Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review- Grey Griffins The Clockwork Chronicles Book 1- The Brimstone Key

By Derek Benz & J.S. Lewis
Published by Little Brown Kids
Released on June 7th, 2010
Ages 9-12
Source- J.S. Lewis & Little Brown
5 Stars- Highly Recommend

A year ago, the Grey Griffins were just regular kids from Avalon, Minnesota. That was before they learned about the existence of evil fairies, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night. Now they are monster-hunters, celebrated heroes, and allies to the legendary Templar knights---but even heroes have to go to school.

When the Griffins enroll at Iron Bridge Academy, a school to train young recruits in the fight against the forces of evil, they find themselves at the center of a whole new adventure. The Clockwork King, a Templar foe from days past, has returned to finish the plan he set in motion decades ago. A plot to steal the souls of changelings---humans infused with fairy blood and supernatural abilities---in order to power his army of clockwork war machines (quoted from the book's over).

The Brimstone Key is a fabulous book where mythological creatures meet the modern day world. This awesome "steampunk for kids" is set in Avalon, MN, but also in area that exists between the human world and in a world where changelings, fairies, werwolves (just to name a few) and a whole lot more live. Let me just say, I would go visit Iron Bridge Academy in a heart beat.

This elite academy is now the school where the legendary Grey Griffins will be attending. Max, Natalia, Harley and Ernie are normal kids growing up in a normal world, but have extraordinary abilities. I really enjoyed reading about this close knit group's adventures and I really liked how easy they were to read about, and how well they got along. It would have been a blast to grow up with friends like this. They are characters with whom both guys and girls will relate to. They're intelligent and all work together to solve mysterious. Max is the leader and while you wouldn't know from meeting him, he comes from money. Then there is Harley, the inventor. He's never had the type of money Max has, but that doesn't stop him. Natalia is the sleuth and a very intelligent, fearless female heroine. Ernie is a changeling, and he becomes more faerie each time he uses his new found abilities, which I have to say are pretty cool.

My favorite female character was Natalia. She's one feisty ( I mean that in a very respectful way), fearless girl who doesn't care what others think of her, nor does ever lose site on who she really is. I think that sends a powerful message to young girls to be stand firm in who they are and be proud of that, no matter what anyone says. I really liked Max, as the leader of the group he has little fear and a lot of compassion when it comes to his friends. Harley is just hard not to love, muscle and all. Being a Changeling, Ernie has some amazing abilities/powers. If I could pick a character to be from this series, I'd pick a Changeling. Who wouldn't want to have the power to teleport, run super fast, have enhanced eye site and heal quickly!?! Being a changeling is also a danger.

When you're dealing with danger, you definitely need these powers, as danger is through out this book. The Grey Griffins are on a quest to stop an evil scientist and his minions of Clockwork creations and find out what's happening to the changelings who keep disappearing. With out giving away any spoilers, let's just say this is a great tween read, with a lot of adventure, magic and action. I know this series is being compared to Harry Potter, and I can sorta of see that, but there's too many difference to compare the two in my book. I've not read the original Grey Griffins series, but I never once felt lost as to what was going on. I felt this story stands well on it's own, but I am planning on reading the original series now.

I recommend The Brimstone Key to tween, teen and adult readers. I think there's a little bit of everything in this book that will hook readers of all ages, as they enjoy getting to know the Grey Griffins and following them on their adventures. It's a fun read that grabbed my attention from the first page and I quickly found myself devouring it's story. I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series.

Don't forget- you can enter to win your own copy of The Brimstone Key
You can find out more about the series here
Follow them on Twitter here
Read an excerpt from Little Brown's site here

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giveaway & Author Interview with Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles Book 1: The Brimstone Key, co-Author J.S. Lewis

Today we are excited to have J.S. Lewis, co-author of the newest series Grey Griffins The Clockwork Chronicles, with us today.

Here's a little bit about the series:

A brand new adventure starring The Grey Griffins!
Max---the leader
Natalia---the brains
Ernie---the changeling
Harley---the muscle

A year ago, the Grey Griffins were just regular kids from Avalon, Minnesota. That was before they learned about the existence of evil fairies, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night. Now they are monster-hunters, celebrated heroes, and allies to the legendary Templar knights---but even heroes have to go to school.

When the Griffins enroll at Iron Bridge Academy, a school to train young recruits in the fight against the forces of evil, they find themselves at the center of a whole new adventure. The Clockwork King, a Templar foe from days past, has returned to finish the plan he set in motion decades ago. A plot to steal the souls of changelings---humans infused with fairy blood and supernatural abilities---in order to power his army of clockwork war machines.
(quoted from Goodreads)

What inspired you and Derek to write the Grey Griffins series?

