Category Archives: Kids Fiction

Kids Corner: The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly

An Atrocious ARC = An Impossible-to-Review-Fairly Book

The Lost Twin
by Sophie Cleverly


Series: Scarlet and Ivy (Book 1)
Original Publication Date: February 26, 2015
This Edition Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Length: 304pp
ISBN-13: 978-1492633396

Related Links:
Sophie Cleverly’s Website
Sophie Cleverly on Facebook


Buy the Book

AmazonBN






 

 


Publisher Synopsis

Ivy, I pray that it’s you reading this. And if you are, well, I suppose you’re the new me…

When shy Ivy’s troublemaking twin Scarlet vanishes from Rookwood boarding school, Ivy is invited to “take her place.” But when Ivy arrives, she discovers the school’s true intention; she has to pretend to be Scarlet. She must think like Scarlet, act like Scarlet, become Scarlet. What on earth happened to the real Scarlet, and why is the school trying to keep it a secret?

Luckily for Ivy, Scarlet isn’t about to disappear without a fight. She’s left pieces of her journal carefully hidden all over the school for Ivy to find. Ivy’s going to figure out what happened to Scarlet. She’s got to.

But the staff of Rookwood is always watching, and they’ll do anything to keep their secrets buried…


My Review

This was an extremely difficult book to review, primarily because the advance reading copy provided was an absolute mess. Formatting was more terrible than usual in such copies: paragraph indentation did not exist, causing sentences in different paragraphs to run together; dialogue was often printed without breaks between speakers; and justification was inconsistent, each new page’s differently jumbled look distracting from its content. All of this made for a labored reading experience which produced an unpleasant aftertaste when I finished the book. Because of these problems, I could never get into the plot for long, or focus on the characters as much as I wished. This was not my first encounter with a garbled ARC, but it was surely one of the worst presentations of a text I have come across. What made the whole thing strange is that this is a re-publication of a novel first released in 2015, and a cleaner copy ought to have been readily available to give to reviewers.

In addition to the formatting, there was also the occasional error in plot. For instance, in the first three pages of the book we learn: the year is 1935, Ivy is 13 (meaning she was born in 1922), and her Aunt Phoebe’s husband died during the Great War (which ended in 1918). A page or so later we read that Aunt Phoebe’s husband once told Ivy something. But he was dead at least 4 years before she was born! I initially passed this off as another ARC problem, but I checked the sample at Amazon of the 2015 published copy and found the same passages. It’s astonishing that this was not corrected. (Another example is the “hard wooden floor” that, a few pages later, is suddenly covered with a threadbare carpet.)

To judge from the ARC, the author’s prose could use some trimming. She has a tendency to write “my own” and “her own” where “my” and “her” would suffice, and is overly enamored with “sat down”. There are sections where she repeats a word or phrase multiple times, as if she didn’t proof her work with a sufficiently critical eye. How much of this is due to author oversight and how much to the ARC, I can’t say.

The plot was original and interesting, and it was frustrating to not be able to immerse myself in it. Despite the chaos, a few characters stood out, particularly the evil ones. All in all, the finished novel might well-deserve the 4.42 Goodreads rating it has at present. But even making the usual allowances for an ARC, what I read did not.

                                                                                                — Jennifer Michelle

Verdict

3 of 5 Hearts. An Atrocious ARC = An Impossible-to-Review-Fairly Book.

Judging from reviews at Goodreads, and from those moments when I could connect to the main character and sympathize with her plight, The Lost Twin is not a bad Kids book. But reading this ARC was a chore and so prejudiced me against the novel that I don’t feel I can write an unbiased review. Should I ever have the opportunity to read a final copy, I will update this post.

One thing is certain: It is never a good sign when a publisher cares so little about a book (and, by extension, its author) that it releases such an abysmal copy of the text to reviewers. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky rarely disappoints, but they did so this time.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing me with a copy of The Lost Twin in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

The Lost Twin

The cover as published in 2015.

