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

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

Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa BashardoustGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Published by Flatiron Books on September 5th 2017
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

My Review: 

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is an enchanting and unique take on the tale of Snow White. This character driven story mainly focuses on two young women. The first is Mina, who thanks to her magician father has a heart made of glass. Because of this, Mina is unable to love or feel for others, causing her to focus instead on obtaining power. Eventually she finally succeeds in her quest by marrying a widowed King, who has a young daughter named Lynet. Little does Mina know at the time, that her own father takes part in Lynet’s creation by making her out of snow upon the request of the king in the exact image of his dead wife. At first this is not a problem, but as Lynet grows up Mina starts to feel she could lose her power and position in court to Lynet.

Melissa Bashardoust does a brilliant job when it comes to creating and developing her characters. Mina believes that the ability to love will forever elude her. She pushes everyone away, but is desperately lonely and wanting of love. As the reader, you can’t help but feel a bit of compassion towards her, and even understanding. Though you still have concerns about her obsession with power and how calculating her mind can be.

Lynet has been living under the constant shadow of her dead mother. Even her own father is creepily obsessed with how much she looks like his departed wife. Lynet struggles to find her own identity, and takes dangerous risks to prove she isn’t a fragile delicate thing. Even so, Lynet is left wondering if she’ll ever be free of her mother’s ghost. As well as how she can be her own person without betraying Mina – the only mother she has ever known.

What I love the most about Girls Made of Snow and Glass is that the author does not follow all the core concepts of the original Snow White. This tale isn’t about an aging, bitter queen hating on the beautiful young princess.  Their relationship is complex, like most mother/daughter relationships are. In the end they do work together to help one another, which isn’t what I was expecting. However, I'm happy that the author pushed away from the usual path most retellings take, and created something completely her own.

Aside from the wonderful character development, there are also some deeper and difficult themes that this novel addresses. From perceived gender roles, the relationship of Lynet and her father, and the complex relationship of a mother and daughter. All of which I am sure will make fantastic topics for discussion at any book club, or reading group.

While the world building needed more development and various plot points were not fully explained (i.e. Why/how Mina controls the Southern territories? ), I am still very much in love with what Melissa Bashardoust created within these pages (I want more!!!). It was refreshing to read a story that had such two very different, yet strong female points of view. Though the first half is on the “slower” side, it is necessary in order to give the reader the background needed for both characters, and to further their development.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a beautifully delicate and inventive snow-covered retelling that perfectly merges together the traditional Snow White with something delightfully new and unexpected. I would highly recommend it to all lovers of fairy tales, magic and femine empowerment.

Thank you to the Flatiron Books for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Pre-Order Incentive:

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust goes on sale Sept 5th, 2017, click here to find out about the sparkly gift you can receive if you preorder this magical book.

four-half-stars