Middle School Misadventures by Jason Platt

3 stars Graphic Novel

The illustrations were great but I just couldn’t get into the story. The colorful, brilliant illustrations really jumped off the pages and I really thought this graphic novel was going to be a hit. It was the story itself that just didn’t make any sense to me as I read it but I continued reading it, as I liked the illustrations.

Let’s begin with the story and then, end this review on a positive note, the illustrations.  The story was about a middle-schooler Newell who is signed up for his school’s first talent show. Newell spends countless hours trying to come up with a talent that he can showcase and its really painful, as he can’t find anything.

Why doesn’t he just cross his name off the list?  If he doesn’t perform, he’ll have to attend summer school.  Yes, I found this weird.  The principal is offering the students the opportunity to exchange the academics of summer school or the punishment of detention, if they perform in this show. Newell was scheduled for Summer School, so he’s excited to do something/anything for this show but he needs to find something worthy.

The book is funny and sometimes, I thought, just a bit on the weird side. I wanted Newell to just move on, perhaps experiment with something(s) and let’s see how he does instead of just talking/thinking about it[S1] .

The illustrations are action-packed and tell a great deal of the story.  A variety of text fonts add a great deal to the action. The colors are vivid and the rich in detail and burst from the page.

I feel there’s a lot of talent here and I would like to see what else this author can provide to us readers in the future.  


 [S1]

MonsterStreet: The Boy Who Cried Werewolf #1

5 stars Children

It’s a mysterious and surprising tale regarding a young boy who finally discovers his father and the grandparents, that he doesn’t recall.  The story moves quickly; swallowing you in an adventure where you’re not sure what will happen in the end.

Max finds it strange that he’s off to spend a weekend alone with some relatives that he doesn’t even know or remember.  Yet, somehow, he is told the time is right for this visit with his grandparents.  Welcome to Creepville, in Wolf County.  This can’t be the place when they finally turn off the engine and get out.  The home has been taken over by cobwebs, some boarded up windows, and Max will discover later, no phone or electricity. 

The place looks deserted but as they walk around, an older man appears clutching an ax, and then an older woman emerges in a bloodstained apron, lugging a hog.  The stage is set for Max’s weekend as mom quickly makes her exit in her minivan.  

I enjoyed how Max was fed the story of his family.  Through a neighbor girl, his father’s diary, his mother, and his grandparents, Max learns about himself and his family.  There are elements of surprise and anticipation in the novel and I liked how they flowed into the story. There wasn’t anything gross or descriptive in the novel, just mysterious and creature horror. 

I think it’s a great book for kids who can handle some horror without getting scared.

“He was torn between his desire to obey his grandparents and the curiosity he now felt about what Jade was saying.  He wasn’t sure who to trust.”

Just Because by Mac Barnett

5 Stars Children’s

I fell in love with this book after the first few pages.  The sweet, calm fashion of this book had soon expanded and now, I was feeling the same way.  The situation was all too familiar for me and if only I could turn back time, it could have been me in that room, answering those questions.

Everything in this book made it perfect for me.  The way the book was laid out, its illustrations, and its text; everything had its proper place and time.   

As I watched the adult male in the illustrations, I liked how his movements changed from one illustration to the next.  I think his movements added a great deal to the book.  There are other small changes that were taking place in this bedroom scene, changes that were very important, changes that our eyes noticed automatically.

The questions that the young child asked, reminded me of ones that my own children would inquire about when they were younger. The constant questioning, the layer-upon-layer of mindful thinking. When would they stop? The answers came back in a creative response.  The adult even linked some of his responses together.  With fantastic illustrations in mixed-media tones, the illustrations complement the tone of the text, and they make you stop and take notice of them.   

A brilliant and sweet book, a book that I cannot get enough of.  It’s definitely a book that you’ll want to share.  

Link to the beautiful illustrations so you can view them yourself

Big City Otto by Bill Slavin

4 stars Graphic Novel

I enjoyed the quick-paced story and the thought the illustrations were amazing.  It you take this story for what it is, a story, it’s a wonderful adventure and kids will think so too but if you have to analyze, you’ll probably be able to find a few things wrong with it, so just enjoy it.  It reminds me of some of the comics I used to read when I was younger.

