Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb

Paul Big and Small by David Glen Robb

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Book Review of Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb

I haven’t ever tried rock climbing. I’ve climbed over rocks while hiking, does that count? I’ve ridden over rocks while mountain biking. Does that count? I haven’t ever tried actual rock climbing. It scares me! I have rappelled, though. I went rappelling in high school with a leadership team I was on. We went to this army base near our home and they had a really tall wall that you could rappel down. We didn’t climb it; we climbed up a ladder, but that was scary enough. Then I got to rappel down an actual rock face a few years ago when I went with the youth in my church. It was fun, but scary. I admire people that rock climb because I think it takes a lot of courage and strength. I’ve never read a book about it either, so it was fun to read about Paul and how he uses rock climbing as a stress reliever. I really liked PAUL, BIG, and SMALL by David Glen Robb. I hope you enjoy my review!

Blurb:

“Paul Adams has always been short, but he’s an excellent rock climber. And his small size means he can hide from the bullies that prowl the halls of his high school.

Top on his list of “People to Avoid” are Conor, from his Language Arts class, Hunter, who hangs around the climbing gym, and Lily Small, who happens to be the tallest girl in school. But he might be able to be friends with a new kid from Hawaii who insists that everyone call him “Big.” He’s got a way of bringing everyone into his circle and finding the beauty in even the worst of situations.

When the three of them—Paul, Big, and Small—are assigned to the same group project, they form an unlikely friendship. And Paul realizes that maybe Lily isn’t so bad after all. He might even actually like her. And maybe even more than like her.

Paul and Lily team up for a rock-climbing competition, but when Lily is diagnosed with leukemia, Paul ends up with Conor on his team. And when Paul learns that Conor is dealing with bullies of his own—as well as some deep emotional pain—he realizes that the bullying in his school has got to stop.

Paul, Big, and Small is about the turbulent, emotional lives of young adults who are struggling with life’s challenges openly and sometimes in secret.”

My Book Review:

Wow. What a great story! Life in high school can be difficult, especially for anyone who is different in any way.  If you’re too tall, too short, weigh too much, too smart, not very smart, or have any other distinguishing differences, you could be the victim of bullying or harassment. Paul is a great kid. His distinguishing difference is his height. He’s on the too short side of things. I can definitely empathize with Paul on that one. Big is an amazing kid. He’s from Hawaii, and his distinguishing characteristic is that he’s very big. Lily Small seems big and scary at first, but she has a soft center. Her distinguishing characteristic is that she’s very tall and she’s black. Her parents adopted her from Africa.

These three high school students come together to work on a school project, and it turns into genuine friendship. I love all three of these characters. Seriously. Paul has no self confidence at school. He’s constantly picked on and bullied for his height. Big is the best. Wow! I love how he takes the time to stop and feel and hear the rain in a run-down, cement outside area at the school. I love the happiness he spreads. Lily comes across as big and scary—that is until you get to know her. It turns out that she, like Paul and Big, gets picked on. Her positive attitude and genuine love for people make her a fabulous friend and character.

All of the characters in this book are well written, well developed, realistic, and just jump off the page. Paul, Big, and Lily (her last name is Small) have to be some of my all-time favorite characters. That’s saying something. Big, especially. I love, love, love how he takes an impending conflict and turns it around by spreading love and happiness. The way he enjoys the little things like a dandelion growing out of a crack in the cement or an ant carrying a chip along the floor amazes me. I have a lot to learn from Big. He’s my favorite character in the book, and I want him to be my friend.

I love the way this book tackles tough issues. High school comes with a lot of issues, and this book deals with a lot of them in such an amazing way. You’ve got many different characters, and you get to see their different sides. You get to see little pieces of what makes them them. Why does this kid bully other kids? What makes this kid who he is? What experiences does she have that have made her who she is today? I always tell my kids to be nice to everyone because you never know what someone is going through or dealing with, and this book emphasizes this in an amazing way.

Mental illness, bullying, suicide, physical illness, and the death of a loved one are just a few of the tough issues tackled in this book. Although it does focus on these hard things, it also focuses on friendship, love, kindness, empathy, and seeing the good in people. I love how you get to see the other side of these rough characters—the “at home” side that you rarely get the chance to see. What causes this person to act the way he does? The book focuses on learning about people and their circumstances, and not just judging them for their actions. It focuses on loving them and being kind to them despite their negative actions or poor behavior.

I loved this book! It is needed today. So needed. It teaches kids that there are outs. If you don’t like rock climbing then you can run, bike, hike, walk, dance, sew, color, or whatever you enjoy. Find something that calms you down, helps you breathe, and puts you out in nature. Use this as an outlet for your stress, pain, anger, and heartache. Don’t take it out on others because that strategy doesn’t help anyone. Hurting others doesn’t heal you. Learn to be the good! Learn to be the ray of sunshine in someone else’s life. Serve others. Help others. Put your own trials aside and help a friend (or an enemy). This is what brings happiness and helps heal your own pain.

