Author Archives: Elysse F.

April 10, 2013

When the Butterflies Came Book Review

Posted by at 3:40 am in Reads | Permalink

9780545425131_xlgWhen the Butterflies Came
by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Murder, mystery, and . . . butterflies?
There are secrets the townspeople wouldn't suspect about 12-year-old Tara Doucet. First of all, Tara feels like her world is falling apart. Her depressed mother won't leave her room and may be taken away to a mental hospital. Tara keeps fighting with her sister Riley about everything, including the volume of the screaming Riley calls music. Even more horrible, Grammy Claire, the person she was closest to in the whole world, just died!

On the day of the funeral, Tara notices purple and pink butterflies are following her everywhere. Can they be a sign from Grammy Claire? Then Tara starts receiving letters and keys from Grammy Claire from beyond the grave. They are filled with warnings and information that don’t make sense. What can all of this mean? Tara is the only one who can figure out the clues left behind in an ultimate scavenger hunt that can mean life or death. It is of upmost importance that no one else knows what she is up to, since someone is also after the same secret Tara is trying to uncover. When unexplainable and dangerous things start happening, Tara knows that she can’t trust anyone but Riley.

This beautifully written tale of magic isn’t for the faint of heart. Did you find you couldn’t put it down? Or do you think you are smarter than Tara and could figure out the clues like it was a piece of cake? For those who do read the book, let us knows what you think in the Comments!

If you like When the Butterflies Came, check out Kimberley Griffiths Little’s other books:
The Healing Spell, Circle of Secrets, The Last Snake Runner, Enchanted Runner, and Breakaway Avon.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

March 20, 2013

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers Book Review

Posted by at 12:21 am in Reads | Permalink

Lincoln's Grave Robbers book cover by Steve SheinkinLincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Question: How are master counterfeiter Benjamin Boyd and Abraham Lincoln connected?
Answer: The friends of one guy tried to steal the other guy’s dead bones.

Counterfeiting was a big problem in the United States during the Civil War when the U.S. Treasury began mass-producing paper currency, and people began using paper money instead of just coins. Crafty people figured out how to make copies of dollar bills, and then criminals spent the “coneys” (counterfeit money) just like real money.

Benjamin Boyd was a highly talented engraver, notorious for his nearly perfect copies of real money. Once Boyd was arrested, many criminal networks crumbled without Boyd’s expert handiwork. Criminals, Jack Hughes, Terrence Mullen, and James Kennally decided that something needed to be done, so they came up with a crazy plan. They would steal President Lincoln’s remains out of his coffin, and ransom them for $200,000 and Boyd’s freedom. But first, they had to get a team of body snatchers to do the job. . .

This book tells the thrilling true story of how 3 men plotted and nearly executed a plan to break into Abraham Lincoln’s tomb and steal his remains. If you’re looking for a juicy, action-filled bit of American history, this book is certainly worth checking out. It’s full of mystery and suspense, and it reads more like an adventure story than a history lesson. (It has cool pictures too!) Sheinkin switches perspectives between the crooks and the Secret Service agents, so readers get to see both sides of the law as the great Abraham Lincoln grave robbery takes place.

Let us know in the Comments if you like this book, and suggest other fun history reads as well!

— Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 27, 2013

Starring Jules As Herself Book Review

Posted by at 1:12 am in Reads | Permalink

StarringjulesStarring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain

“That’s how you make a fizzy ice-cream cone / That’s how you do it / That’s how you do it.”

Jules Bloom sure has plenty of pizzazz! She was just minding her own business, singing her fizzy ice-cream cone jingle when casting agent Colby Kingston overhears her. Obviously, Colby can’t help but be impressed. She sees something special in Jules, and invites her to audition for a Swish Mouthwash commercial. Jules couldn’t be more excited – until she sees that the mouthwash is orange-flavored!! The last time she had an orange she threw up! Yuck!Jules looks to everyone for help with her orange-phobia: friends, family, and even her ex-best-friend-Charlotte-Stinkytown.

On top of the audition stress, Jules is desperate to become friends with the lovely Elinor, a new student from London. Meanwhile, her ex-best friends The ABC’s (Abby, Brynn, and Charlotte) seem to be taking up different interests from Jules—including a whole lot of attitude! Luckily, Grandma Gilda is always on her side.