Otto, the elephant misses his chum, Georgie. Georgie, (a monkey) was taken out of the jungle by the man with a wooden nose and Otto, like most elephants never forgot anything about the whole ordeal. Crackers, (parrot) his friend, helps Otto remember what happened that day and the two friends set off to try to find Georgie in America.

Aboard the metal bird (airplane), after being wrapped as a special and oversized package, the two land in America and begin their hunt.  Sure, they get some attention but it seems that spotting an elephant and a parrot on the streets, of a big city in America, is not that unusual.  The big question is, will they be able to find Georgie amongst all these people?

It was the adventure that these two friends had trying to locate Georgie that made this book so enjoyable.  Otto’s size caused quite a few crashes and their lack of understanding was humorous to me yet others didn’t see it that way.  Their love for one another was felt as they watched out for one another throughout their trip and they tried to fit in to their new surroundings, the best that they could. I loved how Crackers pushed and pushed to squeeze Otto into some of the smallest places for an elephant and I thought Otto’s allergy was extreme but I can see how kids would love it and laugh as the final scenes of this book processed.  The illustrations are bright and colorful, they really add to the story.

This was a fun and entertaining graphic novel designed for children.  Filled with interesting and humorous characters, I think young kids will enjoy this book.  If you’re ready for some childish, make-believe fun, pick this book up and be ready for anything.

The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh

3 stars Mystery

The loved The Weight of Blood so I was excited to read this novel.  I found myself putting this novel down many times as in the beginning, I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around the drama unfolding.  It just wasn’t as captivating as I hoped it would be for  I just wanted to drown in the misery of Blackwater because I like these kinds of books.

No one seems to care about another death in Blackwater but Sadie wants to know why her brother Shane, has died.  Crystle, his widow, was ready to move on before Shane’s body was even cold and I took a disliking to her immediately.   When another body is discovered, suddenly Shane’s case gets some attention.

You have to understand the town and its history to fully grasp the novel.  Blackwater has had its share of issues over the years.  If you’re lucky and can leave town, you just might miss out on being a part of the poverty and the drug issues that suffocate its citizens.  Leaving family behind?  Your ties with Blackwater will never be broken.  Those that don’t make it out, life in Blackwater is heavy.  You will never find that four-leaf clover or that lucky penny, for it feels as if there is a curse on the city, an evil curse.

Perhaps it was my mindset when I was reading this novel that caused me not to concentrate on it and enjoy it.   I would like to read this book again in the future.  I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. 

Lies by T.M. Logan

4 stars Thriller

I listened to this novel and I really enjoyed it. I also was provided a copy of the novel so I could follow along. To me, it was one of those mysterious novels where something felt off and I was just waiting for something major to transpire, because it had to, right? The answers just never seemed to add up.

I wanted to pull Joe through the pages and strangle him. His behavior was driving me crazy. Had his young son not seen his mother’s car, his wife’s affair might not have been detected. Joe was educated yet at times, he acted like he was wearing blinders. Exposed, Mel claims that her relationship with Ben is over but is it really? With clever twists, the story gives you a lot to think about.

I liked the short chapters and how quickly the novel progressed. I liked how William (son) was involved in the novel and how he continued to play a role throughout the story. It was a clever story and one that kept me vigilant until the very end.

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing me a copy of this book, this review is my own opinion of the novel.

Girl, Stop Apologizing: by Rachel Hollis

5 stars Nonfiction

Girls & ladies, listen and listen carefully to what I have to say.  If you feel you need someone in your corner, you need this book.  If you have goals and lack the motivation to go after them, you need this book.  If you just need to hear someone fired up, to get you moving, you need this book.  I was not prepared for what I listened to when I put this novel in my car’s CD player. 

I have just recently purchased a couple of Rachel Hollis’ cookbooks which I absolutely love. They are composed of dishes that I would actually make. Its real food created from actual grocery stores, not food made with fancy bouquet food where I’d buy a jar of something that I’d never use again but actual food. With these down-to-earth recipes, I figured Rachel would be an easy-going girl yet what I heard in this novel was a woman who was driven, strong, and very motivated. Bring it on Rachel, we need to hear more of this!  

The more I listened to this novel, the more I understood where she got this ambition. Rachel just doesn’t try to motivate us women, she gives us some background on her own story so I know where she is coming from.  Listening to her read her own novel, I could feel how she owned each word that she had put down in print.  The energy and desire that she has to help others feel the same way she feels can definitely be felt while listening to her. It’s as if she’s trying to tell people: “Come on! Wake up and get with the program!”

