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: 📚📚📚📚📚

Book Review: Nonnie and I

Sweet Book About Friendship and Change

This is an adorable story about a sweet young girl who loves her bff, Nonnie.

Not just isn’t just any friend, but a lovely giraffe. What I loved about the story is how the main character grows and has room for all kinds of friends in her heart. The illustrations were beautiful throughout the story.

Excellent story, especially if you are looking for one on friendship.

You can get it here.

To learn more about Savannah Hendrix, visit her website.

Rating: 📚📚📚📚📚

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.

Get notified of the next book review! You’ll be kept up to date and get some free coloring pages.

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?

Get notified of the next book review! You’ll be kept up to date as well as getting some free coloring pages.

Book Review: Cami Kangaroo books

This week I read two books by author Stacy Bauer titled Cami Kangaroo Has Too Much Stuff and Cami Kangaroo Has Too Many Sweets. Both books are beautifully illustrated by Rebecca Sinclair. They are friendly pictures that I think children would like and relate to.

Cami Kangaroo Has Too Much Stuff is an adorable story about the importance of keeping Cami’s room tidy. Cami is not allowed to go to her cousin’s birthday party until her room is cleaned. When she goes to clean her room, she gets easily distracted. It is then that she remembers she still had her cousin’s toy she needed to find and return. While I would have liked to see Cami get her room clean without help, I understand the author pointing out how overwhelming it can be if we let our mess get out of control.

I enjoyed the story and my daughter said she can completely relate to having to clean your room before getting to do something fun!

In Cami Kangaroo Has Too Many Sweets , we see Cami who loves her sweet treats. Even though she is told not to eat so many sweets, she continues to search them out. When mom makes it harder for Cami to access the treats, Cami cleverly finds ways of getting them.

While I really enjoyed the story, I would have loved to see more natural consequences of eating too many sweets such as a tummy ache or a toothache. The story has a regular dentist appointment already set up, but maybe that could have occurred as a result of a toothache from eating too many sweets. Once again, I enjoyed the story. The characters and the illustrations were relatable.

Pixie and the Green Book Mystery Book Review

Pixie and the Green Book Mystery
Author: Coraline Grace
Illustrator: Encarna Dorado


Author Coraline Grace introduces us to Pixie, also known as Marigold. Pixie is an elementary school student who loves books and the library. After a bad day at school, Pixie visits the library and discovers a mysterious green book. When she opens the book, familiar characters begin to speak to her.  We see Cindi, Alice and the White Rabbit who are all trapped in mixed up fairy tales. Pixie agreed to help the characters and stop their enemy known as The Book Guardian.


I love books with a little bit of magic in them, so this was a treat to read.  I had trouble understanding why Pixie had two names. But other than that I loved it. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one. Overall it was a cute and fun book to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

P is for Pictures of Me

I have a special treat for you today. I am breaking my theme of Blogging about my challenges and successes of the Blogging Challenge and posting a book review. I promised a book review a little while ago and I recently finished the book. Since it begins with the letter P, I thought, now is the perfect time. 

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ISBN#: 978-0819860194
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media
 
 
Blurb:  Eleven-year-old Annie must complete a self portrait for the end-of-year project-and present it to the class. Annie’s fear of public speaking isn’t her only problem. Two of the girls in class seem to enjoy making life miserable for everyone; Taylor, her best friend, is having trouble at home; and Lacey, the new girl, can be nice but Annie can’t quite figure her out. With forty-eight days until the end of the school year and the looming project, Annie and friends have to grow and be willing to face who they are-and who they want to be.
 
 
Review:  
Pictures of me is a perfect display of what middle school can be like for some children. I think anyone who has ever dealt with a bully or a difficult person could relate to Annie. In the book, Annie and her friends, while coming up with the perfect self portrait for their “Fifth Farewell,” learn about themselves and each other in the process. 
 
I loved how three dimensional the characters were in this book. Each of Annie’s friends had a real story to them. They weren’t just the supportive friends. They were children struggling with real life issues.   As a writer I couldn’t help it. I caught myself wondering, “Oooh, I wonder how Lacey is dealing with that.” And, “Taylor really learned something about her family’s situation to come to her conclusion.”  
 
An excellent addition is the discussion questions at the end of the book. They are great conversation starters about bullying, friendship and learning about ourselves. These questions could be a great culminating activity in the classroom. 
 
I thoroughly enjoyed Pictures of Me and recommend it without reservation. In fact, I’d love to hear more from these characters in future books (hint, hint).