Twin teens Cade and Brooke Knight are very familiar with spies. After all, they were born into a family of spies. Their parents are elite government agents with secrets even Cade and Brooke don’t know about. Cade enjoys helping his dad on some projects, like developing the J-phone. The phone designed for the President that will take the place of the nuclear football. The phone that could launch a nuclear war and still play angry birds. Cade really liked helping his dad but all that changes when the J-phone goes missing along with the twin’s parents. Cade and Brooke are suddenly thrown into a sinister international plot that threatens the world’s safety. The twins have limited time to find their family and find the J -phone.
The action and adventure in this book is marvelous! It really keeps the reader hooked. This is a very well-written and carefully edited story. The spy parts are very believable and realistic. I really enjoyed the story. Mr. Bern kept me on the edge of my seat! I think that he wrote a story as good as the 39 Clues series, just for a bit older readers The book is rated as a YA but, the action and violence is totally appropriate for MG readers. The reading level is more YA and that made it more enjoyable for me. There is some cussing, but not much, and it is fine, looking at the age the book is meant for. There is a bit of humor too mixed in too. The book takes place in and around Washington DC, one of my favorite cities. I really enjoyed the images Mr. Bern created around the city. I believe that 39 Clues fans will enjoy this book a lot. Cade is a great character. You understand why he feels the way he feels. His mother was kidnapped, for Pete’s sake! Brooke is also an enjoyable character as is the whole Knight family.I really hope for a book 2!
To learn more about the book and Mr. Bern, please visit his blog by clicking HERE.
PHEW! I have had a BUSY couple of days! Sorry my Wednesday post is so late – but better late than never!
First I want to report on the K’nex challenge that my teammates (Jacob, Heidi, and Aubree) and I competed in on Monday. The challenge was to build a motorized “people mover” and have it run through an obstacle. We chose to build a tractor – BEHOLD THE AWESOMENESS!
The tractor ran over a rocky road and a hayfield. I think we did very well but sadly we didn’t get first or second place to advance to the state finals (I think we did get in the top 10). We sure did have fun though and next year we’ll be even better!
Now onto today’s review!
by Ross Rosenfeld
378 pages – ages 12+
Published by Fun Books on April 10, 2012
It is a time of mystique, deceit, theft and arugula (yes I typed arugula and you’ll have to read the book to find out, because I’m not telling you). The Dark Duke has wrongfully taken Taylor James’ place as king of Belsden after he thought he got rid of him. Taylor James has been raised in a nearby country, unaware that he is the true king. When he comes of age, he and his friend, Robert of Roth, join the local army. Soon, they are called upon to fight the army of the Dark Duke, who is trying to take over the world!
I enjoyed this story. I liked the Lemony Snicket snarky narration and feel to the story. Fantasy and adventure is one of my favorite genres and this story did not disappoint in the adventure department. The Amazon description of the book says it is a YA book and the length and reading difficulty of the book puts it more to the YA category. I was just talking to Anne McKernan (from The Itsy Bitsy Mom blog) about “cross-over” books. Books written on a YA reading level but the story is better for high MG readers – I think this book fits that category (despite the handful of curse words in it – some he** and da**). Taylor James is a great character and one that I really enjoyed reading about. The adventure in the story kept me turning the pages.
You can grab a kindle version of the book for free right now (click HERE).
Visit the official Stolen Kingdom website HERE.
YAY! I have a 2-hour late start to school today! :D WOOOO!!! :lol: Not as good as a day off, but I’ll take it. :)
By Bob Jonas
255 pages -ages 14+
Published by Vagabond Librarian Publishing on April 17, 2013
Summary – 15-year-old Charlie Evers was warned about the internet censors in China. He’d lived there most of his life (since he was 5, and before that, he was an American citizen) and he had learned a lot about China/Chinese culture in those ten years. He also learned that living in China is much different than in America. He got carried away on a research project, and he ended up touching illegal topics on the internet because of his curiosity. Charlie’s dad is “away for work” but his mom is worried. Next thing Charlie knew, the police were knocking on their door and he and his mom were questioned. Charlie thought that was pretty rough but then he was kidnapped by a group he was researching on the internet! His kidnappers promise Charlie that they will reunite him with his dad. They take him up the Yangtze River to the middle part of China. What he learns changes his life forever. Charlie finds that his mom has also been taken and that his dad is somehow involved with the rebel group hat kidnapped him. Charlie learns that there is a revolution going on in China, but right now, Charlie is just hoping to stay alive and find his parents.
