Showing posts with label middle grade books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label middle grade books. Show all posts

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter Reads: House of Robots: Robot Revolution

Jimmy Patterson; 331 pages; $13.99; Amazon

Even if you're a diehard fan of the bestselling author James Patterson, keeping up with his dozens of releases every year can be a bit difficult. Besides from his famous crime thrillers and his new Bookshots novellas, Mr. Patterson also writes (or co-writes) books for middle school readers.

Now available from Jimmy Patterson Books (a division of Little, Brown and Company) is House of Robots: Robot Revolution by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, along with illustrations by Juliana Neufeld.

House of Robots centers on Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez, a young boy who lives in a house full of robots! Yep, I said robots. His mother, Dr. Elizabeth Hayes, is an engineer and she has created many robots and gadgets for their home. His father, Noah Rodriguez, creates graphic novels (comic books). Sammy has a younger sister named Maddie, who has SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency d), which makes it hard for her to be around germs, so she is mostly isolated to her bedroom.

The last member of the Rodriguez family is E, a robotic brother who goes to school with Sammy. Dr. Hayes created E for Maddie, who can attend school without ever leaving her bedroom by using E's sight, hearing, and communication skills to interact with her classmates and teacher.

The Rodriguez's household is turned upside in down in "Robot Revolution" when Dr. Hayes begins working on a top secret new project and neglects all the routine maintenance for her robots. All the robots, including the new electric SUV, start malfunctioning; causing a bit of chaos in Sammy's life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spring Reads: Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson

Jimmy Patterson Books; 384; $13.99; Amazon
With many schools taking a hiatus for summer vacation, kids now have plenty of time to crack open a book. One of the most popular middle-grade and YA author is James Patterson.

Yes, I said that right - James Patterson, the New York Times Bestselling author of the crime thriller series Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, and many other titles. Mr. Patterson has written (and co-written) several different series for younger readers, such as the Maximum Ride books, the Middle School novels, the I Funny novels, the Treasure Hunters novels, the House of Robots Novels, and the Daniel X novels.

Now available from Jimmy Patterson Books (part of Little Brown and Company), is Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (co-writers of the Middle School and I Funny books).

Jack Ha-Ha is written in point-of-view of Jacky, an actress who is about to receive an Oscar, but before she heads off to the Academy Awards, she writes down a story for her daughters, Tina & Grace, to read. The story is set in 1990 and centers around Jacky Hart when she just a kid. Her mother was in Marine Corps and was sent to Iraq, leaving her father, a lifeguard, to take care of Jacky and her six sisters.

Why is she called Jacky Ha-Ha?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Reread Review: Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever

Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever
Maximum Ride, book 2
by James Patterson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub. Date: May 23, 2006
ISBN: 978-0316067966
Pages: 412
Buy Link: Amazon


After reading Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment in the spring of 2006, I eagerly purchased the sequel School's Out Forever when it released on May 23, 2006. With the ninth installment, Maximum Ride Forever, scheduled to be released in two weeks, I'm rereading the franchise; well, technically I've never read the last three books, so they'll be new reads for me.

Still on the run from "The School," Max and her flock (Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel) take flight to Washington, D.C., to try to find out some answers of why they were created, but of course there's danger around every corner, especially with the werewolf-like Erasers hot on their tracks. After Fang is injured, the group take refuge at an FBI safe house. In exchange for the safety, Agent Anne Walker is allowed to monitor them from a safe distance.

The flock tries to live a normal life by attending a private school, while also trying to avoid the Erasers that are near by, but danger is never too far behind them The flock must escape to
Florida, where they encounter even a bigger threat, including an evil clone!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Reads: You Can't Sit With Us

You Can't Sit Wth Us
Mean Girl Makeover Series
by Nancy Rue
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pub. Date: December 9, 2014
ISBN: 978-1400323715
Pages: 224
Buy Link: Amazon


Bullying is definitely an epidemic in our schools around the country. During my JH and HS years during the 90s, I was bullied on a daily basis. I can't imagine what kids go through with the added use of social media.

