Review: Curse of the Boggin (The Library Book 1)


The Library Book 1: Curse of the Boggin

Author: D. J. MacHale

Publisher: Random House, 2016

Source: Public library

As I wrap up my series reviews for September, I thought I would merge into our October offerings with a selection that is spooky.

This is a new series by D. J. MacHale, which, as he explains in his foreword, will contain some familiar characters in each book but will be able to be read independently of each other and in any order so that the reader doesn’t necessarily have to move sequentially to understand what is going on. This is an idea I just love! It reminds me of the old Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries, but it is much scarier. You do have to read Book 1 because it is the setup, but I wouldn’t want you to miss it anyway because it was such an enjoyably creepy mystery!

Question: Do you believe in ghosts? Old legends? Time travel?  Marcus O’Mara might have once answered those questions with a resounding NO – that is until he learns differently. That is, until he first enters The Library.

A chance incident at school leads Marcus to discover information about his biological father, who presumably died along with his wife in a sailing accident when Marcus was a baby. John Roxbury, Marcus learns, was a paranormal investigator, and he had left something in the care of a friend for Marcus – the Paradox Key. It is the Paradox Key that allows Marcus to enter The Library. And it is not your typical library, but a supernatural one with unfinished ghost stories – stories Marcus must help to finish.

Marcus may not want the responsibility of the Paradox Key, but someone else surely does. The Boggin. “For centuries children have been assured I’m a myth, but in the dark corners of their imaginations, they know that I am oh, so very real. I’m always there, perched on the edge of their dreams. Watching and waiting” (pg. 129). When Marcus receives the message, Surrender the key or others will die, he knows she is not kidding. The Boggin is a wickedly cunning creature with all sorts of evil powers that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Behind all the thrills and chills is a story about an adopted kid who believes his adoptive parents regret taking him; that he was a mistake. His father’s legacy certainly helps complicate the family situation. It’s nice to know that Marcus is not simply a one-dimensional ghostbuster.

I loved this story and can’t wait to read more of the series. I am going to point you in the direction of D. J. MacHale’s website so that you, too, can be on the watch for the next story.







Review: City of Fallen Angels

Hi everyone,

Today I’m reviewing City of Fallen Angels¸ which definitely didn’t go where I expected at all.



City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2011

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 424

Format: Hardcover

Source: Public Library

More information: 




I don’t want to count this as a good or bad thing, but I think you deserve fair warning. So far, City of Fallen Angels has been the creepiest of the books in this series. There were a lot of elements that I think can be pretty disturbing, including cults and demonic possession. I also draw the line at “things happening to children.” I realize that’s a pretty broad category, but I’d rather not give too much away despite the spoiler alert above. I wouldn’t say this book is particularly scary – it certainly won’t keep me up tonight – but I think it includes the most overt examples of potentially disturbing elements of any of the books thus far.


The Good:

When I finished the last book, I was totally baffled as to where this whole thing was going to go since it really seemed like most of the major problems had been wrapped up. I was hoping for a shift in perspective and maybe less Clary/Jace. I didn’t get less Clary/Jace, but I did get a lot of things I didn’t expect. I was happy to see more Simon, although I am deeply unimpressed with his relationship choices at the beginning of the book. I am, however, impressed with how the women come together to support one another, especially Isabelle and Maia. At the beginning of the series, I don’t think either of these characters would have thought twice about the other, so I thought their relationship was a really hopeful bit of character development.

Maureen was a solid twist and possibly one of the things that surprised me the most about this book. I also really expected Sebastian to have somehow already returned to the living and have been the main antagonist for this book. It was definitely a surprise to find that that wasn’t the case. Even the Kyle/Jordan/Maia thing was a bit unexpected, although now I keep wondering if Maia’s dead brother is going to show up somewhere too because it seems no one in these books can stay dead for long.

There’s a solid cliffhanger ending and a lot of problems left open, so at least now I have a better idea of where we’re going in the next two books.


