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Showing posts with label middle grade books. Show all posts

"Nightbird" Review

"Nightbird"
by Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: a charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.

"Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James."

Twelve-year-old Twig's town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town's famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse,Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig's family. But Julia turns out to be Twig's first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.
My Review:

"Nightbird" is simply a lovely story. Written for middle grade readers, I think it can be read and enjoyed by all ages. The author's writing is superb, and the atmosphere in Sidwill is almost dreamlike. It was easy to get swept away in this world. The mix of fantasy and realism is blended exquisitely.

Twig is so lonely at the beginning of the book. Her loneliness practically melts off the page. She still has hope and great attitude, but the tone at the start of the book is pretty melancholy. It's not long before we learn why she and her brother and mother isolate themselves from the rest of the town, and friends are hard to come by for Twig. But that is before sisters Julia and Agate move in next door. The sisters show Twig what true friendship is, as they work together to help her brother, James.

I love that Julia and Agate love Twig and James with the unconditional love of true friends. No matter how much Twig and James push them away (as they do with everyone in town), Julia and Agate just keep coming back with their support and friendship.

The witch's curse just adds the perfect amount of magic to this tale. I love that no one is shocked by the presence of magic in the book, it just exists.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: I loved this magical tale of a lonely girl finding friendship and strengthening her family bond at the same time. The lush atmosphere and writing made this book a joy to read.




Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Lucky Me" Review

"Lucky Me"
by Cindy Callaghan

Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: July 15, 2014

Source: sent by publicist

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
After breaking a chain letter, can superstitious Megan find a way to turn her luck around?

Meghan McGlinchey is the most superstitious girl in her family, and probably in the entire state of Delaware. When she receives a chain letter from a stranger in Ireland, Meghan immediately passes it on, taking only a tiny shortcut in the directions.

But after a disastrous day, made complete by losing the election for class president and embarrassing herself in front of the entire school, Meghan realizes that tiny shortcut was a big mistake. Thankfully, her family was already headed to Ireland on spring break, and Meghan makes it her mission to find the original sender and break her extremely unlucky streak.

With the help of an eccentric cast of characters, and one very cute Irish boy, can Meghan figure out a way to stop her bad luck? Or is she cursed forever?
My Review:

What an adorable book! I just loved it! I am definitely recommending it to my niece, a smart 6th grade girl, because that's exactly the perfect reader of this book. Some MG books can be geared more towards the younger end of the spectrum, but this book is so smart and the writing is sharp enough for an older MG reader while still having age-appropriate content. There was never a dull moment, and I just kept turning the pages to see what would happen next.

I read the author's first book in her international series, "Lost in London", and while I enjoyed it too, I really liked this book even more. I loved the 'homey' feel of the castle bed and breakfast that Meghan and her family stayed at. I also loved the idea that family was the main focus of the book, it was great to see Meghan meeting new members of her Irish family. The romance between Meghan and Finn was super adorable and completely perfect for this age group.

There was a lot of smart humor in this book, which was really refreshing. Meghan and Finn are driven around the Irish countryside by an eccentric older woman who wears a cape and has taken an oath of silence for the week. Meanwhile, two burly but overly sweet brothers have set their cap for Meghan's sister back at the bed and breakfast. I loved the vivid cast of characters and the peaceful Irish countryside setting made this such an enjoyable book to read.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to MG readers (even the older ones) as well as grown ups who enjoy a great story.


About the author: Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle-grade novels Just Add Magic (2010) and 2013’s Lost in London (Simon & Schuster). She is a full-time writer, animal advocate, and supermom. A native of New Jersey, Cindy lives, works, and writes in Wilmington, Delaware, with her family and numerous rescued pets. She loves hearing from fans, speaking at schools and conferences, and zip-lining.

