Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Today's read... Superpowered Animals by Soledade Romero Marino

It's time for another nonfiction read! Today's book takes a peek at the animal kingdom and should showcase several animals with unexpected superpowers. I'm curious to see what's inside, which animals are chosen, and how well everything is explained. And I really hope the illustrations pay each creature justice. In other words, I'm placing high-expectations on this one, since there are quite a few animal reads out there, and that means it has to shine.

So, let's see if my expectations are met or not.

by Soledad Romero Marino
Illustrated by Sonia Polido
Phaidon France
Children's Nonfiction
60 pages
ages 4 to 10

OCTOBER 13th!!!

Inspired by books of world records, children are invited to learn fascinating facts about 22 of the most incredible animals on Earth Over thousands of years of evolution, certain animals have become masters of survival. They are capable of exceptional abilities, from perceiving sounds and smells that humans can't detect, to creating powerful chemical formulas



Twenty very different animals show their superpowers and hit the spotlight in this information-packed read.

This book is all about animal facts—super animal facts. Before the parade begins, the author lists the various animals and the page on which they will appear with a small illustration to keep things clear. Then, the types of superpowers are quickly presented with a short description and a symbol for easy classification and search purposes. After this, the animals are presented, one-by-one, each on a two-page spread with the animal in full color on the right and the information on the left.

The presented animals include a few lesser known ones but, for the most part, ones the reader has probably run across before. But that doesn't mean that this book doesn't pack many surprises. A short description of each creature is followed by a column of its powers (clearly symbolized and explained), and then, there's a column holding all sorts of other facts concerning the highlighted animal. Each explanation is written at an appropriate reading level and keeps the sentences worded with the readers in mind. It's interesting and will offer more than a few things readers probably didn't know. Plus, each animal is very well-illustrated and easy to identify.

It's a great read for animal fans or even to gain a bit more insight. Unfortunately, there isn't a list of which animals have which powers (for simple referencing purposes), but the rest is very well laid out and works great for libraries, homeschoolers, and group lessons as well.

And here they are...

Author Soledad Romero Mariño is an experienced children’s non-fiction author who specialises in ‘best of’ round-up style books. Her works include Awesome Accidents: 19 Discoveries that Changed the World and Famous Robberies: The World’s Most Spectacular Heists.

Illustrator of the international bestseller What a Shell Can TellSonia Pulido has proven market success with Phaidon books. Her illustrations have appeared in publications globally, including the New Yorker and the New York Times. In 2020 Pulido won the Spanish National Illustration Award.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Today's read...Persona 4 Arena by Atlus

I haven't been hitting many graphic novels in lately, and it's time to change that. Or at least, get another one in. I really don't know much about this one. It's the first volume in this new series, but if I understood correctly, this is a spin-off from another series, Persona 4 Arena (?). If you know all the details, please feel free to fill me in below in the comments.

Anyway, I'm all in for some action and great artwork...and I have a feeling this one might deliver.

by Atlus
Illustrated by Aiya Kyu
Udon Entertainment
Young Adult Fantasy / Graphic Novel
160 pages

The casts of PERSONA 3 and PERSONA 4 collide!

A dormant anti-shadow suppression weapon named Labrys has been stolen! Mitsuru Kirijo and Aigis begin investigating its whereabouts. Meanwhile Yu Narukami returns to Inaba to reunite with his friends, the Investigation Team. What he finds waiting for him there is a strange fighting tournament held inside the TV World!



Worlds collide in a deadly battle tournament, where friends are scarce and the circumstances are a mystery.

I had not read Persona 3 before picking up this one, which was a mistake. While I was able to pretty much figure this out and sink into the story, I found it so interesting that I wished I had read the other series first. So, I'm going to have to correct that mistake.

As to this read, it is exciting. It shifts locations and characters, mostly concentrating on two groups, Mitsurr Kirijo/Aigis and Yu Narukami/Investigation Team. The first scenes snag attention as the first of these groups investigates the theft of a secret weapon. The other group, as a sharp contrast, snuggles into a reunion after a longer split. When both are drawn into the TV World, everything which was settling gets thrown upside-down. I felt as lost as the characters as they tried to figure out what was happening and are faced with their first battles. As the last scenes of the book hit, it was terrible to be left to wait to see what happened next. So, this tale does draw in and keep tension high.

While the action is addicting and there is enough character depth to draw in (without hurting the pacing), it's the graphics which make every scene sit. These filled in the tale very nicely while building up the characters' emotions and quirks. They especially work well during the quicker pacing to keep the plot understandable and exciting. It was a nice balance through-out and one I plan to continue to follow... because I do wonder what happens next.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Today's read... SmART by Amy E. Herman

Years and years and years ago (am I aging myself? Maybe)...when I was a little whipper-snapper (yes, there are people in our area who still use that word.), my father would take us to the library every Saturday during our summer vacation. Our favorite and most visited section of the library was the nonfiction shelves. So, when I saw the number of nonfiction reads in this month's pile, I did a little happy dance. Okay, there are a ton of spookier reads fitting to the season, too, but I wanted to start this month on a great note. So, here we go!

