Tag Archives: action books for kids

Addie’s Review: Middle Reader The Explorers is Action-Packed Hit!

Today, my nine-year-old Addie is on the site again with a review of The Explorers, which is a fun book written by Adrienne Kress from Delacorte Random House. Addie was super excited when they asked us to share our thoughts about the book and was drawn in by the cover as soon as it arrived in the mail. Addie loves take rides and walks places, with back pack, magnifying glass, compass, and binoculars, so she immediately thought this book was clever and began reading it that day! As a mom, I love watching when a book draws your child in. Keep scrolling to read Addie’s review below…

Stay tuned for more reviews from Addie in the future but first she has a super secret beta reading project she’s excited about too.

The Explorers.jpg

Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside. 

Review by Addie –

I think The Explorers book was adventurous, exciting, and funny. My favorite part of the book was when Sebastian saw a pig in a teeny hat and followed it.  Sebastian is smart, curious, and adventurous like me, which let me connect to the book. I think that the treehouse-like thing was very cool. I’m excited for the next book in the series. I can’t wait to see how the story continues. The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is a very good book with a good ending. I recommend the book to 8-13 year olds.

My Notes –

I know that Addie will tell all her friends – male and female – about this book and treasure it. Addie loves to read so she breezed through it, but I can certainly see how the content, creative and action-packed, would be a good choice for reluctant readers as well. This is certainly a middle reader, so a 9 or 10 year old that is on a higher reading level will like this best, or general 11 or 12 year olds who will enjoy all the humor, but it would be an excellent challenging read for many. I enjoyed this author’s use of suspense in the book and the mystery component and think this would make a wonderful kids movie my whole family would enjoy watching! It certainly thrilled me that the female was the lead and a strong protagonist that certainly appealed to Addie and her own independence. Equally as important is her ability to offer diverse characters. I know that not only does Addie love exploring and mystery novels, but she’s a fan of Lemony Snicket and Alice in Wonderland so I know that those references are on point.

kres_9781101940051_jkt_all_r2.inddThe Explorers: The Door in the Alley, Synopsis –

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.

Pub Date – APRIL 25 2017 from Delacorte Random House.

Purchase: IndieboundAmazon USA, Amazon Canada, Barnes and Noble, Indigo

For a complete list of USA purchasing links visit here.

Audio book here: Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, Amazon USA



Adrienne Kress, Biography –

AdrienneKressAdrienne Kress is a Toronto-born actor and author who loves to play make-believe. She also loves hot chocolate. And cheese. Not necessarily together.

She is the author of the award winning and internationally published children’s novels Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate (Scholastic). Published around the world, Alex won the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Award in the UK and was shortlisted for the Red Cedar. The sequel, Timothy, was shortlisted for the Audie, Red Cedar and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards, and was optioned for film.  She has also published two YA novels:  Outcast (Diversion Books), her quirky paranormal romance, and the Steampunk adventure The Friday Society (Penguin), released to a starred review from Quill and Quire and shortlisted for The Quill Awards.

2016 saw the release of Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X., an exciting collaboration with NY Times bestselling author Frank Beddor (set in the same world as his Looking Glass Wars YA books). And now she has released the first book in her new Middle Grade series: The Explorers: The Door In The Alley (Delacorte, Random House).


Facebook Fan Page


Toro Magazine Interview and Photoshoot
National Post interview
Toronto Star interview
City TV interview
Starred Alex review: Publishers Weekly

Thank you to Delacorte Random House for sending the book in exchange for our honest review, which we’ve offered.



Addie, Guest Reviewer –

addieAddie is 9 years old and enjoys reading, writing, singing, dancing, art, baking, laughing, sports, gardening, animals, mysteries, and just about anything else – yep she has a lot of interests, especially when they’re fun.

However, she does take her school work seriously, and also strives for great grades. She really into reading stories of all kinds and interviewing authors for a behind-the-scenes look. She’s very happy to review books and wants to start her own blog soon.

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My Daughter and I Review Eric Pierpoint’s The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole: Wild West on the Oregon Trail!

The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole is a middle reader, recommended for ages 9 and up, by the actor Eric Pierpoint, who has been seen on Hart of Dixie and older goodies I remember him from like Alien Nation, various Star Trek episodes, and much more over his long career. Taking his family history, he writes his first middle reader novel in order to teach kids some history of the Oregon Trail and he does it in a very entertaining way!

