Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Million Dollar Goal by Dan Gutman (MMGM)

Alright, so I'm from my two week hiatus to bring you this fabulous book in probably my favorite middle grade series (or at least top 5) Before I start, quick shout out from Carl at the Boys Rule Boys Read blog where after a contest, I won my own copy of the book! Go visit his amazing site for completely cool book reviews and book suggestions!

Summary: Goodreads ~ Twins Dawn and Dusk Rosenberg live for hockey and worship the Montreal Canadiens. When Dawn and Dusk's dad gets the family tickets to the next Canadiens game, they can't believe their luck. They're even more psyched when they hear about the million dollar goal contest. A randomly chosen fan will get the chance to shoot a goal to win one million dollars. One shot for a million bucks! Could this be the beginning of a dream come true for Dawn and Dusk - or the biggest humiliation of their lives?

What I liked: Since this book is in my favorite series top 10 (maybe an upcoming blog post?), there's a lot of good to say about the book. It definitely appealed to the athletic-sports part of me. A lot of books these days often forget all the amazing repercussions that come from involving sports in the book (drama, excitement, possibly romance, revenge scenes, the list goes on) and I'm glad that this book focused around a sports event. I also enjoyed the almost joking attitude of the narrators. It was never serious at all; Gutman wrote the book from a kid's view, so any kids reading the book will love how blunt the kids can be at times. Adult narrators sometimes sugarcoat the truth while kids almost jokingly attack a subject.

What I didn't like: The only thing I would suggest is that the book is so short. Only 170 pages. I was really craving for more content, like a meatier rising action that would provide more hype for the climax. Another thing I would suggest is that (slight spoiler but not really) while the narrators are Dawn and Dusk, the main character is Oma, which while comedically one of the best characters out there, honestly there was some stuff that I didn't like about her. Like how she cusses every other word (no actual cuss words in the book, but every cuss word replaced with "bleep") Funny? Check. Helpful to the plot? Tedious? Check. Just something to note.

Rating: 9 out of ten

Why? Perfect books for elementary to even high schoolers like me looking for a fast paced and exciting read.

About MMGM: MMGM is this weekly little newsletter sent out by Shannon Messenger where she showcases amazingly awesome middle grade blogs (like moi) Every Monday, if you have no idea what to read (except for you want it middle grade) go to and click on a link. It is bound to be good.

Monday, November 21, 2016

How Things Work by National Geographic (MMGM)

Alright, so this is not a novel at all, so if you wanted a novel, tough luck, this week it isn't a novel. No, this book was graciously sent to me at a reduced cost in exchange for my honest review, so thank you National Geographic for sending me a twenty-dollar book free of charge. Anyway, on with the review.

Summary: Goodreads ~ Ever wanted to take apart the microwave to see how it works? Crack open your computer and peek inside? Intrigued by how things work? So are we! That's why we're dissecting all kinds of things from rubber erasers to tractor beams! Read along as National Geographic Kids unplugs, unravels, and reveals how things do what they do. Complete with "Tales from the Lab," true stories, biographies of real scientists and engineers, exciting diagrams and illustrations, accessible explanations, trivia, and fun features, this cool book explains it all!

What I liked:  So the thing about this book that I truly enjoyed was that even though this was written and marketed for younger kids, I truly did find this extremely fascinating. I mean, this book answers pretty much all of your questions about why anything works. From cars to appliances, to toys, this is the book that will simply answer your question about why exactly does (insert object) work. This book is like the Guinness Book of World Records. Do you remember when you used to go to the school or even public library and grab the book of world records and just stare at the fascinating pictures of the mind-boggling statistics (just me? OK then) This book is exactly like that. Do you exactly need to know why a refrigerator works? No, yet you read about it because it's just weirdly interesting, almost mesmerizing, and that is why I love this book. 

What I Didn't Like: So the one main thing I'd have to dislike about the book is that it simply is so massive. Which is good, because it teaches you about everything, but also bad, because it teaches you about everything. Frankly, I found myself combing through page after page just to find the cool stuff that I'm interested in. Also, I feel the need to point out that this is a book that will set you back an Andrew Jackson. This isn't a paperback, clearance classic novel, this is a large book that will costs twenty bucks. Just something to keep in mind, but in all honesty I would definitely pay to read the book.