I don't keep track of all the new middle grade books are being released, so I missed out reading the first entry in the Mean Girl Makeover series from author Nancy Rue. However, I did receive a review copy of the second book, titled You Can't Sit With Us, a few months ago. My first intent was to read this book as soon I received it, but life happened and I just got around to it yesterday.

The book centers on a sixth grader, Ginger Hollingberry, whom just started school at Gold Country Middle School. Due to her hand-me-down clothes and greasy red hair, she is targeted by the school bullies, including Kylie Steppe; despite the fact the GCMS student body all, except for Kylie, signed an anti-bullying pledge.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review - Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn

Where I Belong
by Mary Downing Hahn
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub. Date: September 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-0544230200
Pages: 240
Buy Link: Amazon


One of the best children book authors is Mary Downing Hahn. The first book I read by her was Closed For The Season a couple of years ago. Now everytime I come across one of her older titles at a thrift store, I make sure to buy it.

Her newest book Where I Belong was published last spring and centers on Brendan Doyle, an unpopular young man who doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of his classmates. He is bullied everyday and he is treated poorly by his foster-mother and teachers.

Brendan distracts himself by hiding in books and takes many hobbies, including carving and drawing. He is basically a daydreamer looking for a way to escape his life. While walking in the woods, he comes across a man and he comes to conclusion that this man is the magical Green Man, the guardian spirit of the forest.

Review - The Doll Graveyard

The Doll Graveyard
Hauntings Series
by Lois Ruby
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub. Date: June 14, 2014
ISBN: 978-0545617864
Pages: 256
Buy Link: Amazon


I have always preferred reading printed novels over eBooks, which is probably one of the reasons why I had forgotten this children book was on my Kindle until I stumbled upon it last week.

The Doll Graveyard is written by Lois Ruby and centers on Shelby and Brian Tate, whom have just moved into the Cinder Creek house. This isn't just an ordinary house as the kids start to believe it is haunted. Strange cries can be heard throughout the night and objects suddenly move on their own.

All of this probably has something to do with the fact that there is a graveyard in their backyard. The oddest thing about the graves is that they are extremely tiny, as if the graves were meant for dolls.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014: House of Robots by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

House of Robots
by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Pub. Date: November 24, 2014
ISBN: 978-0316405911
Price: $13.99
Buy Link: Amazon


In this new highly-illustrated series from James Patterson, an extraordinary robot signs up for an ordinary fifth grade class... and elementary school will never be the same!

It was never easy for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, so he's dreading the day when his genius mom insists he bring her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E--for "Error". Sammy's no stranger to robots--his house is full of a colorful cast of them. But this one not only thinks it's Sammy's brother... it's actually even nerdier than Sammy. Will E be Sammy's one-way ticket to Loserville? Or will he prove to the world that it's cool to be square? It's a roller-coaster ride for Sammy to discover the amazing secret E holds that could change family forever... if all goes well on the trial run!

Billy's Thoughts:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Dare You To Walk Down The Halls of Eerie Elementary

I thought I would kickoff The Halloween Blog Bash with a review of the second installment of the new Eerie Elementary series, which is part of the Branches book line from Scholastic Inc. Eerie Elementary #2: The Locker Ate Lucy! (ISBN: 978-0545623957; 96 pagers) is written by Jack Chabert with illustrations by Sam Ricks.

Eerie Elementary centers on the third grade hall monitor Sam Graves, who had just learned from the school's janitor, Mr. Nekobi, that the school is actually alive and it needs to feed off of students. Along with his pals, Lucy and Antonio, Sam tries to protect his fellow students against the supernatural school.

In the second installment, The Locker Ate Lucy!, Sam, Lucy And Antonio begin the researching the history of Eerie Elementary in the attempt to discover what or whom is behind the supernatural occurrences. After stepping into the creepy Eerie Cemetery, the trio learn that Orson Eerie never died, even though he was born 1871. Is Orson Eerie behind the haunting at the school?

