Guest Book Review: Millicent Marie Is Not My Name by Karen Pokras Toz

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Book Review: Millicent Marie Is Not My Name by Karen Pokras Toz
Paperback: 162 pages
Publisher: Grand Daisy Press (September 7, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0984860851
ISBN-13: 978-0984860852
Age group: Preteen and Tween

Five stars


Not content with saddling their daughter with a mouthful of a name like Millicent Marie (after a grumpy family member), Millicent Marie’s parents insist on calling her by that very same huge mouthful. Known to her school friends as Millie, Millicent Marie is grateful that she did not end up with a cool, arty, celebrity kid name like Organza. However, Millie decides that if she’d had a choice, her name would have been Amanda. Amanda has such a nice ring to it. After all, Amandas are beautiful, wildly popular, and talented. When Millie begins a diary in which she signs her name as Amanda, little does she realize what a ten-year-old annoying little brother (Douglas aka Doogle) can do to wreak even more havoc in her life. Doogle finds Millie’s diary on her computer and publishes it as a blog for the entire world to see. Amanda’s soul is suddenly laid bare and, amazingly, people love her. She becomes Springside Elementary’s most sought after sixth-grade mystery gossip and advice columnist. Can Millie keep up the pretence? And for how long before her cover is blown?

This is a lovely read for tweens (and their parents!). Millie has the usual slightly disparaging attitude towards her prehistoric-age, totally embarrassing parents who (in the nature of all parents) seem to be incapable of treating her as the almost-adult she considers herself. Millie was given the choice of a computer or a cell phone when she turned twelve. Everyone knows that any self-respecting teenager needs both. Author Karen Pokras Toz captures Millie’s life angst—from disillusionment with sixth grade, to decisions about doing soccer or drama, to denying she has a crush on the utterly handsome Jordan Cowell—with humor and inside knowledge. I also enjoyed Millie’s coming of age and gradual maturing. As Amanda, Millie learns huge life lessons about friendship, respect, and the fact that other people have feelings and problems. As Millie, Millie learns about her identity, who she really is, and decides if she is happy being herself. Highly recommended.

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 www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Nate Rocks the School by Karen Pokras Toz and Giveaway

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Nate Rockledge and gang are back in the third volume of the Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the School by Karen Pokras Toz. Now in fifth grade, Nathan, Tommy, and Sam are glad to take advantage of being older. Mom finally concedes to having Nate’s birthday party outside of the house for once. There’s baseball at recess and a cool Halloween dance to help the class raise necessary funds for the annual fifth grade trip to New York City. But when the trip to NYC is  at risk of being canceled, Nate steps up to help with the fundraising committee. With paper and pencil in hand, Nate Rockledge becomes Nate Rocks, saving the town from evil robots and helping recover stolen paintings and cars.

I’ve enjoyed this series since the beginning. In this latest book in the Nate Rocks series, Toz lets loose her imagination and sense of humor once again to come up with a great middle grade adventure story boys will love. Familiar and new characters blend together in this zany story filled with Nate’s mom’s horrible cooking, whiny complaints from know-it-all Lisa Crane, annoying older sister jabs from Abby, Dad’s poor storytelling, and the adventures of one creative boy stuck in the middle of it all. A neat surprise ending winds down this story that moves along at a good clip.

This series keeps getting better and better. I can’t wait to see what Nate is up to next.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Paperback: 138 pages
Publisher: Grand Daisy Press (February 20, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984860878
ISBN-13: 978-0984860876

A Word from Lisa Crane

Hey everyone – it’s me, Lisa Crane. For those of you who have been following this tour, I need to set the record straight. You know what they say – there are two sides to every story. In fact, the only thing in the book, Nate Rocks the School, that’s actually accurate about me is the part where I tell everyone how Nathan got his black eye last summer. Even Abby said it was true, so it must be, right?

Anyway, Nathan makes it sound like he’s doing all the work to try to raise the money we need for our school trip to New York. Well that’s just not true. In fact, if anything, he’s making even more work for us. Yup, that’s right. For example, it was his idea to have two school events, not one.  He’s the one who made us do things on such short notice, and he also did a lousy job trying to get donations. Then to make things even worse, Nathan’s mom insists on making all the food that we’ll sell at the snack table. (Between you and me, everyone in the school knows to stay away from Mrs. Rockledge’s baked goods – even my mom knows that, and she’s Mrs. Rockledge’s best friend!) We’ll barely make any money from snack sales, and that’s usually a big seller!

If you ask me, my ideas for fundraising are so much better. If only Nathan and that best friend of his, Tommy, would listen to me. We’d be done already. When will those boys learn? Anyway – I guess if you want to see how it all turns out, you’ll have to read the book. Just remember what I told you!

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Karen Pokras Toz lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. Karen’s middle grade childrens’ novels: Millicent Marie Is Not My Name and the Nate Rocks series, have won several awards including First Place for Children’s Chapter Books and the Grand Prize Overall in the 2012 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for a Global E-Book Award for Pre-Teen Literature. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Her first adult contemporary novel, invisible, will be released this summer. For more information, please visit www.karentoz.com.

Links

Website: www.karentoz.com
Blog: http://kptoz.blogspot.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenptoz
Twitter: www.twitter.com/karentoz
Amazon: http://bit.ly/NRTSamazon
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/NRSchoolBN
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5009570.Karen_Pokras_Toz

I received an e-copy of this book from the author through GWR Publicity. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection giveaway:

A Nate Rocks Swag Pack. 

