Kids Book Review “The Nest” Kenneth Oppel

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? Kenneth Oppel’s (Silverwing, The Boundless) haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, is one of the most acclaimed books of the year, receiving six starred reviews. Illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.

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“The Nest” is written for kids over 10 but as an adult I was riveted. Oppel’s story is part Suspense, part Sci-Fi and part Horror. I promise you will never look at another wasp the same way. Part of you will always wonder whats really inside that paper nest.

Oppel hits some pretty heavy topics in “The Nest”. Steve’s (main character) parents have just had a baby who sadly has many health issues. This of course throws the family into a tail spin and Steve (who has already been suffering from OCD like tendencies and high anxiety) falls back into some of his rituals and nightmares. Nightmares that feel more than just dreams.

Steve’s little sister Nicole talks to Mr Nobody on her toy phone almost everyday. Steve and Nicole adjust different to the babies poor health and their newly very distracted and distraught parents.

It’s a bad summer for wasps but even with Steve’s issues plaguing him he rises as the hero and saves the day. I loved how Oppel showed that we are all broken in some way but that won’t stop us from rising above and being the hero. Hero’s come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes what we perceive as a weakness actually turns out to be an asset. Oppel wove this lesson into his story expertly and he is definitly moving to the top of my favorite author list.

I was hooked from page one and read the entire book in one day. I rate this book at the full five stars and highly recommend it for anyone over age 10.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Nest | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kenneth Oppel  |Publisher: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc / Publication Date: 10-6-2015 |Pages: 272 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00TBKYJ8Y |Genre(s): Middle Grade / Horror / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-20-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

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For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.


Book Spotlight – “Fox In The City” Daniel Cabrera

This is the story of a fox–a fox named Tom. A fox who couldn’t in his wildest dreams imagine what it would be like to stand up on two. To behold and experience all the wonders of the world of man. The lights that light up the ground: The hum of the engines that roar and the fervor that engulfs everyone in the impassioned pursuit of happiness. Could he understand that the most amazing part is not in what we built?

Fox in the city Cover

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One great thing about this book is it’s appeal to a wide range of age groups! Looking for a new book for your teen? Great! Adult? Great! It’s appropriate for everyone. Keep an eye out for our review in the next few days.

Spoiler – We LOVED it!

Have you read this book? Hop on over to Goodreads or Amazon and show this book some love by leaving a review! Drop us a comment and let us know what you thought!



“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.


Book Review “Timesmudger” Gillian Smellie

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Thirteen year old Poppy returns to school to discover two major changes; there is a new girl in her dorm and Poppy can smudge the edges of time. Both turn out to be more troublesome than she ever imagined. Determined to prevent a murder that took place over one hundred years ago Poppy must face betrayal, consider her preconceptions and learn that everything is not quite as it seems. Revenge and the revelation of a one hundred year old secret change Poppy’s life forever.

Timesmudger Cover

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First lines: The water was too hot, Agnes called for Alice but by now she was downstairs helping cook with dinner and in any event Agnes preferred to bathe her son herself. She had already surprised her friends and had an almighty row with Ambrose over her refusal to employ a nanny and she knew that her preference to look after him herself, was considered very odd. 

Gillian opens the book with a tragic scene that sets the tone for the climax of the book. Right out of the gate, Gillian hooks the reader and to my delight, never lets go. This book is written primarily for younger teens but, as an adult, I was caught in it’s web of mystery and had a hard time putting it down.

As an American, there were a few phrases that I was unfamiliar with while reading. However, the initial confusion was soon swept away. The rhythm of the book sets in early and continues in the same smooth path throughout. Gillian’s writing has a great pace and even being unfamiliar with many of the terms, the story held tight hold of my mind. This is a real compliment to the author. 

The mode of time travel is intriguing and never fully explained, but really isn’t a detour to the story since the protagonist is a young teenage girl. Since the story is primarily told through her perspective, the lack of a complete explanation makes sense. One would not expect a young teenage girl to know or understand the inner workings of something as complicated as time travel. In this story, more detail would pull away from the realism. 

Beyond saving Edwin, I think this book also carries a good message for young teenagers. Poppy and Helen learn that the roommate they abhor is dealing with some pretty tough matters at home and with this new understanding, they form a friendship. It’s important for kids to understand that people are more than what you see on the surface.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the book and found it very well written. I will keep it on my shelf for my kids when they are old enough to read it.

P.S. I love the cover!

