Book Review: Greenglass House

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 12.22.59 PMGreenglass House by Kate Milford is the perfect book to read on a cold winter evening. Larrabee and I both enjoyed it–although he read it last summer and I read it during this unusually warm California winter.

It’s a mystery set in an old smuggler’s inn called Greenglass House in Nagspeake, British Columbia. Twelve-year-old Milo is the innkeepers’ adopted son. Normally he and his parents have the inn to themselves during winter vacation, but not this year. Guest after guest arrives, each more peculiar than the last. With the help of Meddy, the only other kid in the house, Milo will have to figure out what secrets they’re hiding and what brought them all to Greenglass House.

I love a lot of things about this book: the stories that the characters tell each other by the fire at night, Milo and Meddy’s role playing game, and the relationship between Milo and his parents. Most of all, I love the setting: an old house with stained glass windows, creaky stairs, and treasures in the attic.

Now there’s a second book in this same awesome setting: Ghosts of Greenglass House. I can’t wait!

Book Review: See You in the Cosmos

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 3.22.59 PMSee You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng is an interesting story told in an interesting way. The protagonist and narrator is eleven-year-old Alex Petroski. He sets off from his home in Colorado to attend a rocket festival in New Mexico, but then his quest morphs into a search for his “maybe dad” in Nevada.

Along the way, he records the details of his journey along with his observations and musings on a golden iPod that he intends to launch into space so that aliens can know what life on Earth is like. The novel is a transcript of these audio recordings. That fact, as well as Alex’s unique way of looking at the world, give the book an unusual style. Once I got used to it, I enjoyed it, and I expect it would be even more fun as an audiobook.

I would recommend this book more to adults than to kids, though. Because the story is told through Alex’s innocent point of view, the reader is left to infer what’s really going on in his life (for example, that his mother is suffering from a mental illness).

Book Review: The Boy From Tomorrow

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.24.55 PMThe Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis is a time travel story with a twist. Josie and Alec are both twelve years old. They both live at 444 Sparrow Street in the same small New York town. They communicate with each other all the time, but they’ve never met in person.

The reason: Alec lives in 2015, while Josie lives in 1915. They originally make contact through a ouija board belonging to Josie’s mother, a famous psychic medium, and they find a good friend in each other just when they need one the most.

I loved this book and read it in one sitting. I enjoy time travel stories and historical fiction, and this books has aspects of both.

Like the best time travel stories, The Boy from Tomorrow is intricately plotted with present events affecting past events. For example, Alec finds a letter from Josie hidden in his house and tells her about it, causing her to write the letter in the first place… Also, although Josie and Alec never travel to each other’s times, the books has fun time travel moments in which they get glimpses into each other’s worlds. For instance, Alec can use the internet to find New York Times headlines from 1915 (“magic” to Josie and “just technology” to Alec).

Like the best historical fiction, this book brings a past era to life. My favorite parts were the scenes featuring Josie, her little sister Cassie, and her tutor in 1915 New York.

Thank you to Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book. Its expected publication date is May 8.

Book Review: Captain Superlative

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 2.08.20 PMWho would be brave enough to come to middle school dressed as a superhero–with a silver bathing suit, blue wig, red mask, and homemade cape? Who would be weird enough to call herself Captain Superlative? And who would be crazy enough to think that she could make all troubles disappear?

Jane doesn’t know. She herself tries to stay as invisible as air. Especially since the death of her mother four years earlier, she’s found that it’s safest not to stand out, not to be noticed, not to get involved.

But Jane is intrigued by Captain Superlative. She wants to know who she is. More importantly, she wants to know why she does what she does. The answers she finds, though, pull her out of her comfort zone.

Captain Superlative by J.S. Puller is a coming of age story–sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes sweet.

My favorite things about this book are:

  • Jane’s point of view. Jane starts the story as an observer and bystander, and she only reluctantly takes on an active role. I love her description of Captain Superlative’s first visit to her home: “It was more like another story had just crashed into my book and the style of illustration was completely different. It was a surrealist drawing in the middle of my still life.”
  • The relationship between Jane and her father. At school, she may be Plain Jane, but at home with her dad, she’s Janey! The two of them play a game where they think of synonyms that start with the same letter, and he provides her with gentle advice and support. The glimpses the reader gets of her at home make her public transformation more believable.
  • Its message about empathy and kindness. Although the book depicts some bullying, Captain Superlative sets the example of reaching out to both the bully and the victim. The book shows that everyone has a story, and that treating others with thoughtfulness makes a difference.

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. Its expected publication date is May 8.