17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 11/14/2014

Dash is one of the first kids to live on the moon. He and his parents are part of the science team on Moon Base Alpha. Life on the moon isn’t everything they were promised; the food is bad, the accommodations are cramped and the bathrooms are all the way across the base! There also isn’t a lot to do since you can’t go outside the base which makes even school work seem exciting. One night in the bathroom, Dash overhears a conversation Dr. Holtz was having with someone about a big discovery. Dr. Holtz told whoever he was talking to that he was going to reveal his discovery the next day. The next day Dr. Holtz is dead on the surface of the moon. Everyone thinks he went crazy or just had an accident, but Dash thinks he was murdered. Dash is determined to investigate even though the base commander forbids it and everyone else is satisfied by the official explanation. Dash is assisted in his investigation by new arrivals Kira and Zan Perfonic. The investigation gets Dash into all kinds of trouble, but also reveals startling information about life beyond Moon Base Alpha.

Fans of Stuart Gibbs’ books will enjoy this new mystery as will space aficionados. Space mysteries are always fun and the setting of this one on a moon base adds a claustrophobic element to the story. I think kids will particularly enjoy all the cool space facts about life is really like in space. They will be grossed out by the food and how they use the bathroom.The mystery is one that will intrigue readers with its many twists and turns before the surprising reveal of who really killed Dr. Holtz and why. I think my big challenge with the story was the actual ending and the revelation of Dr. Holtz’s discovery. It took the story out of the realm of reality which I didn’t think it needed.

15. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Interworld by Neil Gaiman, 239 pages, read by Brian, on 11/16/2014

interworldNeil Gaiman and Michael Reaves team up to bring us Interworld, the story of Joey Harker who has discovered his world is one of trillion different earths.  Joey teams up with different versions of himself to battle evil magician lords Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the earths balanced.

 

04. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke, 341 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/26/2014

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With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the “Neptune Project” are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world. Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.

I enjoyed this book very much, probably because of the solution the characters have to global warming, which I have not seen explored before like this.  I feel for Nere and her friends as they try to make sense of what they have become and how they try to cope with their new world.  Very enjoyable and I think that both boys and girls will enjoy this novel.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Award Winner, Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, 448 pages, read by Kristy, on 10/31/2014

Uglies follows the story of Tally, a youth who lives in a dystopian world where everyone turns “pretty” when they reach age 16. This extreme plastic surgery changes people from normal to beautiful, but at a terrible cost. At first Tally both craves and embraces her society and the opportunity to become pretty, but she learns how corrupt the government is. Tally decides to defy her society, which opens up a new world of friendships, romance, and unexpected tragedies.

Uglies is the first book in the Uglies trilogy, and it brings up many themes ranging from corrupt governments to self acceptance.

I found this novel to be thought provoking, but perhaps not particularly believable. I’m excited to learn how Tally faces her mounting challenges in book 2.

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Doctor Who: The Forgotten Army by Brian Minchin, 256 pages, read by Tammy, on 10/27/2014

dr whoThe Doctor takes Amy to New York in the near future. He plans on buying her the best burger ever, the one that aliens travel across the galaxy and even back in time to eat. As they join the line they notice a police force moving through the streets. What is happening at the museum? Why are people running and yelling away from a new exhibit of a prehistoric woolly mammoth?

Turns out an army from a distant planet has come to overthrow the earth, but they thought they’d show up in the prehistoric era, not in the 21st century in one of the largest cities on Earth. In spite of this glitch the army is still determined to take over and enslave the humans instead of the large prehistoric creatures. Of course, at first the Doctor and Amy don’t take them seriously as they are only 3 inches tall but they are very clever and technologically advanced. Once they capture the Doctor what is Amy to do? Who can she trust?

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Tracy

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris, 305 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/26/2014

FIRST IN A NEW TRILOGY

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…

21. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags: ,

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, 118 pages, read by Angie, on 10/20/2014

The Time Machine is a classic of science fiction and H.G. Wells is one of those writers everyone talks about being the father of this genre. As imaginative as I found this work I also thought Wells was definitely a product of his time. Some of his ideas and beliefs about the time he travels to definitely reflect his social and political beliefs of the 19th century. Reading it from a 21st century perspective makes the time traveler seem a bit pompous and full of himself. I enjoyed the story, but I really wanted more. I wanted more investigation and true facts about the Eloi/Morlock society instead of 19th century commentary. However, I think if I would have read this book 100 years ago I would probably have thought it pretty brilliant.

