Guest Book Review: The Trap by Sarah Wray

In order to bring our readers more book news, I will occasionally have guest book reviewers. I am thrilled to have as my guest reviewer, award-winning middle grade author Fiona Ingram. She reviews The Trap by Sarah Wray.

When fifteen-year-old British teen Luke Sheldon wins a place at an American summer camp for smart kids, he thinks he’s in for the trip of a lifetime. He’s also glad to get away from his snarky older brother for the holidays. It sounds like a dream vacation, with courses in cool stuff like archery, fire building, horse riding, and survival techniques. Surrounded by forests and built above a labyrinth of underground tunnels, there is more to Camp Hope than meets the eye. Why do some of the kids suggest the place should be called Camp No Hope? Is it true that three campers disappeared a few years earlier? And why does camp leader Captain Budd as well as the course trainers refuse to talk about it? When Luke starts to find coded messages in his dorm, he thinks it is a silly game until disaster strikes. Too late, he discovers he has been lured into a terrifying trap that could cost him his life.

The adrenalin starts pumping on page one as we find Luke running down an underground tunnel, running for his life! Flashback to when it all begins at camp where Luke meets up with a bunch of teens just like him. There is the usual gaggle of types: the bully, the sidekick, the nerd, the good friend, the joker, and of course, the GIRLS! In an amazing coincidence, Luke bumps into Natalie, his best friend in junior school. At the time, they were inseparable, until Natalie’s parents died and she moved away. Luke is happy to renew his connection with Natalie and even imagines things could go further until…the beautiful Kathryn (aka Star) arrives. She’s totally gorgeous, confident, popular, and she chooses Luke as her camp boyfriend. Although he’s no slouch, Luke hasn’t much confidence when it comes to girls. Star’s friendship with him is like a dream come true, except that it seems to alienate Natalie. His friendship with Natalie also causes tension between Luke and his best camp buddy, Matt. Added to this swirling mix of emotional pressure and excitement at decoding each new clue is Luke’s weird dorm leader (adult) Drew, who has all the characteristics of someone who could kill and not bat an eyelid. Drew also likes knives… Things are never quite what they seem, and it’s up to Luke to solve this mystery without ending up dead!

This is an action-packed teen adventure certain to keep young readers glued to the pages. The characters are well-rounded, and Luke is a very likable teen. The events unfold through his eyes, and in the process, Luke makes discoveries about himself and his relationships with others around him. By the end of this riveting read he has matured, and come to an understanding about life. The message of the book is one of forgiveness and hope, and the meaning of friendship.

Length: 240 pages

Publisher: Faber Childrens

ISBN-10: 0571239218

ISBN-13: 978-0571239214

Genre: Children’s Fiction/YA

Rating: FOUR stars

Suitable For: Ages 10+

Available from Amazon/most booksellers

No monetary compensation was received for this review.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


This Day in History – May 29, 1862

I’ m a lover of history. Always have been. I especially enjoy early American history–Colonial times and the Civil War era. My Civil War library is the only one that rivals my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. I took a Civil War course in college, which allowed me to read one of the best books on the conflict, Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson. I thought it might be interesting to share some historical tidbits from this and other historical eras. We might also touch upon sports history, music history or entertainment history. I hope you’ll provide feedback on these posts, so I know if you are enjoying them.

On this day in history in 1862, P. G. T. Beauregard began moving troops out of Corinth, Mississippi. Beauregard was born in Louisiana and became a prominent general in the Civil War for the Confederate States Army.  Trained at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Beauregard served in the Mexican-American War. After the Southern states seceded, Jefferson Davis was named president of the Confederacy. Davis appointed Beauregard as a general to take command of the militia and big seacoast guns and mortars in Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. Beauregard’s objective was to take control over Fort Sumter, which was running out of supplies and awaiting relief. General Beauregard demanded the surrender of the fort, but U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson refused. The Confederates opened fire on April 12, 1861. Anderson surrendered the following day and the fort was evacuated, giving the Confederates their first victory of the Civil War.

With the help of forces from General Joseph E. Johnston, General Beauregard would seize another victory in July 1861, during the First Battle of Bull Run, or as the South calls it, First Manassas. He is credited with designing the new Confederate flag to avoid confusion between the “stars and bars” and the “stars and stripes” of the United States flag.

Because Beauregard did not get along well with Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the Confederac. He was sent to Tennessee and became second in command under General Albert Sydney Johnston. By this time, the Confederate Army had witnessed defeat, and they were hoping for a victory. Much of northwestern Virginia was under Federal control and Missouri and Kentucky were Union occupied. At this point, Beauregard and Johnston were poised to attack the Union forces under the command of Major General Ulysses S. Grant. Beauregard devised a plan for a march by four different corps on converging roads to deploy for battle on April 4th. The inexperienced troops and officers were soon confused, and rain bogged down the wagons and artillery. By April 4th, none of the Confederate troops had arrived where they were supposed to be and Beauregard wanted to call off the attack. He was sure the delays meant that Grant’s troops had been reinforced by Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell.