I could go on and on. I love this book so much! I love the characters and the lessons the story teaches. I’m turning it over to my kids and making them read it! I may even read it to my sixth graders (I teach math and science so I don’t usually read to them). Every home and classroom should have this book available to read. This story is poignant, relevant, important, and so needed today!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There is some minor violence involving bullying, and it deals with some tough topics like mental illness. A character does die by suicide. )

Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/334UmC0

 

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Master of the Phantom Isle (Book #3) by Brandon Mull

Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle (Book #3) by Brandon Mull

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Book Review of Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle (Book #3) by Brandon Mull

For months now, my kids have been counting down the days until the release of Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle. I’m not joking. It’s serious business at our house! And I may or may not need to draw a name to decide who gets to read it after me because there may or may not have been a big argument about it. Yeah, let’s just say the kiddos are super excited about this book. I am too! This is such a fun series. I’m glad Brandon Mull decided to keep going with the Fablehaven story because it definitely wasn’t finished. This book, though, has me worried! What about Seth? Is he ok? Does he remember anything? I’m super excited to share my book review of Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle (book #3) with you! Enjoy!

Blurb:

 “Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.

Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.

With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war?”

My Book Review:

The first part of the book is torture to read! Seth, the mighty Seth, can’t remember anything. Ahhhhhh! Let’s just say that he doesn’t make very good choices. Seriously. Torture. I just wanted to scream through the book to remind him who he is. It’s a different experience to take a character you think you know really well, and have him show up completely different. It’s not his fault, of course, but still. It makes you want to cry.

I love that some of my favorite characters make appearances in this book, along with a couple new favorites. And some NOT so favorite. Boo to Ronodin. The characters in this series are some of my favorites: Vanessa, Tanu, Warren, Kendra, Seth, Bracken, and Newel and Doren are the best. I’ve come to like Knox, Tess, and Calvin too. The characters make the series. They really do. It’s so fun to watch them work together, problem solve, and help each other. I love Kendra’s fighting spirit. Although she comes a little close in this book, she never gives up. I love that she cares so much for Seth that she never stops asking about him and fighting for him. She never doubts him. I think we can all learn a lot about how to treat each other from Kendra.

This book is intense! Dragons, betrayal, sanctuaries falling, characters dying, barrels and canoes, sacrifices, giant pearls, friends, enemies, everblooming flowers, and so much more! Does Seth figure out who he really is? Do Kendra and Seth get control of Wyrmroost? Does everyone work together to get the dragon sanctuaries back? Do they all stay safe? So many questions! Must.Read.This.Book! If you like Fablehaven and the first two Dragonwatch books, you need to read Master of the Phantom Isle!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some violence because they’re fighting a war against dragons. Characters die.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-Graders (4th-6th and up)

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2ohJ91u

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull Dragonwatch (Book #1) by Brandon Mull caretakers guide to fablehaven
 
 

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

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Book Review of The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

I love it when a book takes you somewhere you’ve never been, and never knew you wanted to! You don’t know what you don’t know, right? I had never heard of Penny Dreadfuls until I read this book. In case you don’t know what they are (because I didn’t), they were sensationalized stories printed on cheap paper in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. The story would be sold in parts, with each part costing one penny. These stories were quite popular with the young men of the time. When I say sensationalized, I mean that they were more fantastical, involving characters like ghosts and vampires. Who knew, right? Now you know! These Penny Dreadfuls play a major part in The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden.

Blurb:

“Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and a well-respected author of ‘silver-fork’ novels. But by night, she writes the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men under the pseudonym, Charles King.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Charles King. Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. Elizabeth agrees to help if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered.

What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction. It’s upper-class against working-class, author against author, where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.

  • A historical romance set in London, England in the 1830s. This Victorian time period was well-known for its gothic romances and ‘Penny Dreadfuls’—cheap sensational fiction read by young, working-class men. The Guardian described them as ‘Britain’s first taste of mass-produced pop culture for the young.’ With more than a million sold each week, they contributed to the growing fear of crime in mid-Victorian Britain.
  • Though Penny Dreadfuls were known for their tales of crimes, exploits, and supernatural beasts, the Highwayman heroes were popular for the story’s romantic elements.
  • The story drew its inspiration from the real-life Victorian author Elizabeth Caroline Grey, a high-class lady, who, it was rumored, wrote both ‘silver-fork’ novels and Penny Dreadfuls.”