Rating: 8.8 out of Ten

Why? What a fascinating book. Would suggest if it could be separated into different books instead of making one massive books with different chapters, but I know about publishing, and I know that would be a huge nightmare.

And I've already said this, but again thank you for sending me the book National Geographic! Also, to re-iterate the disclaimer: I was sent this book in exchange for my honest review. Meaning I'm not going to give this book 10 out of 10 and claim it's perfect. Just my thoughts on the book.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Kid Who Became President by Dan Gutman

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: October 1st by Scholastic Paperbacks

Summary:  Goodreads: "Dan Gutman's hugely popular sequel to THE KID WHO RAN FOR PRESIDENT is back. Humor, adventure, and excitement will draw kids into the world of white house politics.

Judson Moon has done a big flip-flop. Immediately after being elected President of the United States, he resigned. Now, after a heart-to-heart with his running mate (and ex-babysitter) June Syers, Judd has decided to take office after all: He wants to make a difference.
Being President is anything but easy. Between dealing with a crazed South American dictator and people who are trying to kill him, Judson starts to wonder if it wouldn't be better just to go back to being a kid in Madison, Wisconsin. But with a lot of help from his friends, Judson might just figure everything out.

What I Liked: This book is just an amazing book in time for the election. In the story, Judson Moon was the quintessential idea of a president for a kid. He just parties, parties, and parties. It was really funny for him to figure out that being a president isn't all about using the president's amenities, but really about meetings, dances, and more meetings. It was also really cool for him to read about solving problems, because obviously, he doesn't solve them in the most conventional way. Overall even in a tense presidential election, this book discusses politics in an extremely fun way.

What I didn't Like:  Oh gosh, this is one of those times where it's actually really hard to pick a dislike. If could say anything, I would talk about the way Secret Service act differently towards the new president. Like they literally have no control over him, and while the author writes it as though he's just a juvenile kid that just doesn't listen to authority, I feel like with more control, not only would the book be more realistic, but it would've been interesting to see how it would've played out.

Rating: 9.3 out of Ten

Why? Humorous book to read at an amazing time. If you're young or have a young one, recommend this book during the election and the aftermath in a couple days.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The School Story by Andrew Clements

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Date: August 1st, 2002 by Atheneum Books

Summary: Goodreads: "Two middle school girls scheme to publish a book in this novel from Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

Natalie's best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie's written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie's mother is an editor for a big children's publisher, but Natalie doesn't want to ask for any favors.

Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it's not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of real grown-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next bestselling school story may be in their hands—but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?"

What I liked: Ok, so I think the biggest thing that I appreciated about this books was that it, like a character in the book, really hit home to my heart. This book pretty much embodied the inner sixth-grade novelist in me, the sixth-grade novelist which pushed me to start this blog. That was my goal, to get a book published, be famous, and this book really hit home, which is why I loved reading it. Of course, Andrew Clements always continues to write really good content, which is why time and time again I enjoy reading his books.

What I didn't like: This book is crazy unrealistic in every way shape and form. This book is like the Lawn Boy series: it only works because of two things- luck and craziness. Like seriously, I know Clements tried to sell off the fact Zoe managed to convince a teacher to let her be a literary agent and all of that, but I mean seriously, what are the chances? And at another point, how does Natalie's book manage to actually be seriously considered. The book says something about how she really wrote about how a kid thinks and all of that, but at the end of the day, plot movement, character development, etc. kind of matter. I don't know if I'm just going on a worthless spiel, but I was a little irked by that.

Rating: 9.1 out of ten

Why? I fell in love with this book after the first chapter or so. It started off fast and it never let up. Absolute amazing writing.
About MMGM: MMGM is a weekly Monday blog post by Shannon Messenger (author of Keeper of the Lost Cities and more) where she highlights blog reviews from myself and other fabulous bloggers. Go to her website every Monday ( if you want to read more about amazing MG books.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rant: Spoilers

Ahh, the beloved spoiler. Some people love them, a lot of people hate them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to attack, insult, etc. anyone specific, but especially with the Stuart Gibbs forums, oh man it's gotten bad. If you haven't for some peculiar reason gotten and read Spy Ski School, I'd suggest for the first time to NOT go on Stuart Gibbs's blog. I mean, some people think that it's OK to give away the amazing spoiler that ______ _______ ______!!! (Obviously I wouldn't give it away here). So, with that said, here is a rant on spoilers.