What I think – This is a super-fueled adventure! The book is set in 2008 when the China had the summer Olympics. I love the setting because I learned a lot and it is about a part of the world, I don’t read very much about. I love Mr. Jonas’ writing style. The plot he came up with has a lot of obstacles and that made it fun to read.
HERE IS A MAJOR SPOILER SO DON’T READ THIS PART IF YOU DON’T WANT TO! I only had one little problem with the plot. It was the way Charlie was kidnapped and treated before being reunited with his dad. Charlie’s dad is a high-ranking member of the rebel force trying to change China for the better, so I don’t get why he was treated so badly when they were bringing him to his dad. Another kid character stumbled onto the rebel plot and he was just told to keep quiet. Plus I thought Charlie’s dad would have been ANGRY about the whole thing, but it was like that’s just the way it is, that part seemed kind of forced, but that was only a minor point.
OKAY YOU CAN READ AGAIN :P I like how there is an educational touch to the whole story. On Mr. Jonas’ website, I learned that he lived and taught in China and you can tell that he is very knowledgeable about the country. I learned what an EXPAT was, about the Chinese culture and how the Chinese government operates. I loved learning about the Yangtze river and some of the geography of China. Charlie is a character you come to care for. He is a nice kid, thrust into a big situation. He handles it pretty well, once he got past the whole “You kidnapped me, to save me?”. You can understand how he feels. He seems like a typical American kid and is a believable character. This book is rated as a YA book, but I thought the action and violence in it was no more than you read in some of the The 39 Clues books or the Alex Rider series (some characters die but in a justified way and it is not graphic), but there is quite a bit of cussing. I think if Mr. Jonas took out some of that, the book would be great for younger kids too.
I am definitely putting this one on my read-again shelf in my bookcase.
To learn more about Mr. Jonas and his other books, please visit his website HERE.
Follow him on Twitter HERE.
Like him on Facebook HERE.
By Lisa Orchard
245 pages – ages 14+ (ebook reviewed)
Published by Astraea Press on March 12, 2012
Sarah Cole, her sister Lacey, and best friend Jackie Jenkins, were scared. Not only did they find that the woman in the neighborhood whom the kids call the “Cat Lady,” was murdered, but the cops found them WITH the body. After proving their innocence from the murder (which was hard, since Lacey had blood on her), the girls are free to go. Well, not really. A cop is sure they committed the crime and is out to get them. The girls decide they must prove they didn’t do it and solve the mystery. So, the Super Spies are formed.
The characters in this story are all very good and I enjoyed reading about them. Lacey seems like a nice girl, and Jackie was pretty funny. Sarah is a great female main character, though she can be quite headstrong. The plot was very well written and had the right amount of twists and turns. It kept me on the edge of my seat guessing what was going to happen next. The story had lots of action perfect for a murder mystery. The title threw me off, though. To me, it seemed like the Cat Lady was the killer, but maybe that’s just me. I think that the title, should be “The Cat Lady’s Killer” or a similar thing like that. The book is a YA book and the story had a little more violence than the usual middle grade books I read (well – it is a murder mystery). The girls find the body and there’s blood. It would have been nice to leave some of those details out and have the book be good for middle grade readers too, because the story itself could be good for 12+ (but that is my opinion).
To learn more about Ms. Orchard, please visit her website HERE.
