12 and up


Recently I received Greek Mythology’s Twelve Labors of Hercules: A Choose Your Path Book (Can You Survive?), which I read and reviewed over on 5 Minutes for Mom. The publisher was kind enough to send the rest of the set, and while deciding between “Dracula,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and “Sherlock Holmes,” pretty much everyone in my family said I should read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the next one to review. I’ve always been a fan of vampire stories, but have never read this classic novel, so it didn’t take much for me to agree.

Like the other Choose Your Path books, “Dracula” starts out with you as the main character, beckoned by a classic book. You’re then suddenly in the story as the main character, in this case, Jonathan Harker. As the story progresses you’re faced with choices – some lead to your death, others progress the story. And it’s not always obvious which is the “correct” path.

I really like these books as a way to introduce kids to classic literature. In the case of “Dracula,” as Jonathan Harker, you experience Dracula’s castle in Transylvania firsthand, then return to London where the vampire is wreaking havoc, and finally join Van Helsing  in his chase of Dracula back to Transylvania.  It’s a shortened version, revised to make it accessible to middle graders, but without losing the essence of the story. The adventure is exciting but not overbearing and will keep kids interested.

Jennifer and I have both read a few of these books, so click over to our reviews of Campfire CrisisTreasure Island, and Call of the Wild.

Win a set of 10 Choose Your Path books

Also, make sure to click over to 5 Minutes for Mom to read my review of Hercules and enter to win a set of 10 of these books.


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Treasure Island, a Choose Your Path Can You Survive Book #Giveaway

The gold of Captain Flint is buried somewhere on Treasure Island, and only you have the map to find it. You and your friends set sail to gain riches beyond your wildest dreams, but when your crew reveal themselves as pirates, your island adventure becomes a dangerous struggle to survive. Do you have what it takes to locate the hidden treasure, or will Long John Silver and his pirates steal your wealth – and your life? Step into this adventure, and choose your path. But choose wisely, or else… I loved these kinds of books when I was a middle grade reader myself, so when I saw the Can You Survive? series that adapts classic works into this format, I was interested in checking them
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Happy to Be Alive, Because

Avery has a summer to remember. It doesn’t start off that way, far from it. During her senior year in high school, her mom got cancer. When she passed away, Avery was lost. Her mother is all she has, and all the plans she made in her last year of high school — like staying at the local community college after she graduates — were all made so she could help care for her mother. After receiving yet another casserole from a well-meaning friends, she feels like she has to get away. When she finds some tickets and a travel itinerary for a trip her mother hoped to take with her to her hometown on the beach. Avery decides to take the trip alone in
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The Search for WondLa audiobooks read by Teri Hatcher #Giveaway #audiomonth

The Search for WondLa is a 3-book series by Tony DiTerlizzi (author of The Spiderwick Chronicles). A Hero for WondLa is the finale in the trilogy and has just been published and released on audiobook. I haven’t listened to more than just a sample of the audiobooks, but I actually have had a copy of the first book on my shelf since it first came out, so I finally started reading it aloud with my 10-year-old son. We’re almost finished, and we’re hooked! Click through to read more of my thoughts on this series at 5 Minutes for Mom and enter the giveaway for all 3 books on audio, sponsored by Simon & Schuster audio in honor of Audiobook Month.
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Cool Beans, the Further Adventures of Beanboy #MMGM

At first I wasn’t sure to make of this second book featuring “Beanboy” Tucker MacBean. The book was fine, but I had really enjoyed the humor and heart in the first book, and I felt that this one might not be living up to my expectations. I reviewed the first book here when it was named a Cybils Middle Grade finalist in 2013. The story is different — more of a school story than a sort of coming-of-age story that we got in The Adventures of Beanboy. But there’s nothing like a good school story. Like a novel that draws me in as I see themes of my everyday life — friendship, balance, identity, motherhood — reflected in the pages, such is a school story
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Are You Looking Forward to The Giver? {Books on Screen}