The shining star of Beth Ain’s new book, Starring Jules (As Herself) knows she’s on her way to becoming famous, but she just has to get through the audition first. And how does the audition go? Well, read the book and see! After you do, tell us what you would have done if you were in Jules’ shoes in the Comments below!

If you’ve read the first book, see also the sequels: Starring Jules (in Drama-rama), and Starring Jules (Super-Secret Spy Girl).

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 20, 2013

A Dog and His Girl Mysteries: Play Dead

Posted by at 1:11 am in Reads | Permalink

9780545436243_xlg_2A Dog and his Girl Mysteries Book #1: Play Dead by Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens

"Ah. I loved it under the table. I was hard to see there. I was nearly invisible. Undercover. Not an easy thing to pull off when you’re a ninety-pound German shepherd."

Dodge, though retired from his job as a police dog, never lets go of a case once he sniffs one out. Good thing his girl Cassie (the Police Chief's daughter) has a similar sense of smell. The dynamic duo believes there's something fishy going on when the town's richest man disappears after swimming near the dangerous Tempest Point.

No one seemed to care about the grumpy old man until he went missing. The problem is there was no will. Now, suddenly, the town mayor, the housekeeper, a supposed fiancée, and an unheard-of twin all claim the right to the Ward estate. Can Dodge and Cassie solve this inheritance riddle?

Told from both Cassie's and Dodge's point of view, the reader of this book can't help but get caught up in the thrill of the chase. Play Dead is the first in a series recommended to dog lovers and mystery lovers alike, so keep your noses ready for action! And don't forget to share your notes in the Comments!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 13, 2013

Shadow Breakers Book Review

Posted by at 1:03 am in Reads | Permalink

ShadowbreakersShadow Breakers
by Daniel Blythe

A year after her father's death, Miranda May finds herself in the tiny coastal town of Firecroft Bay, but things are not going well. Her sleep is disrupted by nightmares of "The Shape," an ominous shadow that calls out to her, "ring around the rosie. . . " Freaky! Her mother is too busy working and taking care of her baby brother to notice Miranda's behavior becoming more erratic. Why Miranda, and why this song?

Then things get really weird. On the way to school, ice appears out of nowhere and coats the interior and exterior of the bus. Then the computers in the lab explode. Miranda thinks she knows where she can get answers. Her science teacher, Miss Bellini, and four of the brightest students at her school, have formed a group that want to figure out the truth just as much as Miranda does. Lyssa, Cal, Josh, and Ollie use a mixture of science and technology to hunt down this mysterious apparition that is causing havoc, dragging Miranda along for the ride.

Is Miranda going crazy, or is something really strange going on in Firecroft Bay? Find out in Daniel Blythe's thrilling new book Shadow Breakers, and leave a Comment to let us know what you think!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

January 23, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Me Book Review

Posted by at 1:57 am in Reads | Permalink

Encyclopedia2The Encyclopedia of Me
by Karen Rivers

The Encyclopedia of Me is unlike any encyclopedia you've ever read before! . . . that is, if you've ever tried to read one. This is an encyclopedia that never stops entertaining. 

The main character, Tink, is bit of an oddball, but she is totally relatable. Tink is not used to being in the spotlight. Actually, she tends to be on the fringe of all the action (unless it’s the receiving end of a bullying encounter). Her best friend, Freddie Blue, is tall, blonde, funny, and amazing in every way. Tink is short, biracial, and has freckles. She also has twin older brothers, Lex and Seb. Seb is autistic, which she doesn’t want to talk about. But sometimes his disorder prevents Tink's voice from being heard.

Then "Blue-Haired Boy Who Just Moved in Next Door, The" (a.k.a. Kai) skates into her life. That was the day everything changed. Suddenly, Tink and Freddie Blue start drifting apart. Seb's autism starts to have more of an impact on her everyday life, in both positive and negative ways. And why has she become obsessed with boarding all of a sudden?

If you have ever found yourself in a similar situation to Tink's summer saga, tell us about it in the Comments!
Or, write us an encyclopedia entry! ;-)

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

January 16, 2013

The Dogs of Winter Book Review

Posted by at 1:06 am in Reads | Permalink

DogsofwinterThe Dogs of Winter
By Bobbie Pyron

There is a saying that goes, "Dogs are a man's best friend." For 5-year-old Ivan Andreovich, his dogs mean so much more than that.

