Book Review: Jennifer Murdley’s Toad

Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Bruce Coville
Jennifer Murdley’s Toad 
by Bruce CovilleGary A. Lippincott (Illustrations)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Jennifer wishes she could be beautiful, but feels ugly and dumpy. When she buys a talking toad at the Magic Shop, her entire life changes, and she is whisked on an adventure where she will have to choose between pursuing beauty or saving her friends.

I loved this hilarious story, and read it all in one sitting! The madcap plot is full of surprises, and the snappy dialogue makes every page interesting. I enjoyed the magic system and how it interacts in strange ways with the modern world.

I thought Jennifer was sweet and REAL and beautifully awkward. Her family is quirky and weird, and her friends are peppery and unreliable. The best part of the book was Jennifer’s various relationships with her parents, siblings, and school friends, and of course, her magical talking toad.

I adored every chapter! Can’t wait to read more from this series.

Book Review: Emily’s Fortune

Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Emily’s Fortune
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

When Emily’s mother dies, Emily plans to travel West to live with her aunt, but the state orphanage has other plans, and Emily is forced to run away from the Orphanage Child Catchers. With the help of another orphan boy and her trusty turtle, Rufus, Emily will travel by train and stagecoach through the Wild West to reach the safety of her aunts home. 

This is a funny and cute little story with plenty of adventure and hilarity! It would be a wonderful book to read aloud to children, because there are so many opportunities for funny voices and dramatic voices. 
I enjoyed the story, but it’s not particularly amazing or special. The plot is simple, the characters are static, but it’s the writing style that really keeps the reader interested. The writing is witty, the dialogue is snappy, and the scenes flow smoothly into a cohesive story. And young readers aren’t looking for complex plots or deep characters, so it’s a perfect book for children!

Book Review: Mary Poppins in the Park

Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins in the Park (Mary Poppins, #4) 
by P.L. TraversMary Shepard (Illustrator)

3 out of 5 stars


Mary Poppins is back again with Jane and Michael for adventures in the Park! An ordinary outing in the park turns into a magical and extraordinary adventure when you go for a walk with Mary Poppins.

I love how Mary Poppins can be stern with the children, but is also kind and loving. She has a no nonsense attitude, but secretly loves to take the children on nonsensical and silly outings!

The writing is enchanting, and has a beautiful charm in its simplicity! I love all the Mary Poppins books! Continue reading

Book Review: The Language of Spells

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-...
The Language of Spells 
by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-Weyr
Katie Harnett (Illustrations)

3 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book about a dragon under an enchantment and the little girl who gives up everything to save him and his fellow dragons!

Grisha is still a young dragon when an evil sorcerer freezes him into the shape of a small teapot. Trapped within the teapot for decades, Grisha dreams of being free once more, but as soon as a friend breaks the enchantment of the teapot, Grisha is trapped in another kind of prison. The cruel bureaucracy of Vienna keeps a close watch on the few dragons allowed to remain in the city, and every aspect of Grisha’s life is locked between rigid rules and regulations, even restricting his thoughts and words. Continue reading

Book Review: The Haunting of Granite Falls

The Haunting of Granite Falls by Eva Ibbotson
The Haunting of Granite Falls 
by Eva IbbotsonKevin Hawkes (Illustrations)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Young Alex, the laird of Carra, is forced to sell his ancient and dilapidated Scottish castle to an American millionaire. Poor Alex is heartbroken to be leaving his ancestral home, but worst of all is the parting with his ghostly friends who haunt the Castle of Carra. When the millionaire tears down the castle and transplants it in Texas where his ailing daughter, Helen, can enjoy it, the ghosts accompany the ancient stones of their home, and uncover an evil plot to kidnap Helen. The good ghosts befriend a mysterious phantom hand, and rely on Alex to help save poor Helen from her kidnappers!

This has all the charm and silliness that I’ve come to love in Ibbotson’s books! The writing is fresh with a whimsical story-telling style. I love how weird and wacky the characters are, and how every detail about them carries weight in the story. The plot is full of preposterous surprises and plenty of action.

One of the best things about Ibbotson’s writing is how she takes ordinary things and turns them upside down to the astonishment of the reader.

Book Review: Emily and the Spellstone

Emily and the Spellstone by Michael Rubens
Emily and the Spellstone 
by Michael Rubens (Goodreads Author)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Emily hates adventures, but when she discovers a magical stone that acts as a cellphone, she is thrown into a magical adventure that proves she is strong and resourceful against the greatest of enemies. A fiery monster named Gorgo is trapped in the Spellstone, and vows to eat Emily if he ever gets free. But Emily needs his help to defeat the nasty people who are seeking the stone’s power for their own evil purposes.

I loved the wit and humor of this book! The dialogue is snappy and every new magical situation is hilariously weird. The plot is full of action and danger. The characters are beautifully written with plenty of contrast and development. Continue reading

Book Review: Marvelous Land of Oz

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Marvelous Land of Oz (Oz, #2) 
by L. Frank Baum

2 out of 5 stars on GoodREads
 Tip is a young boy living in Oz, servant to a nasty witch. He fashions a pumpkin head that comes to life, and they travel to the Emerald City to meet the Scarecrow and Tin Man, falling into the middle of a revolution along the way.
I didn’t really enjoy this book, maybe because I listened to it as an audiobook, and I didn’t like the narrator. Usually I love the Oz books, but this one fell flat. The characters are so dry, the jokes aren’t funny, and even the imaginative setting of Oz felt like a rehash of the same old things from every Oz book. Maybe it was the narrator. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this book. Maybe because I’ve been reading the Oz books out of order, so I already knew some of the plot points. It’s a good story, but I somehow couldn’t enjoy reading it.

Book Review: Midwinter Nightingale

Midwinter Nightingale by Joan Aiken
Midwinter Nightingale (The Wolves Chronicles, #10) 
by Joan Aiken

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Within hours of returning to England, Dido is kidnapped and interrogated regarding the whereabouts of the missing King Richard and his successor, Simon, Duke of Battersea. Dido has no idea where they are hiding, but she could never betray the good King and her kind friend Simon, so she turns her attention to escaping the fearful Fogrum Hall and the ghastly werewolf, Baron Magnus. Continue reading

Book Review: Cold Shoulder Road

Cold Shoulder Road by Joan Aiken
3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Is Twite and her cousin Arun go on a wild search for Arun’s mother, Ruth Twite, while the Merry Gentry smugglers terrorize every village on the coast. Arun and Is turn to Admiral Fishkin for help and advice on how to find their missing relative, but the duplicitous Admiral is not as kind as he seems. Is and Arun search through the mysterious Silent Sect, explore a dark cave, find shelter in unlikely places, and ultimately find a way to restore peace to the coast and strip the Merry Gentry of their power.
Continue reading