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Tag: "adventure"

Review: How to Destroy the New Girl’s Killer Robot Army by Mick Bogerman

[ 2 ] April 22, 2015

killer robot army book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Mick and Finley may have survived zombies and pirates, but can they survive the new girl in town? When Savannah Diamond moves to town, she could be the downfall of Mick’s peaceful neighborhood. Well, when mermaids aren’t trying to eat the townsfolk anyways. She ruins everything for Mick. First she steals his favorite hangout spot, then she beats him in gym class, THEN she takes away Finley’s attention! He can’t be counted on if he’s busy mooning over the new girl.

Mick comes up with a brilliant plan to get her kicked out of school and, at first, things look like they’re going to work out perfectly. But Savannah isn’t one to take an attack and leave peacefully. She likes it here in Beachwood and she plans on retaliating, without mercy. If Mick can’t swallow his pride, killer robots are on the loose and the town might be destroyed for good this time.

Mick Bogerman is back and my kids couldn’t be happier. I have two boys, ages 6 and 7 now, and they can’t get enough of the Bogerman boys. The book is written in a style that my oldest can easily read and comprehend. My youngest is in kindergarten, just learning to read, and he can grasp the majority of it. Either way, nothing stopped him from pairing up with his brother and, like Mick and Finley, having yet another crazy adventure. Who wouldn’t when killer robots are on the loose?

How to Destroy the New Girl’s Killer Robot Army is the third story in the Slug Pie collection but these books almost work better as stand alones. The characters make brief comments that may or may not reference previous adventures, but you don’t have to read them all or read them in any particular order to enjoy them. The author and main character are one and the same, bringing the readers along on the adventure in a family friendly manner. It’s clean, it’s cute, it’s a good read for young boys, but I think girls can enjoy the series just as much. Who said girls can’t kick some robot butt alongside their classmates?

I love the Slug Pie collection and can’t wait for the next installation. It’s a great way to introduce my kids to the same love of books that I have enjoyed throughout my entire life.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Slug Pie Stories, LLC. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Prey by Tom Isbell

[ 3 ] April 9, 2015

the prey book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

It is rare for me to see a book marketed as highly as The Prey by Tom Isbell. I saw ads for the novel all over the internet, popping up on Amazon and GoodReads. Those ads definitely contributed to my excitement for reading The Prey. I’m into dystopian novels, and The Prey promised a post-nuclear America contaminated by a corrupted government and questionable morals. What I did not expect was for the book to be so poorly written that I could barely make it to the last page, let alone enjoy a coherent story with well thought-out characters.

The Prey starts off in the middle of some sort of rehabilitation camp for orphaned boys. You don’t know much about the camp other than that the boys have all been exposed to radiation as a result of the nuclear blasts that took place 20 years prior. The story follows a character who likes to read and therefore is named Book. Yes, all the male characters have similar brilliant naming schemes, such as the quiet but stealthy boy who is aptly named Cat. When Cat arrives to the base, Book finds that not everything is sunshine and roses when they graduate. In fact, the graduates are sent into the wild where they are hunted down by the bad guys named Brown Shirts because, you guessed it, they have brown shirts.

The story switches between Book and a girl named Hope. Hope is a twin with a sister named Faith, another stroke of naming genius. Hope and her father and sister have been on the run from the Brown Shirts for years. The reason behind the running is that Hope and Faith are twins. No other information is given about the situation until after Hope and Faith are captured and sent to their own camp, where medical experiments are conducted on twins because of their nearly identical DNA to see which strains of medicine will work and which will not. Hope meets Book for all of five minutes, and of course, they fall in love, but both Book and Hope have no idea why they have these warm fuzzy feelings when they think of each other. Basically, the whole rest of the story is about their escapes from the camps with no real substance or exposition.

I had high hopes for this novel. I really did. I tried to like it, but I couldn’t. The characters were flat and completely one-dimensional. The story-line was not only predictable, but I felt like it was written by someone who had never taken College Writing 101. The tenses shifted between the chapters told by Book and Hope from first person to third person. There were basic grammatical errors coupled with awkward sentence structure and double negatives. I had to make myself finish this book, and I complained to anyone who would listen every step of the way.

