book review, Children's Fiction, Picture Book, youth fiction

Boo-La-La Witch Spa

boo-la-la

Boo-La-La Witch Spa

 

Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
Dial Books for Young Readers

 

From the book jacket: “All tuckered out from trick-or-treating? Feeling drained after a seriously strong spell? Come on in to our Fab-BOO Witch Spa! We’ll get the SPOOK back in your step in no time. Relax with a cup of bat-whisker tea and some Candy Corn Flan, and then try our Broom Bristle Facial or a Scalp Rub done by spiders. Our spa treatments are sure to make any young spell-caster feel refreshed, rejuvenated, an positively revolting. Stop in today!”

 

This picture book shows how witches relax after a hard day of witching! A tired young witch and her equally tired black cat arrive at a spa for a little pampering. They are greeted by a gnome and then chooses which treatment to enjoy. They chose such luxuries as a Scarab Skin Scrub, and Eye of Newt Wrap and a nap in a pool of snail drool (yuk!). How about a sauna of hot dragon break and a steam in a sea monster’s lair! The witch and cat have lots of treatments that are wonderful to them but gross to an average human or cat! A the end of the day, the witch has her hair and nails done, picks up a few things in the gift shop and heads home ready for more witchery!

 

Love the illustrations – each two-page spread are richly detailed and on many you have to look close in order not to miss anything. The story is written in clever rhymes with medium-large print. It’s a cute and fun book for early readers to read on their own or to read to the younger ones.

 

Rating: 3 daises

 

Reviewer: Debby Debby 2

 

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book review

The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side

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I listen to audiobooks all the time, in my car and when I walk.  Usually it’s an exciting suspense or interesting non-fiction.  This week it was The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie, and as an audiobook I heard via my phone, the old tale was fresh and new all over again, with Miss Marple coming alive as never before.

As the story opens Miss Marple has advanced in years and her little town of Saint Mary Mead has grown to include a ‘development’, a collection of new homes just outside of town; increasing the size and population of what was once a sweet rural town. Miss Marple, at 86, is more housebound than in previous novels but she still has her friends, neighbors, and relatives from whom to glean information.

With the help of Mrs. Gantry, who once owned Gossington Hall and now the scene of an unexpected death, and her nephew the police inspector, Mrs. Marple uses her wit and wiles to discover  what really happened the day a local woman, Heather Babcock, is killed while visiting the Hall for a benefit. Was it an accident? Or was it … murder?

The book’s title The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side references a poem by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalot, which is boldly recited by  Miss Marple several times in the novel, foreshadowing the killing as well as presenting a clue to motive.

“The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
       The Lady of Shalott.”

Because it’s written by Agatha Christie this book is chock full of interesting characters with hidden agendas, and definitely worth the read.  Folks who steer clear of Christie thinking her books can’t compare to more contemporary mysteries will be pleasantly surprised: it’s more modern than you might think.  And please enjoy Miss Marple. I did.  Her wit and wisdom warmed me the way I would if I had been visiting my grandmother.  Miss Marple is determinedly independent, politely outspoken, and altogether lovely.

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

leigh-21

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mirror_Crack%27d_from_Side_to_Side

 

 

 

book review, Children's Fiction, Fiction, murder, Mystery Review, youth fiction

Speaking From Among the Bones

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Speaking From Among the Bones
A Flavia De Luce Novel

 

Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, 2013

 

From the back of the book: “Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sister’s diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of Saint Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s no such thing as an open-and-shut case.”

 

You’ve probably guessed by now that I am a fan of Flavia de Luce. She is funny, brilliant, bold and a real smart-a**. But she is also vulnerable to her sister’s vicious and hurtful attacks – so much so that she alternates between wanting to poison them and wanting to love them. She never really goes through with any of her diabolical plans, but it’s fun to read her plans for them. Her true love are poisons and she thinks about them all the time. I have to share this quote with you, it’s so “Flavia”: “Whenever I’m a little blue I think about cyanide, whose color so perfectly reflects my mood. It is pleasant to think that the manioc plant, which grows in Brazil, contains enormous quantities of the stuff in its thirty pound roots, all of which, unfortunately, is washed away before the residue is used to make our daily tapioca.”

