Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the category “Book Reviews – Amanda”

The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott

The Dinosaur DisasterSix students arrive for their first day of school at the Mad Scientist Academy. When they first arrive, they find their teacher, Dr. Cosmic, all tied up. He explains that he was trying to put one of their school pets, Oscar, on a leash but he escaped. When one of the students asks what type of pet it is, the doctor says that you could consider him a dinosaur.

The doctor tells children to keep an eye out for Oscar as they make their way to meet a hologram of Dr. Tibia. She’s a paleontologist and gives the children a brief overview of fossils and the possible cause of dinosaurs’ extinction. During the overview, Dr. Cosmic is dealing with some malfunctions.

Suddenly a mechanical Triceratops breaks through a wall. Dr. Cosmic explains that the dinosaurs are set in safe mode, but it has a live mode for scientists to study how the dinosaur would behave in the wild.
Dr. Cosmic gives the children handbooks and a puzzle to solve. He shows them to an exhibit full of many dinosaurs, gives them their first clue, and then heads off to find Oscar. As they go from clue to clue, they learn facts about the dinosaurs. They are soon stopped in their tracks as they hear Dr. Cosmic and then a loud BOOM! The children follow the noise and discover that all the robot dinosaurs are now in live mode!

After escaping the mechanical dinosaurs and shutting them down, the students find Dr. Cosmic once again tied up, however this time it’s with Oscar in tow. What is Oscar? You’ll have to pick up this fun fact filled book to find out!

– Amanda

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Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville

Diary of a Mad BrownieAngus is a 150-year-old brownie that loves to do chores for humans. As the story starts out, he is readying to embark on a great and fateful journey into the next part of his life.  The reason behind this major change is Sarah, the human he was most recently bound to, is currently on her death bed.  Sarah informs Angus he must leave Scotland to travel to America and serve young Alex Carhart.

Upon Sarah’s passing, Angus ventures from the human world into the Enchanted Realm.  Over a week and several interesting people later, he finally makes it to America.  Arriving at Alex’s home, he goes through a pet door (Satan’s door as he refers to it) and meets a monster (the family cat).  Eventually making his way to Alex’s room and finding a place to sleep.

On the first morning Angus isn’t sure where to even begin.  Alex’s room is beyond a pig sty; however the thought of her being pleased by a clean room pushes him to begin.  When Alex arrives home, instead of being happy that her room is now more room-like, she freaks out.

Eventually, Alex sets a trap by spreading molasses all around her bed and Angus, unfortunately, steps in it and gets stuck.  Will Alex accept Angus and the binding, and if so, will they become friends?  Join Angus and Alex as they attempt to co-exist and learn valuable lessons along the way.

This was a very comical and cute book.  Young readers will surely enjoy following Angus and the Carharts.

– Amanda

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Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poutry FarmerSophie Brown and her family have just moved from Los Angeles to an old farm. The farm belonged to her great uncle that passed away.  While exploring the farm, she comes across a catalog for the Redwood Farm Supply in the barn.  To pass the time, she writes letters to her grandmother, uncle and to Redwood Farm Supply.  In her letters, she describes her adventures and her feelings.

Although she believes the farm to be animal free, she wakes up one morning and discovers a little white chicken hanging around the old chicken coop.  This chicken is far from ordinary.  She cares for the chicken and swears it has super powers and isn’t sure what to do.  After several letters, Agnes at the Redwood Farm Supply replies and advises her to keep the chicken a secret.

As the weeks pass, more chickens begin making appearances.  These chickens also have their own special traits. Sophie learns that the neighbor boy has information on three more chickens that belonged to Sophie’s great uncle.  However, they’re being held captive by a local farmer who wants the chickens for their unique abilities.

Will Sophie be able to rescue the missing chickens or will the farmer succeed in stealing all the unusual chickens?

  • Amanda

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The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

The Disappearance of Emily HHaving just moved from Detroit to New York, we meet Raine as she is preparing to register for 8th grade.  Raine has a special gift; she collects people’s sparkles, which is a glimpse of a person’s memory.

Growing up, Raine lived with her grandmother, but after she died, Raine’s mother began taking care of her.  Raine’s grandmother also had the ability to read sparkles.

Raine is quick to learn who the mean girls in the school are, but unfortunately two of them are in cross-country with her.  While walking her dog, Raine sees a missing sign for Emily Huvar.  Emily is a 13-year-old girl who disappeared a few months ago.  Raine learns that she and her mother moved into Emily’s house.

As Raine delves into people’s memories, she learns enough to make her want to solve the case of Emily’s disappearance.  Will she get to the bottom of the mystery or is there more to this case than just a missing girl?

I highly recommend this book.  I was immediately drawn in and was enthralled until the end.  This was a great mystery with plenty of twists and turns.  The bullying throughout broke my heart a little, but unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality of what people go through in today’s society.

– Amanda

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Seaborne #1: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch

Seaborne the Lost PrinceThrown in a cage and to the sharks by the evil pirate king known as One-Eyed Jack, Dean Seaborne pleads for a second chance.  Having a purpose for Seaborne, One-Eyed Jack sends him to spy on rival pirate, Gentleman Jim Harper, who is suspected of withholding some of the booty that is to go to Jack.  He also wants Seaborne to make his way to the mysterious island of Zenhala to investigate the reports of gold and treasure.

Taken aboard Harper’s ship, Seaborne discovers the information he came for but suddenly the ship gets hit with cannon fire and sinks.  Adrift in their lifeboats, Captain Harper and his pirates are rescued by Verrick, a seeker of the lost prince.  Upon their arrival on the island of Zenhala, Dean Seaborne finds the inhabitants think that he is the lost prince who went missing 13 years ago. Here, he is forced to endure intense rituals that will test his manhood and possible princehood.

