Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab is one cool book!
It is filled with action, adventure, and mystery based on twins Nick and Tesla. The duo hasNick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab is one cool book!
It is filled with action, adventure, and mystery based on twins Nick and Tesla. The duo has been shipped off to their crazy Uncle Newt's house for the summer while their parents study soybeans. Newt, like their parents, is a scientist. But, Newt is more like a mad scientist and has a lab he's willing to share with the kids.
The story itself is fun and well written, but what really sets it apart is the inclusion of science experiments that readers can make at home. The experiments are objects from the story that Nick and Tesla make, as well.
With High Voltage, authors "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hocksmith have made learning about science fun and entertaining. I can't wait to read book 2, Nick and Tesla's Robot Rampage Army when it releases in February 2014....more
Brandon Mull is a master at creating fantastical worlds full of adventure and mystery, so it is no surprise that he has done so again in Wild Born.
TheBrandon Mull is a master at creating fantastical worlds full of adventure and mystery, so it is no surprise that he has done so again in Wild Born.
The story kicks off the Spirit Animals series, so there are a lot of introductions at the beginning of the book. We meet the world in Erdas, which is divided into 4 very different lands: Zhong, which is similar to Asia; Nilo, Erdas' African counterpart; and Amaya and Eura, which both sound similar to Europe. Maybe one is more similar to Australia? It doesn't really matter either way, it just gives you a good idea of the lands' general make up and culture. What ties these lands together is their citizens' ability to potentially summon a spirit animal. Mull did a great job at creating a world that a middle-grade reader would be able to relate to, but it also has a lot of fantasy elements that make it more exciting.
We also meet Conor (from Eura), Abeke (from Nilo), Meilin (from Zhong), and Rollan (from Amaya). As you may have guessed by the novel's summary, they summon a spirit animal, which is not unusual in Erdas. What makes this quartet special is that they each summoned one of the 4 fallen spirit animals, which gives them even greater powers than the usual spirit animal.
Each child, like their spirit animal and the area they are from, is very different. But the group will be forced to work together to defeat the Devourer, an evil being attacking and attempting to control Erdas. The children will have to choose sides in the fight and determine who is telling them the truth.
There is a lot of action in Wild Born as well as political intrigue, and I have already mentioned that the fantasy element of the story is great. I liked the book, but didn't love it because I was hoping for something that would keep me on the edge of my seat, and Wild Born didn't do that. It was a great, fun story that did a good job at kicking off the series and a middle-grade reader would probably enjoy it a little more than I did....more
A very unique and mysterious take on the myth of the lost continent of Atlantis, Teardrop had me sucked in and speed reading to discover what would haA very unique and mysterious take on the myth of the lost continent of Atlantis, Teardrop had me sucked in and speed reading to discover what would happen next.
Having read Lauren Kate's previous series, Fallen, I was a little leery of beginning this one. I liked the other series, but didn't love it and wasn't sure where I wanted to prioritize this story in my to-read list. It turns out, though, that I am so glad I couldn't resist that gorgeous water dress on the cover and opened the book.
Eureka Boudreaux is unaware of the massive power she holds, but others (the Seedbearers) are aware of her and have made it their mission to get rid of her by any means necessary. Eureka is strong without falling to whiny fits that I found horribly annoying in the Fallen series. She is a young woman who takes steps to make her own destiny instead of waiting for to do it for her and she has excellent instincts. Her friends are equally non-annoying and I just love that fact that there isn't a character that irritated me. This is not to say that I thought all decisions all the characters made were good choices; I found that even though Kate has crafted her story with common types of characters (the love triangle, the supportive best friend, the evil stepmother, etc.), they all had their own thing going on so that they were more dimensional than just that role.
There is also a lot of mystery surrounding Eurkea, the Seedbearers (who are very creepy, and I just can't get past their name. Yuck!), and Atlantis. Kate was smart to choose a myth that isn't as over-explored as the more common Greek myths. I'm not sure how much she played with it or made it her own, but I can tell you that what ever she did worked--thus far anyway. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel, especially with the cliffhanger ending. I'm waiting with a bit of trepidation, however, because the second Fallen novel is where the series started to lose it for me. But, as much as I enjoyed Fallen, I liked Teardrop even more so there is no way I'll be able to stay away...more
I'm not sure if The Silver Six is part of a series, but it should be! It is a fun, adventure-packed graphic novel aimed at middle graders.