In the wake of his grandmother's death, his mother's disappearance, and an abusive man's attempt to throw him into an orphanage, Ivan escapes to the streets of Moscow. He quickly joins a gang of children, only to find out that he is the opposite of "street smart." They push and bully him into doing things that he knows are not right, but what choice does he have in order to endure the cold winter?

Then, Ivan comes across a dog named Lucky. Lucky leads him to his pack, and they start to share a mutual relationship of helping each other survive. Why would he leave humans to go live with a pack of dogs? Ivan says, "I was better off with the dogs. They loved and protected me." But is he truly better off with his pack, or at an orphanage among abused and underfed children who are his own kind?

Through the innocent eyes of a child, we learn about love, life, death, and a bond that can never be broken. Based on the true story of Ivan Mishukov, Bobbie Pyron captures both the horrors and rays of sunlight that were the essence of life on the streets of Russia.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

January 9, 2013

Hideout by Gordan Korman Book Review

Posted by at 1:04 am in Gordon Korman, Reads | Permalink

 by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman's new book Hideout features the return of the ultimate bad-guy, Wendell Palomino (also known as “Swindle” to Griffin and his gang of friends). In this 5th installment of the Swindle series, Swindle returns for the valuable Doberman Luthor, and threatens to exact revenge on the six teenagers who ran him out of town.

Somehow, the devious Swindle makes the documentation of Luthor’s adoption by Savannah disappear. She’s now faced with a court order to turn her dog over to the low-life man, which will only happen over her dead body! The kids, in an effort to outsmart the court order, shuffle the dog from summer camp to summer camp, only to find new and increasingly more challenging obstacles in their way.

Luthor only behaves for Savannah; which is an issue whenever she’s not around. Also, it’s a little hard to sneak around a 150-pound dog when people are watching your every move. To make matters worse, it’s as if Swindle predicts their every move – and with unknown henchmen sent to do Swindle’s dirty work, the kids must be wary of every adult they meet.

Can Griffin (a.k.a. The Man With The Plan), Ben (his narcoleptic best friend), Logan (the actor), Pitch (the climber), Savannah (the animal whisperer), and Melissa (the computer genius) be able to stop Swindle’s greedy paws from stealing the ferociously loved pooch? Read the book and find out! 

Watch the Hideout trailer.
Read chapter 1 of Hideout.

Are you a fan of the Swindle series? Don’t forget to let us know what you think of the gang’s latest adventure in the Comments.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

October 8, 2012

Goosebumps You Know You’re Obsessed When

Posted by at 4:14 am in Goosebumps, Reads, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Goosebumps_tvYou know you’re obsessed with Goosebumps when. . . 

You don’t even have to open a Goosebumps book to know that it’s going to be scary. The cover of You Can’t Scare Me creeps me out so much I don’t want to read it! You can expect a twist and turn on every page of a Goosebumps book, but if you are a real Goosebumps fan, there are certain tell-tale signs that you share with other people who live and breathe the horror-filled world of Goosebumps.

You know you’re a truly obsessed fan of Goosebumps when . . .

  • you won’t buy a Halloween mask because you are afraid it won’t come off once you put it on.
  • if anything strange happens during play rehearsal, you automatically blame it on the new boy in town.
  • vacation to Egypt is totally out of the question; no way you’re going ANYWHERE near mummies!
  • on the full moon, you look for signs that your new friend might be a werewolf.
  • you won’t go near dummies or dolls because you’re afraid they’ll come to life!!!
  • it seems quite possible that your boarding school is hiding aliens.
  • you are SURE the plants in the backyard are talking to you.
  • you know better than to mess with a cuckoo clock.
  • the words “Yohhhhhhh Spirits!” send shivers up your spine.

So, are you obsessed with Goosebumps? Tell us how you recognize another Goosebumps fan in the Comments below!!!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

September 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Hermione!

Posted by at 12:46 am in Harry Potter, Reads, Trivia | Permalink

Hermione130Hermione Granger Trivia Quiz

Hello, Harry Potter lovers! Did you drink a glass of butterbeer in honor of Hermione’s birthday on September 19? Or maybe it would have been more appropriate to, like, do some extra homework, or read a 4,000-page book in your spare time. Anyway, we love Hermione and we celebrated her with a Hermione Trivia Quiz last week. Here are the answers. Let’s see how much you know about the brightest witch of her age.

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