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The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning February 22, 2016

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Christian Chapters: The Imposter by Suzanne Woods Fisher

5 of 5 Hearts. An Inspiring and Lyrical Look at an Amish Community Facing Modern Issues.

The Imposter is impossible to categorize. Calling it a romance ignores the mystery. Calling it a mystery doesn’t fit either. There are many elements to this tale — romance, mystery, drama, humor, and faith to name a few. Just as our lives can’t be summed up with one label, neither can this story, and that’s what makes it so appealing. The Imposter incorporates everything readers of Amish fiction love about the genre, while steeping its setting and characters in modern realism, to a richly satisfying result.

[Read the full review]


Tuesday:

Kids Corner: Nightborn by Lou Anders

5 of 5 Hearts. A Smash-Hit Fantasy Sequel Bursting With Action, Adventure, Worldbuilding, Humor, Gaming, and (Most of All) Heart.

The perfect fantasy series follow-up, Nightborn pushes all the right buttons while breaking the walls of its own world wide open! As the maps of the Thrones & Bones world expand, interest in the series is guaranteed to grow. If you’re hunting for a quality middle-grade adventure series, your search ends here!

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

Thursday:

Kids Corner – American Girl: Kit Story Collection by Valerie Tripp

4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Illuminating, Kid’s-Eye Look at the Great Depression.

Kit Kittredge is everything you want from a heroine — intelligent, spunky, indomitable. As her story progresses, it’s easy to root for her and share her happiness, as well as her anxieties when hard times threaten. And those truly depressing times are rendered vividly by author Tripp, who never forgets that she is teaching as well as entertaining.

[Read the full review]

 

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That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

Kids Corner – American Girl: Kit Story Collection by Valerie Tripp

An Illuminating, Kid’s-Eye Look at the Great Depression

American Girl: Kit Story Collection
by Valerie Tripp


Original Publication Date: 2000
This Collection Publication Date: 2008
Publisher: American Girl
Length: 400pp

Related Links:
American Girl Website
Valerie Tripp’s Website


Buy the Book

AmazonBN









Synopsis

It’s 1934: Kit Kittredge’s family has gone from rich to poor overnight since her Dad closed his business because of the Depression. Now Kit’s days are filled with chores — and with worry about whether her family can save their house. Kit must rely on her own determination to help her family face the dark days of the Depression.


My Review

This Throwback Thursday, we travel back in time 16 years (by publication date) and 82 years (by setting date) to examine an American Girl offering. Though the collection shown above is out of print, it has been replaced by a three-book box set containing all six of the original stories (minus illustrations), plus an extra story in which the reader is immersed first-hand into a new Kit adventure. (See photo and info below.)

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Aside from author Valerie Tripp (through Aunt Millie, her “expert” on Shakespeare) perpetuating the incorrect Shakespearean quote, “Lead on, Macduff” — the correct line is “Lay on, Macduff” — I have no complaints about this American Girl entry. I had recently watched the Kit Kittredge movie and thought it one of the best in the series, and I feel the same way about the Kit Story Collection. The two are vastly different in plot, however. The movie merely uses the characters and a couple of episodes to fashion something entirely new, and while I feel it was successful, I believe I enjoyed the book more. Here, Kit’s story is not just an extended episode; it’s full and believable, and its telling takes over a year. Characters such as her uncle, who makes but a brief appearance in the movie, and her aforementioned aunt (who doesn’t show up in the screen version at all) are well worth the time devoted to them in the book, and add layers to Kit’s life that are absent in the movie.

This was a harsh time in American history, and Tripp does an admirable job of keeping the plot entertaining while staying between the rails, so to speak. Never does it lose sight of the fact that this is a tale of the Depression. The capsulized history lesson that follows the text expands on the book and the era, serving to remind the reader that these events actually occurred. All that’s lacking is a three or four book bibliography suggesting where interested young readers could go to learn more about the time in which Kit lived.

                                                                                                — Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Illuminating, Kid’s-Eye Look at the Great Depression.

