Author Archives: Elysse F.

January 22, 2014

Grave Images Book Review

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Grave Images (for ages 8-12) by Jenny Goebel 

Bernie is a budding artist who is spending her summer working at her family’s home-run Monument Company. Her dad carves headstones for graves. Bernie doesn’t have many friends – there isn’t much room to play in a backyard full of granite – but she is preoccupied with discovering the truth about a new mystery man named Mr. Stein who is working for her father.graveimages

Abbot Stein appeared out of nowhere one day with a granite carving of a woman so life-like it took Bernie’s breath away. Her father hired Mr. Stein on the spot to do engravings for the headstones. Bernie can’t figure out how Mr. Stein captures the essence of the deceased with only a chisel and a hammer, but she is determined to find out. So she spies on him.

Through her spying, Bernie finds out something fishy about Mr. Stein. He is carving portraits of people right before they die! This could only mean one of two things: 1) Mr. Stein is foretelling death, or 2) he is causing death in Stratwood! How else could he know the people were going to die?

Is someone Bernie cares about going to be the next victim? Read this spooky tale for ages 8-12 to find out! Chapter 1 Sneak Peek

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

January 15, 2014

The Lost Kingdom Book Review

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The Lost Kingdom (for ages 9-12) by Matthew J. Kirby

It is Billy’s dream to be like his father, a famous botanist in the American colonies who specializes in studying strange and unusual plant life. His garden has plants and visitors from around the world, including famous men like Ben Franklin. Billy always hoped his father would invite him to go on one of his expeditions in the wilderness, so he is thrilled when his father invites him to go on an unusual expedition: to find the lost kingdom of Prince Madoc.lostkingdom

Legend says that the Welsh Prince Madoc sailed to the New World and started a kingdom in Ohio centuries before Columbus. Billy’s father is a member of a secret society of patriots that wants to find the mythical Welsh-speakers and gain them as allies in the French and Indian War.

A crew of philosophers (and one stowaway girl) board a flying airship for their search. But the journey to the American frontier is full of dangers. Along the way, they encounter spies, traitors, French soldiers, and mythical wild beasts. How will they fare on their treacherous journey? Read the first chapter and let us know what you think in the Comments.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

January 8, 2014

Japanese Tsunami Survival Story

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I Survived: The Japanese Tsunami, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis

“And as it got closer to Japan’s coast, it got bigger. It grew and grew, until it was a monstrous wall of water, dozens of feet high, hundreds of miles long. It destroyed everything in its path.”

Since his father died in a car crash, Ben is a different person. He alienates I Survived The Japanese Tsunami 2011 book cover by Lauren Tarshishis friends and teammates; he no longer takes pleasure from his favorite game – basketball. Ben doesn’t make time for his five-year-old brother Harry either, and his mother is concerned. She decides to take the boys to his father’s hometown, Shogahama, Japan. His great-Uncle Ojisan tries to take their minds off of Ben’s dad’s death, but Ben’s grief is too strong.

One day during his visit, there is a massive earthquake. From California, Ben is used to earthquakes, but this one is stronger than any other he has experienced before. Then, the unthinkable happens: a tsunami comes rushing towards them and he becomes separated from everyone. Stuck in a village where he does not know the language, will he ever be reunited with his family?

Read chapter 1 to get a sneak peek at this new book. If you like survival adventure stories, there are many more in the I Survived series! Tell us which one is your favorite in the Comments below!

–Elysse, STACKS Writer

December 11, 2013

The Third Door by Emily Rodda

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The Third Door by Emily Rodda (Sequel to The Golden Door and The Silver Door)

Twice before, Rye has risked his life to venture outside the walled city of Weld. He left determined to find his lost brothers and destroy the enemy sending brutal flying beasts called skimmers to attack Weld. But while Rye and his traveling companion, Sonia, managed to find Rye’s brothers, they couldn’t find the source of the skimmers. Weld is still under the gravest threat.