Do you need Rachel in your life?  I highly recommend the audio of this book, the enthusiasm and the passion as she reads her own words is definitely worth it.

CatStronauts Space Station Situation by Drew Brockington

4 stars Child’s Graphic Novel

I love cats and I’ve been looking at these graphic novels for a while now.  The CatStronauts are just what they sound like, cats who are astronauts.  Weird, yes but feasible in a kid-friendly world.  I enjoyed all the subtle cat references, the friendships, the easy flow of this graphic novel, and their adventure.

In this mission, Pom Pom is finished helping colonize Mars and is now meeting up with his team on the Space Station. The team will now try to repair the Hubba Bubba Telescope. Sounds easy enough for the CatStronauts until transmission problems arise and they can’t talk to ground control.  They discover that meteor showers are causing all the interference.  The problems just continue for the team as they try to fix one problem after another, until they discover that if they don’t act quickly, destruction on a massive scale is in their future. 

“What the fish is going on?!” These references were just part of the text, which made me smile as I read this book.  References to the kitty box, tuna, kitties, etc., caught my attention, although there really weren’t a whole lot of them.  I felt that they added to the charm of the book and to the characters, themselves. 

This graphic novel had a good flow to it.  There was enough action to keep me engaged and the illustrations were detailed and they complemented to the story.  I’m often asked what would be a great graphic novel to give to a young child and I think this one would fit the bill.  It’s a great child’s graphic novel for any level, I believe.  I’m going to pick up other books in this series to see what these cats are up to.

“Meow, meow, meow.”

The Mystery of Eatum Hall by John Kelly & Cathy Tincknell

5 stars Picture Book

This book is a hoot!  I loved it!  The illustrations alone are worth the read but when you add in the text, you will absolutely fall in love with it. It’s a book where there are clues everywhere, but who is looking?

Glenda and Horace, are invited to spend the weekend at Eatum Hall and they’re all excited.  All the gourmet food that they can eat and they can eat a lot! Yet, when they arrive, they cannot find their host.  They find a note instead (with fun clues in it) that tells them to enjoy themselves and their host will join them later. 

There were plenty of times while reading this book that I was chuckling but now, I was laughing.  Here in this isolated older house, were a plump goose and a pig and they’re looking forward to staying here by themselves. As they look around, they don’t even see all the clues that are everywhere around them.  I would have been running out the door, had it been me.  The illustrations are fantastic and you can get lost just admiring them.  Their host provided the best for them and they begin to settle in.  They were going to take advantage of this relaxing weekend. 

Noticing the clues around them, Glenda comments on the doctor’s love of art while Horace remarks on how smart the doctor is, as the doctor has put a lot of detail in making sure that his guests are comfortable in his absence. Meanwhile, the author reveals to his reader, the true identity of Dr. A. Hunter, and what his true plans are.   

This is definitely an exciting and fun book.  I’ve read and thumbed through it a few times, just admiring how it all comes together and it truly is a book worth reading. I highly recommend it.

I do feel that some children might be too young for it though. Why?  There’s a lot of inferring that occurs in this book to truly enjoy it and they might not get or understand it and/or the child might not care for the book’s ending.  Just know your child before reading this book to them.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

2.5 stars Fiction

This wasn’t as good as The Rosie Project but it was an okay read.  I ended up listening to the audio of this book and it was a good audio to listen to.  The book picks up right where The Rosie Project left off but you don’t really need to read that book to appreciate it.   

I did laugh while reading this book but I found Don so annoying that I wanted to lock him in a closet. I knew that Don was just trying to help but I thought that he was relentless in his tactics. Immersing himself in Rosie’s pregnancy, his concern consumed everything and every part of her life. I would expect some of this behavior from Don, but he was over-the-top.  I don’t know if I could have been as calm as Rosie during the whole ordeal, but Rosie knew who Don was when she married him so she knew somewhat, what would occur if/when she got pregnant.  I thought she handled the situations very well.  

It was nice to see Don concerned about his wife and child (but the extremes were just too much) and I liked how Don referred to the baby as Bud.  I wished that Rosie would have made more of an appearance in this book instead of letting Don steal the show.  Even more interaction between the two of them would have been good.