Into the Book of Light

Authors: Ted Dekker & Kara Dekker

Series: Dream Traveler’s Quest #1

Release Date: January 1, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in The Dream Traveler’s Quest sets up the world any fan of Dekker’s work will know and love. A great series for young readers.

Young Theo Dunnery tries to follow his dad’s advice about staying invisible to avoid the bullies as much as he can. As he is trying to avoid Asher, the one boy out to get him, he hides in the library and stumbles upon a book that takes him to another world. In this new world, he must complete a quest to find the Five Seals of Truth to conquer his fears. He is helped along the way to discover he is the true son of Elyon.

The first book in this new series for kids will be very familiar for anyone who has read The Circle Series by Ted Dekker. I have come to the conclusion that if there is a way for him to write a book and tie it back to the Circle Series in some form, he is going to do it. This was a fun story with lots of action and adventure to keep the attention of young readers. I liked the length of the books, just right for young readers to read and not be overwhelmed by a large book with a lot of content they aren’t ready for yet. Tackling the issues of bullying in school can be a difficult subject and using Theo’s bullying coupled with the other world he escapes into as a way to overcome the obstacles is a good story for kids but one to keep in mind that it is fiction. This isn’t going to work for dealing with bullies in real life. Some of the lessons in the book were not handled the way I, as a parent, would handle them but they did move well with the story and kids will enjoy the action and adventure. I recommend this to young readers that are starting out looking for some adventure but not a story that is too difficult for them.

The Happy Crab

Authors: Layla and Kevin Palmer

Illustrator: Guy Wolek

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 12, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fun story for beginning readers!

Are crabs curious by nature?  At least one is and he is off bouncing around from adventure to adventure.  He’s been catching waves from Haiti to Pensacola Beach to the Santa Rosa Sound.  But one day the unexpected happens; while taking a nap from all his activity, he suddenly finds himself plucked out of the water by a human.  A little boy finds his perfect shell and decides that he wants to take it home and keep it.  Will this be the end of the crab’s adventures or is he about to have his biggest one yet?

This is such a fun, vibrant book that young readers will enjoy reading again and again.  The lettering is big and bold, making it easy for young readers to follow along or sound out along the way. The illustrations are top notch and will catch readers’ eyes and make them study them as they read along.  The story line is delightful and teaches children the importance of natural habitats and that even when they find something they want to keep, it might not be theirs to begin with. 

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

Slothy Claus

Author: Jodie Shepherd

Illustrator: MacKenzie Haley

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A different, but fun take on discovering the true meaning of Christmas.

All the animals can’t wait for Old Slothy Claus to bring presents for Christmas this year, but sloths do need to move a little slower than expected and sleep a little more than other animals.  So, when Christmas day rolls round, there is a surprise for all when Slothy can’t get finished up to leave out.  When all the kids wake up without new toys or games, they are very sad, at first.  But then they begin to discover what the true meaning of Christmas is and how it’s not the material things that matter.

This was such a fun take on the Santa Claus story.  I love how at first everyone was sad like in the Grinch, but then they found out that all they need is each other with kindness, grace, hope, & love.  This is a great book to help kids understand that its not the new toys and presents they get, but the love from the person who gave it to them that matters.  The word font is large for new readers to read along with or try out on their own.  The pictures and illustrations are fantastic.  Great addition to a kid’s library!

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

Night Night, Angel

Author: Amy Parker

Illustrator: Virginia Allyn

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: September 28, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great sleepy time story for kids celebrating the blessings of Christmas.

Read about your favorite Christmas traditions through the eyes of a young arctic fox.  From snowman building and lights to carols and gifts, the young fox and family visit many of our typical ideas for Christmas as well as the true Reason for the Season, Jesus.  With fun rhyming words and vibrant pictures, both children are parents are sure to enjoy this story.

It is very short and is a good book to read right before it’s time to turn out the lights.  The words are in a larger font so that new readers will be able to read along or on their own.  Both boys and girls are sure to love reading this during the Christmas season!

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

Lost Island

Author: MarcyKate Connolly

Series: Hollow Dolls #2

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The follow up to Hollow Dolls picks up where the story left off and takes readers on a magical adventure full of surprises complete with all the magical adventures kids love in books.

