If you discovered a world where those you've lost wait for you - happy and whole and ready to play board games and go on scavenger hunts and make yourIf you discovered a world where those you've lost wait for you - happy and whole and ready to play board games and go on scavenger hunts and make your favorite lunch - would you go, leaving the real world and everyone in it behind? Twelve-year old Charlie Price is reeling from the recent death of his mother, which has left him angry, brokenhearted, and lost. When his younger sister discovers a portal beneath her bed, the siblings find themselves drawn to the magical place.. a place where their mother still lives. It's happily ever after... or is it? Tackling universal themes of familial love, friendship, and grief, Jennifer Maschari's middle grade debut will stay with readers long after the final page....more
Vika Andreyev has spent her entire life in comfortable seclusion with her father, training to be Royal Enchanter. In the capital city of St. PetersburVika Andreyev has spent her entire life in comfortable seclusion with her father, training to be Royal Enchanter. In the capital city of St. Petersburg, Nikolai Karimov has been raised in a cold, unforgiving household, also believing that he will one day be Royal Enchanter. The two powerful, yet vastly different enchanters are pitted against one another in a competition that means respect and success for one and death for the other. Against their better judgment a grudging respect, then an undeniable chemistry blossoms between Vika and Nikolai, further complicating an already high stakes game.
The Crown's Game is a gorgeous and richly imagined novel set in an alternate Russia where magic, though outlawed, is necessary for the crown to maintain power and control. From the first pages I was drawn to the complicated existence of Vika and Nikolai, two deeply flawed individuals who know they must be ruthless to survive, but find they cannot. In the midst of a deadly competition, our heroes inspire wonder, hope, and - perhaps most unexpected of all - love. Set against a fantastical backdrop, The Crown's Game is a dazzling exploration of the choices we make when faced with impossible situations and our darker selves. Readers will fall unabashedly in love with this novel....more
Tori Spring has a bad attitude. She knows it and she doesn’t especially care. She’s surrounded by people she doesn’t like and would much rather spendTori Spring has a bad attitude. She knows it and she doesn’t especially care. She’s surrounded by people she doesn’t like and would much rather spend her time solo, blogging or sleeping. Enter Michael Holden, a cheerful transfer student who is annoyingly determined to be Tori’s friend, despite the fact that she is clearly uninterested. Things get marginally more interesting when a group of hackers calling themselves Solitaire begin executing elaborate pranks that shake things up at school. But, as the pranks begin curiously connection to Tori and taking on a dangerous edge, she finds herself reevaluating some things about herself and her relationships with others, especially Michael. This debut from Alice Oseman may have an unbelievable premise, but the characters and feelings are devastatingly real. Many readers will see themselves in Tori and cheer for her happy ending....more
In this new picture book from Michael Hall, one crayon has spent his whole life believing he’s red, until the day a new friend allows him to see beyonIn this new picture book from Michael Hall, one crayon has spent his whole life believing he’s red, until the day a new friend allows him to see beyond his label and realize he’s been blue all along. This book looks deceptively simple, but, underneath the cover, readers young and old will find an inspiring story about joy of being true to oneself. I want to hand this book to everyone who walks through the door....more
The best thing about Marion Jensen's Super books? I always know that I'll spend most of the book laughing!
I was a huge fan of Almost Super, which releThe best thing about Marion Jensen's Super books? I always know that I'll spend most of the book laughing!
I was a huge fan of Almost Super, which released early in 2014, and was excited to hear that the Baileys and Johnsons would be returning to continue their battle with the supervillain Joneses in 2015. This second book picks up shortly after the events of book one, following a catastrophe that left the superhero families robbed of their superpowers. Needless to say, moral is low in the superhero camps. But Benny, Rafter, and Juanita know that real superheroes don't let adversity - or missing powers - stand in their way. So, instead of hunkering down, they think outside the box, finding an alternative solutions.
One of the driving forces behind these books is friendship and family. I love that the three main characters are the catalysts for change within their families and the superhero community, rather than the adults. And, even though they sometimes get into more trouble than they bargained for, they are willing to try new things and collaborate.
While readers could probably start with this book and puzzle their way through any missing information from book 1, I'd recommend starting with Almost Super. This will prevent any plot holes and give readers a better understanding of the dynamics between the Baileys and Johnsons, an element I think really make these books shine.
I'm loving that some of my favorite YA authors - Carrie Ryan and now Diana Peterfreud - are branching out into the MG genre. This MG debut from PeterfI'm loving that some of my favorite YA authors - Carrie Ryan and now Diana Peterfreud - are branching out into the MG genre. This MG debut from Peterfreud is an action-packed adventure story that brings together an engaging cast of characters who must escape the clutches of a dangerous foe while navigating the dilapidated remains of a secret underground bunker.
Like many MG action/adventure stories, Omega City follows a group of kids who must take down the bad guys without the help of parents or adults. What I liked about Peterfreund's take is that there's a teenaged boy a handful of years older than the core group of kids who is reluctantly pulled into the fight as well. In truth, I might have just liked that he was included as he provided a sort of comic relief. He's the protective older brother of Howard, the member of the group that is arguably the most obviously nerdy, and the pizza delivery guy that one of girls has a ridiculously huge crush on. I loved these little side elements that had little to do with the scifi plot of the novel, but served to add some dimension to the characters.
As I mentioned Howard is the character that, at first, seems a bit nerdy and weird. But, what I loved about this novel is that, as it progressed, it was clear that each of the kids had their special strengths and passions and that being nerdy is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, being nerdy can be pretty darn cool. Even Savannah, who, at first, acts like she's above being smart and passionate about things other than boys, eventually realizes that being yourself - nerdiness and all - is infinitely more fun.
Most of the novel is set in Omega City, the secret underground bunker built by the genius Dr. Underberg before his mysterious disappearance. Peterfreud's descriptions of the underground city and the cultural markers with nods to the decade in which it would have been built, well before the present of our intrepid main characters, were spot on. I loved that this setting allowed Peterfreund to reference interesting bits of history as well as provide a fast paced scifi adventure.
Fans of Tony Abbot's Copernicus Legacy and Matthew Kirby's Spell Robbers or The Arctic Code will enjoy this book's premise and pacing. I'm hoping that there will be more MG from Peterfreund in the future!...more
Aref is already homesick for Muscat and he hasn't even left yet. Forced by his parents to relocate to the foreign world of Ann Arbor, Michigan from OmAref is already homesick for Muscat and he hasn't even left yet. Forced by his parents to relocate to the foreign world of Ann Arbor, Michigan from Oman, Aref can't help but fixate on all the things he must leave behind: his friends, his grandfather, and the sights and smells of Oman. The one small thing that brings him comfort is a pamphlet detailing the turtles native to Michigan, different, yet the same as the giant sea turtles he has come to love in Oman. With the help of his grandfather, Aref prepares to leave the comfort of Oman behind and embrace the adventure that awaits him in Michigan.
The Turtle of Oman is a smart little novel that successfully illustrates that differences in culture and location are no match for universal feelings of fear, familial love, and the anxiety of starting over in a new place.
Though it takes him some time to admit it, one of Aref's biggest fears is that he will not be accepted in Michigan; that the way he speaks, dresses, and acts will set him apart and prevent him from making friends. Eventually, he realizes that, in Oman, he is used to meeting and accepting Americans who are far from home and it has never once prevented him from welcoming them and embracing them. Also helpful is easing his fears are messages from his father, who has already left for Michigan, detailing the excitement and cultural diversity he's been enjoying in Ann Arbor.
In order to process and accept the move, Aref researches Michigan, attempting to connect with the place that will soon be his home. He makes lists with details about the customs and wildlife and, little by little, he finds that Michigan might not be such a horrible place after all; different, he realizes, does not equal bad.
Though there are many things Aref is loathe to leave behind, his grandfather is perhaps the most difficult. No one understands and listens to Aref like Sidi and he cannot fathom being separated from him for three whole years. It is Sidi who Aref spends his final days in Oman with, making memories that he can carry with him to Michigan, bouyed by the promise that Sidi will hone his email skills so that he and Aref can always be close, even when they are separated by oceans. I adored Aref's grandfather, a wise old man who recognized the adventure that awaited Aref, as well as the importance of experiencing different cultures and places.
Charlie C. Cooper is back and, this time, she's determined to take on Hollywood. After rescuing Marta in Houdini's LA tunnels, Charlie is catapulted iCharlie C. Cooper is back and, this time, she's determined to take on Hollywood. After rescuing Marta in Houdini's LA tunnels, Charlie is catapulted into the media spotlight. She scores an agent who promises that he can use her hero status and cheeky personality to secure her fame, fortune, and a television role. Does Charlie have what it takes to be an actress? She must decide which is more important: family and friendship or being a star.
Watch Out, Hollywood is technically the sequel to Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, but it functions well as a standalone as well. I started with this second novel, but author Maria T. Lennon includes multiple mentions of events from book one, so it was easy to piece together the events that have led to Charlie's hero status and her super inflated ego at the beginning of Watch Out, Hollywood.
Charlie is the middle child, which means she has a mean case of the 'middle child syndrome.' Her older sister is always doing something great and worthy of praise and her younger sibling gets attention for being cute and adorable, which leaves Charlies with a fair amount of insecurity and a drive to impress and garner attention.
In this particular book, Charlie, a reformed bully and recent hero, is determined to become a Hollywood starlet, even if that means faking superior gymnastics skills (which is proving more difficult than she first anticipated) and betraying the trust of her friends. She struggles to decide who she wants to be, with her definition of success, and with the morality of her actions. She puts many of her friendships in jeopardy and some of her old bully tendencies rear their ugly heads.
Though this book does have some more serious underlying themes, they aren't forced up on the reader. Instead, Watch Out, Hollywood focuses on Charlie's often ridiculous exploits, causing more laughter than introspection....more
A coded email and an untimely death pull Wade and his friends into a high-stakes battle against a centuries old shadow organization that has them unraA coded email and an untimely death pull Wade and his friends into a high-stakes battle against a centuries old shadow organization that has them unraveling cryptic clues, consulting history, and racing against time. The Copernicus Legacy will be loved by fans of Rick Riordan's novels, as it features humor, plenty of action, and a group of friends that have the means and the will to save the day.
Though this book has been compared to Dan Brown's novels (rightfully so), it also reminds me a bit of the overarching plot of the show Alias. An ancient historical figure, in this case Copernicus, a revolutionary years and years ahead of his time, organized a protective society and a high stakes set of clues that lead our heroes across the globe and pits them against dangerous and deadly foes. Switch super spy Sydney Bristow for a foursome of uniquely talented, but otherwise normal kids and you've got The Copernicus Legacy.
I loved that the villains in The Forbidden Stone were actually villainous. There's evidence of them assassinating adults that get in their way and it's clear that they have no qualms about taking out the kids (if only they could catch them!). Of course, that isn't to say this book is especially violent - there is loss of life but the main characters always arrives after the fact and there is little detail. It isn't about the actual death (or even gore), it's about amplifying the intensity and importance of the kids' mission.
There also seems to be evidence of the beginnings of a back story for the lead villain, which I especially look forward to. Villains are much more believable and compelling when the reader has an inkling of what drives them.
I'm very much looking forward to the future installments of this series. There are twelve books planned, alternating between a full novel and smaller, specific character driven novel, so it looks like this series will keep fans busy for quite some time....more