Book Review: The Girl From Mars

The Girl From Mars, by author Brenda Hiatt is the fifth book in the Starstruck series. A few things hit me right away. First, unlike the other books, this one was in first person. That can throw me off sometimes, but the story was so good I barely noticed after the first chapter. Second, the book centers around another character, Kira Morain, who lives on Mars and is a star Caidpel (Martian sport) player. Getting used to a different character’s point of view after spending so much time in M’s head was strange at first. And honestly I didn’t like her too much in the first half of the book, however she did have many redeeming qualities. As the story went on and Kira’s character grew, I warmed up to her.

The Girl From Mars: A Starstruck Novel by [Brenda Hiatt]
The Girl From Mars

It was also strange getting used to another character’s POV as I was very attached to M and Rigel. I didn’t like it at first. However, it is necessary for the rest of the series. And once again, shortly after beginning the story, I was caught up in it.

The Girl From Mars introduces Kira as another critical character in the series. It follows Kira’s migration to Earth and how she’s learning fit in. While she doesn’t start out with the best of intentions, that all changes as she gets to know people in Jewel. She also learns much more about who she is and what she is capable of.

Do not miss this book in the series.

Rating: πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

Where to Get It: Amazon

Brenda Hiatt’s Website

Book Review: Fractured Jewel

Fractured Jewel, by Brenda Hiatt is a novella between books 4 and 5 in the Starstruck series. I was happy to see this book because I loved the characters M and Rigel. This story picks up after the end of book 4 when M tells her Aunt Theresa about about her being a Martian princess, her people, and the potential disasters that she and Rigel were able to thwart. However, when M’s uncle finds out, it sets off a chain of events that led to another life or death scenario for M.

I really enjoyed the story and loved seeing the story pick up from book 4. I do wish it was a full book, but I will take what I can get. Judging from the other titles after this one, it looks like the other books pick up stories from other characters. I’m not sure how I feel about that as M and Rigel are so fascinating, but we’ll see. In the meantime, this book definitely didn’t disappoint. The action toward the end once again had me clinging to my seat and I couldn’t stop reading until the end.

If you’re a fan of the previous Starstruck novels, you will be sure to enjoy this one. And once you get caught up, definitely check out her website as it looks like another installment is out! Yay!

Rating: πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

Where to Get It: Amazon

Brenda Hiatt’s Website

Review of Keeper of the Lost Cities 8.5: Unlocked

There is sooooo much to say about this book! There’s a bunch of things I loved about it, a few things – not so much. So, here it goes.

Series Guide

I loved the idea of a series guide. There is so much to keep track of in the Keeper series, and as an avid fan, I loved reminiscing with the characters and reading about additional tidbits. The series guide made up about 2/3 – maybe more of the 747- page book. So the first thing I want to point out is that this does include a novella which is abut 235 pages long. For many middle grade books, that would even be considered a full book. However, if you’re used to the size of the Keeper books, calling this a novella makes perfect sense. We’ll talk more about the novella later.

The guide consists of several sections: The Registry, The World of the Lost Cities, Portraits, Life in the Lost Cities, Rebel Groups, Intelligent Species, Activities, and special Keefe memories.

My favorite parts were the portraits and Keefe memories. I’ve always been a fan of Keeper Art by Laura Hollingsworth, and her art was just as spectacular as ever. Even if you skip over the other parts – make sure you take a peek. These are breathtaking.

I liked the Registry section. It was fun getting more details on some of the characters. And, as usual, Keefe’s did not disappoint. Some of them were a little long. I couldn’t tell if it was just my anticipation of getting to the novella part or if some parts were just long. Either way, I still enjoyed it.

Life in the Lost Cities section was interesting for me as a writer (always learning from the greats), but I feel it could have been a little shorter for kids who just want to “get to the good stuff”.

Another favorite section of mine was the Activities section. There are fun quizzes, a coloring page, and recipes that look so fun to try. My daughters went shopping recently and are planning to try the Lushberry Juice.

The Novella

THIS is what I was dying to get to. If you’ve read Book 8, then you know why. I had to find out what happened. Yes, the Keeper books can have killer cliff hangers. I usually do not like cliff hangers. I like to have some closure – but as a writer I completely get why they are important. Too much closure can deflate interest.

The novella was different from the other books in that each chapter switched between Sophie and Keefe’s point of view. I really liked that. It was cool to get inside Keefe’s head – though definitely not less frustrating *looking at YOU Keefe*

Over all I found the novella to be informative, curious, relieving, hopeful, and also quite sad. I’m not going to elaborate on that. You’ll have to read it to find out why. Of course the biggest feeling the book left me with was anticipation. I just have to know what’s going to happen next.

From a Writer’s Perspective

I love writing, world creating, and learning. So part of me wanted this book to learn about how much detail goes into world creating – and boy is it a lot! While reading it with a writer’s eye, I found it so interesting to see the development of the characters, the world building, and just how much fun a writer can have with their creation. There is a beautiful map ( illustrated by Francesca Baerald ) of the Lost Cities attached to the inside cover of the book. Absolute Perfection!

Shannon Messenger worked hard on this series and her world building and it shows. Somewhere I read a quote from her that it took a year for her to create this world. I believe it. There is not one detail she hadn’t thought of. She is definitely someone to learn from.

If you are on the fence about getting the book – I say go for it. There’s so much to it that I really feel a Keeper fan will enjoy some – if not -all of it. I wish it didn’t end the way it did, but again, as a writer I totally get why.

While I noticed the hardback wasn’t available anymore as of today’s date, you can still find a paperback or E-book here:

Overall rating: πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

Book Review: Where Does Santa Go on Vacation

This is the perfect time to discover a new Christmas or holiday book, and I’m glad I discovered the picture book Where Does Santa Go on Vacation by author Kim Ann.

