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

Blog Tour: Knife’s Edge by Hope Larson, Illustrations by Rebecca Mock

Genres: Adventure, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade

Welcome to the Knife’s Edge Blog Tour! Today is my stop on the tour and I am so excited to share with you my thoughts on this exciting and fun duet series. (You can follow the whole blog tour here).

 

Knife’s Edge
by Hope Larson
Illustrations by Rebecca Mock
Read: June 4-5, 2017
Published: June 27, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Finished copy from publisher (Thank You!)
Category: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Twins, Adventure, Ships
Series: Sequel to Compass SouthFour Points Duet 2/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

 

Book Description: Twelve-year-old twin adventurers Cleopatra and Alexandra Dodge are reunited with their father and realize that two family heirlooms reveal the location of a treasure that is their birthright. When they set sail with Captain Tarboro on the Almira, they know they’re heading into danger—the ocean is filled with new and old enemies, including their nemesis, the infamous pirate Felix Worley.

But like a coral reef that lurks below the surface of the waves, trouble is brewing between the siblings. Alex is determined to become a sailor and is happy with his role aboard the Almira, but Cleo—the only girl on the ship—is tired of washing dishes in the galley. In an effort to find her own purpose, she begins studying sword fighting with Tarboro, but neither Alex nor her father approves.

Can the twins remain close as they pursue different goals and dreams, or will their growing differences tear the family apart before the treasure can be found?


In this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Compass South, Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock once again create an outstanding seafaring adventure.

 

My Review:

After reading Compass South, I couldn’t wait to continue on the journey with Alex and Cleo in Knife’s Edge.  I would recommend reading Compass South before diving into Knife’s Edge, only because it will give you a fuller reading experience to know the background story. Between Hope Larson’s engaging narrative/dialogue and Rebecca Mock’s beautiful and detailed illustrations the story truly came to life.

In Knife’s Edge, twelve-year-old twins, Alex and Cleo, along with the help of family heirlooms and the crew of the Almira set sail on another thrilling adventure in search of lost treasure. Upon setting sail with Captain Tarboro, they know they are heading to danger, as their nemesis pirate Felix Worley is also on the hunt for the same treasure.

 You can’t help but cheer on for our two heroes, Alex and Cleo, as they use their wits, cleverness and family heirlooms to solve the riddles and puzzles throughout their journey.

If danger and peril weren’t enough to worry about, the twins must also overcome their “growing pains”, as for the first time in their lives, it becomes clear to them that they’re different genders will cause them to be at odds with one another.

Alex is ready to take up the life of a sailor, but Cleo struggles to find a place for herself in a mainly male dominated world. I am glad the author did not shy away from putting some sibling tension in her story, as it made the characters seem more realistic.

The underlying theme of “finding oneself” and “identity” is subtle but comes off loud and clear.  I enjoyed the parallel between the twins seeking treasure while at the same time  “seeking” themselves and their own way in the world.

Reading graphic novels is a relatively new to me. I am so very glad I decided to start reading them on a more regular basis. Knife’s Edge had a little bit of everything, from pirates, to family drama, adventure, danger, and even a little bit of (innocent) romance too.

Readers of all ages should enjoy this quick, fun read. Everyone should be able to relate to the theme of “finding yourself and your place in the world”.  I highly recommend both Compass South and Knife’s Edge for middle grade readers and anyone who loves pirates and adventure books.

 


 

 

Follow the Tour: 

6/26 — Love Is Not a Triangle
6/27 — Here’s to Happy Endings
6/28 — Never 2 Many 2 Read
6/29 — Librarian’s Quest
6/30 — The Windy Pages
7/3 — The Plot Bunny
7/4 — Undeniably Book Nerdy
7/5 — The Novel Hermit
7/6 — The Hiding Spot

Blog Book Tour and Giveaway: The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner

Published by Steel Page Press LLC Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Welcome to The Blue Moon Narthex Book Tour! Today is my stop on the tour hosted by Irish Banana Tours and I will be sharing my review of The Blue Moon Narthex. This is a great new series for middle-grade readers and is sure to capture their attention.  Remember to enter the awesome giveaway at the bottom of the post! You don’t want to miss it!

 

The Blue Moon Narthex

Author: N.J. Donner

Publisher: Steel Page Press 

Pub. Date: Feb 7th, 2017

My Rating: 3 Stars

AMAZON

GOODREADS

B&N

 

 

ABOUT THE BLUE MOON NARTHEX:

The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen-year-old… Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.