Use Your Eyes to Boost Your Brain
adapted from Amy E. Herman
with Heather Maclean
Simon Schuster
Middle Grade Nonfiction
208 pages

OCTOBER 25th!!!

I Spy and Where’s Waldo? get a revolutionary twist in this self-directed, interactive book that teaches young readers how to fully engage their brains to think critically and creatively.

What would you say if I told you that looking at art could give you the confidence you need to speak up in class? Or that learning the history of donuts could help you think like a super spy and train like the CIA?

smART teaches readers how to process information using paintings, sculptures, and photographs that instantly translates to real world situations and is also fun!

With three simple steps (1) How to SEE, (2) How to THINK about what you see, and (3) How to TALK about what you see, readers learn how to think critically and creatively, a skill that only requires you to open your eyes and actively engage your brain.

GOODREADS   /    B&N    /    AMAZON


Meant for more than just kids, this book stretches those mind 'muscles' and explains how to increase those cognitive functions.

I'll admit that I expected quite a few search-puzzles and such, when I first got my hands on this book. That's not what this is...although there are plenty of exercises to give that brain a workout. Instead, this book leads the reader through various activities and explains what each one does and why it works along the way. Readers will leave these pages knowing more about why certain things improve our thought-speed and detail recognition as well as how to practice these abilities and improve. And it's a very interesting read, too. 

This is broken down into eight chapters, which lead the reader step-by-step down a path to 'improve' the brain. There is quite a bit to read, but the explanations are geared for young audience and use correlations they'll be able to connect with (like popsicles, detective work, games, etc). It is interesting, and I was surprised how much it draws in, although the topic seems as if it'd be dry. I do think that most middle graders won't want to dive into this much depth, yet, but it's great for young adults (and adults) too. 

I was happily surprised at the use of famous artwork in these pages. The author gives readers many opportunities to practice the skills on their own, and that mostly through the use of art. These exercises are fun, easy to understand, and use the art in a clever...and very successful...way. Sometimes, the reader needs to turn a few pages forward or back to do the exercise (which is too bad but not really an issue) and these photos do not fill the entire page (which is also too bad, since it'd make the exercises easier to do). Still, each of these does make the tasks entertaining, and they definitely fulfill their purpose.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed diving into this read and I can see especially teens enjoying this one quite a bit. It'd also add a great theme to the classroom setting or even for homeschoolers.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

What's Coming in October?

One of the things I love about the upcoming months of the reading year is the holiday theme, which steers my reads. October centers around spooky, paranormal, mystery, and Halloween fun. The entire time, I nibble on fitting candies, drink my pumpkin-spiced lattes and sip hot teas. In a non-reading  direction, sweaters are back in play as well as fun themed clothes and decorations. Plus, my baking ramps up right along with my crafting as I hope to finish a few things up for the fast-approaching Christmas season. All in all, these winter months count to one of my favorite times of the year.

That also means a great line-up on the book end. This month sinks heavily into the Halloween-y direction, but I also have a several non-fiction reads coming up and some simply adventures and fun. But let's just take our monthly peek and see what lies in store.


This month holds several non-fiction reads, and what better way to begin than with amazing animal facts? This book takes a peek at 22 animals and their very unexpected capabilities. It's suppose to include several directions of science, too. So, I'm really curious to see what these pages hold. Put on your exploring hats with me as we head in on the 3rd to learn more.

Children's Nonfiction


We're heading into the world of magic with this read. It slides into an academy direction (haven't read one of those in awhile) and from what I can tell, should be pretty dark. It holds secret societies, mages, danger, mysterious deaths and more. I thought it sounded perfect to get the Halloween season going. Since it hits the shelves the beginning of this month, you can take a peek right away, too. I'm exploring this one on the 5th.

Young Adult Gothic Fantasy


I've always loved visiting Pumpkin Patches and the many activities they offer...and the apple cider with a cinnamon stick. Yummy! This book promises tons of Autumn and Halloween fun in all the right ways. I'm taking a look at it on the 6th.

Picture Book


Doesn't that cover promise a perfect Halloween vibe? The main character in this one has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts, which has left him with tons of dead relative companionship and very lonely among the living. He's about to get involved in some huge paranormal adventures, which promise high stakes, actions and more. I'm crawling under my blankets with a flashlight to read this one on the 10th

Middle Grade Paranormal


I'm going to take a gamble on this one because I'm not sure the illustrations will be my thing or not. It surrounds the adventure of some children, who get stuck in a witch's sack and promises...well, I'm not sure. I'll find out, though, on the 13th.

Picture Book


Maybe, you've heard of the Cat Ninja series? I reviewed this popular series a few months back and enjoyed the graphic novel adventure. So, when I ran across this one, I had to smile. It's for slightly younger, graphic novel readers and circles around the early days of the Cat Ninja character. I'm expecting adventure and humor, too. Find out more with me on the 17th.