Emma, my daughter who is turning 10 this week was excited to check this one out. I’ll let her give her review and then I’ll follow-up with mine. It was a quick read for both of us and you’ll learn why in a minute.

Caleb O'Toole

Emma, Age 9, Review~

I love books that teach me history. In school we have been learning about the Native Americans in Ohio, but I am interested in all Native Americans so it was neat to learn about others out West.  I’ve never been there. I also like to read about how pioneers, or children from the past, lived since it was so different from me. I liked the character of Julie alot and really want to be motivated to do something important like she was. I agree that women can do anything.

I think the book was so good it made me not want to stop reading it and I kept turning the pages in all my free time at school until I finished it up. My favorite books are those with action that hold my focus, so this book really did that for me.

I have guy friends and girl friends and I’d recommend it to some of my girl friends who like sports and action and also to most of my guy friends. They like to read action. My grandpa liked Cowboys and Indians when he was growing up, more boys should still read it.

I am interested in this time period of history and I would like to see more books again with this theme. I haven’t seen many.  Maybe he will write more like this and I’d read them! I like the history facts in the back, they taught me alot! I can’t believe how hard life was back then!

Mom’s Review~

Stereotypically, this book would be marketed to boys and does seem like it would interest boys who enjoy adventure stories. Do boys still like books of Wild West adventures? I hope so, and if not, this should kick start that trend again!  This one features cowboys, pioneers, thieves, and Native Americans. It’s tagline reads, “There’s Danger On Every Step of the Oregon Trail” and the book lives up to telling us why that is for the O’Toole kids!

However, it’s not just for boys in our house and I hope that encourages readers to know that guys and girls can read everything and enjoy it! My daughter is multi-faceted, so though she loves girl-themes, she also likes to read action! And the history component was a huge sell for her and I know she wasn’t disappointed as she loved the Native American characters in the book. I did too, and in fact, I was so happy at how Pierpoint portrayed them and the relationships with them and the others in the book. We need more books that show the gentle and caring side of Native Americans, as well as their strength and endurance!

Another selling point for me after reading the book, which is another good reason why girls should read it, is that although the protagonist Caleb is a boy, Pierpoint showcases how Caleb’s two sisters are also able to accomplish things. He also features a woman doctor who inspires Caleb’s sister to want to perform medicine. She tells the family how she went to a university in Cincinnati, Ohio (which was awesome since we are from Ohio) and learned to be a doctor. In this time of prairie living, this would have been unheard of for most families. She tells Julie and Caleb that women can do anything! By the end of the book, I was so happy to see Julie so empowered and this would be a great read for young girls who want to achieve their dreams!  It is also subliminal enough to reinforce in young boys that women are equal and able to do as much as they do.

Besides Pierpoint hitting those social issues point on for us, the story also flew by with action that I know he has picked up from his acting and screenwriting days. He knows how to describe a cinematic view, which is highly important for children in their reading. You have to hold their attention and describe the surroundings, especially if historical and different from their present environment. He does this extremely well and the pace of the book is so quick, the pages turn quickly.

I also enjoyed that at the end of the book there is some history behind the story. Pierpoint gives some non-fiction paragraphs that tell the real facts of that time period and the Oregon Trail. It was so interesting to read this with my daughter and to know her learning was reinforced by fun and fact. We also enjoyed looking at his map on the website.  Since much of his novel is based on his family’s history of travel on these trails, he took a trip to follow the journey that people in the late 1800s might have taken and chronicled it on his site. That is a wonderful companion piece to teaching kids this era of history.  You really don’t hear much taught about life of those heading West anymore!

I love this book for teaching kids history and inspiring children everywhere. I hope he writes more historical books and takes children on more journeys through this time period. I would highly recommend this to libraries, schools, and for home libraries…..and to both boys AND girls!


Comment to enter to win a copy of this book, US/Canada only! Leave a proper email in the comments! For extra entries (+2) also like my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.

Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole, Synopsis~

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
September 2013
ISBN: 9-781-4022- 8171-6
Trade Paper/$7.99

Danger looms for Caleb and his sisters on every mile of the Oregon Trail.

