Books Read in August

Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through FilmFilmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film by Edward Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic graphic non-fiction exploration of the power of movies. I would compare it to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art in how it helps break down things that we sort of know in our gut, but putting those feelings into words. At first I was like “Why is this a book? It should be a documentary!” but making that film would be impossible because getting the rights to all the movies references would cost millions! This graphic novel is an amazing introduction to film studies and remind you that those images on the big screen are more than just eye candy.

French MilkFrench Milk by Lucy Knisley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

About what I expected for an early book. It really is just Knisley’s journal from her trip to Paris, nothing amazing, no real self discovery like in ‘Relish’. But you can see all the potential in the pages for her books to come.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South BronxBecoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t think of anyway else to describe this but a first-person limited memoir. Sonia Manzano tells her own story of growing up in the South Bronx and channels her childhood, writing the book from her point of view as a girl growing up in the 1950s New York City. She does not make any reference to her life today, she does not talk about the things that happened to her as a child in the context of how we view things today. She and her mother are both beaten, they live in the ghetto, she talks about being felt up by strangers, but she tells it as if it is just happening, never stepping out of that moment.

This is definitely a young adult/adult biography, if only because of the abuse that takes place and the occasional f-bomb that gets dropped.

To me, this felt like an honest and revealing look at growing up as a child of Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States and also growing up a girl and also growing up ethnic but in a way that is both invisible and visible when it comes to the United States.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at WarGrunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another fun bit of pop science reading, though this is perhaps more terrifying the the rest of her books because it connects to war. But still a very good read.

Orange: The Complete Collection 1Orange: The Complete Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picked this up because everyone who read it raved about it and I can see why! Not at all what I expected. Just a dash of sci-fi in this otherwise slice of life story, with a melancholy edge. I don’t want to say any more because I read this spoiler free and so should you. Just have volume 2 ready to go because what a cliffhanger!

The World According to Star WarsThe World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was so much fun to read! A great way of thinking about Star Wars and stories and how they reflect and effect our society. Even a casual fan can enjoy Sunstein’s thoughts about this movie series.

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Telgemeier’s first foray into supernatural stories. I enjoyed it, but the bar was set really high by her previous three books. I just didn’t feel like this one packed the emotional punch that Smile, Sisters, and Drama did. I’d say this is a 3.5 star book where Smile is a 5 star book. (which means it is still a really great book! She has just spoiled me!)

Buffy: The High School Years - Freaks & Geeks (Buffy: The High School Years, #1)Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks by Faith Erin Hicks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Within the first few pages of this book, I knew Faith Erin Hicks was a Buffy fan. She had the tone just right – the Scooby Gang had all the same wit and snark of the show. This comic book takes place early in Season 1. It feels like a lost episode. It was really fun to read this, especially since I just finished rewatching the first season of the show recently!

We Stand On GuardWe Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! This has all the makings of the next epic BKV series, lots of in common with Y The Last Man and Saga when it comes to using science fiction to examine issues happening today. I loved this so much and the final section left me in shock. I need the next volume now!

Saga, Volume 6Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in the series, I really love little-kid Hazel, glad she is growing up now and part of the adventure rather than a prop. Her voice is a great mix of her father and mother.

The Ballad of Black TomThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read any Lovecraft and I haven’t read any real adult horror stories in a long time. This made me want to pick up both! It had all the flavor of a classic scary story, LaValle’s book could have been published in the early 1900s, his prose felt both new and classic. And CREEPY!!!!!!! Made the mistake of trying to finish the book late one night and gave myself the heebie-jeebies!

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Neverending Story memories

If you were on the Internet today, you probably saw the the Google Doodle was a celebration of the anniversary of the publication of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

For many children of the 80s, this book and the movie adaptation conjure up fond memories. I am no different.

I remember my Mom reading this book aloud to me as a bedtime story. The thing that fascinated me the most was that the hardcover edition she had checked out from the library had text in two different colors – one for our world, and one for Fantasia. It was the first “adult” book I had seen with any kind of color inside beyond black and white. It just felt magical seeing the words in green and red. I remember a certain excitement once I was old enough to read it, to be able to read those colorful words on my own and enter Fantasia, but at the same time it was kind of sad because I really liked going there with my Mom.