Now one Door out of the city remains: the wooden Door, an ancient entrance that has intrigued Rye thirddoorsince the start of his quest. Rye knows the wooden Door is his final chance. One way or another, Rye’s mission to save Weld will end here. But nothing can prepare him for the shocking discovery that lies behind the third Door.

When Rye and his companions step through the third and final Door, they immediately sense something is wrong. Darkness surrounds the door, and Rye can’t shake away his uneasiness. Where in the world are they?

As they explore the mysterious Fell End and beyond, nothing is as it seems. There are traitors everywhere, and Rye doesn’t know whom to trust with the secrets he uncovers. When he becomes separated from his brothers and Sonia, Rye struggles to remember who he is and what his mission is.

They are running out of time. The evil Shadow Lord is breeding skimmers to attack during the day, not just the night, and people around the world will never be safe. Will the third time be the charm for Rye and Sonia to save Weld? Read and find out!

Read a sample chapter here and tell us what you think about this action-filled book, teeming with adventures, magic, and mythical creatures! Then comment away!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

November 20, 2013

Floors Trilogy Book 3

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Floors Book #3: The Field of Wacky Inventions by Patrick Carman

When the Whippet Hotel owner, the beloved Merganzer Whippet, takes Leo and Remi away with him on a “little adventure” for a week, Remi’s mother thinks nothing of it. “It’s Merganzer. How dangerous could it be?”

Boy, she had no clue! Remi and Leo were whisked away by a flying blimp which carried them to the top of the hotel to Merganzer’s headquarters – a field of wacky inventions. Merganzer has decided to combine his six hotels into one, and must appoint an “Emperor of all Whippet Hotels.” So he sets up a series of trials and puzzles inside the mysterious floors of the hotels to weed out the unworthy.floors3

Who will come out on top? And who is secretly working for Ms. Sparks, the woman who is trying to take over the Whippet Hotel? Read and find out!

In an adventure full of magic and surprise (There may or may not be live mini-dinosaurs and gravity-defying puzzle arenas!), Leo and Remi explore the wonderful inventions of Merganzer’s mind come to life! What do you think of the conclusion to the Floors trilogy? Read the first chapter and let us know!

–Elysse, STACKS Writer

November 13, 2013

Byrd & Igloo: A Polar Adventure

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byrd130Byrd & Igloo: A Polar Adventure by Samantha Seiple

Richard E. Byrd always dreamed of living an exciting life. In fact, he started his world-wide adventures at age 13; in 1901 he took a trip all around the world by himself! As his mother said, “Richard was born an adventurer and explorer, absolutely without fear.”

Byrd’s worldwide trip ignited a love for navigation and further travel. He set out to be the first person to fly over the North and South Poles with his right-hand man, pilot Floyd Bennett. Byrd never expected that he would be taking a four-legged friend with him.

Maris Boggs saw Byrd’s story in the newspaper and thought the puppy she found would be a good companion for the adventurous man. Byrd reluctantly took the dog, named Igloo, abroad. The dog took to life at sea naturally and became a favorite among the crew. The time spent preparing for these polar adventures formed a friendship between Byrd and Igloo that was unbreakable.

This is an incredible story of the bond a man and a dog share. Through good times and bad, this duo stuck together as they traveled the world. If you love biographies, adventures, or dogs, this book is loaded with interesting information (and cool pictures!)! You won’t want to put this down!

Read a sample chapter and tell us what you think in the Comments.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

November 7, 2013

The Pet War Book Review

Posted by at 1:36 am in Reads | Permalink

The Pet War by Allan Woodrow

“There are two types of people in the world: dog people and cat people. Dog people are clever, friendly, good-looking, funny and overall fantastically wonderful. Cat people, on the other hand, are ugly, boring, and smell bad. I’m not making that up – those are the facts.”

