Jan 062014

TheRunawayKingThe Runaway King (The Ascendence Trilogy #2)

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: March 2013

Hardcover: 331 pages

Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult Adventure

ISBN# 9780545284158

Reviewed by: Shanda and Mindy

FTC FYI: received a free softcover ARC in exchange for an honest review


A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen’s blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

Shanda’s Review

From the first sentence I knew The Runaway King would be just as enjoyable as The False Prince, which was an absolutely amazing book.

I love Jennifer’s writing style. I was hooked from the beginning, and didn’t want to put the book down. I had to know how events would transpire. Jaron has such a great voice. I love his cleverness and wit. It was wonderful stepping back into his world.  As with The False Prince, there were some surprises, unexpected twists, and more than a few places that made me chuckle.

The Shadow Throne will be released February 25, 2014, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. There is a lot hanging in the balance with the kingdom and his friends. I’m in so much suspense over Imogen, and it’s always a blast hanging with Jaron.

As much as I don’t want to say goodbye to these characters and this series, I am so excited for The Shadow Throne. Is it February yet?

Mindy’s Review

Another stunning offering from Jennifer Nielsen.  I was blown away by The False Prince and this book was the same.  So many exciting things take place right from the start.  I will not be able to summarize any parts for you, too many spoilers.  I loved, loved all the little seeds that Jennifer planted throughout to make this book thrilling and fresh.  Jaron is still as smart-alecy as ever, and I think that is what I love most about him.  He is too clever for his own good.  Even when he seems to be at the end of his rapidly fraying rope, he is always a step ahead.  I read this book in a matter of hours.  I could not put it down.  Jaron is a character that you will think about and care for long after you finish reading.  The ending of The Runaway King is brilliant.

5 out of 5 stars.  This is book 2 in a trilogy.  Start with The False Prince.  The Shadow Throne (book 3) will be released February 25, 2014.  I am eagerly waiting to see how this amazing series will end.

Check out Mindy and Shanda’s review of The False Prince.

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Sep 162013

JanitorsCurseBroomstaffJanitors: Curse of the Broomstaff (#3)

Author: Tyler Whitesides

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published Date: September 10, 2013

Hardcover/Kindle/CD/Audible/DB Bookshelf: 343 pages

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

ISBN# 978-1609076054

Reviewed by: Shanda & Sheila

FTC FYI: free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review


A secret society of Janitors with wizard-like powers continue their battle, and now, the stakes are even higher. The Bureau of Educational Maintenance is after Alan Zumbro and this time they mean business – deadly business. Spencer, Daisy, and their little team of rebels must find the source of all magical Glop and destroy it before it can destroy the world as we know it. No small task with the BEM and their monster toxites at their heels. It’s a wild and dangerous ride as they follow the trail of clues all the way to the hiding place of the mysterious aurans: guardians of a secret landfill. What they discover there will change the way Spencer sees himself, not to mention the fate of the rebels.

Shanda’s Review

In the Janitors series, Tyler Whitesides has created a magical, adventure-filled world that middle-grade boys and girls will enjoy visiting again and again. With humor and lots of Glopified action, Spencer and Daisy continue to battle threats to education and learn to use even more magical cleaning supplies as they form new alliances and new enemies.

Germaphobe Spencer must deal with an increased level of gross in order to overcome the new challenges facing him and Daisy as they battle the BEM. From a week at an exclusive school to trekking through an expansive landfill, it seems that Spencer and Daisy will never defeat the BEM and find what they seek. They don’t know who to trust when betrayal follows betrayal.

Though this third book is over 300 pages, it reads quickly. The Janitors series is great for 8-12 year olds who love adventure and magic, but parents might enjoy it just as much. There is a fair amount of disgusting (they deal with a lot of garbage after all), and readers are introduced to a fun character who takes trash-obsession to a whole new level.

Spencer experiences some self-discovery about his abilities, as well as learning what Daisy is capable of beyond her sweet, somewhat gullible personality. Even Dez’s character experiences a little growth. I was concerned that in Book 2 (I have the ARC, so this might be different in the final version), Dez bullies Spencer in front of Spencer’s mother (both emotionally and physically by pinching him) and she says nothing while he and Daisy sit there and take it. I wouldn’t want kids to think that if they are bullied and their parents don’t notice or say anything that they should just accept it. There are times, though, that Spencer does stand up to Dez. In Curse of the Broomstaff, Spencer is learning to stand up to Dez more often, and even shows some maturity when he is concerned for Dez’s welfare without subjecting himself to more bullying.

Fans of the first two Janitors books will enjoy Curse of the Broomstaff. I’m curious about how many books are planned for the series, because the story definitely isn’t finished yet. I suspect many young readers are happy to know that there are more Janitors books to come.

Sheila’s Review

Janitors has become one of my favorite Middle Grade series. As a teacher, I’m often asked by students and parents what books/series I recommend they read. Janitors is one that I highly recommend and often do.