By Brian Meeks
ebook sold by Amazon Digital Services
Published July 25, 2013
Approximately 159 pages – ages 12+
Summary - Abby and Stevie are best friends. Abby is neglected by her foster family (her real parents had died in a fire) and is bullied at school. Stevie is an orphan and sneaks out of the orphanage. One day they spot a very small door at the back of a store they were in (they are friends with the owner). Abby and Stevie get teleported into a large room full of kids and some grown-ups. They get teamed up with 3 other kids for a mysterious challenge (called The Challenge) that none of the kids really know what it is for, but Abby and Stevie figured it was better than going back home. They are told they have to work together to get from a cave they are magically transported to, to a door that when they go through, completes The Challenge. Their path leads them through a strange world where they encounter dangers, puzzles they have to solve, and meet new friends (and enemies). They are guided on their journey by Alouicious who shows up now and again (but far too little). The kids must learn to get along and use their talents to make it through this weird world and succeed on The Challenge!
What I think - The plot idea of this book is intriguing. Two kids find a door and get challenged to The Challenge! Sounds cool. The world the kids go through was interesting. In this world humans were tiny and the animal there were huge. There were also some other creepy creatures like a rock-like giant and beasts from the Pit of Woe (a cool name). Besides Abby and Stevie there are 3 other kids. One of the kids is a nature lover (Jo), another is a fashionista, a pessimist and kind of mean (Cindy), and a nice, optimistic boy (George). Out of the 5 kids I think my favorite character is George, but none of them really stuck out for me. Abby started out as a strong main character but faded around the middle of the book. All of the characters were likeable (except for Cindy, but she kind of grew by the end of the book). The conversation between characters was odd. The characters are 12, but they way they talked to each other sometimes sounded too young. There were a few instances of bad language that parents of younger kids may not like (he**, da**, pi**) and a couple of editing mistakes I found. It bothered me because I was never really sure why they were going on The Challenge other than to just do it. But, I also figured what kid would not just want to go on an adventure. I like the idea that the kids have to work together and get along to complete the journey. Overall I liked the story and I hope we get to learn more about the characters and the challenges they go on in future books in this series.
By Wendi Finn
Illustrated by Kari Shakely
Paperback: 26 pages – ages 10+
Published by CreateSpace on August 6, 2013
Taken from Amazon’s description -
“In May of 2013 the Huffington Post reported teens send and receive over one hundred text messages per day. It is said 94% of teenagers are using social media. Finally a tool has been developed to educate our young users of technology in appropriate on-line habits and security best practice. “
This book is a guide to Internet safety for kids and adults. It covers a variety of topics from emails to Facebook to video chats. It explains a topic and then has a “Do It Yourself” section that kids fill out and parents and teachers can use to talk about it with kids.
When I got the review request for this book, my to be reviewed list was actually already filled (my parents limit the number of books I can accept so I don’t have too much to do). I was about to email that I couldn’t review this book but my mom took one look at the title and said “Oh, you are so reviewing that book.” :) My parents are very big about online security and they talk to me about it a lot. When I went through this workbook, I learned even more. I never heard of “phishing” before. In fact one of my friend’s mom was at our house and she saw the workbook sitting on the table. She picked it up and paged through it. I told her I was reviewing it and that it is a workbook for kids. She told me there was stuff in it that she didn’t know about! Ms. Finn is the perfect expert to write this book because she works in the technology security field and she has kids. There isn’t an age listed for this book but I think it is 10+ (when most kids really start using the Internet). I like the illustrations in the workbook. I think it makes it more kid-friendly.
Before I get to a review of one of the best books I read this year…
At 4pm today (EST), you can join me today for a TWITTER PARTY for Bruce’s Hale’s book, Playing With Fire (School for Spies Book 1 – my review of this fun and exciting adventure story will be coming soon)!!! The chat is moderated by @DisneyHyperion (Mr. Hale’s twitter name is @storyguy1 and my twitter name is @ThisKid_Erik). Mr. Hale will be answering questions about being an author and writing and publishing. Disney Hyperion will also ask Mr. Hale to summarize his book in one tweet! I’m looking forward to that! :) Look for hashtag #PlayingWithFire! Hope to
see TWEET you there!
Now to the review!
By Michael Ende
240 pages – ages 12+
Published by McSweeney’s McMullens Anniversary Edition edition on August 13, 2013
Momo is a young orphan girl living by herself in an abandoned amphitheater who has many friends from town because Momo listens. Momo is so good at listening that people from town come to tell her their troubles and Momo makes them feel good again. Momo also helps kids imagine. But it all changes when the “gray men” come to town and start to convince the townspeople to “save” time by doing things very quickly. In reality, everyone who agrees loses time and becomes super grumpy! No one visits Momo anymore except for the kids, who have no where else to go. Momo realizes she must save everyone from the gray men.
