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Monday, September 28, 2015

Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention


Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

Blurb:

"Trenton Coleman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city build inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and "invention" is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, who died in an explosion--an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on--and quite possibly their lives"

My Review:

What a fun book! This story just comes to life on the pages. The characters are well developed and really great. I especially liked Trenton, Kallista, and Simoni. Trenton is the main character, and I feel so bad for him! He doesn't end up where he wants to end up, job-wise, and he feels like he's been betrayed and like he is missing a huge part of himself. However, he finds ways to use his......gasp! creativity (creativity is frowned upon in this story), and he might even make an.....gasp! invention or two (the word "invention" is considered profanity in Cove). He's a very likable character who is easy to relate to. He may make me nervous in some situations, because I'm definitely a rule-follower, but he has a cute personality and reminds you of your best friend growing up. Simoni is a cute character as well. She is more like me, a rule-follower, but she is a cute character. Kallista is a little more on the wild side, you may say. She is a bit of a rebel and is.....don't say it! creative. She may bring out a different side of Trenton, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. She is smart and thinks outside of the box, or mountain, in this case. The story line is fun and adventurous, and has enough action to satisfy the boys and enough girly stuff to capture the girls. Both Trenton and Kallista are strong characters, and each have their own abilities that they bring to the table. The history of Cove is interesting, and I enjoyed hearing how the whole city-in-a-mountain works. There's a bit of mystery to the story, and I liked how Trenton and Kallista worked together to solve each of the pieces of the puzzle. This is a fun middle-grader story, that I think both boys and girls will enjoy. I love the message of this book as well. Creativity and invention are wonderful things; learning to think outside of the box is an excellent skill to have.

I love that this is a great story, and it's completely clean! There is no profanity (thank you!!), no "intimacy" except for 13 year-old crushes, and very little violence. It is a fantastic middle-grader story that boys and girls will enjoy. I was hooked from the beginning! It's a fast, easy read, and I recommend it. It would make a great read-aloud as well.

Rating: PG (No profanity or "intimacy," and very little violence.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Tale of Light and Shadow: Secrets of Neverak (Book #2)


A Tale of Light and Shadow: Secrets of Neverak (Book #2) 
                                                                                                            by Jacob Gowans 

Blurb:

"Horrors await Henry and his friends after the disastrous battle at the Iron Pass. Crippled and broken, Henry must rely on his friends more than ever as they travel through strange new lands. New allies and foes find them at every turn, but which are friendly and which are deadly? Isabelle, now a slave in Neverak, finds herself surrounded by enemies, uncertain about the fate of her friends, and must rely on only herself to survive. Meanwhile, the Emperor moves forward with his plans of conquest, spurred on by the Seer's dark prophecy--but he has not forgotten who defied him. Return to the world of Atolas, where swords and daggers extend life or end it, where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships, and where magic is feared by all but a few." 

My Review:

It's always an adventure with Henry, Maggie, Ruther, and James! That Iron Pass must have messed with their values and their minds because they sure started doing some naughty things! I was actually disappointed in how they acted in Borderville. This book picks up and leaves off exactly where the last one ended. It is well written. The descriptions in this book are good. I definitely will not be traveling the Iron Pass any time soon! I like that these characters are not perfect. I like that they struggle with things, because it makes them seem more real. I liked Maggie more at the beginning than I liked Henry, Ruther, or James because she stayed more true to herself. The things that begin happening to her are a little confusing at first. Her first four visions are quite confusing for her and the reader. As bad as I feel for them, I feel equally as bad for Isabelle. She is definitely not in a good spot. Brandol and Atticus surprised me with some of their actions, and the evil Emperor is still just that--evil! I definitely do not want to meet him in a dark alley. If you enjoyed the first book you definitely need to read this one!

There is violence in this book. There are some gruesome fighting scenes, and an execution. Isabelle is a ("intimacy") slave for the Emperor. There isn't any profanity. There are a few value things that are added in this book; for example, gambling and stealing.  

Rating: PG-13 (There is violence in this book, including an execution of a character. There isn't any profanity, but Isabelle is a slave (concubine) to the Emperor, and there are discussions and scenes related to that. There is also gambling and stealing, along with holding someone at knife-point.

Recommendation: Young Adult (13-18)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


                                                               

Light and Shadow (Book #1)


A Tale of Light and Shadow (Book #1) by Jacob Gowans

Blurb:

Enter Atolas, a world where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station. Though Henry is but a carpenter, his devotion drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives. Meanwhile, a secret, dark prophecy has set in motion events that will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas, threatening to eclipse the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.

My Review:

Sword fighting, love, friendship, adventure, sacrifice, betrayal, and gold are a few words I would use to describe this book. What an adventure! I enjoyed this book. I thought that for the most part it is well written. It isn't a super fast read for some reason; it took me awhile to read it. The character development is done really well, and as you read you find yourself drawn to this new world. Henry and Isabelle are favorite characters; they are flawed, for sure. They are realistic characters that try their hardest to be all they need to be, but they do fail. I liked Maggie a lot too. Ruther is an interesting character, and you never really know if you can trust him or not, so it adds a little bit of tension to the mix. Brandol is a dull character who got annoying. You just want to scream at him to toughen up. The story is unique and creative. There's a hint of fantasy in it, but you never see anything more than just that far away hint. I love the friendship lessons that are taught in this book. Even though they may argue and distrust each other sometimes, you see how strong the bond of friendship can become. Henry, especially, shows how important that is. The evil Emperor is a great villain. You just love to hate him in this book. There are a few cheesy parts in this book, but it's fun and entertaining. I enjoyed it.

