Cast Off interested me right off the bat. I love books that take place on the sea and involve girls pretending to be boys. I like when there are two pCast Off interested me right off the bat. I love books that take place on the sea and involve girls pretending to be boys. I like when there are two point of views as well and was very much interested in both Petra and Bram from the very first pages. Both have had troubled backgrounds but end up banding together despite their differences in gender, class and ethnicity.
Petra is being abused at home and runs away, ending up on a ship while hiding from her father. Bram is the one who discovers her, a boy who is the son of the carpenter for the ship and a mixed ethnicity. He works extra hard to earn the respect of the captain in hopes of gaining a letter that may allow him to finally be a legal Dutch citizen. Until then, he cannot step foot on Dutch soil.
Add in pirates, mutiny and gold and there’s more than enough to keep reading until the end. I really enjoyed the character development and the twists and turns throughout the book. There’s enough blood and guts to keep you reeling a bit from it all, but not overly so. Cast Off seems to balance it’s harsh background with some moments of hope and I really enjoyed the adventure that Bram and Petra embark on.
For lovers of the high seas and strong female characters, this book is a must-read!...more
The Sixth Gun is a western horror graphic novel series. A young woman named Rebecca is pulled into quite a dangerous situation when her father is killThe Sixth Gun is a western horror graphic novel series. A young woman named Rebecca is pulled into quite a dangerous situation when her father is killed and she becomes the wielder of one of six guns, all that have supernatural powers. These guns can only be used by the owners, so to possess one, you must kill the current owner. Our heroine in danger finds the help of Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a past. Together, they must make sure an immortal evil man does not rise again and possess all six guns for himself.
The graphics are incredible and the story so full of life and entertaining. I love the mix of western with horror and paranormal elements. The characters are memorable and I love the dialogue, especially as Rebecca becomes more mature and used to being in danger. I love Drake the most, with his shady past and his very standoffish personality. It’s nice to see that they aren’t thrown into romance in the book, although who knows what further volumes may bring.
This edition contains the first 11 issues plus bonus material and is HUGE. I love how pretty it is and remember it coming in the mail. I will probably reread this book several times, as I loved the story, characters, and graphic design so much.
Verdict: A graphic novel worth taking the time to read, one filled with a mash up of western and horror....more
Gaijin was one of my favorite graphic novels I read for the CYBILs award panel. Taking place during World War II, it’s from the perspective of a half-Gaijin was one of my favorite graphic novels I read for the CYBILs award panel. Taking place during World War II, it’s from the perspective of a half-Japanese teenager who is forced from his home with his mother to live in an internment camp. Suffering from bullying by the other teens in the camp, Koji finds himself trying to fit into the gang and getting into even more trouble. His mother is doing her hardest to stay strong for their family, but Koji seems to think that the men in the camp are taking advantage of her and says some cruel words.
I feel like this part of history is somewhat our dirty little secret here in the United States. While it’s not necessarily left out of the history books, it feels like we did something so similar to the Germans during this war that it is a topic that leaves many uncomfortable. Racism still exists today and it’s sad to look back on this time in history and know what we did was wrong. Suspecting people just because of their race does not justify the cruelty we put our Japanese Americans through during this time period.
The story is well written and the graphic design is amazing. I find Gaijin to be an overall appealing graphic novel that will introduce the topic to middle grade and teen readers who may not realize what it was like to be placed in one of these internment camps.
Verdict: With stunning visual design, this graphic novel transports you back in history, living as a teenager during a turbulent time in America....more
Saving Zasha was another whimsical audiobook read. I must have been out of credits on audible and saw this one at the library. I had been meaning to rSaving Zasha was another whimsical audiobook read. I must have been out of credits on audible and saw this one at the library. I had been meaning to read it because I cannot resist dog books this year. Adding in a historical setting had me hooked and I found I was not disappointed. Mikhail found a wounded man and his dog, but a German dog, which they decided to keep but hidden so it would not be killed. Living in Russia after WWII, the dogs that were German were shot on sight. His father has been MIA for over a year and he is excited for something to bring more joy to his family.
A nosy girl named Katia is often poking her head around their place and questioning them about a dog. Mikhail soon finds out Katia’s own secret and then with the help of a Russian ex-soldier who is training dogs, keeps Zasha safe from those that mean her harm. I really loved this book and the audio was well done. I loved Mikhail’s struggle to be the one who keeps Zasha safe, teaching him responsibility and courage. I love the ending of the book, which I won’t really talk about beyond the fact that I thought it was perfect and realistic.
I think readers who love historical war stories and dog stories combined into one. The aftermath of WWII in other countries is not often a subject I spot in children’s literature and I think this was a wonderful way to show what was happening in Russia at the time. The characters are interesting and the plot keeps you reading.
A mix of historical and dogs, this book is for lovers of both. ...more
The League of Seven is the story of Archie Dent, son of two Septemberists, a secret society dedicated to keeping the Mangleborn at bay. Archie is on hThe League of Seven is the story of Archie Dent, son of two Septemberists, a secret society dedicated to keeping the Mangleborn at bay. Archie is on his way with his parents to the secret site of the Septemberist Society, but they find that the group has been taken over by strange bugs attached to their necks. Archie escapes with his robot, Mr. Rivets and he sets out to set his parents free of the bugs that have taken them over, while trying to stop the Mangleborn from getting free.
On the way he meets Hachi and Fergus, and he realizes the three are part of the new League of Seven, a group that forms every time the Mangleborn start to rise up again. Hachi’s warrior skills are useful in dangerous situations and Fergus is the tinkerer of the group, being able to fix a lot of things. Archie thinks himself the leader of the group, but later in the book there’s a twist that reveals who he really is.
For a middle grade book, this one took me a while to get into. I took three weeks to read this one nearly, but school started so I blamed it on that at first, but really it’s just kind of a slow read. There’s peppered moments of action, but for the most part, it’s about the journey and friendship building. I’m hoping the next book will move a little bit faster and retain my attention. I did love the characters, their stories and the overall plot. Archie is going to be an interesting character to follow, I like the internal battle he is fighting towards the middle/end of the first book and I’m hoping to see more of that in the next volume.
The setting was interesting as it’s a historical steampunk setting, with submarines and devices that run on steam to fly in the sky. I especially loved Mr. Rivets, the family robot who helped save the group at times and added some great humorous commentary into the story. Hachi has a set of circus animals that are small clockwork creatures and help save the day countless times. These aspects really added to the story and made it unique.
A somewhat slow start to a middle grade adventure series, but full of interesting characters and a steampunk setting that I loved. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of the series....more
Seesaw Girl is the story of Jade, who is not allowed to leave the inner court of her family’s home. She should be focusing on learning skills that wilSeesaw Girl is the story of Jade, who is not allowed to leave the inner court of her family’s home. She should be focusing on learning skills that will benefit her future husband, but instead she daydreams about what is beyond her walls all the way to the mountains. Also, Jade would rather pull pranks than sit sewing all day and wishes she were one of the boys. So when her best friend is married and sent off, Jade cannot resist the risk to see her. Her adventure takes her outside the wall into a world where woman are allowed in the market, but she is disappointed when her friend turns her away. I truly loved Jade’s character and the insight into a Korean home in another time period. I felt her desires were realistically portrayed and carried out as well as the problems that occurred after.
A beautiful insight into Korean culture and a young protagonist that will have you aching for adventure....more
Blue Sea Burning is the conclusion to Egg’s adventures. After the first two books, we find Egg wanting revenge on Roger Pembroke for almost killing hiBlue Sea Burning is the conclusion to Egg’s adventures. After the first two books, we find Egg wanting revenge on Roger Pembroke for almost killing him and keeping a whole tribe slaves. He is with his uncle, the dread Burn Healy, who has his own problems after saving his nephew, such as his nemesis Ripper Jones, a ruthless pirate. It’s all he can do to keep his crew together after his dashing rescue, but he cannot seem to help Egg any further, leaving him to his own devices. I love Egg and his companions, especially Guts, who seems to be falling for the stunning Kira, a native who is seeking to save her tribe from slavery. Guts curses in the most extraordinary ways, most of it gibberish acceptable for younger readers but you still get the point that expletives are his main way of expressing himself. These books are full of action, adventure and great characters.
The Chronicles of Egg is a series I would point pirate-loving readers towards, served with a side of great characters and hilarious moments....more
Having loved the first book on audio, I could not help but download Curtsies and Conspiracies from Audible shortly after finishing the first book. TheHaving loved the first book on audio, I could not help but download Curtsies and Conspiracies from Audible shortly after finishing the first book. The narration brings the story to life and I loved listening to every word of the book. Sophronia is almost done with the first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality and it’s already been quite a ride from the day she was picked up to attend until now. The school is not just about learning proper things ladies should know, but also a school for future spies.
Sophronia has stumbled upon another mystery and some complications. It seems as though the teachers wish to alienate her from her friends as her test results are revealed to be much higher than everyone in her class. This book is not only about spying, mysteries and adventure, but the meaning of friendship, possible romance and learning who you truly are.
I love Sophronia’s relationship with the “sooties”, the boys (and one girl) who work to keep the school afloat and are common folk. I love that she is proper and wants to learn everything she can to fit in, while still being herself. It’s nice to see a strong female character without pushing her too far out of mold.
Beyond all of that, is the further we get to know the society of Vampires and how they mix with the world. There’s some references in the first book, but this one really dove into the political intrigues of the society as well as some more important characters revealed. I loved all the twists and turns this book took as well as the arrogant love interest that pursues Sophronia persistently.
An excellent mystery with more world building and character revealing. This series is yet to disappoint....more
Of Monsters and Madness is a twist on some of Edgar Allan’s Poe’s stories, our main character Annabel Lee being from a poem he wrote. She is coming toOf Monsters and Madness is a twist on some of Edgar Allan’s Poe’s stories, our main character Annabel Lee being from a poem he wrote. She is coming to live with her father since her mother passed away. She finds herself in Pennsylvania and is naive of the ways that society works in the 1800s. Her father is cold and all she wants to do is please him. Annabel finds comfort in her grandfather, but a rash of murders and her father’s strange hobbies soon make her life a bit more complicated.
One of my favorite parts of the story is the Jekyl and Hyde aspect of one of the characters. I picked up on it right away, but it takes Annabel a while to figure out what is happening. I also liked her character, she was different but not over the top. She wished to practice medicine but her father disproved so she didn’t seek out opportunities – rather she did not turn down anyone who needed her help.
The setting was grim and fit well with the story and the different plots pull from Poe’s different works. I haven’t read a lot of his stories recently but the ones I’ve read even a decade ago stuck with me, as they have some horrific tendencies. While Of Monsters and Madness didn’t blow me away, I really enjoyed the story and found myself reading it quickly.
A mix of horror, romance and classic literature that engages the reader in a dark setting and plot....more