Alex and the Other

March 28, 2018

Alex and the otherAlex and The Other by Philippa Dowding

illustrated by Shawna Daigle

Published by: Dundurn Press, c2018; 137p. [ARC]         Series: Weird stories gone wrong     

From back cover:
“Beware the haunted bathroom mirror. Beware strangers in overcoats and dark glasses. But most of all, Beware The Other…..”

Alex and The Other is the fourth installment in Philippa Dowding’ spooky series “Weird stories gone wrong“.  This series is like a mash-up of the TV shows ‘Urban Legends’ and ‘Ghost Adventures’! Every tale is filled with heart-stopping pauses, thrilling psychological twists, yet each of the central characters has a unique humanness to them… and the character of Alex is no exception.

Alex is a loner and likes to stay to himself. This penchant for solitude has him seeking out the only place in school that he can be alone and that is the supposedly haunted boys bathroom. His retreat to this basement refuge is disrupted by an unexpected occurrence after looking at his reflection in the mirror. Fear and confusion start to seep into his psyche bit by bit, and he begins to wonder if  he would know if he was going crazy or not! Then green fog, strange voices, infiltrate his hideaway and an overpowering fright launches him running home. Once again, Alex is left questioning if this was all his imagination or not. Then Alex meets The Other and the struggles with himself, begin in earnest.

Author Philppa Dowding has created a narrative that is gripping page-turner where readers will be engaged and mesmerized from beginning to end!

Every school library should have this series and reluctant readers will vanish!

I cannot wait to read her next installment in this series!

Highly Recommended for grades 4-7!     Five Stars
five-stars

 

 

 

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Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer and Cindy Morgen

March 1, 2018

billboard-express

Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer &Cindy Morgan

Published by Orca Book Publishers; c2016 ; 118p.                    ISBN: 9781459811089  Series: Orca Limelights

Billboard Express, debuts Cindy Morgan, award-winning singer-songwriter/wife to Sigmund Brouwer, as co-author, in this new title in the Orca Limelight series
This tale follows a character that surfaced briefly in ‘Rock the Boat’ by Brouwer.

Charlene Adams, now known as ‘Elle McWilliam’, singer/songwriter has all the ingredients to fulfill her dream of being a big country music star. She is smart, strong voiced character, yet is plagued by underling insecurities that intrude on her as she struggles with the hustle and idiosyncrasies’ that make up the Nashville music industry.

Elle must find the courage and heart within herself in order to follow the words her mother told her “be true to yourself“!

The strength of this narrative lies in the fact that Morgan’s familiarity with the whole concept of what a singer/songerwriter has to endure in this industry shines through and is reflective in what the central character, Elle must discover.

This is a highly engaging and empowering read for any young person who has a dream!
Highly Recommended for Intermediate and Senior readers! Five stars!

five-stars

[ARC supplied By Orca Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review]


Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson

March 1, 2018

AvalancheAvalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson [Series: Survivor Diaries: Book 2]

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: c2018: 104p.

Avalanche!! The word alone conjures up a combination of unspeakable beauty, power and terror.

Avalanche! is the second book in the acclaimed action-adventure series, Survivor Diaries by Terry Lynn Johnson.

Readers will be riveted by this narrative at the start from the opening tantalizing sentence “Tell me how you survived the avalanche?“.  The descriptive action and suspense continues  until the last page is reached!

The protagonist of this survivor diary is twelve year-old twin Ashley Hilder and her interview sets the stage for an engaging first-person narrative. Being told from this perspective heightens the reader’s anxiety levels as they become a silent witness to a family ski holiday where a rash ‘competitive’ decision has unforeseen consequences  for [both]  brother and sister.

The strength of Ashley’s character is a reflection of her intense training as a skier to always ‘be prepared’.  As the nightmare of the avalanche unfolds, this instinctive  reflex allows her to think logically and not panic.

Throughout the story, the author has interwoven all sorts of survival skills needed to survive such an event. All of the techniques that Ashley displays, are the reactions needed to get through an catastrophic event, such as being caught in an avalanche. Readers will be riveted to the narrative from beginning to end, holding their breathe until the very last chapter!

This high-octane story of survival and adventure, will have reader’s adding Ms. Johnson’s Avalanche and all the books in her Survivor Diaries, with Lauren Tarshis’  “I survived” and Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” books.

