Category Archives: KIDS & YA

REVIEW: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells

5 stars!!! This YA is the first in a trilogy that has been out for a while. I’m late getting started on it but WOW, am I glad I read it!

Here’s the back story on how this happened: my son picked this up at the library last week. Since they take longer than I do to choose books, my designated role is to sit on the very comfy chairs (!) and read while they look around. He handed me this one and instead of dropping it into our ‘library book carrier’, I opened it and read the first page …then I read the first chapter… by the time they were ready to check out their books, I was well into chapter three!

The plot grabbed me right from the start. Kira is 16 years old and lives on Long island in what seems to be the future about 2076 or so. This is eleven years after genetically modified superhuman/robot things called Partials, that were created by a genetics lab went off the rails and turned against humanity while the RM virus they carry killed just about everybody else that wasn’t immune.

The final indignity of the RM virus is that human babies are not immune so they die. every.baby.every. time So the 40,000 or so humans on Long Island are all that’s ever going to be on Earth. When they all die, humanity dies as well.

The way the society deals with this is mandatory pregnancy laws for females of a certain age (which is getting lower!) in hopes of getting a baby with immunity so they can find a cure for RM and save the human race.

Are you hooked so far? Wait, because it gets even better! Remember the Partials? There are millions of them but they have retreated and not been seen for eleven years. Where they went, what they are doing, no one knows but the humans live in fear they will return to finish wiping them out!

In the meantime, Kira who is trained as a medic which is sort of like our doctors, finds out her best friend is pregnant. The baby is doomed, of course, but Kira decides (like every good teenage girl in a YA dystopian book!) that it is up to her to be the one to find a cure for RM and save the world. How do the Partials figure into her quest and what secrets will Kira discover about herself and humanity?  Lots of good stuff happens as we go along for the ride and find out!!

I don’t think I’m explaining the book very well because I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers. Suffice it to say, if someone had said to me ‘hey, read this book’ I would have probably not thought it was my type of a read. I would have been WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! This book was really good, oh, there were a couple of places it dragged with too much explanation/not enough action and some quick learning/acceptance of things that was REALLY quick but, hey, it’s a story. The characters were great and the plot blew my mind!!

If I can’t convince you to read this book any other way, let me tell you that I have the next 2 on hold at the library already!!

First Chapter Friday

First Chapter Friday!!! I love this weekly post-I get to read the first chapter of various books, and give you my thoughts. I’ve found two great books that your kids “OTTER” be reading!!  Inspirational books for kids and even a West Virginia connection-that’s a bonus!!

Philip and the Thief by John Paulits

Philip has been around for a while-this is the 6th book in a series of 12!  Philip is sort of an ‘everykid’ that has family, friends and school going on with the usual interactions and dramas.  The plot of this book is that Philip uses his skills as Philip the Greatness to become a detective and solve mysteries around the house and neighborhood.  When money comes up missing at school, and a classmate is thrown, Philip solves the case and saves the day.  

Paulits really knows his craft!  He writes very well and the characters speak & act very naturally. This series isn’t promoted as being Christian, but this one is ‘clean’ and reads as a very inspirational book-use your skills, help others and love your family.  I enjoyed the first chapter and will be encouraging my boys to read the entire series.

 

 

 

The Adventures of Shy Spy Time Traveler by Deborah L. Gladwell

 

I was so excited to find out the author of this book, Deborah L. Gladwell, lives in my home state of West Virginia!  I’m in Missouri now but I still LOVE to promote West Virginians doing all the wonderful things they do.  I have to say that Deborah really embodies the spirit of a Mountaineer with excellent writing and a positive Christian message for kids.

Shy the dog accidentally stows away on a time machine and goes back to the time of Moses!!  You can’t resist that kind of awesomeness!!  Gladwell has a very well written, well plotted book that surprised me.

I wasn’t expecting a Christian book for kids to be such a good story.  The book reminds me of the Magic Treehouse books because of the total immersion into a historical subject.  The Christian message and scriptures enhance the book and take Shy to a whole ‘nother level.  I was so engaged in the plot and what was going to happen next, I couldn’t believe I had to stop at one chapter!

Most definitely pick up these “good, clean” books for your kiddos.  There is enough negative out there-let’s do some positive for a change!!  Have a great reading weekend-Cozy Mystery Monday will be here before you know it!!

Throwback Thursday

Welcome to Throwback Thursday.  Walk down memory lane with me as we remember the Sunday paper with those colorful comics.  Remember how the top one on the first page was always Peanuts?