Johnston overruled Beauregard, and though they didn’t know it, Grant wasn’t expecting an attack. It was an early patrol that found the advancing Confederates and warned a division under the command of Benjamin M. Prentiss. William Tecumseh Sherman commanded the other division that soon found itself under attack by Confederates. Johnston was mortally wounded in the battle and Beauregard assumed command. The Yankees were successful in repelling the multiple Confederate attacks, but their much smaller force under Prentiss surrendered. Fighting by the division under Prentiss allowed Grant time to post his remaining forces along the Pittsburg Landing ridge. Beauregard called off the attack for the night, which would prove to be a mistake.

Confident of victory, Beauregard sent a telegram to Richmond,  Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. What he did not know is that Grant’s reinforcements had arrived. The next morning, it was the Yankees who were attacking with surprise. The rebels were pushed back to the original point of their attack. Beauregard ordered his men to retreat to Corinth, Mississippi. On that same day, the Union army-navy team won an important battle in Mississippi. After being at war for a year, morale was low. Many southerners turned against Beauregard because of his defeat at Shiloh. Things weren’t going much better for Grant, who was temporarily relieved of command after the initial defeat at Shiloh. His superior, Major General Henry W. Halleck assumed command and slowly advanced on Beauregard.

Beauregard still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Though Corinth was considered a crucial strategic point by the Confederates, Beauregard found the water supply contaminated, and many of his men were still recovering from wounds received at Shiloh. Using the railroad to transport the sick and wounded, along with heavy artillery and supplies, Beauregard planned to fool his opponents by making them think reinforcements had arrived. The train whistle would blow and the troops would cheer, buglers and drummers played, giving Halleck the impression he was facing a much larger force than was actually in Cornith. Beauregard and his troops evacuated. When Union patrols arrived, they found the enemy gone.

Jefferson Davis was angry when he heard the news of Shiloh and Corinth. When Beauregard took an unauthorized leave of absence, he was relieved of command.  But this wasn’t the last Davis would hear of P.G. T. Beauregard.


Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1988

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) by Mary Cunningham (Review)

Cynthia and Gus are traveling through time again. Having solved many mysteries in the past, they soon discover something is very wrong and things are unraveling. Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! Is Blackie still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie?

The girls journey into a strange woods with disastrous results. They find scary creatures and dark secrets along the way. Though someone or something seems to have reversed the good work they have done during their previous time travels, the girls are determined to set things right again, meeting new friends along the way.

I haven’t read all the books in this series. Book 4, The Magician’s Castle, introduced me to Cynthia and Gus and the magic attic that helps them travel through time. Like the fourth book, this new one has tons of time-traveling adventure for everyone. From 2014 to 1964 to 1914 and hopefully back home again, Cynthia, Gus, Nicole and Leeza find themselves trying to track down what is happening when they discover Aunt Belle is missing again and great-grandfather Beau was never found.

This is a light and fun read. A perfect stand-alone story, but I’m eager to read the first three books now so I can see where Cynthia and Gus’s adventures started. Readers will enjoy unlocking this mystery along with the girls as they seek to make things right again. Mary Cunningham has created a fabulous set of characters with distinct personalities. They complement the engaging plot perfectly. This is a fantastic book. I’m sorry to see the Cynthia’s Attic series end, but I’m eager to see what Cunningham comes up with next.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Mary Cunningham Books



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I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) by Mary Cunningham

Author, Mary Cunningham, is excited to announce the release of the 5th and final book in the award-winning series, Cynthia’s Attic.

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) Book Blurb

Cynthia and Gus have solved a lot of mysteries across time, but something is seriously wrong and things are beginning to unravel.

Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! And now they are wondering if Blackie is still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie.

This time, the twelve-year-old girls journey into a strange woods full of frightening creatures and dark secrets in search of answers.

From Aunt Belle’s cottage to a small village in France, they meet new friends and discover a connection to New Orleans that may lead to the devious source behind these alarming developments. Or bigger trouble.

Read an excerpt from Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods

My back pressed against a small tree as I peered over one shoulder, then the other. More blackness. I pulled my knees tight to my chest to create as small a target as possible. If I could keep still until morning,  this place might be less formidable.

Those eyes …did they just move? Hair stood straight up on my neck as a low growl inched ever closer. I sucked in one last breath and hid my face waiting for a fatal blow or bite.

“Well, well. What do we have here?” My head jerked skyward. Yellow eyes hovered over me. “Cat got your tongue?”

The creature bent down and poked my upper arm with a furry finger. I wanted so badly to run, but sheer terror kept me plastered to the tree.

The hulking figure straightened and chuckled. “I’m not planning to hurt you. What are you doing in Lupin?”

