Caramel reviews Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne

Caramel has recently inherited Marshmallow’s complete collection of Magic Tree House books, and returned to reading them regularly. In the past he had reviewed several books from this amazing series by Mary Pope Osborne already:  Night of the Ninjas (Magic Tree House #5), Afternoon on the Amazon (Magic Tree House #6), Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2), Sunset of the Sabertooth (Magic Tree House #7), Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House #8), and Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House #9). Today he reviews book #10: Ghost Town at Sundown.  As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne.
Caramel reviews Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you chose a Magic Tree House book for your last review before we take a month off for summer.

Caramel: For summer fun and other stuff.

S: Yes, so tell us a bit about this book.

C: The book is about the same kids that showed up in the other Magic Tree House books. So if you read any of those before, then you will know Jack and Annie. Jack is the older brother and Annie is the younger sister, she is more rebellious and Jack is more logical and cautious. Way more cautious.

S: Yes, I remember them well. So what happens in this book to Jack and Annie? What is the ghost town in the title?

C: It’s called Rattlesnake Flats. It is a town in the Wild West. And guess what? They meet the person who wrote the book that took them there.

S: Oh I remember. In this series Jack and Annie travel in a magic tree house. When they open a book they find in it, the tree house takes them to the time and place of the book. So do you know what the Wild West is?

C: I am not sure.

S: Let us see. Wikipedia calls it the American Frontier, and says the popular understanding of the phrase involves “Native American lands west of the Mississippi River, in what is now the Midwest, Texas, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest, and the West Coast.” Time-wise, it could be anytime as early as the seventeenth century, but more likely is the eighteenth or nineteenth century.

C: I see. That makes sense. At the end, we learn that the book they use to go there is published in 1895 in Dallas. That is in Texas.

Caramel is reading Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne.
Caramel is reading Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne.

S: So is this story tied in to the previous ones? You last read and reviewed Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House #9).

C: Well, they are related. This story begins with Morgan giving Jack and Annie a riddle. We saw Morgan before. She is Morgan Le Fay from the King Arthur / Merlin stories, but she is not evil.

S: In fact the kids really like her in these books, right?

C: Yes. The tree house is hers I think. She tells them that they will soon become Magic Librarians, so they can travel with the magic tree house.

S: That sounds exciting!

C: Yeah, so they go and meet a ghost.

S: Is that scary?

C: Not particularly, he is a friendly ghost. He waves at them.

S: Hmm, that sounds intriguing. So tell me your three words for the book then Caramel.

C: Happy, cowboy-ish, and amusing. It’s funny.

S: This makes sense to me though I am not quite sure “cowboy-ish” is a real word.

C: It must be!

S: Okay! So let us wrap up your last review before our summer break. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews! We will be back in August!

Caramel enjoyed reading Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne, and is looking forward to reading more of these fun and informative books.
Caramel enjoyed reading Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10) by Mary Pope Osborne, and is looking forward to reading more of these fun and informative books.

Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Every year the book bunnies have been taking July off. In her last review before this year’s summer break, Marshmallow decided to review Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps.
Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about bullying, differences, school, or friends, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Eliana Elizabeth Montgomery-Hofstein hasn’t been called by her real name since she was five. The only people who call her by her real name are her parents, her best friend Viv, and her teachers. At school and at home, she is called Splash. This is because at her fifth birthday party, she jumped into her pool wearing a whale swimsuit and she made a large splash. Since then her classmates and even her siblings have been treating her terribly because she is larger than other kids. Her mother keeps trying to make her go on diets and even tries to make Ellie have bariatric surgery.

Sadly, Viv, Ellie’s best friend, has moved away. However, Ellie has found a new friend, Catalina, a girl who lives next to her but doesn’t go to her school. Ellie likes spending time with her new friend. She swims while Catalina plays her guitar. But her time at school is not so pleasant. When she walks in the hallways, everyone presses themselves against the wall because they are pretending that she is so big that she is squashing them against the wall. At home, her brother says mean things to her and her mother keeps telling her that she is too big.

Ellie tries to live by her “Fat Girl Rules”. Her “Fat Girl Rules” are stuff like, “You need to bully yourself as much as, if not more than, everyone bullies you.”, “You don’t deserve to be seen or heard, to take up room, to be noticed. Make yourself small.”, “When someone is laughing, they’re laughing at you.”, and “No making waves.”

Recently, Ellie has started to go to a therapist. Her therapist helps her deal with her emotions and process the events of her day. With her therapist, her father, and her friend, Ellie manages to brave through her life, even though it sometimes seems like everything is against her.

Marshmallow is reading Starfish by Lisa Fipps.
Marshmallow is reading Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Starfish is a very moving book. It reminded me of another book I reviewed before: Blubber by Judy Blume. There, too, there was a girl who was bullied because of her size, though Starfish is narrated by the person being bullied.

Starfish is written like a poem, but it is free verse. I have not read too many books written in verse like this, but I think that it worked really well for Starfish. The poetry reminded me of the book I reviewed two weeks ago: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

After reading this book, I read the author’s note, which says that everything in Starfish happened to her in some version or another. Since the author went through these experiences, she did a great job making the characters realistic and relatable. My favorite character is Catalina because she is a great friend and she is wise. But not only did the author make likable characters, she also made characters who are very unlikable. Everyone at school is mean to Ellie, but the main people who bully her are two girls and one boy. Ellie and Viv called them, Enemy Number 1, Enemy Number 2, and Enemy Number 3 (not in front of them though).

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates Starfish by Lisa Fipps 100%.
Marshmallow rates Starfish by Lisa Fipps 100%.