There are a few things in this book that make it inappropriate for children younger than 13. One of the characters is meant to be sold into slavery as a "concubine" to the evil Emperor. It doesn't go into a lot of detail, but you know that means that she will be his "intimacy" slave. Also, one of the characters is a drunk. He drinks constantly throughout the whole book, and there is at least one scene where several of them are drunk. There isn't any profanity, which is great. There is also quite a bit of violence in this book as the friends fight for their lives against a massive army. Some of the descriptions are quite graphic and are gruesome. I think the cover art is a little bit cheesy, and it's not my favorite, but I have seen worse.

Rating: PG-13 (There isn't any profanity, but there is talk of a woman character being sold into slavery as one of the Emperor's concubines, It doesn't go into more detail than that, but it is implied that she will be an "intimacy" slave. There is also some domestic violence, the deaths of a few characters, and some fighting. Some of the fight scenes are very detailed and can be gruesome.

Recommendation: Young Adult (13-18) and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Thursday, September 3, 2015

The One (The Selection Book #3)



The One (The Selection Book #3) by Kiera Cass

Blurb:

"The time has come for one winner to be crowned. When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown--or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose--and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants."

My Review:

I have to say, if nothing else, this series is entertaining. It's good for a vacation where you put your feet up, grab the sunscreen and a beach chair, and enjoy a few minutes reading. Although it is quite predictable and more of the same, I was entertained for a minute, and that is a good thing. You get to know each of the girls more in this book, and you get to see some of their more creative and skilled sides. You get to hear a few of their ideas for the future, and you get to see quite a bit of kissing (...not quite sure if that's a good thing???) You see a different side of Prince Maxon and his parents, and you get way too much of the Bella Swan (excuse me......America Singer) show; she drives me crazy! Pick already! Make up your mind!!! Seriously. Even though the premise was very predictable, there were a few surprises in the details, which helped. I do love the cover art though! The dresses are gorgeous and definitely catch your eye! If you enjoyed the first two books then you should read this one for sure.

There is some profanity in this book. There are a few innuendos, and an almost-all-but "intimacy" scene. Remember that the law is still that you need to be a virgin when you get married, and it is discussed. There is a lot of violence in this book. Some of the violence is known but not discussed, while other scenes are quite graphic. Several main characters die, and their violent deaths are described in detail.

Rating: PG-13 (Profanity, a lot of graphic and descriptive violence, the death of several main characters, and lots of kissing. There is also an almost-all-but "intimacy" scene.)

Recommendation: 13 and up/Young Adult (This book is not appropriate for middle-graders)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Janitors: Heroes of the Dustbin (Book #5)



Janitors: Heroes of the Dustbin (Book #5) by Tyler Whitesides 

Blurb: 

"Although their enemies are powerful, their allies few, Spencer and his team of Rebels are not giving up! But what chance do a handful of kids and one rescued janitor have against the combined evil of the Founding Witches and the Sweepers? Can the Rebels close the source of all Glop and stop the Toxites once and for all--or is the world doomed to fall under the control of the sinister Bureau of Educational Maintenance? This explosive series finale is a gripping ride through conflicted loyalties and daring escapes, unexpected alliances and betrayals, and an ending you'll never forget!"

My Review:

Hahaha.....my boys have been waiting and waiting for this book to come out! From the second the ARC came in the mail they have been drooling over the amazing cover and begging me to finish so they can read it. Brandon Dorman has definitely outdone himself this time; the cover art is fantastic and does a great job of setting the stage for this finale! So does the book live up to all this hype? Yes! I loved it! It is nonstop action from the beginning to the end. Many of our favorite characters are back for round five, and they may find a few new ones along the way. Of course Spencer, Daisy, and Dez return. I won't spoil the fun about who else is there; let's just say I love Mr. Whitesides' character development. I love Spencer and Daisy in this book. They have come so far from the first book, and I have enjoyed watching them grow and progress through the books. They learn some hard lessons in this book, but the lessons of friendship, loyalty, bravery, dedication, hard work, determination, and trust are lessons that the characters and the readers will not forget. It's so good for these middle-graders to see these characters and to learn the lessons along with Spencer, Daisy, and Dez. Spencer and Daisy, especially, are very well done. They never waver. I enjoy Mr. Whitesides' writing style. It's a fast, easy read, and is easy to understand. I just got sucked in and couldn't put it down. The descriptions are so life-like and believable, and you feel like you are in that landfill or at Welcher Elementary School. There really is nonstop action in this book. One thing after another, after another. I hope all the characters went home and slept for a few days. I felt tired just reading about it. It's exciting adventure too. There are witches, sweepers, pluggers, toxites, thingamajunks, lots of glop, monitors, rebels, and one General Clean. If you liked the first four books, you definitely need to read this one! You will not be disappointed!

This book does not have any profanity or "intimacy." Violence, though, is rampant. At least one character dies and there is a lot of fighting. Some of the fighting is against people and some against monsters and other creatures, but it is violent. It is a war to save the world, you know, so it isn't pretty in some parts. My only complaint (that is actually too strong of a word, but it'll have to do...) would be that it did kind of get all wrapped up in a nice, pretty bow at the end. It is a middle-grader book, though, so I really wouldn't expect anything other than that. 

Rating: PG+ (No profanity or "intimacy," but there is quite a lot of violence. They are fighting a war to save the children of the world.)

Recommendation: Middle-Graders: 3rd (for a mature third grader) to 4th grade and up. My eighth grader and seventh grader love this series. 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book comes out Sept. 8th!!!