 

In this book, Flavia cycles her way through the English countryside, crawls through an open grave into a tunnel that goes under the graveyard to the church and, of course, is almost killed (she rescues herself!). Through it all she keeps herself motivated even when the police tell her to stay away, when her sisters bring her to tears and her father forbids her to leave the house. The murder itself happens before the book opens, there are a couple acts of mild violence and some shocking news at the very end of the book (no spoilers!). As always, this book is for middle-grade readers of all ages, especially those who like strong female characters and cozy mysteries.

 

Rating: 4-daisy-rating

 

Reviewer: DebbyDebby 2
book review, Children's Fiction, Picture Book

Castaway Cats

cas

Castaway Cats

story by Lisa Wheeler and art by Ponder Goembel

A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006

 

I have an adorable picture book for you! This is how it starts out – “On an island/in the ocean,/ near the land of Singapore,/midst a storm of great proportion,/ fifteen cats were washed ashore.” There were 7 kittens and 8 adults – a calico tom named Mittens (who has muscles and an anchor tattoo), a Persian Blue, an angora, a bobtail, a beat-up tabby, a pair of Siamese cats, and an orange marmalade. They all must band together if they are to survive on a tiny island in the ocean. At first they look for help to rescue them and then decide they’re on their own. Will they be able to survive?  Will they even be able to get along with each other?

The illustrations are absolutely adorable and the story is told via rhyming poetry.  The print is large enough for early readers to enjoy; there are so larger words that may be difficult at first but every reader needs their vocabulary expanded!

I loved this book – it’s got everything you could want – cats, cats and more cats – plus kittens!; an adventure at sea; a lesson on how to get along with the ones around you and that family doesn’t always mean the folks you were born to!

 

Rating: 4 daisy rating

Reviewer: Debby Debby 2

 

I pulled these images off the internet – they aren’t very good quality – but let that encourage you to check the book out at your library!!

book review, cattle mutilation, electrocution, Fiction, kidnapping, Mystery Review, Nebraska, school outbreak, suspense

Hotwire: A Maggie O’Dell Novel

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I’d been in a dry spell, with nothing good to read, when a coworker recommended Alex Kava.   The novel I chose to read by Kava was Hotwire : A Maggie O’Dell Novel.

Maggie O’Dell is a FBI agent, who as the story opens, has been asked to speak at a conference on her specialty: forensics. But when she arrives in rural Nebraska, Maggie receives a call from her boss telling her to put the conference on hold a day to help  local law enforcement.  In many small midwestern towns cows often outnumber the people living there. This makes it difficult for these towns to afford their own forensic departments, so they must rely on state and federal  resources for assistance. That said, Maggie finds it odd to be called on to investigate a cow mutilation.  Even more unusual is the fact the carcass is completely drained of blood, with one eye missing and the poor animal’s legs raised towards the sky.

What is thought to be a government cover-up by the cattle ranchers, and part alien invasion by more creative residents, has Maggie stumped. And when local teenagers begin to die under mysterious circumstances Maggie decides to stay on to further her investigation, conference or no.  Later, when the body of yet another teen is found she is so puzzled  Maggie feels the need for a break.  Running down a secluded country road Maggie turns to see an old truck pulling to a stop at the top a hill. It guns its’ motor. Within seconds Maggie is run down, electrocuted, and kidnapped.

Meanwhile, across the country a strange outbreak occurs in Norfolk, VA and moves through several schools, making elementary students violently ill.  Maggie’s boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt races the clock to discover just what is making the children sick, and hopefully discover an antidote.

How the author links these seemingly random events makes Hotwire an exciting read. Maggie O’Dell is a resourceful character with lots of experience from which to draw and being independent as well means she doesn’t depend on her boyfriend to rescue her from the kidnappers.

I enjoyed Hotwire.  It was a fun, fast-paced novel, with enough science and real life scenarios to keep me guessing.  While the epilogue didn’t pull all the events together as well as I would have liked, I was still satisfied with the results.  I plan to read another Maggie O’Dell novel, just to see what happens next!

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

leigh-21

alex
Alex Kava