Tag Archive: children



Relatively Normal Secrets (The Falinnheim Chronicles, #1)Relatively Normal Secrets by C.W. Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Want a little reprieve from the heavier material you’ve been reading lately? This is the book. It is so much fun and a quick read. After all, it is a chapter book for middle grades. But I don’t quite know how to intrigue you without giving spoilers. Here is the blurb, even it has spoilers I wouldn’t have included.

“Tuesday and Zed Furst are perfectly normal children with perfectly strange parents. Their father won’t discuss his job, their mother never leaves the house without her guard dog, and the topic of the family tree is off limits.

When a last minute “business trip” gets the adults out of the way, Zed and Tuesday decide to get to the bottom of things once and for all. Too bad some thugs with shape-shifting weapons have other ideas. Their escape leaves them trapped in the modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim, where everyone insists their father is a disgraced fugitive. They hope whoever is leaving them coded clues may have some answers, but they’re not sure they’re going to like what they learn.

If they ever want to see their parents again, they’ll need the help of a smuggler with a broken compass, their unusually talented dog, some extremely organized bandits, and a selection of suspiciously misquoted nursery rhymes.

Zed and Tuesday may not have all the answers, but one thing is certain: when it comes to normal, everything is relative.”

Add to the adventure the great narration by Ivy Tara Blair in this Audible version, and you will be in a place of pure enjoyment.

I don’t remember how I heard about these books, but I am already reading the second. I love the characters and how they go about solving the mysteries around them.

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The Hat Lady and her Animals (Picture Books for Kids)The Hat Lady and her Animals by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fun little story with plenty of lessons. A story in kindness. A story of using your talents to help others. A story about yarn skills.

By the way, Darlene only knits in this case. The yarn comes from, and finished products go to Hugger Hats. Those amazing ladies in the group are the ones that collect yarn and distribute the finished toys and hats to the needy. But I understand keeping it simple for the story’s sake.

I have to admit to being more than uncomfortable seeing my name in the story. But once I got used to it, I loved what the author was trying to convey.

Though the toys in the story were not the ones I made, I would love to put patterns in the book for those who wanted to learn. Many children love knitting. I was twelve when I learned to crochet and knit.

The little stuffed animals were adorable. Easy the pup was my favorite. But the cat couple was so sweet. I can’t wait for the Hugger Hats to see this story more about the group than about any one person.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another reread. I needed something while waiting for my next Outlander read. I figured with all the stress of my cataract surgery, I needed something in the fantasy realm.

I did enjoy the book, but I kept remembering the ending and hated reliving it. I don’t think I would have been a good candidate to read this as a kid.

Besides the ending, I had a hard time with this whole series is the lack of good fleshed-out female characters. Hermoine was okay, but there weren’t enough good girls or women. It was very male-heavy.

I may be reading the next one and making it to the series’ end, but it will not be soon.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m on my second reading of this book. I read the actual hardback the first time. Now the eyes wouldn’t be able to. So I chose to listen to Jim Dale read the book to me. For the most part, he is a good narrator, but ugh, for the females. He makes them sound like he’s making fun of them. And he seems to use the voice of Hagrid for another character making it a bit confusing.

Still, I am raising my rating from three stars to four as I found this more pleasant this time. I don’t know if it is my interpretation of the book versus how Jim Dale portrayed it. I just remembered this book as scary and dark. Yet this time, I found it lighter and happier. Maybe I knew where it was going, so I didn’t shake in fear?

As with the first two books, I find them male-heavy, which is disappointing because it is a female author. Seeing that she chose to be more acceptable to males by having a male pseudonym makes me admire her less. But maybe now, she might not choose that path.

Since I have the collection on Audible, I plan to continue listening. I do wish there was another actor to play the females. Still, how many can say, “Buckbeak’s back” multiple times without tripping over their tongues? Jim Dale got points for that!

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second reading of the series. I noticed I haven’t changed my star rating. I’m still only giving it three stars. Jim Dale is part of the reason for this rating. His voice is suitable for all the males in the book but is horrid with the females. I do feel the grumpiness of Professor Minerva McGonagall and the hyper-energy of Hermoine. But for the most part, Mister Dale’s females sound demeaning and whiny.

But things I love about the book are the basilisk and the phoenix. These are two very fantastic beasts. Oh, and I love the idea of a diary that talks to you from someone else. I don’t like the Tom Riddle part or Voldemort parts, but I suppose we need the bad guy. I did like getting to know Tom’s back story.

