Jorie and the Magic Stone

JorieAuthor: A. H. Richardson

Publisher: Serano Press

Release Date: December 26, 2014

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A magical tale with dragons, hidden stones, treasures, and, of course, evil forces trying to stop Jorie at every turn.

Marjorie, who prefers to be called Jorie, has gone to live with her aunt. She has a vivid imagination and lets it run wild at her new country home.  With her fire-red hair flowing behind her, she runs around the estate and quickly meets a new friend, Rufus, who lives next door.  Together they find a mysterious land beneath the Tarn that is full of enchantment, danger and adventure.  They meet a good dragon, the Great Grootmonya who sends them on a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog and return them.  Jorie is in possession of the first stone, which will lead them to the next.  Along the way, they have to deal with evil dragons and even worse creatures to accomplish their mission.

Jorie and the Magic Stones is a fun story that will be a good edition for young readers.  This isn’t one that everyone will love, but for those that enjoy fantasy novels, this is going to be one to add to their list.  I liked the characters, especially the kids, they had spunk.  I had a few points that I got confused on, but it was probably because I was reading The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia), at the same time and there are several similarities between the two books.  The target audience of young readers will enjoy the short chapters and fun characters.  The travel between worlds made me feel like I was in the story and couldn’t wait to see what they would find.  I recommend this book to young readers looking for adventure in an entertaining story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Toward a Secret Sky

Secret Sky

Author: Heather Maclean

Publisher: Blink

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A deliciously intriguing story that can’t help but be devoured. An adventure that needs to be read again and again just to let it all sink in.  There better be another book to follow because I want more.

Maren Hamilton is seventeen and has just watched her mother be buried. She is now left all alone and is sent to live with her grandparents in Scotland.  That wouldn’t be so bad except she had never met them.  It is hard enough fitting in at a new school, let alone one in a new country.  Just when Maren thinks she is starting to relax and feel like it could be home, she receives some of her mother’s things from her work, including an encrypted journal that makes her realize she never really knew her mother or others around her.  Now, she is in danger along with anyone she gets close to.  One by one, she pieces together the clues left by her mother but not before her small town becomes the victim of something evil.  Maren needs the help of Gavin, her newly appointed guardian angel, who she has quickly fallen in love with even though it is against all rules.  He may be her angel but they are also dealing with demons and forces of evil the likes of which she could never have imagined.  Before all is said and done, Maren will learn some of the hardest life lessons and hopefully come out the other side alive and better for it, or maybe not.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this book. There was just the right amount of action, romance, suspense, drama and even supernatural to keep me hooked throughout.  All of those together can sometimes be a difficult combination but it worked here flawlessly.  Maclean did an excellent job of bringing these characters, and the different settings, to life in a dramatic and beautiful way.  The main setting in Scotland is set up mostly by Gavin, which I liked.  This is the kind of story that I can see fans of the Twilight series falling in love with.  There is a lot of push and pull between the characters, especially Maren and Gavin; they want to be together but know it isn’t permitted.  When you have characters in this kind of situation it can become tiresome with the back and forth, but for some strange reason it worked here.  Maybe it was because nothing felt forced.  The characters did what they would naturally do and it showed with the way it came across on the pages.  All I must say is there better be another book to follow because I want more.  The ending wrapped things up nicely but also left it open easily for another to come.  I highly recommend this to young adults looking for a thrilling supernatural read that will leave them wanting more well past the last page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Andi Under the Big Top

4431 cover 2.inddAuthor: Susan K. Marlow

Series: Circle C Stepping Stones #2

Publisher: Kregel

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another fun adventure for young readers that is just the right combination of excitement and life lessons we can all use.

Andi Carter is excited for summer! She is finally healed from the broken arm she got trying to do a trick on her horse and now the circus has come to town.  She has seen the circus once before, but was too young to fully remember anything, except for being scared of the clowns.  The most exciting thing for Andi is getting to see the champion bareback rider.  During the show, Andi and her family meet Henry Jackson, a young boy working in the circus.  Andi is a little jealous of Henry at first, working and hanging out with all the circus performers and traveling to new places.  That quickly changes after she learns that he ran away from home to join the circus and now he can’t leave.  Andi feels led to help him get free, but doing so might cost her more than she is willing to pay.