Will Seaborne be able to complete his mission?  Is he really the lost prince?  You won’t be sorry you picked up this book to find out.  I highly recommend this fast paced and engaging read.

– Amanda

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Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Death DateHow would you imagine living your life if you knew the day of your death?  For Denton Little, a 17-year-old high school senior, that day is tomorrow.

This story takes place in a world much like ours with one glaring exception – everyone is told the exact day they are going to die.  The day before his deathdate, Denton wakes up in his best friend’s sister’s bed.  He’s hung over and can’t remember what happened.  Things are not starting the way he planned as Denton heads home to prepare for his funeral.

The rest of the day continues to be just as strange as the morning.  Denton’s life has become overwhelming and has been filled with mysterious questions in the past few hours.  Running out of time, will he find the answers he’s looking for or will his deathdate arrive too soon?

Witty, entertaining, and fresh, debut author Lance Rubin knocks this one out of the park.

– Amanda

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A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen

A Fine RomanceI love romance.  I don’t love nonfiction.  This story is both, so it’s a flip of a coin as to whether or not I’ll enjoy it.  Following up on her previous memoir, Knock Wood, Candice delves into motherhood, marriage, her career, loss, and more.

The book opens with her pregnancy and birth of her daughter.  It’s a sweet little chapter that brought tears to my eyes.  She then goes on to describe her meeting and falling in love with French film director, Louis Malle.  You learn of their travels, falling into married life, and their struggles.  Although they lead an unconventional marriage; they barely lived together as they each pursued their own professional interests in different countries; they made it work.

At the age of 39, Candice conceived and gave birth to her first and only child, Chloe.  She tells of her pregnancy and life with a new baby.  We learn how she became Murphy Brown and managed to excel at it for 10 years, with a child in tow.

We learn Louis survived lymphoma, open heart surgery and pneumonia to turn around and find out that he had PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy).  She opens up about the experience, the struggles, and what helped to keep her grounded.  He succumbed to his illness at the age of 63 on Thanksgiving Day of 1995.

Candice walks us through the aftermath of losing Louie and then her courtship and marriage to Marshall Rose.  To round out the book, she shares with us her stint in ICU, the death of her mother, weight gain, and her daughter’s engagement.

In conclusion, this was a very heartfelt memoir.  More than once I found tears threatening to roll down my cheek.  A fine read.

  • Amanda

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Look! by Jeff Mack

Look!Gorilla is trying to get boy’s attention by being silly, but boy is too busy with his nose in the TV.  Gorilla is saddened, but tries something else.  The boy only gets annoyed and tells him to “Look Out.”  Gorilla only wants some attention, what can he do now?

Gorilla tries to balance on several books but only ends up falling and the boy once again hollers at Gorilla.  The boy kicks Gorilla out of the room and the boy continues watching TV.  Gorilla enters the room standing on a tricycle and juggling books.  This gets the boy’s attention but then things go horribly wrong when Gorilla falls off and lands on the boy and knocks the TV over.

The boy is distraught because now the TV is broken.  Angrily he tells Gorilla to get out.  Gorilla walks away with his head hung low and his heart broken.  Now that the boy doesn’t have the TV, he notices one of the books lying on the ground.  He picks it up and begins reading it.  Gorilla comes back in and the boy is excited to share the story with Gorilla.  They snuggle up and enjoy the book together.  What a perfect ending!

With very few words actually spoken in the book, it’s a sweet and wonderful way for children to use their imaginations to interpret the story and feelings as they wish.  I recommend adding it to your shelf.

  • Amanda

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The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth GospelI can honestly say that I was leery in reading this novel for a couple of reasons.  First being that I didn’t read the author’s first novel, The Rule of Four, and second, I’m not very big on religious reads.  The outcome was pleasantly surprising.

Alex Andreou is a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican as a single parent with his five-year-old son.  Simon, Alex’s brother, has moved into the main Catholic Church and is a priest in the Vatican Secretariat.

Simon calls Alex and begs him to pick him up at the Castel Gandolfo.  When Alex arrives, he sees his friend Ugo, curator of a groundbreaking exhibit, dead.    Ugo was set to disprove the scientific evidence based on scriptural and historical documentation of the Shroud of Turin, which has been a symbol of Christianity for centuries, but it was recently proven to be a fake dating back to the Middle Ages.

Simon is being implicated in Ugo’s murder and Alex’s only hope to save him is to reconstruct Ugo’s secret.    This secret is about the four Christian gospels and the fifth gospel named the Diatessaron, which reveals information about the Church’s most controversial holy relic.

Can Alex uncover the mystery and save his brother?  Pick up a copy and find out for yourself.

  • Amanda

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The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

The Third TwinBefore readers meet the identical twins, Alexa, aka Lexi, and Ava, the book opens with what could be one of a girl’s worst nightmares.  We then learn the back story of Alicia, the third sister that the girls made up when they were little.

Now, seniors in high school, they only use Alicia to amp up their courage and sex appeal when dealing with attracting men.  Things quickly turn deadly and strange things begin happening that can’t be explained.

Before you know it, DNA evidence and surveillance photos don’t bode well for Ava and Lexi.  If neither one of them have committed the murders of boys they we’re linked to, then who is responsible and why are they framing the twins or are they?

Fast paced and engaging, this is a great read for fans of who-done-its.  The Third Twin keeps you guessing, right up until just about the end.  When you think you might know, you have no idea….

– Amanda

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