A Book Sparks Tour Book

Disclosure: I received a  copy of this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

"My Zombie Hamster" Review

"My Zombie Hamster"
by Havelock McCreely


Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
A laugh-out-loud funny middle-grade debut with a scary twist, "My Zombie Hamster" will appeal to readers who like their animal stories mixed with chills. Fans of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps Most Wanted series will grab this one right up.
Matt Hunter and his buddies are looking forward to Christmas--actually, they're looking forward to receiving the latest sword-and-fantasy video game. But Matt's parents have other thoughts--they give him a fluffy little mammal, a hamster called Snuffles, for the holiday. And his grandmother makes it worse by giving him a hamster cage and wheel. But the hamster isn't all that cute--at least not after part of its cheek and belly fall right off--without bothering it a bit! And why is it staring at Matt with black beady eyes and a lean and hungry look?
Say hello to Anti-Snuffles, the zombie hamster! Or better yet, run!
This series combines middle-school readers' passions: humor, animals, and scary stories, into one unbeatable package.
My Review:

This book is seriously adorable. I was chuckling the entire time I read this one. I loved the author's style of humor, it was so witty, and he has a knack for making every day observances so funny! The author sets up a world where zombies live with humans that is believable and easy to understand. The characters are great as well, but I think the real stand out element of this book is the humor.

Matt is a great lead, he's a real kid who most young readers should be able to relate to. I love his best friend, Charlie, who is one tough little girl!Anti-Snuffles himself is hilarious. He really doesn't have a huge number of appearances in the book, so when you do get to see him and his antics, they are so fun to read about.

The book does take a turn that I didn't expect, which turns out to be a great plot element. It really ends up being the heart of the story, and you learn a valuable lesson as well.


Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: N/A

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: This time, you can judge a book by it's cover, because this story is just as fun, adorable, and quirky as that great cover!




Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway and Review: "Lost in London"

"Lost in London"
by Cindy Callaghan

Publisher: Aladdin

Release Date: Oct 15, 2013
Source: sent by publicist

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from the publicist: 

A tween’s foreign exchange experience lands her in London luxury—and some hot water as well! Twelve-year-old Jordan isn’t unhappy, but she’s definitely bored. So when she gets the chance to take part in a London exchange program, she’s thrilled to ditch her small town in Delaware and see the world across the pond.
Unfortunately, Jordan’s host sister in London, Caroline, isn’t exactly enthusiastic about entertaining an American girl. Despite the chilly welcome, Jordan finds herself loving the city and Caroline’s group of friends, who are much nicer than Caroline herself.
And then a major misstep leaves Jordan and Caroline trapped together overnight—inside Daphne’s, the world’s largest department store. Given they have complete access to all the fancy shoes, designer dresses, and coolest makeup around, there are worse places to be stuck. But when the girls’ fun has not-so-fun consequences, Jordan’s wish for excitement abroad turns into a lot more than she ever bargained for...

My Review:

This was such a fun middle grade/tween book! I was so caught up in Jordan's (aka JJ) adventures, that I couldn't put the book down. While it's still a very age appropriate book for middle grade readers, I think it would satisfy an older MG reader, who is not quite ready for YA but wants something a little more sophisticated.

I love that JJ and her friends romp around London completely unsupervised by adults. It's a great way to see tweens earning their independence and stretching their boundaries. All of the characters in JJ's group are very well rounded and multi-faceted. None of their personalities are stereotypical teens.

The ONLY drawback that I saw in the book was the focus that JJ seemed to have on clothes, makeup, etc. While her style does mirror her transformation, I just would have liked for JJ to focus on the other ways she was developing as a person, not just her style.

Otherwise, this was a super fun, fast-paced romp through London by five friends (and maybe one frenemy). It was fun to see London through the eyes of the jaded Londoners, and the young American tourist. You could really see the ways they bonded and helped each other see new things every day. The action was a mile-a-minute, and made for a book that was hard to put down.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: This was such a fun read for tweens, with enough action and drama to keep even older MG (and adult!) readers interested. Highly recommended!

About Cindy Callaghan: Cindy grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earning her BA in English and French, and MBA from the University of Delaware. She recently exited corporate America after nearly twenty years, and is now fully entrenched in business consulting, writing, and family.  She is very involved with her children’s activities, including coaching the occasional soccer team. Cindy lives, works and writes in Wilmington, Delaware with her family and numerous rescued pets


Find Cindy on the web:

Buy the book:
http://bit.ly/LondonBook - Books a Million
http://bit.ly/getlondon - Barnes & Noble
http://bit.ly/lostinlondon - Amazon



GIVEAWAY RULES
The publicist and publisher have generously provided TWO copies of this book for two lucky readers of my blog.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only
  • Prizes will be mailed out by the publicist
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Nov 17
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway and Review: "The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole"

"The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole"
by Eric Pierpoint

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

"I need you to be strong."

