MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

The Patmos Deception
ISBN: 9780764211393
Publisher Synopsis:                                 An Ancient Island Holds an Ancient Secret . . .

Nick Hennessy, 
a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe--his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities. Nick has the credentials--and cover ID--to unearth the truth. And he knows just the researcher to help him...

Carey Mathers, fresh from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestigious Athens Institute for Antiquities--a dream come true, really, particularly when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.

Dimitri Rubinos, for whom the Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business. But his country's economic chaos isn't the only thing that has turned his world on its head...

 MrsK's Review:
When I was given an opportunity to review this book, I had a bubbling of excitement to return to Patmos after all of these years. The intrigue of a sacred document, the mysterious disappearances of ancient antiquities, and the character's passionate work as a journalist, a forensic archaeologist, and a charter boatman was a mixture that I could not resist.

"Carey Mathers arrived in Greece in a state of breathless exhaustion... 
She had never been too worried about what her grandmother called the store-bought life.
But this trip was different. Her journey to Greece was all about dreams coming true."

I remember that exhaustion. I was hooked with her dreams of Greece coming true... I would be enjoying this book and I would not be disappointed. Great beginnings always create a perfect opportunity for enjoying a journey with a satisfied "sigh" of relief.

If Carey's worn out invitation to come and work for the Athens Institute for Antiquities brought hope and joy, imagine what a chained gate... an empty building... and chaos in the streets were doing to her emotions as she arrives in Greece (I was not expecting this turn of events at the get-go).

Befriended by Eleni, Carey begins a journey of unexpected events that will land her on the island of Patmos. These events are orchestrated to bring her together with a dear friend from the past, with a women of God who will guide her beyond survival, and with breath-taking sights in which she stops to take its grandeur in as often as possible (so many memories were shared within this character's discoveries...I loved the connections).

Each character is so interesting. Their stories are woven in such a way that you will agree with their choices, or you will be tense and on alert, or you could feel yourself drawn to race to their defense:
  • Where do you go with no money, home, family, or friends?
  • What do you do when men with guns board your boat and there's a storm thundering all around you?
  • What can you do when the local police begin questioning your involvement and connections?
  • How do you get out of a kidnapping?
  • What happens when your heart strings are being played?
  • What has the Patmos Monastery of Saint John have do with this definite life-changing espionage and illegalities of others?
  • Who is Prochoros? 
  • What wisdom can Kyriaki share that will keep every character on the right course?
  • How will  Dr. Karras provide safety for Carey and Nick when the UN Heritage Sites commissions can't be trusted?
  •  Just how deadly will McAllister get if the Bishop doesn't turn over the artifact?
If their lives depend on them getting this mission right, then Carey will need to depend on her relationship with God. Can a life-long "pilgrimage" be found in the Cave of Revelation? For those who have entered this cave, the vivid detail will take your breath away!

"Carey pressed her hands to her cheeks, her eyes brimming with tears...
 She tried to look everywhere at once, desperate to take it all in, every shred of the morning and the sounds that he had taken for granted all his life..."

Don't overlook this journey with Carey, Nick, and Dimitri in and out of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and Patmos... 

  From Greece to Patmos... Don't miss your booking!
Meet the Author:

  Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

Honored with four Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt. 

"I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for this review."
Bethany House Invites The Laredo Community To Their Fall Health And ...

Friday, December 12, 2014

How To Survive Middle School and Monster Bots by Howard Boward

Howard Boward
ISBN: 9780310736080
Publisher's Synopsis:
Sometimes, being smart just isn’t enough!
It’s been a rough winter for Howard Boward, science genius. Not only is he caught in the crossfire of winter’s most dangerous weapon (snowballs), his best friend, Winnie McKinney, is mad at him, and the school bullies seem to have made it their personal mission to make life at Dolley Madison Middle School miserable. But when Howard’s teacher tells him about the upcoming robot-building contest, Howard can’t resist using his superior knowledge of science to gain an advantage, especially since he’ll be competing against archrival Gerald “G-Force” Forster. Unfortunately, the secret goo he uses to make his cardboard robot move turns it into a multiplying, vengeance-seeking monster. If Howard doesn’t stop the robot rebellion in time, they’ll ruin everything—including his friendships and the school dance.