My Book Review:

This book is so fun! I didn’t know anything about Penny Dreadfuls when I began reading, and now I feel like an expert. I completely got sucked into the story, the life, and the time period. The characters, especially, draw you into their lives. Each character is well written, developed, and so unique. Fletcher—oh Fletcher. He just might make you swoon if you’re not careful! And I love Elizabeth’s complexity. Her secret life makes you want to, well…find a cool secret life! Nothing too crazy. Does book blogging count as a secret life when you’re a sixth grade teacher? Probably not. It’s not cool enough. I’ll need to think about it for awhile.

The uniqueness of the story draws you in. All the members of the “Dread Penny Society,” and their cause, remind me a lot of today’s Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. It’s hard to think of a better cause to support! I loved watching their operations take place, and knowing the lives they saved. The only thing that was a bit off for me was that I kept wanting to read “Dead Poets Society” instead of “Dread Penny Society.” The former is one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s just me, though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters come to life on the pages, and they draw you into their lives and stories. There’s a lot of wit, which I love. I like the relationship between Elizabeth and Fletcher, and I like how the “Penny Dreadfuls” stories play into the plot. There are also some great causes highlighted like education and help for the poor and needy. Of course I love the tension and the romance as well!  

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (Some minor violence and kissing)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/31G3wnY

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
 

Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff

Six-Ingredients-with-Six-Sisters-Stuff

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Book Review of Six Ingredients with Six Sisters' Stuff

My style of cooking on busy weeknights usually includes scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, or tacos. Tacos and a salad bar are about as fancy as I get on weeknights because they’re so busy. Like many families, I teach during the day. Then in the evenings the kids have dance, mountain biking, and sewing. Plus, they have weekly church activities on top of all that. There’s not a lot of time for fancy meals. However, with this new cookbook Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff, that may change! My family will be so happy. The recipes only have six ingredients—I can do this!

Blurb:

“With only six ingredients or less per recipe, making dinner has never been easier.

Six Sisters’ Stuff is one of the most popular blogs for quick and easy cooking and entertaining at home for families. In their eighth cookbook, they tackle how to master meals for any cook with any skill level with more than 100 easy recipes made with incredible flavor combinations from just six ingredients or less.

From beginning cooks learning the basics to busy parents looking to save time in the kitchen, this cookbook is loaded with entrees, side dishes, and desserts. Whether it’s a one-pot wings dish or a no-bake peanut butter bar this cookbook is a fool-proof solution to meal planning and features ‘Kid Favorites’ recipes.”

My Book Review:

I have quite a few of the Six Sisters’ cookbooks, and I use recipes from all of them. They’re great recipes. I like them because they usually use ingredients you have on hand, and they taste good too. What I like about this new cookbook is that each recipe only has six ingredients. I went through the cookbook and it’s true—six ingredients or less. And they’re not crazy ingredients. It’s all stuff you probably already have, or you use often.

One feature that I love in this cookbook is the little “kid approved” hand that appears on many of the recipes. Basically, it means that kids have tried and liked those recipes. Yes! It’s always good to have a few go-to kid friendly recipes when you have picky eaters. Sadly, my picky eater won’t eat a few of them, like the Easy Baked Gnocchi, because they have sauce on them. Yep, she won’t eat ANY kind of sauce. Ugh. I think most kids will, though.

I like the colors in this cookbook. The green is so calming, for some reason. The photographs of the food are well done. They’re clear, bright, and look delicious! I like the layout and think it’s easy to read and follow. They make it easy to find everything with a table of contents at the front and a good index at the back. The recipes are also divided into “Main Dishes,” “Side Dishes,” and “Desserts.” I have a digital copy of the book, so I bet the paper copy is even better!

So, let me tell you about a few of my favorite recipes:

Ground Beef Enchilada Casserole looks and sounds so good! I don’t make enchiladas very often because of the time it takes to put them together. This recipe makes it super easy to do in casserole form.    

Six Sisters' Stuff Ground Beef Enchilada Casserole

Slow Cooker Ritz Chicken is very similar to poppy seed chicken, which is one of my family’s favorites. The only difference is that there aren’t poppy seeds on top of the Ritz crackers. We love this! I’ve never made it in the crockpot, so I’ll give it a try! I love a good crockpot recipe!

Six Sisters' Stuff Slow Cooker Ritz Chicken

Lemon and Dill Salmon. Yum! I love salmon. I don’t make it often. Okay, I’ve never actually made it. I love to eat it at restaurants, but I’ve never made it at home. That will change I hope, because this looks so good!

Six Sisters' Stuff Lemon and Dill Salmon

The Green Chile Rice sounds amazing! It will go perfect with any Mexican dish. I can’t wait to try it.

Six Sisters' Stuff Green Chile Rice

No-Bake Coconut Bars. Seriously? These look sooooo delicious! Like your own homemade Mounds Bar. They look so easy, too! Mmmmmm.

