FRIENDS TILL THE END

A Dinosaur Quest: The Adventures of a Brontosaurus Prince

Written by J.C. McKenna

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Adventure tale of three young dinosaur friends who learn a lot about life after becoming a bit too curious. Parthius is an adolescent prince who has two good friends, Amidon and Krillos. He lives in the land of Egos, where his father is a beloved king. One day, he and is friends decide to explore the nearby forest. His parents have warned him that he must always stay with his own kind and that it is dangerous to set foot on the land of other colonies. When Krillos falls into a lake and disappears, Amidon and Parthius search for him; they find themselves trapped in a faraway land. Their king, Kratonix, decides to send them to Jade Mountain to search for a magic scepter that will bring him unlimited power. Kratonix appoints Eudox as their guide. No matter what happens, Kratonix comes out on top. Either the boys will die in the attempt or he will gain unlimited power.

As the four of them travel on their perilous journey, each will learn a lot about themselves. The boys will need to face their fears and reaffirm their friendship; Eudox will reveal secrets that he has hidden even from himself. There will be many physical and emotional obstacles along the way. Will the boys succeed in their quest or perish? Does Prathius ever return to rule his kingdom?

This story is written without chapter breaks that might have been a help for younger readers. Dialogue is excellent and appropriate for the characters who are developed very well in this short seventy page read. Though the book does need some editing, most readers will not be bothered by it. McKenna has a good feel for a middle grade reader who will be drawn into the adventure. I think that the book is a good fit for an eight to eleven year old audience.

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

Outback Hero: Max Conquers Outback Australia Book 2 in the Max series

Written by Sally Gould

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Max and his family are ready to embark on an adventure vacation, except Max does not really want to go. They are going to the outback; Max is deathly afraid of crocodiles. His older brother Charlie delights in frightening him making matters worse. Mom and Dad insist that he must overcome his fears.

Max’s fears are confirmed when he falls overboard and must escape the crocs. Charlie and his brother will have to flee for their lives more than once, and Max narrowly escapes death when he falls off a cliff. Charlie and Max are typical brothers who are constantly competing with each other, yet deep down love each other to death. On the journey, the boys will meet up with another family who appear to be dauntless and unafraid. Upon their insistence, the two families climb up the Uluru. Will they be able to make it down again safely? Will Max be able to overcome his fears and insecurities?

This is the second book in this series targeted for middle grade readers ages nine through twelve. Lots of adventure, sibling rivalry, competition, and somewhat complicated family relationships keep the plot moving. Boys especially will find the series interesting. Readers unfamiliar with Australia will enjoy learning about the outback. While the text is age appropriate, the vocabulary is not overly difficult and the length at less than 150 pages allow the read to be appealing for reluctant readers. This is a series worth investigating.

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MONSTERS AND MISHAPS

Bedtime Stories For Kids! Funny Monsters Go Camping

Written by Alice Cussler

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The author’s aim is to teach children to respect animals and nature. In the second book of this series about Furry Monsters, Melton and his friends go on a camping trip. Cussler involves them in situations that teach children about planning ahead, fire safety, becoming too confident, overcoming unreasonable fears, eating the right kinds of foods, and working cooperatively.

The print edition of this book is sixty-two pages. It is marketed for ages four through eight, but it really is a chapter book more appropriate for independent reading by a beginning reader or as a classroom read aloud for discussion. I would suggest the book for readers aged six through nine. The lessons in the book are worthwhile for discussion among families planning a camping trip. Colorful drawings of these adorable fuzzy monsters encourage young readers to follow along with the text. Look forward to following these fuzzy friends in many more educational adventures.

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CROSSING THE SANDS OF TIME

Sons of the Sphinx

Written by Cheryl Carpinello

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I received a copy of this book from Double Decker books as part of a blog launch for the author in exchange for an honest review.

First off, I will openly admit that I am a historian with an avid interest in the field of ancient history. The author has done a marvelous job of negotiating the disputed points of this era and woven them into a seamless time travel historical adventure for middle grade, teen readers and adults. Her characters are well-developed and manage to appear authentic in both the ancient and modern time periods. Carpinello includes a glossary to assist the reader in understanding the historical figures and background.

Rosa is a fifteen year old tenth grader who has inherited a special gift from her grandmother. This teen is able to speak to people of the past, who appear to her at most inconvenient times like during a math test. At the outset of this adventure, King Tut himself not only speaks but appears to her in her room. He urges her to travel back in time with him to find the spirit of his love, Hesena. Rosa has never dated, but finds herself falling for Tut. She agrees to help him, if they can get back before her parents return from dinner and the movies. Tut assures her that the time wrap will allow them to do so.

