Oct 022015

Westly51DNspxRg5L._SX361_BO1,204,203,200_ Product Details

  • Title: Westly: A Spider’s Tale
  • Author: Bryan Beau
  • Genre: Fantasy for ages 8+
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (September 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629720682
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by Sheila and her 2nd grade class


Book Description:  

He  didn’t look like anyone else

He didn’t act like anyone else.

But Westly was destined to be extraordinary.

This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. He’s a spider! And he must navigate the social hierarchy with butterflies at the top and insects at the bottom and Westly somewhere in-between. Adopted by the “dirt eaters,” Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.

My Review:
I was very excited to read Westly: A Spider’s Tale to my 2nd grade class. I have to say, they were enchanted from the first chapter. They really loved the characters and they also liked the different voices I used as I read the novel to them. This book is perfect for the age group I teach, 7-8 year olds. They couldn’t wait each day until after lunch when it was time for Read-Aloud. They all groaned when I ended a chapter and put the book away to do something else. They learned the main message from the book, {which impressed me} without me telling them.

I decided to have my class help me write this review. When we finished the book, I had them write down what they liked the most about Westly. Who better to see how kids liked the book than hear from kids themselves? So here is what they had to say, at least those who turned their paper in…{There may be some spoilers here :) and the spelling has been corrected in order for you to read their comments. ;) }

Beckett: “My favorite character was the raven. I liked the book because Westly became a hero and saved all the insects.”

Cole: “My favorite characters were Westly, Zug Zug and the Raven.”

Ava:  “I like when Westly turns into a spider. My favorite characters is Zug Zug the fly.”

Gretta: “My favorite part was when Wesley was in the menagerie and he almost died, but it was super, duper sad…I would think every body would like Westly. It is awesome; my favorite book! 

Ty: “Westly learned being different was fine.”

Serg: “I learned that at the end Westly became King of the menagerie.”

Aryianna:  “I learned it doesn’t matter if someone is different. I just love Westly. It’s a good book!”

Brooklyn: “I liked the part where Westly’s dad hugs him. I want to share it with my friends.”

Evan: “I liked that we don’t have to be sad if we are different. I like the book because it is exciting!

Brody: “I liked the story because of the moth…you should buy it and Westly.”

Lillian: “I loved when Westly stuck up for his friends, even the raven. I recommend 2nd grade and up will like this book.”

Jaslene: “I like Westly and Zug Zug. They live in the menagerie. I recommend it.”

Edison: “I love Westly and the Raven KIng and learned that different is good. The story was very funny…a good book for all ages.”

Will: “I learned that you should never give up.”  

Charlie: “Westly was a very good spider. I like how he got the key from the worms.”

Dyson: “My favorite characters were Westly, Zug Zug, the worms, the raven and the dragonfly.”

Owen W. “I liked the pictures. It is a good story. You should read it.”

Jordan: “The raven was scary and they all looked awesome. I liked it!”

 So there you have it! It’s a great book, with a good message for kids, and very entertaining.  So from my 2nd grade class, they recommend this book to other kids. 

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Meet Author Bryan Beus:

Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

What did you think of my student’s reviews?  Please leave a comment about how you think they did?

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Sep 302015


23528089 The Afterlife Academy

Author: Frank L. Cole

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Published: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN13: 9780385744812

Hardcover: 288 pages

FTC FYI: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

For fans of “Because of Mr. Terupt, “Mr. Terupt Falls Again,” and” Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, ” this funny, suspenseful adventure is about two very different twelve-year-old boys who must save the world from demons while dealing with parents, school, bullies, and girls.

Walter Prairie knows how to deal with bullies. He just has to beat them to the punch. But he doesn’t see the biggest hit of his life coming when he is struck dead by a bolt of lightning. Before Walter even knows what’s happened, he is sent to a Categorizing office, fast-tracked through the Afterlife Academy, and assigned as a Guardian Agent to protect a High-Level Target.

Walter’s HLT, Charlie Dewdle, isn’t exactly the most popular kid in school. He’s what you might call paranormally obsessed. When Charlie finds an ancient book with spells that can be used to open the Gateway for demons to wreak havoc on earth, it’s up to him and Walter to fight an eclectic horde of enemies and protect humankind at all costs.

