Posts tagged ‘family relationships’

A REELING REPUBLIC

Bodies in the Tiber: An Ancient Rome Political Thriller: The Sertorius Scrolls Book 3

Written by Vincent B. Davis II

Quintus Sertorius has just returned from five years of fighting for the Roman republic in the north. He is eager to return to Rome and pick up his life with a family that he is certain barely remembers him.

Davis has a fluid writing style. He bases his historical fiction on research, but he is adept at creating interesting and complex personal characters. It is the year 100 B.C. While Rome has been victorious, the republic has never been in greater danger. Sertorius has been writing a diary of sorts in his scrolls for the past year documenting history while also providing personal glimpses into his ambitions as well as his fears.

This is the third book in the series which begins seven years earlier when Sertorius loses his father and his rural village. In a struggle to survive and provide for his family, Sertorius leaves them and is thrust into the role of politician in a corrupt society.

The author uses his own military experience to enrich his story. An engaging and fascinating read for anyone interested in ancient history.

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AN EGYPTIAN ENIGMA

Mystery of the Egyptian Mummy: (Kid Zet Detective Book 4)

Written by Scott Peters

My first time reading a book in this series. Zet is a twelve-year-old boy living in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. He and his sister, Kat, run a pottery stall in the market to support their family. One night a mummy, guarded by a jackal, arrives at their home. Terrified, the siblings return to the market the next day to find that the whole town believes them to be cursed. Their business collapses. That makes them determined to solve the mystery.

What they discover is a much larger plot that will endanger the royal family and all of Egypt. As they artfully unravel clues to solve the mystery, readers learn a lot of information about ancient Egyptian history and culture.

Peters creates interesting characters and an engaging plot to keep middle-grade readers engrossed throughout the read. Educational and entertaining.

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#ANewWayofLife

Magic: The Molly Marsh Book Series: Book 1

Written by V. K. May

I would describe this book as a short story that could easily be developed into a full-length novel.

Molly Marsh is a curious ten-year-old whose parents are off on a scientific expedition to New Guinea. Her trepidation begins with a bumpy plane ride. Molly is enchanted when a beautiful blue butterfly alights on her.
When the family arrives at their new home, Molly meets Yosia, who will be working for them in their new jungle home. She is intrigued by him. At first his strange habits scare her. Then she learns about his magical talents.

These two characters are interesting and could be developed in a fuller narrative. I consider the adventure book a short, chapter book. It is well-written with challenging vocabulary that is most appropriate for nine to twelve-year-old readers.

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#Ellie’sElaboratePlan

The Underground Toy Society Helps Ellie Elephant

Written by Jessica D. Adams

Illustrated by Janelle and Janiece Adams

Janelle and Janiece are on a trip with their parents. Janiece is having so much fun. She forgets and leaves her stuffed elephant, Ellie on the swing. Now Ellie is a very smart stuffed elephant. She knows that the family will depart soon. Ellie desperately tries to run and jump up into the camper before anyone discovers her missing. To her dismay, she is not successful.

Ellie finds a chipmunk who says he can help. Chippy directs Ellie to a mole who tells her about The Underground Toy Society that helps reunites toys with their owners. Ellie discovers it’s not so easy to find Murry the Mole. Along the way, she meets a toy train and a bunny who also try to help her. Readers learn about the kindness of all these toy characters. Ellie wants to get home before Janiece discovers her missing because she does not want Ellie to feel sad. Ellie displays much love and concern for her owner.

Readers get the underlying message that children need to take good care of their toys and develop a sense of responsibility. There are a few wonderful child drawings to personalize this beginning chapter book for early readers.

AT DEATH’S DOOR

Witch Hearts the Discovery of Magic and Power

Angharad Thompson Rees

This is the first book in a fantasy series for young adults. Triplets Morganne Amara, and Fae despair because their mother appears to be nearing death. They live in a secluded cottage at the edge of Mystic Wood.

Desperate to find a cure for their mother’s mysterious illness, the sisters venture into the woods in search of a cure. Little do they realize their problems are just beginning. Something or someone appears to be following them.

Once captured, the girls are deemed to be witches. How will they be able to save their mother? Will they succeed in escaping or are they doomed to the pyre?

I was impressed with the writing. The author succeeds in creating the mood and getting the atmosphere right. For a book that is fewer than one hundred pages, the characters are remarkably well-developed. This is a clean read and would be appropriate for advanced middle-grade readers as well as teens and adults.

