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REVIEW: DC Super Hero Girls Graphic Novels by Shea Fontana

Summary


Graphic novels based on the DC Super Hero High story line (including novels by Lisa Yee).

In the first graphic novel, Finals Crisis, several of the girls are captured by a  mysterious figure right before their final exams. The only way they can escape and get to their exams on time will be to work together.  In the second story, Hits and Myths, the school English teacher goes missing and the Batplane is stolen. The kids will have to work together to solve both mysteries.

DC Super Hero High Graphic Novels

Review


These are fun stories for the young fans of DC heroes – and villains. The comics are fun, allowing each character to show his/her powers (It’s not just the girls, although they are the focus. Beast Boy and the Flash make appearances). I especially liked the first book because there was a “chapter” focus on each of the main girls. The mythology tie in for book 2 wasn’t as strong as I expected it to be. The theme of working together ran through both stories.

These books would be a great starting place for new fans who want to get to know the main characters (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Katana, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, etc.) with a visual story.

These are also a great tie in with the middle grade novels, pictured below. I have really enjoyed the middle grade series. They give more depth to the characters introduced here in the graphic novels. But I find myself wishing for more pictures when I read the novels. These graphic novels meet that need.

Rating: ♥♥♥

  

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REVIEW: Alien Nation by Gini Koch

Summary


First Lady, Kitty Katt-Martini, has negotiated the unexpected road to the White House fairly smoothly, all things considered. She’s foiled multiple bad-guy plans du jour. She spun the last attack so it blew back on the hateful aliens at the core of so many plots against them. She’s “Megalomaniac Girl,” and she knows how to think like the bad guys and figure out how to save the day!

But the Mastermind is still at large. Enemies from previous engagements are lurking, waiting to strike until they think they’ve been forgotten. And many humans around the world are still uneasy – if not downright hostile – about aliens being in charge of anything.

So when Kitty and the gang get the word that several previously unknown alien races are fleeing to Earth for asylum, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to triumph once again. So many things could go wrong. And if they can’t get things together on Earth, or manage the new arrivals smoothly, what’s going to happen when a ravenous horde of aliens follows the refugees with intent to devour everyone on Earth?

science fiction romance

Review


I have no idea how Gini Koch manages to churn out two 500+ page books a year in addition to her other writing, promotion, and personal activities! But I am so glad she does. These books are dense, chock full of action, sarcasm, humor, plots to foil and enemies to defeat. And I love every one of them!

This is book 14 in this science-fiction/romance/mystery/action series. I highly recommend reading them in order to get the most out of the character development and the “big reveals.”

My favorite aspect of this series is the characters. Kitty is one of my favorite characters of all time. She is sassy and smart. She defends the voiceless and the oppressed. She holds onto the hope that she can turn some of their enemies to the side of good – and she does. The cast around her is huge (another reason to read the books in order so you know who is who and how they connect to the main storyline), full of fantastic characters with their own well-defined skills and personalities. A lot of the humor in the stories comes from these relationships and the history between the characters, so the better the reader knows the characters, the more fun he/she has with the story.

This particular book is a celebration for long-term fans because some of the long-running plot lines seem to come to a satisfying conclusion. , Readers won’t know for sure, though, which enemies and plans are still in play until we see what happens in the next books in the series. Book 15, Alien Education, releases May 2, 2017 (release dates subject to change).

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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REVIEW: Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

Summary


A novel in verse. Garvey is a smart, bookish kid. He loves reading and music. His dad wants him to be athletic, but his sister is the sporty one. Garvey longs for his father to see him – value him – love him – for who he is.

Novel in Verse

Review


I love this book for a few very specific reasons. First, I love Garvey. I love his insight into the dynamic with his dad. I love how he begins to love himself as he is. I love how he tries something new and finds that he has a gift.

Second, I love Garvey’s friends. They love him for who he is. They encourage him to be himself. When he tries to address his weight issues in a healthy way, they support him and stand beside him.

Third, I love a story that deals well with the issue of identity. I think identity is such a huge part of growing up. Kids wonder who they are supposed to be. They try on different identities to see which ones fit. They have pressure from outside forces as well as their internal struggle. And stories that look at identity creatively and that reflect the struggle in authentic and hopeful ways, are a treasure to kids – and to the adults who love them and want to help them on the journey.

Finally, I love the way the author conveys so much story, so much emotion, in so few words. This is a short book. It’s a fast read. The story flows so well you don’t really notice the poetry/format after awhile. But when you do notice it, you’re amazed by all the author can convey while following the rules of the form she chose.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

If you are interested in other novels in verse, try The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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BOOK NEWS: December 27, 2016

Happy Holidays! Hoping my readers are enjoying the holiday season. There are a LOT of exciting new books coming out this week, so let’s dive in and see what they are!

