Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Magic Mirror by: Zetta Elloitt

Author Zetta Elliott has peaked my interest in finding out more about my ancestors in her book The Magic Mirror.

Kamara has not had a good day at school.  She is unable to share just exactly what happened with her mother.  As she visits with her Gramma, she shares her experience and her sadness about what was said to her.  After talking and crying with her Gramma, she is asked to go and clean the mirror in an upstairs bedroom.  Kamara does as she is told and is amazed at what she sees after cleaning the mirror.  When she clearly sees herself, she then sees a variety of scenes of the lives of her ancestors reflected back at her in the mirror.  She sees the determination of a young slave girl on a boat and in the cotton fields.  She sees a teacher desperately trying to save school children, books and supplies while the school is being burned to the ground.  She sees the mistreatment of her ancestors at restaurants.  She also sees her mother at her college graduation.  In each of these scenes she sees the determination of the individual women and how they overcame hardships in their lives.  Kamara is sure she can live her life with that same determination.  She no longer is concerned about what happened at school that day she is now determined to go and make the world a better place.

I think it would be a wonderful thing to see your ancestors struggle with real-life experiences as they worked to make their life better.  We know that each generation works to make life better for future generations.  No matter where we come from, I believe that we all want to leave the world a better place.

After reading this book, spend sometime with one of your ancestors.  Write down their stories so you will have them to share with your descendants.

Happy Daily Reading

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Phoenix on Barkley Street by: Zetta Elliott

 I had the opportunity to meet Zetta Elliott this past fall and I'm so happy she shared a few of her books with me.  The first one I want to share with you is The Phoenix on Barkley Street.

This is a story that would be perfect for the child who is starting to read chapter books.  The story is about three friends who decide to clean up a deserted plot of land in their neighborhood.  They decide that it will become their hangout.  They are looking for a new place to play after a local street gang took over the local park.   As they begin cleaning, they discover a very large and strange looking bird.  At first they are afraid of the bird, but they soon learn that the bird likes to eat gum balls so they enjoy the company of the bird in their hangout.  By doing a little research, they discover that the bird is a Phoenix.  They are amazed that a Phoenix is actually living in their neighborhood.  How did it get there and why is it there?  They cannot quite figure that out.  Until one day the street gang finds their hangout and destroys it with graffiti and trash.  The boys are upset and try to take back what was theirs, but can they really stand up to the older boys in the gang?  The Phoenix comes to their rescue and what happens will surprise readers of all ages.

I enjoyed this story because it shares how we can each make our own neighborhoods better.  I liked that the boys all helped one another and stood up for doing the right thing.  The Phoenix burns and comes back to life and these boys make a place in their neighborhood come back to life too.

After reading this book go and look in your neighborhood for birds, or better yet, look around and clean up the litter in your neighborhood.

Happy Daily Reading

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five Kingdoms Rogue Knight by: Brandon Mull

Author Brandon Mull has done it again!  In Rogue Knight, the second book of the Five Kingdoms series, he kept me in suspense from the first page to the last.  So much happens in this story. Cole is chased by the slave traders, getting away from them is quite tricky.  Cole learns that he has magic abilities but he is unable to rely on them at all times.  There is so much wonderful storytelling in this book.  I know that if you enjoyed Sky Raiders, the first book in the series, (see my review of July 23, 2014) you will love this book too.  I cannot wait to get my hands on book #3.

Cole is still living in the outskirts, trying to find his friends so that they can return to their home in Arizona.  Cole has made many new friends in this strange land.  This time, he is traveling with his new friends to Elloweer in order to find Mira's sister.  Elloweer is a kingdom that is on high alert because of the unbalance of magic in the kingdom. There is a magic source that destroys towns and all of its people in a matter a minutes.  There is also a Rogue Knight that steals treasure from others,  claiming he will return all of what he steals once he becomes the champion of a town called Merriston.  You see, champions are the leaders of towns and they can be challenged by others for their positions.  The Rogue Knight wants to take over all the towns in the land.  When the Rogue Knight encounters the friends, he kidnaps Mira.

Cole is able to find Dalton, his best friend from home.  Dalton joins in the quest to rescue Mira and find her sister, Honor.  Dalton has learned some shaping magic and that comes in handy as they journey to many strange areas in the kingdom of Elloweer.  Upon finding Mira, they discover that the Rogue Knight is not as bad as they first believe.  They travel to the lost palace and find strong magic there that is holding Honor (Mira's sister).  With the combined skills of Mira, Cole and Jace, they are able to rescue Honor.  Now they are off to Fog Lake, a place people may go but not many return.  They find help there that enables them to face Morgassa, the one who is destroying towns and the people that live there.  The battle is crazy!  Cole, Mira, Jace and Dalton are turned into animals while Honor becomes a Knight.  Just when it seems as though nothing can hurt Morgassa, Cole and Jace are able to surprise her.  I won't give away the ending, but I will tell you that they are off again to another land and I'm sure it will be as dangerous as Elloweer.

I loved this book.  So much magic, adventure, friendships, twists and turns in the plot.  So fun to read.  Thank you, Brandon Mull, for another wonderful story.

Happy Daily Reading

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

One Came Home by: Amy Timberlake

Georgie doesn't believe that the body found and returned to her hometown is her missing sister.  She begins an adventure to find out the truth, learning not only about her sister but also about herself.  Author Amy Timberlake has written a wonderful story in this book One Came Home.

I really enjoyed this book and this story.  Georgie is a young girl that is seeing changes coming into her life and she isn't ready for these changes.  Her sister might be getting married or going off to school.   Georgie doesn't want her to leave their home and when her sister goes missing, Georgie wants to lead the search for her.  The town leaders and her family insist Georgie stay at home but she finds a way to leave and look for her sister.  Georgie is able to find the truth about her sister.

When you finish reading this book, you will be cheering for the young woman Georgie has become because of her adventure and determination.

Happy Daily Reading

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Angel Tree by: Daphne Benedis-Grab

I enjoyed this Christmas story so much that I am recommending this for the first book you should read in 2015.

Author Daphne Benedis-Grab's book The Angel Tree might have you thinking of a Hallmark movie.  My hope is that it motivates you to go out and do something nice today.

Every December in the small town of Pine River, a Christmas tree is placed in the town square.  It becomes the Angel Tree where citizens can write down a wish and tie it to the tree.  The Angel Tree is magic, so soon their wishes begin to come true.

Four unlikely friends decide to investigate just exactly who is behind the Angel Tree and host a party to say "thank you" to the tree's owner.
Among the friends are Lucy, a blind girl who relies on a seeing eye dog to help her get around the town and at school; Max who with his family is now living in an apartment because their home burned down a few months ago; Joe who is new to Pine River and doesn't feel like he belongs; and Cami, who is the one who begins the search to find out who is behind the Angel Tree.  Cami feels that she is not as special as other members of her family.  It is the growth we see in these characters that I loved about this story.  They all have wishes that do come true and that motivates them even more to find out who is behind the Angel Tree tradition.  The four of them are all unsure about themselves but gain confidence as they develop their friendship and use their individual talents to solve the mystery.

After reading this story, go and help someone who may need you today.

Happy Daily Reading