The Bad:

I have mostly little complaints, but this is definitely the biggest: there are getting to be way too many characters, and I’m not good with names. It’s also kind of infuriating that all these people have different names that they use to disguise their identities. At this point, I have only the vaguest idea about who Will Herondale is, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m not supposed to know yet or because I just don’t remember him. I need a family tree chart, please.

I mentioned this is my last review, but the covers of these books continue to baffle me. Who is that guy supposed to be? Simon? Did anyone use a bow and arrow in this entire book? The girl is definitely Clary, but this is also the first time the figures aren’t cut so their eyes are hidden. The whole design is confusing, and I’m probably spending way more time thinking about it than I should.

I still really don’t think this book was necessary as a part of this series. Maybe as an off-shoot series, but it just seems so separate from the first three books. I was so happy with everyone at the end of the last book, and now I’m just vaguely annoyed with almost all of them. The only book I’m actually excited to read at this point is The Bane Chronicles, and that’s not even part of this series.


The Romance: Okay, I know I’ve been complaining about this all along. I’m sorry, but it’s not going to stop here. I do understand why people – especially young adults – like the romantic elements so much. With Clary and Jace’s relationship, it’s clear that they love each other and that they’re meant for one another. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to end up together happily at the end of the series. And who doesn’t want to know that there’s someone out there who’s meant for them and will love them unconditionally? While I don’t necessarily think it’s the most realistic thing I’ve ever read, it’s hopeful, and that’s an important message to share.

I also like the fact that because this is such a large series, we’re able to see so many different kinds of relationships, some of which are obviously more realistic than others. Alec, for instance, spends most of the limited time he’s in this book worrying about what will happen to his relationship with Magnus as Alec ages and dies while Magnus doesn’t. Isabelle’s story is more relatable; after seeing infidelity and mistrust in her parents relationship, Isabelle chooses to only date “guys who will never be serious about [her]…so [she] never need[s] to be serious about them” (240). That whole scene was one of the most touching in the book and gave unexpected insight into Isabelle’s character throughout the earlier books.

Clary and Jace, unfortunately, are still driving me insane. Can they please just have one book where their relationship isn’t in shambles? Can Jace please stop beating himself up over every single thing that happens beyond his control? Can Clary please have a personality outside of her relationship with Jace? The cliffhanger ending suggests that none of these wishes is coming true in the next book.


Conclusion: While this certainly hasn’t been my favorite book about Clary and Jace, I’m happy to see more of the other characters and was very surprised by a few of the plot twists throughout the book. I’m grudgingly accepting the romance aspect and am already wondering how these complicated relationships are going to work out in the end.


Review: Olive and Beatrix (The Super-Smelly Blob)


Olive & Beatrix: The Super-Smelly Blob

Author: Amy Marie Stadelmann

Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2015

Source: Public library

Grade Level: 1-2

I am still exploring series and decided to read one from Scholastic’s line of early reader chapter books called Branches.

Olive and Beatrix are twins, but they are not identical. Beatrix is a witch but Olive is an ordinary girl. Both sisters are planning to enter this year’s Science Fair. Olive works very hard to produce “mind-blowing science projects,” but Beatrix usually wins – by magic. This year is no different, except as the girls bicker, their projects collide. As a result, Olive’s “Exciting World of Mold” meets magic, and the upshot is a super-smelly mold blob that is ingesting everything from crayons to musical instruments as it oozes amok throughout the school.

The format of this book is a bit more like a graphic novel than the typical early reader picture book. The graphic novel is not my favorite genre, but in this particular book I think the format adds to the appeal. It gives plenty of opportunities for Houston, Beatrix’s talking pet peg, and Eddie, Olive’s best friend, to add to the humor and offset the squabbling of the two sisters (realistic but not especially funny or appealing, even in fiction).

I was a bit disappointed that there really wasn’t any real science discussed. However, I did like that there were questions and activities at the end of the book. I also liked the Scholastic website activities for educators and parents, so here is the link: Have fun!