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Timesmudger | Series:  N/A |  Author(s): Gillian Smellie |Publisher: Create Space Independant Publishing / Publication Date: 5-9-2014 |Pages: 274 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1499500219 | Genre(s): Sciene Fiction / Mystery | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-28-2016 |Source: Copy from author

Book Review “Magic Beach” T. Johnson

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Mikey Sanchez is an 11 year old 5th grader from the inner city. Like most kids his age, he looks forward to summer vacation. However, he had no idea this summer would be one he would never forget. While spending time at his Aunt and Uncle’s beach house in North Carolina, Mikey would meet two new friends, Skip and Danni. Together the trio would form “The Beach Club”. During the summer they would spend time riding body boards, camping out on the beach, visiting the local water park and solving a magical mystery that would shake the entire town. “Magic Beach” is the first volume in the “Beach Club” series by author T. Johnson. Look for additional volumes and other titles by this author in the future.

Magic Beach Cover

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First lines: It was the last day of school and Mikey was counting down the seconds. “Three….two….one” RRRRIIIIIINNNGG! The school bell sounded and 5th grade was history.

Magic Beach’s target audience is roughly upper elementary and lower middle school age. I say this with a bit of hesitation because I feel like it could fit a broader age range depending on the child. I read it to my almost three year old son and he ate it up. 

The story is simple but is fun and exciting. It has plenty of relatable points for kids as well as enough action to keep them interested. The adults in the story are realistic and I enjoyed how they played a part in the story instead of taking a back seat. To me, putting adults in stories for kids helps enforce that adults aren’t their enemy. We are their caretakers and friends as well. 

Mikey is a regular kid. His life isn’t perfect but he doesn’t dwell on the things or people he doesn’t have. It was nice to read from such a grounded kids perspective. I think there is way to much emphasis on kids who are in single parent homes losses instead of what they gain from the experience. 

Johnson has written a fun, exciting and realistic (ish) story. I enjoyed reading it and I know my son did as well. 

Total hit in my house. 5 star book!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Magic Beach | Series:  The Beach Club |  Author(s): T. Johnson |Publisher: Outskirts Press / Publication Date: 11-21-2012 |Pages: 132 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1432793166  | Genre(s): Action & Adventure (Mid-Grade)  | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-25-2016 |Source: Copy from author


Guest Post: “Why I Wrote The 2nd Chewy Noh” by Author Tim Learn

Tim Learn is a wonderful man that I think has a lot of very insightful things to say. AlliesOpinions is honored to host him for our very first guest blog feature. 

AlliesOpinions recently reviewed Mr. Learn’s second book in the Chewy Noh series entitled “Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter”. Check out the review and grab the book for yourself on Amazon HERE.

Be sure to wander on over to Tim’s blog as well. “Tim Learn Blog”

Why I Wrote the Second Chewy Noh

Chewy Noh winter cover edit

Writers always find reasons for writing the books that they do. Sometimes it’s for the mere fact to entertain either themselves or their audience—but an audience is always better. And sometimes, the audience is whom the author wants to reach.

When watching TV with my wife, she likes to point out which actresses or singers she thinks are beautiful. And as she is Korean, she most often points out girls with large eyes and a nice complexion. Every country has their standard of beauty. The problem, however, arises when I contradict her. These girls aren’t beautiful to me. Maybe because I’m a quiet person and like people of the same ilk, or because I tend to be a bit more serious and like a person who levels me out—I usually point to the ones that look quiet and have friendly faces. Nonetheless, my wife thinks I have horrible taste in women. I’m not sure if that’s ironic or not.

What I can say is that after teaching here, in Korea, for almost ten years, I’ve seen many students. I haven’t liked all of them, and believing a teacher should do so is a myth. It’s treating them differently that a teacher should avoid. But there have been some that I find particularly endearing to me, and they tend to be quiet and friendly looking—among them a few girls.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love girls in every different type they come in. Girls are awesome. Boys scare the teacherly nerves out of me. They don’t listen. They fidget constantly and do everything in their power to not do homework. I should know—I still am one.

But when it comes to girls, there’s one type that pierces my heart every time: the young, soft-faced ones that, for some reason in the environment they live in, feel they aren’t pretty. It devastates me, only because they’re usually the ones I like the most. And even worse, they should never have to feel that way. I can attest for a fact that not one of my boy students has ever brought up such claims—not once! But time and time again, my female students feel they are less than adequate in one area or another. It defies reason.

And so that’s where Chewy Noh 2 comes in. I wrote the character Su Bin in it to voice this dilemma. Su Bin is degraded for her looks—even by family members—with most saying, “At least, she’s smart.” This may seem exaggerated, but it’s not. One parent actually said this about their daughter and I couldn’t sleep for days. Who would ever think this way or even say these thoughts in front of their child?

