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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Have a worry? Something bothering you? Type it in the Worry Web Site and your classmates will answer. It’s anonymous, but you can guess who wrote what. Samantha always goes on about her father. Holly wants a wicked stepmother. A wicked one will be easier to dislike. Greg has a crush on a girl. Whatever the worry, Mr. Speed, their teacher, hopes to lend a hand.

This is told in a collection of connected short stories. Each chapter is in first person by a different person. All, but one story is by Ms. Wilson. The odd one out was written by a twelve-year-old girl who won a competition. You can’t even tell which one it is, it’s so good. And how cool is that? I thought that was the neatest thing when I read about it.

These stories are all ones that kids can relate to and I love that there is no miracle solution to any of the worries. Just like in real life, things don’t solve that easily.

Jacqueline Wilson is a British author who writes middle grades and young adult fiction. I was on a binge, reading her books like the ‘The Illustrated Mum’ and ‘Candy Floss’, and The Lottie Project. I’d recommend all of them.

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Every evil castle needs a master. The minions at Castle Hangnail are hoping for a good one, nice and evil that is. Like the Vampire Lord. They’re not picky. An evil vampire or a dark sorceress, or even a loathsome hag will do. Who they get is Molly. Yes, she’s an evil twin, but she’s, well, twelve. And she’s short. But she does wear black boots with serious steel tips. Still, the guardian of the castle has his doubts whether she’ll pass the tests to save Castle Hangnail especially since Molly’s hiding a few secrets.

I’m so hoping there’s a second book to this. All the characters were wonderful from burlap Pins to the sweater wearing, hypochondriac goldfish to the Minotaur cook who hates the letter Q. And, of course, Molly. I liked how the townspeople didn’t think it’s strange talking to creatures, like the Minotaur or to the scarred, hunchbacked guardian of the castle.

This is a delightful fantasy with a plucky girl who wants to live her dream

 

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Twenty-five girls win scholarships to spend a week at camp. It promises a variety of wonderful activities, rock climbing, swimming, horseback riding in a luxurious setting. When the kids arrive, on the unnecessarily long and winding road, it’s anything but. Twenty-five girls. Five cabins. Five different fates. The first one being the cabin to which they’re assigned. Will they meet love? Will they be successful in the competition with the campers across the lake? Just surviving the camp may be the biggest challenge.

 

It was the teaser on the flap that made me pick this up. That and I’m a sucker for a book set in a camp. I never went to one and feel deprived. When I started reading, my initial reaction was that this wasn’t going to be as great as I thought. But I kept reading. So glad I did. I love this book.

With twenty-five campers running around, plus a few more from the other side of the lake and then the counselors, one would think it’d be hard to keep track of everyone, but Ms. McCoy tackled it with ease and I had no trouble. It helped that the chapters were divided by cabins. Some of the girls didn’t have names, but were called: The girl with a million freckles, and the girl with the thousand beads. This put an instant picture in my head.

This is a fast paced, action book with plenty of twists. Great read.

 

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Twelve-year-old Rachel is all about soccer. She can’t believe she’s made it on the team, in a offensive position. Everything is going great especially after her spectacular assist on a goal. Then she’s told she need to wear a brace for her scoliosis. She’ll be encased in a full torso plastic shell for twenty-three hours a day. Twenty-three hours. From under her arms to the top of her thighs.

How is she going to play soccer in this? No way does she want to quit. Can she cheat a bit? Not with her mother around who keeps telling her she’s lucky. It could be spinal fusion like she has. That’s only two of the challenges that Rachel faces as she struggles to keep going, through the pain, the blisters, and the beginnings of romance.

The characters in the book are well though of and come alive. Rachel and her friends are quite believable as they deal with Rachel’s dilemma. There were supporters. There were the snarky bullies. It was a positive book.

Alyson Gerber wore a brace in her youth leading credence to her debut novel. She made one feel the pain and struggles for someone who has to endure it. It’s surprising how many do. Even my mother had to wear a brace. She also had to hang upside down with weights. This was during World War II when things were hard to get. She was lucky because one of the doctors was a border in her parent’s house.

I liked that she included her struggle in the author’s notes in the back as well as some web sites.

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Staffa is a new student in Jane’s class, and, boy, is she ever strange. With her old-fashioned clothes, and her old lady way of speaking, Staffa isn’t the kind of person, eleven-year-old Jane wants to hang out with during or after school. And why is Staffa always looking at her? Ew. Worse, Staffa follows Jane home. There, Jane finds Staffa is not so bad afterall. Even her many brothers like her.

Jane is invited to meet Staffa’s mother, who’s also a bit odd what with her sweet tooth and strange stories she tells as if they’re true. And what’s with that weird box she carries everywhere? And the strange chauffeur who’s face Jane never sees?

When Jane is invited to Staffa’s home, she’s excited to go, but what she finds there, in the Kingdom of Eck, is beyond her wildest imagination. Worse, she may be trapped there forever.

This is a fun, magical fantasy with bees one can ride and cute, mouse-like people. It contains twists and turns that left me wondering who is the good and who’s bad? The first part of the story is set in Britain and, at first, you might think a regular school with two different types of girls becoming friends. After meeting the mother that changes and you catch glimpses of  another world, but what I thought wasn’t anywhere near what I got. A nice surprise.

If you like Roald Dahl, chances are you’re going to like this book too.

 

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Cameron’s dad is a real piece of work. Whenever he shows up, Cameron’s mother moves them to a new place, trying to get away. This time it’s to an old farm out in the country near a small town. As usual the move triggers nightmares, but these are different. For one, Cameron keeps imagining a young boy and he thinks he sees him during the daytime as well.

This is a spooky mystery/ghost/psychological thriller. The dogs mentioned in the title are terrifying especially if you’re already scared of dogs and I happen to be so a little. Also terrifying is the dad. Is he the good guy? Is he the bad guy?

Allan Stratton is a Michael L. Printz honor book award winner. He tells a compelling tale that sucked me in and left me breathless.

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Hannah doesn’t think much of the old Crowleigh Lodge her parents rent after their own house is in need of repair. The lodge is small and some rooms are closed off from storm damage or have been sealed off over the years. When it rains, secrets bubble out giving Hannah strange dreams of leaves.

In the church yard Hannah finds the grave of the girl who lived in Crowleigh Lodge a hundred years ago and it’s the very month that she died. As if to celebrate the anniversary, weird things begin to happen in the house. Hannah starts to wonder who killed Maise and why is she trying to contact Hannah?

This is part mystery and part ghost story. Both worked. The story lingered with me, something many books don’t. I did wish the author included an Afterward to explain what might be true in the story and what not and just to explain a few things.

I did have to wonder why anyone would rent a house with a damaged room, but that’s only the adult in me and I’m sure there are reasonable explanations.

There’s another story with Hannah, which I’d love to read, but I haven’t been able to find it. If you read this book, maybe you can find the other.

 

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