Book Review: The Astounding Broccoli Boy

The Astounding Broccoli Boy

by Frank Cottrell Boyce




Sometimes you just need to laugh.  And when you do,  this is the perfect kind of book.  It’s just silly enough to entertain with just enough depth to keep the reader engaged.

Poor Rory is always looking over his should for the evil Tommy-Lee.  When the two boys suddenly turn bright green they are locked into a hospital ward – together.  Hilarity, danger, and friendship ensue.

Get ready for some British humor and slang.  You might even add some expressions to your vocabulary!

Source:  Public Library ebook

Audience:  middle school  grades 6-8



Book Review: The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow





This book gets high marks from me because of funny lines and realistic teenage characters who just happen to have superpowers. The true strength of the books lies in the telling of how they get the powers, how they use the powers and how they work through their stereotyped roles.

It’s part one of a series, and readers of this blog know how much I hate a series.  I do appreciate that the author ended this episode and left me interested in reading more – not irritated by a cliffhanger.

Book Review: The Best Man by Richard Peck



Richard Peck has captivated me with this book. I enjoyed the humor, the characters and the plot. I especially liked the family relationships, dads and moms and sons and daughters and brothers all figuring out how to b happy. Mix in the deadpan humor and social ineptness of the main character and you have a winner for sure.

Source:  Public Library

Audience:  Grade 5 and up

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson



Roller Girl is an excellent addition to the middle grade graphic novel collection. I think this book will appeal mainly to preteens, and especially to girls who feel like they don’t fit the stereotypical mold for 12 year olds. Astrid’s story about growing up and moving on from a friend is perfectly situated in the story of her foray into roller derby. The author does a fine job of explaining the sport and making Astrid a realistic beginner.  I hate it when book characters are instantly successful at new sports.  And I really want to go see roller derby now!

The author has a great excerpt on her site – perfect to pull in those reluctant reader!

Check out the Scholastic trailer here.

The excellent folks at The Rhode Island Center for the Book have chosen Roller Girls for the 2016 One State One Book initiative.  Imagine all kids in grades 3-6 having a book in common?

Source:  school library

Audience : grades 6 and up

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella


Love, love, love this book. Teenage Audrey is trapped in her home, hiding behind dark glasses, unable to overcome her crippling anxiety. Three things I loved:
1. Audrey is funny, despite her terrible situation
2. The descriptions of panic attacks, therapy and anxiety feel honest
3. A stellar supporting cast or family and friends


Source:  Audiobook from the public library – downloaded to my phone, how convenient

Audience:  grade 7 and up


I Woke Up Dead At the Mall by Judy Sheehan

16 year old Sarah wakes up dead.  At the Mall of America.  She must take steps to let go of her mortal life so she can move on.  Once she tackles her unfinished business she can be free from the mall, and her own sadness.

Despite the title and the topic, there is so much joy in this book.  I loved this particular line:  “So it turns out the at when dead people sleep, they sleep reeeeeeeeeeally deep. That first night at the mall I slept like someone had drugged me, then clubbed me, then made me watch golf on TV.”

Sarah’s companions in the mall were so interesting and their stories were so touching, that I can see this becoming a series.

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham



Just what I love in a mystery: a wise cracking lead, a complicated puzzle to solve, and a sense of setting that adds to the plot. It took some getting used to, but I also really enjoyed the narrator’s near-constant use of similes: “She was tall and blond and white as marble, with clothes that matched her skin and a face like a cemetery angel.” 
Excellent pick for grades 7-12
This review is based on an ARC provided to me by the publisher

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli

Following his mother’s death, 14 year old Samuel travels through the wilderness of Brazil to fulfill her dying wishes.  He’s got some candles to light and a father to find (and maybe kill).  As the opens he is staggering along the road, nearly dead from hunger and thirst.  Don’t let that stop you from reading on.  This is actually a cheerful, hopeful book.  Samuel finds himself living the in the hollow head of a giant statue, listening to the prayers of the local women.  At first, he’s trying to make some money and a quick getaway.  How and why he stays make up the heart of this book.  The narrative structure moves back and forth in time, and some of the names are easy to mix up. The excellent story is worthy of your efforts.

A good pick for grades 8 and up.

Source:  ARC from publisher

Publication Date:  March 8, 2016

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness


So much fun in such a thoughtful package.
I’ve read so many books starring the hero of the crisis. Patrick Ness gives us an excellent view from the other side of the scene. While the heroes are running around saving the world, the rest of us just live here. But if all the regular people aren’t there to witness the crisis, how would we know about the heroic actions?

Patrick Ness has a great website, and a some excellent you tube work too.


Click here to visit the author’s site.

Click here to listen to Patrick Ness reading from this book.


Source:  ebook from the public library

Audience:  middle school and high school

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


Just. Wow.
Once I got going I simply could not put this book down. Things I liked:
It’s funny and sad all at once.
While these teens are awfully articulate they still feel real.
Finally, a book where the parents are not horrible idiots (well, Violet’s parents aren’t)

The author’s note at the end of the book is an important message for all readers.

A movie is in the works, due  I’m not sure I like that.  Once it comes out no one will read the book.  And what if it isn’t as good as the book?

Source:  Public Library ebook that I read on my phone because my Kindle wasn’t charged and I had to keep reading.

Audience:  High School