OK, there's a reason why your friend starts punching you insanely hard when you spoil the end of a movie or book that they're are consuming. It's not fun bro. Who thinks that it's good to just shout out the ending. This is one of those times when you need to think how you would react if someone did that to you. Of course, by the time you're doing that, you're mid-sentence and can't stop.

Why are spoilers even a thing anyways? Why can't there be some system set up where once a book is out, you literally can not type the book title into any website except for a search engine to buy it. This would drastically improve spoiling a book. That way, whether you get the book the day it's released, or a month later, it is still equally as enjoyable for everyone.

But why are you bringing up this topic now? Actually, I'm not. I addressed this topic a few months ago in a similar blog post (search up "Food for thought" in the search box on the right), but I NEED to bring this to light because of the literal pain the website is causing me. Like it really isn't cool to say a spoiler, and then follow it with "LOL :D" (that is not a joke. It's a literal quote) Thanks to some people who are able to control their happiness by saying how good the book is, not by revealing a series changing event.

But it's OK if I say "Spoiler Alert" and then say it right? Ok, how many times do your eyes see "Spoiler Alert" and then you're like "Huh, maybe there's a spoiler and I shouldn't keep reading" I'm sorry but psychologically and how society has worked has caused us to do otherwise. For starters, revers psychology plays a big role in this. Saying "Spoiler Alert" is like saying "Don't Read this". And what do you do when you see a "Don't Read this" sign? That's right you read it. Also, society (mainly YouTube) has wired into our brains that these are just jokes. But sadly, they aren't and at that point it's to late. You're in the corner crying because it just got revealed to you that ________ ________ _______!!!!

But I want to talk about this topic and say how cool it was! Ok, this one is an easy one to attack. Email. The glory's of email. Just email the author. Author's like Stuart Gibbs love to hear from you guys. Of course, you won't spoil the story to him, because HE WROTE the thing. But FYI, you don't have to tell the whole world about this amazing, cool thing in the story. If you do, at least wait a couple of months.

So in the food for thought, I also address asking for information on an upcoming book, which I feel is relevant enough to talk about here. Why is it that we are all asking "What happens to (insert character)" "Does (Insert Character) end up dating (insert character)?" GAH, it makes me angry, mostly because why? Why do you want to know? What's the point of knowing? Does it make you get knowledge about a book you're dying to see early? So what if you get the knowledge early? What does that do to you? In my opinion it would make you feel worse.

Well, there's my rant on SPOILERS. In all honesty, there needs to be a way we can get people to not spoil books! Oh, and I feel like I should add this quick disclaimer thing now: "In no way, shape, or form did this blog post mean to attack, offend, insult, etc. any specific person in any way, shape or form. If this blog post did, please email me and let me know, so I can sincerely apologize. Thank you"

Monday, October 31, 2016


Alright, quick little update post, schedule, and whatnot, hear we go!

So... Shoutout today goes to Dan Gutman. I've never had a twitter conversation with an author and it was cool to go back and forth with him!

Anyways, normally I talk about all the fantastic books from YALit but this week, I have to focus on one book: Keeper of the Lost Cities: Lodestar! Here's a summary from GoodReads:

"Dark schemes unfold--and Sophie's loyalty is pushed to the limit--in this thrilling fifth book in the best-selling KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES SERIES.

Sophie Foster is back in the Lost Cities--but the Lost Cities have changed. The threat of war hangs heavy over her glittering world, and the Neverseen are wreaking havoc.

The lines between friend and enemy have blurred, and Sophie is unsure whom to trust. But when she's warned that the people she loves most will be the next victims, she knows she has to act.