After learning the truth about her mother, Simone is in a frenzy trying to keep her friends safe from Maeve and her powers. Now, Simone is in search for others with power to keep her Mother from taking their powers and using them for evil. An old legend leads her on a hunt for the Island she used to call home. Together with Sebastian and help from the librarians they set off to save others before it is too late. The closer they get to the island the more Simone sees that Maeve will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

MarcyKate Connolly has crafted a fun and magical adventure for young readers. With lots of suspense, action, drama, and adventure, readers will fly through the pages of this book. Most of the characters from the first book are back and we see a deeper depth with Simone and several of the characters. I really connected with Simone and the way she cares for her friends and wants to do all that she can to keep them safe. Her attitude and the way she was written really kept the story moving forward at a great pace for me. My only complaint would be the end and the last few chapters. Things were wrapped up a little too conveniently and felt rushed to me. I wish there would have been more development instead of it all ending so abruptly. Overall, it was still a good story that I enjoyed reading and would recommend to young readers that want a fantasy adventure.

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

Hollow Dolls

Author: MarcyKate Connolly

Series: Hollow Dolls #1

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An intriguing tale of magic, powers, and the lengths some will go to get the powers others have.

Simone is one of the few with powers, she is a mind-reader. With her power she knows many things, but the one thing she can’t remember is her own past. She is on a mission to find her family and the home she was taken from. Helping her search is Sebastian, another child taken with powers, the ability to take memories from people and was used against her while they were held captive. They come across a man that has been taken over by a body walker; Simone wants nothing more than to leave the life of magic behind her. But the more she looks into the history of where she came from and how to get back home, the more evil she sees around her. Before it is too late, Simone must dig deep into herself and find the courage to stop the evil around her before those she cares about get hurt.

Hollow Dolls is a fun, entertaining magical story that will keep young readers engaged with the characters and following along on their journey. Simone is a very real protagonist, even though she has magical powers, it is easy to connect with her and the passion she has to find her family and get back all that was taken from her. The dynamic between her and Sebastian moves the story forward during their scenes and all they have had to work through together. Several points throughout the story I started to feel as if I knew what was going on and what would happen next, some of my thoughts proved true and some not so much. The story wraps up with a solid cliff-hanger ending that will leave readers aching to find out the rest of the story in the follow up. While I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others I have read by Connolly, it was still an enjoyable read that I would recommend to other young readers looking for a magical adventure.

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

Raising Dragons

Author: Bryan Davis

Series: Dragons in our Midst #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: October 5, 2021 (Rerelease)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in The Dragon in Our Midst Series is a fun fantasy novel I can’t wait to let my son read. Clean, entertaining, and magical; a great combination for young readers!

Billy is called Dragon Breathe by kids at school after a science experiment gone wrong. He’s been dealing with abnormally hot breath as he has gotten older and when his breath accidentally sets off the fire sprinklers, his parents finally tell him the secret they have kept all his life, he is half dragon. Once he knows the truth, a lot of things make more sense about his life. When a new girl at school arrives hiding her own secret, Billy becomes the only one she can trust. Bonnie and Billy discover they are part of a legend leading back to Arthur and Excalibur. Together they find more faith and courage they didn’t know they had to deal with an evil slayer determined to exterminate the dragons forever.

I took this book with me to the hospital while my mom had a procedure and ended up reading the entire thing in one day. It was a fun, exciting, entertaining, and clean read. I love finding a great book that I can recommend to my son to read without any worry that the material will not be appropriate. Books on dragons and mythology aren’t my normal go-to reads but I am so happy I gave this one a try. As the start of a series, this book brings all the right stuff, magical legends, drama, tension, evil and so much more. Bonnie and Billy make a great team to move the story along and keep readers entranced in the story. The writing is perfect for young readers and their parents. I wanted to read it and see if my son would like it and if it would be appropriate for him. Even though it is a story about dragons and legends of Arthur, it still has an element of faith. I recommend this to readers that enjoy mythical, magical, and fun stories.

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

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost & Found

Authors: Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 16, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fun, magical adventure for young readers that I can highly recommend to my ten-year-old and enjoy watching him continue to discover the magic of reading.

Kingston Preston has moved back home after being away from Echo City, Brooklyn for the past four years. When he was eight and his magician father disappeared during one of his tricks, his mother took them both away. Being in a place so full of magic and reminders was too much for her to take. Now that they are back home, Kingston is ready to find out what happened to his father. When King disappeared, magic in Echo City went with him. Magic is frowned upon now in the city and Kingston finds a magic box left behind that gives him clues as to what happened to his father. He can’t tell his mother about his find and so he works with his cousin, Veronica, and old childhood friend, Too Tall Eddie, to find out the mystery of what happened to his father.