The story is a simple one and the book actually quite short. A scientist builds a time machine and travels 800,000 years into the future. There he encounters a race of small beings he calls the Eloi. These beings are very simple and seem to only eat, sleep and play. He also discovers an underground race called the Morlocks. These nearly blind spidery type people are the workers who keep the world running. They are also cannibals who feast on the innocent Eloi. The time traveler gets into a bit of trouble after his time machine is stolen, but he also begins a relationship with Weena an Eloi. In the end he is able to escape the Morlocks and continue traveling into the future. He travels 35 million years and sees the world dying as the sun dies. Then he comes back to the present and tells his friends all about his adventures. After that he and his time machine disappear once more.

15. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Anastasia Romanov: The Last Grand Duchess by Ann Hood, Denis Zilber (Illustrations), 240 pages, read by Angie, on 10/14/2014

Maisie and Felix are off for another adventure through time. This time they are headed to Imperial Russia and the Romanovs. Before they leave they befriend Alex Andropov who is Russian and has hemophilia. Alex smuggles himself along through time and once he gets there he doesn’t want to leave. The three kids spend months with the Romanovs in 1911 traveling from one palace to another. They need to give Anastasia a Faberge egg and get a piece of advice. Unfortunately when they arrived the egg ended up in the Czarina’s possession. Then Alex wanted to destroy the egg so he wouldn’t have to go back to the present time. Felix is also enjoying his time in Russia and bonding with Anastasia. Whereas Maisie is feeling jealous and left out and just wants to get the mission done. There is a lot to figure out.

I still don’t really like this series. I find the kids pretty unlikeable and unrelatable. There are also instances where logic seems to be thrown out the window for no reason. For instance, why does Alex have to destroy the egg? To get back to the future he has to be touching either Maisie or Felix when they give the egg to Anastasia. So instead of trapping them in 1911 he could just not be around when they give her the egg. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction · Tags:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, 199 pages, read by Kira, on 10/11/2014

An enjoyable book.  Main character Miranda starts the story off, telling how her neighbor and best friend Sal, quit hanging out with her, after he got punched, as the two were walking home.  A number of other 6th graders enter her life, as space is opened up.  These include AnneMarie, whose best friend Julia “broke up” with her.  Collin joking fellow who’d always been in the background, Marcus the kid who hit Sal, and even Julia, AnneMarie’s long-time best friend.  It also describes Miranda’s relationship with her Mother (single mom) and Mom’s boyfriend Richard.  The heart of the story is how Miranda navigates her friendships.  There is also a time travel mystery, as she receives notes from a9781921656064-1xdllbt person who has already seen the future. images2680954d79bd11915bdcbc13da7008c5 The question is who is doing the time travelling.  All the clue are laid out for you, but I didn’t think it was obvious.  Minor quibble – I didn’t think the explanation for Sal’s jerky behavior really made sense.  But overall enjoyable!

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14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Master by Ann Hood, Denis Zilber (Illustrations), 224 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2014

So everyone is now back from the Congo and Kansas respectively and ready for their next adventure. Well Maisie and Felix are the Ziff twins are not included in this one. This time they are heading back to the Renaissance to meet Leonardo da Vinci. They end up with Sandro Botticelli to start out with (neither of the kids have heard of him) before they meet Leonardo. Again they do not ask his name for a few days (seriously what is wrong with these kids!?!). They meet the Medici family and attend carnival before completing their mission. Again the logic of these books just leaves a bit to be desired. Maisie is even more unlikeable in this one than she was the previous book and Felix doesn’t make that much of an impression. The one thing I do appreciate about the books in this series is the backmatter. Ann Hood gives the reader a very nice biography of the famous person we met in the book.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Amelia Earhart: Lady Lindy by Ann Hood, Denis Zilber (Illustrations), 176 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2014

Maisie, Felix and the Ziff twins are sent back through time to the Congo to find the missing Amy Pickworth. They get chased separated and Maisie and Felix end up chased by gorillas and stalked by lions. They escape leaving the Ziffs to their fate. They end up with Amelia Earhart as a young girl before she falls in love with airplanes. Of course they don’t realize she is Amelia Earhart because she goes by Meelie and the kids spend a month with the family without asking their names (I’m serious here!). Finally they realize who she is and complete their mission.