 

A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.

 

With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

N.J. Donner is the author of the new Karmanic Sovereign Legion books. N.J. loves to explore. The world fascinates him and he wants to figure out why and how things work, including Karma.

College adventures took N.J. far from his small Nebraska hometown to the southern hemisphere and the inner city. This was the beginning of his wanderlust and today he loves to travel with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

N.J. became the first person to graduate with a minor in international affairs from Nebraska Wesleyan University and spent the years right out of college building a successful steel company.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

 

MY REVIEW:

The Blue Moon Narthex is a middle-grade fantasy is made for readers who enjoyed the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. It is filled with adventure, friends, mystery and even a bit of magic. Were there moments and certain things about the three main characters that reminded me a little (maybe a bit too much) about the Harry Potter series- yes. However, since this is the first book in the series I still believe there is time for it to become more defined, and hold its own with future books. Now that we got that over with, let’s move on to how fun this book is to read. My advice is that if you are a grown adult (like myself…most days) please keep in mind this book is meant for Middle-Grade readers.

 

Thirteen-year-old Cole and his two best friends Britten and Sasha are suddenly thrown into a secret world they didn’t know even existed. The world of the Karmanic Sovereign Legion is dedicated to fighting evil. This is the world Cole’s father was involved with before he died. Cole inherits the Blue Moon Narthex stone which leads him and his friends to the Coreseum. The Coreseum is a school where the kids are divided into groups depending on their talent and given a role to master as part of their education.

 

Hopefully, as the series develops the main characters will come into their own voices. Though they are likable, they do read a bit “younger” than 13. I also feel that their personalities need to be a bit more defined and individualized. Then again, when was the last time you met a 13yr old that was completely self-confident and sure of themselves? There were also times that their immaturity turned me off a bit, I do love the friendship between these characters and how they are always there for each other.

 

Though the characters need a bit of work, the world building is fantastic in The Blue Moon Narthex. While reading the book I felt like I could “see” the Coreseum, the Narthexes and the “sliding”. The author did a wonderful job describing and explaining these places and things in detail. Though I would have liked to see the “real” world and WWI appear or factor in a bit more into the story. The war is only mentioned a few times but not enough for such a huge world event. But then again, maybe the author was avoiding it on purpose. After all, we dive into fantasy to get away from “reality”, and placing the war more prominently would have taken away from the fantasy.

 

Being given a thorough background on the mythology of the world, and details on how Karmanic Matter is discovered and used kept me intrigued and fascinated. It also made the world of the Karmanic Sovereign Legion come to life for me. The concept of “sliding” into different dimensions is what I really loved about this book. It’s one of my favorite things to read about in science fiction/fantasies because I would love to be able to do it myself.

 

Overall, I believe that the Blue Moon Narthex will captivate younger middle-grade readers and transport them to an exciting new world, filled with mystery, friendship and even a bit of magic.

 

*I received this book in a promotional package from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

 

GIVEAWAY: 

Enter for your chance to win a Blue Moon Narthex Swag Box

(US ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

FOLLOW THE TOUR

Week 1:

2/6: Swoony Boys Podcast – Review

2/7: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Q&A

2/8: Kara the Redhead – Spotlight

2/9: Young Adult Rocks – Review

2/10: books are love – Top 10

Week 2:

2/13: Such A Novel Idea – Q&A

2/14: Book Stacks Amber – Excerpt

2/15: Books Buying Beauty – Review

2/16: Red House Books – Guest Post

2/17: Basic Book Blog – Review

Week 3:

2/20: The Irish Banana Review – Review

2/21: Lisa’s Loves – World Building

2/22: Pondering the Prose – Review

2/23: Who RU Blog – Novel Secrets

2/24: The Plot Bunny – Review

 

Educational and Fun Gifts for Readers and Teachers

Published by National Geographic Kids Genres: Adventure, Middle Grade, Science

Today I will be reviewing for some fantastic educational books I received from National Geographic Kids. These books would make great gifts for the little readers who love exploring and science. Or how about gifting them to your child’s teacher? If you still have some shopping to do and are stuck on ideas for the perfect gift for a special reader, here are some awesome books to consider.