Kit Kittredge is everything you want from a heroine — intelligent, spunky, indomitable. As her story progresses, it’s easy to root for her and share her happiness, as well as her anxieties when hard times threaten. And those truly depressing times are rendered vividly by author Tripp, who never forgets that she is teaching as well as entertaining.

(Though the early versions of Kit’s books are no longer in print, the box set below is readily available. While it regrettably lacks the beautiful interior illustrations of the originals, it adds a bonus book in which the reader travels through time to meet Kit and experience a multi-path, multi-ending adventure with her.)

Kit 3 Book cover

 

Kids Corner: Nightborn by Lou Anders

A Smash-Hit Fantasy Sequel Bursting With Action, Adventure, Worldbuilding, Humor, Gaming, and (Most of All) Heart

Frostborn
by Lou Anders


Series: Thrones & Bones (Book 2)
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Length: 368pp
ISBN-13: 978-0385390361

Related Links:
Chapter Sampler
Lou Anders’ Website
Thrones & Bones Website
Thrones & Bones on Facebook


 Buy the Book

AmazonBN

 

 

 

 

 


Click here to read my review of Frostborn, the first book in the Thrones & Bones series.


Publisher Synopsis

Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

The novel includes instructions for playing the board game Charioteers. Visit ThronesandBones.com for additional games, maps, character profiles, and more!


My Review

With Nightborn, the follow-up to his Thrones & Bones series starter Frostborn, Lou Anders wastes no time bringing new characters and new lands into the mix. Even before revisiting Karn or Thianna, our gaming hero and half frost giantess heroine from book one, Anders presents Desstra, a dark elf from the caverns of Deep Shadow. For her final exam she’s competing as part of a team in a ‘dangerous game’ against a rival team of classmates. The outcome of this contest, which ends two years of training, will determine her future. Only the victorious team will graduate and join an elite secret order called the Underhand. Though the dark elves will succeed or fail as a collective, individual performance will also be evaluated. Trouble is, one of her teammates, Tanthal – much like Thianna’s frost giant bully nemesis Thrudgelmir – puts winning above all else, at any cost – even betrayal. What’s more, like Karn and Thianna, Desstra doesn’t quite fit in with her peers.

Before we learn how Desstra’s exam is scored, Anders sends us straight over to Karn, happily occupied playing his beloved board game Thrones and Bones. Time has passed and Karn has matured – it seems he’s left adventure behind in favor of responsibility. With no time to indulge himself in further matches, he’s off to work on a trade deal. Only someone else, or rather something else, has others plans. A wyvern snatches him up and carries him off to the great dragon Orm. Boy and dragon have a lengthy conversation. Ultimately, Karn, persuaded that Thianna is in danger, sets off on a quest.

Just like Frostborn, Nightborn drops the reader straight into the action. One of the challenges of a series is reminding readers what has already taken place outside the current timeline. Anders handily inserts succinct reminders so naturally into the text that this never becomes a problem. Readers can instead focus on what the author does well – characters, world-building, adventure, humor, action scenes, games, and much more!

Sometimes in a series, a sequel doesn’t hold up to its predecessor. Book two may be a weaker book that serves as a space-holder and bridge for bigger things to come in future series’ installments. Not so with Frostborn. As Karn travels to find Thianna, the fantastic world of the Thrones & Bones series explodes, and, thanks to the gifts of illustrator Justin Gerard and map artist Robert Lazzaretti, becomes even more tangibly real. We are treated to another board game called Charioteers, inspired by the real-life action in the book. Plus, as in all good adventure fiction, this quest involves riddles, cultures at war, and more mythical creatures – this time a manticore! Furthermore, though character development continues for Karn and Thianna, we are treated to some of the same hilarious banter and antics that made us love the pair. The insertion of Desstra into the story serves to keep things all the more interesting, while advancing the existing themes of friendship, teamwork, and trust. In the end, we learn that kindness and compassion are not weaknesses, but strengths.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. A Smash-Hit Fantasy Sequel Bursting With Action, Adventure, Worldbuilding, Humor, Gaming, and (Most of All) Heart.

