Adding more character and plot development to the popular first installment from last year, Paths & Portals finds the kids from Stately Academy coAdding more character and plot development to the popular first installment from last year, Paths & Portals finds the kids from Stately Academy coding directions for turtle robots and learning new secrets from the janitor, Mr. Bee. Turns out Mr. Bee used to run The Bee School, where he taught students about robots. Now he keeps his robots in the basement of the school, and Principal Dean is using the evil rugby team to try to steal the most powerful turtle robot from him. In-depth coding instruction and a lack of recap of what happened in the first volume might confuse readers new to this series. They really need to read the first volume to get this one, but it’s worth it.A cliffhanger ending guarantees another volume is on the way!...more
A strong read-alike for The Wrath and the Dawn, but stronger plot development and less romance novel writing. I felt a bit out of my depth since I'm nA strong read-alike for The Wrath and the Dawn, but stronger plot development and less romance novel writing. I felt a bit out of my depth since I'm not familiar with the Hindu mythology and folklore that shape the story. Despite that, the lush imagery and well-developed relationship between doomed Maya, with her cursed horoscope, and Amar, the king of the underworld, drew me in quickly. A major selling point for me, as always: witty banter between two intellectual equals who respect one another. The ending ties things up nicely but certainly leaves room for a sequel. Really beautiful, sophisticated writing from a debut author....more
So, I finally finished Caraval. It took me two months to read it, which is usually a bad sign. The most buzzed book at BEA, people kept coming up to mSo, I finally finished Caraval. It took me two months to read it, which is usually a bad sign. The most buzzed book at BEA, people kept coming up to me, asking, "Where did you get a copy of that?" as if they were going to rip it out of my hands. It's tough to live up to that kind of hype, especially when it's pub date isn't until January 2017.
I kept putting it down to read more urgent 2016 books. But now that I've finished, I'll say Caraval falls into that fun fantasy category of teen books that will never win awards but will always find an audience. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Aveyard will eat this up. Scarlett, a teen with an abusive father and a rebellious sister, Tessa, scores a coveted invitation to Caraval, a sort of scavenger hunt on a nearby island, run by a mysterious dude named Legend. A hunky sailor named Julian gives the sisters a lift to the island. After they arrive, Legend kidnaps Tessa, and then we get about 400 pages of Scarlett and Julian chasing after Tessa in a surreal, colorful fun house. Four hundred pages of, "Is this real or just part of the game?" and "Is Julian sincere or just trying to win the game?" and "Will Scarlett ever find Tessa?"
It's pure escapist silliness, but it does drag on. There's a cartoon-ish quality to the descriptions that makes me think this would make a great graphic novel adaptation. If the series gains popularity, I wouldn't be surprised to see a GN spinoff. I wouldn't say this is the most impressive world building I've ever read. The plot and setting seem vague. Not a ton of character development. But if you're looking for lighthearted entertainment, this fits the bill. I'm sure teens and adults will enjoy it. ...more
Three sisters are born as queens but only one will rule. It’s Frozen gone wrong in the most entertaining way in this teen fantasy. When they turn 16,Three sisters are born as queens but only one will rule. It’s Frozen gone wrong in the most entertaining way in this teen fantasy. When they turn 16, Katharine, a poisoner, Arsinoe, a naturalist, and Mirabella, an elemental, must use their magical powers to kill their siblings in order to become the one true queen. Blake keeps readers guessing with frequent plot twists. Just when you think you know who the strongest or weakest queen is, something shifts. There’s some forbidden romance when Joseph, pledged to Arsinoe’s BFF naturalist Jules, meets gorgeous Mirabella randomly in the forest. It’s also a nice touch that Arsinoe is not a typical pretty princess. She frequently chops off her hair and dresses in shirts and pants instead of frilly frocks. Unfortunately her powers haven’t kicked in yet. All three girls live in diffent parts of the island: Katharine lives in the posh capital city with the wealthy Arron family, Arsinoe in a rough fishing village where her host family members have familiars (Jules has a cougar named Camden) and Mirabella in the realm of the high priestesses who worship the Goddess in temples. The matriarchal society features mostly female main characters, with the boyfriends playing only supporting roles. Without giving anything away, the end of this first book in the series leaves off with the sisters really pissed off and hell bent on revenge. Can’t wait for the sequel! This is my favorite book of 2016 so far!...more
This is shaping up to be the year of great graphic novels for kids! Lots to enjoy here: Bing, the magician daughter, and Torq, the silent inventor, arThis is shaping up to be the year of great graphic novels for kids! Lots to enjoy here: Bing, the magician daughter, and Torq, the silent inventor, are smarter than the absent-minded, self-centered King of Kazoo. Whenever the king does something dumb that gets them into a scrape, Bing casts a spell or Torq tinkers with something technical to ease their escape. Also, Bing has a “familiar,” a bird named Gypsy, who helps them along the way.
This could be a fun fictional STEM tie-in for librarians and teachers, since it shows how technology can solve problems, but that well all need to respect nature, too. It also includes a gentle reminder about gratitude. The king takes credit for everything that Bing and Torq do until the wise Toad King reminds him, “Good leaders know how to listen!” and Bing calls him out on his selfish behavior. Together they defeat a disgruntled alchemist who wants to use lava from a nearby volcano to animate an evil Mechanical Man, with many laugh out loud moments along the way. Fab light-hearted summer reading for kiddos 8-12! ...more
If the TV show Alias had been set during the French Revolution, Jennifer Garner could have played Deliliah Dirk. She's been called the female IndianaIf the TV show Alias had been set during the French Revolution, Jennifer Garner could have played Deliliah Dirk. She's been called the female Indiana Jones, which sums things up nicely. Since the first book in the series was not on my radar (not sure how I missed it, since it was nominated for an Eisner!) I don't know the background of how Ms. Dirk met the Turkish Lieutenant, Mr. Selim. But they make delightful partners in fighting crime. She stubbornly defies the cultural norms of what's considered ladylike, frequently battling men in swordfights, and Selim hilariously calls her out when she's doing something really reckless or silly. The author admits in his notes that there's not much historical accuracy here, just swashbuckling, action-packed fun. High quality artwork too.
Okay, I'm going to go back and read the first book now!...more
Written by well-known teen author de la Cruz, the first novel published by Seventeen Magazine’s new imprint tackles the timely topic of illegal immigrWritten by well-known teen author de la Cruz, the first novel published by Seventeen Magazine’s new imprint tackles the timely topic of illegal immigration. When class valedictorian, cheer captain and all-around California good girl Jasmine finds out she can’t accept a prestigious scholarship because she doesn’t have a green card, she vows to find a way to pursue her American Dream. Based on de la Cruz's personal experiences, the heartwarming depiction of Jasmine's close-knit Filipino family adds depth to the story. She fleshes out all her characters well, including love interest Royce, who happens to be the son of an anti-immigration bill Senator. The conflict of interest feels gimmicky, and the frequent descriptions of Royce's man beauty seep into romance novel territory. Still, Seventeen picked the right writer to reach a wide teen audience, many of whom are certainly grappling with their own immigration issues. I hope the published edition includes resources for the teens, since the advanced reader copy only included part of a Wikipedia entry about immigration laws. Conclusion: Despite the sappy romance subplot, this accessibly written, of-the-moment story belongs on every library shelf....more