Six Sisters' Stuff No Bake Coconut Bars

Six Ingredients - Blog Tour

Content Rating GContent Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2NX7SDd

 

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Pictures of the recipes taken from the digital copy of the Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff cookbook. They are for review only. Please do not copy or use them for any reason.

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S Kilpack Cover Art

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Book Review of Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Mayfield Family Series, Promises and Primroses, so I was excited to read this second book. Daisies are one of my favorite types of flowers, and there are quite a few daisy plants in my yard. I’d take pictures of them for you all, but they aren’t blooming yet. Uncle Elliot managed to get Peter married off, so I was excited to see which family member this book would focus on, and how he would perceive the marriage campaign. Anyway, what a perfect way to merge two of my favorite things—books and flowers! Find out more in my book review of Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Timothy Mayfield is ready to marry for love, but, since his personal finances are thinner than he’d like, he knows he’ll also need to find a wife with wealth. After receiving an unexpected inheritance, Timothy’s circumstances change, and he is free to pursue his ‘perfect woman’—one with blonde hair, blue eyes, a light laugh, arched eyebrows, elegant fingers, and a dazzling smile, among nearly twenty other characteristics.

Maryann Morrington doesn’t match anything on Timothy’s list—except for wealth. An heiress in her own right, she is tired of men pursuing her only for her money. But at nearly twenty-two years old, and not a particularly stunning beauty, she can’t be as picky as her friend Timothy is.

The two friends end up playing matchmaker for each other. Timothy will find a decent gentleman for Maryann, and Maryann will prove to Timothy that his ‘perfect woman’ doesn’t exist.

Until Miss Shaw comes to London.

Now, with Timothy’s heart captivated by the blonde, blue-eyed beauty, Maryann must decide if she should risk her heart and reveal her true feelings for her friend, or if she should settle for someone else. It’s an up-and-down game of ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ with both hearts and friendship on the line.”

My Book Review:

I love the setting in this book. London in 1822 is the perfect place for a romantic story. If I could travel back in time, this is a time period I would choose to go to. It would be so fun to wear the fancy dresses and go to the balls. Of course, I’d want to go back with money because I’m sure life was different if you didn’t have money for such fancy things. The carriage rides, the visiting, the new dresses, and the parties would be a lot of fun. However, it might also feel like you’re on show on the time, and I could see that being stressful. What if you don’t meet someone that season? To be twenty-two and not married (gasp!).

That is where Maryann is at this point in her life. She’s twenty-two and just now getting into her season. She has some unusual circumstances surrounding her past, and is now looking to marry. Her character is well written and developed. I like that she isn’t perfect. She doesn’t look, act, or sound perfect, and you can see her insecurities in her actions and thoughts. She has a personality that is easy to relate to, and she seems like she would be a fun friend.

Timothy’s character is also well written and developed. Even though he has a lot of “guy” expectations (the “perfect woman…”) he does have a likable personality. I do like his gentlemanly mannerisms and the fact that he thinks things through, except the “perfect woman” thing, of course. He thinks he knows what he wants and needs, but does he really?

I like the banter between Timothy and Maryann. It’s hilarious that she helps him with his fashion. He’s not so careful with his observations of her, but the two of them provide for some good entertainment when they’re together. Of course you also throw in a few other characters like Deborah and Lucas, Miss Shaw, and Colonel Berkins, and you get just the right amount of tension and questioning.

This book is well written. The character development is very good. I like it when you see the characters’ growth as the story progresses. The book flows well, is easy to read and understand, and has just the right amount of humor, romance, and story line. I like the descriptions of the events and activities, the dresses, the punch, and the setting. Ms. Kilpack does a great job of making you feel like you are there, in London, enjoying the dancing like everyone else. It’s also easy to feel right alongside the characters.

I enjoyed this book and think it is a great addition to the Mayfield Family Series. I can’t wait to see if there’ll be more Mayfield stories up and coming.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” There’s some brief kissing, and some descriptions of the smell of cigars and cigar smoke.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/30iPzfl

 

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Wizard For Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

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Book Review of Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed (Book #2) by Obert Skye

After the cliffhanger ending of Book #1, my house has been waiting and waiting for Book #2. Where did Rin go? Is he ok? Is he ever going to come back? What about Ozzy and Sigi? Are they ok? There are so many unanswered questions from the first book that need to be answered! One of the biggest questions is if Rin is really a wizard or not. I mean, the scene in New Mexico makes you think one way, but you thought the other way the whole rest of the book. Will Book #2 give us the answers we crave? Or will it too end in a cliffhanger? I’m not going to give anything away, but you might find out some of those answers. Maybe? Haha. Just read it already! Or, check out my book review of A Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye.