The trio rush back to Eerie Elementary, so they won't be late for their classes. Shortly after arriving, the unthinkable happens - Lucy disappears into thin air near her locker. After a quick investigation, Sam and Antonio find some sort of slime in her locker which leads to a dark tunnel. They must follow the trail of slime into the deepest and scariest parts of Eerie Elementary in the attempt to rescue Lucy.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review - Goosebumps Most Wanted: Special Edition #1: Zombie Halloween

Goosebumps Most Wanted: Special Edition #1: Zombie Halloween
by R. L. Stine
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub. Date: June 24, 2014
ISBN: 978-0545627764
Pages: 192 pages
Buy Link: Amazon


Believe it or not, R. L. Stine has been haunting and thrilling young readers with his Goosebumps books for twenty-two years. There was a popular television series based on the books that aired in the late '90s, as well as the upcoming big-screen adaption starring Jack Black, scheduled to hit theaters next summer. Though the last book was published in 1997, there has been several spinoff series published, including the newest series, Goosebumps: Most Wanted, which debuted in 2012.

The newest addition, Zombie Halloween, is the first Special Edition in the Most Wanted series and centers on twelve-year-old Kenny Manzetti and his twin sister, Tricia, whom, along with their parents, moved into an old house across from a cemetery to take care of Grandpa Mo. While Kenny has already made a new best friend, Alec Schwartzman, Tricia hasn't made any new friends, but she hopes to make a few at their "zombie" themed Halloween party.

Speaking of zombies, a few teenagers appeared on the local news, all claiming that zombies attacked them near the cemetery. Kenny and Alec are both big fans of The Walking Zombies television series and they are eager to investigate the cemetery in the attempt of finding real zombies, but Tricia and Grandpa Mo tag along with them.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Review - I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages

I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages
by Alex Marestaing
Publisher: Mymilou Press
Pub. Date: December 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615931630
Pages: 218
Buy Link:
Blog Tour:


Many of you probably think I only read Amish fiction or historical romances, but I have a huge collection of middle-grade books, from The Boxcar Children to Goosebumps, so it was no-brainier that I wanted to review I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages by Alex Marestaing.

The book centers on thirteen-year-old Caleb Reed, who has sheltered himself; never leaving his home for the last seven years, ever since his older sister, Anneliese, was killed in an accident. He is home schooled and has a fear of everything, along with a obsessive-compulsive disorder. He likes having the same daily routine, including watching the VHS recording of the last AFV episode that hw had watched his late sister, though she never got to see who the winner of the episode was. His latest fear or obsession is with the abandon house across the street, as he believes someone or something removed the boards from one of the windows.

Iris Elliot was in the second grade the last time she saw Caleb Reed, but she is well aware of the rumors and myths about the boy who never leaves his home. She is an aspiring filmmaker and wants to make a documentary about Caleb, so she can enter it into a YouTube contest.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review - Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Thirteenth Mystery

Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Thirteenth Mystery
By Michael Dahl
Illustrator: Lisa K. Weber
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Pub. Date: March 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1434265098
Pages: 214


Arriving in bookstores earlier this month is the third and final book in the Hocus Pocus Hotel trilogy.  I enjoyed reading the first two books in the series, so I was eager to read third installment from author Michael Dahl.

Charlie Hitchcock is pulled out of class by his so-called friend, Tyler Yu, because the magician, Abracadabra, is missing. Abracadabra, or as his friends call him, Brack, is a famous magician that owns the Abracadabra Hotel, and occasionally he does have a habit of faking his death.

Tyler Yu, along with his parents, lives and works at the hotel. Though he isn't exactly friends with Charlie Hitchcock, they do get together to solve the strange mysteries hidden in the hotel. And once again Tyler needs Charlie's help in finding out what happened to Brack.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review - Goosebumps Most Wanted: Creature Teacher: The Final Exam

Goosebumps Most Wanted - Creature Teacher: The Final Exam
By R.L. Stine
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub. Date: February 25, 2014
List Price: $6.99
ASIN: 978-0545627733
Pages: 160
Buy Links: Paperback, Kindle


Author R.L. Stine has been scaring kids with his Goosebumps books since 1992. The creepy book series was inspired by the Twilight Zone, in which both usually had a shocking ending, but course Stine's stories involved kids as the main characters. A television series of the same name aired from 1995 to 1998, which most of the episodes have crawled their way onto DVDs over the last several years. The books were so popular that several spin-off series were created, Give Yourself Goosebumps, Tales to Give You Goosebumps and Goosebumps Presents and Goosebumps Series 2000. Stine took a slight break from the Goosebumps world, but returned in 2008 with a brand-new series Goosebumps Horrorland and later followed by Goosebumps Hall of Horrors.

