Friday, July 31, 2020

HOW TO HANG A WITCH by Adriana Mathers

Full disclosure - I had a copy of this book in my classroom and decided to leave it with the collection I left for my replacement. When I recently read THE BRAVE by James Bird, it was mentioned frequently by the characters, and I also learned it was written by Bird's wife. Well, it sounded like a book I should have read so I bought another copy, and now I've read it. Next I'll be getting a copy of the sequel HAUNTING THE DEEP because of the promised teaser that "the ghosts are back!"

Samantha "Sam" Mather and her stepmother are moving into her grandmother's house in Salem, Massachusetts. It is a move of convenience since her father, currently in a coma, has been moved to a hospital nearby. Moving to a town famous for its witch trials and having the same last name (Mather) as the infamous Cotton Mather, means Sam is going to get some attention. 

Sure enough a group calling themselves "the Descendants" immediately focus on Sam. The attention is anything but positive. She is blamed for recent, mysterious deaths, a rash that plagues those who attend a party where she is present, and a rock inscribed with "DIE" is thrown through her window. Stepmother Vivian tells Sam is just part of being new, but neighbor and new friend Jaxon tries to be supportive and defends Sam.

While exploring the old house, Sam discovers clues to a possible curse that could be connected to the deaths and other strange happenings. She also meets Elijah, a spirit living in the house. His help may prove invaluable as she tries to break the curse and save the lives of those around her.

Author Adriana Mather is a distant relative of Cotton Mather. She deftly weaves this modern day story with historical tidbits from the early days of Salem and those accused of witchcraft. Filled with plenty of twists and turns and downright scary moments, HOW TO HANG A WITCH is definitely a winner.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

MY EYES ARE UP HERE by Laura Zimmermann

MY EYES ARE UP HERE by Laura Zimmermann tops my list for best book of the summer. Great main character, laugh-out-loud humor, and a message worth sharing can all be found in this new YA release.

Greer Walsh is smart and focused on her school work. In AP classes where she is known as willing to help out her fellow students, she is also the target of many jokes. When you are the only one in the school with boobs bigger than your head, there's a certain amount of attention directed your way.

Greer hides her size H breasts under baggy hoodies and avoids stores like Victoria Secret. She's not even sure her mother knows her current bra size. It's best to just keep her head down and her grades up.

When Greer's  mother asks her to help welcome a new family to town, she is pleasantly surprised to be introduced to the very attractive and friendly Jackson. Now Greer spends every waking moment thinking about him, and he even lurks in her dreams at night. They strike up a casual friendship that involves meeting up in the hall every day and starts to turn into more. Greer is hoping he likes her as much as she likes him, but what will he think if he learns the truth about what's hidden under her sweatshirt.

Greer finds she has a talent for volleyball and is chosen for the team. A new friend, Jessa, encourages Greer to step out of her comfort zone and things begin to change.

MY EYES ARE UP HERE is author Laura Zimmermann's first novel. I can't wait to see what she offers up next!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

ESCAPE ROOM by Maren Stoffels

Looking for a quick, intriguing summer read? ESCAPE ROOM fits the bill.

Four teens (not particularly the best of friends) enter the room. They will have one hour to solve the clues and be released. Sounds like fun unless each of the teens has a secret. Those secrets and the toll they will take on the emotions of Alissa, Sky, Milos, and Mint will threaten their abilities to work together to solve the puzzles. Ultimately, their lives are at risk and escape may be impossible.

Author Maren Stoffles takes the stuff of nightmares and tosses it into a book so readers beware and be brave if you choose to open the cover and begin turning the pages.

Friday, July 17, 2020

THE BRAVE by James Bird

As if it isn't bad enough living with his alcoholic father and never having met his mother, Collin suffers from a condition that makes his brain count the number of letters in anything spoken to him. If he could keep those numbers to himself, it might be ok, but he must announce the numbers before he can continue with his part of any conversation. 