Caleb O'Toole could hear his mother's last words as clearly as if she was sitting right next to him. He promised her he'd keep his sisters safe. But safety is over a thousand miles away in the rugged Bitteroot Mountains--past dust-choked deserts and thorny tumbleweeds and as sun so hot, it's hard to breathe. Tornadoes and hungry wolves wait for them on the path ahead. But with the infamous Blackstone Gang hot on their trail, Caleb has no choice but to keep going. There's no telling how far the gang will go to keep their latest murder a secret. And Caleb is the number one witness to their crime.

Caleb O'Toole can hear his mother's last words: "I need you to be strong." and he can't let her down.

My Review:

There is never a dull moment Caleb O'Toole's western adventures. He and his sisters are on their own after their parents lose their battle with Cholera. They do get some guidance from the misunderstood and infamous Henderson, while being chased by murderers, disease, and the wilderness of the old west. The adventures are one right after another, they never have a second to breathe or relax! This makes for some very exciting reading.

I liked that Caleb was so smart and he was able to get out of many predicaments using his brains. He kept a very level head when the heat was on.

The only drawback for me was that there was a lot of gun use. I do realize that this was the old west, and that was a way of life, but I'm still unsure about it being so prevalent in a kid's book. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable recommending this one, without a warning first.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Setting: 4/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5


Bottom Line: A fast-paced, mile-a-minute western adventure with a smart hero.






GIVEAWAY RULES
The publisher has generously provided a copy of this book for a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US/CAN
  • Prizes will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Nov 3
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire' Review

"Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire" Heroes in Training #4
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin 
Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

The action heats up for Zeus and his fellow Olympians in this blazing Heroes in Training tale.Phew, it’s hot! Under the titan Hyperion’s rule, the sun is burning even brighter than normal and scorching everything in northern Greece—including the villagers! The Olympians are forced to play a sizzling “game” of Dodge the Sunbursts as Hyperion hurls giant fireballs that could fry them to pieces!

Armed with some clues, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades set out to figure out why in the world Hyperion has been making things so hot. They also need to rescue Hera, who is still missing. Battling the extreme heat—and some fantastical and scary creatures, courtesy of their old foe Cronus—the boys are off on another epic adventure…and Zeus is one step closer to discovering his destiny.

My Review:


These books are always short and sweet action packed tales of adventure. I love the characters and stories from mythology, I think it encourages young readers to find out more about the classic tales.

This series is written by the authors of Goddess Girls, but it isn't the same 'world' as the Goddess Girls, it is completely separate. I wouldn't really say the two series are that similar, except for the mythology element. There is a lot more action in the Heroes in Training series. This time their foe is Hyperion and his giant fireballs!

I like that the heroes are always meeting new members to add to their group. And girls, don't worry, there are some strong females in their little group of warriors, too! I like how each of the characters have their magical object that makes them even stronger. You can see these on the cover, Zeus has his lightning bolt, Poseidon has a trident, and Hades has a helm. Bolt the lightning bolt is so fun to read about. He has a mind of his own, and usually acts like Zeus' loyal puppy.

There is never a dull moment in this book, with all of the adventures this group of heroes embarks on. The handful of illustrations add a lot to the story, and would be fun for readers of graphic novels. There is a lot of humor in the book too, which makes it so fun to read! The Oracle never fails to make me laugh with her foggy glasses causing her to mix up her visions.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: n/a

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: Another great addition to this fun, action packed series for middle graders!  


If you think this book sounds good, you might want to read my reviews for the other books in the series, as well as my reviews for another series by the same authors: The Goddess Girls.

The Heroes in Training Series:

#1 Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom
#2 Poseidon and the Sea of Fury

The Goddess Girls Series:
#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)
#9 Pandora the Curious 
#10 Pheme the Gossip 
#11 Persephone the Daring (another favorite)
Super Special: The Girl Games 


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

"Persephone the Daring" Goddess Girls #11 Review

"Persephone the Daring" Goddess Girls #11
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin 
Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

Mortal rock star Orpheus steals the spotlight in this Goddess Girls tale of love and lyres!Orpheus is a mortal rock god, and the girls at Mount Olympus Academy are wild about him! With his lyre and singing voice, Orpheus can charm pretty much anything—even things like stones and trees. But Hades and the other MOA boys aren’t charmed. In fact, they are less than thrilled that the girls are so gaga over this guy.