How Well Do You Know…Banned Book Week?

Hi everyone,

Happy Banned Book Week! Banned Book Week runs from September 25 to October 1, 2016 and is an opportunity to celebrate our freedom to read while raising awareness about the ongoing problem of censorship.

All information for today’s How Well Do You Know…quiz has been drawn from and We strongly encourage you to check out these resources for additional information, more detailed explanations, events, and support for anyone facing censorship concerns.


How Well Do You Know…Banned Book Week?


1. What year was Banned Book Week started?

a. 1982

b. 1874

c. 2000

d. 1995

2. The most challenged book of 2015 was…

a. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

b. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

c. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

d. Looking for Alaska by John Green

3. There is a difference between “banned” and “challenged” books.

a. True

b. False

4. Where do most challenges start?

a. School Libraries

b. Classrooms

c. Academic Libraries

d. Public Libraries

5. Which of the following children’s books is among the most frequently challenged?

a. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

b. The Giver by Lois Lowry

c. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

d. All of the above

6. Why was Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series challenged?

a. Offensive language

b. Unsuited for age group

c. Violence

d. All of the above

7. According to the American Library Association, how many books were challenged between 2000 and 2009 for being “unsuited to age group?”

a. 100

b. 479

c. 989

d. 1476

8. Between 2001 and 2014, how many times was And Tango Makes Three the #1 most challenged book of the year?

a. 3

b. 4

c. 1

d. 7

9. On the list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990 to 1999, what book is #1?

a. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

b. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

c. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz

d. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

10. On the list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 2000 to 2009, what book is #1?

a. Killing Mr. Griffen by Lois Duncan

b. Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan

c. America: A Novel by E.R. Frank

d. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Scroll down to check your answers! How many did you get correct? Let us know in the comments below.


Head over to our Pinterest to check out ways you can celebrate Banned Book Week! We’ll also be sharing some of our favorite banned and challenged books throughout the week on Instagram!

What’s your favorite banned or challenged children’s book?



ANSWERS: 1. a; 2. d; 3. a*; 4. b; 4. d; 6. d; 7. c; 8. b; 9. c; 10. d

*According to the ALA website, “A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.”

Review: Grayling’s Song


Grayling’s Song

Author: Karen Cushman

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Source: ARC received at ALA Conference

Grayling’s mother, Hannah Strong, is bound by a powerful enchantment that is turning her into a tree!  Her toes are rooted into the ground, and her legs are turning to bark. She cannot move to help herself, fire has been set to their home, and – worst of all – her grimoire (her book of spells) has been stolen. She must depend on Grayling to set her free. Hannah Strong is a healer whose remedies, charms, and tonics are much sought after, but Grayling has no special powers despite the training she has received from her mother.

Grayling is certain that she is not the one to handle the task of tracking the evil force of smoke and shadow to discover how to free her mother, but there is no one else to help. She must go to the towns and enlist the help of others with magical powers. To do this, her mother has given her some tools to use. She has Grayling collect what potions remain undestroyed by the fire. She also gives Grayling songs. One song will help Grayling locate the others. One song will help Grayling locate the grimoire.

Grayling sets off on her journey, unable to soothe her fears. Almost immediately things go awry for when Grayling sleeps, a mouse eats the potions in her basket. The mouse now has special powers, including the ability to speak and to shape shift. Grayling names the mouse Pook and the two continue the search together.

They do find others – a motley assortment of cunning people with a variety of gifts. They also run into armies of soldiers who capture and imprison the group.  Many dangers are lurking, and readers are left wondering if Grayling will have the confidence, the strength, and the sheer guts to meet the challenge she faces.

I loved the characters in this book. Grayling, though initially lacking in confidence, is not lackluster but someone to whom many of us can relate. The other characters – Auld Nancy, Pansy, Desdemona Cork – are all endearing in their own ways. The plot is entertaining, but it is the characters who really steal the scenes.