So I haven’t read any of the other Treasure Chest books and wasn’t really familiar with the stories or how the time travel works in this series. Apparently, the family has been amassing treasures throughout time and storing them in a room called the Treasure Chest. In order to time travel you have to be a twin and find an object that will take you to the time and place you want to go. Once there you have to give the object to the person you are seeking after getting a lesson in order to go home. Seems a bit complicated and it really is if you never ask a person their name. Not my favorite mainly because I didn’t find Maisie or Felix that likeable and they just seemed a little on the dim side (I really can’t get over the fact that they stayed with Earhart for a month and never found out who they were staying with).

10. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Katy, Science Fiction · Tags:

The Good, the bad, and the Goofy by Jon Scieszka, 70 pages, read by Katy, on 10/10/2014

9780670843800_xlgThis is the third book in the Time Warp Trio series. While enjoying a western on television, Fred, Joe, and Sam are transported back to the old west after reciting a spell. Based on knowledge from their previous time travel adventures, they know the only way they can get back to current day is by locating their magical book in the Wild West. They have some close calls with a flood, stampedes, and almost get scalped! They manage to survive by finding the book and using a Time Freezer spell to get themselves out of a dangerous situation and back to the present day.

I don’t read many juvenile books but I thought this was cute and had good illustrations.

08. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher, 176 pages, read by Brian, on 10/07/2014

jediWilliam Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return is the third book and last of the original Star Wars trilogy.  Like the books before it, the classic tale is written as if William wrote the book.  I’m waiting for the stage version in a round theatre this would be really cool.  If you enjoy Star Wars, you may enjoy these books.

 

07. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher, 172 pages, read by Brian, on 10/06/2014

yodaWilliam Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back is an adaptation of The Empire Strikes but in Shakespeare’s voice. It is neat to read the verse as if William wrote it himself, however, it does get old at times. Being familiar with the material makes it easier and more fun to read.

 

 

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

SYLO by D.J. MacHale, 407 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/29/2014

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Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

The more I read this book, the more it pulled me in, cannot wait to read the sequel.  While it does have a girl as one of the main characters, the factors of football and military espionage and intrigue will probably draw the boys to read it before the girls.  I loved the twist, that the characters kept expecting the military presence to be the bad guys, but then they can’t figure out if they are or not.  Very riveting read, I would recommend to any reader.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King, 320 pages, read by Courtney, on 09/20/2014

Glory O’Brien has just graduated high school and she has no idea what her future holds. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was just five years old and Glory is worried that she’ll end up like her mother. They already have a lot in common. Glory’s mother was a famous photographer with an offbeat worldview. Glory prefers to hide behind the camera and doesn’t even particularly like her best and only friend. Everything changes when Glory and her friend, Ellie, drink a concoction consisting of a powdered, dessicated bat and some beer. It’s a strange thing to do, but the aftermath is even stranger. The morning after the bat-drinking incident both girls begin to see visions whenever they meet another person’s eye. They see that individual’s past, present and future. Not just that of the person in question, but that person’s ancestors and successors. It is in these visions that Glory begins to see a pattern of events that will eventually lead to a horrifying future. The future she sees indicates that a second civil war will take place. Women will lose all of their rights. Glory is having a hard enough time seeing a reason to live beyond tomorrow, but if this is the future she has to look forward to, what’s the point?

This is a fascinating experiment in form and genre. A.S. King is easily one of my favorite YA authors. Her work is never, ever ordinary. Her newest novel is no exception. The characters are unique and well-developed. Glory is maudlin, but never overly depressing. Her friend Ellie is the daughter of hippies who live in a commune across the street from Glory and her father. Ellie continually gets herself into terrible situations that Glory has trouble reconciling. Glory’s father is still mourning the loss of his late wife. He’s a painter who hasn’t painted since she died. There’s history between Glory and Ellie’s parents that slowly reveals itself. Everything is significant in the worlds of King’s novels, even the smallest details. I honestly had some difficultly believing in the future world presented here, but thematically, it makes for an interesting thought experiment. The discussion of feminism is prevalent throughout, but never feels heavy-handed. I genuinely enjoyed this book, even if I didn’t totally love the “History of the Future” part. This book is just so delightfully strange and emotionally compelling to be angry about the technicalities.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, 480 pages, read by Angie, on 10/05/2014