His fans are especially excited about his latest song about the girl he loved and lost, Eurydice. Orpheus was devastated when he lost Eurydice to the Underworld, so he asks Persephone to help get her back. Though it means breaking some very serious Underworld rules, Persephone pushes Hades to return Eurydice to the living world. But restoring Orpheus’s one true love might jeopardize Persephone’s own chances with her biggest crush...

My Review:


I love this entire series, and this is one of the best installments yet. It's definitely one of my favorites, if not my overall favorite, and that's saying something! I think I literally read this book with a huge smile on my face!

Persephone was already one of my favorite characters from the series, she's so shy and adorable, but she's actually really strong too. This book had a great story about Persephone trying to be more daring. She even made a new friend, Eurydice-Orpheus's back up singer, who was super brave. However, Persephone soon found out that Eurydice was more than daring, she was out of control! Maybe it's not such a bad thing to be the dependable one.

While the book does teach girls a valuable lesson about responsibility, there is so much fun to be had in this book, too. Orpheus is a cute pop star, who has a cute personality to boot. But fans of Persephone's cute romance with Hades need not get too nervous! It would take more than a cute mortal pop star to break up Mount Olympus' favorite couple!

I just love this series and the more books that I read, the more I love all the characters. It was great to see quite a bit of Medusa in this book. Ever since she got her own book, she's no longer 'Medusa the Mean', but she sure is spunky and so much fun to read about!

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: A fantastic new addition to my favorite middle grade series. This one is a must read for fans of the books, and for new readers alike!

If you think this Goddess Girls book sounds great, check out my reviews for ALL of the books in the series!  

#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)
#9 Pandora the Curious 
#10 Pheme the Gossip
Super Special: The Girl Games 


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

"Pheme the Gossip" Goddess Girls #10 Review

"Pheme the Gossip" Goddess Girls #10
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin 
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

Get to know Goddess Girl Pheme…the original “gossip girl”!As the goddess girl of rumor and gossip, Pheme prides herself on being “in the know” and having the most up-to-date info on anyone and everyone at Mount Olympus Academy. To make sure that people really get her VIP messages, her words tend to linger in cloud letters above her head—just in case people don’t catch what she says!



But not everyone is thrilled with Pheme’s insider knowledge on everything MOA—including the Goddess Girls. Can Pheme ever be trusted? Or will this “gossip girl” find herself on the other end of the rumors?

My Review:

In my opinion, this is one of the very best book series out there for younger girls, and this a great addition to the series. I love getting to know the other girls besides the main four Goddess Girls. They all have a little something different to add, and a little bit of quirkier personalities!

Some may think, what good can come from gossip? But the authors have found away to explain that in moderation, gossip can actually be helpful. Pheme is trusted by Zeus to be his eyes and ears around Mount Olympus Academy. He wants to be the first to know if there is any suspicious activity. While Pheme does take it to an extreme at times, she and her friends learn that her job is important. By always being watchful, she can tell when something suspicious is going on that may cause harm to the students (and in this case-the world!). It's also important for her to 'gossip' about it, or to let Zeus know asap.

It's a different sort of message than we usually get about gossipping. But actually it may be an important one for young girls to learn. It is a good idea to 'report back' to an adult if they notice anything strange going on. While it's not great to gossip, it is important to speak up. It's a fine line, and I think the authors explained it quite well!


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: I love seeing the supporting girls from The Goddess Girls get their own books! It's so fun to read about their different personalities!

If you think this Goddess Girls book sounds great, check out my reviews for ALL of the books in the series!  

#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)
#9 Pandora the Curious
Super Special: The Girl Games 


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway and Review: "Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels"

"Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels"
 by Helene Boudreau

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: Feb 1, 2012
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

The only thing that terrifies Jade more than the ocean is dancing at the Fall Formal. Because Jade has two left feet—er, flippers. Who knew being a high school freshman is even more awkward than being a plus-size aqua-phobic mer-girl? At least her only drama is of the human variety...

Or not.

The Mermish Council has just declared that all land-dwelling mers but return to the ocean. Pronto. But there's no way Jade is going to let her mom, or Luke, her...boyfriend? mer-guy-friend?, disappear into the deep, dark ocean. Again. After all, a girl's got to have a date to her first dance.