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found was a breath of fresh air. I read this so I would know if it would be a good fit for my ten-year-old to read. I have to say that not only will I let my son read it, but I really enjoyed reading it! The story was good, fast-paced, and entertaining. The characters were engaging and kept me interested in the story and what they were going through. There is magic, code breaking, a family torn apart and a battle against good and evil. Kingston and his mom have had a good relationship but they both have missed his dad since he disappeared and being back where it happened is hard on them both. I love the secondary characters and how they brought a little extra humor to the tense situations. Too Tall Eddie was probably one of my favorite characters.

The story wrapped up nicely but has been left open solidly for more to come. I’m not sure if this is planned as a series and if so, how many, but there is definitely more story to be told here. One of the best things about this book was that it was fast paced, suspenseful but also clean. I don’t have to worry about harsh language or mature themes that would not be appropriate when my son reads it. I recommend this to middle grade readers and even parents for a fun family read with good family values, good vs. evil and to just enjoy the magic of reading.

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

The Way to Rio Luna

Author: Zoraida Cordova

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Release Date: June 2, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fantastic, fun adventure for middle grade readers that will let them travel across the world as they fly through the pages.

Danny Monteverde has always believed in magic and even as he ages, he still believes. The books and stories he read with his sister, Pili, helped show him how amazing pixie dust and rabbit holes can be. Pili disappeared two years ago, and Danny has searched for her. He now believes she is waiting for him in Rio Luna, the enchanted land from their favorite fairy tales. Danny has spent most of his life in foster homes and knows there must be someone that wants him, his sister. Years pass and Danny starts to doubt she will come for him and he’s been silly to believe in fairy tales all these years. When he finds his favorite book in a library, he also finds a map to Rio Luna and hopefully his sister. The map takes him all around the world and he will stop at nothing to find his sister.

The Way to Rio Luna is a fun magical adventure for middle grade readers. Danny is a great main character that you can’t help but want to root for and see succeed in his quest to find his sister. Each day he must stay with the foster family, and you see how harsh they treat him, which makes it even more important that he finds his sister, the one person that actually cares for him. Even when he is at his lowest, he knows that Pili is out there and he will find a way to get to her. The story moved quickly and was full of adventure, action, suspense and all written at the appropriate level for its intended readers. My only complaint would be a few mature themes, toward the end with one character I felt could have been left out. Most likely younger readers won’t realize what is being said but as a mother I felt it didn’t need to be included. Other than that, I highly recommend this to middle grade readers for a fun adventure they will breeze through and enjoy from beginning to end.

Ali Cross

ali crossAuthor: James Patterson

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Publishing

Release Date: November 25, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun way for fans of the Alex Cross series to introduce their kids to the detective and his family, including his son Ali, who wants to be just like his dad and solve mysteries.

Ali cross has a lot to live up to as the son of famed detective and FBI agent Alex Cross. Ali has watched as his father worked to solve some of the most difficult crimes that left everyone else stumped. When Ali’s best friend, Gabe, goes missing, he decides to see if he has what it takes to be in the family business and find out what happened to his best friend. At the same time Gabe goes missing, a string of burglaries in the neighborhood start up including Ali’s house. Everyone warns Ali not to get involved but he can’t keep from following his instincts to find out how the events are connected and what it means for his friend. He is on his own investigating while his father is dealing with his own problems at work. Ali must decide if his detective work is worth it or if following his instincts will put his family in more danger.

If you have ever read have ever read any James Patterson book, you know the way his stories usually play out. Each contains scenes of action and adventure but yet the story is somewhat predictable. Taking his writing style and putting it towards a children’s mystery has worked out well in this case. For most of my experiences with James Patterson books, I have felt he writes down to readers, it doesn’t take a lot of thought to identify the villain is or what is happening. For that reason, I haven’t read much of his writing in a long time but thought this was worth giving a try. I bought this book for my son to read since I have read and enjoyed some of the earlier Alex Cross books. Like most books for young adult books he chooses, I read this one before him and enjoyed it.

Ali is the perfect spin off for Alex Cross to get kids interested in a fun, interesting new series. Readers will notice that Ali doesn’t act or talk like a normal kid, but then again, he doesn’t have normal parents which can be attributed to his being more mature in his actions and the way he speaks to others. He does still fly off the handle as a kid would sometimes do and his interest in video games keeps him grounded as a kid. To me this is written just the way it should be for its intended audience. Young readers will have no trouble flying through the story and have fun figuring out the mystery within. I recommend this book to young readers that are ready for something a little harder than the shorter chapter books but not something that will be too difficult and intimidating for them to finish and enjoy.