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Rules for the TC&TBC giveaway

1) Visit Karen’s website at www.karentoz.com and leave a comment at this post telling me something you learned while there. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

2) Winners must be 18 years of age or older and reside in the United States.

3) Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative.

Grand Prize: One reader will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card and Nate Rocks Swag Pack.

Grand Prize Rafflecopter visit below link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

blog tour

Nate Rocks the Boat by Karen Pokras Toz

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The adventures and imaginations of Nate Rockledge continue in Nate Rocks the Boat by Karen Pokras Toz.

Having survived fourth grade, Nate is looking forward to spending an entire summer with his friends. His parents have decided he’ll be spending his summer a different way, however–at an overnight summer camp with his older sister, Abby. Ugh! At least he’ll have his best friend Tommy to tag along with. Best of all, his trusty sketchpad can transform him into Nate Rocks, a 10-year-old extraordinaire who battles snakes, floods, ghosts, and criminals.

I was impressed with the first book in this series, Nate Rocks the World, so when I heard Toz had a new book out, I made sure to ask for a copy. This is a middle grade adventure story with a heavy dose of humor. Poor Nate has a mother who can’t cook, an annoying older sister who always tries to ruin things for him, and a father who relives his childhood by telling and retelling numerous stories of his and his brother’s exploits. In this second book of the series, Nate’s plans to hang out at home for the summer get tossed in the air when his mother announces he and Abby are going to summer camp for the next six weeks.

Doesn’t everyone have one of those summer camp horror stories? I know I do. Right off the bat, I want to learn more. Toz relies on her trademark style of imagination, adventure, and humor to bring this story to life. With Camp Spring Ridge counselors, color wars, a no-neck bully, and dining room duty, Nate has a lot going on. Toz immerses the reader in that summer camp experience with a ton of laughs, some Nate Rocks adventures, and a few battle of the sexes antics. This, along with a surprise ending, will keep readers zooming through the pages.

This is a perfect series for reluctant readers and those who enjoy funny adventure stories.

Look for my review of the latest Nate Rocks book tomorrow, Nate Rocks the School.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: Grand Daisy Press (April 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984860819
ISBN-13: 978-0984860814

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Top 10 Middle Grade and Young Adult Books of 2011

I’ve had such a difficult time picking favorites this year. There are so many books that can make these lists–like I mentioned over at The Book Connection–when I posted my Top 10 for that blog earlier today. I didn’t read as many books in the middle grade and young adult categories as I would have liked to this year, but I’m hoping to focus a bit more on those in 2012. It all depends upon my schedule and the requests I receive.

Sometimes reviewers are lucky when compiling their Top 10, and one book stands out amongst the rest. That is certainly the case for this list. Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander is my favorite in the MG/YA categories for 2011. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a peasant girl from opposing villages who must work to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that  threatens to destroy them.  With wonderful, well-drawn characters and a superb plot, Once We Were Kings  takes top honors this year.

While not a huge lover of this genre, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon excellent fantasy titles for young readers over the past couple of years. I look forward to finding more.

Here are other favorites from 2011:

2. Vorak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible

3.  Horrid Henry Rocks by Francesca Simon

4.  Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead by Francesca Simon

5.  Bad Spelling by Marv Dasef

6. Peter Rock Star from Galilee: A Guided Bible Study for Teens by Sherree Funk

7. The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

8. Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane

9. Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

10. True Grime by Natasha Deen

Look for  my list for favorite picture books coming soon!

Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

If you were to blend Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you might come close to what you find in Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz.

Life is rough for ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge. He’s not very popular at school. He’s tortured by his older sister, Abby. His mother thinks she’s Julia Childs and Martha Stewart combined when she can’t cook or sew, and his father insists upon retelling stories from his own childhood over and again. But with his sketch pad and a healthy dose of imagination, he can become Nate Rocks, a hero who can do anything.

This is a fascinating and fun story that middle grade boys are going to love. Nate can’t catch a break. School is painful at best, especially when he gets paired up with Lisa Crane for a science project. Nate’s mom and Lisa’s mom are good friends, so he better be on his best behavior or someone is going to hear about it. He’s got a best friend, Tommy, but when they’re together things just don’t seem to go their way. His sister Abby is a royal pain in the neck, but their parents are always asking for his understanding while she goes through a phase. Even the family vacation can’t turn out right if he’s around.

What makes it all bearable is Nate’s ability to totally get lost in his drawing, daydreaming of how he becomes Nate Rocks and can do anything. He can help Captain Asteroid defeat the evil Dr.  Shadow. His great baseball skills can turn the Phillies into a championship team. He can even save the neighbor’s dog from a burning house.

Toz definitely has a finger on the pulse of this market. She knows what’s exciting to them and uses it to create a page-turner that will leave them wanting more. There were a couple of places I felt a bit lost in the transitions between Nate’s reality and his daydreaming, but overall the story flows smoothly. I could definitely see Nate Rocks the World as a movie–a very funny movie.

The author mentioned to me that she’s busy at work on the sequel. I can’t wait!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:CreateSpace
  • ISBN-10:1463510829
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463510824
  • SRP:  $7.99
  • Also available in a Kindle edition

I received a FREE Kindle version of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. The author paid me to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to provide my opinion.