The Prey is a perfect example of good marketing. I agreed to read and review the book solely based on the ads I had seen. Without those ads, I probably would have let this book slide under my radar. However, I am going to save you all the pain and time I wasted on this novel. I cannot recommend this book to anyone of any age group–the story is flat, the writing is bad, and the characters are just terrible. Save yourself the trouble and read something else.

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperTeen. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

[ 5 ] April 2, 2015

in the afterlight book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

In the Afterlight is the closing novel of the spectacular young adult series, The Darkest Minds. The story picks up a month or so after the headquarters of our main character, Ruby, have been destroyed in a citywide bombing. Ruby and her rebel comrades have suffered huge losses, and even though they feel especially low, they are not going down without a fight.

Although Ruby has lost one of the people she was closest to, she has also let one back into her life. Liam now remembers nearly everything that went on between the two of them, and he’s more than ready to forgive Ruby and move forward in their relationship. But in a world where Ruby cannot guarantee that she will be alive from one day to the next, how can she open herself up to love and possibly break Liam’s heart?

I found In the Afterlight to be a satisfying, well rounded close to The Darkest Minds series. There is plenty to keep the reader’s mind busy; the book jumps from bloody action scenes, to introspection, to romance pretty quickly. This is good because it means the focus is not too much on one aspect or the other.

Ruby has finally somewhat come to accept her mind’s abilities, and she now can control them enough to the point where it doesn’t hurt her to use them when necessary. In fact, she has come to see them as more like powers than a curse. She is stronger than ever now, and her focus is on getting the rest of the kids like her out of their hellish rehabilitation camps.

The book does have a few stumbling points. Ruby is so stubborn sometimes, that she unnecessarily hurts those who want nothing more than to help her. There are also a couple of minor plot points that are kind of just explained away without any true resolution. Finally, there are introductions of new characters that happen way too quickly, and that I would have liked to have explored further.

But in the end, this series was about one girl, the few people she loved, and their fight to be free. I enjoyed every page of Ruby’s journey, and though I am happy with the way things ended, I am also sad that their story is over. That’s the sign of a great author, so job well done, Ms. Bracken.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Disney-Hyperion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

[ 3 ] March 30, 2015

dark intelligence book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Dark Intelligence is the first book in a new series called Transformation in the Polity Universe. The book begins by introducing Thorvald Spear in a virtual resurrection room. He has just been resurrected from his recently recovered memory implant. Apparently, he was found sitting in a jewelry store window set in a nice brooch.

After going through his acclimation process he has a chance to absorb his last memories and it leaves him with a need to revenge himself and his friends. It appears his last days with his friends were on a planet fighting against the Prador. One of their own ships carpet bombed the stronghold and wiped out the whole unit. This and some other not so pleasant memories coming back to him leave him with a burning hatred for one Penny Royal, a rogue AI. He adjusts to being resurrected 100 years after his death pretty fast–spurred on by his desire to return the favor to Penny Royal.

Thorvald needs information to track this rather enigmatic AI. Being out of commission for a 100 years leaves one with some rather outdated info. While digging for information on Penny Royal, Thorvald finds many stories about the AI, showing that she was not idle while he was indisposed. One of her victims/supplicants/treasure seekers was Isobel Satomi, a rather important up and coming crime boss. She went to Penny Royal requesting help and she got what she asked for, though not exactly what she wanted.

Penny Royal has a reputation of being able to supply whatever one wants, for a price. Almost the genie in the bottle. However, her deals often have a very Mephistophelian bent. If you aren’t careful, you get exactly what you wish for. Thorvald learns that Isobel was one who got more than she bargained for and he approaches her with promises of reversing the problems, as payment for services she can render.