Growing up I wanted to be a comic book artist. Derek and I have about 200 characters that we created over the years, but in order to make an actual comic book, those characters needed stories. I figured out along the way that I actually enjoyed the story process more than drawing, so I made the shift. Derek and I had talked about write something together since we were teenagers. We decided to combine some of the same myths that inspired our favorite stories (Star Wars and Lord of the Rings) with the adventures we went on growing up in Iowa and Minnesota, and the end result was the first Grey Griffins trilogy.

In three words, how would you describe The Brimstone Key?

Steampunk for kids.

Growing up, if you could have been best friends with one of your characters who would that have been and why?

I'd love to hang out with all of them. But if I had to choose one, I'd pick Harley. He's been through quite a bit for being so young -- he's never met his dad. In fact, he hasn't even seen a picture of him. His mom has to work two jobs just to have enough money to put food on the table and keep the roof over their heads. Yet no matter what happens, Harley never changes. Circumstances don't affect him the way they can affect me. He's stoic and brave and I'd want that to rub off on me!

What character did you enjoy getting to know the most?

I've enjoyed Ernie's story quite a bit, because all Ernie wants to do is to belong. He feels like an outcast no matter what situation he's in, and I think we can all feel that way. He uses humor to try and get people to accept him, and I find myself doing that as well.

As a teen, who were some of your favorite authors?

My favorite author then, now and forever is John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. It started when I was six. My parents took me to a record shop (records pre-date tapes, which pre-date CDs, which pre-date mP3s), and I was told that I could get any three 45s that I wanted. A "45" meant they had one song on one side, and second on the other. After deliberating, I got the first rap song of all time -- Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Chic's "Le Freak," and "The Hobbit" book on record, which came with an illustrated book so I could follow along. I tackled the novel version when I was in seventh grade at Johnston Middle School in Iowa, thanks to Ms. Pollack, who forced us to read the first thing every morning. I've read the book -- and the entire "Lord of the Rings" series -- every year of my life since then. I also loved the "Narnia" series, "The Riftwar Saga" by Raymond E. Feist, "The Iron Tower Trilogy" by Dennis L. McKiernan, "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti, and some other fantasy series. I still love fantasy books, but I've worked hard to expand my reading list to include biographies, histories (especially about World War II), and other genres as well.

Thank you Jon for visiting with us today!

You can find out more about Jon and
The Grey Griffins series at the following links:
Twitter: @jonslewis

Thank you to Jon and Little Brown Kids, we have an exciting giveaway!

1 winner will receive a published copy of The Brimstone Key along with two posters from the book. A 2nd winner will receive two The Brimstone Key posters. *Each poster is different and will randomly be selected to go to the winner*

Here's an example of two of the posters:

To Enter Please Fill Out This Form:
*Open Internationally (please send our over seas shipping policy under our Giveaway Policy page).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This year's ALA Read Posters- The Harry Potter Cast

Well Daniel, Emma & Rupert.

What do you guys think? You can purchase your posters while they last for $16 at the ALA Store.

Book Review- Fledgling: Jason Steed

By Mark A Cooper
Published By Source Books
Released September 2010
Source: The Publisher
Ages 11 years old & up
5 stars- An Awesome Read

Tormented by his mother's death....
Taken for granted by his father.....
Trained in deadly martial arts.....

Jason Steed is looking for a place to call home. He finds what he's looking for in the Sea Cadets0an elite group of British youngsters being groomed for lifelong service in the military. But when a routine training exercise goes awry, Jason finds himself in the middle of a secret mission. The future of the world hangs in the balance...and Jason might be the only one who can save it.

This is a brilliant read! I felt a wide range of emotion while reading this action packed book. Mark does a such a great job at showing both Jason's life now in the present, and his life growing up, and it sets the tone for the resilient young man he really is. It also show cases the broken and then on the mend relationship he has with his father, Lieutenant Commander Steed of the HMS ARK Royal, based out of London, England.

By the time Jason was almost 8, he earned two black belts and a 2nd Dan black belt. He can speak numerous languages including Chinese (which is where he grew up, until his father moved him back to the house he grew up in London, England), Japanese, English and more. He can complete an military assault course in less than 7 mins, and fly a simulated plane. Jason starts off broken and throws himself into martial arts, where he learns a great deal about his own personal inner strength. This strength mixed with his strength prove to be a life saver with Jason finds himself among an elite group from the British army, in enemy territory.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jason Steed. He has a great young male voice that many tween readers and even teen readers will enjoy. While the martial arts was amazing, and the war scenes brutally awesome and very real, being set in the 1960's-1970's make the book appealing to older readers. Jason and his Dad are invited to the Royal Palace more than once, and the Royal family have minor rules. I liked that Princess Catherine and Jason have a sweet, innocent connection or "puppy dog" love.

