Book Review: Pippa Park Raises Her Game

Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun
Pippa Park Raises Her Game
by Erin Yun 

5 out of 5 stars

When Pippa Park gets a basketball scholarship to a fancy private school, she feels pressured to pretend like she’s rich and cool so that she can fit in with her elite classmates. But how long can she keep up the farce, when her Korean family owns a laundromat and Pippa barely has money to buy a slice of pizza at the school cafeteria? With her grades slipping and her relationships in turmoil, Pippa begins to realize that some of her new friends have family secrets of their own.

This retelling of Dicken’s “Great Expectations” is utterly brilliant from start to finish! Continue reading

Book Review: Zeus the Mighty

Zeus the Mighty by Crispin Boyer
Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas
by Crispin Boyer

4 out of 5 stars

Zeus is a hamster who rules the kingdom of the pet store along with the other Olympian gods, Athena the cat, Demeter the cricket, Ares the dog, and Poseidon the puffer fish. These animals have mystic powers and find artifacts that help them in their adventures. When Poseidon questions Zeus’ ability to rule, Zeus goes on a quest to find the Golden Fleas (Fleece) to prove that he is worthy to be king of the gods.

I loved this funny book! The animals all have vivid personalities, and I loved their hilarious dialogue. It’s so clever how Greek mythology is woven into the pet store setting. Continue reading

Book Review: Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall

Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall by Rae Knightly
Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall (Alien Skill, #1)
by Rae Knightly (Goodreads Author)

3 out of 5 stars


Ben has no memory of when a “meteor” fell near his Grampa’s home while Ben was visiting there. There are government agents snooping around the crash site, and Ben’s Grampa is trying to keep Ben’s name out of it by hiding him away with his mother in the city. An alien named Mesmo is on the run from dangerous government agents, and tries to protect the innocent human witnesses from the “meteor” crash site. A mysterious shape-shifter tracks down Ben as a witness to the crash, and Ben and his mother are both in terrible danger.

I enjoyed the writing style in this book. It’s concise and clear, with a lot of emotional scenes between characters. The writer shows us the inner feelings of each character, and there is some powerful dialogue. The characters are deep and complex with authentic relationships. Continue reading

Comic Review: Zatanna and the House of Secrets

Zatanna & the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody
Zatanna & the House of Secrets
by Matthew Cody, Yoshi Yoshitani (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars


Zatanna is just trying to survive middle school. She and her stage-magician Dad live in a mysterious house with an adorable pet rabbit, Pocus. Zatanna believes that her father’s magic tricks are just illusions, until one fateful day when she encounters real magic. She realizes that the house holds more secrets than she ever knew, and she must navigate trick stairs, cold dungeons, and enigmatic doors to escape the clutches of a wicked sorceress and save her father.

I loved this comic from start to finish! Zatanna is a wonderful character, and she has some good personal development and teen angst that packs an emotional punch. The plot is enchanting and mystic with lots of wonderful surprises and twists. I loved the magical elements in the House of Secrets, and especially the magical characters and creatures that Zatanna meets as she discovers a new world of wizardy and spells. Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: The World According to Francois

The World According to François by Vincent Zabus
The World According to François: The Writer’s Secret
by Vincent Zabus,  Renaud Collin (Illustrator)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Francois is a little boy with a big imagination. He is always writing down stories and telling them to his classmates and teachers, but the bullies in school make fun of his stories and his teachers are exasperated with him. He meets a mysterious woman who tells him that he has a magical power over letters of the alphabet and can command any book to do his bidding. An evil man has seized control of the letters, and only Francois can restore balance to the secret world of authors.

I loved Francois’ character! He has a good heart and enjoys using his intelligence to fantasize about other worlds and magical creations.