Books for Kids


 

Bedtime for Yeti – A sweet bedtime story
Pig the Pug – Pig learns to share. How cute is that face?!
Lesser Spotted Animals – Cool creatures you’ve never heard of. This would be a great book for the animal lover at your house!
What If You Had an Animal Nose? – Kids love reading these books! A terrific series for teachers to use in the classroom to get kids thinking about animals.
Alicia the Snow Queen Fairy – A new addition to this series of fairy books.
Sneeze of the Octo-Schnozz – Book 11 in the Notebook of Doom series from Branches/Scholastic. These are outstanding books for new readers. In this series, a boy battles various monsters around his school.
Lego Batman Junior Novel – Our whole family is looking forward to the new Lego Batman movie. The books relating to the movie release this month including the Junior Novel which tells part of the story for the movie
Lego Batman Batman’s Guide to Being Cool – Let Lego Batman teach you how to be cool
Lego Batman The Essential Guide – Focuses on Lego sets and minifigures that will be part of the movie promotion
Bollywood Burglary – Book 65 in the Geronimo Stilton series
Dogman Unleashed – Book 2. I have heard rave reviews about this series by the creator of Captain Underpants
The Bad Guys – These bad guys  – Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Wolf – want to do good things and change their reputation. Book 1 in a new series. Book 2  – Mission Unpluckable – releases February 28, 2017.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


 

Journey of Ash and Smoke – Book 5 in this terrific historical fiction series that I think is like Magic Tree House with a dog. Ranger has been trained as a search and rescue dog, but he still gets too distracted by squirrels to do the work. But thanks to an old first aid kit he found, he sometimes gets to travel to other times to help kids. This time he travels to Iceland right before a volcano erupts. (Looks like this is releasing for EBOOKS only today and then releasing in paperback on January 31, 2017)
Fort Solitude – Book 2 in the DC Comics Secret Hero Society series. I am eager to see this one in person. I read the first one and liked the story but didn’t connect with the art like I have with other stories that use this sort of format like the Jedi Academy series. In the first book, the art made it feel like I was reading an early version where the art wasn’t finished yet. I’ll definitely be checking this one out.
Showing Off – Book 3 in the Upside Down Magic series about Nory whose magic is just a little wonky which makes her stand out at her school and in her family. I really enjoy this series. The magic makes for a fun story, but the real “story” is about identity and fitting in or standing out. Fantastic!
Talons of Power – Book 9 in the Wings of Fire series. I adore this series and have already pre-ordered this book because I don’t want to wait to see what happens next. If you have never read one of these, they are best read in order. Book one is The Dragonet Prophecy. I think these books get better and better every time she releases a new one!
Ever the Hunted – First in a new series about a girl fighting to  avenge her father’s death and find his killer
Take the Key and Lock Her Up – Book 3 in the Embassy Row series. I have this pre-ordered! I know I will need to go back and re-read the first two to get all of the details and cliffhangers firm in mind before I dive into this book. I love Ally Carter’s work and I am really enjoying this series.
Rules of the Game – Book 3 in the Endgame series wraps up this trilogy about a game with high stakes. I still haven’t read book one to this series, but it is on my TBR pile!
The Selection Coloring Book – Fans of The Selection series (me!) can now color pictures of their favorite scenes from the books.

Books for Adults


Iced Under – Book 5 in the Maine Clambake Mystery series about a mysterious black diamond necklace. Sounds like a great mystery to dig into  on cold, snowy days.
Custom Baked Murder – Book 5 in the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series (organic pet treats).  This looks like such a fun series.
The Case Against Sugar – A nonfiction book about the dangers of sugar to our health

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REVIEW: Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

Summary


Digby returns! Zoe and Digby are back in this sequel to Trouble Is a Friend of Mine (5 ♥ – great book!). In the months since Digby left, Zoe has made some “normal” friends and started dating a football player. She’s determined to ace the SAT so she can secure a good “future.” And she’s completely left the adventures of first semester behind her! Sort of….

Then Digby returns. And where Digby is, chaos follows. Body guards, explosions, secrets and lies. Zoe will have to decide which life she wants – her new “normal” one or the Digby one.

Digby returns

Review


loved the first book in this series. In fact, I re-read it before reading this so the story and the relationships were fresh in my mind. The first book is fun, smart and fresh – magic. This one didn’t quite hit the same level for me. The main characters are still terrific. And I had to know what happens next, so I’m glad I read this. But instead of focusing on the overarching mystery of the series (Digby’s missing sister), this book spent most of the time on the “normal” vs. “Digby” dilemma and a mystery that is central to this story. A good mystery, but not the mystery I was expecting when I started reading.

The ending is a major cliffhanger for the overarching mystery. So book 3 is a must read for me.

If you haven’t read the first book, I highly recommend it. If you loved book one like I did, go into book two expecting the dynamics to be different and for this story to have a split focus and I think you will enjoy it.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

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REVIEW: Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay

Summary


An overdue book mystery. It’s amnesty day at the library! That means anyone and everyone can return their overdue and damaged materials without repercussions. But no one expects to find a 20-year overdue book in the stack! And when Lindsey discovers the book was checked out by a patron who was murdered later that night, she has to find out where the book came from. And who the murderer is.

Overdue book mystery

Review


I loved the “cold case” twist to this book! It freshened up a series I already adore (this is book 7), taking it to a new level of awesome!