But saving the world isn’t so easy. Especially when your protector doesn’t know the first thing about the Underworld, bullies like Mo Horvath are trying to hunt you down, pretty and popular Melissa Bittner is suddenly talking to you, and your parents think you’re going crazy.

My Review

The Afterlife Academy is another very enjoyable book from Frank Cole.  I am a big fan of his books, and I was thrilled for this new adventure.  Frank writes perfectly for his audience (and for the adults, like me, who enjoy his books).  His writing truly reflects his personality.  He is a super fun guy with lots of humor and heart, and this book is a great example of that.  This story is so much fun and the characters are awesome, even the bad guys.  Walter and Charlie couldn’t be more different, but I loved how their friendship develops.  There is tons of fun and adventure with every turn of the page.  The twists and turns were enjoyable.  There was one scene with Charlie and his parents that had me laughing out loud!

5 out of 5 stars!  This is the perfect middle grade book, and I loved it!

Author Links

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Facebook

Purchase Links

Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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Sep 292015

played-for-a-fool-cover Product Details

  • Title: Played for a fool
  • Author: Stephanie Black
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.; Pap/Com edition (September 5, 2015)
  • Genre: Mystery/Suspense
  • ISBN-10: 1680476505
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by: Sheila
Book Description:

Three years ago, the small town of Britteridge was rocked by the senseless murder of Gail Ludlum. Now the people most affected by the tragedy have returned to the place where it all began, and the scene is set for the perfect revenge . . .
Megan O’Connor’s life was shattered when she was unwittingly drawn into a kidnapping plot that ultimately led to the murder of an innocent woman. Though the road to redemption has been long, she’s finally found happiness with her recent engagement to a wonderful man, a pillar of the community. But amid the chaos of wedding planning, the return of Gail Ludlum’s son to Britteridge sets in motion a disturbing sequence of events. Soon Megan finds herself the victim of a series of cruel deceptions that indicate one thing: her past mistakes have not been forgiven or forgotten. As the mischief escalates to dangerous levels, it becomes clear that someone is determined to avenge Gail’s death. And he won’t rest until he’s taken a life for a life.

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My Review: 
Just like every other mystery/suspense book I’ve read by this author, I should realize I can’t just pick up the book, read for awhile and walk away. No, I make this mistake every time. I pick up the book read, then read some more, realize it’s midnight and I have to teach the next day, but I still can’t put the book down, and keep reading until I pass out. It was pure torture to work all day and have to wait until I came home to finish the book.
Played for a Fool is one of those books where you know exactly who is behind all of the crazy things happening to the main character, but you just don’t know how or when the next thing is going to happen. You worry and panic for main character Megan O’ Connor whose life is finally settling down after tragedies that had happened three years before. Just when Megan thinks maybe she can have a normal life with her twin sister in jail for murder and kidnapping, the past has come back to start wrecking havoc in her life by making it look like Megan is as bad as her sister. It’s really frustrating when even Megan’s finance Trevor starts thinking that Megan is behind the strange things happening; after all it was his kid sister that was kidnapped by Megan’s sister and almost killed and Megan was duped into helping with the kidnapping. There is a lot of action and much deception in this novel. Just when you think things are starting to settle down, guess what? It’s time for more crazy action that will keep you strapped to this novel. As I said earlier, be prepared to set aside a day to read this book, because it’s very hard to put down. The interesting characters and the schemes going on all around, will keep this book in your hands and your mind whirling, way after you have read the last page. Another winner for author Stephanie Black!
Meet the Author: Stephanie Black
STEPHANIE BLACK has loved books since she was old enough to grab the pages, and has enjoyed creating make-believe adventures since she and her sisters were inventing long Barbie games filled with intrigue and danger or running around pretending to be detectives. She is a three-time Whitney Award winner for Best Mystery/Suspense, most recently for Cold as Ice (2010). Stephanie was born in Utah and has lived in various places, including Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and Limerick, Ireland. She currently lives in northern California and enjoys spending time with her husband Brian and their five children. She is a fan of chocolate, cheesecake, and her husband’s homemade bread.

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Sep 232015

25205326 Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention

Author: J. Scott Savage

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Publish date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN13: 9781629720920

Hardcover: 370 pages

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on—and quite possibly their very lives.

My Review

One word: AMAZING!