This 32-page book is filled with beautiful illustrations by Nejla Shojaie, which complements the magic and wonder a child has about this holiday. The story starts as a question: Where does Santa and Mrs. Claus go on vacation? The following pages are filled with fun and imaginative possibilities that can spark conversations with your little reader throughout the story.

Overall Rating: πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

I Wish You Happiness – Book Review

Several months back, I purchased the picture book I Wish You Happiness by Michael Wong and illustrated by Ann Baratashvili through Michael Wong’s Kickstarter campaign. I was delighted to get it in the mail recently. Let me tell you, I am so glad I chose to support this book.

It. Is. Gorgeous. Everything about the book is beautiful from the lustrous illustrations to its message of tranquility, peace, and happiness. Page after page is filled with wishes of encouragement for various life experiences complemented by the sense of awe and wonder created by the illustrations. The team of author and illustrator in this book was a perfect match.

I also loved the supplemental pages at the end that highlights a few surprises in the illustrations. This was a great book that I highly recommend. Hopefully, you can grab it before Christmas this year. What an amazing way to begin 2021 – with messages of hope and encouragement.

Rating: πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

Review: Rhythm Rescue

Rhythm Rescue is a musically themed picture book. The author Vicky Weber did a great job integrating musical beats into the story so that the reader can join along.

In the story we follow Tala in the land of Music Metropolis as she makes her way through the city to visit her friend. Along the way she ran into a few problems- but we see that with the power of music, anything is possible!

Rhythm Rescue by Vicky Weber

This was a fun, engaging read which I’m sure children will enjoy clapping to the best as they help our hero Tala. While I would have loved to see more explanation of the musical notes used, I found it informative and an excellent way for children to “feel the beats”.

Over all, this was a fun way to to help child become familiar with musical beats. I definitely recommend it! You can get a copy at Amazon and it’s currently available for free in Kindle Unlimited! But, if you’re going to read it in the classroom, definitely get the paperback!

If My Nose Could Talk Book Review

The picture book If My Nose Could Talk by Nicole Fillippone is a cute and fun story about a girl wondering what her nose would say if it could talk. The idea of a talking nose threw me off for a second, but I enjoyed the flow and the rhythm of the story. I think young readers would thoroughly enjoy this, especially since they do wonder about these things.

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Another thing I liked was the repitition. “What would I do? What would I say?” Not only is it fun to hear and read, but it is great for early learners. Repitition is a large part of language learning for that age. Definitely check it out on Amazon.

Overall, this was an adorable story that explores the imagination, which I think children will enjoy.

Book Review: Cami and Wyatt Have Too Much Screen Time

Last week I recieved the book “Cami and Wyatt Have Too Much Screen Time” by Stacy C. Bauer. I purchased it when Stacy ran her pre-order campaign on Kickstarter. It immediately caught my attention because of the topic. During the school year I teach Technology, so this is a topic I talk about ALL the time with my kiddos.

The story takes place when Cami and Wyatt were playing with their new devices. They were so excited and so enthralled with it that they passed up opportunities to do the things they normally love to do. They missed out on hanging out with friends, the ice cream truck, a fishing expedition with Dad, and Mom’s yummy cookies.

When the power goes out unexpectedly at dinner, Cami and Wyatt must find another way to spend their time. With games of Hide-and-Seek, flashlight stories and board games, they were able to take their minds off the dark room.

When Mom and Dad explain their worries to Cami and Wyatt about their excessive screentime, they all find a way to solve the problem without having to give up their devices indefinitely.

I really enjoyed the fact that this story shows there is a balance. It doesn’t indicate chosing one activity over the other but they discover ways to spend their time instead of staying on the devices all day.

This book is a nice, calm and fun way to break the topic of screentime to your kids without seeming too “preachy”about it. Definitely put this on your To Read List.

Get it here

Book Review: Shadow Throne

Shadow Throne is book three in Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendence Trilogy (which is expanding – more on that later!) . The story picks up shortly after the ending of Runaway King. The neighboring countries are taking full advantage of Carthya’s weakened state and throws young King Jaron in the center of a war. Jaron thinks he’s ready until things go horribly wrong on a rescue mission. And things just get worse for him by the minute. The one thing he often has going for him is that people always underestimate him.

This was a great read. I usually don’t enjoy reading about war, but the book held my attention. I really love the main character and just had to find out how he would get through everything. I did find a few spots sort of slow, but I highly recommend paying full attention to those parts.

In this third installment of the trilogy, I was not disappointed. And, as mentioned above, there seems to be a book 4 in the works. Jaron has another story to tell. Jennifer Nielsen posted here with all the juicy details!

Over all, I give this a 5 star rating.

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Book Review: Going Wild

The middle-grade book, Going Wild by Lisa McCann is fantasy story set in the suburbs of Arizona. Charlie Wilde recently moved there from Chicago. Before she left, somebody left a mysterious package at her door. Soon, Charlie and her friends discover the abilities that come with this device – and all the danger that comes with it.

It was an interesting story with a fun concept. I think middle graders who love superheros will really enjoy it. While I enjoyed getting to know Charlie and her friends, I felt the first half of the book was a bit slow – but that’s just my preference. Lots of readers had no issue at all with the pacing of the story.

Going Wild by Lisa McCann

The second half of the book picks up dramatically when the dangerous organization responsible for the powerful device realizes Charlie has it. I do wish, with this being the first book, that it didn’t end with such a big cliff hanger. But I still enjoyed the majority of it and I think it is something the intended audience would love.

Have you read Going Wild? What were your thoughts?

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