Otto is a dog person. His older sister Lexi is a cat person. They both want a pet. Their mother petwaragrees if Otto and Lexi can prove their responsibility. They must earn $500 towards their pet by the month’s end, keep their grades up, do chores around the house, and take care of the winning pet. Sounds easy, right?

Well, responsibility isn’t Otto’s middle name. Right off the bat, Lexi has charts, posters, and tutoring positions to rake in the cash. Otto has a little more trouble figuring out how he can earn money. Becoming a magician? Selling apples? Working at a grocery store? Nothing pans out the way Otto hoped, and time is running out! He has to think of something, anything, fast – or else he’ll be living with a new addition to the family not of his choosing.

Who will win this war, the cat-lover or the dog-lover? Read a sample chapter and let us know in the Comments what you think . . . and if you are a cat-lover or a dog-lover!!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

October 16, 2013

Killer Species

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Killer Species: Menace from the Deep by Michael P. Spradlin

As an aviary specialist, Emmet’s dad, Dr. Doyle, gets sent to do environmental work all around the country, so Emmet has no choice but to go along. Emmet is not happy to leave his beloved Montana for hot, humid, and mildew-scented Florida.

Once there, Dr. Geaux takes them to the Everglades lab, where she is the park superintendent, because they have found something unusual: an alligator with aviary qualities the likes of which would have been found in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth. How did this animal get here and why?

It turns out that someone is dead set on restoring the Everglades to its natural state – going to the extreme of breeding snake-killing pterogators. But are the pterogators going to help the environment, or kill everything in it?

This story will leave you with your skin tingling from excitement. If you are an adventure-lover who enjoys a bit of science-fiction on the side, this book is for you! Read a sample chapter, and tell us how you like this book!


October 2, 2013

Scare Scape

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Scare Scape by Sam Fisher

After Morton’s mother dies, his father decides to take a job as an astronomer and make a new start in a town called Dimvale. Morton is less than excited about the move, (which includes sixteen-year-old Melissa and thirteen-year-old James), but his mood quickly turns around once he sees their new home. To Melissa’s dismay, the house is “ghastly, creepy, and almost certainly haunted. In fact, it’s like something right out of that horrid comic you read all the time.” Little did she know how right she would be.scarescape

The mansion’s previous owner mysteriously disappeared and was presumed dead. The children don’t think much of it until weird things start happening. It begins with finding a statue of a gargoyle. Then Morton’s beloved toys based on his Scare Scape comics come to life. Melissa gets a bigger and infinitely deeper closet. James undergoes a strange transformation, and no one can figure out why all of this is happening! Lastly, they discover that the former owner of the house is Scare Scape illustrator John King. After a few days living in this house, the siblings believe that maybe he wasn’t so crazy after all . . .

If you want to see how Morton and his family and friends deal with this creepy infestation, read this book! This chilling and thrilling tale is a fun read for those who love comic books and adventure! Read a sample chapter!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

September 25, 2013

The Wolf Princess

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The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (for ages 10 and up)

Sent away by her penny-pinching guardian, orphaned Sophie Smith attends a drab, old boarding school in London. Sophie wishes there were more adventure in life, like in fairy tales, so she is thrilled to be going on a trip to St. Petersburg with her roommates for her school holidays.

However, they never make it to St. Petersburg. The three girls are abandoned and are thrown off the train in the middle of a blizzard! They are rescued by Ivan, who works for the beautiful and enthralling Princess Anna Volkonskaya. She enchants them with tales of lost diamonds and murder and wolves that are almost too crazy to believe!WolfPrincessjpg

Strangely, Sophie feels a connection to the place, even though she is sure she has never been to Russia before. Then, even though the wolves are supposed to be long gone, Sophie thinks she sees something prowling the edges of the forest. Is she imagining things in the magical Volkonsky palace?

You cannot help but be pulled into this fantastical tale, a modern re-telling of Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia’s life. (Think the Disney movie Anastasia!)

Read a sample chapter and share your thoughts in the Comments below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer