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Books for Preteen Readers

Book Reviews for Early Teen & Preteen Readers

Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island

Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard IslandCrater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island by Steve Westover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

CRATER LAKE: Battle for Wizard Island
by Steve Westover

Ethan is being taken to spend a week with Uncle Bart at Crater Lake National Park. His mom, dad, and little sister Jordan are going to spend the day hiking before they leave Ethan. Uncle Bart tells them the history of Crater Lake – how it was created when Mt Mazama erupted 77,000 years ago creating a massive crater. Ethan could care less about what Uncle Bart has to say, especially when he sees Allie, a teenaged girl who is going hiking with her parents.

Nathaniel and Jenna are hiking in the woods surrounding Crater Lake when they are surrounded by three cougars. Suddenly the woods are now a tangle of vines and roots and the vines begin to wrap themselves around the pair – binding them. With the cougars help Nathaniel and Jenna are freed but the ground opens up, swallowing them, hiding all trace that they were ever there!

Brady is with his scout troop trying to figure out how to read the topographical map, but he failed the scoutmaster's test. Jacob is then given the task of deciphering the map which he quickly does to Brady's great annoyance. When Brady needs to take a private break, Jacob is his escort. But when the boys return their troop and their packs have disappeared! Jacob and Brady continue on to Mt. Scott in the hopes of catching up with their troop.

As they hike Jordan and Allie strike up a friendship to Ethan's chagrin. As the two families emerge from the trail near Sun Notch View Point they have an amazing view of the Phantom Ship! Ethan, Jordan, and Allie continue on to the lake shore to examine the Phantom closer. Everything near the Phantom has a scorched look to it.

Suddenly Allie's mom begins sinking into the cliff. Ethan's parents and Allie's dad run she calls out in panic, but they can't pull her from the ground and she is swallowed. Then the other three adults quickly disappear beneath the surface before hardening over them.

Brady and Jacob are headed back to the ranger station in hopes of finding the scouts and leaders. Allie, Ethan, and Jordan decide to head to the ranger station in the hopes that Uncle Bart would have an idea of how to get their parents back, but before they start out Brady and Jacob come screaming down the trail with a black bear following them. A specter then moves onto the trail stopping Brady and Jacob, but when Ethan moves forward to investigate a young Native American teenager is standing where the specter should have been. Che–tan introduces himself and tells them he knows what has happened. Che–tan tells them there is time to save their friends and families, but time is short and the ground has devoured everyone over the age of 16.

Che-tan tells them they have until noon tomorrow to free them from their Below World prison or they will be gone forever trapped by Chief Llao. Che-tan then tells them that at midnight the moon will strike the moon dial on the Phantom Ship revealing the prison key's hiding place.

Ethan and Allie ask Che–tan to tell them who he really is and to convince them that he is speaking the truth. To convince them Che–tan transforms into four large birds and then returns to his human form. He then tells them that he is Guardian of Crater Lake and was one of Chief Llao's people until Chief Skell defeated him – imprisoning him beneath Crater Lake.

At the appointed time Ethan and Brady swim across to the Phantom Ship through freezing water. While the boys are getting the key Jacob, Allie and Jordan gather wood to build a fire so that they can warm up. Jacob wades out into the lake and pulls Brady and Ethan to shore. Then the three kids set about drying and warming Ethan and Brady as best as they can. As they wait for the boys to warm and regain consciousness they examine the artifacts that Ethan and Brady recovered. There is a flute that when different notes are played fire or ice come from it. They decide to wait until daylight to find out what the other powers of the flute are.

With everyone sleeping Allie decides to go down to the lake to get water to drink. But when she heads back to their camp she is surrounded by misty darkness and then there is a sudden burst of blinding light and then Che–tan is there holding the flute. Che-tan then bursts into four birds who dive at Brady before returning to his human form. Che–tan then tells Allie and Brady that they must take the next step now, that there is no time to wake the others! Using two of the artifacts that the boys recovered they receive a message ''Invade the Conjurer's home. Stab him through the eye. Listen to him scream. Watch him perish. His inheritance will become yours.'' Now they just have to decipher it before it is too late.

Meanwhile Ethan begins convulsing so Jacob and Jordan melt some chocolate with some water to give him some energy. But when Ethan revives he is overflowing with energy which they realize is a result of the artifact they heated the chocolate in. The three then realize that Allie and Brady are gone.

Che–tan is leading Allie and Brady to Wizard Island, but Brady is still suffering from his ordeal and the pace is hard on him.

Ethan then has Jacob and Jordan drink from the stone bowl, hoping it will give them an energy boost as well. As they heat the water they see the same message Allie and Brady saw. Jordan then realizes that Allie and Brady must be heading towards Wizard Island.

Jordan starts walking away as if in a trance, disappearing into a fissure in the rocky ground. Jacob and Ethan have no choice but to follow her into the narrow into the lava tunnel. As she journeys she sees visions from Mt Mazama's past – it's destruction. Seeing a faint light Ethan leaves Jacob and hurries towards the glow thinking it is Jordan. But instead he finds Chief Llao! Llao then forces Ethan to help him by killing Jacob and promising to restore Jacob's life if Ethan will listen to him. Llao orders Ethan to give him the stone bowl and water. When Llao drinks the water he is transformed into his youthful appearance, to Ethan's horror! Llao then returns Jacob to life. He tells the boys that their parents disappearance was to get their help because when they release their parents from the Prison of the Lost they will release Llao and his people as well!

As the boys race through the lava tunnels, Che–tan is preparing his followers – cougars, black bears, and hawks await his orders to go to Wizard Island and to war! When Jordan comes out of her trance she doesn't remember getting to Wizard Island and she doesn't know why she is all alone on the edge of a volcano. Jordan tells Ethan and Jacob that the Old Man they need to stab in the eye is the log that Uncle Bart said floated in Crater Lake. But Ethan and Jacob don't take her seriously. As the boys decide their search strategy Jordan goes off on her own towards the lake.

Allie and Brady make their escape to Crater Lake in a canoe while Che–tan's army, those that can, escape in their various animal forms. When Brady asks Allie if there is anything she can do to help, she tries the last hole of the flute. She creates a wind that clears the lake of the fog and they see Jordan and Ethan holding onto a log. While on the shore waiting for Ethan and Jordan, Jacob decides to resume his search for the conjurer. But as he sets out two zombie-like people trap him so he leaps into the water, only to have one of them pushes him beneath the surface. For the second time Jacob dies at the whim of Chief Llao. Jenna and Nathaniel leave the now dead Jacob floating in the lake.

Using all four of the artifacts the kids are able to unlock the prison and awakening the volcano within Wizard Island! The Wata'mi village along with the Wata'mi and Chief Llao erupt through the lava tunnels to the surface . The sun turns purple and the sky green as Wizard Island bulges out with its eruption. When the waves settle down Ethan and Jordan find themselves on the shore near the Phantom Ship. Suddenly their parents call out telling them to hurry up! Jordan and Ethan race up the path to their parents. Allie then joins them from further up the trail. Jordan then asks her parents if they can bring Ethan home with them and not leave him behind as they had originally had planned.

Suddenly Brady comes upon his scout troop where he had left them and when Jacob's dad asks him where Jacob is Brady can't tell him and instead hugs him tight. With Jacob dead Brady doesn't know what to say or to do.

Chief Llao is directing the rebuilding of the Wata'mi village in the Above World. Soon Che–tan joins him and tells him his people will be no danger to him. He also tells him that Jacob was lost to the watery depths of Crater Lake but he is truly dead and no longer a threat to Llao either now or in the coming battle with Chief Skell.

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I received a digital ARC from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this title. 

Destined for Space

Destined for Space: Our Story of ExplorationDestined for Space: Our Story of Exploration by Don Nardo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Destined for Space
Our Story of Exploration
by Don Nardo

Humanity views the universe as the final frontier and the greatest adventure that we can experience. Discovering what lies beyond has always drawn us, it awakens our curiosity to know the unknown. The dangers don't daunt but rather drive us on in our quest.

The night sky has drawn us throughout the ages. The phases of the moon have been preserved by our ancestors on cave walls and stars were grouped into constellations. Wandering stars, which we now call planets, were named for the gods.

Dreams that life might exist on another world have excited people throughout the centuries. But when Issac Newton discovered gravity, people began thinking of ways to escape the pull of gravity so that space travel might be possible. As time went on people began to imagine other worlds sending visitors to us.

When the Wright brothers successfully created and flew their flying machine what had been fiction and dreams suddenly began to be a possibility. Airplanes though impressive were not the means to escape Earth. Only one thing was thought possible to escape Earth's gravity – a rocket. Using math Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was determined to create a rocket system capable of reaching space. Robert Goddard developed a liquid fuel that could burn longer giving the rocket more thrust. Unfortunately rocket technology was used as a weapon of war in the 40's.

By the late 50's space flight was becoming a reality and no longer just a dream. America and the Soviet Union were racing to be the first to put a human being into space. When a Russian made it into space in the early 60's, America was determined to put a man on the moon before the decade was over and succeed they did.

With the successes of space flight the next step was to create manned stations in space. He chance to live in space for extended stays would provide valuable insights and opportunities for study. The next logical step is planning research colonies to be step up on both the moon and Mars. Meanwhile probes have been sent to our neighboring planets to study them.

But the vastness beyond our Solar System is calling and beckoning us. The dream of interstellar travel is at present just that a dream, but dreams of today become the realities of tomorrow.

There is a time–line of important events in the history of space travel, starting with the first known written story concerning traveling into space in 160 A.D. through 2015's study of Pluto.

When we look at the night sky we wonder what is out there. It is a question that has fascinated humanity throughout history. What was once fiction has become reality. What will tomorrow bring? Only time and human persistence will tell.

Publisher provided Digital ARC for review purposes.

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Checks & Balances: A Look at the Powers of Government

Checks and Balances: A Look at the Powers of GovernmentChecks and Balances: A Look at the Powers of Government by Kathiann M. Kowalski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Checks and Balances
By Kathiann M. Kowalski

Checks and Balances explores the three branches of America's government and how the government keeps itself in line by dividing the power between the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial branches.

The Legislative branch is Congress and it consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is the branch of government responsible for creating the laws that govern the country. Congress has the power to approve or to block treaties or job appointments that the President wants to make. If Congress thinks the President is breaking the law they can impeach the President. Congress is putting the President on trial to determine if the President should be removed from office.

The President is the Executive branch. The President can veto or stop laws that Congress tries to pass. The President and Congress then try to work out a compromise so that a better law can be passed.

The Judicial branch can stop both the President and Congress. The Supreme Court is the most powerful part of this branch. The court has to decide arguments based on laws, but when a law is not clear the Court has to use the Constitution to decide an argument.

The Court can limit the Congress and the President by determining if a law is constitutional, but Congress and the President can limit the Court because they decide who can serve as a judge on the Supreme Court.

The ultimate authority is the people. Though the states and national government divide the powers between themselves, it is up to the people to decide how they want the government to work. The people can vote for who they want to run the country. Voting is a right and a responsibility. If we have an opinion on an issue it is our job to let our government representatives know how we feel. This is how we all have a voice in how our country is run.

Checks and Balances has a glossary to explain the terms used in the book. There is also a section directing the reader to further resources about our government.

Part of the Searchlight book series Checks and Balances provides an excellent look at the American Government and a quick overview of how Washington should work.

A perfect addition to every school or home library and perhaps the office of every member of the U.S Government as well!

I received a Digital ARC for the purpose of this review from the publisher.

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Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaaire

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By Polly Horvath
Illustrations by Sophie Blackall

It should be noted that this extraordinary tale is written by Mrs. Bunny and translated from the original Rabbit in which it was written by Polly Horvath.

Madeline lives on Hornby Island, Vancouver, British Columbia with her hippie parents Flo and Mildred. Madeline to the dismay of her parents was not into the hippie lifestyle and in fact went to a public school! At the public school Madeline was looked at as an oddity as well. Madeline's Uncle Runyon was the only member of her extended family who lived in Canada legally as he was employed by the Canadian government as a decoder scientist!

When Madeline's parents are kidnapped by band of foxes, Madeline is beside herself. Uncle Runyon is her only hope but he is ill and falls into a coma. With no one able to decode the file card that she found at her house Madeline worries about what will happen to her parents. As Madeline sits outside Uncle Runyon's mansion Mr. and Mrs. Bunny find her. Madeline soon discovers that she has the ability to speak rabbit and her story of woe is soon told. To Madeline's delight Mr. and Mrs. Bunny tell Madeline that they are detectives and will soon get her parents back for her. What Mr. and Mrs. Bunny neglect to tell Madeline is that they decided to become detectives just that day!

The Bunny's decide that it is imperative to decode the file card that Madeline found so they take the card to The Marmot. But The Marmot loses the file card and can not remember what he was able to decode. Madeline decides to hypnotize The Marmot and they discover that the file card is lost forever.

The quest to save Madeline's parents takes on a serious tone when a letter arrives at the Bunny's home and it is signed, ''The Enemy.'' Time is running out, can Madeline, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny save Flo and Mildred before they become finger food? With the help of the entire Bunny community Madeline's parents are rescued and are as completely useless as before their capture.

MR. AND MRS. BUNNY DETECTIVES EXTRAORDINAIRE is a humorous take on a totally dysfunctional family that fans of Dav Pilkey's style of writing should enjoy.

The publisher provided a Digital ARC for the purpose of this review.

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Time Gangsters 

Time GangstersTime Gangsters by Berin L. Stephens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By Berin L Stephens
Cousins Billy Fairbanks and Danny Shanks are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Gangsters from the 1920s are searching their homes for hidden treasure. But what seemed like a strange dream is in fact reality!

When Billy and Danny examine a hole that they find in her bedroom wall they discover a metal box with four gold coins inside it. The cousins then bury their find in Danny's backyard. But after Billy returns to his home the gangster that entered his room the night before takes him at gun point and takes him back to 1927 New York City in his Model T Ford!

Meanwhile Danny is also captured by the gangster that was in her room the night before. As Danny struggles against her captor her mother gets home and sees Danny and the gangster vanish before her eyes!

Billy's captor is actually FBI Agent Ned Elliot and he is after the Carnassi Gang. The Carnassi Gang are trying to change history by getting control of mysterious coins that were stolen from the tomb of King Tut! Agent Elliot asks Billy for his help because the gang has entered Billy's time to look for the coins.

Danny has been captured by the Carnassi Gang and they want to get the truth from her at any cost – even torture! Danny lies and says her name is Ruth, but when Carnassi asks her where she hid the coins she is so frightened she can't answer. Danny is stuck in 1927 because the gang put an anchor coin on her to keep from being thrown back into her time.

When Billy is thrown back to his time he goes to the house of Wheezy, who besides being his best friend was the person most likely to believe him. He shows Wheezy pictures he took of the coins. Wheezy then sends an email to a professor he knows in Egypt to get them translated.

Danny escapes because the Egyptian that the Carnassi gang has been torturing tells her the word to unlock the anchor holding her. Danny wastes no time going back to her time, unfortunately Zoot follows her but after several minutes he is thrown back to his time before he can recapture Danny.

When Billy gets home his mom tells him that Danny has been kidnapped and a Detective West wants to speak to him. Billy manages to unbury the coins and hide them in a shed at his house. But when Danny shows up at her home she tells Detective West about the coins. Detective West then takes the coins into police custody.

The next day Agent Ned Elliot shows up and asks why Billy gave the coins to the Carnassi Gang, but Billy can't figure out what happened as the police have the coins. Suddenly Billy, Wheezy, and Danny begin to fade out. Agent Elliot orders them into his car so that they won't be erased from time! When they reappear they are in 1927 and use the time anchor coins to hold them there.

But the Carnassi gang knows they are there so they must escape, but Agent Elliot is shot! Billy heads one way and Danny and Wheezy another. But Wheezy get captured by the gang so Danny is alone and must head to a location Agent Elliot told them about Club Velocity and looks for Sticks Agent Elliot's inside man in the Carnassi Gang.

Billy goes back to his time but everything is different. Most of Plains, Colorado is now a ghost town and the houses he and Danny live in were never built! And the Carnassi family has ruled the United States for three generations – all because they got the coins!

When the time coin finally lets Billy go back to 1927, he is captured by the Carnassi Gang who are also holding Danny and Wheezy! Sticks manages to free all three of them. Soon they are in a battle for control of the coins with the Carnassi gang. As they battle the various powers of the coins will they live to see another day?

Who will be the victor in this battle for the future? Read TIME GANGSTERS to find out!

I received a digital reviewers copy of this title for reviewing purposes from the publisher. A favorable review was not required.

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 Check out my interview with Author Berin Stephens on January 19th. Blooming with Books Blog


Carrying Mason

Carrying MasonCarrying Mason by Joyce Magnin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


By Joyce Magnin

Luna's best friend has died and she is determined to be a pall bearer in Mason's funeral even though her father says girls can't. But then 13 year old Luna finds a bigger challenge – Mason's mother needs help. Mason always told Luna about the things that his mother forgot to do – things like turning off the stove or remembering to go to bed.

Luna feels that she owes something to Mason as he was always there for her, so she asks her parents to let her stay with Ruby Day. Luna's parents aren't convinced that she can handle the responsibility of caring for Ruby Day, a house, and maintain her grades. But Luna is convinced that this is the right thing to do, so her parents let her follow her heart as long as she keeps her grades up.

Luna and Ruby Day get along fine until Ruby's Aunt Sapphire arrives and wants to put Ruby Day into a home for the feeble–minded. Luna is determined to fight Aunt Sapphire and keep Ruby Day in her own house. But can Luna get to the truth in time to save Ruby Day and keep her promise to care for Mason's mom?

Carrying Mason is a story of friendship, love, and sacrifice. How different our world would be if we could all be Lunas. Words have incredible power – they can hurt or they can heal. We should choose ours wisely so that we always help and heal.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by Z Street Team for reviewing purposes.

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Guardian of the Green Hill

Guardian of the Green HillGuardian of the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By Laura L. Sullivan

As a note to the reader, before you read Guardian of the Green Hill you should first read book one in the series Under the Green Hill. To fully understand the book and characters this is a must!

Phyllida Ash is the object of Gwidion Thomas's scheme to take possession of both the Rookery and the Green Hill.

A mere two weeks have passed since the battle that took place on the Green Hill on Midsummer Night. Bran is still within his Ash tree healing from his death at Meg's hand.

James is acting unlike his normal loving self and instead cruel and mean to Meg and all he wants to do is eat. When Meg runs away after James is particularly cruel to her in front of the others including Dickie and Finn, she is drawn to Gwidion in the midst of a field of Bluebell Wood. There widion casts a spell on Meg using his power of drawing. He convinces Meg that when he comes to the Rookery that he must draw Phylidda and Meg is to remember nothing of this meeting.

When Gwidion arrives at the Rookery the children are all enchanted by his artistic talents, but when he shows Phyllida a sketch he has done she refuses to sit for him as he has drawn her too well and her age is evident. But he manages to convince the children and Lysander that he should give the children art lessons. During the lessons he makes much of the boys, but when he finds out that Finn is not related he starts boxing Finn's ears. Gwidion then convinces the others that Finn made up the story and is not kind to poor Gwidion.

Phyllida tells Meg that she would like to name her as her successor as Guardian of the Green Hill home. Meg doesn't want to agree to becoming the next Guardian yet but she does agree to start training under Phyllida.

Throughout the story Meg is visited by various mythological creatures who thank her for waking them from their sleep when she won the battle on Midsummer Night without permanently killing her opponent. Meg is visited by the Ani Yantikwalski, a Cherokee spirit of lightening and thunder. Then she is visited by Bako–Nako, a two tailed cat from Nippon.

Gwidion focuses his efforts on Rowan, convincing him that if he can do a portrait of Phyllida she will leave everything to Rowan!

But Gwidion is determined to be the next Guardian and tries to kill both Phyllida and Meg. Lysander tries to stop Gwidion and dies in the process. To save her family Meg must keep Gwidion from catching until she can declare herself the next Guardian of the Green Hill at dawn. With the aid of a fairy spell she is able to keep out of Gwidion's reach.

When Meg returns to the Rookery she must begin her duties as Guardian. Finn is given a prophecy that he will do something that will make everyone except Meg despise him.

The Guardian of the Green Hill leaves you eagerly anticipating Book 3. What will Meg's parents say when she lets them know she can't return home? And what will Finn do to make all despise him? A thoroughly engrossing read so make time for a long weekend of excitement!

Publisher provided an Advance Reader Copy for review purposes.

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Thomas Jefferson for Kids

Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities (For Kids series)Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities by Brandon Marie Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


His Life and Times with 21 Activities

By Brandon Marie Miller

This is an in–depth well–written book about America's third President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson's life is thoroughly covered in this book and portions of Jefferson's books and letters as he wrote them are found throughout.

The first part of this book has a timeline of important dates throughout Jefferson's life from his birth on April 13, 1743 to his death on July 4, 1826.

The second part is the real meat of the book, where you are introduced to Jefferson in all his complexities. His stand on slavery for one, though he was publically against it he himself kept slaves. He was against those in authority using their authority over others and wielding their power so as to keep others down, but in some instances he seemed to use the very abuses he was against to get what he wanted. He was plagued by the lose of those dear to him, as he lost his wife and most of his recognized children and these loses affected his public life. Jefferson was a man who loved knowledge and collected books throughout his life.

Thomas Jefferson for Kids has 21 different activities for children that are similar to activities that Jefferson performed throughout his day–to–day life. Activities like plotting a map, making a simple microscope, observing the weather, or building a model solar system.

This book would be an excellent classroom resource or text book for a homeschooler. It is also an excellent refresher on Jefferson for anyone who may not remember all of their American History! Jefferson is portrayed as a real person with faults and not some American deity as some books try to portray America's Founding Fathers. It is a well–balanced work and should be included in any Children's American History collection.

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  NOTE: Though this title is in the Preteen section it is appropriate for all ages groups.

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Secret of Indigo Moon

Secret of Indigo Moon, the #2 (Dopple Ganger Chronicles)Secret of Indigo Moon, the #2 by G.P. Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By G.P. Taylor

In The Secret of Indigo Moon, Erik, Saskia, and Sadie are involved in yet another adventure. Burglars are using hidden a hidden tunnel beneath Isambard Dumstan's School for Wayward Children. While investigating Saskia gets trapped in a sarcophagus and is stolen! Can Erik and Sadie rescue her before she is discovered or will they be captured as well?

The magician Potemkin is back and continuing his evil ways. Can Saskia convince Sadie and Erik that Madame Raphael is real? Or will Saskia be alone in her belife?

Prepare for a thrilling adventure that even the most reluctant middle grade reader will enjoy. The combination of traditional text, text art, and graphic novel adds to the appeal of this engaging sequel in the Dopple Ganger Chronicles.

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Red Rock Mysteries: Stolen Secrets

Stolen Secrets (Red Rock Mysteries)Stolen Secrets by Jerry B. Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


By Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry

When twins Bryce and Ashley Timberline's new step-dad drops the bombshell that he killed their father they don't know what to think. Secret phone calls, missing food, and an attack on some middle school students add up to a mystery that doesn't make sense.

Can Ashley and Bryce untangle the mysteries that they and Red Rock are caught up in? Or will the secrets that surround them destroy their family and an innocent man?