If you’ve never read the book, I suggest finding a hardcover copy so you can experience the magic too. The movie is only half the story.

What I Read In July

Been awhile since I did one of these! Sorry for abandoning this poor blog! I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting here. Lots of good books, movies and television I’ve been enjoying.

GrootGroot by Jeff Loveness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought that a comic book with Groot as the main character would have so many feels?? Great story, fantastic art, and some touching moments. ❤

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The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television SeriesThe Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series by Jesse McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love and adore this show SO MUCH. If you are a fan of the ‘Hannibal’ series and always wanted a closer look at the “death tableau” left behind by the season one and two killers, you will probably enjoy this book a little more than I did. I had to use my hand to cover up the images while I read the text as I am a total wuss and easily grossed out.

That being said, the book is a nice addition to your collection if you are a Fannibal BUT if you are a Fannibal, you have probably watched all the special features on your blu-rays and you know pretty much everything that is written in the book. I didn’t find many surprises in here and since it only covers the first two seasons, I found myself wondering what the actors and writers would say about where Season 3 went and thoughts on a (hopefully) fourth season arc.

It’s a nice coffee table book, though you wouldn’t want to leave it out for anyone uninitiated to flip through, because of the graphic images and spoilers.

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Highly Illogical BehaviorHighly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I almost want to give this book an extra star for all the pop culture references, but at the same time I want to subtract that star for that very reason – I’m wondering how many 17 year olds out there would identify with the ST:TNG obsessed kids in this book. And with the throw away lines about ‘Community’ and ‘Adventure Time’, I worry that it is already dated only a few months after being released.

I did enjoy the book though, I liked the story a lot. I actually think it would make a good discussion title for a high school book club – talk about all the different issues each of the kids faces and how they are handling them etc.

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Relish: My Life in the KitchenRelish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love books like this – snippets of memories, totally fun, it’s pretty much like reading a personal blog. It made me hungry and I’m definitely going to try a few of the recipes she included!

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Camp MidnightCamp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great read for the older elementary and early middle school set, all about fitting in and finding your place but not in a heavy handed eye-rolling kind of way.

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What did you read this month?

Books read in October

Lots of kid’s books and comic books, making my list seem more impressive than it really is. But I still feel pretty good about getting through this many in a month!

The Worst Class Trip EverThe Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Something about this book rubbed me the wrong way. I think if I was a 12 year old boy, I probably wouldn’t care so much, and that is the target audience so it’s not that big of a deal. But reading this as an adult that lived through 9/11, it was hard for me to feel comfortable while reading about supposed terrorist plots and assassinations. It just kept me from laughing at all the fart jokes…I wanted to laugh but it was just really hard with that plot line yanking me out of the funny and into the real world.

I was really hoping that this was just going to be a story of shenanigans as the kinds bumbled around, I felt the terrorist plot was unnecessary. Wyatt and his friends were clearly dufuses and they didn’t need a wacky plot to make idiots of themselves. Just wandering D.C. as a class should have been funny enough.

Oh well…kind of a let down from some one who loved Dave Barry when she was 13…

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Everyone Loves BaconEveryone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a real treat to find on the new cart today! We all had a good LOL.

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Space DumplinsSpace Dumplins by Craig Thompson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just so disappointed. I loved Habibi and Blankets, so I was really excited to read Thompson’s venture into children’s comics. But this fell flat to me. Too many agendas, too many soap boxes, far too text heavy and the panels on some page were a mess. And in the end, it had a cliche ending that didn’t even make the rest of the story worth my time.

The art and coloring are very nice. The story was a huge letdown. I had to speedread the last few chapters just to get it over with so I could make sure there wasn’t some twist I was missing. But, no, it was a huge letdown.

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The Dumbest Idea Ever!The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could have read even more, I loved this story and how honest Gownley was about himself. So good. Get this into the hands of as many kids, tweens, and teens as you can. It is a story about not just living your dream, but making a dream work with reality. It’s about respecting your friends and family and the power of art. Fantastic.

