Middle Grade Book Review: The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. Cole

Middle Grade Book Review: The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. ColeThe World's Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. Cole
Published by Delacorte Press on August 8th 2017
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park! CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World's Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it. There's Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at school again. There's Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika's wealthy grandfather isn't too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he'll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius. The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own. Join the contestants on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now!

The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine is about to launch, and four lucky kids have won the right to ride on the maiden voyage. Our four riders are all very different from one another. Trevor is the troublemaker/mischievous one. Nika is super rich, and very guarded (with good reason). Cameron is as smart as they come, and Devin is a social media star.

One of the things I liked best about the story was the uniqueness of each character. As you read more about them, you can’t help but want to know more. It was very interesting to see how they each handled their own struggles and secrets. Even more so, how they work together and discover more about themselves as they share the experiences on the ride.

As the adventure unfolds, each of the four winners has their first impressions of their fellow participants. However, these impressions are all based on their exterior and will soon change. This important message is very well executed by the author, as well as the concept of working as a team. It is so important to teach our young readers that first impressions aren’t always right. As well as teaching them the importance of teamwork and collaboration.

The pace of The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine is fast and wild. Every moment was filled with something exciting, entertaining and unexpected. As the reader, you will be constantly be guessing what will happen next. Not to mention what is real, or virtual. Middle graders are sure to enjoy all the twists and turns in this story, which will keep them turning the pages.

Along with great humor, engaging characters and a fun, fast paced tone The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine is unforgettable! Middle grade readers are sure to love the exciting plot and adventures within the pages. There is something for everyone from mystery, humor, and thrills. It will leave you wishing you could ride The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine too.

 

*Thank you to Delacorte Press for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.*

four-stars

Blog Tour: Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy : Review & Playlist

Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Goodreads
four-stars

Welcome to the blog tour for Gertie Milk and The Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy. Today is my stop of the tour and I will be sharing with you my review, along with a playlist inspired by the adventures Gertie goes on throughout the book.  Make sure to check out the rest of the tour stops too for other fun content.

 

Gertie Milk and The Keeper of Lost Things

BY: Simon Van Booy

PUBLISHER: Razorbill

PUB DATE: OCT 3rd, 2017

AMAZON|GOODREADS

 

MY RATING: 4 Stars

 

 

 

Synopsis

This enchanting middle-grade adventure follows twelve-year-old Gertie Milk, who washes up on the island of Skuldark, and finds that all of her memories are gone. Home to helpful Slug Lamps, delicious moonberries, and a ferocious Guard Worm, the island is full of oddities, including a cozy cottage containing artifacts from every corner of history.

It is there that Gertie discovers she has been chosen as the next Keeper of Lost Things, tasked with the mission of returning objects to history’s most important figures right when they need them most. With the help of a time machine disguised as a vintage sports car and the guidance of her fellow Keeper, Kolt, Gertie dodges an elephant army in ancient Alexandria, crashes a 1920s flapper party, and battles a ruthless Zhou Dynasty king.

But soon, Gertie encounters an enemy that threatens everything the Keepers stand for: The Losers, villains who don’t want to keep order but destroy it. Now, Gertie must uncover the truth of her own past if she wants to stop the Losers and set history back in place.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Simon Van Booy is the best-selling author of seven books of fiction, and three anthologies of philosophy. He has written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, NPR, and the BBC. Simon enjoys building robots, model airplanes, and off-road vehicles—which he likes to crash. He has an impressive umbrella collection, a Bowler hat, and carries a green thermos of tea everywhere. His books have been translated into many languages. In 2013, he founded Writers for Children, a project which helps young people build confidence in their literary abilities through annual awards. Raised in rural Wales and England, Simon currently lives between Brooklyn and Miami with his wife, daughter, Robot Rabbit Boy, and a fully-grown sheep.


 

MY REVIEW:

Gertie Milk and the Keep of Lost Things is a charming and whimsical new middle grade book by Simon Van Booy. Within its pages we are introduced to an array of interesting characters, thrilling adventures and the enigmatic world of the Lost Things.

