Archive for January, 2013


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Synopsis:  Jamie Grimm, a young comedian in a wheelchair, wants to try his luck in the “Funniest Kid in America” contest.  There is a big mystery in his past that is slowly revealed during the course of the book.  Jamie has a lot of  issues that are common to middle school kids and a cheerful courageous attitude toward life.  Written in first person,  this book contains a lot of jokes and really wonderful illustrations.

Matthew: I funny had me cracking up.  All ages will enjoy this hilarious middle school story. James Patterson has written a lot of great teen books and this was no exception. I really liked that the book was not all jokes, but also taught an important lesson.

Ben:  If you are looking for funny, come to this book.  If not, leave this book far, far away from you.  I loved it!  It was totally awesome.  The kissing part was kind of weird and I didn’t enjoy it that much, but over all the book was pretty good.

Mom:  I’m not all that into silly junior-high jokes, but I really liked the story and the mystery.  Unlike some of Patterson’s books, there is nothing objectionable here (unless you are a preteen boy and count a kiss as objectionable).  This book says a lot, subtly, about overcoming trials and troubles cheerfully and making the best of bad situations.

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8100267From the  inside front cover:  A powerful secret.  A dangerous path.

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets.  Only his father knows the truth about Rigg’s strange talent for seeing the paths of people’s pasts.  But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him – secrets about Rigg’s own past, his identity, and his destiny.  And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead.  He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent  . . . or forfeit control of his destiny.

Matthew:  A very intriguing book, in particular the dealings with time. Card has a whole new take on the time paradox, which was confusing at first, but eventually grew to be my favorite part of the book. If you are interested in mysteries, space exploration, time exploration, and the many possibilities of evolution this is the book for you.

Mom:  Wow!  I thought about this book for a long time.  There are two separate and very different plot lines which converge at the end in a surprising way.  Unlike Card’s Enders’ Game, this has no bad language, which makes it a much more readable book.  Since the plot is so complex, I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers.  I found it fascinating!

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From the inside jacket:  As champions of the Brotherband competition, Hal and the rest of the Herons were given one simple assignment: safeguard the Skandians’ most sacred artifact, the Andomal.

They failed.

To redeem themselves, the Herons must rack down the thief Zavac and his pirate crew and recover the Andomal.  But that means traversing stormy seas, surviving a bitter winter, and battling a group of deadly bandits willing to protect their prize at all costs.

In the second chapter of John Flanagan’s companion to the blockbuster series Ranger’s Apprentice, the Herons learn that even Brotherband training and the help of Skandia’s greatest warrior may not be enough to ensure that they return home with the Andomal – or their lives.

Ben:  Truly exciting, adventurous, I read for three hours straight and loved it.  If you ignore this book, you are a sad person.  I really liked the fact that there were a lot of sailing terms. You could almost be there in the action.  It was easy to follow and not confusing.

Mom:  I like to read John Flanagan for a couple of reasons.  First, there is little in the way of objectionable material.  No swearwords, no sexual suggestiveness, no moral relativism, just a good clean adventure.  There is some violence, because this is a book about battles and fighting.  But the good guys are really good and the bad guys are really bad and deserve what they get.

That brings me to the second reason I enjoyed this book.  Mr. Flanagan’s main characters are good people who are trying to do good things.  They have flaws and faults, but they are  constantly trying to improve and change and they are aware of how their actions affect those around them.  I think most teenage boys connect to that and would like to sail with them.  If you just want to escape for a few hours, this book (and all of the Ranger’s Apprentice series and the first Brotherband Chronicles) will do the trick.

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Synopsis from book:  “When Miri and a few of the girls from Mount Eskel’s princess academy travel to the capital to help the princess-to-be get ready for her wedding, they have no idea what to expect.  Some are worried about leaving their beloved mountain home for the first time, others are thrilled about going to the big city, and Miri is mostly just happy to see her best friend.

“But not everything in Asland is as perfect as the mountain girls hoped.  As Miri learns more about her new home, she finds herself deep in the middle of an upheaval that affects everyone she loves.  Torn between her loyalty to the princess and her belief in her new friends’ daring ideas, and between an old love and new crush, Miri must test the strengths and skills she gained in the princess academy.”

Rachel:  This book was very exciting.  My favorite scene was when Britta saved the four-year old boy.  There is some guns and a little violence, but it is pretty good anyway.  The story turns and twists all around.  I thought that Miri’s choice would be good and not bad, but it turned out different than I thought.  This wasn’t as good as the first one, but it is still very exciting.  For younger kids:  there is some romance, but only a little.  Yuck!

Mom:  I always enjoy Shannon Hale’s books and this was no exception.  This sequel to the first Princess Academy retains some of the romance, but introduces a new political element.  There are mysteries and plot twists and surprising revelations throughout.  As always, the writing draws the reader into the book, making it hard to put down.

Welcome to Family Style Books!

Want to find a great new teen or middle-grade book to read?  We can help!  Our family enjoys reading and we often find ourselves stealing each other’s books.  We want to let you know what we are reading and what we recommend.  What makes this blog different is that both teens and parents will be reviewing the same book, so you get the benefit of both perspectives.

My name is Melissa Marwedel and I have four children. My teenage boys love science fiction, magic and adventure books, while my pre-teen girl likes history and  fantasy.  The 2 year old is fond of board books and stealing bookmarks.

We care about good books and great authors.  We usually steer clear of books with lots of violence, bad language or inappropriate situations.  With each review, we will make an effort to warn you if there is anything we would consider questionable in our home, so you can make an informed decision.  There are so many good books out there, though, that I know we will have lots to share with you.