Blurb:

“Ozzy Toffy’s adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean. More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy’s continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever. When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive in it are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover that there’s even more adventure in store for them.

Will Rin return and save the day? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he’d like to be appreciated? For once?

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.”

My Book Review:

Book #1 sure ended with a bang, right? Wow—can you say cliffhanger? At my house we have been waiting and waiting for Book #2 to come out so we could see what happens. It’s spring break here, thank goodness, and so I had the time to sit down and read. This book is just as crazy as the first one! Things are happening and neither Ozzy nor Sigi understand what that means. Then one day they receive a package, and it sets off a series of events that they will never forget. Buckle those seat belts and get ready for an adventure!

I like the writing style of this book. It’s fast-paced, full of action, and full of mystery. Yep, you’re still wondering! Even after the events in New Mexico, you’re still wondering if Rin is really a wizard or not. Is he? Hmmm…no. Well…yes, I think he is. Ummm…no. No way. Haha! That’s a good way to keep your readers reading…make them go crazy wondering. And then to make it worse, Ozzy starts doing some crazy and dangerous things—unconsciously!

Obert Skye has a fun, witty writing style. He really likes to use figurative language! This is the first paragraph of chapter one:

The day had departed, dashing off like a frightened child as the first slender fingers of dusk gripped the sky. In its absence, darkness arrived at 1221 Ocean View Drive. Like a large visitor whom nobody had invited, the inkiness came early and in force, its arms filled with fatigue and exhaustion. It sat down on everything and moaned like an old man with tired legs and no intention of getting back up anytime soon.

English teachers unite! In one paragraph you have personification and several similes. Not every paragraph is like this, but many of them are, and I love it. I don’t think enough authors take the time to craft the language of their books. It’s refreshing.

The characters are well developed and realistic. Ozzy, Sigi, and Clark are all great characters. As a reader, you feel like you’re one of them. You feel like you’re there with them and experiencing things with them. Rin is hilarious, and I love all his words of wisdom. My favorite is when Ozzy and Sigi are trying to leave meaningful messages on his phone. I’m going to start doing this, I think. You may only leave a message if you leave an inspirational quote with it. My kids (and husband) would get so irritated!

This book answers a few questions, but adds about 100 more! AHHHHH! Yep, there better be a book three! And pronto. ‘Cuz it’s another cliffhanger ending ladies and gents. Of course, the cover art is amazing! The fabulous Brandon Dorman has done it again! You’ll want to read the book just because it has such a fantastic cover! If you want action, suspense, mystery, wizardry—or not wizardry, cool mechanical birds, mind control, car chases, or night-time sailing expeditions, this book is for you! Hang on, though, it’s quite the ride!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (I’m adding the + to this book because even though there isn’t any profanity, he sometimes uses words that are very close to profane words as a substitute. He also says things like, “This guy cursed up a storm.” I thank him for not using the actual words, but the reader does know that cursing was involved. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. Ozzy, Sigi, and Rin fight off some bad guys, and there is a kidnapping.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2FSMGK6

 

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Featured Image Credit: Goodreads.com

The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

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Book Review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

When the publicist asked if I would review this book I said, “Yes!” because it has a good title. I don’t usually read the blurbs about books, so when I picked it up I totally thought it was going to be MG or YA fantasy. Hahaha! Ummmm…no. This book is not fantasy at all. It’s fiction, but it’s an allegory written about two brothers whose hearts have turned against each other. These brothers happen to be people that lived long ago. The Anasazi. It’s not very long, but it packs a big punch! There’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge squeezed into a few pages. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this story. Find out more in my book review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation.

Blurb:

“Drawing on thirty years of helping families in crisis, this profound fable by the ANASAZI Foundation illustrates the anguish of conflict and shows how we can end war within ourselves, within families, and even between nations.

The Five Legends is the story of two estranged brothers, leaders of their people, who find themselves on an unexpected journey marked by struggle as they fall into a formidable canyon. Trapped and injured, the two brothers are rescued by an old man—‘the last of a people’—who agrees to guide them out of the canyon, but only if they agree to listen to the Five Legends of peace. The brothers learn that to heal any conflict we must first look within ourselves. At its core, ‘War does not begin or end with armies and leaders. In truth, war begins and ends within each of us—within our hearts.”

My Book Review:

When I agreed to review this book I had never heard of the ANASAZI Foundation. It sounds like an amazing program. The ANASAZI Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)that is based in Arizona. It’s a “wilderness therapy program for young adults and youth at risk [and has been] recognized internationally for its caring and nonpunitive approach to helping youth overcome challenges and see their seeds of greatness.” This program “gives young people an opportunity, through a primitive living experience and a philosophy that invites healing at the hands of nature, to effect a change of heart—a change in one’s whole way of walking the world…[It gives youth] a place free from distractions, where one can learn, ponder, and build” If you’d like to learn more about the ANASAZI Foundation, you may find more information at: www.anasazi.org.