The perfect fantasy series follow-up, Nightborn pushes all the right buttons while breaking the walls of its own world wide open! As the maps of the Thrones & Bones world expand, interest in the series is guaranteed to grow. If you’re hunting for a quality middle-grade adventure series, your search ends here!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Random House Children’s Books and NetGalley for allowing me access to the title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning October 26

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Kids Corner – Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club) by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

The eighth book in a delicious series by New York Times bestselling author Sheryl Berk and her cupcake-obsessed daughter, Carrie.

MVP Sadie knows what it takes to win – both on the court and in the kitchen.

But when Coach Walsh gets sick and has to temporarily leave school, Sadie’s suddenly at a loss. What will she do without Coach’s spot-on advice and uplifting encouragement? Luckily, Sadie’s got Peace, Love, and Cupcakes on her side. Her friends know that the power of friendship – and cupcakes – might be just what Sadie needs! Together, they rally to whip up the largest batch of sweet treats they’ve ever made, all to help support Coach Walsh. When the going gets tough, a little PLC goes a long way. But this record-breaking order might just be too much for the club…

Can the girls put it all together in time to score a win for Sadie – and Coach Walsh?

[See the Spotlight and Enter the Giveaway]

 

Tuesday:

Christian Chapters: The Bishop’s Son by Kelly Irvin

4 of 5 Hearts. Out-of-the-Box Amish Fiction Guaranteed to Spark Discussion.

With The Bishop’s Son, Kelly Irvin ventures into an unforgiving Texas landscape to tackle tough questions about faith. Ultimately, whether you agree with her premise or not, should you come along for the ride, you’ll find it impossible to remain a bystander. There’ll be no sitting on the fence in this theological debate.

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

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That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

Kids Corner – Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club) by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

Sweet Victory
by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk


Series: The Cupcake Club (Book 8)
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Length: 128pp
ISBN-13: 978-1492620822

Related Links:
Carrie’s Cupcake Critique
Publisher’s Website

 

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About the Authors

Sheryl Berk, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Soul Surfer, and her daughter Carrie, a cupcake connoisseur who has reviewed confection from around the world in her Carrie’s Cupcake Critiques newsletter, have cooked up a delightful series sure to be a treat.

Sheryl & Carrie Berk_Sugar and Spice_no photo cred - small


Buy the Book

Amazon          Barnes & Noble         BooksAMillion          !ndigo          Indiebound


Publisher Synopsis

The eighth book in a delicious series by New York Times bestselling author Sheryl Berk and her cupcake-obsessed daughter, Carrie.

MVP Sadie knows what it takes to win – both on the court and in the kitchen.

But when Coach Walsh gets sick and has to temporarily leave school, Sadie’s suddenly at a loss. What will she do without Coach’s spot-on advice and uplifting encouragement? Luckily, Sadie’s got Peace, Love, and Cupcakes on her side. Her friends know that the power of friendship – and cupcakes – might be just what Sadie needs! Together, they rally to whip up the largest batch of sweet treats they’ve ever made, all to help support Coach Walsh. When the going gets tough, a little PLC goes a long way. But this record-breaking order might just be too much for the club…

Can the girls put it all together in time to score a win for Sadie – and Coach Walsh?


** READ AN EXCERPT FROM SWEET VICTORY **

For a few minutes, the room was silent as the girls thought hard.

“Feet!” Lexi suddenly tossed out. “Or maybe socks? Isn’t that what you wear to jump on a trampoline?”

“Flies,” Sadie added. “They’re always in the air. And little boys love bugs, right?”

“Falling,” Jenna grumped. “As in splat on your face or butt. Which is what I would do on a trampoline.”

“Um, I’m not seeing any of those things on a cupcake,” Kylie tried her hardest to envision their suggestions, but all she could see was Jenna flopping on a trampoline face-first. As cupcake club president, Kylie had the power to veto an idea — and smelly feet and flies didn’t sound particularly appetizing.