That’s because it was the best!!  I just found out there are three new CHARLIE BROWN books.  They are brand new adventures that introduce the Peanuts gang to inventors, adventurers and humanitarians. They also include activity pages!!

Regenery Publishing has done a terrific job combining our old favorite Peanuts in an entertaining and educational new way. These are just released on 9/29 and perfect for Christmas gift books-yep, I went there!!  Every kid “OTTER” be reading these books on Christmas morning!!

 



Coming up tomorrow: First Chapter Friday!! You don’t want to miss that!!

BLADE SINGER Blog Tour with Review & GIVEAWAY!!!

 

Blade Singer Wall Paper

Blade Singer by Aaron de Orive & Martha Wells

I have been waiting for WEEKS to share this with you!!! I was invited to be part of the Blade Singer Blog Tour to bring you, the reader, coverage all over the internet of this super good book that you “OTTER” be reading!

And I do mean super-WOWZERS!! Is it ever great!!  Blade Singer could be described as a “sweeping fantasy”, I guess because it covers so much ground from Texas in our world to the Fae world in ‘someplace else’.

“Manuel “Manny” Boreaux, a troubled adolescent from Texas, is magically transported into the body of a goblin pickpocket in an alternate world inhabited by faerie creatures. Manny must quickly adapt to the danger all around him and try to find a way to get back home, a feat complicated by the pickpocket’s association with a notorious gang of thieves. But when Manny uncovers a plot to assassinate a young king, he must enlist the aid of an elf cavalier and a cat burglar to thwart a Sidhe witch’s scheme to ignite a civil war between humans and the Fae.”

Whoa-Manny is just some dude from Texas that is now a goblin in an alternate world trying to prevent a war between humans and the Fae.  The Fae are faerie critters! Think Disney fairies but meaner & trying to take over not just their own world but maybe ours, too.  Nasty little beasties and Manny is right in the middle of it all!

I devoured this book-it was so good!  It took a while to get started; there was a bit too much back story. There were also a couple of places where I had to say, well that was convenient!  But none of this is a deal breaker-just read the beginning really quickly and get to the ‘meat’ of the story!

I always like books with great characters and Blade Singer does NOT disappoint-lots of details that brought these fantasy creatures to life and made their actions in the plot really make sense.  The plot itself is very good-not just the same old fantasy/alternate reality.  A nice twist on how the ‘real’ world & Fae world intersect. I hope there are sequels!!  This book is not just for adults-older YA kids/fans of the genre would have no problem enjoying Blade Singer.  5 stars.

Make sure to stop by the other blogs on the Blade Singer tour and enter the giveaway!!

 

bladebanner

Giveaway:

(2) $25 Gift Cards to Amazon or B&N (INT)
There should be a pretty Rafflecopter thing here but I am technically challenged 😉
So, to enter the giveaway just click the link and it will take you to the entry page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour List

Stop by and visit these other wonderful blogs!

This is the tour page for Blade Singer, a middle grade fantasy by Aaron de Orive and Martha Wells. The tour runs September 29th- October 10th with reviews, author interviews, guest posts and more.

Schedule

9/29

Sunshine, Bubbles and Books – Review

Sher A. Hart: Written Art– Review

9/30

Girl of 1000 Wonders – Review

Victoria Simcox’s Blog– Promo

Cover2CoverBlog – Review

10/1

Where Connor and JT Go– Review

Ashley’s Paranormal Book Blog– Promo

Three Boy Circus- Promo

10/2

Every Free Chance – Promo

Big Otter Books– Review

10/3

Brooke Blogs– Guest Post or Top Ten

Mind-Ventures– Review

10/6

Book Lovers Life– Top Ten

My Love for Reading Keeps Growing– Review

10/7

Literary Escapism– Guest Post

Bookish Wanderlove– Review

Book Enthralled – Review

10/8

Word Forward– Promo

WS Momma Readers Nook– Review

10/9

CBY Book Club– Review

Write Away Bliss– Top Ten or Guest Post

Books and Ashes – Review

10/10

Book Sense– promo

Shelf Life– Review

Suzy Turner, YA – Guest Post

Thank you to CBB book promotions for including Big Otter Books on the Blade Singer Blog Tour!!
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REVIEW: I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter by Brian K. Henry

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I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter by Brian K. Henry

I told you earlier this week about the behind the scenes things when you start a blog. Some of it is boring and time consuming, ok lots of it! But there are some cool things that go on and one of the best parts of blogging, is that authors contact you and ask you to read their book! As a reader, I think that is SUPER COOL and it makes my day every time it happens. I recently received a very nice message from author Brian K. Henry and he sent me a copy of his new book: I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter.

