Friday, July 16, 2021

YA Book Review- Crank by Ellen Hopkins

 I read a YA book that blew my mind! Crank by Ellen Hopkins. It is a story written in verse and it is amazing. Not just because she was able to write an entire story in poetic verses, but because the ride she takes you on is intense. This book is about a teenager's dark descent into the world of drugs. At the end, I found out it was based on real-life instances involving Ellen's daughter. Wow. When you finish this book you will be in shock.

The Book-

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high-school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, she meets a boy who introduces her to crank. At first, she finds it freeing, but soon Kristina's personality disappears inside the drug. What began as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul, and her life. (From Amazon)

My Thoughts-

I mentioned most of them above, but I can not get over how this book affected me. The journey of darkness that the main character travels is so disturbing. Not like a horror novel, but because this once great girl spirals down and down until there is little hope of escape. In fact, I thought the ending would be different. I won't tell you. However, once I read that it was inspired by real life, I understood why it ended as it did.

I've read a lot of YA books and very few of them do I give 5 stars. Five stars is for a book that left me breathless. 4 stars for me is a perfect, well-written, cool book, but 5 just has that extra something. Crank gets a 5!

Fair warning- as you can tell from the description there is drug usage, but there is also sex, attempted suicide, and teen pregnancy.

Buy it Now-


Monday, July 12, 2021

Literati Box #3

My final Literati box arrived last week. The books that have been selected so far have been spot-on for middle graders. This box is particularly interesting to me because it contains a book by one of my favorite authors, Angie Sage. I told my son I have first dibs :)

So, this box's theme was investigation and mystery. It came with the stickers and bookplates for Matthew and 5 selections. This time he wanted all 5 picks and would not have returned any.

The books included:

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Brunce

Twilight Hauntings by Angie Sage

The House that Wasn't There by Elana K. Arnold

Super Puzzletastic Mysteries by Chris Grabenstein (short sleuth stories)

One Dead Spy- A Revolutionary War Tale from Amulet Books (a graphic novel. See picture.) 

I have been very pleased over the last three months and I have decided to continue my subscription. At first, I wondered if I wanted to pay a base fee every month, but I then realized how much time and effort it saves me to have new releases delivered to my door, and with free returns, I think it is worth the fee. Whenever I head to the library or even Amazon, it is hard to figure out what the new releases are and these deliveries make it so easy. Plus, there is no bias over publishers or authors. I will be moving up to the Club Titan level so that I can get a sampling of their YA lists. Two things I wish

1. A combo club of Phoenix and Titan. Older readers read many books that are considered in the middle-grade category and I would love a mix.

2. An easy-to-find help or consumer service link on every page of the website. There is one, but I had to go through several pages to find it. 


Club Neo: newborn - 3 years

Club Sprout: ages 3 thru 5

Club Nova: ages 5 thru 7

Club Sage: ages 7 thru 9

Club Phoenix: ages 9 thru 12

Club Titan: ages 13+

The boxes I have received were part of Club Phoenix. Things to know in advance:  Club membership is $9.95 per month plus the cost of any books you choose to keep. Explore the books for one week, select your favorites, and return the rest. Returns are free. Something I did not previously know was that if you keep all five books they take 5% off the prices. Skip months or cancel any time. If you are interested in joining click HERE.

I hope you have enjoyed these sample boxes as much as I have. I'd like to thank Literati for allowing my blog to participate in fair reviews.

Monday, June 21, 2021

MG Book Review- Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame

 Today I am looking at Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame by Supriya Kelkar. If you are looking for a book that gets your child away from the standard western perspectives, this is the book for you.

The Book-

In 1857 India, 12-year-old Meera escapes a life she has no say in--and certain death on her husband's funeral pyre--only to end up a servant to a British general in the East India Company. When a rebellion against British colonizers spreads, she must choose between relative safety in a British household or standing up for herself and her people.

Meera's future has been planned for her for as long as she can remember. As a child, her parents married her to a boy from a neighboring village whom she barely knows. Later, on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, she prepares to leave her family to live with her husband's--just as her strict religion dictates. But that night, Indian soldiers mutiny against their British commanders and destroy the British ammunition depot, burning down parts of Delhi. Riots follow, and Meera's husband is killed. Upon hearing the news, Meera's father insists that she follow the dictates of their fringe religious sect: She must end her life by throwing herself on her husband's funeral pyre.

Risking everything, Meera runs away, escaping into the chaos of the rebellion. But her newfound freedom is short-lived, as she is forced to become a servant in the house of a high-ranking British East India Company captain. Slowly through her work, she gains confidence, new friends, new skills--and sometimes her life even feels peaceful. But one day, Meera stumbles upon the captain's secret stock of ammunition, destined to be used by the British to continue colonizing India and control its citizens.

Will Meera do her part to take down the British colonists and alert the rebellion of the stockpile? Or will she stay safe and let others make decisions for her? It really comes down to this: how much fire must a girl face to finally write her own destiny?

My Thoughts-

Holy Smokes! This is a great book that tackles colonization and culture. If you are looking for diverse children's lit this is one of the books you should pick. Historical fiction that is exciting and adventurous. I'd say it's appropriate for ages 10+ and 3-5th graders. 5 stars!

Buy it Now-


Monday, June 14, 2021

Picture Book Review- NerdyCorn by Andrew Root

 Today I am looking at an adorable picture book, NerdyCorn, written by Andrew Root and illustrated by Erin Kraan. I fell in love just from the cover. The inside did not disappoint! This book is fabulous. It illustrates that girls can be into science and math too. Fern, our precious Nerdy Corn, refuses to change and takes a stand against bullies.

