Thursday, September 3, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis


Thirteen-year-old Amelie Day loves to bake so she's thrilled when she's invited to compete in the Best Teen Baker of the Year contest. But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis, and some days she can barely breathe. Determined not to let her condition or her mom stop her from taking part, Amelie musters all her Flour Power. But will it be enough to get her to the top?

*Children and parents who love baking will appreciate Amelie’s devotion to the hobby*Fans of Food Network reality shows will love the aspect of competition*The protagonist is a feisty, independent thirteen-year-old, who many young girls will look up to *The text features several recipes and tips for aspiring bakers

REVIEW BY: Arianna, age 12 years, 9 months


This book was amazing and really touched my heart and some parts even made me cry. Amelie Day suffers from an illness and will be lucky to reach the age of 18. She has wonderful friends and family and all she ever wanted to do is bake her perfectly delicious beautiful tasty food. 

My favorite character is Amelie because she has a heart of gold and the courage of a lion even though she knows that she could die at any year, month, week, or day. She continues to live life and makes every moment special and meaningful.

My favorite part is when Amelie talks about Harry or baking because I can feel that these are the people/things she loves. 

This story is sad, but overall a truly golden book. 

I give this book 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 and up. 

BOOK REVIEW: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi


Jessica Verdi, the author of My Life After Now and The Summer I Wasn’t Me, returns with a heartbreaking and poignant novel of grief and guilt that reads like Nicholas Sparks for teens.

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college. 

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions. Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

REVIEW BY: Arianna, age 12 years, 9 months


I recommend this book to people who like romance, drama and heart-breaking stories. I recommend this book for an older audience because it does have some inappropriate scenes and language for younger readers. 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 and up. 

BOOK REVIEW: Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein


Middle school meets Mission Impossible in this hilarious tween series about a girl whose life is turned upside down when she discovers her father is a superspy. 

Up until Bridget’s birthday, the most exciting moment in her life was when Dale Tookey maybe, sort of smiled at her one time. But that was before—before she found a mysterious gift bag at her doorstep, before she was transported to a covert CIA agency called Section 23, and before she became Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training. Now Bridget’s busting boys out of detention, being chauffeured by a talking car, and infiltrating the popular girls’ clique to steal secret codes, all while under cover as a semi-awkward middle school girl. But will she be able to keep up with her new action-packed life while hiding it from her family and friends? And what if Section 23 is keeping secrets of its own?

It is no secret—Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training is the start of an explosive new series packed with gadgets, humor, and, best of all: girl power. 

REVIEW BY: Michaela, age 11 years, 3 months


Bridget is my favorite character and my favorite part is when she meets her dad close to the end of the book. This book is really good and I love Bridget's spy gadgets. 

It is funny and I laughed ALOT! I could not stop reading this book, I even woke up early this morning to keep reading it. That is how good this book is! 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10-12.

This book was published on September 1, 2015.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou


Two girls on opposite sides of the world connect through a mysterious book, whose phantom narrator guides them into a tale about a past romance that has surprising ties to each of their futures.

Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family for the summer in Pakistan—for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Georgia while her mom looks for a job. They have no idea that their utterly different worlds are about to get much, much bigger, and their futures are about to collide.

In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. When Kai writes three words on the first page, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As they take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.

This hilarious, inventive, and deeply touching story about destiny carries readers along as Kai, Leila, Ralph, and Edwina begin the search for their true selves, and discover the invisible threads that link us all, ultimately, to one another. Middle grade bestseller Lisa Papademetriou constructs a page-turning, endlessly accessible story for readers of all ages.

REVIEW BY: Michaela, age 11 years, 3 months


This book is funny and very good. It had me laughing through the whole thing. Lisa Papademetriou did a great job writing this book! I could barely even put it down because it grabbed my attention and wouldn't let it go. 

Aunt Lavinia and Doodle are my favorite characters. My favorite part is when the cocoon opened. 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10-12. 