Be sure to check out Karen Cushman’s website to learn more about her books (all of which I have enjoyed although not reviewed on this blog):


Hobbit Day 2016!

Hi everyone,

Join us in celebrating yet another September book holiday! Today is Hobbit Day, and we’re celebrating by sharing some photos and suggestions for throwing your own Hobbit Day party on Instagram and Pinterest!

For more information, check out this explanation of Hobbit Day from the American Tolkien Society: 

How will you be celebrating Hobbit Day 2016? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Instagram and Twitter @2bookwormsblog!

Happy Hobbit Day!


Review: City of Glass

Hi everyone,city-of-glass

Today we have another continuation of Series September with the third book in The Mortal Instruments series, and I have a lot of good things to say!


City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2009

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 541

Format: Softcover

Source: Public Library

More information:




The Good: I actually feel like I have a lot of good things to say about this book, which is surprising because I think I had pretty mixed feelings about the first two. I was a little concerned when I started this one because it doesn’t take place in New York like the previous stories. One of the things I like best about urban fantasy is the way it combines the familiar with the fantastic, and I worried that this entirely new, more fantasy-based setting might be of less interest. However, I appreciated the fact that Clary missed New York and, although she enjoyed certain elements of the new city, she couldn’t help but compare it to home. I felt pretty similarly – I enjoyed the new setting more than anticipated but am still ready to head back to something more familiar.

A lot of the things I was bothered by the in the last book have been resolved. Jace has become substantially more tolerable; I like him much better than I’d expected after how annoying I found him in the first book. Simon’s mysterious ability to go out in the sun is explained, although I do have some technical questions about how that actually works. Clary’s mother finally wakes up, which was a relief to everyone. They have their great battle, even though we only see a little bit from Simon’s perspective. Sebastian added a pretty solid plot element, and Valentine continued to be literally the worst parent ever. When I read the first book, I didn’t expect Magnus to become a recurring character or to be as important to the series as he is. Magnus has actually become one of my favorite characters, so I’m glad to see him returning. I was also pretty happy that Alec’s coming out didn’t add too much drama and that everyone ultimately accepted him and his warlock boyfriend without the trouble the first book had suggested. Max’s death was a little bit soul-crushing, even though he wasn’t in that much of the series, and I’m again impressed and surprised by how invested I’ve become in these characters and their world.

Jace and Clary have finally figured out their relationship. They’re not siblings (surprise, surprise), and they’re finally able to be together. I’m happy for them but also so incredibly done with the entire situation. I’m also happy for Luke and Jocelyn, although I don’t know who didn’t see that coming either.


The Bad: Possibly my only real complaint about the book is that I still really don’t know what to think about Clary. I don’t dislike her, but I also don’t find her to be particularly interesting. Her rune-drawing abilities are cool, and I’m excited to see where those powers take her. However, she often seems very reactive, overly focused on Jace, and not very complex. She doesn’t seem to be growing or changing very much. I like that Jace has complicated feelings about his family and his history, that he has to piece together where he fits and who he is. I think that makes him a much more interesting character, whereas Clary basically has everything worked out. She doesn’t have complicated feelings about her father, she’s happy with her mother and Luke’s relationship, her friendship with Simon pretty much goes back to the way it was in the beginning, and Jace is everything she’s ever wanted.

I don’t know if this is really a bad thing, but the covers of these books absolutely baffle me. Is this cover supposed to be Sebastian? The first one is definitely Jace, and I’m assuming the next is Clary. Are they supposed to be the most important characters in the book? Shouldn’t Clary be on the first book since she’s supposed to be the main character? I totally get the marketing of the first book cover, but from that point on, I am very confused.


The Unnecessary:

This is a bit of a silly thing, but I’d love to know what Sebastian was using to “dye” his hair black. How goes the color come off on Clary’s hands but not on anything else, like Sebastian’s own forehead? Maybe there’s a logical explanation for this, but that whole thing just seemed like a convenient comment that could have been better explained.

