Thursday, July 3, 2014

Unplugged Review

Title: Unplugged
Author: P.D. Quaver

Unplugged is a young adult ebook about what would happen if teenagers had to live without their modern devices and social media. A group of teenagers are sent to partake in "The Natural Path" - a program that aims to help teens addicted to their the internet and their devices run by Dr. Zarkov. However the program turns out to be something more - a kidnapping! Trapped on a remote island without any way to contact their parents or the outside world, the group of teens have to learn to band together to first survive then defeat their kidnappers.

The book is recommend for teens 13 or older. There were a couple (hilarious) of illustrations in the book which usually places a book for a pre-teen or younger audience. Still, I think those in their teens might also enjoy this book for the story.

Instead of partaking in a program that is meant to help them, the teens find themselves part of a kidnapping. They are being held for ransom. However, none of the teens are going to just sit back and let Dr. Zarkov and his crew use them. It is hard for them at first to not be able to use technology but by coming together and building a friendship, they learn to survive and win.

The story has interesting characters each with their own personality who all have to learn to come together if they want to survive. The story not only deals with the issues of teens being on their modern devices too much but also touches on themes of friendship and family. The book does all of this while taking place in a thriller styled life-and-death situation plot. The plot adds a lot of interest and excitement to the story.

Each character has their own problem that they are dealing with which play a role into why they were sent to the island to begin with. By the end of the book, through all the challenges, each teen has grown a lot. Throughout the book you end up cheering for the teens not just to survive the island but to overcome their own problems so it is really nice to see the teens go through a lot of character growth.

Overall, the story was interesting and fast-paced enough once the kidnapping plot got going that I would recommend this book to young teens.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fever The Chemical Garden #2 Book Review

Title: Fever (The Chemical Garden #2)
Author: Lauren DeStefano

I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed the first book and, once again, the author got me at the end and now I need to get the third book to see how the story ends.

The beginning of the book was interesting and I enjoyed reading it but I did not really come to care for any of the new characters that were introduced. Especially since they are only there at the beginning of the book. The second book in the Chemical Garden trilogy starts off with Rhine (and Gabriel) waking up at what looks like a carnival but is really a place of prostitution. The two manage to escape from the "carnival" and start heading to New York to try and find Rhine's brother.

Of course, the evil Vaughn is still chasing after Rhine and will stop at nothing to get her back to the mansion.

The book does a great job continuing to paint the world that Rhine and the others now live in. Rhine remembers growing up with her brother, and while it was not glamorous or secure by any means, she had freedom compared to the brief time she was forced to spend in Vaughn's home. However, with freedom came a lot of danger and while she was under lock and key in the house, Vaughn did provide her with safety. Of course, he's still evil what with the creepy secret lab and what-not.

I'm glad that the author showed us a little more of the world. The first book was focused more on Rhine's new life in the big house with Linden and Rhine's sisterwives so while we knew a bit about the world we did not really get to see it.

There were some parts of the book that dragged on a bit and I still don't care for either of Rhine's love interests, but I did enjoy the book overall and I must get the third book now just to see how things end.

Rating: 4 out of 4

The Monsterjunkies An American Family Odyssey Book 1 Review

Title: The Monsterjunkies An American Family Odyssey: "Being a normal Family is a State of Mind" (Book One 1)
Author: Erik Daniel Shein and Theresa A. Gates

Another e-book! I like supporting indie and self-published authors which is why I have decided to review such books on this blog. I will be getting back to reviewing mainstream books alongside e-books soon though. But for now, let's review The Monsterjunkies Book 1!

The story takes place in Maine so as I New Englander I have to support it just based on that. Kidding! But seriously, I did enjoy this book. The story is about a group of teenagers who live at Monsterjunkie Manor and with a name like that you have to expect monsters to be involved. The manor is home to not just the teenagers but also all sorts of magical creatures. Of course, while this can be a alot of fun it is also difficult growing up in such a different home and being bullied for being different.

That's really the main themes of the story: Learning to stop hiding and not being afraid to show who you are. The Monsterjunkies teens have had to wear masks their entire lives growing up but, as the authors put it, "It is the people who take off their masks and show the real person inside who truly find meaning in their lives." This theme of masks hiding one's true self and learning to remove said masks plays throughout the book. But just like how the Monsterjunkies kids are really not spooky, there are others who hide behind a mask of goodness when they are anything but good.

The actual story focuses on two teens, Crow and Indigo, who live at the manor. Everyone at school knows where they live and the two face a lot of bullying as a result. They are assumed to be creepy people just because they live in a house with a reputation for being spooky and full of monsters. It is not just the kids at school that pick on Crow and Indigo, but the adults do so as well which I liked seeing in the book because we often overlook that sometimes adults are also the problem.

The Monsterjunkies falls under a new genre called YA Visionary Fiction which basically means that the book deals with real issues, such as social issues and bullying, with a bit of magic and esoteric wisdom. Throughout the story the authors touche on the theme of bullying through creating a fantasy world filled with strange and interesting monsters.