Lupin? I tried to answer, but dryness gripped my throat as if I’d swallowed an entire sandbox. Plus, an ominous word jumped into my brain. I’d heard something that sounded a lot like lupin once before. It was at the movies! Wolfman. Oh, no. Lupine is another name for wolf! Was I in a wolf forest?

My eyes scanned the treetops. I might be saved if the sun rose soon, but light would have to pass through the dense canopy, and from where I sat, that seemed doubtful. The beast must’ve read my mind.

“If you’re waiting for sunrise, you’ll be disappointed.” It smiled–or made a weak attempt–revealing huge, pointy teeth. “Instead of night and day, around here we have night and black.”

I gulped and finally manufactured enough spit to choke out four words. “Why-am-I-here?”

Visit Cynthia’s Attic Blog for a schedule of The Legend of Lupin Woods Blog Tour!

Mary Cunningham, author

Cynthia’s Attic Series

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

The Magician’s Castle

The Legend of Lupin Woods 

Bio: Like Cynthia and Gus, my childhood best friend, Cynthia and I grew up in a small, Southern Indiana town…the setting for the series. Not one summer day passed that we weren’t playing softball, hide and seek, badminton, or croquet with friends in the vacant lot behind Becky’s house.

In my attempt to grow up, I joined The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club. When giving my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where I live with my husband and adopted furry, four-legged daughter, Lucy. Together we’ve raised three creative children and are thrilled with our 2 granddaughters.

At last count, I’ve moved 9 times to six different states (all after the age of 36), and aside from the packing and unpacking, it’s been a great experience, having made some very dear and lasting friendships. My non-writing time is spent showing power point presentations on gathering ideas and the writing process to schools and libraries.

Mary Cunningham Books



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Look for my review of The Legend of Lupin Woods coming tomorrow!

My Friend Fred by Hiawyn Oram

 Have you ever tried to teach your kids about sharing something special? It’s a hard concept because special toys or even people are difficult to share. My Friend Fred by Hiawyn Oram shows what one little girl learns about friendship and sharing.

Grace and her dog, Fred, do everything together. Her sister, Sarah, tries to tell her that Fred is the family dog, not hers, but Grace wants none of that. One day, Sarah tempts Fred to come and play with all her friends, but Grace takes him away and locks him in her room. Suddenly, Fred doesn’t want to play with Grace. What will she do?

Oram has created a beautiful story where Grace learns the thrill and joy of sharing a special friend. It isn’t easy for her, since Sarah has so many friends and Grace only has Fred; but she doesn’t want to make Fred unhappy either. When they all get a chance to play together they have great fun.

Rosie Reeve provides the artwork for My Friend Fred. Soft blues and purples are complemented by bright pinks and greens. Some of the pages have paw print accents like those found on the cover in the word, “FRED.” The paw prints on the cover are slightly raised to give the book a textured feel. This is a lovely book from open to shut, though it probably won’t stay shut long.

Dog lovers are bound to get into this one.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Hardcover:32 pages
  • Publisher:Tiger Tales; Reprint edition (March 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10:1589251059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589251052
  • SRP:$15.95

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for my review.


At the Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

Gear up for summer with this charming book about a day at the boardwalk. Author Kelly Ramsdell Fineman shares a summer day trip to the boardwalk with her lyrical rhymes. A family’s day of relaxing fun is highlighted by seeing a baby in a stroller being pushed by his mother, who is jogging in the early morning fog; blowing bubbles that fly into the air; getting treats of all kinds day or night, and so much more. Then it’s time to watch the sunset before sleepy heads go home.

At the Boardwalk is illustrated by Monica Armino. Her choice of subtle, warm colors and soft lines are perfect for this book. They are calming, yet capture all the fun of a day together. The nice details such as rosy faces, a handprinted sign at the ice cream shop, and the swirls in the puddles when kids splash as it rains, are not lost on older readers.

This is a special book that shows what life for families is all about–spending time together and creating life-long memories

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Hardcover:32 pages
  • Publisher:Tiger Tales (March 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10:1589251040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589251045
  • SRP: $12.95

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Bustle in the Bushes by Giles Andreae

Come learn more about the bugs in your bushes with Bustle in the Bushes by Giles Andreae.

In the latest tiger tales collaboration from author Giles Andreae and illustrator David Wojtowycz, young readers get a glimpse into the wiggly, creepy, crawly bugs they can find in their backyards. Geared toward readers ages 3 – 7, the author’s lyrical prose is coupled withthe artist’s bold, vibrant artwork that has been their trademark since the beginning. The adorable cover begs young readers to pick up the book and the fun rhymes keep her turning the pages. From ants to caterpillars to worms and more, your child will enjoy some investigating after reading this one.

I’ve loved the other books from this team that I’ve read–Commotion in the Ocean, Rumble in the Jungle, and ABC Animal Jamboree. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Hardcover:32 pages
  • Publisher:Tiger Tales (March 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10:1589251091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589251090
  • SRP: $16.95

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.