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Not all Koreans think like this, just as all Americans or Canadians or wherever you’re from are not all enlightened individuals. This lack of self-esteem is a problem with every little girl in the world. The Korean-type does not hold a monopoly on it. And I hope, with Su Bin’s character and the feelings she shares in Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter, some girl here or there might relate, realize, “Hey, it’s not just me,” and like Su Bin comes to see, every environment has a different ideal of beautiful. Somewhere out there, someone will think you’re amazing, no matter how the rest of the world looks at you.

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Book Review “Kyle Evans And The Key To The Universe” by Rob H. Hunt

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Some kids love adventure, and dream of being a hero. Ten-year-old Kyle Evans is not one of those kids, but when a giant hole appears in his bedroom and swallows his mom, a hero is what Kyle must become.

Kyle sets out on the journey of a lifetime, and discovers along the way that Battle Droids are scarier than Search Droids, Kranken are more terrifying than either of these, and you should never stand still near a Burgly Bug. But more important than any of this, Kyle learns that sometimes a cat is not just a cat.

Kyle Evans and The Key to The Universe is the first book in an exciting adventure trilogy that takes a boy, his cat and his friend Sofia across the universe, gradually revealing their amazing destiny.

First Lines: Kyle Evans lived in a small, comfortable house in the town of Moorefield. He lived with his mom and pet cat – Bootles – and nothing exciting ever happened to him. This was exactly how Kyle liked it because he did not enjoy surprises.

This story was incredibly unique. Not because of the space travel. Because let’s face it, there are tons of books about that. Not because of the talking cat/alien. Lots of those too. 

This book was unique because it’s main character isn’t looking to be a character in anything….ever. It’s not often that you find a main character who flinches from adventure but handles it so well…if reluctantly. 

The pace of this story is perfect for it’s age group. It continuously moves but not overwhelmingly so. It’s a well paced series of interesting and exciting events that hold the readers attention without becoming tedious or expected. After about halfway through the book you get the feeling that things are going to continue to be a bit hectic. I enjoyed that there was a lot going on but it stayed original.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the zoo planet and it’s odd choice of zookeeper species. If someone were to ask me what species of animal would be best for running a zoo, I would think frogs would be last on my list. If they were on my list at all. Wonderful choice by the author. Very unexpected. 

I LOVE Bootles character. He is witty and smart. He is clever and self depreciating. He is so complex! That’s not an easy thing to achieve with a talking cat/alien. He added so much to the story. 

On top of everything I love about this book, the thing that I have to say I am the most happy about is that as an adult I really enjoyed reading it. I am actually really excited about the next book. It is not easy to write a book for middle school kids that appeals to adults as well.

I give this book the full 5 stars!

5 stars

Click here to check this book out on Amazon!

The Technical Data:

Title: Kyle Evans And The Key To The Universe | Author(s): Rob H. Hunt |

Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 3-2-2016 |Pages: 164 (Paperback Edition) | ISBN: 9781522986799 | Genre(s): Science-Fiction / Children |Language:English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-20-2016 | Source: Copy From Author

Book Review “Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter” by Tim Learn

Chewy Noh winter cover

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Chewy Noh has many problems. Besides his mom becoming a mu-dang—a Korean fortune-teller possessed by his dead grandmother who can read minds—the school bully, Kent, is still on the warpath to get Chewy kicked out of school. With his secret ability to win at everything, none of this bothers him until he starts disappearing for no reason while a mysterious force attacks his fellow students, and he must scramble to figure out what’s going on before he becomes its next and final victim.

First off, I must admit that I knew nothing about Korean myth or culture before this book. I don’t think I’ve read anything from a Korean’s  perspective. This was a delightful first for me.

Mr. Learn’s writing style is easy to follow and fun to read. I enjoyed getting to know Chewy, Clint and everyone else who plays a part in this book. There were a few things I felt like I was in the dark with. I believe this is the second book in the series so that probably explains my confusion at certain references or events.

Chewy is an interesting character. He is of two worlds culturally. It was an interesting thing to watch him maneuver. 

One of my favorite things about this book is that it addresses racism and acceptance in very inadvertent ways. The message and struggle is there but, it’s a part of the story instead of the whole story. I think it adds a complexity that I really wasn’t expecting.

I found a lot of the Korean culture portrayed in this book very interesting. It sounds like a very complex system to live with. 

Since this is a series I’m not going to knock it too hard for not having a solid ending. I will say that I was a bit disappointed. I felt like a lot of loose threads were left but, like I said, this is a series so I’m not going to take points off.