Children's Graphic Novel


I don't seem to get my hands on enough historical fiction. So, I was happy to add this one to my schedule. It goes back to WWII and follows two 13-year-olds as they steer between Nazis, and then, the division of Germany under the four nations. I'm curious to see where this one goes. Find out more with me on the 19th.

Young Adult Historical


Since there's a ship involved in the last peek, we'll just hit another one. This one, however, sails through space with a pirate, who is determined to save her parents...and the galaxy. I'm expecting some quirky adventure and tons of scifi fun. Let's see how this adventure hits those waves on the 24th.

Middle Grade Science Fiction


I just saw this title and was already smiling. I have no clue what to expect with this read outside of tons of humor. And hotdogs. Maybe, vampire hotdogs? That'd be different! I have no doubt this one will offer a lighter side to the entire Halloween experience. Get ready to discover something new with me on the 26th.

Picture Book


Anyone else finding this one possible creepy material? It surrounds a girl's desires to enter an Ivy League school and the deadly competition she enters to get there. It should remind a bit of Squid Games...and I have no idea how this is going to work. But let's get ready for some chilling moments on the 28th!

Young Adult Thriller

Every month, I have more books on my to-be-read-and-reviewed pile than I could ever hope to get to. Since my schedule tends to shift around a bit, I usually can find a way to squeeze one in...my favorite one. This month, I'm hoping to fit in:

I have no idea what to expect with this one, but it looks pretty creepy and Halloweeny to me. It's a picture book...about a skull? Original, right? It just released this last July and has been getting good reviews. So, I thought it'd fit perfectly into this month's reads. Better yet, it's a library read, too! Yep, I picked this one up through our small town library, which means you probably can get your hands on a library copy as well.

Picture Book


Friday, September 29, 2023

Today's read... Scream for the Camera by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus

It's almost October, and I have a great read to lead into the spookier month of the year. This is the second in a series, and believe it or not, I have read the first. I'm hoping this one holds as much fun as the first book in the series. So, grab that blanket and flashlight because this should be spooky fun.

Graveyard Girls, #2
by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus
Union Square Kids
Middle Grade Mystery / Horror
256 pages
ages 8 to 12

OCTOBER 3rd!!!

New York Times bestselling authors Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus deliver a s lightly scary, extremely addictive contemporary middle-grade series—perfect for fans of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitters Club.
It’s been a month since the Graveyard Girls—Gemma, Whisper, Sophie, Frannie, and Zuzu—discovered Silas Hoke’s empty grave. A month, and no answers. That changes when messages from the other side start to creep up on the Graveyard Girls. Gemma’s good-luck charm. The skull in Whisper’s spilled milk. Sophie’s vanishing phone. Frannie’s theater curse. And Zuzu’s possessed Jōurnal. Who is trying to reach them . . . and why?
The good There might be one person with some answers. The bad She’s a mortician . . . with a deadly secret.
Speaking of bad news, straight-A Sophie is quickly sliding down the scale to becoming a B-flat friend. She is spending way more time hanging out with “Danger Me” and way less time with the Graveyard Girls and her schoolwork. Will her scary story be enough to win back her pals, or will her picture-perfect life become the ultimate photo bomb?



Middle school drama mixes with spooks, chilling moments, mystery, and a wonderful dose of friendship for a fun read.

The tale takes off right away, and while building from where book one left off, it's not too hard to sink right into this one. I would, however, recommend starting at the beginning of this series so all the information sits.

These girls might have a bit of experience thanks to the first adventure, but there's so much they aren't ready for...and that hits even in the first pages. The switch between girls and their perspectives runs smoothly and is never confusing. Instead, each personality shines and gives insight into what's going on. This is a fun group with tons of spunk.

Edging into spooky, there's a well-balanced mix of thrills, humor, and drama. It edges on scary but manages to remain in the middle grade range. So, those who like creeps and surprises will enjoy it.  Friendship also rings high for this group, even when the girls have their own issues to deal with. Of course, the supernatural world is best to handle when they stick together. 

It's a fun read with a plot which runs smoothly along. And surprises are guaranteed.

And here they are...

Lisi Harrison has written thirty-seven YA and middle-grade novels including the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Clique, which has sold more than eight million copies, and the Monster High series. In 2021, Harrison launched two new middle-grade books series, Girl Stuff and The Pack. Lisi lives in California, and in addition to her work as an author, she is the cofounder of Thrive, a wellness center that teaches tweens, teens, and parents how to have healthy, drama-free friendships. Visit her at lisiharrison.com or thriveswell.com.

Daniel Kraus is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling horror writer and coauthor of both the Trollhuntersseries and The Shape of Water with Guillermo del Toro. Kraus has won a Scribe Award and two Odyssey Awards, has been a Library Guild selection, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults recipient, a Bram Stoker finalist, and more. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Daniel lives in Chicago. Visit him at danielkraus.com.