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Baba Yaga's AssistantBaba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect spooky story for older elementary with a satisfying ending where everyone has learned a bit about themselves and each other.

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Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to EarthHilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, cute and fun little science fiction story. Really like the relationship between D.J. and Gina.

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Fraggle Rock: Journey to the EverspringFraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring by Kate Leth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute story with everyone’s favorite Fraggles. I think kids will really like it if they are familiar with the series…

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Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College TownMissoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to set this one aside for a little while. I’m close to being finished but it has become bogged down in all the legal stuff and I’m having a hard time getting through all the court reports. I need to switch to something lighter for a bit then come back. It’s been a struggle to read this, not because it isn’t well written – it IS well written and researched. It is just a horrible topic that makes you frustrated and sad.

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ArmadaArmada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

Ready Player One was going to be a hard act to follow, so I knew Armada was already in trouble. I opted to listen to this one because Wil Wheaton once again reprised his role as The Reader. Which is good because as one of the geek royalty, he knew how to pronounce all the names and did his best at impressions of famous geek icons, along with making unique voices for all of the characters.

But, in the end, Armada fell flat. I think Cline had a lot of fun thinking of movies and games and music to reference. Maybe too much fun. Especially since we knew from the first page that this was going to be a riff on The Last Starfighter in some way. From page one, any geeky reader had a very good idea where this is all going. It didn’t make it a bad story, but it didn’t keep me on the edge the way Cline’s first novel did. I found myself daydreaming while the story went on. I wish things had happened faster and that the epilogue had been the second half of the novel.

For his sophomore effort, Cline could have done worse. The book is enjoyable enough but it can’t top Ready Player One. But it was fun and I will definitely stay abreast of any new books he puts out over the next few years (though I’m guessing he might be preoccupied with the RP1 movie)

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GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was fantastic. I think Alex Gino did a wonderful job getting into the mind of a 4th grade transgendered girl. I felt that Melissa’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions were spot on for how a child of that age would behave. I hope there are plenty of Kelly’s out there too.

This book is going to get you right in the feels. This should be required reading for everyone, children, teens, adults. And NOT limited to friends or family who know a (out) transgendered youth. Read this book, be aware of the people around you – their thoughts and feelings. They may be working through things in their head, things you wouldn’t imagine.

I hope this is the first of many LGBT books for kids that stress compassion and inclusion and also model how to be a good friend or parent to someone coming out.

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books read in February

Glory O'Brien's History of the FutureGlory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another strong story from one of my all time favorite authors. If you have never read any A.S. King, she has this wonderful sense of magical realism. Her stories are grounded in reality but there is always something different about this. In this one, the book starts with Glory and her BFF drinking a dead bat and then they feel like they are hallucinating visions of the past and future. But really it is about growing up, that weird realm of existence right before high school graduation, when you know that the people who have been around you for the past 4 years are going to go away soon, that you are no longer a child but an adult…King’s books always hit me right in the feels and the voices of her characters are very real.

Saga, Volume 4 (Saga #19-24)Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just keeps getting better and better. I actually feel like this collection is the best it has been since the first trade. I just really hope that BKV has this all planned out. It has been compared to ‘Game of Thrones’ in it’s complexity which means it could be awesome or it could all fall apart if they don’t know where it will all end. Right now I am enjoying the ride.

Andre the Giant: Life and LegendAndre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only knowledge of Andre is from the movie The Princess Bride. This was a fascinating look at the world of wrestling in it’s early form as an entertainment and the examination of a man who was unlike any other. Box Brown does not pull any punches (unlike the wrestlers) so you get a very balanced look at Andre, his life, his work, and his legacy.

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across AmericaCarsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this might have fared better as a blog that waters updated on the road rather than as a book. I think the only reason I made it through this was because Waters was reading it to me. The first half of the book, heck, the MAJORITY of this book is Waters fantasizing about the best and worst things that could happen to him on the road. I really did enjoy the last part of the book, the ACTUAL real rides of the trip. Probably not as exciting as Waters or his publishers had hoped (perhaps that was why they felt the need to create more dramatic rides in the beginning?) but fun.