There is so much to love about this third book. (I also strongly advise you read the first two books in the series because it will make your read so much more enjoyable.) The main characters, sixth-graders Spencer and Daisy, have grown into their roles as true heroes and rebel fighters. They prove over and over again how much they have learned, and save the day quite often in this book. They are awesome using their magical weapons/tools: flying brooms, Glopified mops,and plungers. The action escalates in book three and is as messy as ever. (This is in reference to the world’s greatest school cafeteria food fight!)

What is truly funny is the message from the author at the beginning of the book.

“Dear Reader,

Here it is: the third installment in the JANITORS series. And I must admit, this is definitely the trashiest book I’ve ever written. No, literally. This book is full of garbage.

This time, our young heroes must venture deep into an enchanted landfill. They will battle heaps of living garbage and hike through distorted trashscapes as they discover a mysterious group of kids living among the refuse, harboring a centuries-old secret that could save the future of education. As you can see, I take garbage very seriously.”

It is so true! Poor Spencer who hates germs and getting dirty has his hands full. I loved all of the new characters and creatures that were introduced. Tyler really hiked up the intensity of the action and suspense. It was also a plus to see more interaction between Spencer and his father Alan. I think they both learned a lot in this adventure about themselves and each other.

As with the other books, the ending leaves you wanting more with Spencer’s new title and mission. What is that title and new mission? I’m not saying anything, except that you need to read Janitors Book 3: Curse of the Broomstaff to find the answer. With engaging and bright characters, beefed-up energy and action, and written especially for elementary age kids, (even though teens and adults will love the books too!) the Janitors series needs to be put on your children’s to-read list today.

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Jun 262013

Evertaster Tour

Tour Schedule


The Buttersmiths’ Gold
Everyone knows the most coveted treasure of the Viking Age was blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins so succulent that if you sniffed just a whiff, you’d want a whole bite. If you bit a bite, you’d want a batch; if you snatched a batch, you’d stop at nothing short of going to war just to claim them all.
Young Torbjorn Trofastsonn comes from the clan that makes them. He’s a Viking through and
through – he’s thirteen winters old, larger than most respectable rocks, and most of all, a Buttersmith. That’s what he thinks anyway, until a charismatic merchant makes Torbjorn question his place among the muffin-makers. When Torbjorn lets the secret of his clan’s muffin recipe slip, he calls doom and destruction down upon his peaceful village and forces his brother Storfjell and his clansmen to do the one thing they are ill-prepared to do: battle for their lives.

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About The Buttersmiths’ Gold
The Buttersmiths’ Gold is a spin off novella in the Evertaster series that tells the story of two Viking brothers and their adventurous past. The Evertaster series (Book #1 released June 14, 2012) is about Guster Johnsonville, who goes searching for a legendary taste rumored to be the most delicious in all of history. Along the way he meets a slew of mysterious characters, including two Viking brothers Torbjorn and Storfjell. The Buttersmiths’ Gold is their story. 124 pages. By Adam Glendon Sidwell. Published by Future House Publishing.
Mindy’s Review
Torbjorn accidentally lets some secrets slide out of his mouth like butter.  His village is in danger of losing everything they hold dear.  Even their lives. I really enjoyed this novella from about the two Viking brothers who learn a lot about each other, as well as a something they can use for their village.  I really don’t want to give anymore summary.  Just know there are Vikings, secrets, adventures, trolls, battles, and bovines in this delightful story.
4 out of 5 stars.  Scroll down for author info, purchase info, and a Rafflecopter giveaway.
Evertaster, Book #1:
A legendary taste. Sought after for centuries. Shrouded in secrecy.
When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother’s casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know — a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever.
Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster — a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster’s heels and the chefs’ reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it’s too late.


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Book Trailer  



Author Adam Sidwell

In between books, Adam Glendon Sidwell uses the power of computers to make monsters, robots and zombies come to life for blockbuster movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Transformers and Tron. After spending countless hours in front of a keyboard meticulously adjusting tentacles, calibrating hydraulics, and brushing monkey fur, he is delighted at the prospect of modifying his creations with the flick of a few deftly placed adjectives. He’s been eating food since age 7, so feels very qualified to write this book. He once showed a famous movie star where the bathroom was. Adam currently lives in Los Angeles, where he can’t wait to fall into the sea.


Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 7/2/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Prize value $25 US.

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Apr 102013

HB$Hashbrown Winters and the Whiz-tastrophe

Author: Frank L. Cole

Publisher: Bonneville, an imprint of Cedar Fort

Published: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4621-1056-8

Paperback: 122 pages

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

Reviewed by Mindy

Back Cover

“If you knew what was good for you, you would’ve stayed in your precious little tree house.”  She reached over to stick a piece of paper into my hands.

“What’s this?”  I asked suspiciously, reading the paper.  It was a flyer announcing tryouts for underwater ballet.

“I just figured once we cream you tonight for the championship, you’re going to need a new sport to play.”

I wadded the paper into a tight ball and clenched my teeth.  ”Just you wait.  Tonight’s going to be different.”

Hashbrown Winters is still living in the shadow of Melanie Thumbs, who he can’t beat at anything, not even laser-tag.  But when he turns to the Oracle for guidance, he is given some unexpected advice that could change the game forever.