Okay, that isn’t all I’m going to say, but that word sums up this book perfectly.  I absolutely loved this book.  The imagination and creativity involved in this story is mind-blowing.  I’m not surprised though, Jeff is an extremely talented author who dazzles me every time I read one of his books.  I loved how it was illegal to think outside of the box, to change things, to invent something new.  I won’t get into the history of Cove in my review, but it is fascinating.  Cove is a treasure trove of secrets.  I really liked Trenton.  I think of him as a talented young man with wondrous potential and ingenuity.  Kallista needed to grow on me for a bit, but quickly she won me over too, she’s has a sad history.  Trenton is dealt a major blow early on, and is betrayed by someone close to him, but as the story goes, there are reasons.  I loved the adventure the two take on to solve the mystery of what Kallista’s father left behind.  Can’t wait for book 2, why can’t time go faster?!?

5 out of 5 stars.  This book was a joy to read, another testament as to why I love middle grade fiction so much! Bravo, Jeff!

Author Links

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

Purchase Links

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Deseret Book

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Sep 212015

25169898 Followed by Frost

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Publisher: 47North

Published: September 22nd, 2015


Paperback: 244 pages

FTC FYI: Received a Kindle copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads summary

Seventeen-year-old Smitha has the wealth, status, and beauty that make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha’s desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her renewed hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?

My Review

Followed by Frost is the fascinating story of Smitha, the girl with the cold heart.  She is cursed by Mordan, the curse involves snow and frost, a lot of it.  Smitha is essentially kicked out of her home and forced to retreat to the mountains where she wonders from place to place, trying not to leave too much snow in her wake. Death is her only companion, who relentlessly asks her to join him.  At first, Smitha is a very hard character to care about.  She is very vain and selfish, but her journey of self-discovery and forgiveness is amazing.  I love the way the story is told, Smitha is telling the story, but also shares with the reader what she should have noticed, or should have done in a situation.  I really enjoyed her journey in the Southlands, the people are in a drought and her snow is much needed.  The Prince Imad, Lo, and Aamina were wonderful characters.  Especially Lo.  I loved how Smitha finds purpose there with her frosty life and possibly hope.

5 out of 5 stars.  Fantastic story that reads quickly and the ending is so well done.  I loved every page of this book!

Author Links

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

Purchase Links

Amazon / Barnes and Noble 


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Sep 182015

25238234 Love’s Deception

Author: Kelly Nelson

Publisher: Walnut Springs

Published: March 2015

ISBN13: 978-1-59992-968-2

Paperback: 230 pages

FTC FYI: Received a paperback copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

Catherine Lewis lost her husband to a roadside bomb in Baghdad shortly after discovering she was expecting their first child. Seven years later, Cat fears her chance at true happiness has slipped through her fingers.

After growing up the son of a humble Oregon farmer, Ty Bradford is climbing the corporate ladder at an accounting firm in California. But when his father suffers a heart attack he returns home to help with the family farm. Rescuing a beautiful cowgirl stranded on a rural road transforms his previously miserable leave of absence into one of the happiest times of his life.

Ty isn’t a member of the LDS Church, and normally Cat, an active Latter-day Saint, wouldn’t give him a chance. Against her better judgment, she falls for him, believing he is a farmer. Once she realizes Ty is leading a double life, will she shut the door on the relationship for good? Or could Mr. Wrong possibly be the right one for Cat after all?

My Review

I really enjoyed this story of loss, love, misunderstanding, hope and forgiveness.  I really liked Cat and her need to take care of her son and mother.  She was an amazing worker and had a fun, stubborn streak to her.  Cat had a lot on her plate with her mother being so ill, being a single mom, and handling a previous deception from her husband that had passed away.  Ty definitely had his work cut out for him when it came to winning her heart.  Sally especially was a favorite character of mine.  She had a presence about her that filled the pages.  There are many gospel references in this book.  One especially, Come What May and Love it, by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, brought a smile to my face.  When I was done reading the book, I looked up the talk and enjoyed once more.  Ty was instantly likable, I appreciated that his conversion wasn’t instant and it was for him.  I also enjoyed how the author handled the inevitable break up of the two characters.  Cat had to learn to let go and forgive and I thought she did that well in the end.

4 out of 5 stars.  Kelly is also the author the Keeper’s Saga series, I have read book 1 and it was a great start to I’m sure what is a fantastic series.

Author Links

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