Book Review: Tunnel of Bones

39352771._SY475_Kids who are looking for a haunting read this week should check out Tunnel of Bones, the second book in Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts series.

Twelve-year-old Cassidy almost drowned last year. Ever since then, she’s been able to pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead and help restless spirits move on. And Jacob, the ghost who saved her life, has become her best friend.

Now Cassidy and Jacob are in Paris. Her parents are filming a new episode of their TV show about haunted cities. When Cassidy goes into the Catacombs under the city, she accidentally awakens a poltergeist. She and her family are in danger, and in order to stop him, she must figure out who he was and how he died.

This book is one that you’ll keep reading long after you should have turned out the lights and gone to sleep. It’s a spooky page-turner!

Book Review: Dragon Pearl

34966859Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee combines Korean mythology, science fiction, and mystery in a terrific adventure story. Larrabee and I both loved it.

Min is a 13-year-old fox spirit living on a poor planet with her mother, aunts, and cousins. When her older brother, a cadet in the Thousand Worlds Space Forces, is accused of deserting his post to search for the fabled Dragon Pearl, Min runs away from home to find him. Her quest takes her across the galaxy toward the Ghost Sector.

Some of the things I liked best about this book are:

  1.  Min’s fox magic. In addition to acute senses of smell and hearing, Min has the ability to shape shift and to use Charm to influence other people’s behavior. Although she’s grown up assuming a human form and hiding her magic at her mother’s insistence, all of her special abilities prove useful in her search for her brother.
  2. The Thousand Worlds. From Min’s dome house on dusty Jinju to the sleek corridors of the battle cruiser Pale Lightning, the book’s settings drew me into the story.
  3. Min’s allies. Throughout the story, Min finds friends and allies in unexpected places. I particularly liked the goblin Sujin and the dragon Haneul.

Dragon Pearl is a fast-paced, suspenseful, and immersive read. I recommend it.

Book Review: Rocket to the Moon!

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 2.55.39 PMTomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. If your kids are intrigued, check out Rocket to the Moon! by Don Brown, a history of rockets in graphic novel format. Starting with the first Chinese firecrackers, Brown traces the innovations and discoveries that led to the manned missions to the moon.

This book is full of interesting information. Larrabee read it in a day and quoted facts from it to me for weeks afterward. My personal favorite tidbit is that three early rocket scientists from three different countries were all inspired by the same novel: Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. Hooray for science fiction!

Rocket to the Moon! is the first book in Brown’s Big Ideas That Changed the World series. I’m looking forward to the next one.

 

Book Review: Lions & Liars

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 1.28.54 PMLions and Liars by Kate Beasley is a story about a boy who discovers who he really is by pretending to be someone else.

Nothing is going Frederick Frederickson’s way. He thought by the time he got to 5th grade, he’d be one of those kids that other kids want to hang out with. Instead, he feels like just as much of a loser as ever. To make matters worse, his family’s cruise vacation has been cancelled because of a hurricane.

Then, he accidentally ends up all by himself in a boat. After floating down the river all night, he finds himself at a boys’ camp. Instead of asking the counselors to help him get home, he sees his chance to get a fresh start and assumes the identity of a missing camper. At first, he likes his new life as Dash Blackwood. But soon he gets more adventure than he bargained for. The camp, as it turns out, is a disciplinary camp, and the hurricane is heading right towards it.

This book is a good end-of-summer read. It has humor and heart. Larrabee and I both enjoyed it.

 

My Life in Books

IMG_7017Happy New Year! Winter Break is a time for looking back on all the great books I read in 2017 and starting the new ones I got for Christmas…

What better time to participate in the “My Life in Books” tag! Thank you to the Maniacal Book Unicorn for tagging me. Be sure to check out their post for the My Life in Books Tag if you haven’t done so already.

A Book for Each Initial

I’ve spelled out the name of my blog (Imaginary Friends) almost entirely using middle grade books I’ve reviewed over the past year or two.

I – The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

MThe Myth-o-Mania series by Kate McMullan

A – Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

G – The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I – The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

N – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

A – The Abracadabra Kid by Sid Fleischman

RRowan of Rin by Emily Rodda

Y – The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

F – Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

RThe Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

I – It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

E – Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

N – The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

D – Double Down by Jeff Kinney

S – Savvy by Ingrid Law

Age Count Along My Bookshelf

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I decline to say which position this book holds on my shelf. It shows, though, that I don’t only read middle grade books.

Book That Represents a Destination You Want to Travel To

Does it have to be a real place? If so:

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(Hawaii)

If not, then definitely:

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(Hogwarts)

Favorite Color

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It’s green!

Fondest Memory Of

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I think this biography of Beatrix Potter is out of print now, but I remember putting myself on a waiting list to check it out of the school library when I was in 3rd grade.

Most Difficulty Reading (Aloud)

That’s a tie between The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I needed lots of tissues to get through these read alouds.

Tag You’re It!

I’m sure many of you have already done this tag, but if not, I welcome you to give it a go.

 

Book Review: Writing Radar

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 2.24.43 PMJack Gantos is the author of lots of great books for kids, including the Joey Pigza series and the Newbery Award-winning Dead End in Norvelt.

Now he shows kids how it’s done in a fabulous book called Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories that’s instructive and inspiring.

This book is chock full of good tips, but it’s not just a how-to guide. It’s also the very funny story of how Jack Gantos became an author. Using examples from his own childhood journals, he demonstrates how to be observant and then shape events that really happened into compelling stories with a beginning, middle, and end and emotion as well as action. He also explains story structure and the revision process in clear and simple terms. It’s a must for the young writers in your life.

Book Review: The Ruins of Gorlan

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 1.11.13 PMThe Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in John Flanagan‘s popular Ranger’s Apprentice series. It’s an action-packed fantasy in a medieval setting.

Fifteen-year-old Will is an orphan and ward of Castle Redmont. He dreams of being a knight and hopes to be selected for Battleschool on Choosing Day. Instead, he’s apprenticed to a Ranger named Halt to learn the ways of the kingdom’s intelligence force. But before he can finish his training, he and his master are called on to defend the kingdom from the dreaded Kalkara.

I read this book aloud to Blaine many years ago. I remembered enjoying the scenes in which Will learns to use a bow and to hide in plain sight, so I recently read it to Larrabee. It’s really aimed at older kids (12+), though. Blaine has read several other books in this series and in the spinoff Brotherband Chronicles.