The book is really good; great title and the cover is spooky! Devin is your basic slacker teenage boy. He works as a barista in a hotel coffee shop, hangs out with his friends and tries to keep his grades up. Oh, he also sees ghosts! When his visions get worse and another student spreads it all over school, his social life suffers, his grades suffer and his job still sucks. Two of his buddies talk him into gearing up like the Ghost Hunters on TV and going to the creepy old mansion to investigate. You know this is NOT going to end well!

The story is intriguing and there were a couple of twists I wasn’t expecting. The characters were interesting and very well written. My only complaints were the number of typos and the story was very detailed so it got bogged down with quite a bit of extra ‘stuff’ that could have used an editor. These are minor nitpicky things that were very easily ignored. The story moved right along and I enjoyed reading it. The wrap up at the ending was satisfying and made sense, it also left the door open to a sequel, which I would gladly purchase and read! 4 stars As stated above, I received a copy of the book from the author, the review is my own opinion.

mild Wednesday Goes to the Dogs

Wednesday is here again, Summer is over, fall has arrived and my boys are in the dog days/doldrums of reading.  Nothing is really taking their interest so I thought I would pull out some great books with a DOGS tie-in.

Calendar Mysteries: December Dog by Ron Roy

We have read, over & over, the A to Z Mystery books.  This is the next generation of that series aimed at the grade 1/4 and age 6/9 level.  The younger siblings of A to Z take over as lead characters.  In this one, the kids find a puppy on Christmas Eve.  Obviously, it’s a present for someone but the tag is ripped. Oh, no!!  The mystery is on as the kids scramble to find the puppy’s home before someone’s holiday i spoiled.  Super cute book, the kids are funny and well written.  The mystery is really sweet as the kids go all out to help the little puppy.  The drawings are top notch as we expect from John Steven Gurney-he also does the Bailey School Kids books.  If your kiddo is younger or a less experienced reader, I highly recommend these Stepping Stone books-they are perfect for “emerging readers”, which is a fancy way of saying:  written in easy words so the kids are encouraged to read instead of being frustrated.

Big Honey Dog Mysteries: Night of Flying Shadows by H. Y. Hanna

We were not familiar with the Big Honey Dog Mystery series.  This is a novella (55 pages) that can be read as a standalone without reading the series.  There are two books in the main series and 3 of these special Holiday editions.  We want to read all of them-this seems to be a great series for kids.  In this book, the mystery begins when a mysterious visitor arrives on Halloween night.  Honey the Great Dane and her canine sidekicks find themselves in a haunted forest…and something is stalking them!!  Spooky!! This is rated for 8 up grades 3/6.

Skippyjon Jones Snow What by Judy Schachner

This one is a bit of a cheat since it’s not technically about a dog.  But, oh, how we ADORE Skippyjon Jones!!  This is one of the best series for kids ever.  Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese Kitten who thinks he is a Chihuahua, much to the consternation of his mother and sisters!  The story unfolds in rhymes that just beg to be read aloud with lots of gestures & accents.   There is a frozen Ice Princess in this one that needs saving by the kiss of a Prince.  Will Skippyjon Jones save his poochitos by actually kissing her?!?!?!!?!!  Maybe I enjoy Skippyjon more than my kids, but that’s ok!  Snow What will be released October 21st for ages 3/5 but enjoyable for every age if you love kitties and puppies and rhyming and fun.  And don’t get me started on the illustrations-SUPER good!!

Kids “Otter” be reading and these doggies will make it easy for them to curl up with a book!!

First Chapter Friday

Need some ideas for books for your 8-12 year old? You’re in the right place as I’ve read the first chapter in three YA/middle-grade books this week:

 

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

My first book up for First Chapter Friday is The Iron Trial. It was just released on the 9th and I am already hearing so many good things about this book. You know these authors: Holly Black is The Spiderwick Chronicles and the super creepy Doll Bones and Cassandra Clare is of course The Mortal Instruments books. You just know any book they collaborate on will be excellent. The plot starts out like every other magic/fantasy/YA book out there: kids must pass the Iron Trial to be admitted to the Magisterium to study magic. Ho hum so far, right? WRONGO, me hearty (sorry, Talk Like a Pirate Day just got me!) The twist to this book is that Callum Hunt wants to FAIL the Iron Trial, so of course he passes and must enter the Magisterium.  Despite some comparisons to Harry Potter in the reviews, I thought the first chapter was pretty good and different enough to rate a full book read.