If Jade can stop mer-mageddon, finding a plus-size dress that doesn't look like a shower curtain should be a piece of cake.

My Review:

I can't resist books about mermaids, and this middle grade novel was adorable. I was surprised at the amount of world building in this book! The author really set up an entire undersea world with its own set of rules and politics.

However, my favorite part of the book wasn't the alternate universe, but the relationships between the characters. I loved that all of the characters cared about each other so much! You could really see how they joined together and helped each other in order to save the day. Jade's best (human) friend, Cori, was so adorable and encouraging to her friend, their friendship was so sweet and real at the same time. I also liked the addition of Serena, the mermaid who has just found her way onto land. Lainey, the mean girl, was fully fleshed out, and Jade was able to understand why she acted the way she did. It was great to see that dynamic explored instead of just making Lainey into a villain.

I would say this book is for older middle grade readers, or maybe even a younger YA reader. The characters themselves are in the 9th grade. There is nothing objectionable in the book at all, but there is so much detail and action that an older reader would definitely be entertained by this one.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5 (cute and age appropriate to MG readers)

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5


Bottom Line: A fun mermaid tale, with great characters and relationships.

Giveaway:

One set of all three books in this series! Including "Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings", "Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath", and "Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels"



GIVEAWAY RULES
The publicist has generously provided a copy of all three books in this series for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US/CAN only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Mar 8
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Giveaway and Review: "Poseidon and the Sea of Fury" Heroes in Training #2

"Poseidon and the Sea of Fury" Heroes in Training #2
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: Dec 4, 2012
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

A young Poseidon must triumph over aquatic terrors in this Heroes in Training adventure. The merciless Cronus and his Titan buddies are in hot pursuit of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, who plan to travel across the treacherous boiling sea in order to save a fellow Olympian. They have a boat, but they also have a problem: Poseidon can’t swim and is terrified of the water (well, really of the creatures that lurk in its depths). The group faces danger after danger as they battle singing sirens, a fishy and ferocious Titan named Oceanus, and people-eating monsters sent by Cronus himself. Can Poseidon overcome his fears and help his fellow heroes escape Cronus and his cronies?

My Review:

This story may be short, page-wise, but don't let that make you think that not a lot happens! There are so many adventures in this book! As soon as the heroes solve one problem, there is another adventure right on it's heels! It really makes the book fly by, there is never a dull moment.

The second story in the new Heroes in Training series still focuses on Zeus as the main character, but we learn a lot more about his new friend Poseidon. I thought the book might feature Poseidon as the main character, but it's still really Zeus' story. But Poseidon is a main player in the tale this time, and he learns a lot about himself and his abilities during this journey.


Like the first book, I loved the character of Bolt, Zeus' lightning bolt. It is so fun that he has his own personality, and acts like a sweet little puppy dog. That is unless he zapping enemies! His moods are directly affected by Zeus' own moods and feelings.

By the end, Poseidon has gained more self confidence, which is great to see. The book ends with an introduction to Hades, the star of the next book. I couldn't believe the cliffhanger at the end as well! (Hera!!)

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: n/a

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: A great addition to a wonderful new series, with generous helpings of adventure, courage, and friendship.



GIVEAWAY RULES
The authors have generously provided an autographed copy of "Poseidon and the Sea of Fury" for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Jan 23
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



If you think this book sounds great, check out my reviews for the first book in the Heroes in Training series, and reviews for ALL of the books in the authors' other series, the Goddess Girls!

Heroes in Training:
#1 Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom

Goddess Girls:
#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)
#9 Pandora the Curious (another fave)
Super Special: The Girl Games 

Giveaway and Review: "Pandora the Curious" Goddess Girls #9

"Pandora the Curious" Goddess Girls #9
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: Dec 4, 2012
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

Is Pandora about to open up a box of trouble?

One of the few mortals at Mount Olympus Academy, Pandora is famous for her mega quizzical nature—not that she thinks there’s anything wrong with being curious, of course!

Her curiosity kicks into high gear when a godboy named Epimetheus brings a mysterious box to school. Epimetheus is the nephew of an MOA teacher in whose class Pandora once opened another box that sent a few weather disasters to earth. Still, Pandora can’t help but take a peek inside this new box when it unexpectedly lands in her lap. What could be the harm in that, right? Little does she know that opening the box will open up far more trouble than she ever expected!

Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams put a modern spin on classic myths with the Goddess Girls series. Follow the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.

My Review:

This installment of one of my favorite series, The Goddess Girls, tells the infamous story of Pandora opening the box of troubles. I love that these books are inspired by the Greek myths, but also make them appealing to young girls. I realized that even though everyone knows Pandora and her box, I really didn't know the actual story at all, so I was inspired to look it up. I hope that young girls reading these books will do the same and expand their knowledge of classic tales by reading something so modern and fun.

I love the books about the supporting Goddess Girls, the characters outside of the main four girls. I think the other girls, like Medusa and Pandora, might have a few more flaws, and might appeal to girls who feel a little more different. Pandora doesn't really fit the mold of 'sporty', 'brainy', or 'popular', so it's fun to read about her thoughts and feelings too. She has a flaw, she can't help but ask so many questions that it becomes nosy, and she can't hold back from snooping where she doesn't belong sometimes. But it's great to see her find a balance of the times when it's great to ask questions, not just accepting answers without knowing why. But then she has to know when to hold back too, as she learned by releasing all of the trouble bubbles on her schoolmates.

I thought it was so fun to see the trouble bubbles affect the other Goddess Girls, and we got to see them act in the complete opposite way that they normally would. I won't give away too many of the trouble bubbles, but the first bubble turned brainy Athena into a ditz! It was too cute to see the smartest, most disciplined girl in school get lost in the school hallways.

As with all of this series, I love the sweet first love stories. Pandora doesn't really like Epimetheus at first, because she is smitten with Posiedon. But Epimetheus really proves that he is the godboy for her when he appreciates her, flaws and all. He actually helps her to realize that her curiosity isn't really a flaw, when used correctly, it's a strength.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: The Goddess Girls books just keep getting better and better! I love learning more about the supporting characters from the series!

This is the first Goddess Girl book to be available in both hardcover and paperback!

GIVEAWAY RULES
The authors have generously provided an autographed copy of "Pandora the Curious" for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Jan 5
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you think this Goddess Girls book sounds great, check out my reviews for ALL of the books in the series!  

#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)
Super Special: The Girl Games 

"Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies" Giveaway!

As part of the blog tour for Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, the publisher is generously giving away a copy of this middle grade adventure for a lucky reader of my blog.

Here is more info about the book!
"Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies"
Jordan Jacobs

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: Oct 1, 2012


Summary from Sourcebooks:  


What happens when Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew? You get Samantha Sutton, twelve year-old archeology buff with sharp wit and an insatiably curious personality. SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES is the incredible page-turner about a young girl from California who is given the chance to follow her archeologist uncle to the excavation of an ancient Peruvian temple. What she doesn’t expect, though, is the legend haunting this ancient site. When important artifacts begin to disappear overnight, Samantha must navigate the disapproving eye of her uncle’s acerbic assistant, the bungling boyishness of her annoying big brother, and the ever-present stories swirling among the locals of the hysterical spirit that wanders through the town late at night. Using her keen sensibility and her knack for mapping the unknown passageways of Chavín de Huántar, Samantha uncovers a mystery far bigger than she could have ever imagined. . This is a novel for children (and adults!) who love history, mystery, and heart-stopping plot-twists.

Jordan Jacobs’ love of mummies, castles, and Indiana Jones led to his first archaeological excavation at age 13 in California’s Sierra Nevada. He followed his passion at Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge and through his work for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, and UNESCO.  His love of travel has taken him to almost fifty countries, and his work at Chavín de Huántar inspired his first novel, SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES. He now works as senior specialist at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
 




GIVEAWAY RULES:

The publicist has generously provided a copy of "Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies" for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US and Canada only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Nov 9
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway and Review: "Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris"

by Marissa Moss

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: Sep 4, 2012
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:  


Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it's time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn't run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?
 

My Review:

I loved this book for many reasons. I think it's great that a middle grade book is actively teaching young people about history, art, and tolerance all at the same time.

I loved the main message of the book, and that is tolerance. I hadn't heard of the Dreyfus Affair before, Dreyfus being accused of ugly crimes in 19th century France simply because he was Jewish. But I think that tolerance and acceptance is something that needs to be addressed in our society today. There is also a great message of standing up for what you think is right, in the face of intolerance, and I think that's what Mira was able to learn through her time travels.

