Category Archives: Book Review

Reviews of Emblazon titles or others

A Great Middle Grade Read for the New Year

I am completely infatuated with this book. It is outstanding in beauty and nearly biblical in its perceptions. It is a story of magic, of beginnings and endings infinite in their proportions; it is the story of love.

The Day of Sacrifice waits for no one. A child, the youngest within the Protectorate, must be surrendered for the well-being of all. Though hearts are heavy, eyes are dry. It is a sacrament old beyond memory. The witch demands it, and the people obey. Until one day, one woman doesn’t.

Her baby is stolen anyway, and she is locked in the Tower.

But the baby, left to die in the woods, lives.

Luna is rescued by an old, old woman. A witch, but not the witch of twisted legend. This witch feeds the infant starlight until she can be delivered to those who will care for her. But the witch grows careless. In a mindless moment, she gathers moonlight on her fingers, sweet and sticky with magic, and the child gorges herself. It is a moment heavy with consequence.

For evil prowls the Protectorate. Evil that walks on padded paws and beats with the heart of a tiger. Evil whose treachery reaches back to the time of wizards and dragons and now feeds off the sorrow of bondage. Evil threatened by a woman who loved. A boy who questioned. A child who lived.

Luna’s story entwines with a host of delightful (and some not-so-delightful) characters. Antain, a young boy with goodness in his heart and sorrow in his future; Fyrian, the faithful, innocent, Simply Enormous dragon who fits in Luna’s pocket; Xan, the witch whose five hundred years never prepared her for an enmagicked child; Grand Elder Gherland, who can’t abide the selfishness of the people whose children he steals; and Glerk, the Beast who is the Poet who is the Bog who is the World. “They are all the same thing, you know.”

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a story of family, of destiny, of hope and goodness, wrapped around with tendrils of blue and silver magic. If you pick up no other book this year, read this one. My absolute highest recommendation.

World War Reads for Tweens…

November is a month of change, remembering, and gratitude. Beginning with leaves departing from their branches to leave the skeletal remains of the tree behind, to celebrating All Saints Day on November 1st, followed by Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day on November 11th, and ending with American families giving thanks for food, family, and football on Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday of November. What prompted me to write this post was the fact that many of the war veterans from the two World Wars have passed on. Oh, there’s plenty of movies out there depicting the hell our soldiers and the civilians went through during those horrific wars, but many are not that kid friendly. This got me to thinking: What books have been written to teach our children about what people went through during those two world wars? So, I did a little digging and came up with these six gems for tweens:

charlie-wilcoxCharlie Wilcox by Sharon E. McKay

Charlie Wilcox, a Newfoundlander, is interested in one thing only: going to sea, just like his father and uncles. He’ll make his family proud. His parents have different plans for him, however: they want him to go to university. Humiliated, Charlie sets out to prove he can measure up to the men in his family, and stows away on a sealing ship. It’s only when they are far out to sea, and he is discovered, that he realizes he’s on a troopship bound for France!

Alone in Europe, he manages as best he can. He finds a regiment of fellow Newfoundlanders, and because he’s too young to fight he works as a stretcher bearer instead. The trenches along the front lines of the Somme are no place for anyone, but especially for a kid, and it’s very hard not to be afraid. Especially on the morning of July 1, 1916, when Charlie’s friends are ordered out of their trenches and over the top, and the German guns are waiting for them…

War Horse by Michael Morpurgowar_horse

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

nightflyersNight Flyers (Mysteries Through Time) by Elizabeth McDavid Jones

In 1918, caring for her family’s homing pigeons while her father is away fighting in World War I, twelve-year-old Pam comes to suspect that a mysterious stranger in her small North Carolina town is a German spy.

 

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boynebook_cover

Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

hero-on-a-bicycleHero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes

Florence, Italy, 1944: The city is under heavy Nazi occupation, but for thirteen-year-old Paolo, war is a long and boring wait. Too young to fight for the resistance, yet desperate for action and adventure, he sneaks out each night to ride his bicycle along the darkened city streets. For Paolo, the risk is thrilling.

But when he is accosted by Partisans―covert members of the anti-Nazi movement―thrilling quickly becomes dangerous as Paolo and his family are thrust into a terrifying and impossible situation. Finally at the center of the action, Paolo must figure out once and for all whether he has what it takes to truly be a hero.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s the-diary-of-anne-frankremarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Those are only a smattering of what books are out there on World War One and World War Two for tweens. Some of these books I’ve heard of, others I haven’t. Some have even been made into movies. I don’t think this generation will ever know what the veterans and victims of the two world wars went through, but by creating an emotional response in a young reader, it’s a step in the right direction to connect them with the brave men and women who served and sacrificed during those terrible wars.

tkdscover500Here’s a peek at the newest book in my young adult time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, set in Amsterdam during World War Two…

Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two. Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to do whatever they can to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.

With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel adventure series, THE Sharon Ledwith HeadshotLAST TIMEKEEPERS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercise, and anything arcane. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Scary Stories for Summer Reading!