This books publishing date is October 6, 2015.

Monday, August 31, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey


Who holds your secrets?

Allie is devastated when her older sisters commits suicide- and it's not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they'd always be together, in life and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie's not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister's death or facing her new reality without her. 

REVIEW BY: Arianna, age 12 years, 9 months


I loved this book! It was a wonderful yet heart-wrenching read. 

My favorite character is Allie because I felt like I experienced the pain with her. 

My favorite parts are when Allie stands up to people because it takes courage to do that and she was very inspirational in that regard. 

I recommend this book to anyone who feels like reading a heart-wrenching story of love. I think older audiences should read this book because there are some inappropriate scenes and language for young readers. 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 and up. 

This books publishing date is November 1, 2015. 

BOOK REVIEW: Smoked by Mari Mancusi


Once upon a time the world burned.

Until a girl and her dragon smothered the flame.
But the spark that ignited the apocalypse never went out.
And the scorch is about to begin…

When Team Dragon rescues Emmy from the government lab, they think the future is finally safe. But they soon discover that Emmy has a secret—a secret so dangerous it could trigger the very apocalypse Connor and Caleb were sent back in time to prevent.

As a dragon hunter, Connor has committed his life to saving the world. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to complete his mission…even if it meant betraying his brother and losing Trinity’s heart. Even if it meant doing the unthinkable.

But a desperate choice meant to prevent The Scorch, may be the spark that sets the world aflame once more.

The epic conclusion to the genre-bending Scorched series, which Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series, called "A heart-pounding, twisty, time-travel fantasy.”

REVIEW BY: Angel, age 12 years, 10 months


This book is about the last dragon named Emberlyn and how her offspring are the end of the earth. 

My favorite part was when Scarlet found the baby dragons. This book was a bit confusing, but I recommend it for readers that love dragon tales. 

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 and up because of some inappropriate parts. 

BOOK REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Once Upon a Zombie by Billy Phillips


When Caitlin Fletcher’s mom disappeared (or left?) four years ago, Caitlin began suffering from breathless bouts of anxiety. Her new move to London, with her Dad and her brainiac sister, threatens to lead to more situations that will trigger panic. Now, she’s having anxiety over the possibility of having anxiety!
Caitlin’s life takes a turn for the bizarre when she’s tricked into climbing down a “rabbit hole” landing in a wondrous fairy tale universe —except it’s crawling with savage starving blood-eyed zombies. All the timeless fairy tale characters who once lived forever are now the living dead— think Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. Even worse they’re famished. Definitely not the ideal situation for a vulnerable young girl prone to panic attacks.

REVIEW BY: Angel, age 12 years, 9 months


Caitlin Rose Fletcher writes for unexplained, so when her friend/crush Jack sees information about sightings of zombies, he wants to go check out the cemetery with Caitlin. He wants to go on Halloween, which also happens to be Caitlin's birthday. That's when Caitlin's journey begins starting off with a wormhole, zombie princesses, Lord Amethyst Bartholomew, the caterpillar and the Queen of Hearts. 

I LOVED this book. It is definitely my type of book with it being zombies mixed with fairy tales. I have to admit, this book is one of the best ideas for a book that I have ever heard of or read. 

My favorite part of this book is when Caitlin meets all the zombie Disney princesses (i.e. Snow White, Cindy/Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel. I especially liked the part of meeting Rapunzel because she reminds me of myself because she is determined and sticks up for Caitlin when the Queen of Hearts tries to harm her. Rapunzel is a great leader. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 and up. 

conducted by Angel

1. How did your idea of putting zombies and fairy tales together come about?

My oldest son David came to me and said I should write a Zombie book because of the popularity of zombies. My company owns the original Junior Elf children’s books which include Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood etc, so my immediate thought was to blend the two genres together.