The latest series is titled Goosebumps Most Wanted, where Stine's favorite villains return to haunt a new generation of readers. The newest installment, Creature Teacher: The Final Exam, hit bookshelves yesterday; which is a sequel to 1998's Goosebumps Series 2000: Creature Teacher.

This terrifying tale centers on twelve-year-old Tommy Farrelly, who is not looking forward to spending the rest of his summer at Winner Island Camp, a camp that teaches you how to become a winner. The camp's tag-line is: Winners Are Always Winners. His parents are winners at everything, as well as his younger sister, so he is being sent to a strange camp to learn how to be like them.

Upon arriving at Winner's Island Camp a few days late, Tommy meets Ricardo and Sophie and learns of the camp's terrible secret. Each kid will leave the camp a winner, well, except for one loser - who will be eaten by the "teacher" Mrs. Maaargh, and Tommy happens to be on the bottom of the winners' list.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Treasure Hunters by James Patterson

Treasure Hunters
An Illustrated Novel
By James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein with Mark Shulman
Illustrator: Juliana Neufeld
Publisher: Little, Brown And Company
Pub. Date: September 16, 2013
ISBN: 978-0316207560
Pages: 480

Purchase Links:

Book Description from

The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear n the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They'll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents--and find out if they're still alive.

Billy's Review:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review - The Boxcar Children: The Boardwalk Mystery

The Boxcar Children: The Boardwalk Mystery
Created By: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Written By: Tim Jessell
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Pub. Date: March 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-0807508039
Pages: 144 


Who doesn't remember reading The Boxcar Children when they were in elementary school? The original book by Gertrude Chandler Warner was published in 1924 and was reissued in 1942. The second book wasn't published until 1949. The author wrote a total of nineteen books until her death in 1979. The series continued in 1991 with a variety of ghostwriters writing new addictions and specials.

Recently, I had a chance to review book #131, The Boardwalk Mystery, from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I remember reading the original 19 books during my early elementary years and I was excited when the new books were released. I still own several of the books.

The Alden children (Henry, Violet, Jessie and Benny) are traveling with their grandfather to Oceanside, New Jersey on a business trip. The kids are excited about playing in the sand, exploring the boardwalk, and seeing all the attractions at Hanson's Amusements, which is owned by their grandfather's business friend, Mr. Hanson.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review - The Magic Pumpkin

The Magic Pumpkin
By Benji Alexander Palus
Publisher: iUniverse
Pub. Date: January 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1475970487
Pages: 316


Five-year-old Owen adores his younger brother Oliver and is saddened when Oliver becomes ill. Mysteriously, a magical portal appears and the brothers go through it, transporting them to a magical land. There in this land, Oliver is well and can play games with Owen.

They like to fly on the magical pumpkin and explore the land, but there is a dark force hiding there. Owen and Oliver use the magical pumpkin to protect them at night. They love to play in this land, but they miss their parents deeply. If they go back though the portal, Owen and Oliver may never get to play together again.

Review - Patalosh: The Time Travelers

Patalosh: The Time Travelers
By Z. Altug and Tracy Gensler
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pub. Date: February 29, 2012
ISBN: 978-1463521332
Pages: 360


Authors Z. Altug  and Tracy Gensler have created an entirely new world in Patalosh: The Time Travelers. The ancient civilization of the Taloshians live on the island of Patalosh on the planet Lumina, where they built the HMS Exploricus airship that can time-travel through portals. They arrived at Earth and settle in Antarctica.

Ten-year-old Orion Spence lives aboard the airship. One day he wakes up to find that his dad (the captain) and his mother (science officer) have been kidnapped by the villain Emperor Daaggerd, who wants control of the HMS Exploricus and the Orion's family book titled Ancient Book of Spells.

