Chapter Books

Book Review: The Thing About Jellyfish

The Thing About Jellyfish
Author: 
Benjamin, Ali
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Thing About Jellyfish is a mysterious book that you will never want to put down. It starts out with a twelve year old girl named Suzy watching jellyfish at a aquarium. A few days ago her best friend had died swimming in the ocean while on a vacation. When Suzy is told this she realizes it can not be true, her best friend had been a great swimmer, so she sets out to find what happened to her best friend. She believes it could have only been one thing, a jellyfish. She does as much as she can to prove what happened to her best friend, but no one believes her. If you love mysteries and like not knowing what is going to happen, this book is for you. It is a great read for teens and children and I totally recommend reading it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Aspen

Book Review: Chains

Chains
Author: 
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Isabel Finch is a slave girl and belongs to Miss Mary Finch. When Miss Mary Finch dies, she and her younger sister Ruth must travel away from Rhode Island and to New York where they are bought and serve a new master. This master is a strong loyalist and Isabel finds herself trading information about battles and invasions to the local patriot camp in New York. I loved this book because it showed bravery and the injustice of slavery for young girls. I would fully recommend this book to anyone who has a heart for historical fiction.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nina F.

Book Review: Ember Falls

Ember Falls
Author: 
Smith, S.D.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Being a fan of children’s series like The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as a lover of rabbits (owning two Flemish giants as pets), I was glad to get back into the Green Ember series with the second book, Ember Falls. Obviously, as this series is mainly geared toward children, there were a few points of the plot of this second book that I either predicted from the start or could see coming from a mile away. In any case, the world building that continued with this book was top notch, despite certainly feeling like a “linking” part of the series.

While The Green Ember could stand on its own and laid the groundwork for the books that came after it, Ember Falls certainly needs its predecessor to make sense. It also seems to rely on the next book in the series to reach some conclusion. This is an issue that often arises in book series. The saga of the story as a whole (across numerous books) is prioritized over focusing on a complete plot for each book. Don’t get me wrong: I still want to see where this series goes; however, it’s a little infuriating when I don’t have access to the next book in the series yet.

Ember Falls inherits a lot of what I liked and disliked about The Green Ember. This is likely going to be the case for the series as a whole. The individual characters are well-rounded and have clear motivations. However, the fact that they are rabbits seems to be often overlooked. These characters mostly act like ordinary people and only occasionally use their unique lagomorph attributes to advance the plot (same goes for the enemies as well). Other than that, this is certainly a series I’ll be reading to my children someday.

An adequate progression of the Green Ember series, I give Ember Falls 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös
Author: 
Heiligman, Deborah
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Once there was a boy who loved math. He loved math so much that he spent all of his time thinking about numbers. He spent so much time with math that he couldn’t do many things that ordinary people do. The biography tells the story of Paul Erdos, one of the greatest mathematicians, and how he found his way in the world sharing his ideas and love of math.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Author: 
Lewis, C.S.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

When 4 british school children are sent away during World War II to a old professers home the have no idea what adventures are there. The children find a wardrobe in a room of the house and enter it where they find themselves in a magic land called Narnia. This book is full of adventure and is a good read for people of all ages.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kaci

Book Review: Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Author: 
Tinker, Rebecca
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

You may be familiar with the series and game, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, but do you understand who she is? This book will give you the background on her. She is always one step ahead of her pursuers. How did she learn her awesome skills? Read this backstory and figure out how she came to
be this infamous and elusive criminal.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid

Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid
Author: 
Emerson, Marcus
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY***

Once again, I seem to have jumped in on the second book of a series. Fortunately, there was plenty of exposition detailing the events of The Super Life of Ben Braver. Maybe a little too much exposition. This sequel took a little long getting to its own story because of this, along with a bit of heavy-handed foreshadowing as well. Regardless of its slow start, Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid is a pretty standard middle-grade book that calls upon the success of the superhero genre to package a lesson about pride between action set pieces.

While there are some parallels between the X-Men series, I feel the main character’s arc is perhaps a little more similar to early My Hero Academia. Plus, it wouldn’t be a middle-grade story without a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it as well (i.e., a unique main character with a semi-bumbling male friend and an incredibly smart female friend). At the very least, I found the illustrations sprinkled throughout to be well done. They certainly contributed to the comic book hybrid feel of the story, which is probably what draws the X-Men comparisons.

I won’t fault this book too much for its heavy-handed approach toward the main character’s social faux pas since this book is basically for children. That being said, I did find some of the lore and intricacies of the greater story arc to be perhaps a little elaborate. I’m sure if I’d read the first book, this would be less so, but it still seems slightly overcomplicated at times. In the end, I liked some of the unique (if not sometimes gross) superpowers of these kids, and I’d recommend this series for any children who might want to make the jump from comic books to chapter books, and vice versa.

A comic book/chapter book hybrid with a semi-standard take on superheroes, I give Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Secrets and Scones: A Secret Recipe Book

Secrets and Scones: A Secret Recipe Book
Author: 
Remington, Laurel
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Scarlett’s mom is writing a blog and Scarlett seems to be the star – or perhaps victim. All of her embarrassing moments are being shared with the readers and it’s uncomfortable to go to school knowing that her classmates know all of her secrets. Scarlett’s answer is to become boring, but boring is – well – boring. When Scarlett discovers a spectacular kitchen in the house next door, she gives in to temptation and tries it out. In the process, she makes a new friend and discovers the secret ingredient in family and friendships. A fun read that encourages reaching out to others, making friends, and cooking.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Author: 
Bellairs, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Do you like mystery stories with a bit of payback! well then this is the book for you. and the best part is this book has ghosts and magic! so please read about this epic quest to find the one clock that was once lost long ago. Magic!

Reviewer's Name: 
Chess

Book Review: The House with a Clock in its Walls

The House with a Clock in its Walls
Author: 
Bellairs, John
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

There is evil afoot in this book about a fat young boy whose parents both died in a car accident leaving him to live with his strange uncle who lives in a mansion with secrets. An uncle being driven insane by a clock's incessant ticking countered by a strange neighbor who makes excellent chocolate chip cookies. The adventure is just beginning. Into a cemetery, are the dead rising? A car chase all across the county and an eclipse of the moon. A house that grows defenses? Windows that change on their own? Read this book and find out not just what the evil is, but to determine which is better, the book or the movie?

Reviewer's Name: 
Rachel

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