The Book-

Meet Fern! She’s a smart, creative unicorn who prefers building robots and coding software to jumping through shimmering rainbows and splashing in majestic waterfalls. Even though Fern is a good friend and always willing to help others, the other unicorns tease her and call her a nerdycorn.

One day, Fern has had enough and decides to stop fixing her friends’ broken things. But then the confetti machine, the rainbow synthesizer, and the starlight bedazzler all go haywire during the biggest Sparkle Dance Party of the year! Fern can certainly fix them…but will she?

My Thoughts-

Loved the illustrations, they are so bold and colorful. The details are amazing. The story really has a great theme and plot. I loved this book! My only advice, make sure you catch up on your science, math, or mechanical terms because big ones like quadratic equations and hydrothermal capacitor pop up.

Buy it Now-


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Picture Book Review- Is Was by Deborah Freedman


Is Was is a picture book by author/illustrator Deborah Freedman. The book explores the concepts of present and past, or is and was, to children. The writing is very simple. It is the illustrations that make it shine. 

Book Blurb- 

Over the course of one day, a small child experiences the way the natural world changes from sun to rain and from day to night as things transform from is to was.

Published by Antheneum Books for Young Readers, Is Was hit shelves on May 4, 2021

My Thoughts-

Like I mentioned in the intro, this is a book of few words. It focuses on before and after elements, which children can comprehend by looking at the illustrations. The words is and was are found drifting about the illustrations too, which I found peculiar but cute. Definitely a PB for very young ones trying to connect with the world and understand their environment.

Buy it now-


Monday, June 7, 2021

Literati box #2 is a hit!

 I received my second Literati box of books last week. My 12-year-old was super excited and insisted on opening it right away. There were several ohs and ahs. It had this really cute opener about kindness that I appreciated.

So What came this month? 

The 5 books are:

Copycat Science by Mike Barfield

Magic's Most Wanted by Tyler Whitesides

The Animal Rescue Agency by Eliot Schrefer

Deep into the Amazon Jungle by Jame Fraioli

Shaking up the House by Yamile Saied Mendez

A great selection! There's a bit of science, nature, fiction, and fantasy. My son once again likes 3 out of the 5. So if this was our monthly subscription we'd keep 3, paying their costs, and return the other 2.

His favorites-

The Animal Rescue Agency, Deep into the Amazon Jungle and Shaking up the House. However, if there is one thing I know about kids, it's that they are all different. 

Just a recap:

First off, there are several different levels for kid readers. Literati offers:

Club Neo: newborn - 3 years

Club Sprout: ages 3 thru 5

Club Nova: ages 5 thru 7

Club Sage: ages 7 thru 9

Club Phoenix: ages 9 thru 12

Club Titan: ages 13+

The box I received was Club Phoenix. Things to know in advance,  Club membership is $9.95 per month plus the cost of any books you choose to keep. Explore the books for one week and select your favorites. Returns are free. Skip months or cancel any time. If you are interested in joining click HERE.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Book Spotlight and Author Interview- Sunshine and the Full Moon by Jon Robinson


Hi Everyone, I am spotlighting a new release today, Sunshine and the Full Moon by Jon Robinson. So new, it actually doesn't release until June 15th.

The Book-

A werewolf attack. A missing girl. A teenager scratching and scrapping for every asthmatic breath in the clutches of evil.

Sunshine Robins is having a summer to forget. First, the sassy softball superstar breaks her arm during a heroic home run, and now her trip to the California Gold Country has taken a frightening turn as a geocaching exploration leads to the terrifying discovery of a shapeshifting creature lurking beneath the streets of Dathanville.

As she puts the pieces together about the town's haunting past, a determined Sunshine must fight through her own bouts of anxiety and fear as she stares down the devilish beast looking to destroy Dathanville . . . one victim at a time.

A suspenseful adventure bustling with mystery and monsters, it all ignites with a line drive and a silver bullet.

The Author-

Jon Robinson is an award-winning author and journalist whose work has appeared across media including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, GamePro, and He has written eight books, including Rumble Road, The Attitude Era, NXT: The Future is Now, and Creating the Mania. His book, The Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever won the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Biography.

The Interview-

I was provided with an interview involving Jon and his daughter, aka, Sunshine :) 

Jon: So, how does it feel to have the main character in my book based on you? Did I do you justice?

Sunshine: I guess now I know why you were following me around with a notebook and writing things down every time I made you laugh. It’s pretty crazy to think that when people are talking about how funny the character is in the book, they’re actually talking about me. 

Jon: Can you give us a few examples of ways in which you’re different from Sunshine? 

Sunshine: In the original manuscript, I swear a lot more, so if the book becomes popular, maybe people will want to read the Sunshine-cut of the book. I also stopped playing softball at 10 and switched to playing baseball against the boys, so that also jumped out to me as you have me still playing softball. 

Jon: Is there anything you want me to keep in mind as I write this character for my second book in the series?

Sunshine: Sunshine fought a werewolf in the first book, so no way some bully at school or anyone else should step to her. Haha. I’m curious where you’re going with this, especially since I know you’ve already started working on the sequel. I just hope people like the character and that people can relate to the realness behind the things Sunshine says and does, even in the unreal world of werewolves, if you know what I mean. 

Sunshine: How’s it feel to have such a badass daughter to inspire your Sunshine character?

Jon: You’re a girl who won her first martial arts tournament, made her high school boys baseball team as the only girl, and cracks me up on a daily basis. Badass is an understatement. 

Sunshine: Do you really think I’m sassy? ...or more like cheeky?

Jon: You are the definition of sassy, no doubt. 

Sunshine: When the book sells like crazy, how much is my cut from the profits? 

Jon: See, that’s just the kind of sass I’m talking about … and love. 

For more info, including purchase info, check out