Join the mystery and the search for the truth!

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Red Rock Mysteries: Phantom Writer

Phantom Writer (Red Rock Mysteries)Phantom Writer by Jerry B. Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


By Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry

Twins Bryce and Ashley are in for a mystery that is a matter of life and death. Horror writer Jake Konig has disappeared with no clues as to his whereabouts. When their mother is asked to finish Jake's latest manuscript Bryce and Ashley go along.

When threatening messages and pleas for help start appearing on Jake's computer, Ashley and Bryce rise to the challenge. Will they be able to save Jake Konig or will they mysteriously disappear too?

Prepare for a thrilling mystery!

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Red Rock Mysteries: Instant Menace

Instant Menace (Red Rock Mysteries)Instant Menace by Jerry B. Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


By Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry

Eighth grade brings new challenges and surprises for twins Ashley and Bryce. Mr. Foster is no longer the principal and has been accused of various crimes. Bryce and Ashley don't believe the accusations, but when the new principal separates them their investigation is stymied.

With chat-room threats and lessons in Separation of Church and State eighth grade becomes a lesson in real life. Will Ashley and Bryce make the grade?

Prepare for a mystery of untold menace!

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Winnie the Horse Gentler: Friendly Foal #7

Friendly FoalFriendly Foal by Dandi Daley Mackall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


By Dandi Daley Mackall

Winnie has her hands full over Christmas break. She has to care for and save a newborn orphaned filly. Then she gats a plea for help from classmate Sal Fry. Sal received a horse for Christmas - a miniature horse and she needs help or the horse will go back. Sal doesn't know the first thing about horses and her new horse Amigo is scared.

Along the way Winnie learns a valuable lesson about friendship. God is the best friend that we can ever have and He will never let us down!

Join Winnie as she discovers lessons to ring in the New Year with!

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The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The First Escape

The First Escape (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles)The First Escape by G.P. Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is escape possible or will evil prevail?

Book one in the Dopple Ganger Chronicles is The First Escape.
This series by G.P. Taylor gets it's name from the three main
characters - twin sisters Sadie and Saskia Dopple and their friend Erik
Morrisey Ganger. All three live at Isambard Dunstan's School for
Wayward Children. What appears to be a normal day goes from bad to
worse as an eccentric, wealthy woman adopts Saskia, but not Sadie!

While Saskia discovers a mystery that threatens her life, Sadie and
Erik face dangers of their own as they escape from Isambard's and search
for Saskia. Will the three be able to reunite or will evil prevail?

The First Escape affirms the value of family and hints at a
higher power by talking of an unseen, always present Companion. When
The First Escape ends you are left wanting more!

The First Escape is reminiscent of both Oliver Twist and A
Series of Unfortunate Events: A Very Bad Beginning but not as dark. The
blended style of story-telling (text, picture text, and graphic dialog)
helps move the pace in an enjoyable manner that should hold the interest
of the reader with a short attention span. Don't deny yourself the
pleasure and enjoyment of G.P. Taylor's adventure!

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Horse Dreams

Horse Dreams (Backyard Horses)Horse Dreams by Dandi Daley Mackall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Backyard Horses

By Dandi Daley Mackall

Ellie James wants a horse of her own, so much so that she thinks, breathes, and dreams horses all day long. She dreams so much that when she sees a horse outside her fourth grade classroom window everyone thinks she's dreaming!

When Ellie manages to capture the lost pinto mare she leads it to the cat farm where her mom volunteers. But a homeless horse doesn’t belong in a cat rescue, where will she go?

As Ellie cares for the pinto she continues to dream about her dream horse and how she'll get him. But when the pinto is going to be shipped to a horse farm in New Jersey will Ellie realize her dream is right in front of her or will she just have HORSE DREAMS?