Now onto the story. Picture two teenage or early-twenties young men. Brothers. They are the sons of their people’s leader, and they do not get along. They argue and disagree with each other. When their father passes away the disagreements come to a head and the two brothers go different ways. Each leads his people, and each blames his brother for the rift, heartache, and all his problems. Many years pass, and with each passing year their hatred of each other increases. Then something happens that brings them together for the first time in many years. An accident follows, and they embark on a journey to mend their divided hearts.

This book is very well written. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and I really like the writing style. Somehow it makes you feel calm and peaceful even when it’s discussing war and fighting. I loved reading about the Five Legends of peace. This book is broken up into different sections, and I didn’t find it off-putting or difficult to read. The character development is very well done. You feel like you are feeling the emotions of the characters.

My favorite thing about this allegory is all the lessons that it packs into its slim 96 pages. Wow! You’ve got forgiveness and repentance. You have looking inside yourself first before placing the blame on someone else. There’s also the importance of family and living a life of WE. I love that one! We can’t do much by ourselves, but when WE work together, we can do amazing things. You also have the importance of seeing each other as people. Real people—with feelings, dreams, hopes, strengths and weaknesses—people who are doing their best. We need to look at the positives and the good in people before we focus on everything that is wrong.

I think the journey the brothers take is significant also. Being together and doing things together on this journey through life is what bonds us together. Also, life is a journey. Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes good things happen along the way. There may be times where we get lost or lose our possessions. There may be times along the way where we feel like we can’t go on or we lose hope. What’s important is the connections in our lives—our connections to other people. It’s living a life of WE instead of me. It’s the importance of looking outside ourselves and seeing other people. Really seeing them.

I liked this book a lot. I loved watching the characters grow and develop along the way, and I loved all the symbolism and lessons. This book teaches some very important lessons that are needed in today’s world. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a great family or school read-aloud too!

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There isn’t any violence either.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult (Younger children could read it, but they will not grasp the symbolism or lessons taught.)

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review of Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

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Book Review of Atomic Habits by James Clear

I swear, everywhere I turned, James Clear was there talking about his book. I heard him on several podcasts, heard other people talking about it, and then I kept seeing his book everywhere. Well, it worked. All that promotion definitely caught my attention. I reserved Atomic Habits at the library and then waited. After a brief wait, I checked the book out and brought it home. I was super excited to read it. Then life happened—school, kids, house, other books—and I kind of forgot I had the book. That was, until I got an email saying it was due back to the library. Oops! I hadn’t even started it yet. Guess what I did? I started the book. Yep, I didn’t take it back. That was a couple of weeks ago, and I just finished the book. Ummm…yeah, I’m going to have quite the fine, but I had to finish! If you haven’t heard anything about this book, check out my book review of Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Blurb:

“No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for getting 1% better every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don’t want to change but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. In Atomic Habits, you’ll get a plan that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be readily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic god medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to vault to the top of their fields.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and give you the tools and techniques you need to transform your habits—whether you are an athlete looking to win a championship, a leader hoping to optimize an organization, or an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, and achieve success that lasts.”

My Book Review:

I know you’re asking…was it worth the big fine at the library? In a word, yes! I have never thought about habits in this way. It is clearly a new way of thinking, and it takes a bit of a shift in perspective. However, once that shift is made, I think it will be difficult to go back to the old way of thinking. Clear makes it seem so easy!

This book is very well written. His writing is clear and to the point. His writing style is easy to read and understand. The book has a great progression from small to big-picture, and each chapter is well thought-out and full of ideas. I like the chapter summaries at the end of each chapter that give the reader quick bullet points to remember what was taught. There are also diagrams throughout each chapter that do a great job of illustrating his points.

I love the examples that Clear uses to show and explain his thoughts and ideas. He uses Olympic athletes, professional sports coaches, and important business people’s routines and processes to show how it all works, and it makes it seem so simple! He’s not naïve, though. Clear knows that it’s harder than it seems, so he does a good job explaining how easy it is to fall off the habit-train. What’s great is that he gives you ideas on how to make it easier to start, follow, and continue habits.

I feel so ready to start some habits! I’m pumped, and I’m also ready for the long-haul. This truly is a remarkable book. It’s filled with a new way of thinking about habits, and a simple shift in perspective that will allow people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and abilities to improve their lives. This book aims to make people the best they can be, and I’m excited to get started!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There’s no profanity, “intimacy,” or violence in this book.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18+) and Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2TcCtLO

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the seven habits of highly effective families by stephen r covey The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel does change have to be so hard
 
 

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

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Book Review of A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

Have you ever thought of yourself as something unlovable or scary? It starts as a small idea and then festers into something uncontrollable and real. I think everyone has short moments where they may think that of themselves. Sophie thinks this of herself constantly. She’s convinced she’s a monster, which breaks my heart. No one should think that, especially a child. She got the idea from her favorite book—The Big Book of Monsters that she always keeps with her. Yes, it’s big and heavy, but that doesn’t stop her from carrying it everywhere. It’s how she determines which monsters or creatures are living around her—so she can protect herself. Find out more in my book review of A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore.

