Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Title: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
Author: Paige McKenzie
Series: Haunting of Sunshine Girl
Recommended for: 8th grade and up
Pages: 296
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction McKenzie, P

Synopsis: In that place where you’re more asleep than awake any more, I hear something else. A phrase uttered in a child’s voice, no more than a whisper: Night Night.

Something freaky’s going on with Sunshine’s new house . . . there’s the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mum believes her. Sunshine’s always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort . . .

If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them?

As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this one. Okay, so it’s not a great bit of literature, but it was entertaining. It’s one of those books that is totally a bad horror flick. You know it’s bad, but you still enjoy it anyway.  It’s a bit predictable and the ending is a bit anti-climatic, but I am kind of interesting where it’ll go. It’s either going to be one of those where, like horror flicks, each book gets worse or it’s going to turn into something completely different. I’m hoping for really different, but I guess I’ll find out in the fall.

For what it’s worth, book group was pretty split on this one. They either thought like me or thought it was just okay. I think only one teen truly hated it. Most thought had it just stayed a ghost/haunting story it would have been much better than the “something more” path that it took.

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Horror, Teen


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99 Days

22836575Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno 
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 9th grade & up
Pages: 384
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction Cotugno, K

Synopsis: Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me

My Thoughts: Seriously, this book left me kind of flabbergasted. One moment I was screaming YES YES YES but the next I was beating my head against the wall. Basically, the book is about a recently graduated girl named, Molly. Two years ago she made a terrible mistake and slept with her boyfriend’s (Patrick) brother, Gabe. They were kind of broken up-but maybe not completely, seriously it’s a perfect Ross yelling at Rachel WE WERE ON A BREAK moment. Anyway, she tells her mom, who then turns her story into her latest best-seller, which means everyone in town–and the country/world–knows about her mistake. She then decides to spend her senior year at boarding school, so this summer is the first time she’s been home since the book came out.

Turns out, Gabe really likes her and is the first to really welcome her home & the two enter into a relationship. This is where the book starts going downhill though. Molly has the perfect opportunity to stay on the straight and narrow, but instead decides to cheat AGAIN with Patrick, meaning she spends the whole summer making the EXACT SAME mistake that made her run away. She has the chance to fix everything and literally crashes and burns in the same manner. I mean, why?! I just….I can’t even.

There are some good points to the story though. The writing is well done & the characters, for the most part, are pretty believable. I also LOVED that the author tackled the whole double standard issue. Everyone is slut-shaming Molly, but Gabe, who basically betrayed his brother as well, remains untouched. He repeatedly points out that he is just as much to blame as she is in this whole thing. And it’s pointed out again, the second time around with Patrick, making the blame be shared equally.

All in all, though, I can’t really recommend this book. Interesting concept/premise, but ultimately a failure. Instead I would I look into the following read-a-likes for a more enjoyable read.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Hahn
What I Thought was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Catching Jordan by Miranda Keanneally
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler



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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Romance, Teen


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The Ark, The Reed, and the Fire Cloud

Title: The A51dgL0ZfueL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_rk, The Reed, and the Fire Cloud
Author: Jenny L. Cote
Series: Amazing Tales of Max and Liz
Recommended for: 3rd-7th grade
Pages: 450
Call Number/Link:The Ark, The Reed, and the Fire Cloud





Max the dog and Liz the cat become the brave leaders of a group of animals called to journey to the Ark.


This Christian fiction series for kids takes biblical stories and tells them from the perspective of animals who have *spoiler alert* become immortal through service to God on the ark.  This book is the first prequel to the Epic Order of the Seven–there are two prequels and four books in the original series.  This book is long and has a great deal of character development, so I would recommend it for kids who are well developed readers.  While the story itself would make a great read-aloud, the length makes it unlikely for a family unless they are VERY .  The focus is squarely on the animals,  so it would be perfect for anyone who likes animal fantasies.  The action is gripping–Bethany refuses to read any other books until the next one in the series comes in through ILL.  The effusive praise from Bethany is something I haven’t seen since the Rick Riordan series.

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Juv



The Pirate Pig

Pirate Pig cover

Title:   The Pirate Pig
Author:   Cornelia Funke
Series:   not applicable
Recommended for:  early chapter book readers, Mercy Watson fans, people reading out loud to a child or group
Pages:   55 pages
Call Number/Link:   J FICTION FUNKE, C.

Rating:   ****





Synopsis:   Who needs a treasure map when you have a pirate pig with a nose for gold? Stout Sam and his deckhand, Pip, find a pig washed up in a barrel on the beach. They want to keep her as a pet, but they soon realize Julie is no ordinary pig. She can sniff out treasure! What happens if Barracuda Bill, the greediest and meanest pirate who ever sailed the seas, hears about Julie’s special talent?

Comments:   The Pirate Pig is a fun early chapter book with cute colorful illustrations.  It is lightly humorous, though not roll on the floor funny.  It is a great choice for independent reading and would also work well as a read-aloud. lists it as being appropriate for 7-10 years and/or grades 2-5.  I think it also works well as a read-aloud to children ages 4 and up who are experienced listeners.