The story beI'm not sure if The Silver Six is part of a series, but it should be! It is a fun, adventure-packed graphic novel aimed at middle graders.
The story begins by with an explosion that kills a group of promising scientists and then follows our main hero, Phoebe. She is a kick-butt orphan surviving on her own until she is discovered by her enemy and hunted down at school. After she is sent to an orphanage, Phoebe meets up with 5 other kids who have similar stories and the real action begins.
Lieberman has captured a huge range of emotions with just a few words, and it is amazing. The despair of a dystopian society, the anger of youth, the evil of Craven, and the comfort only friends and family can provide is all delivered so naturally--it is one of the best graphic novels I've read....more
Fun and funny immediately came to mind when I was started thinking about Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown.
An excellent example of how one doorFun and funny immediately came to mind when I was started thinking about Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown.
An excellent example of how one door closing leads to another one opening, Jedi Academy follows Roan, a middle schooler who is devestated to learn that he is not accepted into the Pilot Academy, but has gained admission into the Jedi Acdemy. Readers accompany Roan as he adjusts to a new school away from his family and friends and deals with being a middle schooler.
Both the pictures and dialog in the comics are excellent; they are infused with humor, intelligence, and emotion. In addition to the comics, there are "official documents" from Roan's schooling, like report cards, Roan's journal entries, and his notebook doodles to add even more personality to the book and provide a little more meat into what would otherwise be a super fast read.
Brown does a fabulous job at capturing the characters at middle school age. It's funny to see some of the Sith as the bullies and a wookie as the gym teacher.
Star Wars: Jedi Academy will appeal to any Star Wars fan young or old....more
With a major in Art History and a study abroad in Paris under my belt, I figured Starry Nights is right up my alley. Add in a magical world in which pWith a major in Art History and a study abroad in Paris under my belt, I figured Starry Nights is right up my alley. Add in a magical world in which paintings come to live and I was set to adore Daisy Whitney's new book. Unfortunately, I didn't.
The story is set in Paris, a city obviously well known for all of its art. While the city itself has enough history to enhance any type of magical story, as do the museums Le Louvre and Musee D'Orsay , Whitney doesn't delve into the setting that much. There are brief descriptions of a couple of neighborhoods, but otherwise, Starry Night could have taken place in any museum in any city.
Painting coming to life should be--at the very least--exciting and magical, but I did not feel that excitement in the story. Even as Julien is beginning to fall for the girl in the painting, I found myself beginning not to care. For me, Julien was not relatable, even when he was in love. It made the book get a little cuter, but not enough to encourage me to finish. I got 3/4 of the way through and then skimmed the rest because I didn't feel like forcing myself to go on. The book wasn't so bad that I couldn't bear to finish it, I just have a few other things I want to read and lost the motivation to continue....more
What an amazing story! All the Truth That's in Me may be the best book I have read in 2013 so far.
Although it never explicitly says it, All the TruthWhat an amazing story! All the Truth That's in Me may be the best book I have read in 2013 so far.
Although it never explicitly says it, All the Truth That's in Me is set in Puritan New England, which provides the perfect judgmental and superstitious atmosphere for everyone, including Judith's family, to treat her like absolute crap. As the plot summary explains, Judith leaves for two years and when she returns, she is mutilated--her tongue is cut out. Since she cannot tell anyone where she has been or what happened to her friend who also disappeared, she is the town pariah.
Everything is written from Judith's point of view since we need to hear her thoughts, and she is an engaging, multi-dimensional character. There is so much more going on in her head than anyone in Roswell Station gives her credit for. She slowly reveals the truth within her, and it is surprising and unexpected. The way Berry drops in bits of Judith's past like little breadcrumbs and mixes it in with the current troubles in Roswell Station makes the novel read more like a mystery.
Don't be scared off by the historical setting, because it really has little importance to the story. The story is about Judith, first and foremost, so as long as you enjoy character-driven plots with majorly surprising twists and turns, you'll enjoy All the Truth That's in Me....more
In Term Limits, Brad Brown proposes a fix to our countries high divorce rate with term limits. Yes, term limits, like the ones given to elected officiIn Term Limits, Brad Brown proposes a fix to our countries high divorce rate with term limits. Yes, term limits, like the ones given to elected officials. It's definitely out-of-the-box thinking and, while I'm not sure if I'm 100% sold on it, it's one of the better solutions that I've come across. With the Term Limit system, every relationship has a contract with a set expiration date that you can choose to renew, you can alter it with new terms, or you can end the relationship and part ways as per the steps set forth in the contract. It's kind of like a prenup, but what I think works about this plan is that it focuses on a part of the relationship that is a problem for many couple: communication. From the get go, this system forces a couple to discuss areas of importance and possible sources of contention. Once you enter your marriage, there will be no surprise opinions regarding children, money, how much to time to spend with your parents, if you should have date nights, etc. I have to agree with Brown that many people enter relationships without really knowing where his or her partner stands on key issues, which really weakens your union without the couple even realizing it.
Another aspect of the Term Limits system that I liked was how much more the relationship is celebrated. In addition to anniversaries, couples would also celebrate each contract renewal. If you are curious about alternate approaches to the conventional system of marriage, Term Limits is definitely worth the read. It's not long and has a friendly conversational tone with all its ideas completely in layman's terms so you understand any legal terms and Brown's ideas easily....more
Substitute Creature, the fourth installment of the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series by Charles Gilman, pits Robert and his friend Glenn up agSubstitute Creature, the fourth installment of the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series by Charles Gilman, pits Robert and his friend Glenn up against another set of gross but kid-appropriate monsters with edge-of-your-seat action and suspense.
The latest demon-in-disguise is Ms. Carcasse, the substitute librarian who becomes Glenn and Robert's sleepover pal when they are all trapped in the school during a ginormous snow storm. In addition to dealing with Ms. Carcasse, the boys are also suspicious of the crazy janitor, Maniac Mac, another possible threat they are forced to bunk with for the night.
Nefarious creatures aren't the only thing Robert is contending with, however. In this book, he also begins to come to terms with his crush on Karina, the third member of their trio.
Gilman has created yet another creepy tale for middle-grade readers (though older readers will find it enjoyable, as well). If you haven't read the previous three books, you will still be able to jump in and enjoy the story as is, though I suggest starting from the beginning only because this series is so fun....more
A fun look at part of Magnus Bane's past. The ending was rather abrupt, which I did not like. Otherwise, the stories were fun and funny. Working withA fun look at part of Magnus Bane's past. The ending was rather abrupt, which I did not like. Otherwise, the stories were fun and funny. Working with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson has added a lot of snarky humor to a character that is snarky to begun with....more
Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Uppercase Letters is a cute picture book that gives the "backstory" to each letter. Every letter has its own rhyme that desAlphabet Anatomy: Meet the Uppercase Letters is a cute picture book that gives the "backstory" to each letter. Every letter has its own rhyme that describes its shape and a picture that highlights the rhyme and includes other words of that letter.
The rhymes are clever and cute. Children will love them and the Jones did an excellent job of spelling out the features of the letters while keeping it fun. Letter formation can also be introduced with this book, because the rhymes describe the letter's "anatomy" in the stroke order you use while writing. Linda Ann Jones' bio does not say that she was an educator, but she must have been, the book is that well crafted.
This book is perfect for family reading time at home and teachers. I read it once in my Kindergarten classroom and the children have not stopped talking about it.
Up next: Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Lowercase Letters....more
I can’t count how many times a trip into the city has left with me with a lot more drama and adventure than I anticipated and the city seems to treatI can’t count how many times a trip into the city has left with me with a lot more drama and adventure than I anticipated and the city seems to treat Ava and her crew the same way (and then some) in Blood Awakening.
Now that Chance is a vampire, he refuses to speak with Ava. Which she gets (even if she doesn’t like it). To help keep her mind off of him and her eyes off of Erik, the hot vampire hunter she’s beginning to look at as more than a friend, Ava decides to help Kayla search for her dad. And then Ava invites Erik along. So much for space… They head to Boston to begin their search but things heat up when the trio are dealt a few surprises.
The action is fast-paced and kick-ass. It is also well balanced with the angst. Of course, Ava is continually torn between her love for Chance and her burgeoning feelings for Erik and everything that goes along with making a choice between either of them. It’s not all love, lust, and yearning, however. There’s another coven Ava must deal with and the search for Kayla’s dad.
Blood Awakenings left me wanting more! I cannot wait for the third novel, Blood Revelation....more
Creepy, dark, and addicitting, I could not get enough of Spellcaster by Claudia Gray.
The story follows Nadia Caldani as she moves with her dad and broCreepy, dark, and addicitting, I could not get enough of Spellcaster by Claudia Gray.