Epic in scope, populated by unforgettable characters, this debut wild west adventure novel by popular Hollywood character actor Eric Pierpoint will thrill young readers.

Caleb O’Toole and his two sisters are left orphaned after a cholera outbreak in their hometown of Great Bend, Kansas. Attempting to fulfill their mother’s dying wish, they strike out on a one-horse wagon to travel the treacherous road along the Oregon Trail to the Montana Territory to live with their aunt.

Caleb promised to keep his two sisters safe. But safety is thirteen hundred miles away in the rugged Bitterroot Mountains, past the dust-choked deserts, monstrous tornadoes and ravenous wolves of the Oregon Trail. And after witnessing a crime by the infamous Blackstone Gang, Caleb and his sisters have no choice but to brave the dangers of the trail, trying to stay one step ahead of murderous outlaws.

Author Eric Pierpoint, Biography~

Eric_Pierpoint-5Eric Pierpoint is a veteran Hollywood actor has been on stage, screen, and television for nearly thirty five years and whose credits include Hart of Dixie, Parks and Recreation, Alien Nation, The World’s Fastest Indian, and Holes.

Inspired by his family’s heritage as part of the pioneer migration along the Oregon Trail, including a great-great-grandmother born in a covered wagon, Eric piled Joey, his trusty dog, into his car to trace his family history, experience first-hand what the pioneers must have seen during the Western Migration and learn the history of this amazingera: the American Indian Wars and tribal culture, the hardships of the wild west and friendships that formed because of the dangerous journey.The author’s journey and his research was transformed into THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE, a unique adventure novel of America’s pioneer past.

Visit <http://www.ericpierpoint.net> http://www.ericpierpoint.net or <http://www.facebook.com/EricPierpointConnection> http://www.facebook.com/EricPierpointConnection.

Thanks to Sourcebook Jabberwocky for the book, but all opinions are honest here.

Emma A., Guest Reviewer, Age 9, Biography~

EmmaEmma is nine years old and a straight A student with a gift for reading and writing.  She has read at a higher level than her peers ever since the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade when she spent almost the entire summer at the beach. That was also the summer Mom was reading the Twilight series, and took her to see Eclipse at the theater, and Emma found herself loving vampires, werewolfs, and other abnormals when once she was deathly afraid of them.  This newfound knowledge of stories allowed her to overcome her fears and she now sleeps with Monster High dolls by her bed that are the daughters of a Mummy, the Abomindable Snowman, and a Werewolf.

She also likes reading about girls and boys her age, adventure and action thrillers, magic, fantasy, and history.  Besides reading and writing, she also enjoys softball, soccer, fashion, history, art, writing stories, shopping, asking questions, cooking, chocolate, and coffee. She has now added learning the violin to her list. Whew!

Watch for more of Emma, and her siblings, reviews!  And if you have a recommendation for her, send it her way via Mom (Erin Al-Mehairi).


Filed under Book Reviews

Fantasy Adventure for Young Readers will Captivate with Page Turning Fun!

Today, I’ve got a chock full post for anyone who is interested in Young Adult (YA) novels, especially action adventure fantasy novels that are written and designed to engage youngsters into the world of reading. You’ll read a review of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, by James Matlack Raney, learn about the book, and be able to read a guest post by Raney about living the writing dream (I happen to think this was a great article too!!). You’ll also be able to try to win a copy!

I’m a huge fan of promoting literacy among girls and boys alike, and though this book is geared toward attention spans of boys who are reluctant readers, I feel that girls and children who already love to read will also enjoy this novel! My 9-year-old daughter, who reads on a middle school level, was very happy to get her own copy of the book as she prefers action, thriller, and adventure novels.  They hold her attention much better, and soon, you’ll get to read her own review of the book once she completes it.

You can read my review, the guest post, and sign-up for the giveaway below…..enjoy!


Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, Synopsis~

Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves – the rip-roaring first installment in James Matlack Raney’s brand-new young adult adventure Jim Morgan series .

A good old-fashioned adventure story fit for a 21st century attention span, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves – the rip-roaring first installment in James Matlack Raney’s brand-new young adult adventure Jim Morgan series – follows its namesake protagonist as his spoiled-rotten world is thrown upside down by his father’s return from a mysterious sea voyage with the secret to a vast pirate treasure.

