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Miss Mabel's School for Girls (Network Series, #1) - Katie Cross
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I've had the Kindle version of this book for a while now, but I am so bad about actually reading the ebooks I have. While vacationing in Mexico, I decided to only read ebooks and settled on this one. Perfect length for reading in a week between wading in the ocean and pool activities. 

This was kind of a tricky book to review. I liked the concept of the story, but it was a little slow to start. The whole book kind of reads like a prequel, just setting up the action for the series. Many things happen, but they all seem to just set up later events in comparison to being important in and of themselves.

The book also appears to be heavily influenced by Harry Potter. Not bad in its own right, but it's just been done so many times before. There were a few good creative twists. I did like that it was an all girls school and the focus on female power. The overall story is kind of an all-girl witchy YA mashup of DivergentThe Hunger Games, and Harry Potter

Overall, the writing was good. Bianca gets stuck in her head a little too much at times, making her narration kind of annoying, but for the most part it was good. 

There are definitely ups and downs in the story. Sometimes you are really engaged with it and sometimes it's just kind of going along. But overall, I enjoyed the book. There was a link for a free copy of the second book inside the ebook. I liked this one enough to download the second book and continue the series. 
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia - Elizabeth Gilbert

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is one of those books that is incredibly difficult to decipher exactly how you feel about it. 

I actually started reading this in college. I think I was bored at a friend's apartment and she had it laying around, so I started reading it. I still have the copy she gave me with the bookmark still on page 42. I remember being incredibly bored and annoyed with the book.

Now, years later, I found a copy of the audiobook at the library. I drive a lot for work so I figured it may be worth listening to for two weeks of driving time.

For the most part, I liked it. It took a little while to get into it, but overall it was good. Yes, you're going to get annoyed with Gilbert's irritating problems. Heartbreak and divorce are not so rare these days. Thinking back, I really didn't like Gilbert at all. Mostly I think I put up with her because I kept picturing her as Julia Roberts (even though I haven't actually seen the movie) and you just can't hate Julia Roberts. Anyway, I did enjoy the experiences that she had and the stories she had to tell. She met a lot of interesting people on her travels and has a knack for telling interesting stories.

One of my hesitations about this book though is how she tells others' stories. At the start of the book, she says she changed everyone's name (except Richard from Texas), but she still went on and took those people's stories from them. I understand that she is reflecting on the stories and experiences, but I think she really took advantage of some of the stories. The details of someone else's abusive marriage and difficult divorce aren't really things you should write about just because that person trusted you with the information and lives in a different country that probably wouldn't have access to the book you wrote featuring their stories. I don't feel like she had to go into so much detail. It just felt like she was exposing other people's lives without them really knowing her intentions. I felt a little squeamish about the way Gilbert peddles others' life stories for her own gain.

Her travels were definitely interesting and I did like the various ways she found balance in life such as yoga and meditation. I can see people getting a lot out of this book. There is a deep focus on pleasure and devotion and finding the balance between the two. Overall, I thought it was good. It's not perfect, but there is some inspirational stuff within its pages.

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Another adorable Knuffle Bunny adventure. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first Knuffle Bunny or [book: Knuffle Bunny Free], but it was still a cute addition. Mostly I thought it was kind of unreasonable for the Dads to go through so much trouble in the middle of the night, but it is what it is. Still a cute story.

As with the other books in the series, love the mashup of illustrations and photographs. Great pictures that are interesting and fun to look at.

It is so cool to see Trixie grow up in each book. Wonderful series overall.
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I just love this series so much. I really enjoy watching Trixie grow up from book to book.

As with the first book, the pictures are perfect. The mash up of illustrations and photographs is perfect. Love the story. It is such a heartwarming one. Great fit for children who are at that point in growing up where they stop carrying around a stuffed animal everywhere they go. Really wonderful story. 

I highly recommend this series. Mo Willems really has a talent for creating amazing picture books with engaging stories.
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

First of all, awwwwwwwwwwww! This is such an adorable book. Really cute and heartwarming story.

Secondly, I loved the simplicity of the book. Great use of page space. The physial book is a little larger than a standard hardcover book. Willems utilizes the pages well in showing the huge scary monsters in contrast to Leonardo and Sam, who take up very little space on their pages. 

Really great story. This is a perfect example of how to keep a book simple without compromising the story and emotions evoked.

Willems has such a talent for creating stories that children actually want to read and hear. Great addition to his many other successful books.
Does Frankenstein Get Hungry? - John Solimine
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a wonderful, silly, disgusting, and surprisingly helpful book. In it, a little girl is scared of the things that may lurk in her room when trying to fall asleep. But after thinking of a bunch of silly questions relating to what she is scared of, she realizes she does not have to be afraid.

Great illustrations and rhymes. I loved the details in the pictures. Some are gross, some are strangely beautiful, all are very fun and engaging.

I really enjoyed this book. It is one that is very entertaining, but it also has some helpful advice. Instead of dwelling on what scares you, change your perspective and show yourself how ridiculous your fears are. Great advice for children as well as adults. Such an amazing book.

I picked this up from the library because one of the little girls I work with loves spooky Halloween-like things. After actually reading the book, I was surprised by how wonderful and insightful it actually was. 

Great book for reading all year around.
There Was an Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider - Jennifer Ward, Steve Gray
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Cute Halloween-themed revamp of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". Very cute illustrations. I liked the style. I also liked the amount of detail in the illustrations. There are some rather silly rhymes on the tombstones in the cemetery. Nice balance of a little scary, but not too scary. Definitely more cute than scary. 