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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Adventure, Juv


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Waiting for Normal

Title:  Waiting for Normal
Author: Leslie Connor
Series: None
Recommended for: Grades 4-7
Pages: 290
Call Number/Link: J CON

waiting for normalSynopsis:  Addie is waiting for normal. But Addie’s mom has an all-or-nothing approach to life: a food fiesta or an empty pantry, jubilation or gloom, her way or no way. All or nothing never adds up to normalAll or nothing can’t bring you all to home, which is exactly where Addie longs to be, with her half sisters, every day. In spite of life’s twists and turns, Addie remains optimistic. Someday, maybe, she’ll find normal. Leslie Connor has created an inspiring novel about one girl’s giant spirit. waiting for normal is a heartwarming gem

Review: Addie is a spunky character that you just have to root for.  Her living situation is horrible but she makes the best of it.  She longs for “normal” where she has someone to count on, and she knows she can have that with her step-father and half-sisters, yet she realizes that it is out of reach. This book is the perfect combination of sadness and hope it is written so well that you really feel for the character and hope that someday things will change for her.  I would recommend for kids (especially girls) who really like a good emotional story, such as Wonder or Out of My Mind.

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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Iron Trial

Title: The Iron Trial
Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Series: The Magisterium
Recommended for: 4th – 8th grade
Pages: 304

Call Number/Link:  J FICTION BLACK, H. iron trial

Synopsis:  All his life Callum Hunt has been warned by his father that practicing magic is a guaranteed death sentence, the only certain way to make sure he doesn’t reach his 18th birthday. When Call is summoned to attend the entrance exams for The Magisterium, a more-sinister version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, he promises his father he will deliberately fail the test to avoid the dangerous lure of magic school. Unfortunately, magic is in Call’s blood, and though his permanent limp and sarcastic attitude do not appear to serve him well during testing, he is selected with two other “Iron Years” to be a pupil of the greatest mage of all, Master Rufus. Black and Clare have created a unique world in The Magisterium, adroitly sidestepping reader fatigue with the many post-Harry Potter “magical academy” fiction series. The underground school’s labyrinthine tunnels, mysterious caverns, and strange rivers are an alternately wondrous and creepy setting for this hero’s quest. The diverse main trio’s multidimensional portrayals leave aside easy characterizations in favor of complex motivations which add depth to each character. Best of all, a late-stage reveal of the novel’s true hero and villain neatly turn fantasy tropes on their heads.

A lot of people are comparing this to Harry Potter and there is a definite feeling of familiarity for Potter fans.  This is not quite up to Potter level (what is?) but still very good.  Lots of action and a nice twist at the end.  I was actually surprised by some of the characters, which doesn’t happen often.  People are often not who they seem to be.  The setting underground with lots of creepy caverns and fungus at every meal (which tastes like pizza, hamburgers, etc.) is fun. There is a lot of set up for the magisterium world in this first book so I would expect even more action in the books to follow as the students progress through their magic school years (sound familiar?).  A good book for fans of fantasies like Harry and Percy.


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Lost in Paris

Title: Lost in Paris                   jacket
Author: Cindy Callaghan
Recommended for:  3rd thru 6th grade girls
Pages: 165

Synopsis:  “Gwen Russell is thrilled to hear she will be heading to Paris with her family. Even though the main reason for the trip is to see her three older brothers play lacrosse, Gwen and her Mom have plans to tour the city when they can — As soon as they land, Gwen is swept up in the city she has always wanted to see, and even meets a cute boy named Henri. If that wasn’t enough excitement, Gwen finds out that her all-time favorite band is playing a one-night only concert in Paris—and there are tickets available to the sold-old show for three lucky people. The catch? Fans who want a golden ticket have to work for it via a scavenger hunt around the City of Light.” — Provided by Amazon.

This is one of our new J Fic choices, which is why I chose it. Since I am used to reading adult fiction or picture books, it took a little adjustment to reading a book geared for later elementary school or early middle school – the difference being depth of material.  I thought the story was okay but not wonderful.  The is a fun, quirky character who helps Gwen in the hunt around the city for the tickets.  I did not like that the adult tour director abandoned her group to go in search of the tickets.  It would probably be a good recommendation for the 3rd or 4th grade girl – older if their reading level is a little lower.  I am sure they would enjoy it.

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Posted by on June 5, 2015 in Adventure, Funny, Juv


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Zita The Space Girl

Zita The Space Girl
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke


Title: Zita The Spacegirl
Author: Ben Hatke
Series: Zita the Spacegirl
Recommended for: 2nd-7th Grade
Pages: 192
Call Number/Link:  GN J HAT
Series List:

Zita The Spacegirl

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

Synopsis: When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero

Review: Zita The Spacegirl is a cute and innocuous tale from Ben Hatke about a young girl mysteriously transported to a new world.  Much in the same vein as Dorothy in Oz or Alice in Wonderland, our heroine receives a call to adventure to a magic land; though in this case it is an alien planet rather than a magic world.  Further complications to her tale are a time pressure, as the world she has landed on is due to be destroyed in three days; and she also has to rescue her friend.  Through her journey she meets additional characters including a classic Mysterious Shady Rogue, a Headstrong Robot and a Scared Robot.  The book invokes many of the classic Quest Tropes, but in this case the lighthearted art style and sheer earnestness of our Plucky Girl Adventurer make the book work.  Zita is not a classic, but it is a great read. I would recommend it for either boys or girls, grades two through seven.


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