If you are going to experience this book, definitely pick it up as an audiobook.

Adventure Time: The Flip SideAdventure Time: The Flip Side by Paul Tobin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not the best one. I think the story could have been half the length, which would have helped. I ended up speed reading/skimming the last few “chapters” just to see how it all ended.

My Little Pony:  Fluttershy and the Fine Furry Friends FairMy Little Pony: Fluttershy and the Fine Furry Friends Fair by G.M. Berrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s “Babe” meets “My Little Pony” is another adorable chapter book. Totally loved this one!

Books read in November 2014

Books read in November 2014

You guys, I read not one but TWO grown-up books in November!!! I KNOW! Neither of them blew me away, but the fact that I managed to finish two novels targeted for adults…I feel so accomplished! It means I have at least two books I can now recommend to adults who ask for suggestions LOL.

Anyway, here is November’s list:

I Am JazzI Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a tricky book to write. The idea of gender identity for a child is not something easy to explain (not that it’s really that much easier for adults). I think the author did the best she could to get the idea across on a level that would make sense to another young child.

But, as other reviewers have said, she examples of why she must be a girl weren’t quite solid enough and I could see them confusing some younger readers who are comfortable with their gender but don’t like the things that they are “supposed to” according to the toy people. As a kid (and today still) I loved Star Wars, video games, action movies and Ninja Turtles but I didn’t have any gender identity issues.

It is hard to communicate what it must actually feel like for a transgendered child to know they are being treated as the wrong gender. This book does it’s best to get that across and I have to applaud the effort. Hopefully this will pave the way for even more titles with similar themes and issues to help young children start to understand the multicolor rainbow of a world we live in and maybe grow into more tolerant teens and adults.

My Little Pony: Rarity and the Curious Case of CharityMy Little Pony: Rarity and the Curious Case of Charity by G.M. Berrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute story. Rarity is probably my least favorite pony so I wasn’t as engaged in her story, but it was cute and Rarity fans will love it. Adults will spot the Single-White-Pony story line coming from the start but it’s still a fun read for fans of the show.

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer's AlphabetAttack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet by Chris Barton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this on the cart this morning and KNEW I would love it.

This is NOT an ABC concept book so you probably don’t want to buy it for that pre-reader. But if you have an elementary school gamer in your life, then this would make a fantastic gift (or a new geek parent).

Also, I love and adore Joey Spiotto’s artwork. Always have. His style is so easy to spot.

Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of DutyGotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was an intense read. If the Gotham TV series had the same premise, I would actually be interested in it. Good cop drama.

Sam and Dave Dig a HoleSam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot wait to use this for a preschool visit and see the kids’ reaction to Sam and Dave digging past the underground treasures. I love Klassen’s artwork. Plus, “spectacular” is such a great vocabulary word.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the CosmosStar Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute picture book biography about the life of Carl Sagan. I love the art style. Great gift for the little astronomer in your life, or any child with an interest in space and reaching for the stars.

RevivalRevival by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this lost a star because of the hype and everyone saying it was a “return to form” for King. The bar is set very high when reviewers say things like that.

The book was very readable. I did actually finish it, as opposed to Mr. Mercedes which I started then set aside. King still writes very well, but the story I was hoping for came too late. And the ending felt like it would have been better suited for a short story or novella instead of a 400 page novel.

Not his best, but not his worst. I just wanted so much more.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1 by Katie Cook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This comic is great for kid and adult fans of the My Little Pony series. Katie Cook includes lots of little inside jokes that only older fans will get (there is an EVIL DEAD reference!!) but the story will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed this series. SO MUCH FUN!

The FuriesThe Furies by Natalie Haynes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars really. I’m not sure how to categorize this book or even rate it really. The fact that I finished an adult book is a pretty big deal for me since I tend to stay in YA. But I really did enjoy Natalie Haynes’ writing style and the story did pull me in. I sorta knew where it was going by about halfway through, but then I kept reading because I wanted to know the specifics.

books read in September

September was a month of children’s fiction. My reading was firmly planted in the land of late elementary and middle school. It was not planned, it just happened. I did listen to one adult fiction title and it was a pleasant surprise. And I picked up the latest graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which is definitely for adults. I have already started an adult book that I’m hoping to finish for the October list because I really should read something from that side of the library!