The one thing that bothered me the most about this book that I can’t really get over is that Chewy’s power was to be great at tests. That seems really short-sighted to me. Why was his wish so specific? Why not make a broader wish and just wish to be able to absorb all knowledge easily and have a perfect memory? Maybe that’s a bit complex for the age group this book is targeted for. I felt like that aspect of the story could of been used a bit better to add to the plot. 

I really enjoyed the story. I think it has great messages for it’s age group. The writing style was fun and easy to follow for the most part. The only thing that’s keeping it from getting the full five stars is the plot falling a little short. 

With these things in mind, I am rating this book at 4 stars.

4 star

The Technical Data:

Title: Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter | Author(s): Tim Learn |

Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 7-15-2015 |Pages: 314 (Kindle Edition) |
ISBN: 9781505851458  | Genre(s): Urban Paranormal / Young Adult |Language:English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-14-2016 | Source: Copy From Author

Book Review “Delilah Dusticle” by A. J. York

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Delilah Dusticle has special powers. She can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters, Delilah can run up walls, reaching places others just can’t. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house, Delilah’s unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day, when a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn.

This is the first book in a quirky middle grade fantasy series. The story entices the reader into a new and magical world that appeals to both kids and adults. The reader can explore how the ordinary in life can be extraordinarily overlooked, how friendship can help you overcome life’s difficulties and how accepting yourself is the biggest challenge of all.

Reading this book is a truly magical and uplifting experience that should not be missed. Read it today!


What a creative story! York does a fantastic job with this book!

Delilah was such a fun character. She is kind and magical. I really enjoyed how even though there is magic in the book, it’s not overly unrealistic. Since most of the story is realistic, this meshes well. It’s written in a way that still fuels the imagination without being all the story is about. 

This story is about how depression can make you lose sight of who you are as a person. Also, how the talents that you have may not always be glamorous or the one’s you were hoping for. It’s always best to love oneself no matter what.

York did a great job with character explanations. Just the right amount of detail to catch a child’s attention. I felt like I knew all I needed to. 

The pacing of the story is well done. No lulls and it consistently holds the readers attention. Perfect for it’s age group.

World building was great. I enjoyed how well the author wove magic into the real world. It was clever and fun.

The moral lesson to this story was great. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a great book for younger children and preteens. As an adult I enjoyed it!

The only complaint I have is about the cover. To appeal to younger readers, the cover should have a bit more going on and look as fun as the story!

I give this book 5 stars!

5 stars

Click the title below to purchase!

Delilah Dusticle: A Magical Fantasy Series for Children Ages 8-12 (The Delilah Dusticle Adventures) (Volume 1)

The Technical Data:

Title: Delilah Dusticle | Author(s): A. J. York |

Publisher: Create Space / Publication Date: 6-1-2014 |Pages: 96 (paperback) | ISBN: 9781497511798 | Genre(s): Children’s Fantasy / Magic  |Language: English | Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 1-15-2016 | Source: Copy from author

Children’s Book Review “Jesper Jinx” by Marko Kitti

Summary from Goodreads:

Jesper Jinx is eleven, and probably the unluckiest person in all of Puffington Hill. Everything he touches seems to end up in sweet disaster. Hence his nickname ‘Jinx’.

In this first book of Jesper Jinx’s wonderfully wicked adventures you’re going to meet Jesper’s family and Snowy the Cat.

Also, there’s a mysterious new classmate with a moustache. And it’s up to Jesper to launch his famous Boredom Breaker.

As Jesper so frequently says, ‘What harm would it do to have a little fun?’

Humorous middle grade fiction from author Marko Kitti.


This was a fun read. From the beginning the book is written like someone is talking to you. It has a very informal tone that I think would easily appeal to the target age for this book.

I especially liked the “form” the author asks the reader to sign. It’s a cute idea that gives the book a secretive appeal. Great idea to draw in readers.

The collection of stories are humorous and fun. Each one will have you laughing out loud at the antics of Jesper. He is a crafty fella. 

The stories are clever and witty. They have just the right amount of action, plot, description and pacing needed to grab a young kids attention. 

All in all the author did a great job. 

I grant this book the full 5 stars.

5 stars

This book is available for purchase through Amazon. Click the title

“Jesper Jinx”

The Technical Data:

Title: Jesper Jinx (Book 1) | Author(s): Marko Kitti |

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 4-27-2014 | Pages: 152 (Kindle) |ISBN: B00JZY5VJM | Genre(s): Middle Grade Humor Fiction | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 12-22-2015 | Source: Copy From Author