Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Invasion by Zack Satriani Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate review

Dray finally has the chance to prove herself as the commander in the Bellori army. Her friend, Kellor has become the new Cantor king and wants nothing more than provide good leadership while trying to change the way his people view their world. Meanwhile, their friend, Ayl, struggles  between trying to maintain peace and helping the Aquanth people understand the dangers lurking in their world.

When the evil Sudor returns with the Nara-Karith army strong enough to defeat the Bellori warriors, Dray is forced to make a decision that will change her people and those of the neighboring planets forever.

Plenty of action awaits the science fiction lover though it comes at the expense of meaningful character development. The formulaic plot resolves in a predictable ending to a three book series.

 Rating:  Good ★★★☆☆

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Hodder Books (May, 2014)
Pages: 286
Ages: 9-11
ISBN: 978-1444906622  
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez by Peter Johnson: Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate my review
His little brother calls him Mr. Negativity, his mom tells him he is the "glass half full" kind of guy but Benny Alvarez likes to think of himself as a realist who sees all sides of things. Benny also likes to think of himself as a word connoisseur (con-nois-seur - noun: an expert in a particular subject). With the help of his two friends and his handy thesaurus, his prowess with words lands him the boys champion in a poetry contest against his adversary, Claudine.

While Benny's smart-aleck antics at school make him a character easy to relate to for any middle school reader, his relationships at home carry rich characters through a lukewarm plot. As Benny faces a grandfather who is slowly going senile, a wild younger brother, an overly optimistic mother, a father who has lost his job and a sister who he actually likes, he learns the meaning of love that can't be found on the pages of his thesaurus. With character development deep, the reader can't help but laugh and even cry as Benny extends the compassion he gains at home to his peers at school.
Rating:  Recommended to Highly Recommended ★✬ (4 1/2)

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Harper (June 24, 2014)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-0-06-221596-3
Ages: 11-14

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hidden Enemy by Zack Satriani: Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate my review

With nothing but a shaky alliance to hold three planets together, disagreement on what to do with an asteroid valuable to each planet in different ways threaten to destroy peace between the union.

 As heirs to their respective planets, three teens are brought to the negotiations of what should be done with the asteroid. Dray, a Bellori warrior wants to prove to her father that being a girl does not preclude her from proving she is a strong fighter. The Cantorian teen, Keller, has learned the art of negotiation and believes he should always get his way. And the Aquanth, Ayl, wants nothing more than to use his power of telepathy to keep the peace. An attack by alien creatures attack, forces the three to leaders to work together to save their parents and to defeat the evil forces intent on controlling the Trinity.   

The action driven adventure leaves little in the way of meaningful character development. However, the science fiction lover may appreciate the constant action and overlook character flaws and lack of originality. A fast, entertaining read suited for ages 11-14.
Rating:  Good to Recommended ★★★✬☆ (3 1/2 out of 5)

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Seize the Summer and Join the Read Aloud Campaign

I want to challenge my readers to join the "Seize the Summer" campaign and read aloud to your child at least 15 minutes a day. Now that my children are older, I have seen first hand how important it has been throughout their lives that I spent time reading to them.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Review: The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Book received at no charge from the publisher to facilitate review.

"No one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge."
With the exception of old Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.
The townspeople have always relied on Cornelius to take their written complaints and file them away.

When Minnie's goat eats Elvira Boggs prizewinning zinnias, Elvira marches to the Grudge keeper to file a complaint. It doesn't end there. When a schoolboy snatches the schoolmaster's toupee, the schoolmaster files another offense. The numbers grow when Big Otto stomps on Lily's Belle's new shoes and she angrily throws her accusations at gentle Cornelius.

The grudges pile up until Cornelius's home is crammed with them. One day a wind blows, sending the grudges tumbling every which way, leaving Cornelius buried in a mountain of them. The next morning the people of Bonnyripple set off for his cottage to file their new complaints. Will they pull aside the mess of grudges fast enough to save Cornelius?

Playful wordplay, wit and beautiful ink with watercolor illustrations come together to create a delightfully charming story that will leave no doubt about how bad it is to hold a grudge. The look of burden and fatigue on the Grudge Keeper's face conveys what words never have to say. Hats off to both author and illustrator for capturing the magic while teaching a moral. Not many can pull it off and they do it with poise and beauty.

Rating: Highly Recommended ★★★★★
Publishing Information:

Publishing Information: 
Peachtree Publisher
Pages: 32
Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 978-1-56145-729-8

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