Talk about bullies. Collin has experienced more than his fair share. If he retaliates when taunted, he's the one who always seems to get in trouble. He's switched schools more than he can remember, and he's tired of being called a Freak. When the latest incident lands him in the principal's office, it is suggested that he try homeschooling. Well, that's not going to work with a father passed out drunk on the couch when he's not working at a job he'll soon lose.

The solution is sending Collin to live with the mother he's never met. That means moving from sunny California to an Indian Reservation in Minnesota. Collin will supposedly love it there and be able to get in touch with his Ojibwe heritage. 

Collin quickly learns that his mom is pretty cool and his grandma, too. He gains a bit of courage when he learns he had an older brother who was highly respected and died serving his country. He meets Orenda, the beautiful girl next door who spends most of her time in an awesome treehouse. Maybe these Ojibwe people know what life is really about. Unfortunately, things still don't go well at school. It's the same old thing with everyone making fun of his numbers, especially a kid named Josh. Hopefully, with the help of Orenda, Collin can learn what it means to be brave so he can conquer his fears and control his number obsession.

Author James Bird combines love and magic as his main character faces adversity and adventure. Readers will immediately form a bond with Collin and cheer for him and cry for him as he struggles to find his way. Perfect for middle grades and up.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


Since it sort of feels like our world did end in April, I thought I should read this book. Also, the author Stacy McAnulty is the author of one of my favorite middle grade book THE MISCALCULATIONS OF LIGHTNING GIRL. This book features another great female character dealing with an unusual situation.

Eleanor and her two younger brothers are being raised by their father. Her mother has been dead for seven years. Eleanor doesn't fit in with most kids her age. Mack, her best friend since forever, is blind. She has been helping him out since she was paired up with him in early elementary school. They have a lot in common and are rarely apart.

With the start of seventh grade, Eleanor is feeling even more left out than usually. She gets teased for her ugly haircut and pick last for teams in gym. If it wasn't for Mack, she'd have no friends. 

When Eleanor stumbles across a website detailing an asteriod about to hit the Earth, she becomes obsessed. It doesn't help that her grandfather is a diehard prepper. He has his own bunker and is constantly drilling the kids on what to do if the world is threatened. She learns as much as she can about the impending disaster and soon involves Mack and a few other kids at school. They have months to prepare so she begins sharing what she has learned from her grandfather through the years in hopes of saving her fellow students and their families.

Although, the kids believe the facts Eleanor and her new friend Londyn collect, the adults try to discredit the Harvard professor predicting the coming doom. April 7 is the day the world is supposed to end, but will all of Eleanor's preparations be for nothing? 

THE WORLD ENDS IN APRIL is chillingly relatable to events of today. Some people believe in being prepared and others just dismiss the warnings meant to keep them safe. 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

ALL EYES ON US by Kit Frick

Amanda and Rosalie are connected. Carter dates Amanda, and if their families have anything to do about it, they will eventually marry joining two Loganville's most important families. Carter also dates Rosalie and thinks he may love her more than Amanda. What Carter doesn't know if that Rosalie is using him to keep her secret.

Amanda knows about Rosalie. Her mother has told her giving Carter space will help their relationship. When she starts receiving mysterious text message from a private number, Amanda begins to question exactly what is going on. The messages make it clear that someone knows about Carter's cheating, and they are reveal Rosalie's secret relationship with a girl. 

Rosalie's ultra-religious family thinks they have successfully saved their daughter from homosexuality. Sending her away for special treatment seems to have worked because now she's dating Carter. At least that's what Rosalie wants them to think. In a few short months she'll be eighteen and graduating, and she plans to escape with Paulina, but things start getting strange when text messages from a private number start showing up on her phone.

ALL EYES ON US is a mystery thriller perfect for a summer read. Amanda and Rosalie may be the only ones who can stop the mysterious stranger whose messages become more threatening every day.