Blurb:

“Being the new kid at school is hard, but Sophie has a secret weapon: her vivid imagination and her oversized, trusted Big Book of Monsters—an encyclopedia of myths and legends from all over the world. The pictures and descriptions of the creatures in her book help her know which kids to watch out for—clearly the bullies are trolls and goblins—as well as how to avoid them. Though not everyone is hiding a monster inside; the nice next-door neighbor is probably a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a good fairy.

Sophie is convinced she is a monster because of the ‘monster mark’ on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor, and it covers almost half of her face. Sophie can feel it pulsing with every beat of her heart. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too. She knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out.

The Big Book of Monsters gives Sophie the idea that there might be a cure for her monster mark, but in order to make the magic work, she’ll need to create a special necklace made from ordinary items—a feather, a shell, and a crystal—that Sophie believes are talismans. Once she’s collected all the needed ingredients, she’ll only have one chance to make a very special wish. If Sophie can’t break the curse and become human again, her mom is probably going to leave—just like her Dad did. Because who would want to live with a real monster?”

My Book Review:

As a mom and a teacher, it breaks my heart to think of this darling girl thinking something so terrible of herself. She has a blood tumor on her face, and it’s big. You can see why she’d think of herself as an ugly monster. The problem is, she can’t figure out which kind. She’s read her book dozens of times, and she can figure out what everyone else is, but she can’t find a description that matches her monster-type. She must be one, though, because she’s ugly, and it would explain why her dad left her. Once again, it makes me so sad that she thinks of herself in this way.

This book is so well written. Sophie’s voice in the story is sweet, real, and protective of her secret. Her thought process is realistic and child-like, and it draws you into the story. The descriptions of the monsters are witty and clever. I love how quick Sophie’s mind worked to match a person to a monster. It works because we all tend to judge people by their appearance and actions (whether or not those judgments are accurate is a different story), Sophie just goes a step further and puts a monster description with it.

The character development in this book is fantastic. You feel like you know each of the characters personally, and they come to life on the page. Sophie is well developed, likable, imaginative, and spunky. Sometimes I cringe with her because she has a bit of temper sometimes. Autumn is so sweet and fun. Just like a fairy. Mrs. Barrett reminds me of my grandma and Sophie’s mom is realistic, has her flaws, and has her strengths. I think she’s really good for Sophie. I do feel bad that Sophie feels like she can’t tell her mom everything she’s feeling.

This is such a clever story. The way Sophie’s imagination puts everything together is so imaginative and unique. It’s like living in a whole imaginary world. Having four kids myself, I can see that she’s using it as a coping mechanism to help her deal with her reality. And, she’s using it as a way to hide. It’s a good lesson to learn, though. There are quite a few great lessons and values in this book: friendship, the importance of relationships, learning that everyone has trials to overcome, not being judgmental, and the importance of talking about your problems.

A Monster Like Me reminds me of Wonder. It’s important for children and adults to read stories like these because it tends to put things in perspective. Learning lessons from a book Is a lot easier and less painful than learning them in real life. I loved this book and think the middle-graders and YA will also love it! If you liked Wonder or Mustaches for Maddie then you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore. This book would also make a great read-aloud.

Author’s Note

Sophie’s story is dear to my heart because I know how it feels to be bullied because I looked different from everyone else. When I was a child, I had a hemangioma on my forehead that stuck out so far my bangs couldn’t cover it, no matter how hard my mother tried. Because the tumor was made up of blood vessels, I could feel my heart beating inside it when I was playing hard or really upset.

The incident at the grocery store where the hydra lady says, “Hey, look kids! That girl doesn’t need a Halloween costume. She’s already got one!” is an exact quote of what a woman once said to my mother and me. Another woman told a classroom full of kids that I had the mark of the devil. Kids asked if it was a goose bump, or hamburger, or if my brains had leaked out. My dad had to chase away some bullies who had followed me home, called me names, and pushed me into the street. Sometimes, after a bad day of bullying, I wished I could just rip the mark off my face and be like everyone else—but it was a part of me, and wishing didn’t change that.