For The Ocean Lover:

Ultimate Oceanpedia (A Complete Reference) National Geographic Kids by Christina Wilsdon

(ages 7-10)

Do you have a little one who is fascinated with fish and all the strange and interesting creatures of the sea? This book is jam packed with colorful photos, incredible facts, art, and diagrams. Readers go on a magical journey deep under the sea learning about whales, dolphins, turtles, crustaceans, a variety of fish, and my personal favorites sharks. Weather patterns, currents, water temperatures are also discussed and how all of these things affect our ocean and the lives of everything in it. The breathtaking photos are clear and detailed so little eyes won’t miss a spot or a fin. I love that there are special tips about how we can all do our part to help keep our oceans clean and thriving with life. This wonderful book is sure to entertain (and educate) young readers for hours on end.

For The One Who Always Asks How? Or Why?

How Things Work (National Geographic Kids) by T.J. Resler

Ever wonder how things work? I know I often did as a child. That inquisitive nature has always been a part of me. I know there are lots of children and adults out there that feel the same. How Things Work is the PERFECT gift for anyone on your list who enjoys seeing and learning about how things “work”. It captivates from the start as it explains how hoverboards and hoverbikes work. Who wouldn’t be fascinated just by that alone?

Other topics range from iPods, roller-coasters, simulators, cloaking devices, tightrope walking and so much more. The pictures are bright and engaging. The typology throughout the book keeps changing, which helps keep your eyes focused and interested. I love the section where you can “Try this” which gives you the opportunity to run your own experiments at home or in the classroom with the kids. How Things Work will not only keep your kids busy and entertained for days (months even!) but you might find yourself reading along too.

For The Space Explorer

Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More! by National Geographic Kids

(Ages 8-12)

The Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More! By far is not your average science book. Though it might feel intimidating due to the 304 pages, it really is fun. National Geographic Kids did a fantastic job making sure to show how science incorporates into our daily lives. Because of this kids will be more prone to appreciate science as it is directly related to them somehow. From the food we eat to computers, TVs and even the air we breathe, science is a part of it all.

The book is drafted into two parts: Physical science (Matter, Energy, Electronics, Forces and Machines, and Life Science (Life on Earth, Planet Earth, The Universe and The Human Body). Throughout the book, you will find a variety of photographs, texts, facts and vivid colors that will keep the reader engaged. Most of the information given is suitable for 8-12-year-olds. It is explained in a manner in which the average reader will “get it” on a basic level. The Science Encyclopedia also has a section for “Try This!” with experiments you can try at home or in the classroom which is related to the topic at hand. I also quite liked that a glossary of terms is provided at the end. There are also suggestions on finding out more via websites, movies, and books. The Science Encyclopedia is sure to inspire all the little Einsteins in your family or classroom.

Not Every Invention Equals Success…That Doesn’t Mean You Stop Trying…

Famous Fails!: Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success! By Crispin Boyer

(ages 8-12, $12.99)

This is the perfect little paperback book to stuff into stockings. Kids will learn about strange and quirky inventions. As well as how they didn’t go as planned. Even though failure happens and things sometimes flop , this book will teach young readers the importance of messing up in order to finally getting things right. Filled with interesting facts, history and a good sense of humor kids are bound to be fascinated.

For the Art and Fantasy Lover:

Tales From the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love, and Betrayal by Donna Jo Napoli, Christina Balit (Illustrator)

(Ages 8-12)

Tales from the Arabian Nights is sure to please the daydreamer and adventurer in all of us. This beautiful book filled with stunning artwork and a variety of tales will delight the imagination of the reader (and listener). If read during bedtime it is sure to fill your dreams with vivid renderings of princesses, genies, princes and kings.

The lovely and colorful pages are filled with exotic illustrations depicting a variety of scenes from the stories. There are a variety of facts listed on the sidebars in the book, and many maps of the Middle East. Because of this, I believe this would also be a great teaching tool for any classroom. Especially those learning about Middle Eastern culture. Reader and listeners alike will be charmed by all the wondrous tales in this book.

 

Here is an extra little gifting tip:

 

Why not add a family membership or tickets for a day trip to either the Aquarium, Science Museum or Art Museum with one of these books? That way you can keep the learning going and the imagination growing.

 

I would like to thank National Geographic Kids for reaching out to me and sending me a copy of each of these vibrant, gorgeous and educational books to review. I was enthralled with each of them and would highly recommend adding them to your classroom or child’s library. Happy Holidays!