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SIZING THINGS UP

Short or Tall Doesn’t Matter at All

Written by Asaf Rozanes

Mia is very short. This distresses her because her classmates often make fun of her and exclude her from activities.

Mia reveals her problem to her father. He tells her a fairytale about the sun and moon and how they became friends. One day a situation unfolds at school that proves to the other children there is value in being small. The other children learn an important lesson from Mia. They now understand she also has many special talents. Size does not matter.

This picture book is written in rhyme. It works, for the most part, but the story would have been just as effective if written in prose. Recommended especially for students in the six to ten age group but an important lesson for middle-school students as well.

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A MIXED BAG

A Family Dinner

Written and Illustrated by Cory Q, Tan

A Family Dinner by [Tan, Cory Q]

This picture book contains creative and beautifully done illustrations. The plot combines a few traditional fairytales that are given an unusual twist.

At the beginning of the story, the mother asks her husband to go to the store to buy carrots as she wants to make carrot and potato soup. She does not ask him to do so with a respectful tone. Dad obliges her but soon discovers the local grocery is closed. He continues to search for carrots and gets involved in a series of adventures.

Dad meets up with a cast of characters that involve humans and some animals with bad intentions. These adventures invoke shades of familiar fairytales. Will Dad give up or will he pursue his task? Will his wife be grateful for his efforts?

The twists and turns of this tale are interesting, but many children may become lost and confused in the message. This book will probably lead to lots of questions when reading to young children. I recommend that the book be read with adult supervision and guidance.

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RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

Bubbe’s Sweet Surprise

Written by Sherry Dahl

Illustrated by Mike Motz

Three puppies set off to find the perfect birthday present for their Bubbe (grandmother). She speaks in Yiddish and they misinterpret her words. This leads to hilarious consequences as they go to great lengths to acquire these things. They get themselves into trouble and create quite a mess.

Bubbe is not upset. What she really wants from her grandchildren is spending time with them and sharing her love with them. The adorable illustrations of the personified animals and the humor will warm the heart of young readers. Children will learn a bit of Yiddish. (a glossary is included)

At the end of the book, there is a recipe for yummy Chocolate Cherry Pudding Cake. After reading about so many goodies, readers might want to try whipping one up. Recommended especially for elementary school-age children, but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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# Animal Rescue DOGS HAVE FEELINGS TOO…

Lucky’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland (Lucky’s Adventures)

Written by Elizabeth Macey

Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

Lucky Charms is an adopted rescue dog who happily lives with her human family and a cat named Hershey Kisses. She is excited to wake up to a snowstorm. Lucky promptly goes out to play with her neighborhood dog friends. They go ice-skating and skiing. The day ends with barbecuing hot dogs. That night Lucky reflects on how fortunate she is to have such a comfortable life with a loving family and so many dog friends. She figures out a way to help less fortunate dogs and rallies her neighborhood dog friends to assist her.

Children will love seeing these dogs take on human characteristics and do the activities they love participating in themselves. The illustrations consist mostly of two-page spreads featuring many vivid drawings of adorable dog breeds. Macey includes a list of suggestions for her readers to get involved in animal rescue. I would recommend this picture book especially for elementary school readers, but it has appeal for a reader of any age.

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A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIFE…

Grigori Rasputin: A Life from Beginning to End

Written by Hourly History

This short read of approximately fifty pages can be read in an hour or less. As such, it cannot be considered a comprehensive review of “The Mad Monk’s” life. It is one of the better books in this history series.

The book begins with Rasputin’s life as a troubled child born in a small village in Siberia. He had many clandestine meetings with his followers, many of whom were women. Rasputin soon developed a reputation as a womanizer. On the other hand, his banishment to a monastery led to the development of a mystical streak. Rasputin had a habit of carrying out everything in his life to extreme limits.

When the monk cured the Tsar and Tsarina’s son, his history of miracles emerged to become a factor. Rasputin would divide the Greek Orthodox church into factions. He soon found himself surrounded by enemies. During his life, he found himself in and out of favor with the Russian monarchy as well as the common populace.

His ability to work miracles protected him from harm many times. He reportedly survived an assassination attempt by poison, only to be shot while making his escape. The combination of factors including World War I and its effect on the Russian populace would eventually doom the Russian government.

This book will give readers a decent overview of Rasputin’s colorful life and role in twentieth-century Russian history. It whets the appetite and interested readers can move on to more comprehensive studies.

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