When I read the tome about a decade ago, I thought it was a slower slog. This book was over quickly. And for these stressful days having something I know and enjoy, helps the sleep come faster at night.

I’ve already started book three. And I remember how each book gets darker. Maybe by the end, I won’t use these as bedtime books.

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Fortune FallsFortune Falls by Jenny Goebel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fun book! Though aimed at middle grades to young adults, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My friend and her granddaughter were co-reading this. They shared on a Zoom friends-meet how much they were enjoying it. I started looking around to see if it was on Libby. I couldn’t afford to buy it right now. Thankfully my friend gifted the Kindle version to me. Yay! And thank you!

Imagine a town where superstitions come true. Sadie lived there and was considered unlucky. What an adventure she takes us on while making us question those beliefs!

If you want to take a break from the adult reads, this will fit the bill. I am amazed at the vocabulary and writing. I believe young me or my kids would have enjoyed this even more than I did, which seems an impossible bar to reach!

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Incredible.

Source: Daycares in Finland Built Their Own ‘Forests’, And It Changed Kids’ Immune Systems


Antics!Antics! by Cathi Hepworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A couple of friends recommended this fun little treat. After their great reviews knew I had to find a copy.

Okay, so it might be a little advanced compared to other alphabet books. Still, the pictures and one word per page make it a quick memorized book. It may be more fun for older siblings to read to younger ones with a more advanced vocabulary. And parents and teachers can find a lot of conversation starters on each page.

First of all, ANTS! Hey, you could obtain a good ant farm for the kids to watch or a walkout to see ants in their true habitats. Hopefully, you haven’t been inundated by the ones that love your kitchen. But, heck, there’s another educational moment for you and the students.

The illustrations are so much fun! Who knew ants could be so expressive? This brings me to the choose your favorite page. My friends chose Deviant and Chant. I do like both of those. But my favorite is a psychological thriller with personal history. Hesitant. I remember graduating to the level of the high dive. I remember the first time actually climbing back down the ladder to my shame and embarrassment. I gave myself speeches for days and was determined to do it the next time. I did get all the way out on the board—no diving for my first few times. Even the first jump, I felt hesitant. I don’t remember ever getting confident on that dive. I preferred the sturdy diving platform, and I could dive from and reach the other end of the pool in one breath.

I think I will donate this to our little library.

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Saving Snow WhiteSaving Snow White by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really needed this story. After the stress of the last book I read, I needed a bit of a child’s adventure, Not that this is a childish story. Adults can appreciate this story, as can middle grades. There is a sweet nod to the Snow White story, but mostly this strong young girl had to figure a way to survive this evil stepmother. This would have been a great book to read to my kids at bedtime. I think there are many points that could have been conversation starters.

What I like best about this tale is how the author chose to let the child/children work out their own answers to their dilemmas. They were in positions where the adults were not to be trusted. It is good to teach your children to think for themselves about what they might do in the worst circumstances. As much as I would love the kind of world where that wouldn’t be needed, not teaching a child to think and act would be a disservice. We need to help our children feel strong enough to handle themselves while remaining respectful and still have the fun of being a kid. We all need that.

When you let yourself imagine yourself like this child, what would you have done? I don’t think I would have had the tools within me to survive much. I was so naive and gullible. I hope I raised mine with more gumption. If you need to set your inner child on a semi-scary adventure, this is one for you and yours.

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Guardians of the Trails: Secret Agents of the Wilderness Volume 1Guardians of the Trails: Secret Agents of the Wilderness Volume 1 by Ron Guiley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently went to the eye doctor. Yes, the one that didn’t give me new glasses as he is setting up cataract-removal surgery for me. I can’t wait! It will be so nice when I can read all books again. Until that operation happens, I guess children’s books or Kindle and Audible are my only way to read. As the doctor and I discussed how I couldn’t even see the big E with my left eye, I told him how important it was that I be able to read. “I’m a writer!” I said as I pointed to my 2020 NaNoWriMo winner’s T-shirt. He pulled out his bookmark to prove he not only wrote but actually had published his masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to get it and read it.

Luckily, this book is a wonderful picture book. The poodles pictured in the book are the doctor’s own. He enjoyed taking them on hikes and snapped pictures. A story evolved with the pictures, as with children’s books, the writing is large enough for most of us to read. And the illustrations are adorable. Don’t think for a minute it is just a bunch of poodle pics. The story is fun. The poodles are secret agents solving nature puzzles. I can’t wait to see what they get up to in volume 2!

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