2. Will there be any other books that follow up with this book? If so, I would be happy to review them for you. 

Once Upon a Zombie is trilogy. I am writing book two right now. The tentative title is Once Upon a Zombie, Book Two: The Lord of the Curtain. 

I will be happy to send them for your review.

3. What was your favorite part when you were writing this book?

The scene of Caitlin at the clay bank. I saw the whole scene in my head, visually, and it was just so cool to me. And the ending, the twists. Which I won’t reveal. SPOILER ALERT NOT NECESSARY!

4. How old were you when you started writing? How old were you when you started this book?

I was writing short stories and plays when I was in grade school. I was around 10 years old. Even younger. I would write stories and get classmates to act them out in front of the class. And I would write comedy sketches and variety shows and we would put on a show for the entire school. I wrote Once Upon a Zombie last year. I was 56. But I feel 18! My kids call me “teen dad”. Well, that's what I tell them to call me.

5. Where is your favorite spot (i.e. couch, garden, office, etc.) to write? 

Home office/Den. 

6. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everything. I feel like a sponge. I could pick the most insignificant item and then spin a whole web of story around it. I have to filter out the world around me every day to stay focused on one project at a time. The world is filled with endless inspirations for stories. And that’s because the world and our lives ARE story.

7. What kind of writing outline or method did you use to write this book?

I write a lot of scenes and plot/structure and dialogue in my head as I go for walks. Then I do a lot of freestyle writing, jumping and letting it come out and lead me. But I also do some outlining as well. It’s definitely a blend of all three. For me, different stages of writing a novel require different methods.

8. Which zombie character is your favorite? Mine is Rapunzel. 

Zombie Cinderella.

9. What is your favorite book of all time? Favorite author?

I don’t know if I can list one all time favorite book. My tastes change over time and I love variety. It depends upon where I was in my life during the read.

If I had to pick a few all time favorites I would say, Catcher in the Rye, is one of them. It blew me away when I was in Junior High School. Also, The Godfather by Mario Puzo. He took a pulpy, melodramatic concept and made it soar. I love A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. There is deep wisdom in that book, deeper than most people realize, in my humble opinion. I read it once a year. As a kid I loved Tom Sawyer. And also To Kill a Mockingbird. I think the best ever movie adaptation of a book is the film To Kill a Mockingbird. The acting, the music, the tone, the directing and pacing, it’s like a living novel. Favorite authors include Ken Follett. The Man from St Petersburg was amazing. He took a pre-World War I setting (potentially boring and dated for a thriller to be read in the 21 century) and the subject of anarchy (potentially dry and boring) and without any high tech gadgety and weapons like we see in today’s book and movie thrillers, and yet he whipped up a gripping page turner. He made it all fascinating and tremendously interesting. I learned a lot from that book. I only read it recently and totally loved it! I wish they would make it into a movie.

George R. R. Martin is a favorite because somehow he evokes scenes in my mind like magic. I’m not a fan of descriptive scene writing. I often skim over paragraphs when they are overly descriptive. But he did it in such a way that he evoked textures and feelings and smells, and emotions, igniting my senses of perception with his descriptive words and writing style and it blew me away. In Game of Thrones, I would study his sentences and paragraphs over and over wondering how he managed to conjure up such vivid experiences in my mind as I read. I see why it takes him so long to write a book because there is magic, power and deeply thought out design in every word and sentence that he writes. I am sad to say I don’t read enough fiction. I just don’t have the time. And my tastes also include non-fiction. I love non-fiction. 

10. How old were you when your first piece of writing was published? 

For various reasons, I only tried to get published in my late thirties and I was fortunate to have the book published on my first try. But I was ghostwriting.

11. Any other interesting facts about you. 

I often share lectures around the world on the subject of science and spirituality. I had the honor of lecturing twice at NASA. Once at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and once at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.


Readers: Stay tuned because there will be a giveaway for an autographed copy of this book in the near future on 5 Girls Book Reviews. 

This books publishing date is October 1, 2015.