Unbored Games

Unbored Games

I rarely review nonfiction, but when I was offered a review copy of UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone, I couldn’t resist. It’s a hard book to quantify—it’s part history, part game review, part rule book, and part hacker’s guide. It’s aimed at a child reader; there are sections … [Read More...]

Dream Girl

Dream Girl

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee. I will admit that I judged a book by its cover. Dream Girl has this kind of over flowery, white dress, far away look vibe happening on the cover. I thought I was going to hate it. When my tween daughter suggested that we pick it up because it was in the … [Read More...]

Sea of Trolls

The Sea of Trolls

The Sea of Trolls is a great historical fantasy epic for the middle grade set. It follows the adventures of 12 year old Jack after he and his little sister Lucy are captured by Northmen. After gravely insulting Frith, a half-troll queen, Jack needs to go on a quest to see the queen of the trolls … [Read More...]

The King of Attolia

The King of Attolia

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee. The King of Attolia is a huge departure from The Thief and The Queen of Attolia. Not in tone, with its lovingly put together plot and brilliantly defined characters. Not in style, written with major intrigue rather than roaring battles as the focus. It’s a … [Read More...]

Shelter

Shelter

Shelter is the first book in Harlan Coben’s YA series. Our hero is Mickey Bolitar, the nephew of Myron Bolitar who is the protagonist in Coben’s adult series. It’s a fun and exciting book, but it’s pretty clearly also primarily an adult thriller scaled down for a somewhat younger audience. … [Read More...]

Princess Academy

Princess Academy

My daughter’s assessment of Princess Academy was “Really good, but not at all what I was expecting.” That seems quite accurate to me. Due to machinations of the plot, a tutor from the lowlands comes to Mount Eskel to try to get a bunch of mountain girls trained up enough that one of them can … [Read More...]

Look Out DC

Look Out, Washinton, D.C.!

Look Out, Washington D.C.! is a Polk Street Special, part of The Kids of Polk Street School series. I haven’t read any of the Polk Street School books before, and this wasn’t the best introduction to the characters—there were some interpersonal dynamics, nicknames, and phrases I didn’t fully … [Read More...]

No Talking

No Talking

Both of my kids love No Talking, and once I finally read it, I can see why. Inspired by a school report on Mahatma Gandhi, Dave decides to stop talking for a day. In the process, he ends up coughing his way out of an oral report he was supposed to give with Lynsey. At this point, what might have … [Read More...]

Wonder

Wonder

I’ve been meaning to read Wonder for ages, but even though it came out over two years ago, it’s still nearly impossible to find in softcover (to keep down the expenses of this site, I try not to buy hardcovers very often). I eventually borrowed it through my daughter’s middle school library … [Read More...]

Enola 5

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

In her fifth book, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, Enola meets Florence Nightingale and rescues her landlady who is sweet, deaf, and more observant than Enola bargained for. We learn a bit more about the horrors of war, the plight of the poor, and the devastation that can occur when those … [Read More...]

Waistcoats & Weaponry

Waistcoats & Weaponry

 Waistcoats & Weaponry is the third in what will be the Finishing School quartet (the final book is scheduled to be published November 2015). The novels should be read in order, so start with Etiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies before reading this one. The finishing … [Read More...]

Bliss

Bliss

My daughter loved Bliss, the story of the Bliss family who runs a magical bakery. When the parents are called away to help a neighboring town, the four kids—Thyme (Ty), Rosemary (Rose), Sage (uh, Sage), and Parsley (Leigh)—are left on their own to keep things running, along with Chip and Mrs. … [Read More...]

Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon

Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon

Amber Brown Is Not A Crayon is the first book in the Amber Brownseries. Amber Brown is in 3rd grade and dealing with the fact that her best friend, Justin, is going to be moving away soon. It’s a surprisingly deep story of loss in a short book easily accessible to young readers. SPOILER ALERT: … [Read More...]

Nate the Great Halloween

Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt

I was aware of the Nate the Great series when my kids were young, but we never read them at home. I finally read my first one, Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt. It’s very much a beginning reader book—no chapters, large type, lots of pictures—just about right for kids who aren’t quite … [Read More...]

Horrible Harry Kickball

Horrible Harry and the Kickball Wedding

I had my doubts about any book starring a character called "Horrible Harry," but at least in Horrible Harry and the Kickball Wedding, Harry isn't really all that horrible. He's a bit of a prankster and he prefers to be the center of attention, but he's actually kind of sensitive and figures out how … [Read More...]

Moonsilver

Moonsilver

Moonsilver is the first book in The Unicorn's Secret series. It’s written for newly independent readers, with short paragraphs and less than 100 pages. Like many books like this, it also takes some short cuts on character development, but it’s a more complex world than many books for young … [Read More...]

The Giver

The Giver

My daughter is reading The Giver in her 8th grade English class, so I used that as my excuse to finally reread this pioneer of middle grade dystopian literature. It holds up pretty well. There are some things that may seem a bit clichéd or predictable, but it reminded me of when I finally watched … [Read More...]

Enola 6

The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye

The Enola Holmes series reaches its conclusion in the sixth novel, The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye. While I’m kind of sad to see the series come to a close (I read the last five novels in a summer binge), I have amazing respect for an author who knows when and how to end a series. You might be fine … [Read More...]

Enola Homes Book 4

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

The fourth Enola Holmes novel, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, may be my favorite so far. Enola sees Lady Cecily, the titular character of The Case of the Left-Handed Lady. She’s in the “care” of two very controlling women, but she manages to send Enola a clue by leaving her pink fan … [Read More...]

Enola Holmes Book 2

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft. In her second novel, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, things get kind of dark for the 14 year old who is living on her own. London is a dirty and dangerous city, full of destitute and desperate people. Enola is struggling to make a … [Read More...]