At only 11 years old, this young hero has his head planted firmly on his shoulders, but also enjoys doing what some of the kids his age do. He is a boy after all and with his best friend Scott, they do have a few minor mishaps. There's nothing Jason can't get handle and through the course of his story, I was moved to tears a few times. I got so caught up in Fledgling, that I had to remind myself that Jason Steed's story isn't real, as often times it felt like it was.

Fans of Alex Rider will be highly entertained with Jason Steed. It's an awesome, action packed, modern day Karate Kid story with a lot more fight. I highly recommend this book, but be warned there is a few war scenes and while they're not all gory, they are real. I'm looking forward to reading more of Jason's story.

You can find out more about Jason's story here

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review & Giveaway- The Magnificent 12 The Call

By Michael Grant
Published By Harper Collins Children
Released on August 24th, 2010
Ages 9-12
Source- The Publisher
4.5 Stars- A Wonderful New Read

Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.

And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. Will he answer the call? (quoted from the book's jacket).

This is a brilliantly written, laugh out, adventure that is sure to be a must have for many middle school age readers. Mack's voice is one of wit, and laugh out loud sarcasm, as he comes to terms with being a leader of the Magnificent 12. The only problem is, he's got to find the other 11. If that wasn't bad enough, this true to life character knows how to work his away around the bullies who target him at school, but if he thought his life was weird, it's not until he saves the life of Stefan, does this "captain" of all bullies now become an allie on his quest to stop the unimaginable and save the world. The unthinkable happens more than once to Mack.

Mack is so funny, that I laughed out loud more than once. How can he not be. He's picked on at school and has parents who barely even know he's there, which was heartbreaking, but Mack's wit made him a strong character, who isn't someone who lets others push him around. I adored him! While I was reading this, I kept thinking that this is one book I can't wait for my son to be old enough to read. Have I mentioned has he more phobias than I realized existed!?!? Which makes for some humorous moments between him and Stefan as they set off for an unforgettable adventure to Australia.

Michael Grant does a wonderful job with the two different narrations, as the story alternates between Mack, set in modern day and Grimluk, who is from the past and sets up the history of the evil forces Mack must face. With mythical creatures, laugh out loud moments and adventure, The Magnificent 12 The Call is a book I highly recommend. This engaging read is one both book lovers and reluctant readers will enjoy. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

Be sure to visit The Magnificent 12's site to read about the series, play games, build your own avatar, and join the community

Thank you to Harper Collins, we have an official SIGNED hardcover of the book to GIVEAWAY!!!
1 winner will receive a SIGNED The Magnificent 12, The Call from Harper Collins Childrens Books.

Be sure to visit Harper Collins here

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review-Rain Is Not My Indian Name

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
Published by Harper Collins Publishers
Released on July 1st, 2001
Source- The Author & Publisher
4 stars- A Great Read

The next day was my fourteenth birthday, and I'd never kissed a boy -- domestic style or French. Right then, I decided to get myself a teen life.

Cassidy Rain Berghoff didn't know that the very night she decided to get a life would be the night that Galen would lose his.

It's been six months since her best friend died, and up until now Rain has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia's Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again -- at least through the lens of her camera.

Hired by her town newspaper to photograph the campers, Rain soon finds that she has to decide how involved She wants to become in Indian Camp. Does she want to keep a professional distance from the intertribal community she belongs to? And just how willing is she to connect with the campers after her great loss?
(quoted from Good Reads).

In a market full of wonderful Children's reads, I find a loss of wonderful contemporary Native American books, and really, Native American books for YA and Children as a whole. Cynthia Leitich Smith introduces us to a wonderful character, Cassidy, who's voice is one I think many adolescents will relate to on some level. She's real, dealing with all that life throws at her and trying to find her mark in the world and among her family and friends.

Cynthia tackles sensitive issues with grace and meaning, as Rain's story unfolds. Rain is dealing with the death of her best friend, the passing of her mother a few years before, her father being stationed over seas, a brother who she's drifted away from and living in a small town where everyone knows everything about each other, Native Americans are the minority. Through Rain's struggle to find her place in her American Indian Heritage, Cynthia gives us a real glimpse of what some Native American preteens and teens struggle with.

Through Rain's journey in learning to be proud of and embrace her beautiful heritage, Cynthia gives us her powerful message that we are all different and our uniqueness is what brings us, as a human race together. Rain Is Not My Indian Name is heartbreaking, real, thought provoking book, that will leave readers feeling empowered to embrace who they are.

Mundie Kids Top 10 Reads for 2010

Last week, Mundie Kids had a chance to participate in Savvy Source's "So What Should We Read" article. We are one of 5 contributors who shared what we think are the Top 10 Children's and Middle School books for 2010. You can find our list here and here:

*Quoted off of Savvy Source and you can find each of these books reviews here on our blog by clicking on the book's title.*

Savvy Source was founded by Stacey Boyd as an online community helping parents by providing information on over 100,000 preschools throughout the United States. They also provide resource links on educational activities, reviews on kid-friendly products and local information on fun things to do in major U.S. cities. Take a look around Savvy Source's site; you will be amazed at the wealth of information that's there for parents.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox

This last week we received some really fun greats and some amazing giveaway goodies!