This edition of Momo is a 40th anniversary edition (just released yesterday!) and it is a MUST READ book. The plot of this book is very unlike anything I’ve read. It is unique and fun to read. I love Master Hora, the guy in charge of keeping time going. He’s cool. I like the idea of the gray men as bad guys. They are really creepy. Momo is a great character. I like her “power!” I wish I had a power like that. I love the adventure in this book! I really like Cassiopeia, Master Hora’s turtle, which can see exactly 30 minutes into the future and she can also “talk” by having letters appear on her shell to spell out sentences. I find that very cool. The illustrations scattered through the book are awesome. I like the last picture – Cassiopeia showing two words that appear only to the readers – The End!
PS – My parents were surprised I never heard of or read “The Never Ending Story,” Mr. Ende’s most popular book (he wrote Momo six years earlier than The Never Ending Story). Guess what I will be checking out of the library next? ;)
By D.M. Andrews
41 Pages – Ages 12+
Published in 2013 by D.M. Andrews (ebook)
Cal (age 17) liked to dream because it took him away from this world into a world where he wasn’t bullied. Cal didn’t know what to do when he learned that a girl from his dreams, Ash, is real! He hadn’t seen Ash in real-life before the day she joined his school (and sat next to him in English Literature class). Later he realized that they could “meet” in their dreams (and that if they get hurt in their sleep, they wake with a pain in our world). Cal and Ash together learn that they aren’t in control of “their” dream, and they want to find out who dreamed this place up. The problem is, the people who ARE in control (or under the control of the Guy In Control) are out to stop them!
This was a great YA novella (also good for middle graders)! I like the idea of the “Dreamframe” (as Cal calls it). It is a cool (and a bit scary) idea. It was a great first book in the series and I am anxious to read the next. There is no foul language or over-the-top violence, though Cal is bullied. I like Ash. She was a nice character. I also like Cal. He sounds a lot like me. He prefers books to almost anything else. ;) Mr. Andrews’ writing style is great. I like how the plots in his books are interesting and exciting. His descriptions of the worlds he creates for his characters really let you see what they are seeing. I think kids 12+ would like this novella.
The Circle of Tivedon
By Ryan Shorten
254 pages – ages 13+
Published by CreateSpace on October 3, 2012
Jayl and his sister Myah can’t wait to go to school in Tivedon! The school is taught by the elders of Tivedon, known as “The Circle of Tivedon.” When they get there they both love the school and quickly make friends with some classmates. The teachers at the school were nice and the classes were fun. Everything seemed to be going great! But everything changes when an ancient evil rises again (Lord Rimyaroth). An evil that will start a war. Two people at Tivedon are murdered, including an elder. Soon Jayl does not know who to trust and the whole world is thrown into chaos as he is wrongly accused of the crimes. Myah, a royal daughter and a teacher go off to try to stop the war. Jayl finds out there is a magical talisman that can help stop the ancient evil, but he has to find it with the “help” of two really mean kids from school. Another group tries to find allies to help battle Lord Rimyaroth. Will things ever be peaceful again?
I want to say first off, I really enjoyed this story and would be happy to read the next book in the series. This is a kind of funny (meaning odd – not ha ha) review because, this book started slow for me and at times I found myself putting the book down, but also wanting to continue the story. There is a lot going on in the plot (I even had trouble writing a summary of the story). I think because of the killing (not graphic, but still murders) and the complicated plot (reading level), I would recommend the book to kids 13+. The world created by Mr. Shorten (Tiertyn) was great. He described it very well and I could imagine myself there. The action and adventure in the book was described well and was exciting. The characters were good, but there’s not one that really stuck out for me, but they are all very likeable. The story is a fantasy story, and I think kids who like that genre will enjoy this book, but it definitely isn’t for a reluctant reader or a reader who can’t stick with a story.