So aliens have invaded the earth. First they set off an emp that took out everything electrical, then there were the tsunamis that took out the coasts, then came the red death that killed billions, and then there were the silencers (aliens who look like humans). Now the survivors are just trying to survive and prepare for whatever comes next. Cassie has survived with most of her family. Cassie, her dad and her brother are at a refugee camp when military vehicles arrive and take the children away (adults are supposedly leaving later). Of course the military lies and kills everyone else at the camp except Cassie. She is determined to keep her promise to her little brother Sammy though and find him. But in a world where anyone can be the enemy who can you trust? Ben has recovered from the red death and has been recruited into the new military at Camp Haven. All the recruits are kids, some as young as five, and are all being trained to kill. Ben takes young Sammy under his wing and promises to protect him. Meanwhile Cassie has been shot by a silencer but rescued by hotty Evan Walker. She isn’t sure she can trust him but he sure is dreamy with his beautiful eyes and soft hands. She is still determined to rescue Sammy and decides she might need Evan’s help.

There were times when I really wanted to quit reading this book. I think it started about the time Evan appeared and Cassie lost all sense. It is the end of the world and she has seen so much death and destruction. I liked her when she was the crazy person in the woods, but once she started thinking about how dreamy Evan was I was pretty much done. He is basically a stalker and a killer who had no real redeeming qualities other than the fact that he saved her life. I hate when a romance element is forced into a story and this one was more egregious then most. It just really didn’t make any sense in the plot of the book. The plot itself, while not original, was at least a bit entertaining. I am not sure why teen books always have to use the child soldiers theme but whatever. The aliens are out to get us all and make us do all the work ok sure. The end of the book where everything comes together and Cassie and Ben meet up in their quests to save Sammy made the book at least a bit worth the read.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction

The 8th Continent by Matt London, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 10/04/2014

The earth in the future is being taken over by garbage and bureaucracy. Rick and Evie and their dad get in trouble with Winterpole after saving a bird whose habitat has become a landfill. Because of previous infractions dad is placed under house arrest, but not before he tells the kids about a secret formula he created years ago that would turn garbage into organic material. Winterpole found out about it and wanted to use it to make weapons (not sure how that would work) so dad and his partner split the formula and the partner disappeared. The kids are determined to find the partner and create an 8th continent out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then they would be out from under Winterpole’s control. They are pursued by by Evie’s nemesis Vesuvia who is the secret CEO of her dad’s corporation and determined to turn everything in the world into pink plastic.

I’m not sure how believable this book is supposed to be, but I hope not very is the answer. Everything about it seems so far-fetched and unbelievable that it was difficult to get through at times. I liked the premise however and the writing was fun and entertaining. The characters were a bit one-dimensional especially Vesuvia and the Winterpole people. This book is the first in a planned series and the ending sets up the next book nicely. Even though much of the book makes no sense whatsoever I can see kids picking it up and enjoying the ride.

29. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 314 pages, read by Eric, on 09/07/2014

An unscheduled, pilot-less passenger jet arrives at an airport gate. In each seat is an unattended baby. Thirteen years later, cryptic messages are being sent to these children, many of which don’t realize they were adopted, let alone that they are connected to the mysterious plane. Jonah and Chip have received messages, and are determined to find out why.

The search for answers to the children’s mysterious beginnings makes for a decent mystery adventure. The payoff isn’t quite what I had hoped for, but it certainly sets the stage for many sequels, and adventures through time. I’m interested in continuing, but not with much enthusiasm.

22. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

My Zombie Hamster by Havelock McCreely, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 09/20/2014

All Matt wants for Christmas is a Runesword so he can play the game with his friends online. What he gets is a hamster named Snuffles. Then Snuffles dies and turns into a zombie hamster. Snuffles escapes outside and starts building his zombie pet army, turning all the pets and animals in town into zombies. Of course there are people who are zombies also, but they are all outside of the town walls. Matt and his friends Charlie, Calvin and Aren devise several plans to stop Snuffles before he is discovered and Matt and his family get in trouble. All of these fail miserably. Then Charlie dies and becomes a zombie, but she isn’t like the others. She still has her personality and doesn’t want to eat brains. She is a new breed of zombie. Of course not everyone wants to find that out.

I am sure young boys will love this book. It is funny and gross and has zombies. I didn’t think it was that great, but then I am not a young boy. The story was engaging and entertaining and at least kept my interest. It was a little light on the whys though. Why did Snuffles build a zombie pet army? Why was the mayor so obnoxious yet was still the mayor? Why were there zombies in the first place?