Propelling Jim into an adventure the likes of which exceeds his most fantastical dreams, he now must escape the clutches of his father’s wicked enemies, decipher the magic of a gypsy witch, stay out of the sightline of a shadowy pirate and his talking raven, and outwit the King of Thieves and his army of pickpockets. If he is to survive, Jim must learn to trust new allies, discover the power and magic of true friendship – and, just possibly uncover a hero hidden within him.

“I wrote Jim Morgan to grab the attention of boy readers who have few options on bookshelves in today’s marketplace,” says Raney of the series’ debut. “Contrary to popular belief, I feel that boys actually enjoy reading, provided it’s rich with excitement, danger, and emotional themes that they crave.”


In my opinion, reading the book myself to gauge its interest level for young readers, with it geared to a span of about 8 to 12-year-old readers, this book starts off immediately holding the attention of the reader and making you feel you are in a fantasy world with relatable characters.

Remember those fairy tale or fantasy books we had as aspiring young readers? The kind that told a tale and engaged our minds prior to bedtime, sending us off into dream land, or keeping us awake late into the night with a strong desire to finish? This book had elements in it that reminded me of Peter Pan meets a contemporary Oliver Twist tale, with some young Indiana Jones adventure and the literary magic of Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe.

Raney’s writing is superb and well-done. It’s heads above many of the contemporary YA novels, either self-published or traditionally published. He spins a tale with elegance of prose and a knack for true story telling that is so very often hard to find in this generation. I am so excited to introduce this book to my young readers, as well as other young readers who are looking for a true timeless tale of adventure and fantasy.

Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is definitely for any collection and will captivate young and old alike. That’s right, if you’re an adult reader who is a lover of classic fantasy tales, you’ll want to read this too. It’s was lots of fun and transported me back in time to place under my blanket with a flashlight when I read far too late into the night. 

I loved in the book how the flawed character of James is redeemed by the end due to his adventures, encounters, and unlikely friendships. Great writers like Raney utilize fine character development by redeeming their lead characters through strong  supporting characters and defining moments.  Raney adding the element of mystery, and the thrilling quest to save his father’s chest, to his book really kept the pages turning.

I highly recommend this book for young readers, boys and girls alike, who wish to read engaging fantastical literature, or for those who need the high action and adventure prose such as is most commonly found now in graphic novels. Any reluctant reader, or those with low attention spans, will be glad to have a copy of this book and be able to enjoy reading this summer!


Enter to win a one (1) paperback copy OR one (1) ebook version of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves by commenting below or on a Facebook link with your EMAIL. Or you can email me at hookofabook@hotmail.com with the book title in the subject line and letting me know which one you want to try for, or both (you won’t win both copies, one or the other). Deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post.

+1 extra entry for following my blog and +2 for “liking” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.

How You Can Make it Big with Self-Publishing and Live Your Dream
by James Matlack Raney, Author

IMG_0169mbwcForty-three years ago, in a smoke-filled nightclub in Boston, two small-time bands played a small-time gig that was probably forgotten the next morning by all in attendance – all but a few members of the bands.  That night, after the show, the drummer and back-up vocalist from Chain Reaction, a rock outfit from New Hampshire, and the lead guitarist from Jam Band, a free-form blues act, so enjoyed each other’s songs that they decided to join forces and create a new group.    In November, 1970, the band played their first show in a high-school gymnasium. 

Throughout 1971 they continued performing at local dive after local dive, building a small following in Boston and recording their own album, Night in the Ruts, in the process.  Finally, in 1972, after paying out of their own pockets to secure a spot on a venue at Max’s Kansas City in New York, the former drummer, Steven Tyler, the guitarist, Joe Perry, and their band, Aerosmith finally signed a deal with a major record label, and rock n’ rolled their way into music legend.

I am not a musician, nor, I imagine, if you are reading this post, did you come to this blog looking to read about music.  But I mention the story above for two reasons: first, because it is the inspiring tale of independent artists creating and performing their way to success, and second, because in the music industry, this story is hardly unique – it’s the archetypal pattern by which nearly all popular-music acts are discovered, so familiar that is has been echoed in film and on TV over and over again.  Now I believe that finally, albeit slowly, this pattern is coming to the literary world as well.