I’ve enjoyed some great reads the past couple months I wanted to recommend to you. Maybe you’ll discover a new read!

Children of the After: Awakening

A post-apocalyptic thriller starring a teenage boy, pre-teen girl, and their little brother.
See it on Amazon

Woven

Surprise! It’s a ghost story adventure!
See it on Amazon

stepsister

This time there’s a haunting–and it’s not a friendly ghost. Based in the Muslim faith.
See it on Amazon

I just realized there’s been a slightly darker theme to my reading lately. Huh. Well, maybe you enjoy stories that take you to the edge of fear, too!

Have you read these books? What great books have you read lately?

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Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.
Blog/Website | Facebook Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

Add the Book “Wonder” to your Tween’s TBR Pile!

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m Lisa Orchard the bestselling author of “The Super Spies” series and I’m here today to recommend an awesome book for your tween.

Back in March, I read the book “Wonder.” So did my son. There were many lessons in that story and my son and I got to talking about a few of them. It was nice to have that kind of dialogue with him, and I chalked it up to a bonding moment between us.

The story is about Auggie Pullman, he has a birth defect that makes his face abnormal in appearance. He’s been homeschooled his whole life, but now he’s being mainstreamed into a public school. It’s the story of how Auggie deals with his peers reactions to his disability. It’s heartbreaking at times and you really feel his pain.

It’s also triumphant, because Auggie never quits even though he wants to. He’s a strong “little dude” and his strength shines through.

This is an incredible story of perseverance, empathy, and friendship. Lessons we all want our tweens to learn. I highly recommend this book. The cover and blurb are below.

How about you? Do you have any great book recommendations for tweens?

 

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

 

20111210_ABS_1296[1]Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.

Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Two Awesome Middle Grade Books You must Read!

 

 

Hello everyone. I’m Lisa Orchard the author of the bestselling Super Spies series, and I’m here today to talk about a couple of books. One my son recommended to me, and one I discovered on my own. After reading both of them, I thought they’d be perfect for the Emblazon Blog. The title of the books are “Out of my Mind” and “The Thing about Jellyfish.”  The cover and blurb for “Out of my Mind” are below.

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you’ll never, ever forget.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this story. It was heart wrenchingly honest and triumphant. I loved Melody. She has cerebral palsy and is literally trapped in her own mind. She can hardly communicate until she gets a Medi-Talker, that’s when everyone finds out how smart Melody is.

It’s a story that illustrates how dangerous labels can be. I loved Melody’s fighting spirit and this book has made me more aware of the fact, that just because someone can’t communicate the way you and I do, doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent. If you’re looking for a book that’ll teach your middle-grader tolerance and acceptance of differences. This book is for you.

It’s also a book that teaches perseverance. Melody didn’t give up. Even when there were tremendous obstacles in front of her, she stuck to her guns. I wish all kids had her fighting spirit.

I also loved Melody’s support system. Her parents were wonderful, and Mrs. V. was a true guiding light in this story. Wouldn’t it be nice if all kids had that kind of support? I’m sure the world would be a better place because of it.

I highly recommend this story, especially for reluctant readers, because of the message in it. It might help them persevere as they struggle with their reading. It might help them realize everyone has struggles to contend with. One person’s might be cerebral palsy, another’s might be reading, and another’s might be math.

 

The second book I’d like to recommend is “The thing about Jellyfish.” The cover and blurb are below, and it’s an amazing story about how a young girl deals with the loss of her best friend. I absolutely loved Suzy in this story. I loved her strength and her absolute conviction that a Jellyfish stung her best friend. She was not going to accept that things just happen.

Review of “The Thing about Jellyfish”

 

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

My Thoughts:

This was an amazing read. I absolutely loved it. It tells the tale of a young girl trying to make sense of the loss of her friend who drowned. Franny, her friend, was a strong swimmer and Suzanne, the main character, believes Franny must have been stung by a jellyfish. That’s the only thing that makes sense to her. So, she decides to prove her theory. The author tells a tale of a young girl coping with the loss of her friend by trying to find a rational reason.

One thing I loved about this story is the science the author weaved into the tale. Her knowledge of the jellyfish species is vast, and she shares it with the reader in a way that keeps your interest. She also does this without losing sight of Suzanne’s story. I’d highly recommend this to teachers and librarians. There’s a lot of knowledge in this story the reader will pick up, and it may even spark an interest in science. Isn’t that what all good books do, spark interest in a subject?

Another reason I love this story is because it introduces the reader to the loss of a friend, and explains that sometimes there is no rational reason for a tragedy.  Things do “just happen.” This story is a great way to show your child sometimes we can’t find all the answers and we have to accept it.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my book recommendations. I love reading and writing for kids, so I’m always looking for a great story. If you have any recommendations you’d like to share, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

20111210_ABS_1296[1]Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.

Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

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The Super Spies Series:
The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer 500x750TheSuperSpiesandtheHighSchoolBomber 500x750TheSuperSpiesandthePiedPiper 500x750