Gertie wakes up on the island of lost things with no memory of who she is, or where she comes from. Gertie at first is afraid, but soon she meets Kolt who tells her that she is now a Keeper of Lost Things. Kolt tells Gertie that Keepers are responsible for returning random lost objects to important people throughout history.

As Kolt fills Gertie in on her new responsibilities, he takes her for a tour of all the rooms in cabin that hold a variety of lost objects. Kolt explains that they do not get to choose where they go, but the B.D.B.U (a magical book) will “summon” them and give them the details once it is time to go return something.

This ultimately leads to Gertie and Kolt having a variety of wild and fun adventures as they work to keep order throughout history. However, there is a group of people who would like nothing better than to cause chaos in history. These are the Losers, and they will do anything to keep Gertie, Kolt or any Keeper from fulfilling their duties.

Gertie Milk and The Keeper of Lost Things is a delight to read. I loved the concept of how one simple lost object has the power to alter the outcome of history. Along with the B.D.B.U my most favorite thing about the world of Lost Things is The Sock Drawer. The Sock Drawer is a huge room filled with lost clothing from throughout time (basically a costumer’s dream closet).

Along with the world building the author also does a great job of making the story approachable and fun. It flows really nicely, and constantly throws new and fascinating things at the reader to keep them engaged.

I like that the story advocates a positive message about friendship, loyalty and finding yourself even when you feel lost and confused. Gertie barely knows anything about herself, but she doesn’t let that hold her down. Instead, she moves forward and handles her struggles beautifully.

Gertie Milk and The Keeper of Lost Things is an imaginative, educational and fun read. Readers of all ages will find something to love about this story, and the characters. I am looking forward to reading more about Gertie’s adventures and hope more books are on the way.

 

MY PLAYLIST:

 

 

four-stars

YA Book Review: WARCROSS by Marie Lu

YA Book Review: WARCROSS by Marie LuWarcross (Warcross, #1) by Marie Lu
on September 12th 2017
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-stars

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

WARCROSS is such a thrill ride! The story reads so quickly I had to reign myself in from reading it in one sitting. However, Warcross had other ideas, and soon I found myself more than 2/3rds done with the book. Capturing your attention from the very first chapter, the book immerses you into the story, just like actual virtual reality.

WARCROSS is set between New York and Tokyo in the not so distant future where virtual reality is a “normal” part of daily life. In this world, everyone is obsessed with playing WARCROSS, a virtual reality game created by Hideo. Our heroine Emika Chen is a rainbow-haired code/hacker wiz trying to make ends meet by hunting down criminals in the cyber world/Dark web.

When Emika gets hired by Hideo Tanaka, I was pleased. He clearly appreciates her brilliance, and respects her for her abilities. Hideo himself is mainly a mystery to everyone. However, he does let his guard down when he is with Emika. The romance that sparks between them seems genuine, and a bit awkward as both characters have a hard time letting down their emotional firewalls.

Marie Lu does a lovely job executing her characters and giving them so much depth. I love what a badass gamer Emika is.  Usually people dismiss girls as being legit gamers. Which is why it is important that Emika can code, hack and is pretty much a cyber genius.

I love the world that Marie Lu creates in WARCROSS. It isn’t too far-fetched or even completely impossible to think that this could be our actual “real” world one day. With how technology is progressing it might even be closer than we think. I am curious to see where the next book might take the world building.

WARCROSS does have a few plot twists thrown into the story, and though one I pretty much guessed from the start, the second I did not see coming at all. The cliffhanger at the end had me going WHAT? NO! WHY??? OMG…I need to know what happens next!!!

