Posted in Adventure, Book Review, Grades 6-8, Middle Grade, Mystery, Sunshine State 17-18

Omega City


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Some secrets are small — the size of a battery, or a button, or a scrap of paper. Other secrets are so big they can bury a man alive, or tear apart a family … or even destroy the world. Omega City was both.

Gillian’s dad is a historian who specializes in Cold War conspiracies and wrote a book about Aloysius Underberg, a brilliant Cold War engineer. But Dr. Underberg is missing and Gillian’s dad has been discredited. When Gillian is faced with an opportunity to solve Underberg’s greatest mystery and prove her dad right, she can’t resist. She enlists the help of her brother Eric, best friend Savannah, a NASA obsessed boy from school (Howard), and Howard’s brother Nate. Others are searching for Underberg’s secrets too, and they will stop at nothing to get them first.

This is an adventurous mystery with a strong female protagonist. Gillian’s team faces life-threatening situations, including nerve gas in an elevator, goons with guns, and scuba diving in unknown waters. I think middle-grade readers will enjoy this thrilling adventure. (for fans of Luck Uglies or City of Ember). Grades 5-8


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Posted in Grades 3-5, Mystery

The Slippery Slope



The tenth book in this outrageous publishing effort features more than the usual dose of distressing details, such as snow gnats, an organised troupe of youngsters, an evil villain with a dastardly plan, a secret headquarters and some dangerous antics you should not try at home. With the weather turning colder, this is one chilling book you would be better off without. (From Amazon)

The title of this book refers not only to the mountain the Baudelaire children find themselves on but also to the slippery slope that could lead them to become villains. The Baudelaires are challenged to save their sister and find out the secrets of VFD without comprising their principles.

The performance of Tim Curry (who reads the story) is flawless – to the point where I forget who I’m listening to. His portrayal of Count Olaf is deliciously evil.


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Posted in Book Review, Grades 3-5, Mystery

# 7, 8, 9 in The Series of Unfortunate Events

A Series of Unfortunate Events #7: The Vile Village   The Hostile Hospital - Brett Helquist, Lemony Snicket The Carnivorous Carnival - Lemony Snicket

In The Vile Village, an entire village decides to adopt the Baudelaire orphans. But, instead of taking care of them, the villagers just put them to work. Nothing goes easy for the Baudelaires but they pull together to survive and protect each other.

From Amazon re: The Hostile Hospital.

In Lemony Snicket’s eighth ghastly installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I’m sorry to say that the Baudelaire orphans will spend time in a hospital where they risk encountering a misleading newspaper headline, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire.

From Amazon re: The Carnivorous Carnival.

A carnival is a place for good family fun—as long as one has a family, that is. For the Baudelaire orphans, their time at the carnival turns out to be yet another episode in a now unbearable series of unfortunate events. In fact, in this appalling ninth installment in Lemony Snicket’s serial, the siblings must confront a terrible lie, a caravan, and Chabo the wolf baby.


Throughout the three books, the Baudelaires find more clues about the initials VFD and what happened to their parents. Then again, everything they learn only leads to more questions. Count Olaf continues his villainous behavior and efforts to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune. The warnings from Snicket to stop reading still make me laugh as do his explanations of what words mean (always set in the context of the story).


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Posted in Book Review, Grades 3-5, Mystery

# 4, 5, 6 in The Series of Unfortunate Events

The Miserable Mill - Lemony Snicket The Austere Academy - Michael Kupperman, Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist The Ersatz Elevator - Brett Helquist, Lemony Snicket, Michael Kupperman

The Miserable Mill and The Austere Academy are books 4 & 5 in the series. Both involve the same plotline as books 2 & 3… No one ever recognizes Count Olaf in his ridiculous costumes except the Baudelaires, and no one ever believes them. And in the end, when Count Olaf is finally discovered, he escapes. In the Miserable Mill, the children are forced to work in a lumber mill, and the Austere Academy takes place in a boarding school. At the school, the Baudelaires finally meet some friends their own age who believe them.

In the Ersatz Elevator, the formula finally changes. The Baudelaires are adopted by a wealthy family near where their home burned down. As the back of the book says,

“Even though their new home in the city is fancy, and the children are clever and charming, I’m sorry to say that still, the unlucky orphans will encounter more disaster and woe. In fact, in this sixth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, the children will experience a darkened staircase, a red herring, an auction, parsley soda, some friends in a dire situation, a secret passageway, and pinstripe suits.”

I was thrilled at a change and having someone else to root for and someone else to hate. The characters are quirky and outlandish, but fun to read about.

The mystery deepens…


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Posted in Book Review, Grades 3-5, Mystery

#1, 2, 3 in The Series of Unfortunate Events

The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket The Wide Window - Lemony Snicket



The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window

I love the writing and the way “Snicket” breaks the fourth wall. Every book begins with the admonition that you would be better off doing pretty much anything else than reading this book. When the Baudelaire children lost their parents, it was a bad beginning, but it only gets worse from there. The only thing they can count on from Mr. Poe, the inept banker who is acting as their guardian, is that he coughs and he will fail them.

The first book introduces Count Olaf, a villain who is constantly trying to get his greedy hands on the Baudelaire fortune. The second two follow the same basic formula of the Baudelaires moving on, finding guardians who fail them, and facing Count Olaf. Violet is the oldest and ties her hair up in a ribbon any time she needs to invent something. Klaus is a bookworm and amazing researcher. Sunny is the youngest and has unusually sharp teeth which sometimes help the siblings get out of trouble.

I enjoyed the first three books, they are entertaining, easy reads. It only took me a few days to get through all three and I kept going…


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There are two reasons why a writer would end a sentence with the word “stop” written entirely in capital letters STOP. The first is if the writer were writing a telegram… But there is another reason why a writer would end a sentence with “stop” written entirely in capital letters, and that is to warn readers that the book they are reading is so utterly wretched that if they have begun reading it, the best thing to do would be to stop STOP.

Opening Lines


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The Hostile Hospital

The Ersatz Elevator - Lemony Snicket

The book you are holding in your two hands right now — assuming that you are, in fact, holding this book, and that you have only two hands — is one of two books in the world that will show you the difference between the word “nervous” and the word “anxious.” The other book, of course, is the dictionary, and if I were you I would read that book instead.


The Ersatz Elevator
Chapter 1


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Ersatz Elevator