I will say that I tend to prefer Lucille Colandro's style a little more, because the things/animals the person swallows usually come up with no ill effects. I love the silliness of the story, but also like knowing that the things/animals swallowed aren't actually hurt. The ending of this book wasn't quite as clear cut and made me a little uneasy. I can easily see my childhood mind not being able to let go of wondering whether the witch was okay or not. 

Overall, good read with nice illustrations. 
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

The story of Goldilocks has been told time and time and time and time again. Each one has it's own special twist, but honestly this is the best one I have ever read.

It is hilarious. Characteristically humorous for Willems, this is a wonderfully entertaining book. I really enjoyed it.

The pictures are also very fun and silly. I loved looking for the Pigeon. And the details were great (the giant phone was a nice touch). Funny signs and saying throughout the pictures such as "Wipe Your Talons" on the welcome mat. Great details that really added to the overall book. 

Some of the text may go over young kid's heads, but I think older kids would definitely enjoy it. 

Amazing, fresh retelling of Goldilocks' story. Highly recommend. This is a book you don't want to miss. 
Are Pirates Polite? - Corinne Demas, Artemis Roehrig, David Catrow
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Interesting way to teach manners. I liked the rhyme scheme and the silly contrast between pirates being rude/mean (stealing people's stuff) and being polite (saying "thank you" after stealing said stuff). Fun book overall.

The illustrations are definitely weird. Some fun craziness going on, but sometimes it was difficult to figure out what was happening. Some pictures didn't seem to match the accompanying text. Kind of a mess. And the ending was a little dark for my taste. 

Overall, I thought it was a good book though. At the end, there is a list of "Pirate Manners", which include share, say "excuse me", and wait in line. Not necessarily things pirates are known for but I get what the book is trying to do. Comparable to the line of thinking Jake and the Neverland Pirates uses with the message, "A good pirate never takes another person's property." Like do you know how pirates work? That's exactly what a "good" pirate would do. This one makes a little more sense, but just barely. Still a fun read and a crazy ride.
Moo - Sharon Creech
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Good quick read. I found the story rather predictable, but I think it would suit young readers well. The story is a bit slow at times and filled with lots of unnecessary narration, but overall it had a good plot.

The story gets a bit dark at times with a few instances of death and an awkward education of what foods are made from animals. Not recommended to sensitive animal-lovers. My vegetarian self winced a little at the discussions of hamburgers and bacon. Nothing too graphic but definitely would not recommend to children who do not know where beef comes from. 

This was a good educational work of fiction however. It goes through various information about cows and what goes in to showing cow and animals at fairs. 

Overall, it was a good book. Quick and simple.
Dinosnores - Kelly Dipucchio
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A fun and silly book positing that huge dinosaur snores caused Pangea to split into the seven continents. Very funny. 

I really enjoyed the rhymes in the book. Very creative and well-written. There are also some great internal rhymes that were smooth and enjoyable ("Their nasal breeze stirred up the seas" was my favorite). 

Fun illustrations filled with brightly-colored dinosaurs and silly incorporations of human items such as handkerchiefs and stuffed animals. 

A great book that is silly and rhythmic. Loved the idea.
Boo Who? - Ben Clanton, Ben Clanton

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is such an adorable book. I loved it.

Boo is a new and a little nervous about fitting in. Everyone is nice and accepting, but Boo soon learns he is not very good at the games they like to play.

Amazing book about fitting in and making new friends.

I loved the illustrations. They are simple but so cute. Very well-written.

How To Be a Lion - Ed Vere
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A wonderful book about a lion who is not afraid to be himself. I love the message of the book. It is a simple story but a beautiful one.

I wasn't as into the illustrations in this book as the style used in Max the Brave, but they were still entertaining and the story was very well done. 

Great book for supporting the message that there is no one way to be you, it's all about being true to yourself.
The Nest - Jon Klassen, Kenneth Oppel
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I had no idea what this book was about going into it. I saw it at the library and needed an audiobook that was approximately three hours for my commute. The back cover didn't really give much information, but I was intrigued by the cover art. 

I was not prepared to listen to a spooky story as I drove home from work alone in the dark. But I did enjoy the book. I thought it was well-written and liked the perspective of the narration. The writing is very detailed and interesting. It's a little slow in parts, but the plot is so strange and mysterious, it really pulls you in. 

Definitely a creepy one so I would not recommend for all children. Good for older kids who like spooky stuff like Goosebumps, but would have sensitive children steer clear of it. The book gets a little gruesome at times and it is definitely a dark story. 

Overall, a good book for those looking for a creepy story. 
Dog at the Door (Animal Ark #25) - Ben M. Baglio

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Similar to the other Animal Ark books, but definitely a little heavier than some of the other ones I have read. 

In this book, a pregnant golden retriever is left outside Animal Ark. Mandy and her parents work together to solve the mystery as well as help deliver and care for the puppies. 

The thing I don't like about this series is that it really feels like it is written by a grownup. You are under no illusion that you are inside a child's head. The children in the book speak like adults and use idioms, which kids don't really do. The children are very grown up and not very believable. 

I also thought the end was a bit of a stretch. It was entirely predictable, right down to what happens with Vera Morley and Kenneth Samuels, and just did not seem realistic. 

Overall, a nice story, but there are definitely some spots that may be difficult for some young readers. 




One of the puppies is stillborn and another dies within days of being born. The scenes are well-written, but it may be helpful information for parents to know before giving it to their children so they can make an informed decision on if their child could handle it or not. 



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