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

Book Review: The Switch

The Switch by Anthony Horowitz
The Switch
by Anthony Horowitz 

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Tad is a spoiled rich kid, living in a massive mansion, with servants at his beck and call. Bob is a poor kid, living in a dirty caravan, working in a carnival, and surviving on the streets with thieves and pickpockets. When the two switch places in a magical swap, Tad must learn to survive on the streets, and Bob discovers that being rich isn’t always as good as it sounds.

This story was so much more than I thought it was going to be! I thought it would be your regular “Freaky Friday” body-swap thing with the pathetic rich kid having to learn how to live without his precious wealth. But wow! I was completely surprised at the turn the plot took, and the intricacies of the story. Even the smallest details took on a major significance as the truth behind Tad’s wealthy family is exposed. Continue reading

Book Review: Here Lies the Librarian

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
Here Lies the Librarian
by Richard Peck

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Jake and Peewee have a run-down country car garage that used to be a livery stable before the Model-T came roaring down the dirt roads of their little town. Jake loves to tinker with the newest automobiles, dreaming of building his own racecar someday, and Peewee is no slouch when it comes to repairing a brake line or patching up a punctured tire. When Irene, the new librarian, comes motoring along in beautiful clothes and an astonishing hat, Jake and Peewee’s lives will never be the same.

I fell in love with this book by the second chapter. I loved the plot, the classic 1910s setting, the kooky characters, the mysterious new librarian, and the hilarious antics of the farmers and rough-and-tumble country folk.
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Book Review: Calico Bush

Calico Bush by Rachel Field
Calico Bush
by Rachel Field,  Gail Herman,  Allen Lewis (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


In 1743, Marguerite is an indentured servant to a colonial family settling in the middle of Indian territory on the coast of Maine. Because she is French, she is scorned and ridiculed by her English employers, and is expected to work hard to tend to the children of the family. During their first winter on the small farm, Marguerite and the family struggle to survive in the harsh conditions, and face the threat of an attack from local tribes.

I was so enchanted with this book! The plot is interesting, the history is fascinating, and the characters feel wonderfully real and honest. It’s no wonder that this book won a Newbery Honor Award! Continue reading

Book Review: Treasures from Grandma

Treasures from Grandma by Arleta Richardson
Treasures from Grandma (Grandma’s Attic, #4)
by Arleta Richardson

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Mabel and Sarah Jane are at it again, dreaming up trouble and childish shenanigans in their little country town. Mabel is determined to sew her own dress for the ice-cream social, but has difficulties sewing a seam correctly. Sarah Jane tries to help a boy at school to lose weight by stealing his lunch. Mabel resolves to make a perfect score on her math test at school, just to prove to the boys that a girl can be smart too. A family of gypsies visits the area, and Mabel’s family allows them to squat on their land despite the dire warnings of their neighbors that all gypsies are thieves.

I love the old-fashioned writing and the wholesome innocence of the stories. Each chapter has its own plot with a neat moral at the end where Mabel and Sarah Jane learn a valuable lesson about friendship, honesty, and compassion to their fellowman.

I just love how energetic and plucky Mabel is. She is forever getting into scrapes, but remains as bold and high-spirited as ever, no matter the disappointments that come her way.
I can’t wait to read more from this adorable series!

Graphic Novel Review: Dear Justice League

Dear Justice League by Michael Northrop
Dear Justice League 
by Michael Northrop (Author)Gustavo Duarte (Illustrations)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Are the Justice League heroes always perfect? Or do they sometimes make mistakes, eat too much cake, smell like fish, make bad fashion choices, lose the video game, or leave a job half-done?
The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkgirl, Cyborg, and Aquaman answer all their fan mail from kids who wonder, “Are superheroes just like me?”

I loved the way the hilarious fan mail stories are woven into a bigger story as the Justice League battles an invasion of insectoid aliens. The writing is really clever to bring together so many different snippets of superhero life with little glimpses of the regular kids who are their most devoted fans. Continue reading

Book Review: SpaceKid iLK

Spacekid iLK by Andrew  Hammond
Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101 
by Andrew Hammond 

4 out of 5 stars

iLK is a normal alien boy, flying around with his parents in a spaceship and invading planets. But when iLK’s father conquers Earth, he gets tired of being the supreme ruler of such a boring planet, and gives the job to iLK to teach him some responsibility. Earth is soon in danger, and it’s up to iLK to save the planet with the help of some friendly Earthlings!

I thought this book was hilarious! The writing is so clever and silly, and the plot is really imaginative. I loved the world-building with the aliens, and their culture of invasion and world domination. I especially enjoyed the complex family dynamics between iLK and his parents.
Continue reading

Book Review: Poppy

Poppy by Avi
Poppy,   by Avi

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Poppy and her large mouse family are held in servitude to the formidable owl, Mr. Ocax. When Poppy and her boyfriend, Ragweed, decide to flaunt Mr. Ocax’s rules, it means trouble for the whole mouse family. Only Poppy can discover the truth behind Mr. Ocax’s secret fear, and save her family from starvation!

This story was so cute! I loved the whimsical plot, and the funny characters. The writing is charming, and the illustrations are beautiful.
Poppy is such an idiotic little fool, but she has a good heart and she is brave in the middle of terrifying circumstances (well, terrifying to a mouse).
I loved grumpy old Ereth, and his hilarious insults! He brings so much comedy into the story.

I enjoyed this so much that I’m going to continue on with the sequel, Poppy and Rye.