Between the fantastic world building and the “life” that Marie Lu puts into her characters, WARCROSS is a book that all genders can truly appreciate and enjoy reading. Needless to say, I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

WARCROSS is a fast read, jam packed with action and a super cool virtual reality world. I highly recommend it to lovers of YA and science fiction books.

four-stars

Hunting Prince Dracula Blog Tour: Trick or Treat Costume/Cosplay Ideas

Welcome to the Hunting Prince Dracula Blog Tour! Today is my turn to showcase something fun in honor of the upcoming release of Kerri Maniscalco’s second novel Hunting Prince Dracula. After reading Kerri’s first book Stalking Jack the Ripper, I couldn’t wait for the next one. When I heard the new book in the series revolves around the myth of Dracula, I already knew I would love it.  The last time I participated in the tour for Stalking Jack the Ripper, I did a special peak into Audrey Rose’s closet (click here to check it out). Taking inspiration from that post, I am going to provide you with some ideas for potential cosplay/ trick or treat costumes for dressing up like the characters in Hunting Prince Dracula.  Make sure to out my review for Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula.

In the book, our main characters Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell start off on the Orient Express on their way to Romania. Here are some ideas for what they might be wearing.

 

Audrey Rose Travel Dress:

 

 

 

Audrey Rose Cape (for staying warm on sleigh rides with Thomas):

 

Audrey Rose Castle Grounds Exploring: 

 

Thomas Cresswell:

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While at Bran Castle, Audrey Rose would probably try to wear less “frilly” attire, so here are some ideas for the perfect dresses to attend lectures and handle body parts.

 

Audrey Rose Lecture Attire:

1973.590a,b_recto_image1_CAM

 

 

 

Thomas Cresswell/Other Male students at the Academy:

 

Daciana Cresswell (Thomas’s sister!)

 

 

Audrey Rose Christmas Ball Attire (Inspired by the Yellow dress Audrey Rose admires in the village):

 

Thomas Cresswell Christmas Ball Attire:

Victorian Gowns and costumes are elaborate works of art, but with a little imagination, revamping or heading to a good rental costume store you can accomplish pulling off these looks and many more. Here are a few “modern spins” on Audrey Rose’s Victorian fashions…

 

But if you really want to be authentic, I would recommend finding a costume store that rents more elaborate costumes, or even go on Ebay or Etsy if you can afford to buy it.

 

Make sure to check out the rest of the tour and remember that Hunting Prince Dracula goes on sale on September 19th, 2017.

 

 

Title: Hunting Prince Dracula
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication date: September 19, 2017
Pages: 448
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

 

 

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

 

 ***

PRAISE FOR HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA

“There are plenty of suspects and red herrings as well as tense escalations….A scenic, twisty mystery.”

Kirkus Reviews

 “Readers of the previous mystery will be thrilled to have more of this likable duo. [A] delightful romp into an 1888 Gothic mystery with a hint of romance.”

School Library Connection

 

ABOUT KERRI MANISCALCO

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Follow Kerri on Social media links:

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest

 

TOUR DATES

Week One

August 21: Paper Cuts: Hunting Prince Dracula Playlist
August 22: Literary Legionnaire: Review of Hunting Prince Dracula
August 23: Books & A Cup of Coffee: Character Mood Boards
August 24: Artic Books: Hunting Prince Dracula Playlist
August 25: 21st Century Once Upon A Times: A “Drink Your way through SJTR: Tea Edition”

Week Two

August 28: Hiver Et Café: History of Prince Dracula
August 29: Justice Reads: Review of Hunting Prince Dracula
August 30: Nicole’s Novel Reads: Travelling Etiquette and tips for Victorian Women
August 31: Sophie Reads YA: Favourite Stalking Jack the Ripper Fanart
September 1: LILbooKlovers: Top Ten Quotes from Stalking Jack the Ripper

Week Three

September 4: One Way or An Author: Hunting Prince Dracula Phone Backgrounds
September 5: A Blinding Book: Hunting Prince Dracula Aesthetic
September 6: Rants & Raves: Review & Snacks
September 7: Rattle the Stars: Hunting Prince Dracula Playlist
September 8: A Gingerly Reviews: Hunting Prince Dracula Review

Week Four

September 11: The Plot Bunny: Hunting Prince Dracula Trick or Treat Costume Ideas
September 12: Blame it on The Books: Hunting Prince Dracula Review
September 13: The Reader & the Chef : Hunting Prince Dracula’s Menu
September 14: Books, Tv, and More…Oh MY!!: Top Ten Favourite Traits of Audrey & Thomas
September 15: Unquenchable Reads : GIF, GIFS, and more GIFS