Orion locates the first officer and the rest of the crew. He goes on a quest to rescue his parents from the evil Emperor's clutches.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Return of Abracadabra

Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Return of Abracadabra
By Michael Dahl
Illustrator: Lisa K. Weber
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Pub. Date: February 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-1434247216
Pages: 208


Charlie Hitchcock is back to solve another mystery in Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Return of Abracadabra. Everything starts out with Charlie helping the school bully Tyler (who he is secretly friends with) pass out flyers to the upcoming magic show at the Hocus Pocus Hotel. The hotel was once owned by the legendary Abracadabra, who disappeared fifty years ago. He didn't exactly disappear as the boys know his other identity. Abracadabra is hosting a show for amateur magicians which will lead to his return and retirement from the magician business.

The mystery begins when a fellow classmate of the boys goes missing while on stage with the magician Theopolis, who claims he gets his magic powers from demons. Charlie knows this is a lie. Both Tyler and he are determined to find out the truth, no matter what the costs.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review - Arkeepers: Episode 4: Guardians

Arkeepers: Episode 4: Guardians
By W.J. Madsen
Publisher: little m books
Pub. Date: January 26, 2012
ISBN: 978-0983048732
Pages: 248


When there is a strange mystery to be solved, you can bet the Inspector Moustachio and Inspector Girl is there to solve the case. The brother and sister detective duo is actually an eleven-year-old Jake Moustachio and his eight-year-old sister, Alexa, along with their cat, Rex, and guinea pig, Sandy. They are the Keepers of the Universe, AKA the Arkeepers, who solve the mysteries of universe and battle the evil forces of the Deminion Darkeepers.

It is Halloween Night and there is chaos in the Moustachio's home. Jake and his friends are having an online Sphynx-3 video game marathon, while the doorbell keeps ringing with each new trick-or-treaters arriving for some candy.  Luckily, Grandma Moustachio is there to help their mother with the trick-or-treaters. Sounds like a great Halloween night, but Jake and Alexa are the Arkeepers, so they must drop everything they are doing to investigate a strange voice that comes from the other side of the magical magnifying glass. Of course, Rex and Sandy come along for the ride.

Review - Arkeepers: Episode 3: Darkeepers

Arkeepers: Episode 3: Darkeepers
By W.J. Madsen
Publisher: little m books
Pub. Date: January 26,2012
ISBN: 978-0983048725
Pages: 220


Jake Moustachio and his younger sister Alexa are not your typically kids as they are the Arkeepers, the Keepers of the Universe, just like their grandfather. They are the ones that investigate the mysteries of the universe and try to stop the evil Deminion Darkeepers from taking over.

Jake and Alexa are summoned through the magical magnifying glass (made of Egyptian Crystals) to solve another mystery. Their cat Rex and Alexa's guinea pig, Sandy, come along for the journey, where they can speak English in the other world.

Awaiting them is Captain Snappy, who needs their help as his ship is in danger. It seems a wicked sea witch named Jezebel has been released from her seashell. She has unleashed her wrath onto the Seven Seas by swallowing the ships and dragging them to the Shipwreck Bottom.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review - Hocus Pocus Hotel

Hocus Pocus Hotel
By Michael Dahl
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Pub Date: August 1, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1434242532
Pages: 216

Charlie Hitchcock was scared to death when he saw Ty standing in the alleyway behind the Abracadabra (aka, the Hocus Pocus Hotel). He had received a note from Ty during school hours to meet him at the hotel. Every student that has received a note from Ty has gotten beat up and now its Charlie's turn to face the bully.

To his surprise, Ty doesn't want to fight him, but instead Ty asks Charlie, or as Ty calls him - Hitch, for help. It seems that a magician has gone missing at the hotel, where Ty lives with his parents, whom also works there. The magician has mysteriously disappeared from his locked hotel room.

The missing magician is one of two cases that Ty needs help with. The other involves a ghost that is stealing items from the hotel. Now it’s up to young Charlie Hitchcock to solve the mysteries.