Aline’s demon attack. Aline in general? I don’t know, I’m getting very confused with how all these families are related to each other, and at this point, I have almost no idea who Aline even is.

Did Clary really have to kiss Sebastian? REALLY? (No.)

The next three books in the series? I honestly have no idea where we’re going from here because it really seems like pretty much everything got wrapped up, and even though everything isn’t perfect, I would have been completely satisfied with this as a conclusion. Clary’s still freaked out by Raphael? Totally normal, he’s awful. Simon has two beautiful women interested in him? Good for him, let the poor boy have someone actually like him for once. Magnus is talking to someone strangely familiar? I don’t know if I can quite explain this one away, but I don’t know that it requires three more books to explain. Sebastian’s body is missing, and Jace is suspicious. Okay, this is probably the only thing I can really see coming back to bite them in the coming books, but even this I would be 100% willing to let go if this was the last book in the series. I just have no idea where we’re going to go from here, and I really don’t want three more books of relationship angst, especially not now that we’re reached such a good point for everyone.


Conclusion: This book is much more of an ending than I’d expected it to be, and I’m really happy with how everything finally tied together. I have absolutely no idea where we’re going from here, but I’m cautiously looking forward to finding out! Check back this weekend for a review of City of Fallen Angels!


Review: Waylon! One Awesome Thing


Waylon! One Awesome Thing

Author: Sara Pennypacker

Illustrator: Marla Frazee

Publisher: Disney Hyperion, 2016

Source: ARC received at ALA Conference

Do you remember how much you loved Ramona? Well, be prepared for another character to embrace. In Sara Pennypacker’s new series we have Waylon Jennings Zakowski, fourth grade science fanatic with problems (and solutions) that will keep you laughing.

Waylon’s problems start right away. Firstly, the fourth grade boys are dividing into groups: The Shark-Punchers (though as Waylon points out, sharks don’t really punch) and the Others. Waylon doesn’t understand the division. Why can’t everyone simply get along? And in which group does Waylon belong?

There are other problems to face, as well. There is the return of Baxter Boylen, a student so awful that even his teacher blanches when she hears the news. In fourth grade, he has the beginnings of a beard and a horrible scar (sort of) and a sordid past. And like Waylon, he doesn’t seem to belong to either group.

Waylon’s sister Charlotte now wants to be called Neon, dresses all in black and spends all her time in her room. Waylon really misses her company, especially as he faces all these new situations. It would be nice to be able to share his problems with her.

Waylon’s ideas are LOL funny. He plans to record these “scientific achievement[s so] huge [that they would] make him famous the instant he announced [them]” (pg. 27) in his journal which he has entitled “The Scientific Life’s Work of Waylon Jennings Zakowski.” Frankly, I hope he works some of them out!

To learn more about Sara Pennypacker, check her website:

To learn more about Marla Frazee, check her website:


Review: Makoons

Review: makoons



Author: Louise Erdrich

Publisher: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishing, 2016

Source: ARC received at ALA Conference

To continue with my “Series September” reviews, I read the newest volume in the Birchbark House series, the story of an Ojibwe family. This volume begins in 1866, after the family has traveled to live on the Great Plains in Dakota territory and face the challenge of making their home in a new and very different land.

At the opening, Makoons is just recovering from an illness, during which he has a vision that he shares with his twin brother, Chickadee. He has a sense of what is going to happen in their future: he will get well, that they will never return to their former home, that the family will be tested and that they (apparently Makoons and Chickadee) must save the family. Yet Makoons is troubled because he knows that not all of the family will be saved.

From there readers will join as Makoons and Chickadee face some of trials that Makoons has seen. Makoons does indeed recover and develops a gift for riding horses. He and Chickadee will learn to hunt buffalo. We share in the family’s struggles for survival, especially as the buffalo become scarce.

