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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 2018-02-28 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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review 2018-02-20 19:24
When You Reach Me
When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

Author:  Rebecca Stead

Rating:  4 stars


***Newberry Medal Winner 2010***


This book was so good!


I'm trying to figure out how to describe it without giving the twists away. Hmmm... 


I'm going to stick with the blurb: 


"By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. 
I ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late."


Miranda is a great young heroine. She is making her way through adolescence and that uncomfortable time when being friends with boys changes and you realize your parents aren't perfect.  As I was reading and picked up on the science fiction angle I thought - this book is a genuinely good middle-grade novel, there's no need for the all this. But I stand corrected. I loved it. I loved how all the threads came together at the end.


I liked how unique and quirky all the characters were! Even now I'm a little down the book is over. 


Definitely recommend. 

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review 2018-02-19 23:21
Imagine: The Great Flood by Matt Koceich
The Great Flood - Matt Koceich The Great Flood - Matt Koceich

“Imagine: The Great Flood” is a short, quick read. Combining a time-travel adventure with Biblical history, Koceich crafts an inspirational story for young readers, drawing parallels between the two. The tale opens in modern-day Texas, where ten-year-old Corey Max is having a hard time dealing with an upcoming move that his family will be making to Florida. He suddenly finds himself immersed in ancient Mesopotamia, where preparations for Noah’s ark are almost complete. However, powerful opposition threatens to interrupt the project and bring harm to Noah’s family. As Corey works together with Noah’s sons, he comes to understand similarities to his own situation and wonders if he will ever have a chance to get back home. Although this is a short book, it packs plenty of action and lessons about trusting God into its pages, making it a great choice for kids.

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