MrsK's Review:

Can you imagine being a science genius? Not even the change of the season is considered easy, normal, or simple. Not every science nerd is a geek, in fact what would our lives be like without them?

"First, before I say anything else, I want to make one thing clear:
some of my best friends are machines. Seriously..."

Meet Howard, a middle school Sci-guy. Earlier on he created a goo that will once again take on a life of it's own design (more about that in a bit). Howard has a big problem, better known as school bullies. These guys are not the type you enjoy seeing coming your way. They even have their own alley of anxiety (Snowball Alley). Beyond the daily onslaught of bullying, Howard also has a nemesis who has just made a rather "good" robot that is able to make hoop shots. G-Force and his Basket-bot could surpass Howard's robotic genius. Although Howard is not an inventor who will be de-throned, he does run into some very mysterious happenings:

"Here it is--the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the stuff I was hoping no one would ever find out about.
It's time the truth came out.
I'll be the first to admit I made a ton of mistakes, and caused a lot of trouble,
and put just about everyone I know in danger....
But just so you know, the robots started it."

As Howard explains the sequence of events, you must acknowledge his passion for making the best robot. His joy when he discovers an after school robot club (BAs). His quick thinking as the Winter Formal is about to be crashed (or smashed) beyond repair. His restraint when he faces the bullies and chooses not to retaliate on their level. And, of course, there is the little "rooting" for Howard when everything he cares about rapidly begins destroying his plans in winning the Believer Achievers Robotics Fair.

The only saving grace is the town's annual Mega-Monster Film Festival. Well, and the help of his Uncle... a few friends... his family... and of course the BAs! Remember that invention of goo? It seems that once you pour it into a box and you add a few ingredients, well it tends to create other self-feeding robots. With the town dressing up for the Mega-Monster Film Festival and the robotic smashers... the town, and the dance, are in extreme danger. How does Howard stop the chaos? That's the hook... I will tell you that dancing sure burns up energy.

This story is an adventure that will provide you with laughter, serious shut-your-eyes bullying, and of course awe-inspiring Sci-guy wowzers...
Enjoy the fun,
 Too much fun to stay on the shelves!
About the Author:
ronbates1 Ron Bates is a novelist and humor columnist who writes about secret laboratories, monsters, bullies, robots, cafeteria food, and other perils of middle school. A former newspaper reporter, he is the author of How to Make Friends and Monsters, How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots, the comic book series Brawn, and numerous poems and plays for kids who like to laugh. He lives in Texas.
Don't forget to read the first Howard novel:
Questions for this elusive authorThanks to the book reviewer who hosted a blog tour.
What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
That anyone would want my autograph. I still feel like I should apologize whenever I sign a book, it’s this sense that I’ve somehow left a permanent blotch on an otherwise perfect page. Getting to do something like that is an honor and one of the most gratifying parts of the book-writing experience but it’s surreal. I guess it’s because authors aren’t accustomed to being onstage — the book is the star, we’re somewhere back behind the curtain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful but I always half-expect people to say they’re joking and then pull the book away.

What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
The world neither starts nor ends with you. That sounds so obvious but every generation seems to struggle with the concept. For some reason, there’s this point in our development where we believe we have to change things, and only we can do it because we have all the answers. That’s not the next generation, that’s every generation. The trouble is, we forget that others felt this way long before our arrival. There’s a reason things are as they are, a reason our predecessors set us on this course. That doesn’t mean it’s the right course but it does mean you don’t change everything just for the sake of change. You owe something to the next generation, just as the previous one owed something to you, so don’t throw away the past carelessly. You might be robbing those to come of something precious.

And now a few about How to Make Friends and Monsters!