What do I love about this series? First, the main character is a librarian and the series centers around the library. As a former school librarian, there are a lot of familiar factors for me. And there are lots of book references which I enjoy.

Second, the core characters are fun! This book focused on Lindsey, Sully (love interest #1), Robbie (love interest #2), and a couple of the other librarians. The crafternooners (a crafting book club) make an appearance but aren’t a huge piece of this story. I love these characters. The author has done a great job of giving all of the main group some focus so they have clear personalities, distinct from one another.

Third, I love the mysteries. This one kept me guessing almost to the very end. And I loved the details of the case as Lindsey puzzled it out.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

This one can probably be read in any order, although it is easier to get to know the characters if you read them in order. I love the whole series. Book one is Books Can Be Deceiving.

 

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REVIEW: The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist

Summary


Izzy Malone struggles to fit in. She can’t compete at home with a musical prodigy older sister. She can’t compete at school where the other girls pick their rowing team based on popularity rather than skill. Izzy knows she doesn’t fit the typical mold. And for the most part she doesn’t care. But when your mom is running for mayor, the pressure to conform is even higher. Izzy’s only hope is a correspondence charm school. If she can complete the assignments, maybe she’ll finally find her place in the world.

Great books for kids

Review


This book was outstanding! I loved Izzy from the start. Earnest, confident and caring, Izzy just wants to be accepted for who she is. But she doesn’t feel that acceptance at home or at school.

The correspondence charm school is terrific. The tasks are simple at the outset, but nothing ever goes quite right. The letters give Izzy a chance to tell someone what’s really on her heart – and she feels affirmed and accepted in some ways for the first time.

The family dynamics are fascinating. As an adult, I could infer what’s going on with Izzy’s mom. For kids, this would be a great dynamic to discuss to help build empathy and understanding for others. The evolution of that relationship was satisfying – no magic solution, but progress, which felt realistic.

The heart of this story is what drew me in, compelled me to finish it in one sitting, and keeps me thinking about the characters and the story even after the book is closed. This is a book I will keep and read again. And one I will talk about with kids any chance I get.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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BOOK NEWS: December 20, 2016

It’s Monday; tomorrow is release day! There are only a few books out this week that caught my eye. Check these out and come back next week when there will be MANY more!


Red Queen Coloring Book – Fans of this YA book series can now color some of their favorite scenes while they wait for the release of book 3, King’s Cage, on February 7, 2017 (release dates subject to change).
Star Trek: The Next Generation Coloring Book – Take your love of Star Trek TNG to the next level with this adult coloring book!
The Cat Sitter and the Canary – Book 11 in the Dixie Hemingway mystery series (hardcover release) about a pet sitting sleuth
Shaken Bible Study – A Bible Study from Tim Tebow about finding your identity in God.

 

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REVIEW: Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Summary


The Naturals series finale. It’s hard to summarize the final book in a series and not give something away from a previous book. Suffice it to say that Cassie and the Naturals are back, still using their “gifts” to pursue serial killers. Each of the Naturals are dealing with their own baggage in this one while it careens towards an ending that wraps up the one case that ties all of the books in this series together.

Naturals series finale

Review


I love this series because it is a perfect book for teens and young adults (and adults) who enjoy a great mystery and suspense story. And I am crazy about great mysteries!

I love the psychological aspects to the main characters and their cases. The characters are fascinating – deep, nuanced and flawed. They have evolved over the series into an interesting family of sorts. And each book in the series has given back story to Cassie and the other Naturals bit by bit, rounding out their history and explaining some of their “gifts.”

This book is darker than the first three. This was necessary for the story that’s being told in this one. I wish I had re-read the earlier books before starting this one so all the parts and characters were fresh in my mind. I think it would have added some depth to the story when past moments came up that I haven’t read in a long time. [If you aren’t familiar with this series, you HAVE to start with book one, The Naturals.]

While I would love to read more stories with these characters, the series arc was wrapped up well. Some great twists in this one keep me going back through the story in my mind.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ ½

 

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REVIEW: A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

Summary


Lena became a writer because she has loved the books by Camilla Graham her whole life. So when she has a chance to work for her writing idol, Lena jumps at the chance. But her dream job in Indiana unfortunately comes with a dead body. And some suspicious characters around town. Pretty soon, Lena is writing, defending a new friend from the local gossip, and dodging assailants!

cozy mystery about authors

Review


Wow! This was an excellent mystery! The author does a great job introducing her characters so you know who is who without difficulty. I felt like I had read other things with Lena and Camilla because I was so comfortable with them immediately. The mystery for this book was great – I kept getting surprised by what happened. All my theories were wrong. I loved getting to be surprised by a well-plotted mystery!

I felt like I got a bonus with this book because there’s an over-arching mystery that comes up early in the book, carries throughout, and is the primary focus of the last chapter after the main mystery for this book was done. And the over-arching mystery will carry readers right into book 2. Death in Dark Blue  is currently scheduled to release on May 2, 2017 (release dates subject to change).

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