I also loved being able to 'spend time' with Degas and Mary Cassatt in this book. It was great to see the artists' daily lives through the eyes of a friend. The Impressionist movement in France is a wonderful time in art history, and it's represented well in this story. Mira's sketches throughout the pages of the book added to the artistic story lines. She never saw herself as a good enough artist, but her sketches prove otherwise, something her friends were able to see.

Mira is a great character, and I really liked her relationship with her family and her 19th century artist friends. I loved the romantic story line between Mira and Claude, it was just enough romance for this age group. At the same time, it was heartbreaking in it's simplicity.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5
Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line:
I loved this mix of history, mystery, and art, along with a fantastic message about tolerance that is still important today.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

The publicist has generously provided a copy of "Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris" for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US and Canada only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Mon Oct 8
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway and Review: "Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom"

"Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom"
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: Aug 7, 2012
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series!The terrible Titans—merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans—have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe....      Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.      Zeus gets his wish—and a lot more than he bargained for—when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, Zeus grabs the first thing he sees—an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime—and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods.

My Review:

This is the first book in the brand new Heroes in Training series by the authors of the Goddess Girls books! This time, the books focus on the boy gods. The two series aren't related, so we aren't reading about the same Zeus and Poseidon as we see in the Goddess Girls books. I think this book gets the series off to a great start. Lots of fun and adventure with great characters!

It turns out Zeus wasn't always the all-powerful leader of the gods that we know about. He was a somewhat awkward tween boy on an adventure, hardly knowing what he was doing. This is a completely new spin on Zeus, I've never seen him like this before. It's really refreshing and realistic at the same time. The authors do a great job of modernizing his story to make it accessible to today's young audience, while still teaching the basic legendary stories.  The illustrations are great and they add a bit of a comic book or graphic novel feel to the book.

My favorite part of the book was Zeus' thunderbolt, Bolt. Bolt had his own personality even though he didn't speak. He was so cute, almost like a pet. I really enjoyed reading about their adventures together. Another great character was the Oracle. She was so funny, and definitely will appeal to young readers. Ironically, she can barely see the future through her often fuzzy, oversized glasses.

It's not all about the boys though, there is an appearance by a sassy, 10 year old Hera, and I can't wait to see the direction their friendship goes. It will be great to see what adventures Zeus, Poseidon, and Hera find next.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: n/a

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: A fantastic start to a new series by two of my favorite MG authors, this time following the adventures of the boys.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams have generously provided a finished copy of "Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom" and a bookmark for one lucky reader of my blog!

All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and leave a comment on this post with your email address! Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :) Also, if you aren't comfortable leaving your email here, go ahead and leave a comment and then send me an email with your email addy


Extra Entries:
+1 Tweet this contest (leave link in comment)
+1 Post link in sidebar of your blog (leave link in comment)


Rules:
  • US only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Extra entries are optional and can all be left in the same comment
  • Leave a comment with your email address
  • Books will be mailed out by the authors, In the Hammock is not responsible for lost or missing books, or the amount of time taken to ship the books
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Fri Aug 31
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!



If you think this book sounds great, check out my reviews for ALL of the books in the author's other series, The Goddess Girls!  

#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)
Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games

Giveaway and Review: "Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games"

"Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games"
 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary from goodreads.com:

The first-ever standalone superspecial in the Goddess Girls series—let the games begin!Athena, Medusa, Artemis, and Persephone are sick and tired of being left out of the annual boys-only Olympic Games. Their solution? The Girl Games! But as the Goddess Girls work to make their dream into a reality, they come up against plenty of chaos and competition. Told in alternating points of view, this superspecial is packed with Olympic spirit!


My Review:

"The Girl Games" is the first Super Special edition of the Goddess Girls series, and hopefully it won't be the last! Just in time for the Summer Olympics in London, the girls are hosting the very first Olympics just for girls! They have come up with some super cute finishing touches for their girl games including pink sand in the long jump pits, and the most adorable stuffed beanbag animals to hand off in the relays instead of batons.