The second book in the Circle C series is another fun adventure for young readers. However, I don’t think I would say it is as good as the first.  I have a problem with the way it ended.  For me it didn’t take care of a few of the loose ends.  I don’t want to give anything away, but it was too quick without the explanations I would have liked to have seen.  The target audience of 7-10 year old children probably won’t notice, or if they do, they might not care, but it bothered me.  I liked the way Andi saw a wrong being committed and wanted to do something about it and help.  This is a good reminder for the readers to always try and do what is right.  The length of these books is just perfect for young readers to get a good story but not be overwhelmed by the amount to read.  I recommend this to kids starting out with chapter books that enjoy stories with animals and have some history to them.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Andi Saddles Up

4430 cover 1.inddAuthor: Susan K. Marlow

Series: Circle C Stepping Stones #1

Publisher: Kregel

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun, quick read great for young readers ready to get started with an adventure.

All that Andi Carter has thought about is getting to her ninth birthday so she can be old enough to ride her palomino horse, Taffy, all on her own. When the day finally arrives, she is excited to receive her first saddle and gets ready for an adventure.  She wants to learn to do tricks like her friend, unfortunately her older brother Chad thinks that is too dangerous and won’t even let her try.  In an attempt to make up for it, he shows her to a super secret spot she can go to think and have her privacy.  It is here that she meets a new friend, Sadie.  The girls quickly become good friends until they find out their families are in the middle of a fight over the boundary of their lands.  They don’t understand the way adults must make a big fuss over things that don’t seem important to either of them.  More than their friendship will be tested as the fighting continues.

I picked up this book to see what it would be like for young readers like my son, who is in first grade. This is the perfect book for young readers looking for an adventure (when he saw me reading it he quickly wanted to start reading it himself).  Everything about this is great for kids starting out, the writing is quick and concise, the story has a bit of mystery and adventure, and it is just the right length to give them a sense of accomplishment without seeming overwhelming.  I also enjoyed the little lessons it gave throughout, teaching of how important it is to be kind and how kids look to see the best in each other even when the others around them just want to continue with a fight, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.  I highly recommend this as a series for kids and even parents to read together and enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Would you like to know?

would-you-like-to-knowAuthor: Tim Dowley

Illustrator: Eira Reeves

Publisher: Candle Books

Release Date: August 19, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A way to open the door to questions about Christianity with your child.

Ever wonder how to start the conversation with your young child about who is God or Jesus? What about the true story of Easter?  Or how to pray? This set of short books gives you the opportunity to do just that.  Easy to read with pictures on each page give young kids a chance to easily read along and ask questions.  I would say that this set of books would be great for kids that are aged 3 to 6.  They are short and easy to follow along with, but kids that are able to read will easily be able to read them on their own.  The stories are able to lead the children to understand and ask questions.  This would be a good set to have around your house or church library.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Moore’s Code

moores-codeAuthor: Chautona Havig

Publisher: Create Space

Release Date: September 2014

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun lighthearted story about Santa, everyone around him, and what they do when a little boy finds out all their secrets.

Young Andy Heath is determined to find out the truth about Santa and Christmas after reading a famous poem and finding clues missed by everyone else who has read it. If he’s right, this will be the best Christmas he has ever had.  Andy tries to capture Santa and get the huge sack full of toys all for himself.  Unfortunately nothing goes as planned.  While he tries to figure out how to solve his problem, the elves at the North Pole are dealing with their own problems.  Not only is Santa missing, but now Clause Castle is under attack from Scrooge Clause who wants it for himself and to stop Christmas from coming again.

This is the cutest little book I have read in a long time. The tie-ins of all the extra characters made the story that much better.  I don’t want to give much away and ruin the story but I will say that I had a smile on my face the whole time. Young Andy Heath is the kind of spirited boy you would expect to find in the middle of a tale like this.  I did find his tantrums a little tiring at times, but that had to be included in order to show his change throughout the story.  I thought I would enjoy the moments with him and Santa the best, but the real story kicked off with Mistletoe and Merry Clause as well as the other elves.  All they did to find Santa and keep the castle safe really made the story.

One of the most fun I have had reading a Christmas story in a long time.

VeggieTales: The Best Christmas Gift Ever

christmas-giftAuthor: Melinda R. L. Rumbaugh

Publisher: Worthy Kids

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Helping kids understand the true meaning of Christmas!

The VeggieTales get together to share the understanding of Christmas. From putting up the Christmas tree to caroling to gift giving, they have a rhyme for it all.  But the most important part of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, our savior, which they highlight most of all.

This is a very easy to read book that toddlers to preschool age kids will enjoy. And those clever VeggieTales are there to help keep their interest.  I read this with my 17 month old son (and still reading multiple times a day).  He really enjoys it and it conveys a great message.  I recommend this to all who love the VeggieTales as well as those with young kids.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.