Let the fourth installment in the bestselling Hashbrown Winters series transport you and the tree house gang to another dimensions.  This action-packed page-turner will have you asking an important question:  ”Would I go thorugh a portal and steal the identity of someone in another dimension just to become a winner again?”  Crack open Hashbrown Winters and the Whiz-tastrophe to find out!

My Review

Hashbrown finds himself, where he never has before.  On the losing end of everything.  Melanie is on a roll and Hashbrown consults the Oracle (Fibber himself) to see what can be done to beat her.  After a test, Hashbrown finds the Oracle speaks in opposites, and Whiz is absolutely, not supposed to play in tonight’s laser-tag game.  Right away, Hashbrown knows what he is supposed to do.  But, how can Whiz play if he is banned from Laser World?

Oh, Hashbrown.  What am I going to do without you?  Hashbrown Winters and the Whiz-tastrophe is the end of an era.  I have really enjoyed reading this series.  This installment does not disappoint.  It takes a funny turn with portals and stolen identities, and is full of laughs.  I think my favorite character is Pigeon.  I love how Frank has written him, head bobs and all.

4 out 5 stars.

Author Links

Blog / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Purchase Links

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Cedar Fort / Deseret Book





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Aug 212012

Jacob’s Journal of Doom

Authors: Kenneth Pike & Isaac Stewart

Publisher: Deseret Book

Published Date: July 2012

Hardcover; 208 pages

Genre: LDS Middle Grade

ISBN# 978-1-60907-016-8

Reviewed by: Shanda and two of her daughters

FTC FYI: review copy in exchange for an honest review


It’s not easy being eleven. Just ask Jacob Young. He has big plans to create the best video game ever, but between church, Scouts, and his family, Jacob is having a tough time.

Things are rough at school, too. The Beast bullies Jacob at lunch, and Jenny Hayes calls him a baby in front of everyone.

It’s a good thing Jacob still has his best friend, Eric, by his side. But would they still be friends if Jacob invited Eric to Scouts? Or even to church?

Jacob’s Journal of Doom records the ups and downs of Jacob’s life&the good, the bad, and the hilarious.

My Review

I may be thirty-something years old but I found Jacob’s Journal of Doom to be well-written, enjoyable and highly entertaining. I laughed out loud several times, knowing there were probably a few things that my kids were too young to realize were funny. (From before they were born, not maturity level.)

Woven into the story were themes of justice, mercy, forgiveness, missionary work and family unity. These are presented through Jacob’s experiences, frustrations, and lessons learned. I think a lot of children can relate to these things based on their own experiences and see how maybe they can try to handle things differently if  necessary. These themes are subtle and simple, not in-your-face or preachy.

I can’t wait to give a copy to my 12 year old nephew and 9 year old niece. I know they will love it. I highly recommend Jacob’s Journal of Doom to LDS children and their parents. I’m not embarrassed to say I loved it!

11 year old daughter’s review:

“I liked Jacob’s Journal of Doom a lot because it was really funny. I read it really fast. I knew when I saw the cover that it would be funny and I would like it. My favorite thing about the book is the story but I really like the drawings, too. His dad’s jokes made me laugh. Jacob, Amity and Rory are my favorite characters. I keep reading my favorite parts of the book. There are lots of girl characters so girls will like it and not just boys.”

14 year old daughter’s review:

“I read Jacob’s Journal of Doom because I enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid and it looked similar. It was better than I expected because he is a young man who belongs to my same church. It was interesting to see a young man’s point of view about bullying, girls and inviting his friend to church. I love how Jacob always considered himself a ninja and drew pictures of himself as a ninja in his journal. My all-time favorite part is when Jacob is talking about what life will be like when he is a grandpa and he drew a funny comic of his own grandpa as a kid inviting his friends to play with sticks. I think boys, girls, teens and adults will like this book because it’s well written and talks about things kids have to deal with in an entertaining way.”

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Jul 252012

Shanda and Mindy interview Adam Glendon Sidwell, author of the new Middle Grade novel EVERTASTER, during his signing at The Chocolate Dessert Cafe (thechocolatedc.com). Visit the blog (ldswbr.com) to find out how you could win a copy of EVERTASTER. (Giveaway ends August 2, 2012). If you are reading this on the LDSWBR blog, see below for details. Music Attribution: Seeing The Future (Dexter Britain) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Listen to the podcast here:


(click here to download, or right-click and select "Save as")

Mindy and I had a great time interviewing Adam Glendon Sidwell, author of EVERTASTER, a middle-grade novel about Guster and his quest for the ultimate taste. Adam and his brother, Jarom, are graphic artists who have worked on movies like The Avengers, Avatar and Tron. We hope you have as much fun listening to the podcast as we had recording it. Enjoy!

Watch the EVERTASTER book trailer below (click through to the blog to watch):

What would you eat first from that glorious food table?

*  *  *  *  *


Enter to win a signed copy of EVERTASTER by listening to the podcast and answering the questions in the form below.

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