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review 2018-03-18 01:57
Let My People Go
Imagine... The Ten Plagues - Matt Koceich

In this second book about time travel and Biblical stories, Matt Koceich again intertwines the two to create an incredible adventure. “Imagine: The Ten Plagues” takes the reader back to Ancient Egypt during the time of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites, seen through the eyes of a young girl. Eleven-year-old Kai Wells is facing a bully in her Florida neighborhood when suddenly she finds herself transported thousands of years back in time. She befriends a resident and becomes involved in helping a child stay safe from the Pharaoh and his servants while witnessing the plagues visited upon the hardhearted Egyptians.

“The Ten Plagues” was, in my opinion, a quicker and even more exciting read than its predecessor, “The Great Flood.” Koceich neatly creates characters to whom young readers can relate, while dealing with issues germane to what kids are facing today. This narrative focuses on bullying and standing up for what is right despite intense pressure, and yet it does not become preachy or superior. This is a great way for kids to learn a moral lesson in a fun and interesting way and to also introduce or reinforce major Biblical stories.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-03-14 18:42
Mandie and the Shipboard Mystery by Lois Gladys Leppard
Mandie and the Shipboard Mystery - Lois Gladys Leppard

Mandie has just celebrated her thirteenth birthday and been surprised to discover that she has permission to go with her grandmother to Europe. It's just too exciting to be true!

Grandmother Taft, Celia, and Mandie are given a big send-off as they board the Queen Victoria bound for Europe. Traveling on the ship with them is Senator Morton. His attentions keep Mrs. Taft distracted to the point where she slightly neglects Celia and Mandie a situation guaranteed to mean trouble.

The girls meet some unusual people on board, and even find someone in their room when they return to it one night. Candy and fruit disappear from their cabin, and someone's valise turns up under their settee. Then comes the real surprise!

Uncle Ned won't be able to rescue them this time! (from Goodreads)

This was actually a good Mandie book. Mandie herself was pretty decent and didn't act like a spoiled brat. We were introduced to Jonathan in this book, a character whose name has been featured in future Mandie titles. Also Celia (my favourite character next to Uncle Ned and Sallie) is going to be featured in the next, like, ten books, so that's great. 

I'm also intrigued about the fact that the next few books take place in Europe, starting with England, the only European country I've been in (unless you count two hours in Scotland). 

As for the Mandie book, this follows Mandie and Celia as they travel across the ocean towards England. The entire book minus the first chapter or so is set on the actual ship, and I always find ship books fascinating (especially if characters don't suffer from seasickness). They encounter a mysterious old woman and a stowaway. They also have a shocking revelation about class, which I enjoyed because it feels like all the main white characters are rich, except maybe Joe, which bothers me because it implies that us poor white people can't have adventures either.

All in all, this was a solid Mandie book, and I can't wait to see what adventures await them in Europe!

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review 2018-03-04 13:25
{ARC} Book Review: Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly

This is my second Marcy Kate Conolly book and I enjoyed this more than the other one.  The story is what the premise promised. We have Emmeline who is gifted with shadow weaving.  She excels at it. She loves it. She acknowledges it. Only that her parents and the people surrounding her have grown wary about her power as the years went by. Then the day came when her parents couldn’t take it any longer and desired to send her away to get cured. So Emmeline ran and took refuge in the woods wherein she met a lovely family whose only son is gifted with magic as well. And so, her adventure begins.


I think the beauty of Shadow Weaving lies on the characterization of our main protagonist, Emmeline.  . She’s clueless, lacks the basic sense of right and wrong, suffers from “I am the victim” syndrome, and thinks that the world revolves around her and her sufferings. What’s surprising is that Emmeline is not aware that she’s any of these things.  She really thinks that her life is woefully  pitiful without realizing that it was she who had alienated everyone around her, including her parents.  Though her parents are not exactly good, they, at least, in their own ways, tried to provide good guiding hands for Emmeline.  But they’re not just equipped (in skills or in experience) on how to handle such a child like Emmeline so they actually failed despite their efforts to give her a normal life. For Emmeline’s part, she’s really self-centered refusing to even take the time to reflect about why her parents act like that or why the servants shy away from her. Instead, she lets herself be easily led by her shadow, which is, by the way sentient and has no qualms of inflicting harm to people.  But Emmeline thinks that her shadow is beyond reproach.