“What about balloons — balloons go up, up, and away if you accidentally let them go,” Delaney suggested. “And they’re pretty and colorful — and every birthday party has them.”

“That’s just it,” Sadie jumped in. “Cupcakes with balloons on them are so ordinary. We’re PLC. We can do better than that.”

Lexi took out her sketchbook. Designing cupcake decorations was her job. “Sadie’s right. What if we did something like this …” She drew a cupcake with blue piping around the edges and a black fondant top to represent the trampoline. In the middle of the cupcake was a small figure of a boy bending his knees with his arms in the air.

“Ooh, that is amazing,” Kylie said, watching as Lexi used her colored pencils to bring the cupcake to life on the page. “We could use fondant to mold the little jumping guys.”

“And no boring vanilla or chocolate flavors either,” Jenna insisted. As the official taste tester, it was her job to make each cupcake delectable. “I’m thinking chocolate-chocolate chip cake filled with marshmallow and churro cupcakes with a hint of cinnamon to give the vanilla a kick.”

“Nice.” Sadie high-fived her. “Do you suppose we’ll get to try out those trampolines when we make the delivery?”

“Tu mejor que yo — better you than me!” Jenna said. “I get motion sickness if my little brothers bounce on the couch.”

“Then I’d say we have a plan,” Kylie said, taking notes in her binder. “Let’s get jumpin’ on those cupcake recipes.”

** PRAISE FOR THE CUPCAKE CLUB SERIES **

“9-year-old author has recipe for success.” – The Washington Post, KidsPost

“Kids and cupcakes are the perfect recipe!” – Sophie and Katerine, stars of TLC’s DC Cupcakes

“Sheryl Berk and her nine-year-old daughter, Carrie, have cooked up a delightful new series sure to be a treat.” – New York Family

** ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! **

Click on the cover below for a chance to win the

Complete Cupcake Club Collection, Books 1 – 8!!

(Rafflecopter giveaway open from 9/17/15 – 11/1/15, US and Canada only.)

Sweet Victory excerpt provided by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Prize fulfillment by Sourcebooks.

The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning October 19

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Kids Corner — Spotlight & Giveaway: I Don’t Know How the Story Ends by J.B. Cheaney

4 of 5 Hearts. A Historical Coming-of-Age Tale of Family, War, Destruction, and Healing.

I Don’t Know How the Story Ends succeeds on several levels. Cheaney’s prose is both descriptive and economical. With likable, well-drawn characters, the novel explores sensitive topics with honesty and realism while providing enough comic relief to keep the tone from becoming too heavy. Middle-Grade historical fiction at its best.

[See the Spotlight and Enter the Giveaway]

 

Tuesday:

Christian Chapters: From the Start by Melissa Tagg

4 of 5 Hearts. A Charming Romantic Comedy.

From the Start is pleasant, funny, and inspirational. Even if you’re sports-challenged and know little to nothing about football, you’ll enjoy your visit to Maple Valley, and, you might just learn a thing or two — about football and yourself!

[Read the full review]


 
 

 

Thursday:

Christian Chapters: A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

4.5 of 5 Hearts. A Regency Romance That Unmasks What It Means To Be One’s True Self.

With A Noble Masquerade, Kristi Ann Hunter has successfully crafted a novel sure to please readers of Regency romance. If you enjoy first-rate Regency period novels with just the right balance of romance and mystery, plus some humor thrown in for good measure, you’re guaranteed to enjoy Hunter’s debut full-length effort. Recommended for readers who enjoy Jane Austen and Julie Klassen.

[Read the full review]


Friday:

Christian Chapters: Amish Promises by Leslie Gould

4 of 5 Hearts. An Honest Tale of Family, Friendship, Forgiveness, and Healing.

Gould’s protagonist Shani hoped that relocating to Lancaster County would bring healing to her family. Well, you know what I discovered by reading Amish Promises? My time spent in this fictional landscape was a balm for my own heart. Do yourself a favor — read this book!

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

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That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

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