The story follows Nadia Caldani as she moves with her dad and brother to the small town of Captive's Sound from Chicago. The Caldanis are attempting to escape from the memories of the mother who walked away from them and never looked back. While she's not really interested in making friends, Nadia eventually teams up with Mateo, who she meets in a dramatic fashion and is instantly drawn to, and Verlaine, an extremely lonely girl who is ignored and the victim of cruelty at the hands of her classmates.
A lot of Captive's Sounds residents are introduced, but the story quickly narrows to include Nadia, Mateo, Verlaine, and Elizabeth Pike (Mateo's best friend) fairly quickly. I wish more of Gage, another of Mateo's friends, was included because he seems like a fun, cool guy. Mateo is dark, mysterious, and adorable. Verlaine is quirky, smart, and awesome. Nadia is courageous, beautiful, and strong.
There is an obvious evil in Captive's Sound, which we see as soon as the Caldani's arrive. As a witch, Nadia picks up on its presence immediately and it taints her experience with her new home. This sense of evil is what makes the story so creepy and it gets darker as the plot progresses. Bits of humor are infused into every chapter, however, so the darkness doesn't become depressing or too heavy.
Spellcaster was amazing. The writing, the story, the characters...I loved it all and I cannot wait for the second book in the trilogy, Steadfast. Now I have to re-read Gray's blog posts about the series to see if I can guess what will happen next!...more
It may look like it's just a Rapunzel retelling, but Towering is so much more.
The story follows Wyatt, a high school senior who moves in with his motIt may look like it's just a Rapunzel retelling, but Towering is so much more.
The story follows Wyatt, a high school senior who moves in with his mother's best friend's mom in a tiny town in the Adirondaks to escape a tragedy involving his friend Tyler. After a weird and freaky episode the very first night he arrives in his new home, Tyler develops a tiny obsession with Danielle Greenwood, the missing daughter of the sweet old lady he lives with. He tries to make friends with other teens in town, but is constantly distracted by singing that seems to be brought to him by the wind.
Rachel, on the other hand, lives in a tower in the middle of the woods. The only human contact she has is with Mama, who visits her every night (and gives off a majorly creepy vibe). Her only distractions are books (she is so lonely she kind of befriends the characters) and singing. She longs to break free from her tower, but she is just waiting for the right time.
By intertwining Wyatt and Rachel's stories, Alex Flinn has crafted a creepy, modern mystery that kept me guessing throughout the story. Rachel is no Rapunzel waiting for a prince to rescue her and Wyatt is so real it's like Flinn was writing about a teen I know. Th plot takes a while to get moving, however, and I found the beginning a little confusing due to vague references to past events. The lack of description is to set up the air of mystery and all is revealed later, but I had a hard time loving the beginning and parts of the middle. The end kept me on the edge of my seat, however.
Even if you have not read any other book in this series, you should check out Towering despite my 3 star rating. The Kendra Chronicles stories are independent of each other, so there is no back story to catch up on and the mystery, plus changes to the Rapunzel story make this novel worth reading....more
A modernization of Romeo & Juliet with a paranormal twist, Kimberly Kinrade’s Seduced by Innocence was a fun, fast-paced read.
Rose Witherspoon isA modernization of Romeo & Juliet with a paranormal twist, Kimberly Kinrade’s Seduced by Innocence was a fun, fast-paced read.
Rose Witherspoon is our Juliet, but unlike Shakespeare’s heroine, this teen is a witch with a deadly (well, practically) touch. Romeo is in the form of Derek O’Connor, a member of a clan of shape shifters who war with Rose’s coven. Our modern star-crossed lovers meet when Rose decides to take karate lessons so she can defend herself without using her power and Derek is her sexy instructor. This hot, young couple has an instant connection, but can they overcome the drama that results from their families?
Unlike the Bard’s play, Kinrade shows us the inner-workings of each family. Not only do we meet family and friends of both Derek and Rose, but there is more to the story, as well. Rose and Derek are at an age when they begin to realize that everything they grew up believing may be true, but not in the way they were taught. I’m looking forward to watching Rose in particular deal with her new-found understanding of her coven and its politics as the series progresses.
Seduced by Innocence has it all: romance, steamy scenes that aren’t too hot, action, evil, ties to a play by one of my favorite playwrights. I loved it and am looking forward to reading book 2, Seduced by Pain, which is already out....more