Caramel reviews How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell

Caramel has been going through the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell these past few weeks. He has already reviewed the first four books for the book bunnies blog: How To Train Your DragonHow to Be A Pirate,  How To Speak Dragonese, and How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse. Today he talks about the fifth book in this series: How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions. 

Caramel reviews How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.
Caramel reviews How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what happens in this fifth book of the How To Train Your Dragon series?

Caramel: The same as every other one of them. Hiccup gets in trouble and then gets out of trouble.

S: That sounds like you are getting bored of this series. Are you?

C: No.

S: So it is somewhat formulaic but you still find it a lot of fun to read?

C: Yes. There is a new character called Humongous, Humongously Hotshot. He plays an important role in the story.

S: So tell us a bit about that story. But please, no spoilers this time.

C: The book starts with Hiccup in the pirate training program, herding reindeer on dragon back. As you can probably expect, Toothless messes everything up. Again. Like he did in all the other books.

S: So is Toothless silly, impulsive, or volatile? Why doe he always mess things up?

C: He gets too excited about everything and that causes trouble.

Caramel is reading How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.
Caramel is reading How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.

S: I saw you giggling your way through the book. Is it just as hilarious as the earlier books?

C: Yes. If you like the other books in the series, you will like this too. For sure.

S: It seems to me that the books are independent from one another. Is that true?

C: Not so much. Some characters from earlier books show up and knowing them from those earlier stories really helps. There is Alvin the Treacherous who shows up here. And he is a pretty good bad guy. But he first showed up in How to Be a Pirate. That was the second book.

S: I see. So there is some continuity and development in the characters, and the basic story of Hiccup keeps developing. But the individual books have distinct adventures which are relatively self-contained.

C: Yes, that is right.

S: So maybe you can give me your three words to describe the book.

C: Funny, adventurous, and fantasy.

S: You have used the first two before, but fantasy is new.

C: But fantasy does work for all the books. This is fantasy because Romans, Vikings, and dragons all live in the same world.

S: That makes sense of course Caramel. So let us wrap this up so you can move on to the next book in the series.

C: Yes, but I am actually reading a different book now, and that will probably be my next review.

S: That sounds intriguing. Readers will need to wait a week to see what this other book is. But for now, what do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell, and is looking forward to reading the rest of the series soon, though their reviews might need to wait till the end of the summer.
Caramel enjoyed reading How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book #5 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell, and is looking forward to reading the rest of the series soon, though their reviews might need to wait till the end of the summer.

Marshmallow reviews The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan

Marshmallow has already reviewed the first four books in Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo series for the book bunnies blog. This week she reviews the fifth and final book, The Tower of Nero. Below she shares her thoughts on this epic end of Rick Riordan’s fifteen-book series about Greco-Roman gods and their children who live among us. 

For reference, Marshmallow has already reviewed:

You might also enjoy reading Caramel’s reviews of the graphic novel versions of the first two books of the first series: The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel and The Sea of Monsters: The Graphic Novel.

Marshmallow reviews The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you enjoyed reading the first four books of Rick Riordan’s Trials Of Apollo series, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Apollo has been stuck as a mortal for the last four books, and now he is coming to the end of his adventures on Earth. But he has a long list of enemies. He has been fighting the Triumvirate, three evil emperors from Rome’s past who have been trying to all become gods, as well as his archenemy Python. Python is a large and evil snake who has been Apollo’s enemy even when Apollo was a god.

The book starts with Apollo and his demigod master Meg returning to New York. You might recall that Meg is a daughter of Demeter, but she is a particularly strong one. She has unusual powers, even for a half-blood. She is able to summon a karpos, which apparently means “fruit” in Greek, but in this universe, it is a fruit or grain spirit. She names this karpos Peaches, because he is always saying “Peaches”. She can transport using plants and can make them grow faster.

On their way into New York, Apollo and Meg are attacked by Nero’s henchmen. We already know from the earlier books in the series that Nero is one of the main antagonists of the story, so you can guess that his people are not coming to greet Apollo. However, one of them, a Gaul woman named Luguselwa, turns out to be Meg’s trainer. Meg was one of the demigods that Nero had “adopted” and raised to be his minions. Luguselwa, Lu as Meg calls her, had been a role model for Meg.

Even though in the beginning it seems like Lu is on Nero’s side, she has a plan to help Apollo because she really cares for Meg. But they first need rest, so they stop by Percy Jackson’s home. (For Percy’s adventures, click here.) But Percy is not there. (However, his new baby sister is.) After staying with the Blofis-Jacksons for a little bit, Apollo, Meg, and Lu leave to go to Camp Half-Blood. At the camp, Apollo sees his half-brother Dionysus and his children. But they have to leave soon, and when they do, they go to find Rachel, who currently embodies the Oracle of Delphi. When they meet Rachel, they are faced by Tauri Sylvestre, which are basically monster cows.

Apollo and his friends will have to face the monster cows and more before they can finally hope to defeat Nero and Apollo’s archenemy Python.

Marshmallow is reading The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading The Tower Of Nero. I think that the plot of this book is very well-written, and it is a great finale for the whole series. The new characters are all amazing, they are realistic and relatable. As always, Apollo is a hilarious narrator, and he gets more and more likeable through the series.

This particular book of the series might be slightly scarier than the earlier books. There are some moments where the reader will probably get scared or grossed out, like Lu’s punishment. I’d say that most of Rick Riordan’s books are for ages 8 and up, so this one might be for 9 (or 10) and up.

The Tower of Nero can be a great read if you are reading it alone, but it is also great if you read it to someone else or someone reads it to you. I recommend it as a perfect ending for this fifteen-book saga.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan 100%.