The book is extra lengthy for those of us who can't get enough of the Goddess Girls and it features chapters told from the four main girls' alternating points of view. This style (which I like to call "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" style) is so great because everyone can read about their favorite character's point of view in the same book. Also, it makes the pages fly by, with so many different story lines to read about, there's never a slow moment.

My favorite storyline in this installment was probably the new kitten, Adonis. As soon as I saw the cover, I was wondering who the adorable little kitten was. Just like Aphrodite and Persephone, I was smitten with him from the beginning. The girls learn about responsibility, as well as sharing and jealousy, because of the new kitten.

I also really liked Artemis' story as the girl in charge of the Girl Games. She wants everything to be perfect, and thinks in order to get the results she wants, she has to do everything herself.

As always, I love the girls' crushes. Their romances are so adorable and age appropriate. Also, instead of taking center stage, they are mixed into the stories in perfect amounts.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: A perfect read this summer during the Summer Olympics, and a great way to learn about competition and friendship.



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams have generously provided a finished copy of "Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games" and a bookmark for one lucky reader of my blog!

All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and leave a comment on this post with your email address! Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :) Also, if you aren't comfortable leaving your email here, go ahead and leave a comment and then send me an email with your email addy


Extra Entries:
+1 Tweet this contest (leave link in comment)
+1 Post link in sidebar of your blog (leave link in comment)



Rules:
  • US only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Extra entries are optional and can all be left in the same comment
  • Leave a comment with your email address
  • Books will be mailed out by the authors, In the Hammock is not responsible for lost or missing books, or the amount of time taken to ship the books
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Mon Jul 30
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!



If you think this Goddess Girls book sounds great, check out my reviews for ALL of the books in the series!  

#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (one of my favorites in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
#8 Medusa the Mean (another of my favorites)

"Medusa the Mean" Goddess Girls #8 Review

"Medusa the Mean" (Goddess Girls #8)
by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: April 3, 2012

Source: sent by the authors

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:  




Medusa is the ultimate mean girl in this series that blends modern drama with ancient myths.Well researched and true to the original myths, each volume in the Goddess Girls series addresses contemporary issues, like friendships and relationships, from a classically accurate—and entertaining—perspective.
In Medusa the Mean, Medusa is sick and tired of being the only mortal at Mount Olympus Academy. Not only is she surrounded by beautiful, powerful, immortal classmates, but she also has snakes for hair and a reputation for being mean. Immortality, she thinks, will solve everything. So when she finds out about a necklace that promises just that, she’s sure it will help her get the two things she covets most: to be as popular as the four Goddess Girls and to have her supercrush, Poseidon, finally notice her. But when the necklace brings about popularity in the totally wrong way, things go from bad to worse. Can Medusa overcome her “meanie” status and prove that there’s more to her that meets the eye?
My Review:

I love all of the Goddess Girls books, but this one is possibly even tied for overall fave along with Persephone the Phony. I was almost wary of a book about the 'Queen of Mean' Medusa, but now I absolutely love her! We really got to see why she acts the way she does and understand her motivations for being so grouchy.

I totally love her snakes as well. After Athena caused her hair to turn into snakes, Medusa doesn't even see it as a bad thing, she loves her snakes like pets! The snakes hiss at people who are mean to her and always have her back when she needs help. They have their own little personalities and they were just too fun to read about.

The other Goddess Girls did make appearances in this book, but maybe not as much as in the other installments. Medusa isn't exactly best friends with them! But she does make improvements in her social skills and all of the girls do become closer in this book.

Her age-appropriate flirtation with both Poseidon and Dionysus is super cute to read about. I loved her crush shrine to Poseidon and her obliviousness that Dionysus was interested in her.

I really liked the message that comes across when Medusa tried to come out of her shell a little and actually had to make an effort to make some friends and take some risks in trusting people. I'd love to see another installment of the series from Medusa's point of view.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: Run, don't walk, to read this installment of the Goddess Girls series, it's one of the best books in an already series!


If you think this Goddess Girls book sounds great, check out my reviews for ALL of the books in the series!  I will be having a giveaway for the first SUPER SPECIAL edition later this summer!

#1 Athena the Brain
#2 Persephone the Phony (my other favorite in the series)
#3 Aphrodite the Beauty (another top pick in the series)
#4 Artemis the Brave
#5 Athena the Wise
#6 Aphrodite the Diva
#7 Artemis the Loyal 
爵士娱乐华人