Kait's Bookshelf

Book Reviews and Literary Services


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February Book Bucket List: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

a wrinkle in time“’Well, then, someone just tell me how we got here!’ Calvin’s voice was still angry and his freckles seemed to stand out on his face. ‘Even traveling at the speed of light, it would take us years and years to get here.’

‘Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything,’ Mrs. Whatsit explained earnestly. ‘We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle.’” – A Wrinkle in Time

I chose A Wrinkle in Time as my book bucket list pick for February for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve wanted to re-read this book for years. When I picked it up this month, it had been at least twenty years since I’d read it. I remember it having a science fiction and fantasy feel to it, but I was fuzzy on the details. Two, I wanted to brush up on the book before the new Disney film version releases in March.

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Book Review: The Ghosts & Jamal by Bridget Blankley

The Ghosts & Jamal“It had been good to climb, as good as anything he had ever done. It had not been so good to fall, but he would recover. All in all, he thought, it was worth the fall, just to have climbed the tree.” – The Ghosts & Jamal

Jamal is a thirteen year old boy in rural Nigeria whose favorite drinks include Fanta and Sprite. He seems like everyone else except that he lives with epilepsy. His epileptic episodes are misinterpreted by his family as “bad spirits” coming upon him. So Jamal lives apart from his family, in a separate hut on the outskirts of his village. This isolation will ultimately save Jamal’s life during a terrorist attack on his village. I read Jamal’s story in one sitting. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I was worried for this young man – for his health, for his safety, and for his feelings – as he set out on his own to try to escape the attackers and to find his grandfather, or anyone else who survived, and might be able to help him. I feared for him and wanted to help and protect him. Continue reading


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Book Review: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Wishtree“Trees can’t tell jokes. But we can certainly tell stories. And if all you hear is the whisper of leaves, don’t worry. Most trees are introverts at heart.”

– Wishtree

I love books told from an unusual perspective. The point of view in Wishtree is what initially grabbed my attention. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since fall, when I included it in my post of upcoming children’s and middle grade reads. In Wishtree, we hear from Red, a very old red oak tree. Red has seen and heard a lot over her many hundreds of years. She is very wise, but she knows the rules – no speaking to humans, ever. So, when Red sees a new family move into the neighborhood and quickly realizes that things aren’t quite right, she sets about trying to find a way to fix it.
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The Next Harry Potter?

Book Review: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan let Jupiter’s overcoat fall in a pile at her feet. Climbing onto the balustrade, she opened her new oilskin umbrella with shaking hands.

Don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down.

The air felt thin. ‘Step boldly,’ Morrigan whispered.

Then she closed her eyes.

And jumped.”

– Nevermoor The Trials of Morrigan Crow


Each month, I usually do a month-end wrap-up to recap the books I’ve reviewed that month and highlight any other posts I’ve written as well as upcoming reads and posts for the new month ahead. However, since I only had three reviews in November, I will be rolling them into my year-end wrap-up in late December. November was a tough month with a very sad loss for our family. So I spent some time away from the blog and work to be with family. Even though I only reviewed three books in November, I am pleased to report that they were all books I enjoyed. I will highlight those titles as well as my book plans for the New Year in an upcoming post. For now, I’d like to talk about a new release that I’ve been waiting to read since early fall – Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow.
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Book Review: Digby of the Dinosaurs by Linda Yiannakis

Digby of the DinosaursThis must be what it’s like to have a mother, thought Digby sleepily. Even a bird mother…or whatever these creatures are. That baby is lucky that’s she’s his mother. Digby scooted a little closer to Dakaana. I think she could be my mother, too, thought Digby the orphan boy. My real mother.” – Digby of the Dinosaurs

This new middle grade book from author Linda Yiannakis is, at its heart, a story about family. What makes a family? Love. That is the underlying message. When young orphan, Digby, goes out for a walk one day, he falls into a canyon and finds himself amongst strange, large creatures. Could they possibly be dinosaurs? Didn’t dinosaurs go extinct? What ensues is an adventure in which Digby will learn what it means to love, to be loved, and to belong.

