What is your reading goal this year?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Janitors: Curse of the Broomstaff (Book #3)

Janitors: Curse of the Broomstaff (Book #3) by Tyler Whitesides

(Summary taken from the first page of the book) "A Message from the Author: Dear Reader, Here it is: the third installment in the JANITORS series. And I must admit, this is definitely the trashiest book I've ever written. No, literally. This book is full of garbage. This time, our young heroes must venture deep into an enchanted landfill. They will battle heaps of living garbage and hike through distorted trashscapes as they discover a mysterious group of kids living among the refuse, harboring a centuries-old secret that could save the future of education."

First of all, notice the girl on the cover? Didn't I say yesterday when I reviewed book #2 that the covers needed to be a little more girl-friendly? Well......it looks like they listened! My boys have been so excited for this book to come out. They have been counting down the days. And, when I received the book they begged me to let them read it first. Hahaha....sometimes it pays to be the mom. I got to read it first. Don't worry, though, they'll both have it read in about three days. Maybe two. Out of all the JANITORS books, this one was my favorite. I thought there was plenty of action, lots of surprises, and yes.....tons of garbage. Yuck! I'm not sure how the germ-a-phobe Spencer made it through this book with all the germs crawling around the landfill, but he did. His character grew a lot in this book. He had to mature a little, which is sad, but fun to watch. He's always been quite mature for his age, but in this book he learns a lot about himself, his dad, and his abilities. Daisy is always a fun character, and I love Penny. I actually came to really like Barnard as well. He's a fun addition to the Rebels. I liked the path the Rebels had to follow by figuring out clues, and I thought it was clever how it fit in with them getting into the landfill. I'm still not sure about the Aurans. Are they good? Are they bad? And the Pluggers.....oh they're scary! I definitely do not want to meet one of those in person. I thought Mr. Whitesides' writing improved in this book. I liked the interesting creatures they met in the landfill, and I liked the creativeness of the landfill turning over. Where can I get a glopified broom? Oh, and a plunger? That would come in handy when I want to vacuum under the couch!

This book is clean besides some scenes where the characters fight the BEM members and their huge toxites. They also fight some garbage. Yep, I'm very glad I don't have glopified garbage....I don't want to worry about it coming to get me while I'm sleeping. If you liked the first two books, you're probably drooling over the third one like my boys are. You'll love it.

Rating: PG+ (Fighting against garbage and toxites, along with BEM members)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Janitors: Secrets of New Forest Academy (Book #2)

Janitors: Secrets of New Forest Academy (Book #2)

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Now more than ever, Spencer, Daisy, and even Dez must fight to save schools everywhere. Toxites, the small creatures that love to feed on the brain waves of students, are just the beginning of their troubles. The Bureau of Educational Maintenance (BEM) is after Spencer, and the Rebels hope to sneak him to safety within the walls of an elite private school. But danger follows Spencer and his friends, testing their loyalty and trust as well as their Toxite-fighting skills. Can they hold out long enough to discover the true secret of New Forest Academy and what it means to the future of education?'

I liked book #1, and book #2 did not disappoint. There is lots of toxite-fighting action, betrayal, danger, garbage dumpsters, and cleaning supplies. There are also new friends and enemies, along with some fun new glopified weapons. I thought this book was a fun, easy read, and for those who liked the first book, you will definitely like the second. Spencer and Daisy continue to fight for education everywhere, including where they thought they would be safe. Penny and Walter continue to surprise with fun new inventions. There are some great twists and turns in this book, along with some surprises. I liked a bunch of the new characters. I wasn't sure about some of them at first, but they grew on me for sure. There are some definite "yeah-right" moments in the book, but it's fantasy, right? Anything can happen. It's very creative and fun. It's really not the best writing in the world, but it's fun and the kids love it. It's also clean, which is always a bonus in my book. I can't tell you the number of kids who have seen me reading this series and commented on how much they loved it and can't wait for #3 (which I will review tomorrow!!!). I have my two boys and the neighbor girl already waiting......and waiting.....for me to finish #3 so they can read it. I'm sure it will get passed on after that as well. My sister said my niece didn't want to read this series because the covers look too boy-ish. She's right, they do kind of make it seem more for boys, but Daisy and Penny are main characters, and they are girls. I think the girls will like it too, you just have to get them to look past the cover art. This series is actually really good for showing strong girl characters.

Rating: PG+ (Toxite-fighting violence, good guy vs. bad guy fighting, but nothing too gory or gruesome or scary)

Recommendation: 3rd Grade and Up ( My sons are 5th and 4th grades and they love it too)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Mostly True Story of Jack

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket.) "When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his strange aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for a long time...When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends--not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack's imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It's up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible."

So, I have a funny story as to why I read this book. I was at the library with my daughter, and I was looking for some beginning reader books for my 2nd grader. I looked over and saw this book on the shelf. I pulled it out thinking it might be good for my 6th grader. As my daughter was picking out her books, I opened this book and started reading. This is what I read: "Frankie was the first to know. Frankie was the first to know most things--but since he hadn't spoken since he was eight years old, it didn't matter what he knew. He couldn't tell anyone. Not so they could hear anyway. He sat at the dinner table, picking at his potatoes and pot roast, when a sound blew in from the wide expanse of the prairie. A single high note, like a bell. The rest of the family ate, wiped their faces, and excused themselves from the table. They didn't notice the sound. Frankie laid his left hand over the knot of scars that curled over half his face. No one knew who or what had given him those scars, or what happened to him when he was taken away at the age of eight and returned, marked and silent, two months later. Frankie would not, could not, tell. After all these years, the scars were still puffed and angry and very, very red. The kids in town called him Slasher Face or Freak Show. His mother said his face looked like a field of roses. What his mother did not know was that the scars had memories. They knew things. It's coming, the scars said. It's back, they whispered. No, Frankie thought,
shaking his head. Not it, He. He's coming. We knew he'd come back." And then I got home and kept reading and reading...... Did I have time to read this book? Umm, no. But oh well, I got hooked, totally hooked.

This is a very unique story. It wasn't really what I expected it to be when I read that first page, but I enjoyed it. The writing is sometimes wonderful and intriguing, and sometimes confusing. I had to go back and reread sections so I knew what was going on; however, the description of the "angry scars" was fabulous. I don't know if you've ever seen the movie "Big Fish," but it reminded me of that story in that it was random, mysterious, magical, and you were left thinking, "I have no idea what just happened, but...okay." The characters were mostly developed well. Jack, Wendy, and Frankie were my favorite characters. Frankie reminded me of the boy in "Wonder." Jack's aunt and uncle were interesting characters. I wish there had been a little more explanation of their history and how Uncle Clive had gotten the book. The ending fit, but was sad. I had hoped there would be a better way, but apparently not. When you read this book you just need to let go of reality and hang on for the ride. Disappearing schoolhouses, kidnapping, child swapping, magical houses, and a half evil, half good Mother Earth. Need I say more???

This book is clean except for some violence. There are some school-yard fights (bullies), a kidnapping, and a car crash. I liked it. I did have higher hopes for it from that beginning, but I thought it was creative and imaginative. It also had a good message of putting others' needs before your own, and sacrificing yourself to help those around you.

Rating: PG (School-yard fights, bullies, kidnapping, and a car crash.)

Recommendation: 4th grade and up.