Where did the idea develop? Are you a big Frankenstein fan?
I grew up a big fan of old monster movies. I’m not just talking about the “classic” monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman, I liked them all–Mothra, Gamera, the blob, the giant ants from “Them.” One of my favorite memories is staying up late on Friday nights and watching the cheesy midnight movies that always involved some nuclear mutation bent on destroying the planet. But just when you thought you knew everything about monster history, it changed. Sesame Street gave us Cookie Monster and Grover, Harry and the Hendersons gave us a lovable Bigfoot, and we met Sulley and Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. Suddenly, monsters, which had always been the scourge of mankind, could be friends.
In a lot of ways, the book is an examination of one question — what is a monster? Is it a monster because of the way it looks, because of where it came from, or because of its actions? At its heart, this is a story about a friendship between two kids, one of whom just happens to be a “monster.”

Were any of the characters inspired by real people?
Definitely. There are elements of people I know in all of them but they’re not exact copies. My brothers and my sister, for example, have all found instances in the book that happened to them while we were growing up. Those parts were when the story felt most “real” to me because they were real experiences. When I picture Winnie McKinney in my head, I know the face I’m thinking of and it belongs to a real-life person. Is Winnie her? The best answer I can give is “kind of.”

As for Howard, he looks at the world a lot like I do. I think he worries about the same things I worried about at his age, so I know I’m in there, part of the mix. Hopefully no one I grew up with will see themselves in the bullies in the story — but if they’d been on the other end of the wedgie back then, there’s a good chance they might.

What’s one of the main things you hope your young readers come away with after reading this?
Fitting in isn’t about becoming who you think the crowd wants you to be. It’s about being who you are and finding your place among people who wouldn’t have you any other way. You might make friends by pretending to be someone you’re not, but you’ll never really be one.

So is there anything on the horizon for Howard?
Indeed there is. I’m finishing the second book in the series right now and it takes place a little later in the year, during the winter months when the first snow has just fallen. We tend to think of snow as this pillowy layer of fluff that floats down from the sky but Howard sees it as something else entirely. Rolled into a ball, it becomes a cold, hard weapon and he is its unfortunate target. Naturally, with his passion for inventing things, you can count on him coming up with a very unusual snowman. It’s not that Howard means for it to be unusual, it’s just that his inventions never quite turn out as planned. But most of the main characters from the first book are back and Howard is still trying to survive the perilous halls of Dolley Madison Middle School, so hopefully it’ll be a fun read.

"I received this book for free for this review"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beneath by Roland Smith

Title: Beneath, Author: Roland Smith
ISBN: 9780545564861
Publisher's Synopsis:
Pat O'Toole has always idolized his older brother, Coop. He's even helped Coop with some of his crazier plans -- such as risking his life to help his big brother dig a tunnel underneath their neighborhood in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Coop is . . . different. He doesn't talk on the phone, doesn't use email, and doesn't have friends. He's never really cared for anything but the thrill of being underground and Pat. So it's no surprise to anyone -- even Pat -- that after a huge fight with their parents, Coop runs away. Exactly one year later, Pat receives a package containing a digital voice recorder and a cryptic message from his brother. He follows the clues to New York City, and soon discovers that Coop has joined the Community, a self-sufficient society living beneath the streets. Now it's up to Pat to find his brother -- and bring him home.

MrsK's Review:
What really is beneath? This cover draws you in and down... down below the streets of New York City. Seriously, who wouldn't creep over to the light and peer down... down... down!

Before I share with you about Pat, let me share of few "things" about his brother Coop. For some reason, Coop really likes a pair of tap shoes. Now I get this, once those taps start resonating on differing surfaces you can't help but to keep your feet in action. Coop also likes reading, maybe not the same type of books I would choose... but a reader is an explorer. Someone who is willing to look "deeper" beyond the words or whatever society is trying to enforce. Coop is also a writer who has lost the opportunity to communicate in a journal. So, the next best option would be keeping an auditory journal (definitely a real-time... over the edge... survival and in the moment tech-nique). Coop likes digging, dirt, and tuna sandwiches. Nothing unusual... except, well he's going "beneath."

