Review: The Reckless Club by Beth Vrabel

First, apologies for not writing this the first week of October when The Reckless Club was first released. You or your kiddos have waited too long already to read this book. Perfect for middle schoolers, The Reckless Club is a tweenage-appropriate glance at The Breakfast Club, with the extra twists and turns you’d expect from kids this age.

Beth Vrabel did a great job writing varied characters who have personal quirks that showed me a little bit of their souls. And better yet, the kids got a glimpse of each other’s souls, what made them tick, what made them hurt, and what made them better people.

In this world of divisiveness, where people say things on social media that they would never say to someone’s face, we need commentary on the benefits of seeing each other as human beings. The Reckless Club takes that stand, shining a light on the real people underneath what other people see as a drama queen, a nerd, an athlete…

This book reminded me not to judge until I’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes. It would make a great Christmas gift for any middle schooler you know, or their teacher.

-Calliope

Buy THE RECKLESS CLUB

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Review: Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel

Adults can usually see the big picture, but all Caleb sees are the obstacles of Cystic Fibrosis and the shadow of his older brother. Kit’s big picture life is dysfunctional and challenging, and in order to survive it she creates a smaller, magical world … and invites Caleb in. 

Every Beth Vrabel book I review includes the caveat that I’m not really a YA/middle grades fiction fan. Well call me a convert. I just can’t say it anymore, because I truly love Vrabel’s tales of kids living with a disability, finding their place, figuring out who their true friends are, and growing into independence and self-advocacy. 

Vrabel uses humor to explain Caleb’s CF troubles, in a way that any middle-grader will find entertaining (i.e. there’s mention of poop). She also creates a family that loves Caleb so much it’s stifling — a feeling most tweenagers know well. Reading Caleb and Kit, I was totally schooled on how much effort it takes to get through a day when you have a medical condition – or, in Kit’s situation, a dysfunctional home life. And Vrabel writes it all very casually and brightly… no gloominess allowed when describing the facts of someone’s daily existence. 

When Caleb and Kit find each other, they create a special kind of friendship that isn’t based on dependence, but on believing in each other so they might believe in themselves and grow to be independent. As Vrabel explains scientifically, just look at the trees and you’ll see! 

You’ll have to read the book to find out where their friendship ends up, but know this: Over the course of the chapters, my heart grew tender for Caleb and Kit, and yours will too. 

-calliope

Buy CALEB AND KIT

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

bottom-pieI just love little Flavia…so wish I could go back in time and read these as a 10 year old! I would have been mad for her then! Such a cheeky little bugger! But whom I kidding? I love her now as a 46 year old!

If you think this is a short review, well you’re wrong…You don’t need me to tell you what the book is about, you just need me to tell you to go out and read it…so I am telling you now…it doesn’t matter how young or old you are…go out and buy this book…we all need a little Flavia in our lives!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

A very adventurous and exciting story, filled with enough action to make even the most stubborn of readers get engaged. I know the teens are gonna love this.

Because this is the second book in the Riders duology, I don’t want to say anything spoilery. But what I can tell you is that this has to be one of favorite true YA series. My kids and I read the first book, Riders, right when it came out. Then I just did a relisten last week, with them listening every now and then, and all the excitement came back to me. In fact, my non reader son actually found ways to be in the same room as me so he could listen to the book, but not making it obvious that he was listening. The audible was very addicting. I found myself actually doing chores just so I could listen to it more. That, my friends, is a sign of a good book.

And my anti romance daughter was equally intrigued with this story as well. I’m always on the lookout for exciting YA books that aren’t completely centered around romance, and this one fit the bill as well. It enough to keep us both happy, and that’s a rarity.

Well, enough about Riders, now onto Seeker. Seeker takes place about 8 months after Riders end. The characters are trying to work past what happened and try to find a solution. Since they’re younger and less mature, they don’t always make the right decisions. They try and do things on their own, so save others from harm, but what they really need to do is work together. Once they realize this, then things start to fall into place. I’m not saying that nothing bad will happen, but it’s easier to deal with the bad, when you have your friends and family close by.

It’s very bittersweet to have this book end. I will miss these characters and I wish there were more books coming, but alas, there is not. But I am happy to see their trials complete and them still together and moving on as a family. 

This series will be added to my master list of YA books and I have a feeling it will be recommended often.

~Melpomene

Grab Riders here: http://amzn.to/2pkiUHD
Grab Seeker here: http://amzn.to/2pkwP0c

Review: Gregor the Underland Chronicles

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As a teacher, I’m often asked for kids’ book recommendations.  And I’m always looking for great books to offer to kids.  One series that always gets top mention is the Gregor Chronicles.

Written by Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame, this is a milder, gentler series for younger readers not quite ready for that world.  With Gregor as our hero, we are taken to a world hidden deep beneath the streets of New York City.  His adventures bring him into contact with giant rats, bats, and roaches among others.  There are legends to be followed, and destinies to be realized.

It’s not without violence, however, as there are deaths along the way.  However, I was able to read and recommend this series to second graders with no hesitation. And older readers have no fear. This is still one of my favorites to read MYSELF.

The boxed set makes an excellent gift and truly should only be bought that way as eager eyes are sure to zip through the first volume and immediately look for the next.  Happy reading!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Gregor the Underland Chronicles

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Illustrated Edition

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Even in this age of ebooks, even with my dedication to my Kindle, there’s a place for real, actual books. And this is one of those places.

Simply beautiful.  That’s the only way to describe this newish addition to the Harry Potter family.  I say newish because this first one came out last year with the second volume available now.

Some people will say that an illustrated version of these timeless stories messes it up by putting another person’s visions in our heads.  I disagree. Because chances are, if you are buying these hardcover books for yourself or for a loved one, you’ve already read the original stories multiple times.  And you’ve seen the movies. So for me, these books are just another take on a much loved story.  And they absolutely do justice to the originals.

So grab these amazing books.  They make great gifts. And it’s okay to gift yourself from time to time!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 

Review: The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin

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Yes, this is what might technically categorized as a children’s book.  But my reasons for reviewing it on this blog are many.  First of all, I’m a second grade teacher so much of what  I read falls into this category.  Plus, the holiday gifting season is upon us and books do truly make the best gifts.  And the best reason of all, it’s really a funny book!  In fact, so funny in parts that I couldn’t get the next word out as I was reading it to my class.

So there are these chickens.  Four of them, to be exact.  And there’s the mama chick, Moosh.  Oh and there’s J.J. the dog.  He’s in charge of keeping the chickens safe.  This first book sets the stage for future stories before diving headfirst into the mystery of “the big and scary thing” that Tail the squirrel finds in the yard.  The chickens take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

Without a doubt, it’s juvenile humor.  But any humor is good.  And I promise, any young person you read this story to or with will enjoy it.  Plus, it’s the first in a series that will appeal to all kinds of readers.  Enjoy!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Chicken Squad