Then again, the new Scott Westerfeld just showed up on my desk today and Undivided comes out in two weeks…**Sigh** at least those are YA!

SistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another strong story from Raina Telgemeier’s childhood that will still strike a chord with tween today because siblings, especially little sisters, will always have a very unique dynamic. And growing up will never be easy. Plus a family road trip and reunion? Always traumatizing, no matter when it happened. Smile is still my favorite but Sisters is really good too.

SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know what it was about “Seconds” but I just loved it. I think I loved how you don’t exactly love the main character, she has some major flaws (which is apparently O’Malley’s speciality – crafting characters I am both frustrated by but identify with too?)

Honestly, I didn’t know anything about this book except that it was the new Bryan Lee O’Malley and I loved going into it totally unaware and being surprised by the twists and turns.

Moldylocks and the Three Beards (Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe, #1)Moldylocks and the Three Beards by Noah Z. Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was sold on this from page one, mostly because Princess Pink has a Darth Vader drawing on her wall. But also because this clever book will find its way into the hands of little girls obsessed with Princesses only to turn the story around on theme, with this adventurous girl who has no problem getting dressing up as a hairy caveman dinosaur hunter and splashing in cold chili.

I think kids will really enjoy the fractured fairy tales and the play on a story they are probably very familiar with.

Cute, funny, and perfect for kids who are ready to move from easy readers into very basic chapter books.

Bandette, Volume 1: Presto!Bandette, Volume 1: Presto! by Colleen Coover

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is really cute, I can’t think of any other way to describe it. Bandette is so adorable, her town so French, everyone so charming. It was a lot of fun to read and I will pick up the sequel.

One More Thing: Stories and Other StoriesOne More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories, read aloud by the author and some of his famous friends, was a real treat. I feel like I need to star each story separately as some I really enjoyed, others were cute, and a few were sorta…ok.

…actually, there are too many stories to do that! Some of the stories are 5 stars in my book, great to read, even room for discussion afterwards, some are just hilarious one-offs that exist only for the punchline, and others are more shaggy dog stories that kind of go on for awhile but the pay off isn’t that great.

I HIGHLY recommend listening to this because of Novak & Co.s readings. Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Jason Schwartzman and more make this a treat to hear. (though looking at the table of contents, it appears the audio is in a different order than the physical book? WEIRD.)

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils ChroniclePhoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, I didn’t think this bright pink book with a unicorn on the cover was for me. Then I saw the unicorn’s name “Marigold Heavenly Nostrils” and started to flip through the book. And THEN I saw the introduction by Peter Beagle and KNEW I had to give this a read. I’m so glad I did! This book is cute and clever and a fun collection of comic strips about a little girl who befriends a unicorn after hitting it in the head with a rock. I was giggling the whole time I read this. Great for kids and young at heart.

OH! Apparently this is a syndicated comic strip and this book is the first collection. If you need more (like I did) you can find them here:
http://www.gocomics.com/heavenly-nost…

Little Red Quacking Hood (Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe #2)Little Red Quacking Hood by Noah Z. Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not quite as adorkable as the first one, but still a fun read and perfect for a new-to-chapter books reader. I do love Princess Pink and her aversion to all things pink LOL. I hope to see a few kids dressed as Moldylocks when Halloween rolls around in a few weeks.

LootLoot by Jude Watson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Loot: How to steal a fortune” is a great read for middle school age kids who are into mystery, suspense, and thrillers. The story opens with the death of March’s master thief father and we follow March as he tries to unravel the events that lead up to that night.

This was my first Jude Watson book (I’ve read both of her the Judy Blundell young adult titles). She does a good job of writing for a younger age group without talking down. The short chapters make this book a really easy read (each chapter is 2-4 pages) so even reluctant readers will find this hard to put down.

The title leaves something to be desired, as does the cover. It doesn’t quite capture the intrigue and dark moments hidden in these pages.

What did you read this month?