Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
(Iowa Children's Choice nominee 2016-17)

Book description from
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this gawky teenager really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

My 25 cents...I really liked this book!  I am not normally a fan of fantasy/sci-fi kinds of books, but this one grabbed me.  I think I liked the thought of going to school with my grandpa?!  What would THAT be like?  Ellie learns a lot of things during this experience, but also have the chance to teach her own grandfather a few things as well!  It left me wondering...will there be another book to carry on the story?!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Book description from
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she's disliked them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that's the way she likes it. So when she's sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it's only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She's determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she's devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn't work out quite as she hoped it would...

My 25 cents...I picked this up after learning that this will was made into a movie in the near future.  I have read other books by this author, but never this one. I thought this was a great story and seemed very "real". Gilly has issues, is difficult to talk to, but who wouldn't having been moved from family to family so many times?! Little does Gilly know, this last family is a good fit even though she is fighting against liking them. I found myself rooting for Gilly to reunite with her bio mom, but also letting the foster mom love her the way she deserved to be loved too!?
Timmy Failure; Mistakes were Made by Stephan Pastis
Book description from may be clueless, but the comically self-confident Timmy Failure is CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Now Timmy’s legion of fans are invited to set off on their own path to mastery with the help from Stephan Pastis. Added material includes step-by-step instructions on how to draw Timmy and his impressively lazy business partner, the polar bear Total.

My 25 cents...Timmy is a funny dude!  He is very serious about his detective agency, but is a little "in the dark".  Readers can't  help but root for Timmy as he tries cracking cases that he is hired to solve.  This is the FIRST in a series of 5 books (so far) so plenty of chances to laugh and say "C'mon Timmy, really?!?
I enjoyed this book as a fun break from all of the serious books I'd been reading.  
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
(Iowa Teen nominee 2016-2017)

Book description from Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.   Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child.

My 25 cents...This book is told in verse, which means it's not written in regular chapters, it's considered poetry.  Many people find these to be a "quicker read", even though it is 320 pages!  The author does a  fantastic job of showing us what her life was like growing up in the 60s and 70s.  I found it interesting to compare what my own life was like compared to hers, and was surprised to find many things similar.  If you are doing the 40 book club, this book could easily count as an autobiography OR poetry book!  No wonder it's won so many awards (you can see that by the cover above)!   A Newbery Honor Book and A Coretta Scott King Award Winner
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Book description from and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.  At his grandfather's house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.
Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .

My 25 cents...I am a dog lover, so any animal relationship book is high on my list!  I loved this story.  The reader can feel the love  Peter has for  Pax as well as his determination to get him back despite his father's instructions to set him free.  Peter learns some lessons along the way, as does Pax.  
Body in the Woods by April Henry  This is the same author of GIRL STOLEN, which was a book that also kept me on the edge of my seat! (see that book earlier in my blog too!)
(Iowa Teen nominee 2016-2017)
Book description from, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom's mental illness, Nick's bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn't understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear and courage, the three team up to find the girl's killer―before he can strike one of their own.

My 25 cents...I really enjoyed this story.  Imagine getting to be part of a search and rescue team as a teenager, and then finding a DEAD BODY?!  These characters find themselves involved in a mystery that they are determined to solve no matter what the risks!  Readers that enjoy "criminal investigation" type shows will get into this story for sure!  Says that this will be a series of books too, so if you enjoy this watch for others soon. The series is called: A Point Last Seen.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (same author as One for the Murphys)
(Iowa Children's Choice nominee 2016-2017)

Book description from has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

My 25 cents...Ally thinks if she gets into trouble, people won't figure out that she is "dumb" and can't even read.  If you have ever thought "people just don't get me" (about school, friends, sports, etc.)--you will totally relate to Ally. I couldn't help but cheer for Ally as she learned she wasn't "dumb" and learned how to overcome her hurdles!  This is a great "I CAN DO IT" kind of book!!

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
(Iowa Teen nominee 2016-2017)

Book description from
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha's blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

My 25 cents....The story starts with a funeral, but Georgie can't believe that her sisters is really dead.  She is determined to find out the truth--if she isn't dead where is she?  If she IS dead, what in the world happened??  Readers that enjoy a little mystery and adventure will enjoy this book for sure.  I wasn't sure I was going to like this because of the setting being in 1871, but I did and was kept guessing (is she? isn't she?) right up until the end.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
(Iowa Teen nominee 2017-2018)
Book description from Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can't get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he's not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is.

My 25 cents...I felt awful for Trent! The author does a great job putting the reader in his shoes. He feels like everyone hates him, including his family.  But after meeting Fallon, a girl that shows him that things aren't nearly as they gray as they seem, Trent learns through their new friendship that he has a lot of good in him--that others already know about. This book reminded me a lot of the book Wonder.  (see January 2013 post) It reminds us to give everyone a chance, you don't know what they may be going through!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
(2015-16 Iowa Children's Choice nominee)

Book description from in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born.  And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever.  However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan.  If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. 

My 25 cents...If I had to choose again, I'd read this book instead of listening to the audiobook . It made it a little difficult to follow since it does go back and forth with the different viewpoints.  I couldn't flip back to see who was telling the story since I listened to it as an audiobook.  I did like the story, figuring out how the characters were connected to one another (kind of like living in a small town?!) made it truly like a puzzle-a little mystery element.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Crime Biters: My Dog is Better Than Your Dog by Tommy Greenwald 

Book description from
Jimmy Bishop loves doing 3 things:
1) Laughing at funny dog videos online,
2) watching his favorite show (Stop! Police!) on TV,
3) and reading his favorite vampire book (Fang Goodness) over and over.
His self-involved older sister and workaholic Mom think he needs to stop obsessing already! But when his Dad finally allows Jimmy to get a puppy before school starts, everything changes and Jimmy has something new to focus on: his amazing dog, Abby who seems to have some very unusual habits. She sleeps all day but is wired at night, and she runs from the garlic kelp biscuit made by Jimmy's strange new babysitter Mrs. Cragg. There's just something different about Abby. Could she possibly be...a vampire? Jimmy's best friend Irwin thinks Jimmy's being ridiculous, but then when Abby uncovers a real crime in progress and helps him become friends with an actual, human girl, even Irwin has to admit that perhaps Abby might have some super powers after all.

My 25 cents...The book has some funny parts and it seems like there will be more adventures to come featuring Abby and her odd behaviors. If you are a dog lover you will probably enjoy this story.  Jimmy is really convinced he has adopted a vampire crime fighting dog, based on the odd behaviors he is seeing. Jimmy and his sister have a love/hate relationship like most siblings so if you are a younger brother you will definitely see Jimmy's side of things!