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Book Review: Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone

Click'd

Cover art is copyright of Disney Book Group

I recently included Click’d in my post of upcoming Children’s and Middle Grade Reads for Fall. Click’d has been on my radar for a couple of months, and I was thrilled when Disney Book Group sent me an advance reader copy through NetGalley. The synopsis appealed to me because it’s about a young girl, Allie, who is interested in technology and coding.  Allie designs an app called Click’d which helps kids form friendships with other kids who share common interests.

Allie designs Click’d at a summer camp that is all about coding and plans to enter it into a Games for Good competition, once she proves how Click’d helps bring people together and make new friends. Her app quickly goes viral once school starts up and before she knows it, everyone knows who she is. She is famous in her school. But when she discovers that Click’d has a glitch, a big glitch, that could spell trouble for a lot of people, she’s forced to figure out a way to fix it ASAP or temporarily pull the plug, disappointing everyone and giving up her newfound popularity.
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Book Review: Erasable by Linda Yiannakis

ErasableI was excited to read this new book from author Linda Yiannakis. As a fan of middle grade reads as well as magical realism, I was intrigued by the synopsis. Nine year old Ellie, short for Eleanor, has it tough. Well, at least she thinks she does. She has to spend her summer vacation in summer school, with her least favorite teacher, Mr. Pinchpenny, as well as the class bully, and to top it all off, her little brother is driving her crazy at home! Things just couldn’t get worse for poor Ellie. But what if she found a way, a mysterious, magical sort of way, to make things better?

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New Book Review: There’s a Stinky Goblin in the Shed by Andrea Kaczmarek (Illustrations by Eva Kunzel)

stinky-goblin-in-the-shedI was introduced to Andrea Kaczmarek’s writing for young people last year with Puddle’s Wondrous Worry Dolls, and if you missed that review, you can read it here. There’s a Stinky Goblin in the Shed is another great story from Kaczmarek with a magical element to it.

In this story, Ms. Kaczmarek introduces the reader to Jerry and Jacob, fraternal twins who make a fort out of their Gran’s old shed. As little boys will do, the twins begin to feel adventurous and brave while camping out in the shed and decide to take a walk through the woods at night. It was certainly creepy and of all the things they imagined they might encounter, they never imagined a goblin!
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Review: Nightmares! By Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

nightmaresThis book has been on my radar for some time now, but alas, school books have dominated my reading list for the last couple of years. I thought October would be the perfect month to finally dive into this spooky story for young readers. What better night to stay up late finishing it than Halloween?!

Nightmares! didn’t disappoint! I know sometimes there is a lot of hype around a book because it has a celebrity author, but in this case, this book really is worth the read. I have personally enjoyed Jason Segel’s movies, and yes, I did initially hear about this book during an interview he did on a talk show, but that’s not why I like it. It really is a good story with a sound moral lesson for kids. Keep on Reading!


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Review: The Secret Labyrinth by Pat Donovan and Jackie Stanley

The Secret LabyrinthThe Secret Labyrinth is a mystery/ adventure story for a middle grade audience. It is about a young American girl named Halley living in Scotland with her family. Halley is a little unusual, as one would expect the protagonist to be in such a book. She’s not very social and when she is, she prefers the librarian, who is her mother’s age, and an older gentleman named Jonathan, who is doing research in the area, to kids her own age. One day, Halley observes what she is convinced is a mermaid out in the sea. From there, the story begins to unfold.

While this story was creative, I do feel that it left something to be desired.  One of the best parts about middle grade adventure stories is the “good guy” learning to overcome whatever obstacles he or she has to in order to defeat the “bad guy”. They usually learn about themselves in the process. In The Secret Labyrinth, however, there really was no bad guy. There was a real estate development that wanted to build a resort by the water, tearing up a lot of ancient land, but there was no single defining character who seemed to be “behind it all,” which is something most readers have come to expect from this genre. Keep on Reading!