ARC Review: Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

28822458Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

Expected publication: July 25th 2017 by Scholastic

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie.

Wait, no, that’s not how this story is supposed to go. Let’s try again.

Once upon a time, a boy did a horrible job as a sheep-sitter and burned his tongue on stolen pie.

No, children in these stories are always good and virtuous. From the top.

Once upon a time, a king and queen tried to find a princess for their son to marry, and he wound up fleeing from a group of very hairy vampires.

Hmmm…

What about, once upon a time, a bunch of fairy tales got twisted around to be completely hilarious, a tiny bit icky, and delightfully spooky scarytales… in other words, exactly what fairy tales were meant to be. Grab some flaming torches, maybe don’t accept that bowl of pease porridge, and get ready for a wickedly fun ride with acclaimed author Kiersten White and fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before.

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I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This was such a fun read. I really loved the creativity and writing style. The concept was a lot of fun and I think young readers will really enjoy it. The Princess and the…Pea? was probably my favorite of all the stories and I even laughed out loud while reading it.
I don’t know if this really appeals to an older audience but I think middle school and elementary readers would really enjoy this book.

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Review: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

33282947See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Published February 28th 2017

A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s and Walk Two Moons.

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

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This was such a fun read. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed this book a lot.
I really loved the narrative and Alex is such a cool character. His family life is so sad but it was heartbreaking how he didn’t seem to notice how anything was off with his family. He was such a happy kid with his cute dog. I really appreciated how it mentioned within the first few pages that Alex is a POC.
The characters are all amazing and I loved them. Jack Cheng wrote such a fun cast of characters and I think that’s the best part of See You in the Cosmos.
Overall, this was an awesome read and even though it’s Middle Grade, I think everyone can enjoy this book. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an original, fun read with great characters.

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Review: The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

27508688The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

Published February 7th 2017

Tess and Max travel behind the walls of a magical castle where wishes really do come true—if the hawthorne trees don’t get you first.

Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.

But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorne trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.

In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?

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I really liked the writing in this book, the characters, and the plot but I do wish it was longer.
I thought the writing was really nice even though it did seem to get over descriptive in places and sometimes it wouldn’t give enough description. But other than that, I thought the writing was pretty good. I liked the plot a lot. It was fun and the characters were fun as well.
This isn’t the best Middle Grade book I’ve read and I do think it would be better suited for the targeted
age group than more experienced, critical readers. I definitely think this would be a great book for younger readers though.

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Review : The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

78411The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Published:  September 30, 1999

Dear Reader,
I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket


I remember enjoying this book as a kid and I still enjoyed it just as much reading it as an adult. Although I didn’t need the constant explanation of words (I skipped most of them) but I enjoyed knowing that Lemony Snicket made these books in a semi-educational way. I thought the story line was good as well as keeping a good pace for people to follow. I thouroughly enjoyed the nostalgia of reading this. And plan on going through the first four en tandem with the Netflix Series. I’ve continued through book 2 and am now on book three, and I have to say based on the books, Netflix has done a great job!

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Review: The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante

23281691The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante

Published May 5th 2015

Ever since her brother’s death, Dellie’s life has been quiet and sad. Her mother cries all the time, and Dellie lives with the horrible guilt that the accident that killed her brother may have been all her fault.

But Dellie’s world begins to change when new neighbors move into her housing project building. Suddenly, men are fighting on the stoop and gunfire is sounding off in the night. In the middle of all that trouble is Corey, an abused five-year-old boy, who’s often left home alone and hungry. Dellie strikes up a dangerous friendship with this little boy who reminds her so much of her brother. She wonders if she can do for Corey what she couldn’t do for her brother—save him.

 

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The Trouble with Half a Moon is such a heartbreaking story and beautifully written.
Because this book is told from the perspective of such a young girl, it made it so much more emotional.
I wasn’t a big fan of the direction of Miss Shirley’s character and I wished there was more communication between Dellie and her parents.
But other than that, I really enjoyed the story. It was a pretty short book but it didn’t feel rushed. I really like the writing style and I loved Corey and Dellie’s friendship.
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Review: The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

29092956The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

Published November 8th 2016

When my death came it was swift. Swift as a running horse. It wasted no time.

Daisy, age twelve, has died in a car accident. She finds herself in the afterworld, which resembles nothing more than a job center. Her soul is being returned to Earth, but not as a human being—she’s returning as a dog. A dog who retains Daisy’s thoughts and pluck and is determined to get back to her parents and to get back home. What she doesn’t expect is that life as a dog named Ray would come with such worries—and moments of jubilation—as she grows to care for others in a whole new way. Told in a compelling first-person voice, Linda Coggin’s incredible novel touches on loyalty and freedom, connection and acceptance, and is sure to stay with readers long after the story is done.

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This book is very interesting. It’s about a 12 year old girl who dies in a car crash and is reincarnated as a dog. It’s extremely different from anything I’ve read before and I doubt I’ll ever read a book like it again. I did really like this book but the narrative wasn’t quite for me. I had a hard time connecting with Ray because she was so young. I did really like how the author wrote everything so precisely. It really felt like I was reading the thoughts of a 12 year old.
Even though wasn’t really for me, I still think it’s a great book. I think this would be perfect for younger readers who are looking for something contemporary.

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Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

28110143Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Published August 30th 2016

Inspired by her childhood love of books like A Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

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This book is stunning. The writing is absolutely perfect. Tahereh is such an incredible writer and I will forever buy every book she writes. Everything is described so beautifully and the world building is so fantastic. Everything about this book is beautiful and magical. I felt like I was on an adventure while I was reading Furthermore. I was captivated in the imaginative, fantastical world that Tahereh created and I never wanted to leave.

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Book-Tour8621462A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Published: September 27, 2011

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.


I have never read a book quite as unique as this one. And I’ve never read a Patrick Ness book either and the beauty and imagery that is within this book makes me want to read every piece of work Patrick Ness has written, is writing and will write for the rest of time. Everything was written and thought out so perfectly to give us all a lesson one what Connor was going through.  A book which teaches us all about the weight and burden and difficulties of loss in life, especially through the eyes of such a young person.

Ness manages to portray such raw emotion especially towards the end. And it just made my heart ache how real and how real all of it was how real those emotions were. I’ve felt that loss I’ve fell the raw power of it and the hold it has on you when you can foresee that loss. And Ness found a way for even a person who hasn’t dealt with that yet, to understand what it feels like.

I’ve seen the way people have reacted to this book, and I have to say it most definitely is a heart-wrencher. It’s also impeccably illustrated.

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Stephanie-Signature