Published in 1993, Lois Lowry’s The Giver has been hailed as the quintessential piece of dystopian children’s literature, winning the Newbery Medal in 1994. (Lowry is one of only a few people to have ever won this prestigious award twice!) I’m guessing that because it was published during the craziness of my own senior year in high school, I somehow missed reading it as a young adult. A friend of mine who is just a few years younger than me had been saying for a long, long time that it was among her favorite books, and on her recommendation, I finally got around to reading it earlier this year. My thirteen-year-old son and I started reading it aloud together, but he got impatient with our limited
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Love and Other Foreign Words, a 5-Star Read

Josie is a precocious 16-year-old girl. She loves languages, and she’s become an expert at all of the languages she hears each day: her best friend Stu speak (even Stu Chewing), those of her volleyball teammates at school, the college kids she sees each day in her Early College Program, sisters, fiancees, parents and more. The word most on her mind is love. Her older sister Kate says she’s in love, but Josie knows Geoffrey Stephen Brill is not right for her. She can’t be in love with him. Kate, he’s the single most uninteresting person in the world. You’re not really going to marry him, are you? Is this a delayed rebellion? Is this the boyfriend you should have had when you were sixteen
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5 YA Books to Read to Get Ready for the Movies, 2014 {Friday’s Five}

The Fault in Our Stars – June 6 There’s been a lot of talk in the #kidlit world about the fact that John Green’s book isn’t the only popular, well-written, well-reviewed YA book out there, but to listen to mainstream press, you might think it is. No, it’s not. It’s good, and he’s good, and I think the movie will be good, so it definitely belongs on this list. The movie comes out first, so I’m including it at the top of the list. I think that people will want to pick up the book after they see it, but I’m urging you to go ahead and take a couple of days and read it before you see it. Or not. I don’t really care
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Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival

Though Anne Frank’s personal story is likely the best known tale of hiding from the Nazis during World War II, hers was one of many. Too many to even imagine. Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis have worked to gather and share more accounts from Jewish people who survived this terrible time hiding in the Netherlands, which was occupied by the Germans during the war. Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival is a challenging read, filled with emotion and horror, but with reminders of human kindness and bravery. In the foreword, it is stated that about 28,000 Jews went into hiding in the Netherlands, with about 16,000 ultimately surviving, while the other roughly 12,000 were caught or betrayed. The stories included in this collection tell of
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I loved this book! It did not draw me immediately in, but by page 40 or so, it was an exciting read. I requested it to review because it’s described as Redwall meets the Warriors, and my 4th grade son has been totally into the Warriors series this year, so I hoped he might read it. He didn’t think it “looked good,” but after I finished it, I told him that he definitely needs to read it. I haven’t convinced him yet, but I know that if he gets into the first few chapters, he’ll be hooked. Now to convince him to to open the cover — I’m not above forcing a book that I know is a good fit! This book is exciting —
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We Were Liars

The note from the publisher at the beginning of the egalley of e. lockhart’s We Were Liars warns readers to enjoy the book but not to find out anything about this book. I honestly try to approach most books that way. I avoid reviews and I don’t even re-read the jacket copy when I finally get around to reading a book that has been sitting on my shelf. I promise this review won’t contain any nods to plot elements you don’t need to know, and I’d suggest you avoid spoilers so that you can enjoy this book as it’s intended as well. I wanted to love this book. It seemed intriguing. It was well-written and clever. I might be teetering on YA overload, which happens
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Itch Rocks: The Further Adventures Of An Element Hunter

Itchingham Lofte does not fit in at his new Cornish school. He had promised himself he was going to make more of an effort this school year, but in Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo, he is now the most protected kid in the world, and his bodyguards scare away everyone, not giving him much of a chance. Add to the fact that he’s still an element hunter, and he remains as much of an outcast as he did in Itch, aside from his (female) cousin Jack and sister Chloe. Itch Rocks picks up after Itch has been released from the hospital after suffering severe radiation poisoning in the first book trying to protect the new radioactive element he accidentally found and keep it from the bad guys
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