Now for Pat (such an amazingly brave character), his story begins after the explosion... after Coop has run away... and once a package arrives at his school. Coop has "hooked" him into keeping a journal as a way of documenting the truth:

"This is what I'm doing here in this journal...stringing together bits and pieces of information to make a story,
 each bead in the necklace made from different material. Memory beads. Recorded beads. Newspaper beads. Letter beads..."

Once Coop began digging behind their shed, Pat was recruited as a co-conspirator. This was not just a "hole" for discovery, it was well planned... eight months of tunneling "slithering beneath the neighborhood like a giant earthworm." Unfortunately, the tunnel ended up at the Mesa's swimming pool and the "whumpf" of the explosion brought "every local, state, and federal law enforcement agent" to their back yard shed. 

 Three days later, Pat awakens to the reality that his brother had been taken by the Feds. Even when Coop was returned, things were not the same. And then came the day that Coop was gone. No note... no tap shoes... no tent... no sleeping bag... backpack...or  flashlights... all gone... completely gone. Only some stationery and envelopes were left behind. 

Gone where? Where and why would Coop leave? It takes a year of  worry, anger, and change... but on the day the package is delivered at Pat's school , he begins a recorded communication with Coop. Consider it like letters or a voice-journal of every day happenings. Until Coop gets to New York: 
" When I finally got here I knew I was in the right place. What I'm looking for is here. 
I don't know how to explain it, but I can feel's close."

When there is no recordings, no letters... Pat decides to tell both of his parents that something has happened to Coop. The only thing they are concerned about is where Pat will spend Christmas break. Now that they have divorced and have new interests, neither are thrilled that the other one has plans. So Pat decides his own destination... New York City... in search of Coop. He has ten nights to find him.

So what is Coop looking for? Who is this old guy who knows everything about NYC? Who is the girl and why is she wearing shades at night? What does Coop mean that he has earned his "entrance fee?" Who is the guide? Who is that strange man opening Coop's mail box?

With so many unknowns, a plot that takes you "underground," claustrophobic tunnels, and "deeply-rooted" communities... Pat must find a way to help Coop before it's too late. It takes courage to even be in the tunnels, can you imagine being underground with no plan, no map, nothing that gives you a moment of peace or sleep? Could you trust strangers with your next breath? Would you be so driven to find your sibling that only true grit would bring you a few miles closer to the truth?

 "I put the earphones in and fast-forwarded to Coop's references to what lies below..."

Pat's journey is not an adventure, it's a harrowing experience that only leads to more questions, suffocating decisions, constant agony pulsing through your veins... and certain death. This novel will keep you turning the pages and only stopping to gulp in a breath, grab a bite to eat, and return with a ferocity to reach Coop for yourself (yep, that type of reader enmeshment is delightfully delivered). Every character has their own story, each decision is pre-determined to take Pat deeper underground, and every life-threatening chase is smothered by miles of dirt overhead. Or at least it appears that no one is noticing where Pat is...

My only question to the author of a "stand alone" novel would be: Are these characters seriously not beckoning to you to finish their journey?

This is a must reserve read... don't wait... get Roland's newest book for your New Year kick off.  It is beyond expectations. It is a winter's journey not to be forgotten. It will... well, it will make you re-live Pat's moments "beneath" civilization (a true read-it-forward novel).
 "Over the top"
A must add to any Library, classroom shelf, and home collection!
 Meet the Author:

Back Home  I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. When I was five years old my parents gave me an old manual typewriter that weighed more than I did! It was my favorite possession. I spent hours in my room clacking away on that old typewriter. Of course, when I was five I didn’t know how to spell and I barely knew how to read, but I loved the sound and the look of the letters on the crisp white paper. Things haven’t changed much since then. I still spend several hours a day in my room clacking away and I still love the sound of the keyboard and the look of the letters and words that eventually turn into stories. The only difference is that I can read now and I spell a lot better.

"I received this book for this honest review"

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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