Digital Advanced Reader Copy provided through Net Galley

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American Challenge

American Challenge: Revolution, A New Nation, and Westward Expansion (Sisters in Time)American Challenge: Revolution, A New Nation, and Westward Expansion by Susan Martins Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


1770 to 1819

4 in 1

1) Lydia the Patriot by Susan Martins Miller takes place during the time of the Boston Massacre. Lydia's family is divided in how they feel about the British occupation of Boston. What Lydia can't see is the person behind the uniform and as a result is cruel to anyone who does not hate the British. But when violence again erupts in Boston and her taunts place her family in danger, she learns a valuable lesson in the value of family!

2) Kate and the Spies by JoAnn A. Grote, is set in Boston at the time of the Boston Tea Party. Kate and Colin are cousins who get caught up in Boston's struggle for freedom from Britain's blockade and occupation of the city. Acting as spies Kate and Collin help British deserters escape and warn Paul Revere of British plans to move on Concord.

3) Betsy's River Adventure by Veda Boyd Jones, chronicles America's expansion west. Betsy Miller's family is moving from Boston to Cincinnati where her father will open a medical practice and her uncle will find work as a builder. While traveling the Ohio River by flatboat Betsy learns some valuable lessons about herself and her cousin George. Along the way both cousin grow and learn to appreciate each other for who they are.

4) Grace and the Bully by Norma Jean Lutz, takes place in 1819. Cincinnati is an exciting place to live but when the Ohio River becomes too low for boats to travel on it, Cincinnati suffers. Money is scarce, food is in short supply, and jobs are gone. But the year of hardship teaches lessons in patience and the value of not judging others too quickly.

At the end of the book there is Bonus Educational Material. For each story there are vocabulary words, important people and places and a timeline to put the story into perspective of the world at that time. This would be an excellent book for homeschoolers or study groups.

Digital edition Advanced Reader Copy provided through Net Galley

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American Dream

American Dream: The New World, Colonial Times, and Hints of RevolutionAmerican Dream: The New World, Colonial Times, and Hints of Revolution by Colleen L. Reece
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


1620 to 1765

4 in 1

1) Sarah's New World by Colleen L Reece is a story about John and Sarah Smythe and their voyage to America on-board the Mayflower. In search of a country that will allow them to worship freely the Smythe family leaves Holland and faces the dangers of a sea voyage. After 2 months of struggle and hardship the Mayflower reaches the New World and begins the Plymouth colony.

2) Rebekah in Danger by Colleen L Reece begins in late 1620 and is the story of Rebekah and Will Cunningham and the settling of New Plymouth. After the dangers and trials of a sea voyage new troubles await the Pilgrims. Who will survive till the spring? But help comes from an unexpected source, Indians. Through it all Rebekah and Will grow in wisdom and understanding.

3) Maggie's Dare by Norma Jean Lutz takes place during the height of America's Great Awakening period (1744 -1745) and is Maggie and Evan Baldwin's story. In the changing Boston society Maggie is caught up in her confusion of where she belongs and her feelings about slavery and the Revivalists. But when she meets Jonathan Edwards she sees herself as she really is and Boston society loses it charm while Boston's poor and needy call to her heart.

4) Lizzie and the Redcoat by Susan Martins Miller takes place around 1765 and is Lizzie and Joshua Murray's story. Boston is in a time of upheaval and anger at the King over the Stamp Act is causing Boston’s citizens to take up arms and anyone sympathizing with the British soldiers in America was in danger. Amid the turmoil that is Boston Lizzie must decide where she stands.

At the end of the book there is Bonus Educational Material. For each story there are vocabulary words, important people and places and a timeline to put the story into perspective of the world at that time. This would be an excellent book for homeschoolers or study groups.

Digital edition Advanced Reader Copy provided through Net Galley.

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The Hamster of the Baskervilles: A Chet Gecko Mystery

The Hamster of the Baskervilles: A Chet Gecko MysteryThe Hamster of the Baskervilles: A Chet Gecko Mystery by Bruce Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After classrooms start getting trashed Chet is on the case trying to solve the mystery. Then a second mystery is added to his sluething load. A "Were-creature" has been spotted on the campus of Emerson Hicky. Will Chet solve the case in time or will utter chaos break out at the science fair?

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