The monsters add a little fun element to the story that I feel really helps to add to not only the message of the story but also the creativity and fun of the story. The plot is actually well developed and the characters are great. I really felt like the characters were representative of real teens facing real problems. Crow and Indigo, while siblings dealing with the same problem, both have different takes, feelings and experiences related to being bullied.

This is a great book for any teen feeling bullied and also likes monsters and more gothic-esque things. Of course, it is also just a good book for anyone to read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Saturday, June 14, 2014

George Knows Review

Title: George Knows
Author: Mindy Mymudes

When a magical basset hound, George, meets 12 year old greenwitch Karly, he takes it upon himself to protect and train her. The two soon get caught up in a murder investigation though, which they then have to solve. And how does saving the park fit into all of this?

I love stories involving magic and witches. One of my favorite thing about kids' books is how there's a lot of room to play around with fantasy elements like magic and guardian basset hounds. I also love how there's also plenty of room to create magical worlds within our own mundane world.

George Knows is written from the point of view of a basset hound named George. In my opinion, this makes the story fun in a lot of different ways. George sort of sees himself as Karly's teacher yet he cannot always easily communicate with her which makes training her at times both frustrating for George and funny for the reader.

George Knows is a fun kid's story filled with magic, adventure and mystery. It is also a very well written and engaging story. Even as an adult I found the story to be gripping and engaging. The characters are well developed and consistent, and the plot is interesting and attention holding throughout the entire book. I would recommend this book for grade school kids. I know I would have loved when I was younger!

You can find this book online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books and itunes.

Rating: 5 our of 5

Monday, February 3, 2014

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra Review

Title: James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra
Author: Colm McElwain

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is about a young boy named James who has been surrounded by mystery since he was born. One day, while he visits his grandfather's house, he is given the mysterious Diamond of Orchestra. The dimond changed his life and threw James and his friends Ben and Mary into a wild adventure. James ends up finding out about his mysterious birth and just what exactly it means for him.

This book is great for preteens (middle grade students) and young adults but given how fun the story is, I'm sure most people at any age would enjoy this book.

James' story and adventure was so fun to read. The story itself is a blend of fantasy and adventure. The writing is great and the author really succeeded at created a rich world and story for the book. The characterization of James, Ben and Mary was also well done in my opinion, The characters felt real and strong.

I just really enjoyed reading James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra. I cannot really find anything bad to say about it especially as a middle grade reader.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit And The Fox Review

Title: Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit And The Fox
Author: Sybrina Durant (@Sybrina_spt)

What an adorable idea for a book! This book is to teach children how to tie a tie and uses a story of a rabbit and a fox to teach that. The story makes learning and remember how to tie a tie easy for a child. It is also a very cute and fun story.

The story is basically about a rabbit being chased by a fox. As you read the story and see how the rabbit runs away or evades the fox, you also learn how to tie a tie. Each page has the story part and the tie instruction part. The book is very cohesive though because the story is reflected and shown in the tie instruction part. This book does a great job connecting the story to the instructions.

I really love how the tie instructions are tied in (get it?! ha!) with the story. It is a very creative way of weaving the two functions of the book together. Whatever the rabbit does in the story relates to a step in the tie instructions. It is a very clever and great way to teach a child how to tie a tie! The story also helps a child remember the steps to tying their tie.

But it is not just the pictures and the instructions that make this book great and easy for a child to learn from. There is also a fun song that goes with the book! You can listen to the song for free here. Be careful though. The song might end up stuck in your head!

One of my favorite things about children's books is the art which is why I also write at least a little bit about it in my reviews. The art in Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit And The Fox is so cute. But it is more than just cute. The illustrations also act as a visual guide for each step in tying the tie. This is very helpful to the more visual reader and learner.

If you need to teach your son (or daughter) how to tie a tie, this is a great book for just that! The story is fun and helps a child learn to and remember how to tie a tie. It can even help an adult. I mean, it did teach me how to tie a tie too!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tale of Running Bear Review

Title: Tale of Running Bear, A Picture Book for Adult-Minded Young People
Author: Elaine J. Keller

A lot of people might pass up this book based on the cover but you really shouldn't. The artwork inside of the book is actually pretty beautiful. There were a few drawings that had me stop reading to look at the picture for a little bit. The art was not the only thing I liked about Tale of Running Bear. The story, while easy to read, was very thought provoking. The book has you reflecting on themes of the power of belief and how humans are harming wildlife and nature.

The actual text in the book is more geared towards an adult mind. There's actually something in it for adults to read this book. I actually like that the book is easy to read ans simple but also has a message for adults because we don't always have to read 300 pages of text (even wonderfully written text) to get something meaningful out of a story. In some places the text is not really suited for very little children though.

Children can read this book though. I would recommend that you read through the book first before letting your child read it because the book presents several themes that you might want to have a discussion with your child about. One such theme is the power of belief and how it can be used to create fear.

My favorite thing about this book, besides the art, is that it teaches about how nature is all around us and we should do more to respect and be kind to nature. Tale of Running Bear does not teach this in a condescending way though. Instead, this message of caring for nature is shared throughout the book in a very nice and meditative way. I also loved the message of universal love at the end. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

For the price and the content I would easily give this a 5.