In the Bookcase


Book Series Review: Return to Titanic

Return to Titanic (Series)
#1 Time Voyage, #2 Stowaways, #3 An Unsinkable Ship, #4 Overboard

written by Steve Brezenoff

4-book series, children's fiction
published in 2012

5 Star Rating

My Review...

Return to Titanic is a set of 4 books about a couple of modern-day 14-year-old kids who are whisked back through time to experience the Titanic's first -- and only -- voyage.

After reading just the first book, I was most definitely "on board" with the plot Brezenoff created! He has interwoven the important facts of the RMS Titanic into a relatable story that kids today will understand and relate to... and they'll even enjoy learning about history this way. In a similar way to the popular Magic Tree House series, two friends, Tucker and Maya, are in a museum warehouse in 2012 one minute... and open their eyes in 1912 the next.

In Book #1, Time Voyage, Tucker and Maya arrive on board Titanic, interact with other passengers and learn true facts about the giant ship... even meeting important people who were aboard. The element of time travel used in the book will intrigue young readers, and they'll be gaining historical knowledge without even realizing it.

Book #2, Stowaways, picks up where the first left off... the 2nd day of Spring Break. All Maya and Tucker want to do is get the chance to visit the Titanic again. I enjoyed how Book #2 shows young readers how large the ship really was, by telling of Maya and Tucker's adventure on board. It also accurately captures the essence of 1912 finery and fashion, and then comparing it to how the 3rd-class passengers were poorly treated and restricted. The author did such a good job with this series by showcasing some of the important historical figures concerning the Titanic's story.

In Book #3, An Unsinkable Ship, Tucker and Maya, the two brave friends, want to visit the sinking ship again, in an effort to save the life of their new friend, Liam, whose family is aboard. Along the way, readers will learn more details about the interesting history of the giant ship, including some of the famous passengers aboard, like the millionaire John Jacob Astor and his wife. Particulars about the segregation of different classes of passengers are revealed too.

Book #4, Overboard, This last book chronicled the actual sinking of the ship well. So many accurate facts were included about the lifeboats, rescue and the final disembarkation. I love the futuristic twist these books have, because the modern-day kids go back in time 100 years to the time of Titanic's maiden voyage (I think this is what really sells the history to youngsters).

Steve Brezenoff has written a great account of the epic shipwreck, fitting in lots of details that young readers will latch onto and remember about the RMS Titanic. Overall, a very cool book series that kids will enjoy learning from (whether they realize it or not!).

The series is written for a 3rd grade reading level, although slightly older readers would probably enjoy breezing through the series too (like myself, obviously). Each book is only about 100 pages long. Little children could easily enjoy this as a read-aloud with parents too, because there are so many pages with cool illustrations to look at. The artwork certainly added some great features to the story.

Recommended for ages 8-11.

These books are a good read, packed with fun facts! Definitely a great series!


Book Review: Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost
Book #2 of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series

written by Iain Reading

246 pages, young adult fiction
published in 2013

5 Star Rating

My Review...

19-year-old Kitty Hawk, fan of Amelia Earhart, and fellow aviatrix, is at the starting line for a long journey. With a pilot's license in hand, and with her very own De Havilland Beaver seaplane, she can travel anywhere to satisfy her desire to see the world. What better way to do that than to follow the same trail that Amelia Earhart had mapped out decades before?

Before setting out across the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, Kitty Hawk takes a rest stop in the lower Florida Keys. Her main plan is to visit Key West and then camp out for a few days at the Dry Tortugas National Park in Fort Jefferson, a coastal fortress. (I think it sounds like the ideal vacation.) Kitty experiences many amazing things in the area like visiting author Ernest Hemingway's house, taking a swim around Fort Jefferson, exploring the Dry Tortugas... and, of course... stumbling across a giant mystery brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before you know it, our heroine is deeply intertwined in a sea of secrets, clues and riddles. She's always ready for action, even after midnight when it is too dark to see a thing. It must be terribly exciting to be like Kitty and have a plane ready at your disposal, for anytime you might need an escape plan, or to, you know, do something crazy like track down criminals.

To me, as a person fascinated with maritime history, this book made for a particularly amazing read; the reader gains so much knowledge about some of the famous shipwrecks in the Florida Keys. Not to give away much of the plot here, but one (yes, one) of the mysteries Kitty gets entangled in has to do with the rich history behind Fort Jefferson and the ships that might once have docked there. Combining American history with sunken treasure and some interesting Hemingway tidbits, Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost is a thrilling mystery novel.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: Some minor language is used throughout the book.

I love how detailed that Iain Reading is in writing his stories, as he combines history, fiction and adventure together as one.

One thing I know for sure, I've now been convinced that I need read some of Ernest Hemingway's books -- probably starting with The Old Man and The Sea.

Thanks to the author and Book Publicity Services for the free book.

Kitty Hawk series

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.
Iain is also the author of The Wizards of Waterfire Series. The first book in the series The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire was published in April 2014. Also check out one of Iain's newest books, The Dragon of the Month Club, published December 2013.
Connect with Iain on Twitter and Goodreads.


Book Review: Eyewitness to Titanic

Eyewitness to Titanic Eyewitness to Titanic
From Building the Great Ship to the Search for Its Watery Grave

written by Terri Dougherty, Sean Price, Sean McCollum

162 pages, non-fiction (ages 10 & up)
published in 2015

5 Star Rating

To start this review off -- I've read a lot of books about the RMS Titanic (as readers of my blog already know) and I have personally learned much about its history. So going into this particular book, I wasn't exactly sure how "Eyewitness to Titanic" could be much different, but I have to say... it is UNIQUE in its own way, and I truly enjoyed it.

Here's the deal: This books offers tidbits of information on everything there is to know about the ill-fated ship, RMS Titanic. How does this differ from other non-fiction Titanic titles on the market? Most other books may center on only one of the topics touched in "Eyewitness". For example, one book may focus only on the history behind the ship, while another book may tell about the passengers' lives, the crew, or Dr. Ballard's discovery of the shipwreck. (I know this, because I've personally read all those individual types of books.) But instead of reading 4+ different books to get the overall facts about Titanic... READ THIS ONE FIRST. It's an excellent starting place, and it makes for light reading material. Or try it out even if you are already familiar with the Titanic, because it might bring out a few impressive points you hadn't heard of yet -- as it did for me!

"Eyewitness to Titanic" is perfect for both children and adults. It covers the most basic information you need to know, and serves it to you in an easy-to-read manner. You won't drown in a sea of words in this book (AKA, plenty of pictures and visual content). After reading it, (if you have an inquisitive mind like my own!) you'll want to graduate into the bigger, in-depth books to find out the details behind your favorite part of the story. Perhaps you'll be more drawn to the building process, the iceberg, the aftermath of the tragedy, or the hunt for the wreck decades later. Regardless, it's all in there, ready for you to explore.

What I love: All 162 pages feature good information and fascinating facts. There are dozens of photos and illustrations to really set the scene and help the reader dive into the Titanic and her history. In addition, there are plenty of charts, lists, short quotes, quick facts and other types of content to keep one interested. Not only will you learn about the history of the ship, the architecture, and building process, you'll also have a chance to meet passengers aboard the ship and come in contact with the personal side of the disaster too.

The boat was so luxurious...

Keep in mind, April is always an excellent month to read a book on the Titanic to commemorate the anniversary, since the tragedy happened on April 14-15. 2015 marks the 103rd anniversary since the fatal disaster.

The bottom-line: This is the perfect starter guide for a person with an interest in learning about The Unsinkable Ship, or as a refresher course for someone who already has been studying the Titanic. Since the book is packed with so many morsels of history, it's worth an occasional perusal after the initial reading too.

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers for the free ebook.

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.