up a fun story twist and put it into a book, it becomes real for anyone who reads it.

Why do you think some boys don't read more? 

I can't claim to be an expert on reluctant readers because I loved to read when I was a kid. But when I visit schools, it's clear that reading comes easier to some kids than others. I can only imagine how someone who's had a bad reading experience to become frustrated, unmotivated, and to avoid reading altogether except when it's absolutely necessary or assigned as homework. Others might want to read but aren't able to find books that they like. Or they might find fun books but be too busy with other activities to actually read them. Others might be convinced by peers that reading isn't cool, or they might get that unintended message from parents who don't read for fun. 

Ultimately, I think there are a lot of factors at work. 

What are you doing as an author to help change that?

It was gratifying for me to hear from so many parents that their reluctant readers loved my first book, The Penguins of Doom. If the writing is fun and fast paced, and if the characters are interesting and fully realized, reluctant readers will tune in. That said, authors have some tough competition for the attention of our readers. 

A film studio might be able to pour $100 million into a movie, wrangle a dozen well-known actors into the roles, and create stunning CGI effects. A video game company might be able to hire a hundred full-time programmers to work on a single title. Somehow, I need to come up with an experience that's just as entertaining using just my laptop computer and an endless supply of coffee. 

What would you tell the boy who is a reluctant reader?
No matter what you're into, there are books made just for you. And don't wait around for them to come out as movies. When you read, the movie that plays in your head will be better than anything Hollywood can come up with.
Click HERE to enter the author's Galaxy Games Launch Day Giveaway.
Click HERE to enter my review copy of Galaxy Games. Use the Rafflecopter entry form.

Be sure to visit the Galaxy Games Book site here.  


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: GALAXY GAMES: THE CHALLENGERS by Greg Fishbone

Tyler Sato’s eleventh birthday party starts out as a disaster when a clown shows up, embarrassing him in front of his friends. Things take a turn for the better when Tyler’s Japanese cousins in Tokyo name a star, TY SATO, after him in honor of his birthday. When he takes his friends to the observatory, Tyler finds his star moving toward earth at an alarming rate.

At first TY SATO is mistaken for an asteroid, causing panic around the world. When it moves closer to earth, Tyler discovers it is really a spaceship sent on a mission. The girl alien, M’Frozza, captain of her planet Mrendaria’s Galaxy Games, has come to earth to save her world from competing in the Galaxy Games. 

M’Frozza believes Ty is the best kid athlete on earth and drafts him to create a team to compete in the Galaxy Games. Ty must choose the best kid athletes from around the world to help him win the contest.

The story takes place in different locations which makes it confusing at first. Once the locations and characters are established, it was easier to go in between scenes. I think the reader will navigate the scene changes with interest. Galaxy Games, The Challengers by Greg R. Fishbone is a fun read with a prevailing theme of accepting each other without boundaries. There were a few laugh out loud moments. The games were really fun, though I wish they would have come earlier in the novel, but once they came, it was hard to put the book down. The male protagonist makes this the perfect science fiction novel for boys ages 8-11. Strong female characters also appeal to girls as well. Rating: Good.

  • Series: Galaxy Games
  • Title: The Challengers
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-60060-660-1
  • Author: Greg R. Fishbone
  • Illustrator: Ethen Beavers
  • Scheduled Release Date: September 2011
  • Publisher: Tu Books / Lee & Low Books
  • Ages: 9-12

As part of the Galaxy Games book tour, I am giving away my review copy. To enter: Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below. My book giveaway ends Oct. 9 at 11 p.m. MST.

I will also be posting a fabulous author interview on Oct. 9, the day of my tour stop.

Disclosure:  I received the Galaxy Games book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of this review and giveaway. It in no way influenced my opinion of the book. I was not asked to give a positive review in exchange for the book.