Series Titles: Overboard

Highly Recommended  for any reader from grade 3-6 and every school library!!!
five-stars


The Land beyond the Wall : an immigration story

February 17, 2018

the land beyond the wallThe Land beyond the wall: an immigration story     by Veronika Martenova Charles

Published by : Nimbus Publishing, Halifax c2017 [32p]

This is the tender story of a young girl named Emma. As a consequence of her parents actions, she is orphaned and sent to live with her aunt. Living in a practical world, Emma’s dreams of becoming an artist by adding ‘colour’ to her otherwise ‘gray’ life is her wish to go to art school. However, in the world of her Aunt, dreams cannot exist along side a world of  common sense. This does not deter Emma…and against great odds she escapes these confines and arrives in a new land. Here she is welcomed with kindness and compassion. It is here, that her greatest desire … to add color…allows her to ‘find her voice’!

The vibrant and expressive illustrations lend an added sensitivity to the story that allows the reader to become empathic with Emma. Though this story has a magical-like thread woven through it, I think that the ‘wall’ and Emma’s journey is symbolic of many of the obstacles that many families and children may endure while escaping their past and seeking a way to follow their dreams.

Highly Recommended for Primary and Junior students! [grades 2-6]

five-stars


Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13

February 16, 2018

290FEC1F-5694-43D6-BB3E-8FCFEE1D2760Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13  by Helaine Becker / illustrated by:                   Dow Phumiruk  [ARC]

Published by: Christy Ottaviano Books [Henry Holt & Co.] : c2018

Junior Library Guild Selection

As the information from the back of this book states, “Katherine Johnson is the extraordinary mathematician who calculated the flight path for NASA’s first Apollo moon landing”, but this exciting new story is so much more than a book just full of information! Author, Becker and illustrator Phumiruk are a wonderful team! Beautiful artwork  provides the perfect accompaniment  to the succinct sentences and together they paint a picture of an inquisitive, insatiable person whose boundless curiousity about the world her  was never quenched.

Counting on Katherine” is a brilliant read. Ms. Becker has skillfully woven a biographical narrative that is totally approachable to the reader. It is an empowering story for all girls, underlining that dreams can come true….to dream big and to keep chasing your dream. Persistence, courage and determination such as shown by Katherine Johnson allowed her to attain a goal that opened the door not only for women of colour, but for all women.

Thank you for gifting young readers with empowerment!

Highly recommended for all elementary school and public libraries as a ‘sophisticated picture book!
five-stars

Also a movie tie-in: “Hidden Figures”


A World Below

February 15, 2018

below

A World Below : by Wesley T. King

Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books  c.2018;  274p.  [Ebook generously supplied by NetGalley] : to be released March2018

[A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection]

From celebrated, multi-nominated award winning author, Wesley King, comes his latest middle grade adventure, “A World Below“. The ethereal-like cover only hints at what is the story could be like between the pages!

Readers will be shocked, riveted and intrigued from the first page : “consider everyone on this list missing or deceased.  Notify parents immediately. Pictures for identification of bodies may be required.” 

As the title implies, the majority of this fast paced adventure story dives deep below ‘terra ferma’ and takes the world of caving, caverns, and tunnels to a whole new level! The author`s effective use of vivid description, intense action and suspense continually builds with each alternating ‘time’ stamped chapter.

For myself, A World Below is a cool mix of  Arthur Conon Doyle’s The Lost World and Jules Verne’s “Journey to the centre of the earth” and Edgar Rice Burrough’s ‘The Lost Continent’ — a true science fiction fantasy adventure tale.

This is a story of challenges and discovery that will captivate even the most reluctant of readers!

Highly Recommended for all Middle Grade readers who wish to go ‘spelunking’!!

five-stars

Booktrailer: A World Below


Two Times a Traitor by Karen Bass

March 2, 2017

traitor-times-two

Two Times a Traitor is the newest endeavor by multi-nominated and celebrated Canadian author, Karen Bass. [Junior Library Guild Selection]

Published by Pajama Press ; c 2017

Two Times a Traitor is a surprising departure from what YA readers have come to expect from this dynamic author.

Laz Berenger  a strong-willed 12 year-old reluctantly finds himself visiting the historic Halifax Citadal with his family. The ever present friction between he and his father explodes while touring the Citadal, and Laz in defiance, takes off on his own. His explorations take him to a section of the Citadel where an unforeseen accident occurs. Laz  suddenly finds himself faced with a knife to his throat and his bravado rapidly dissipates when he realizes that he is no longer in 2017, but has been transported to the historic period of 1745. He finds his loyalty and perseverance tested repeatedly as he tries to earn back his St. Christopher’s Medal and perhaps the key back in time?

Readers will be swept up and away in this riveting richly detailed, middle-grade historical/time travel nail biting adventure, and into the pages of an exciting part of Canadian history!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! [for Junior and Intermediate readers!]

five-stars
FIVE STARS!!

#Checkout more Karen Bass at:  http://www.karenbass.ca/ and the Two times a traitor book trailer :

ARC: generously supplied by Pajama Press in exchange for an honest review.