My parents decided to take an active role in educating the people around me so they would know what a hemangioma was and understand that it wasn’t icky, or gross, or contagious. Whenever we moved to a new place, my dad would go with me to the elementary school and talk to the kids about my mark and let them ask questions. After those talks, kids befriended me and noticed when bullies came around. Like Autumn, my school friends would speak up when they saw someone being mean to me, and sometimes they would stand between me and the bullies until they left me alone. I didn’t let the bullies stop me from doing what I wanted to do. I climbed trees, went swimming, wrote poetry, brought my tarantula and snakes to show-and-tell, and played in the tide pools.

This is my message to anyone who experiences bullying: Don’t let the bullies define you! I’ve been there, I know it hurts to be teased, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Find something you enjoy—a hobby, talent, or challenge—and practice that skill. Know that someone out there, maybe even someone in your same school, needs a friend as much as you do. Be that friend. Stand up for each other. And know that you are not alone.

You can always find me at WendySwore.com, and I would love to hear your stories and what you thought of the book.

MLM blog tour Image

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (It’s clean! There’s no profanity or “intimacy.” There is some bullying and there are a few blown tempers with unkind words.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and YA (13-18)

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2EO91Ik

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

mustaches for maddie Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown Wonder by R.J. Palacio
 
 
Featured Image Photo Credit: Goodreads.com

The Transparency Tonic (Book #2) by Frank L. Cole

The Transparency Tonic by Frank L Cole

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Book Review of Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic (Book #2) by Frank L. Cole

When I grow up I want to be a potion master! Seriously. It sounds like so much fun! Brewing potions that make you weigh as much as a car or make ivy grow all around you sounds like so much fun! I really like this blind batching stuff. Who knew that some people are so smart that they can come up with new potions on the fly? Yep, I want to be a potion master. I’ve probably already passed the age of showing my ability, but who knows? It sounds so fun! I mean, you are always in danger, with evil forces constantly working against you, but that’s a small price to pay for all that fun, right? Right? Find out in my book review of Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic (Book #2) by Frank L. Cole.

Blurb:

“It has been nine months since Gordy and his friends, Max and Adilene, stopped Esmerelda from destroying B.R.E.W. (the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide) and the Vessel—the main source of power for the secret society of potion masters. Gordy is starting the eighth grade, and has been practicing new potion brewing techniques, but when he starts zoning out during practice, he knows something is wrong.

Gordy and his friends continue to work on their potions, but when Gordy chooses Max as his lab partner, Adilene starts to wonder if she still has a place with her old friends. She turns to a new friend, Cadence, who might know a way to help Adilene become a potion master on her own.

And in Greenland, Mezzarix has a chance to escape his Forbidden Zone—as long as he agrees to work with the mysterious Ms. Bimini and replicate an unusual solution known as ‘Silt.’ It could be just the weapon Mezzarix needs to destroy B.R.E.W. forever.

As Gordy’s potion-making talents increase, so do the frequency of his blackouts, which raises some troubling questions. With both B.R.E.W. and the Vessel in danger, and with the potion world in chaos, it’s up to Gordy, Max, and Adilene to rally the remaining Potion Masters before it’s too late.”

My Book Review:

First off, I love the cover of this book! Owen Richardson did a great job with the cover art. This series is so fun! I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second one. My kids enjoyed it as well. Even my big 15 year-old enjoyed this book. In my sixth grade classroom, many of my students have also read the first book and enjoyed it. Needless to say, I was excited to read book #2!

The book starts off with Gordy trying out a new potion called ‘Trapper Keeper.’ Fun stuff! I seriously love the creativity in this book! Frank Cole has quite the imagination! For example, Bolter’s car is hilarious! Estelle the cat car—she has many feline characteristics, but my favorite is the oily mesh and wire ‘hair ball.’ Haha! And the different potions that Gordy comes up with are so great! I love the potion that makes the person weigh as much as a car. I’m not sure when I’d use a potion like that, but I bet it could come in handy at times.

I love the characters. Gordy, Max, and Adilene are great characters. They have different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and yet they work well together. I like that they’re not perfect and they still act like eighth graders. Mezzarix is scary. Evil. Brilliant. Creepy. He makes a good bad guy! There are some of our favorite characters in this book, and there are a few new ones as well. They’re well developed and well written.

Frank Cole’s writing is witty, descriptive, captivating, and so creative. His writing style is engaging, and it pulls you into the story. There are a few different story lines in the book, and they all come together very well.  This book is well written—I  couldn’t put it down, and I’m a mom! The middle-graders are going to love this book! If your child has read and enjoyed the first book…run, don’t walk, to pick up this one!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy” in this book, but there is some violence. Good vs. evil battle it out, and although it’s not too graphic, it might be a bit scary for younger readers.)

Recommendation: Middle-Graders (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2FXIgCK

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Potion Masters book 1 by Frank L. Cole Dragonwatch (Book #1) by Brandon Mull  The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris