Smart and funny with a side of geeky awesomeness, Ultraviolet Catastrophe charmed me from the first page. It’s the kind of YA SF I love: fun, believab...moreSmart and funny with a side of geeky awesomeness, Ultraviolet Catastrophe charmed me from the first page. It’s the kind of YA SF I love: fun, believable characters who take center stage, while still allowing the reader to play in a technology wonderland. With its contemporary, campy feel and a dash of romance, Jamie Grey’s debut novel was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I devoured it in a couple days.(less)
I've been waiting SO LONG to read this ... and it didn't disappoint. In fact, I'm having a hard time thinking about anything but this book, well after...moreI've been waiting SO LONG to read this ... and it didn't disappoint. In fact, I'm having a hard time thinking about anything but this book, well after I've finished reading it! Westerfeld is masterful.(less)
Noah Zarc (Mammoth Trouble) by D. Robert Pease is a rollicking space adventure that jumps through time with the Zarc family as they try to save animal...moreNoah Zarc (Mammoth Trouble) by D. Robert Pease is a rollicking space adventure that jumps through time with the Zarc family as they try to save animals (yes, two by two) from Earth's past to repopulate a planet barren of animal life. Noah Jr. is busy getting in trouble for unscheduled tests of his thermsuit when his parents fail to return from a mission to the Ice Age. Noah and his brainy brother and teenage sister jump through time and space to try to rescue their parents only to find that Hoan - arch enemy of the ARC (Animal Rescue Cruiser) project - has kidnapped their mom. And that's just the beginning of adventures that take our young heroes from the moon to Mars to many different space-times on Earth. Pease gives the ancient nature of the story of Noah's Ark a nod, while updating it to the year 3000 in a completely fresh way. I especially like the tender puppy-love story between Noah and Adina, the Ice Age orphan girl who shows ancient people to be a lot smarter than we'd expect.
One of the great things that I love about science fiction has always been the willingness of SF authors to tackle social issues. I would love to see more middle grade science fiction precisely because I believe that middle grade kids are primed and ready to debate the kinds of social issues that SF dives into. Noah Zarc is light and fun, but it is also "serious" science fiction (as opposed to "comedy" focused MG SF, which doesn't usually have the same impact in a philosophical sense). Noah Zarc is chock full of gadgety devices and space-time travel, but Pease also gives a nuanced spin to the political dynamics of repopulating Earth with long-extinct animals while people remain trapped in crowded colonies on Mars and Venus.
Loaded with action and adventure, this story goes easy on the violence. I don't know the reading level of this book, but I'm guessing around 4th or 5th grade. With its light-touch adventure and advanced reading level, this makes it a perfect read for advanced readers as young as 6. And older kids, as well as animal lovers of any age, will love the adventure and time travel conundrums.(less)
The Man in the Cinder Clouds, Rick Daley's delightful Christmas Tale, is a story within a story within a story. I love how Rick weaves these three plo...moreThe Man in the Cinder Clouds, Rick Daley's delightful Christmas Tale, is a story within a story within a story. I love how Rick weaves these three plots together, each dependent on the other, nested like Christmas Dolls.
In the first, we follow Jason to the North Pole where his father's scientific team is drilling for ice cores (go science! Points for arctic coolness here). Instead they find a magical book that tells the second tale, of one Kris Kringle before he was the chief bringer of gifts. Kris' search to find his true family and proof of human virtue leads us to the third tale, the story of Aaron and Alice, two orphaned children struggling to survive in a long-ago time when life wasn't easy for anyone, especially children dependent on nasty uncles trying to rob them of their inheritance. The three stories twist and turn together, bringing modern and ancient adventures together with a splash of magic and the wonder of Christmas in this completely fresh take on the story of Santa Claus.
There is some peril of main characters in the book, so I wouldn't recommend The Man in the Cinder Clouds for the very young, but it makes a great Christmas read for readers age 7+. (less)
Was recommended by a friend (author). I highly recommend this book for writers who would like to have a firmer grasp on the emotional arc of their cha...moreWas recommended by a friend (author). I highly recommend this book for writers who would like to have a firmer grasp on the emotional arc of their characters.(less)
Moore takes us to the mythical Southern town of Shadow Falls, where people leave their doors unlocked, the streets are wide and quiet, and the Presbyt...moreMoore takes us to the mythical Southern town of Shadow Falls, where people leave their doors unlocked, the streets are wide and quiet, and the Presbyterian Church looms large, especially for Harley, given she's the preacher's daughter. But all the stereotypes those images conjure are turned upside down by Moore as she brings this small-town to life with characters like a super-hot massage therapist for a mom and cranky Mrs. Bender who speaks inappropriately about bodily processes. Leigh delivers a touching story of adolescent love, confusion, and love-confusion. She's masterful with dialogue, which is the key to making these characters both realistic and endearing. But the best part of the story is when the secret lives of these small-town characters are exposed, and we realize not only are things not always what they seem, but that leaping to conclusions can break hearts and ruin lives.
Moore makes us love her characters, then makes us stay up all night reading to make sure they end up okay in the end. Which is exactly what a great story should do.
You should buy The Truth About Faking - just make sure your calendar is clear for the day.(less)
So many great books in this one! It's an INSANE DEAL too. (I could be biased, because I'm in it, but I also know all these ladies, and there's some gr...moreSo many great books in this one! It's an INSANE DEAL too. (I could be biased, because I'm in it, but I also know all these ladies, and there's some great stuff in here.)(less)
This is the first book of a new series by the crazy-popular Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Now if you're a Percy...moreThis is the first book of a new series by the crazy-popular Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Now if you're a Percy fan like me, you may have some trouble with this book. It is both similar to Percy, and maddeningly NOT Percy (hilarious fly-by-your-seat madness vs. down-to-earth magical realism). Although I kept waiting for the sarcastic half-blood to make an appearance (he does not), humor was dispensed in ample doses by a sarcastic Sadie ("Just because you cannot discern my wit, doesn't make me sarcastic." Thank you, Sadie.) I suppose this is the price to be paid for having already written a fantastic book with a compelling hero.
However, Book One of The Kane Chronicles does not disappoint, and is the wonderfully rich story of Carter and Sadie Kane and their adventures around the world, trying to save their father from Egyptian gods, and possibly bring back their mother from the Land of the Dead. An amazing amount of Egyptian mythology is crammed into this hefty book, and a few times I felt like I needed a scorecard to keep track of all the players. "Another lot of daft, arrogant gods. Brilliant!" as Sadie Kane would say, in her fantastic British voice, which Riordan captures so well.
The violence in The Red Pyramid is on par with the comic-book variety in The Lightning Thief - a lot of hacking and slicing of demons and gods, turning them into sand or mist. There is some peril ("Some peril. Did you even read the book?" Yes, Sadie, I read the book. Please stop interrupting.). Ok, a lot of peril. Did I mention that this book has alternating, first-person, point-of-view? Riordan breaks the rules successfully with his distinctive voices for Carter and Sadie.
Fourteen-year-old Carter and 12-year-old Sadie both have mild love interests in this book, which I'm sure will grow as the series continues. But it is barely touched upon, with no kissing or even serious puppy love. Riordan also touches on racial experience in this novel, with Carter and Sadie being biracial (their mother is white parent and their father is black). Because of the differences in the kids' skin tone, they have very different experiences of the world, and I thought Riordan handled this extraordinarily well.
Overall, fans of Percy Jackson will love this book. While advanced readers will not be challenged by the reading level, they might be by the length (516 pages!), but more importantly, they will be fascinated by the depth and detail of the Egyptian gods and magic that Riordan brings to life.(less)
**spoiler alert** Love the book, but loved the movie more! Here's my review from my Ink Spells blog:
Mighty Mite and I finished How to Train Your Drago...more**spoiler alert** Love the book, but loved the movie more! Here's my review from my Ink Spells blog:
Mighty Mite and I finished How to Train Your Dragon - the book, not the movie - this weekend. Now the book is never the same as the movie, but this is the first time I've found a book where the story was completely different from the movie. The characters (well, some of them) were (kinda) the same, and the setting was still the remote Viking Island of Berk, but beyond that these were two vastly different stories.
How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell, is a story about a pathetic young Viking named Hiccup, and his attempts to train an equally pathetic and toothless dragon, so he can join the ranks of the Hairy Hooligans. Amazingly, the book is more violent than the movie and is filled with Vikings beating on each other, dragons clawing, attacking, and ultimately obeying Vikings, and a monstrous dragon beast that gleefully discusses "fileting" our young hero. While the violence is frankly described, "large chunks of dragon lay all over the field," it has a comic book effect in print, rendering it less horrifying. Still, I wish I had known this before I started reading it to my six year old (who loved it, BTW). The book has a juvenile feel to it, as though its Wimpy-Kid-like comic drawings are targeting 8 year old boys, and while it has an impressive pounding beat of action and a happy ending, it felt far less satisfying than the movie. Although Mighty Mite delighted in the book, my 9 and 11 year old sons have shown no interest in it.
The movie How to Train Your Dragon, on the other hand, I adored so much that I went to see it twice, dragging the husband and grandparents along for the second round. The movie kept the hilarious names (Stoic the Vast) and created a story that was smartly funny, more mature (Hiccup is older and has a love interest), and made the dragons into noble if misunderstood creatures, rather than sniveling, vain little reptiles (Toothless is small enough to sit on Hiccup's shoulder in the book. And he's green, not black. Not exactly a night fury). The overarching theme about father-son miscommunication, misunderstanding, and finally respect is so beautifully portrayed in the movie I literally wept. At a kid's movie. TWICE. The dialogue in the movie was masterful as well: (Hiccup, chastising Toothless for not helping him impress the lovely Astrid) "Thanks for nothing, you useless reptile." This is also one of the few riffs off the book, where Hiccup is known as Hiccup the Useless.
There's lots of fun stuff on the movie website, and some cool stuff on the book website, as well as several more books in the series.
Overall, I would say the book is good for advanced readers ages 8+, especially with the higher reading level, but with some cautions for violence, and the movie is good for ages 8+ as well, with some cautions for the two chaste kisses and Hiccup's desire to date Astrid.
I might have to get How to Train Your Dragon on DVD. But how will I explain to my husband that we have to watch it again, even if the kids don't want to?(less)