Week Five 

September 18: Rattle the Pages : A Glimpse Back in Time: Vlad The Impaler edition
September 19: Beyond the Book Reviews: Character Wears of the 21st Century
September 20: The Heart of a Book Blogger : Hunting Prince Dracula Mood Board

 

GIVEAWAY : Enter for your chance to win an

ARC of Hunting Prince Dracula

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Book Review and Blog Tour Stop: Mighty Jack and The Goblin King by Ben Hatke

by Ben Hatke
Published by First Second Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
five-stars

Happy Book Birthday to Mighty Jack and The Goblin King by Ben Hatke! What is a book birthday you ask? Well, hopefully there is cake involved (I always have a way of finding cake), but it’s also the magical day that a new book gets published/released for sale. Today is also my turn on the blog tour for this fantastic graphic novel. Make sure to check out all the stops on the tour (here), and to read my review below.


Title: Mighty Jack and The Goblin King

Author: Ben Hatke

Pub Date: Sept 5th, 2017

Publisher: First Second

Genre: Middle Grade – Graphic Novel – Fantasy

My Rating: 5 STARS!

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

Synopsis:

The garden behind Jack’s house has gone wild with creatures set loose by the magic beans Jack and his kid sister Maddy planted. One particularly mean creature has kidnapped Maddy and carried her off. Now Jack and his neighbor Lilly must follow her to a world between worlds beyond the vines and stalks, where giants grind the bones of human children to feed their beast in the castle up above, and a fearsome goblin king rules down below. It’ll take more than Lilly’s bag of concoctions and tricks, and more than one hero, to rescue Maddy, reunite Jack’s family, and bring them all safely home again.

 

My Review: 

I gobbled up Mighty Jack and The Goblin King probably about as quickly as a giant would, and I am not ashamed about it. I loved every single page from start to finish. This is the second book in the Mighty Jack series written and illustrated by the talented Ben Hatke. Mr. Hatke uniquely captures the essence of the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, but manages to give the story an unexpected twist all his own.

 

The narration is quick and fun, simple enough for younger readers to stay focused and committed to the storyline. One of my favorite “voices” in the novels is the goblins. While reading their dialogue I read/heard their voices sounding very similar to Yoda, which to me is a plus. Honestly, this is probably my brain being weird, but I found them delightfully strange.

However, what truly makes Might Jack and the Goblin King shine is the stunning illustrations. Every single page is jam packed with action and with color. You won’t want to take your eyes off of them, and my favorite illustrations were of the goblins themselves, especially the adorable gobblets.

 (Can these gobblets be made into little stuffed animals? I totally want one..or ten.)

 

The story revolves around the three main characters Jack, Lilly and Maddy, but the main focus is on Jack and Lilly. They are on a mission to rescue Maddy from being fed to the Giants’ “beast” (some type of machine thingy). While on their journey they are separated and both must push ahead on their own. I like how the author incorporated the family dynamic into the story, and also the importance of being a good friend. Lilly is my new hero, I love her take charge attitude and how clever and brave she is. Both our heroes learn important lessons, but the story never comes off as being “preachy” at any point. It all occurs very naturally.

There is even a little bit of romance in the story, and it is so AWKWARD! However, it is also sweet and perfectly relatable for the newly turned teenage reader.

While you don’t have to read the first book in this series, I would recommend you do. Because it will give you some back story on our characters and from whom they got their “magic beans” from. Hopefully the next book will have some answers as to who he is.  As well as a whole new adventure for our trio. I can’t wait!

If you are looking for a fun and lively graphic novel filled with adventure for a middle grade reader, look no further than these awesome Mighty Jack books. It will charm even the pickiest of readers with its beautiful illustrations and interesting creatures.

Thank you to First Second for providing me with a finished copy of Mighty Jack and The Goblin King in return for my review and participation in this blog tour.

 

About the Author:

Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times–bestselling Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, the picture books Julia’s House for Lost Creatures and Nobody Likes a Goblin, and the graphic novels Little Robot and Mighty Jack. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. benhatke.com

 

 

five-stars