Friday, July 26, 2013

Review - Pegasus: The Flame of Olympus by Kate O'Hearn

The Flame of Olympus (Pegasus, #1)Title: Pegasus: The Flame of Olympus
Series: Pegasus (Book #1)
Author: Kate O'Hearn
Publisher:  Aladdin
Release Dates: May 22, 2012
Pages: 385, Hardcover
Age Range: 8+
Goodreads Rating: 3.97 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
(This book was originally published in the UK as Pegasus and the Flame in 2011).

Summary from Goodreads: A young girl, a winged horse, and a war of epic proportions make for an adventurous start to an exciting new trilogy.
When Pegasus crashes onto a Manhattan roof during a terrible storm, Emily’s life changes forever. Suddenly allied with a winged horse she’d always thought was mythical, Emily is thrust into the center of a fierce battle between the Roman gods and a terrifying race of multiarmed stone warriors called the Nirads. Emily must team up with a thief named Paelen, the goddess Diana, and a boy named Joel in order to return Pegasus to Olympus and rescue the gods from a certain death.

Along the way, Emily and her companions will fight monsters, run from a government agency that is prepared to dissect Pegasus, and even fly above the Manhattan skyline—all as part of a quest to save Olympus before time runs out.


After my nine-year-old daughter read The Flame of Olympus, she said, "This is my new favorite book.  Mommy, you have to read it!  Now!"  In fact, she was so emphatic about it that she cried when her brother said he wasn't interested in reading the book (he was not thrilled about the idea of a pegasus book).  She refused to give up - she finally negotiated with him that she would read the first Harry Potter book (which she had been reluctant to pick up for some reason) if he would read this book.

Turns out, even 11-year-old brothers can love a pegasus book if the story has enough adventure in it!  (He's already read the second book in the series, even though my daughter and I haven't gotten to it yet).

The story starts out with an epic battle that is taking place in Olympus and is told from the perspective of Paelen, a thief who wants to steal Pegasus' golden bridle.  When the war is all but lost, Pegasus escapes to the mortal world.

A girl named Emily finds Pegasus, hurt and alone.  She wants to help the mythical winged horse, but she doesn't know how, so she recruits the only person she can think of to help her - a young bully named Joel who is obsessed with Pegasus and mythology in general.   Soon, both Emily and Joel find themselves fighting mythical monsters and running away from a government group that would imprison Pegasus, all the while struggling to save Olympus and human world along with it.  

The POV in this book switches back and forth between Emily and Paelen.  My daughter loved Emily and the human perspective, while my son was a big fan of Paelen and his storyline (which includes Paelen being caught by that dangerous government entity!).  

I thought that the book was extremely well-written and enjoyable.  There was lots of action to hold a child's (or middle-schooler's) attention.  The ending was also very satisfying - as an adult, I figured out what was going to happen, but my kids weren't so sure.

I would highly recommend this book to any kid who loves fantasy or adventure books (and to their parents too!).  4.5/5 stars

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review - Pet Hotel #1: Calling All Pets & #2: A Big Surprise by Kate Finch

Pet Hotel #1: Calling All Pets!Title: Pet Hotel #1: Calling All Pets
Author: Kate Finch
Publisher:  Scholastic
Release Dates: June 25, 2013
Pages: 96, Paperback
Age Range: 7
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: A fun, funny new chapter book series full of adorable pets and silly adventures!

Twins Meg and Charlie are moving into their great-great-aunt's hotel, and they're in for some surprises! The run-down hotel is full of cool old rooms, a rooftop garden, even an elevator. There's also one big problem -- it doesn't have any guests.

But when Meg and Charlie volunteer to look after a neighbor's golden retriever puppy, the fuzzy little furball gives them a great idea. They're going to transform their new home into an amazing hotel . . . for pets!

Pet Hotel #2: A Big SurpriseTitle: Pet Hotel #2: A Big Surprise
Author: Kate Finch
Publisher:  Scholastic
Release Dates: June 25, 2013
Pages: 96, Paperback
Age Range: 7+
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: The next guest at the Pet Hotel is a tabby cat named Matilda. But Meg and Charlie are worried, because she doesn't want to play -- all she wants to do is hide and nap! What's wrong with Matilda?

In the meantime, Elvis the cockatiel is causing trouble during his stay. He keeps stealing food from the kitchen, and he won't leave Matilda alone! Is he just a mischief maker, or does he know something about the tabby cat that Meg and Charlie don't?


My nine-year-old daughter is a big animal fan and she really loved these books.  They are great fun and also very cute!  They have lots of adorable illustrations, which was always a big draw for my daughter when she was a bit younger (not to say that she doesn't still like them now, but she's willing to read books without them now that she's older).  I would say that these books would be perfect for the second and third grade crowd, but would also work for younger kids who have moved on to chapter books - even though the books are 96 pages, a lot of that is illustrations, so it makes for a pretty easy read.  Plus, the themed rooms in the hotel are perfect to capture a child's imagination!

When my daughter was reading the first book, she kept stopping to tell me things that were happening in it - "Mommy, the hotel is just a regular hotel for people."  "Mommy, they just got a dog to take care of" "Mommy..." You get the idea.  This is a sure sign that she's enjoying a book!  

My only issue with the books (as a mom) is that they keep losing the pets that they're taking care of!!  Yes, they always find them again, but in the span of two books, the kids lost four pets!  It's not the best example of responsibility.  Books like the Animal Ark series show a more realistic portrait of taking care of animals (although,  these books do at least show that the kids have to do a lot of work to feed and walk the animals).  Still, the books are meant to be fun and cute and aren't really meant to be taken all that seriously.  They're perfect for the younger set! If your child enjoys books about animals, I'm sure they would love these.  3.5/5 stars

**Disclosure: ARC versions of the first two books in this series were provided by Scholastic via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***