A couple of years ago I read a self-published e-book called Wool, by Hugh Howey.  The synopsis sounded like cool, post-apocalyptic sci-fi stuff and it had great customer reviews, so I tried a free sample.  The writing was great and the hook pulled me in, plus, it was only a buck, so what could it hurt? I bought the rest of the novel.  I loved it! And so, apparently, did about half-a-million other kindle readers. 

You can now find Wool on bookshelves across the country thanks to Hugh Howey’s huge deal with Simon & Schuster, and you may find Wool in your local theater before long as well, as has just signed a movie deal with Ridley Scott.  Not bad for a self-published audio technician from Florida!  But I carry a little bit of that indie-music fan pride in me because I discovered Hugh Howey before he was big – back when he was just a self-published author like me.

Hugh Howey’s story is extreme, and to even achieve one tenth of his success would be mind-boggling, but nevertheless it gives me hope for my own writer’s journey.  Self-publishing is tough. There are still those in the writing world who sneer at free, kindle titles, who smirk at independent authors’ web pages, and who still equate “self-published” with “hack.”  But I see things differently now.  

Kindle, Nook, and my book’s little spot on Amazon are my smoke-filled dives and high school gymnasiums.   I find my small (though hardly local) following of fans on Goodreads and Facebook.  Blogs, like this one, provide the write ups that local papers and magazines still use for small-town music acts to shout out: “Hey, world! Check this out! It’s good!”  Publishing is not all the way there yet, but I see the day coming when the cool kids and bloggers won’t be headed to the bookstore or waiting on the big publishing houses to deliver their literary kicks…they’ll be off in the “local scene,” scouring their eBooks and FB pages, looking to discover that indie act that catches their imagination before anybody else and holding onto the pride of saying they knew that author was going to break big before it even happened.

Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, Info~

8028813_9780985835910_coverSwashbuckling, Rip-Roaring Adventure !


“Full of energy and a sense of wonder.” — Publisher’s Weekly 

“Beautifully written and perfectly paced…a must-read for everyone who loves to step into a world colored with a little magic and a lot of adventure.” — YAReads.com 

“A rip-roaring good tale for children of all ages.” — Kirkus Reviews

A must-add to the shopping list of librarians, educators, parents and relatives of reading-reluctant boys everywhere, among the topics and themes explored in Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves include:

  • Why exploring the mysteries and adventures the real world has to offer is infinitely better – and more rewarding – than another day behind a computer screen
  • The search for identity on one’s own: discovering a sense of self independently
  • The many shades of grey between the lines of good versus evil and right versus wrong
  • The vital importance of true friendship through the many hurdles and challenges that life throws at you

(Erin’s Note: However, this book is also great for girls who like action adventure!) *wink*

Author James Matlack Raney, Biography~

IMG_0169mbwcJames Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, including Europe, Latin America and Africa, before winding up in the mysterious land of horses and bluegrass (otherwise known as Kentucky). These days, he calls Southern California home, and spends his time writing adventures…and occasionally living a few of his own.

 Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is currently available via Amazon in paperback and e-book formats.

Website: http://jimmorganbooks.com/

To Read More with Jim Morgan & The King of Thieves:

Monday May 13: Nerdophiles.com – book review

Tuesday May 14: Oops! I Read A Book Again (http://oopsireadabookagain.blogspot.com) – author interview + giveaway

Wednesday May 15: TracysNook.com – book review + guest post + author interview

Friday May 17:You Can Read Me Anything (http://kellysessionswoodward.wordpress.com) – book review + guest post

Saturday May 18: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (http://www.iamareader.com/) – guest post + author interview + giveaway

Sunday May 19: Hook of a Book (http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com/) – book review + guest post + giveaway

Tuesday May 21: Nerdophiles.com – author interview / guest post + giveaway

Wednesday May 22 – Readalot (http://readalot-rhonda1111.blogspot.com/) – book review + giveaway

Thursday May 23 – Learning & Growing the Piwi Way (http://piwiprincess.blogspot.com/) – review + guest post + author interview + giveaway

Friday May 24 – Silk Screen Views – (http://silkscreenviews.wordpress.com) – book review + guest post + author interview + giveaway


Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Posts