The Neptune Project is an adventurous tale with a lot of action. There are countless underwater battles with soldiers, with sharks, with a sea dwellin...moreThe Neptune Project is an adventurous tale with a lot of action. There are countless underwater battles with soldiers, with sharks, with a sea dwelling gang, and even a giant squid. This tells the story of a group of genetically altered kids who have to make their way to a colony that has been designed to find a way to make a better life for humans trying to survive a world suffering from famine, plague, and overheating. They are accompanied by a pod of dolphins who the main character, Nere, grew up with. Even with all the action, the pacing seemed off to me. A lot of time was spent on scenes that could have been shorter, and the end was super rushed. I think this is the first in a series, but even then the end was too rushed and left too many plot threads (DAI!!!) dangling without enough closure. I also found myself distracted by minor details about how the movement worked under water (and how they were capable of laying down on anything). This certainly has enough adventure and action to appeal to kids who like plots with those things in abundance. Readers who prefer more thorough character development may find themselves frustrated.(less)
This has a fun concept, but I couldn't help but feel it was only half of a book. True a sasquatch escapes and is found so it does have something of a...moreThis has a fun concept, but I couldn't help but feel it was only half of a book. True a sasquatch escapes and is found so it does have something of a plot arc, but it was mostly just set up for what I'm assuming is going to be a series of books about the kids working as apprentices for the Imaginary Vet. I didn't feel like I got to know either of the characters well and was left wanting more in the end. (less)
If this book had not been nominated for a Cybils award, I probably never would have read it. It wouldn't have been on my radar. That would have been s...moreIf this book had not been nominated for a Cybils award, I probably never would have read it. It wouldn't have been on my radar. That would have been so sad, because it is an excellent book in every way. Tingle tells the tale of one young Choctow boy on The Trail of Tears and how he died. Despite the subject matter it is a hopeful story. I liked how so much historical fact and detail was included as well as details about the Choctow people. The story is fast paced with quite a lot of adventure. The harsh realities of the Trail of Tears are not glossed over, but they are not gruesomely described either. I'm so happy to have discovered this before my daughter studies this time period in history. This will certainly be a book I have her read.(less)
I don't think non-lovers of political intrigue books will enjoy this one, and lovers of the genre are going to know there's better stuff out there. It...moreI don't think non-lovers of political intrigue books will enjoy this one, and lovers of the genre are going to know there's better stuff out there. It wasn't bad, just a bit predictable. I had a hard time connecting with the characters but that may because I had not read the previous two books. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
Rose by Holly Webb is a book I may have missed out on entirely if it had not been nominated...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
Rose by Holly Webb is a book I may have missed out on entirely if it had not been nominated for the Cybils and that would have been tragic. This book has so many elements I love to find in a fantasy story and Webb brings them all together so well.
Rose is wonderful. I love how simple and practical she is. All she wants is to earn a decent living and be proud of the work she does to earn it. When she begins to show signs that she has the ability to do magic, she wants no part of it. She just wants to be a regular girl. She is a courageous and righteous though, and when children begin disappearing and she is required to use her magic to solve the mystery she jumps at the chance. Rose has an equally wonderful supporting cast backing her up, from the rest of the household servants to her master's snooty apprentice and spoiled brat daughter. She even has the help of a magical cat named Gus, who is one of the best talking animal characters ever. I am impressed by how well Webb drew all these characters. I felt like each had a distinct personality and I really knew them. It is not easy to do that in the space of a short book with such a full plot, but she did it.
The story is delightful in every way. Taking place in an alternate Victorian England, the book includes the orphan with special abilities, a magical mystery, and a truly awful villain. I enjoyed that Rose was not plucked from the orphanage because of her magic. I like that she was chosen because her "special" talent was hard work. Lucky for her she ended up in the household of the King's most trusted alchemist so she is able to learn about her powers more. The villain's goal is not a surprising one, but the methods employed to achieve it are not for the easily sickened or grossed out. I enjoyed the real sense of danger this added to the story. It kept it from being too sweet, and made the stakes higher.
This is not a long book and the language is such that readers at the younger end of the MG audience will enjoy it, and it works well for older readers too. It certainly worked perfectly for this one. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
A review featuring Bit, age 9.
I didn't want to read The Storybook of Legends. On the one ha...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
A review featuring Bit, age 9.
I didn't want to read The Storybook of Legends. On the one hand, it's by Shannon Hale and I often like her books. On the other, it is a commissioned series to go with a line of dolls produced by Mattel. Ugh. But it was nominated for the Cybils and then Bit found the book in the Scholastic flyer and had to have it. (She misses having a fairy tale series to follow since The Sisters Grimm has ended.) Anyway the book came to our house, we both read it, and had different reactions.
Bit's Thoughts I really like The Storybook of Legends. I knew from the first page I would love it. I love stories based on fairy tales and I think it's so cute how she combined modern life with fairy tales. My favorite character is Raven. I like Raven because she is smart and sarcastic. I admire her bravery and ability to question what everyone thinks is true. I also like Madeleine Hatter. Maddie is funny and she's Raven's best friend. I really want to read more.
My Thoughts I agree with Bit on a couple of her points. Raven is a wonderful heroine. She is brave, smart, questioning, and a bit of a rebel. Her desperate desire to write her own story and not be her mother's daughter combined with the thrill she sort of gets when she realizes the potential of her power make for a nuanced and layered character. Maddie Hatter is a great friend and supporter to have on her side too. She is the kind of friend anyone would want to have on their side. Apple White, the girl Raven is destined to poison, is a perfect foil for Raven. I think we are supposed to consider both of them protagonists, but I just couldn't do that. Apple works as a foil, highlighting Raven's different personality traits and filling in her character. She doesn't stand on her own as much of a character yet. The story Hale tells here is, at its heart, a good one. I love the themes of questioning tradition, self-discovery, independent thought, and courage that play out in the course of the plot.
My main problem with the book was how formulaic it was. How it clearly was set up to sell a product. The inner workings of the world building here make little sense if examined too closely. All these characters kids are almost the exact same age or close to it. And shouldn't there be quite a lot of incest and marrying of cousins happening amongst the Royal set since they keep reliving their parents stories? Yet few of the princes and princesses are actually related. Where are these people coming from? Another thing that bothered me, as much as it enchanted Bit, were the working in of modern pop culture. The kids have "mirror pods" and listen to "Tailor Quick" and "One Reflection" singing "You Don't Know Your Charming". (My eyes almost got stuck in my head I rolled them so hard.) It also overuses cutesy phrases. Text becomes Hext in every usage. "I'll hext you later!" "I lost my hextbook."
Given what this is, it is done as well as it could be I think. I asked Bit if she wanted to participate in this review to highlight how the target audience is eating it up. Most of the girls on Bit's swim team discovered this over their fall break and everyone was talking about it at practice when they returned, delighted that they had found it and that their friends had read it too. (These girls range in age from 9 to 12. Target demographic achieved.) I would have loved this as a kid too I think, and it will certainly be a thing. I truly hope that reading this series will push girls to read Hale's other books too, which have the same strong heroines and amazing themes but with fewer plastic sparkle components. (less)