Dark Intelligence is a very interesting book and Penny Royal is a “chess player” like none other. She always seems to be three steps ahead of everyone else. I enjoyed listening to this book and found myself eager to get the next one in the series to see where things will lead to. It did have a good story arch and one could stop with this book, but why? While this is decent sci-fi, I think it is a great twisted mystery and worthy of a read–or a listen.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

[ 2 ] March 30, 2015

never fade book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

Never Fade is the second book in the Darkest Minds series, and the tone of the novel is dramatically different than that of its predecessor. Whereas in the first book the reader gets to see the main character, Ruby, as a somewhat fragile, confused ex-prisoner, we now get to see her as a soldier working towards the cause of saving other young people like herself.

The book picks up six months after the events of The Darkest Minds. Ruby has joined and very reluctantly risen up the ranks to become a respected leader in the Children’s League. She is often called upon to use her psi abilities to read the minds of those who know important information about what the League is trying to accomplish. All this has come at quite a price to Ruby: the friends she met and became close to when she first left her camp, Chubs, Zu, and Liam, no longer have any connection to her.

Ruby’s world is fast paced and though a lot of thrilling things happen to her, I didn’t find myself as engaged in her story as I did in the first installment of this series. I believe this is mostly because several new characters are introduced rather quickly in the first half of the story, and Ruby is not one to open herself up to new people (or anybody really). Therefore, you don’t see her making connections or feeling much. After only six months of her new work, she is jaded.

The second half of the story really ramps up, as the friends we got to know and love from Ruby’s past come back into her life. These are the people Ruby cares about, and the tone of the book and Ruby’s voice changes completely after they are reintroduced.

Though I’d classify this story as a dystopian political thriller, there are small doses of romance scattered in as well. The small amount that the book does have is very engaging and will make your heart beat faster. The author is talented at writing these small love scenes, and I hope to see more of them in the next novel of the series.

The end of the book moved very quickly, and didn’t really wrap up what at times were quite confusing political storylines for me. I can tell the author is laying the groundwork to have this all finished in the final novel, but it made for puzzling reading sometimes.

I am definitely ready to see how Ruby’s tale will end, because I love her as a main character and I have enjoyed watching her develop. I know not every tale can have a happy ending, but I am hoping for a satisfying one.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Disney-Hyperion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

[ 5 ] March 27, 2015

empty throne book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

Is there a name for a narrator, seemingly reliable to the reader, yet not so predictable to his fellow characters? I have found his name to be Lord Uhtred, a Saxon nobleman, warrior, and a sometime conniver, but a plotter to the common good of Mercia. To say I liked Lord Uhtred, the senior, is an understatement. He is strong, reliable to the reader and those in his personal command, and he exhibits a dry witty dark humor. Such is the lead narrator of Bernard Cornwell’s latest novel in the Saxon Tales series, The Empty Throne.

In 911, King Æthelred of Mercia is declining in health. The king has no heir. A Witan (council) is called amongst the Saxon nobles to meet in Gleawecestre on Saint Cuthbert’s feast day to determine the fate of Mercia. Amongst those summoned to the Witan is Lord Uhtred, a known supporter of Æthelflaed, Lady of Mercia, the king’s estranged wife. Uhtred believes there is no nobleman who can lead and protect Mercia as Æthelflaed can. Uhtred is thought also to be declining in health as he suffered serious injuries in a recent battle. He is not seen as a threat when called south as a singular voice in support of Æthelflaed’s right to the throne.

The fate of Mercia does not only hang on a successor to the throne. Viking raiders are becoming bolder. They encroach from the north and seek to lay their claim on Mercian lands. Many noblemen and holy brethren are too wrapped up with finding a new king to give the northern threat much notice. Only Uhtred and Æthelflaed stand in the way of the Viking invasion.

The Empty Throne is the first book in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales series that I have read. It certainly will not be my last. I chose to read The Empty Throne because the history of Æthelflaed, Lady of Mercia, has intrigued me. That Cornwell wrote a novel around the reality and myth of Æthelflaed is not surprising; there is such rich ground for epic story making within her history. Cornwell’s novel is fiction based on some facts, yet it is not dry. Cornwell brings England a thousand years ago to life in all of its mucky, blood curdling, fantastic details. Moreover, Uhtred is a warrior worth cheering for especially when circumstances seem to sway out of his favor. The Empty Throne was an entertaining and engaging read.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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