For Review From Scholastic:
* Little Scholastic Numbers
* Little Scholastic Zoo
For ages infant to 3 years old, both of these books are great for sensory for infants and toddlers with their touch and feel textures, and bright colors.

From Random House Children's Books:
* The Coming of The Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse, to be released TOMORROW October 26th, 2010.
I am really looking forward to reading this book, as it's inspired by the tale of Beowulf.

From Bloomsbury Children's Books:
* The Boy Who Howled by Timothy Power, to be released TOMORROW October 26th, 2010
I am a huge wolf girl fan and really looking forward to reading this.

*Wolves of the Beyond, Lone Wolf by Kathryn Lasky
* Percy Jackson and The Olympians, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (UK Edition)

For Giveaway:
*Fancy Nancy prize pack from Harper Collins Children

Thank you to Scholastic, Random House Kids, Bloomsbury Children's, and Harper Collins Children's for this weeks wonderful reads!

What goodies did you receive this week?

n My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It's a postwhere weshare the books we've received this past week for review, borrowed from friends or the library, received as a gift, bought, or received to giveaway. We've posted what we've received for Mundie Moms here

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review- Frances Lincoln Children's Books

I love UK books. I don't know what it is about them, but I have adored them, especially children's books, since my son was a newborn. I started collecting UK Children's books then and I still collect them now to read to my children. I was thrilled at having the chance to review this great Children's Books, from UK publisher Frances Lincoln.

By Saviour Pirotta
Illustrated by Linzi West
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Released on June 11th, 2007
Source- The Publisher
5 Stars- A Wonderful Read

Patrick is painting a picture of a cornfield-but what colours does he need and how does he make them?Red for a squirrel, green for a frog, orange for a fox-as more and more animals sneak into his picture, Patrick has to put lots of colours on his palette. But his little dog has other ideas....

This is the perfect book for little ones learning about colors. Patrick and his Aunt Emily are sitting on a shaded hill over looking a cornfield. As Patrick sees various animals in a variety of color, he wants to add them to his cornfield painting. With easy to read words, and engaging, fun illustrations, this has become a favorite read in our house.

By Lis Jones
Illustrated by Jim Coplestone
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Released on May 6th, 2010
Source- The Publisher
4 Stars- A Fun Read

Ruby is worried about the fox in the woods. Nonetheless she bravely agrees to go for a walk there with her father and her toy rabbit Raby. As they walk she and her father talk about fox's appetite for rabbits and that the fox wouldn't be interested in chasing her. Unbeknownst to her, Raby falls from her backpack and is spotted by the fox. Is this the end of Raby? In a surprising and reassuring ending Raby is returned to Ruby in the nick of time. This delightful and simply clever story about being afraid - a reworking of the theme of the classic We're Going on a Bear Hunt - has many layers that will stand repeated reading and discussion with young children (quoted from GoodReads).

We really enjoyed the illustrations in this great children's book. I liked the way Lis shows how hesitant Ruby is about going on a walk in the woods, as she's never been before. She's worried about Foxy. On their walk her father tells her all sorts of wonderful things about Foxy and the woods. Once she's walked through the woods, holding her daddy's hand, she realizes she's okay and Foxy and the woods aren't that scary. Through out their walk, her father keeps reassuring her they'll be alright, as Ruby constantly tells her stuffed rabbit, Rabby they'll be safe.

I think it's a great story for young kids, as often times they are hesitant to try something new and like Ruby, often times after they try it, they realize they are fine and can do it again. I would definitely recommend this cute, fun read.

By Paul Stewart
Illustrated by Tim Vyner
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Released on October 9th, 2008
Source- The Publisher
3 stars- It's A Good Read

It’s bedtime, but in the warmth of the den, a young wolf cub cannot sleep. Papa Wolf knows why: the time has come to take his cub out into the dark night. As they walk deeper into the woods, Papa Wolf soothes his young son’s fears away. And when they reach the top of the world, he shows how big wolves make the night their own — and that the cub, too, is now part of the night. Magical watercolor illustrations of the wolves and their forest home are the perfect complement to this enchanting read-aloud story (quoted from GoodReads).

When a young wolf cub can't sleep, his papa knows it's time for him to join in the night song. He guides his cub through the woods and up to the rock, where the rest of the wolves meet up to lift their heads and sing their song to the full moon. Wolf pup starts off a little unsure, but at the end of his journey with his father he feels like he belongs, and shares his song with the rest of the wolves.

It's a good read with unique water color type illustrations that I enjoyed, though my youngest felt the picture of the wolves was a little scary.
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~