But other than Emmeline’s characterization, Shadow Weaver has nothing more to offer to the table. The lore of the Cerelia Comet and its blessings felt very shallow, I could not bring myself to be interested in it.  The main conflict (good vs. evil) was too simplistic and easily resolved that it didn’t make an impact. And most importantly, I was only invested in Emmeline but couldn’t empathize with any of the other characters including Lucas and Dar.


I was really glad that Shadow Weaver was a very short book, thus, my patience didn’t run thin.  Overall, this is not an inherently bad book but it sure would benefit from a little tweaking here and there.

Source: waywardkitsune.com/2018/03/arc-book-review-shadow-weaver-marcykate-connolly
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review 2018-03-03 21:32
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #1)
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

This is very Young Wizards-lite. It's a fun story and certainly very imaginative, but I couldn't help but wonder how much more awesome it'd be in the hands of Diane Duane. It's not very fair of me, I know. These books are aimed at grade schoolers, while Young Wizards books are young adult and delve deeper into their themes. A Wrinkle in Time is a very quick read, jumping from action to action with very little explanation of how or why anything works the way it does. The plot is very straightforward and other than first few chapters that set up the characters and the world, there's very little deviation from the plot once the kids are whisked away on their adventure. At one point, I started to wonder if this was going to end up being a cliffhanger, though that didn't feel right. It might have been 30 years since I read this in grade school, but I think I would have remembered feeling cheated it this didn't have a proper ending. Unfortunately, that means the resolution is extremely quick and rather simplified.

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review 2018-02-28 06:55
Found Things by Marilyn Hilton
Found Things - Marilyn Hilton

One morning, River Rose Byrne wakes up talking like nobody else, and she doesn’t know why. Maybe it’s because her beloved older brother, Theron, has abruptly vanished. Maybe it’s because that bully Daniel Bunch won’t leave her alone. Or maybe it has everything to do with the eerily familiar house that her mind explores when she’s asleep, and the mysterious woman who lives there. River has to puzzle through these mysteries on her own until she makes a strange new friend named Meadow Lark. But when she brings Meadow Lark home and her mother reacts in a way that takes River by surprise, River is more lost than before. Now all that’s left for her to do is make wish after wish—and keep her eyes open for a miracle.




For quite awhile now, River Rose Byrne has been wondering about and searching for her missing brother, Theron. In the meantime, she befriends mysterious, somewhat odd Meadow Lark Frankenfield, "her name was one of the only pretty things about her." Author Marilyn Hilton's description of Meadow Lark includes "a popped out eye" and "a strange way of walking".


"People make fun of my eye," she say, "but I can see better than some of them." 


As the story progresses, there are quiet character traits of River that the reader comes to see as a result (side effect?) of the trauma of Theron's disappearance, one being her taking up the habit of intentionally filling her speech with poor grammar. To help heal River's spirit, Meadow Lark teaches her the trick of writing down wishes and sending them down the river near the town library. Sidenote: I loved the imagery of a library set up next to a river!


One of the fun elements that keeps this story moving is the sense of mystery Hilton writes around the character of Meadow Lark, all the questions around her origin story. Is there some true magic to her? Why does River's mother respond so powerfully to her? 


One of River wishes is for the school bully to disappear. When said bully ends up in the hospital, River is surprised... maybe gives a glance in Meadow Lark's direction, but then reminds herself that she doesn't believe in things like magic / angels / miracles, so it's just a wild coincidence! Right? 


As River's emotions regarding her missing brother continue to escalate, overflowing to the point of affecting other aspects of her life, Meadow Lark is there to teach her the importance of maintaining hope & faith -- even just a grain of it -- in life. 


There was such a wonderful sense of childhood magic and whimsy infused into this book! There's a dreamlike quality that runs through the whole thing, but also quite a bit of depth when it comes to incorporated themes. Quite a feat for a debut novel! If you are a fanatic for beautiful language and all things lyrical, I highly encourage you to seek out Found Things and give it go! 

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