Continue reading

Comic Review: Super Sons 1 & 2

Super Sons by Ridley PearsonSuper Sons by Ridley Pearson
3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Jon Kent and Ian Wayne are the sons of Superman and Batman. They team up with a mysterious girl named Candace, with a troubled past, and the unlikely friends investigate an evil plot involving a deadly illness sweeping the streets. Meanwhile, the world is drowning as the polar icecaps melt and sea levels rise. Metropolis is flooded, and millions are forced to evacuate their homes and find shelter as “flood runners” in nearby towns, Jon and Ian included. Can they outrun the floods and find out who is behind the deadly virus?

I feel conflicted about this book. The characters are good, and I loved the artwork, but the story is hard to follow, because the plot is very chaotic. The scenes jump around with very little explanation about what is happening. The characters have extreme emotional reactions to situations, but it is never explained WHY they are reacting that way. There is almost no backstory on anyone. Continue reading

Book Review: Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages
by Trenton Lee Stewart 

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

The whole gang is back for another adventure! Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance are a little older now, contemplating their next move into adulthood, and worried that the Society will lose their special connection as they grow up. They band together one last time to stop the evil Mr. Curtain from escaping from his high-security prison.

I love everything about this book! The character development is excellent, and the friendships within the Society are just perfection. The plot kept me guessing right up to the end, and I was surprised at every turn. I love the witty writing style, and all the puzzles and codes and conundrums that are solved as the team work together to save the day!

Book Review: Fearless

Fearless by Elvira Woodruff
Fearless
by Elvira Woodruff

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


In 1695, the Eddystone Reef off the coast of Cornwall is called the “Widow Maker” with more than 50 ships wrecking on the rocks each year. When Digory’s father is presumed lost at sea, Digory travels to Plymouth to inquire about any possible survivors from his ship, hoping to find his father alive. He becomes an apprentice to an eccentric inventor named Henry Winstanley, who is the architect of the new Eddystone Lighthouse.

I didn’t even realize that this is historical fiction until the end, when I read the blurb about history at the end of the book. I was pleasantly surprised and it gave the story so much more depth and meaning. Henry Winstanley really did design and build the first offshore lighthouse on Eddystone Reef, saving thousands of sailors’ lives each year.

I loved the writing style, the plot, the characters, and the wonderful themes of courage and family. The writing really draws the reader into this historic time and makes the setting feel immediate and real. The characters are colorful and interesting, and I really enjoyed the smart dialogue. Continue reading

Book Review: A Handful of Magic

A Handful of Magic by Stephen Elboz
A Handful of Magic
by Stephen Elboz

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Kit is full of mischief and unruly vandalism, until his misconduct results in his best friend, Prince Henry being bitten by a werewolf. As Kit works to save Henry from the werewolf’s poison, he uncovers a deadly plot to cripple all of England while children are used as slaves to work in underground mines. To save his friends, Kit must learn to use his magical abilities for good, instead of for foolish pranks.

Full of steampunk magic and mythical creatures, this book creates a world where magic is at war with new scientific discoveries like the electric light and telegraph. Kit’s father, a prominent wizard-adviser to Queen Victoria, worries that magic is becoming obsolete in the face of new scientific inventions, and Kit is determined to prove that magic is just as relevant and necessary as it ever was.

I didn’t quite like Kit and his friends at first, because of their foolishness and vandalism, but they began to grow and learn, and their good hearts and generous spirits began to show through, so in the end, I liked them all and was cheering for them through their adventures. Continue reading

Book Review: Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure

Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure by National Geographic Kids
Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Enter the Explorer Academy as a recruit and crack the codes to find clues that will lead you through the mysterious halls of the Academy. Starting with easy codes and moving into more and more complex puzzles and encryptions, this book teaches the readers how to create and decode various types of ciphers, including semaphore and Morse code.

I loved the way the puzzles and codes are presented as part of an adventure, leading the reader through doorways to various parts of the Academy. Each code that you break gives you a clue to another place in the Academy that you need to go to find the next clue, and there are detours and hazards along the way. Continue reading