Spirit Animals #4 Fire and Ice by Shannon Hale

The Spirit Animals series has been on my radar for a while since Brandon Mull and Garth Nix wrote books in the series.  This is book 4 of the series and in this one, the four kids (Greencloaks) travel to the far, frozen North to try to stop “The Conquerors” using their “spirit animal” powers.

I didn’t finish the first chapter-VERY bloody/violent killing in the first two pages. Definitely NOT for the age 8-12 range that is the target market. NO NO NO. I’m not sure what Shannon Hale was trying to accomplish in using this to set up the plot but it is an epic fail for me.  I’ve read the reviews and I’m seeing lots of comments about the humor and character interaction later in the book but I just can’t get past chapter one–this series goes to our do NOT read pile.

 

Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

OH!! You know how you get that tingly feeling when you read a really good book and you don’t want to put it down? Nightmares is THAT book!! Now this is a book for the 8-12 crowd-funny, scary and you will want to be Charlie’s friend as he tries to figure out what is going on in his new home.

His father has married a woman Charlie is sure is a real witch and they have moved to her purple mansion that may or may not be haunted. There is a touch of sadness when you read that Charlie can see his old house from his new bedroom window 😦 What a great plot point, that one sentence gives the reader more about Charlie than you could tell in 20 paragraphs. Authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have done a fantastic job with the writing. Top of the to be read pile for this one.

One clunker this week but two your kids definitely “Otter” be reading!!

mild Wednesday-KIDS TAKE OVER!!!

My kids are taking over today with a selection of books they want to recommend for younger readers.  I think they’ve picked some great books EVERY grade 1-4 kid “Otter” be reading:

Frightfully Friendly Ghosties, Phantom Pirates by Daren King

So cute, so funny!  Another entry in the hilarious series about friendly, polite ghosties and their adventures-this time it’s pirates.  I always read these in my fake British accent which just makes it funnier, to me, the kids don’t seem to like it all that much!  This was listed as 4th grade level but my 5th grader is still a fan.  It is available in paperback and for the Kindle.

 

Snoop Troop It Came From Beneath The Playground by Kirk Scroggs

This is the first in a new series about 4th grade detective Logan.  The mystery is finding out how toys are disappearing from the playground.  Scroggs is the author of several great kid series including Tales of a Sixth Grade Muppet-if your kids liked that series, they should enjoy the Snoop Troop.  Grades 1-4 for this one and it’s available today in hardcover.
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

You know who Kate DiCamillo is-she wrote Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux.  We have loved her books forever and in this book she spins-off her wonderful Mercy Watson series to give us another tale set on Deckawoo Drive.  Fans of sweet cowboy stories will LOVE this book.

Leroy works at the drive-in theater and dreams of being a cowboy. Every cowboy needs a horse and when he meets one named Maybelline that eats spaghetti!, things couldn’t be more perfect, or could they?  This is a lovely lovely little book, Chris Van Dusen is one of the best illustrators around and I can’t even tell you how well the illustrations match and enhance the story.  We all adored this little book and can’t wait to see what Leroy and the gang get up to in the next book in this series. This is for ages 6-9 and was just released on August 26th.

 

What do you think?  Something here that your little one will love to read?  We hope so because every kid “Otter” be reading!  Tomorrow will be more fun & good books-see you then!!

 

REVIEW: The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

This book was so good!! Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. So many great YA books are coming out now and The Fourteenth Goldfish should be at the top of every list and on every ‘tween’ bookshelf.

Coming of age with a twist. Ellie’s life is changing: a new school year begins, her best friend has moved on to new interests and her mother brings home a strange teenage boy who may be her grandfather! Has Melvin has discovered an eternal youth formula? Ellie learns more about her family and herself as the year progresses. Holm avoids the usual teen angst and stock situations as Ellie tries to help her grandfather get back into his lab and learns more about herself and her family along the way. Holm has such an ear for dialogue and captures perfectly the way families speak to and about each other. I loved this book and read it in one sitting-could not put it down. I was given a copy of the book-the review is my own.

REVIEW: Secrets Underground by Elizabeth MacLeod

Secrets Underground: North America's Buried Past
Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past by Elizabeth MacLeod

Our entire family enjoyed this book! There are six exhaustively researched tales of fascinating secrets hidden underground. From hidden temples to gangsters to nuclear shelters, you just never know what you may find hidden away underground! MacLeod is one of our favorite authors for non-fiction that we can read right along with the kids. She writes so well and the books are so enjoyable, the kids don’t realize they are learning something!

This nifty book has a TON of photos, illustrations and sidebars to bring these hidden sites to life. There is also a wonderful bibliography at the end for even more reading. Highly recommend!!  I received a copy of the book-the review is my own.

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