A mysterious symbol could be the key--if only she knew how to translate it. Every new clue seems to lead deeper into her world's underbelly and the Black Swan aren't the only ones who have plans. The Neverseen have their own Initiative, and if Sophie doesn't stop it, they might finally have the ultimate means to control her."

There's no doubt about the amazing hype this book has created. It has come out today, although the "official release date" is tomorrow.

Of course, now that I mention Keeper of the Lost Cities, I have to talk about my plans for Wednesday September 14th. Of course, you guys might know that Shannon Messenger is coming to town, and I'll have a chance to get books signed and meet her! I'm definitely going to make a vlog, but will probably only record audio for the "chat" (for those of you who haven't been to a book festival, there's always a little bit of time while you're waiting for the author to sign her name on the books where you get to talk to her) If you want to see a live stream, go follow me on twitter @justintalksbook for the precise time when I will start, but in general it should start at around 6 PM central. As always, if you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments below.

Now to other news.

Rant time! A rant will be out probably Wednesday about a touchy subject. I honestly didn't care too much about it a few days ago, but I've been seeing it a lot recently, and I don't know, I feel like I need to address it because it is getting a little out of control.

I've been writing some reviews for a contest thing on the Boys Rule Boys Read! blog, which you can check out Boys Rule Boys Read!  I'm in the lead right now, but *fingers crossed*

Finally, I've been thinking a lot about these weekly videos. Of course, I want to continue with them, but I'm trying to figure out how to make them, short yet captivating. So expect weekly update VIDEOS to start popping up back in December. For now, the only videos will be just cool book stuff, or a book topic that is easier for me to portray through video.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

No Talking by Andrew Clements

Genre: Realistic, School Fiction
Age Group: Middle Grade (8-12)
Publishing Date: June 27th 2007 by Atheneum Books

Summary: Goodreads: ""You have the right to remain silent." However... 

The fifth-grade girls and the fifth-grade boys at Laketon Elementary don't get along very well. But the real problem is that these kids are loud and disorderly. That's why the principal uses her red plastic bullhorn. A lot. 

Then one day Dave Packer, a certified loudmouth, bumps into an idea -- a big one that makes him try to keep quiet for a whole day. But what does Dave hear during lunch? A girl, Lynsey Burgess, jabbering away. So Dave breaks his silence and lobs an insult. And those words spark a contest: Which team can say the fewest words during two whole days? And it's the boys against the girls. 

How do the teachers react to the silence? What happens when the principal feels she's losing control? And will Dave and Lynsey plunge the whole school into chaos? 

This funny and surprising book is about language and thought, about words unspoken, words spoken in anger, and especially about the power of words spoken in kindness...with or without a bullhorn. It's Andrew Clements at his best -- thought-provoking, true-to-life, and very entertaining"

What I Liked: I've read this book a thousand times and it's a book where it simply doesn't get old. The Harry Potter fan will say books like Harry Potter never get old, but we all know that eventually, it's boring. But for some reason No Talking has always been my go to book whenever I'm at the library, even though I literally know exactly how it is going to play out. No Talking is a fast-paced book, and it's a battle-of-the-sexes which results in pure hilariousness. I've always loved Clements work, and this is the poster child of my argument.

What I didn't Like: If I will say something, this book is by no means for the literary genius who earns to read books like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby every hour. This books was targeted for the eight, nine, and ten year old kids who want a fun book to read. I'm not sure why a fourteen-year old freshman like me decides to feature books like this, but I feel like they're worth talking about. 

Rating: 8.6 out of ten.

Why? I mean, it's a classic, but it does have it's flaws, some of which the fact that it's not a very long book, which means that at times I wanted a little more description. 


Alright so two things I wanted to mention
  1. I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to mention what MMGM but I never knew I was supposed to. Anyways, for those who don't know, MMGM is a weekly monday blog post by Shannon Messenger (author of Keeper of the Lost Cities and more) where she highlights blog reviews from myself and other fabulous bloggers. Go to her website every Monday ( if you want to read more about amazing MG books.
  2. Stay tuned to this blog. A rant is coming up. It's going to be great. Also for those of you who want JTWBU #8, it will be on here tomorrow. Still working out the video thing.