I felt that the title, Makoons, was misleading. Makoons may be the main character, but many of the other family members figure just as largely in the story. In fact, sometimes you might wonder where Makoons is (story-wise, anyway). I also felt that the story was a glorified history lesson. Since I like history, that is OK with me. The story was filled with interesting facts, and it was presented in an entertaining way. However, the information is much stronger than the story line, so that the emotional connection was less than it might have been. At the end of the book, as some of Makoons’ vision comes to pass, I think more of an emotional connection would have helped. It’s really a terribly sad story and could have been far more touching if the reader was more focused on the characters.


Teacher Thursday: Dot Day

Hi everyone,the dot

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Teacher Thursday post, so I wanted to make sure we had something a little special for our teachers who’ve just headed back to school this month. September 15th is Dot Day, and it’s a great way to celebrate reading, creativity, and getting to know each of your students’ strengths. Last year we asked how you were planning to celebrate Dot Day, but this year we’ve decided to give a couple suggestions for anyone who’s looking to join the celebration for the first time or thinking of trying something new.

If you haven’t read The Dot before, here’s a little background. It’s a picture book written and illustrated by popular children’s author Peter H. Reynolds. Protagonist Vashti can’t draw and thinks that means she can’t be an artist. But when her art teacher shows her the value of one little dot, Vashti allows her creativity to flourish and shares what she learns with others. Dot Day is an opportunity to bring Vashti’s experiences into everyday life and experience some collaboration, creativity, and positivity for yourself!

There’s plenty of information available at the official website: You can also check out our Pinterest board. “Teacher Thursday: Dot Day,” for even more suggestions. Here are a few additional reading suggestions and activities to get you started.


Reading Suggestions:

Of course, The Dot is essential reading to prepare for Dot Day, and several of Peter H. Reynolds’ other titles are equally relevant. Here are a couple other reading suggestions that work well for a Dot Day celebration:

I will never get a star


I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann

Rose is determined to earn her own star on her teacher’s blackboard, but things never seem to work out quite right. Luckily, the classroom tries out a more creative project, and Rose finally finds her time to shine.

This is another great book about valuing creativity and a teacher who encourages her students to be different and recognize their greatest skills.

What Do You Do With an Idea


What Do You Do With an Idea? written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

What do you do with a particularly troublesome, potentially brilliant idea that just won’t go away? Find out in this powerful picture book!

Here’s a great picture book for discussing how to accept differences and allow creative ideas to grow.


Matthew’s Dream by Leo Lionni

This picture book is about a mouse who follows his creativity to make his dreams become a reality.

We’ve mentioned Matthew’s Dream a few times before to celebrate Lionni’s birthday and as part of another Teacher Thursday about art in the classroom, but this is the perfect time to bring it up again! Matthew and Vashti have similar strengths and end up with such positive views of themselves and their skills that they’re able to accomplish an incredible amount.



If you’re looking for a quick activity on short notice, ask your students to look for dots or circles in the classroom after you’ve read the book aloud! Or provide a range of supplies and ask your students to create different kinds of dots, just like Vashti. These would be great activities for young students, especially as part of a math activity that requires shape identification. I think the most important thing to remember with any activity associated with this book is that it shouldn’t be a contest! It’s not “who can make the most dots” but “how many dots can we make together.” Because The Dot is about supporting one another and being open and collaborative, it’s important to foster a similar feeling in your activities.

Dot Day could also be a perfect time to try making your own BookWorm for your classroom. Give each student a circle cut out of heavy colored paper and ask them to write the title of their favorite book on it. You can tape all the circles on the wall of your classroom or library so they look like the body segments of an inch worm or caterpillar. All you need to do is use another circle and draw a face to make the head! We had one of these BookWorms in our home when I was a kid, but instead of writing our favorite books, we added a new circle to the body every time we finished a new book. The goal was to see how long we could make our BookWorm, and that could be a great challenge for you and your students if you have plenty of space around your classroom walls!


As usual, we want to hear from you! What activities will you be trying out this year? Are there any books you think should be included in our list? Let us know!


Happy Dot Day!