Rosa will need to draw upon her inner spirit to connect with Hesena, fight off tomb robbers, traverse the hot sands of the Egyptian desert, and fend off the evil Pharaoh Horemheb in their attempt to complete their quest and right the wrongs that have been done. She will travel back more than 3000 years in time, but never have the opportunity to share her experience with her family and peers. Yet Rosa’s talent and spirit shine through and allow her to fight her fears and grow stronger.

This was a perfect read to curl up with on a cold, snowy afternoon. Highly recommended for all lovers of history, adventure, fantasy and fun for all ages ten and older.

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A BALANCED VIEW

Illuminati Facts and Fiction Revealed: The Hidden Truth About the Illuminati Exposed

Written by Stephen Sanderson

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The author’s purpose is to present a clear and concise portrait of the ancient and modern Illuminati. He outlines the modern myths associated with them, their alleged rituals, and the symbols that people attach to them today. The author attempts to present an objective picture and presents evidence that may or not be true.

The Bavarian Illuminati was a secret society formed on May 1, 1776, an era that involved turmoil in Europe and North America. This group was against prejudice, superstition and abuse of state power. In addition, they opposed the influence of religion on public affairs. The Illuminati supported gender equality and education for women, radical ideas for that time. The Bavarian leader, Charles Theodore banned this group founded by Adam Weishaupt, along with many other secret societies. He was enthusiastically supported by the Roman Catholic Church. Slowly the Illuminati recruited Masonic leaders and spread outside of Germany. Ciphers and secret names played a big part in their system.

There are stories associated with the group. One says that they spread the French Enlightenment ideals and caused the French Revolution. Others include plots of secret societies to attack Christianity and monarchies in Europe. Modern conspiracy theories encompass theories that they control the Hollywood movie industry, practice Satanic rituals, or that they are run by extraterrestrials from other dimensions.

Conspiracy theorists cite several symbols currently in existence and connect them to the Illuminati. Sanderson lists The All-Seeing Eye, The Owl, and The Pyramid. He explores the pros and cons of these connections and lets the reader be the judge. There are certainly links, but is there proof?

I enjoyed exploring the topic. The author gives the reader a lot to think about and a basis to form your own opinion. Recommended for teens and adults as an informative and enjoyable read.

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MUSIC AND MAYHEM

Book 1: Heroes in a World Reborn (The Mind Trips of S.C.A.M)

Written by Nathan Ritter

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First in a series of adventure books for preteens and teens. The author adds an unusual twist by combining music with the story.

The main characters are two seventh grade friends named Rob and Max. Tale begins when Max and Rob enter Max’s uncle’s garage to feed the fish while he is away. At first, it appears to be a pile of junk, but when the boys look closer, they discover two strange looking helmets, an old record player, and some records from the eighties. Curious as to how it works, they randomly select a 1983 record from an artist named Asia and place it on the turntable.

Suddenly, they are transported through a tunnel to a beautiful land which later turns very ugly. An old creature named Falgorg informs them that it is their duty to erase the Black Horizon, defeat the Black-Smeared One, and save their world from extinction. How will two boys accomplish this task? They are soon dressed in swords and shields; their battle will take them through many lands. The boys will meet The Phoenix, who bestows on them golden medallions. Rob and Max slog their way through fire and darkness and are imprisoned by The Rock Beast, but meet a fellow prisoner who inspires them with her special gifts. The two friends are determined to defeat the evil that The Black-Smeared One has imposed upon her world. Will they be strong enough? Do the boys escape and return to the garage? Because this is Book One, the reader can assume there will be lots more of musical adventures.

This is such a creative way to encourage young students to read and develop an appreciation of music at the same time. I think that most readers age ten and older will be able to handle the text, and the tale appeals to young teen audiences both male and female.

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FUN WITH FACES

What’s Missing: Faces A Toddler Learning Activity

Written and Illustrated by Bonnie Ferrante

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What a delightful way for a parent or caretaker to share playing a game and learning all at once! In this fun book for toddlers, simple multicultural faces are presented with one part missing. The child then guesses what feature is missing. The author explains in simple fashion how that part of the body is used. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth and hair are explained. Ms. Ferrante goes on to include eyebrows and tongue. Near the end of the book, a few familiar animals like ducks, cats, and elephants are presented. They possess additional facial features such as whiskers, trunks and bills that are an important part of that animal’s face.

Children ages two to five can have lots of fun with this book while stretching their minds, using their senses, and moving their little bodies. Highly recommended for parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians as a must have for their kindle or bookshelf.

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