Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tower of Treasure: Three Thieves Book One

Tower of Treasure: Three Thieves Book One
by Scott Chantler
112 pages

The acrobatic Dessa lives with a traveling circus, helping distract the audience with her dazzling skills while another member of the troupe robs them.  As they come into Kingsbridge, Dessa hopes to find the mysterious man who killed her parents and kidnapped her brother.  But some members of the circus have other plans: to steel the king's treasure.

Caught between her search for her brother and the temptation of treasure, Dessa must use all her skills to evade traps, escape dungeons and simply survive.  Can she ever find the man that took her brother?

This was a great beginning to a series of graphic novels.  It sets the scene, gives you an idea of the characteristics of the main characters, and creates great conflicts on several levels.  Lots of great potential for the further books.

Tower of Treasure would be a good book for boys or girls.  Lots of action and adventure, without there being tons of violence.  I would recommend starting around 4th grade to around 6th grade.

Overall, fun storyline, adventure and action, interesting characters on all sides, and lots of potential.  I can see where some of it can go, but we never know what direction the author will take!  Good balance between the artwork and text, which is a must for graphic novels.  Really good book, interesting possibilities! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves (Book #2 of the Raven Cycle)
by Maggie Stiefvater
416 pages
High School+

Now that Cabeswater is awake, some things have been different while others have stayed the same.  Noah is only there sometimes, Ronan is moody and distant, Adam has moved out of home, and Gansey is still searching for the Raven King.   Cabeswater has changed, and the energies are surging.  Gansey feels closer than ever, but then Cabeswater disappears.

Ronan is dreaming more and more now.  As he discovers more about these dreams, he begins wondering more about his father.  What did he do for a living, where did his money come from, and did he dream as well?  Can he bring other things out of his dreams besides his raven Chainsaw?

With Cabeswater missing, Ronan involved in his dreams, and Adam caught up in adapting to his new role as Cabeswater's eyes and hands, Gansey and Blue are left to try to figure out things.  Spending more and more time together, Blue is reminded about her destiny: when she kisses her true love, he will die.  But who is her true love?  And is it her kiss that kills him?

With everything going on, time is running out.  Cabeswater has disappeared, and they need to find out why.  Ronan's dreams are getting more involving and out of control.  Adam is seeing things, and not quite sure what he needs to do for Cabeswater.  What is the next step to find the Raven King?  And what is the Greywarden and why are dangerous men looking for it?

So, I was slightly conflicted about this book.  For me, at least, it took longer to get into this book, than The Raven Boys, but once I got into it, I loved it.  The ending moved swiftly, like the first book.  Even though I was super excited about this book, I don't feel like it quite lived up to my expectation.  It was still a great book, and I did find prose that was beautiful and I had to read twice to enjoy it fully.  Great book, just not quite sure it was what I expected.

This book focuses more on Ronan, unlike the first book which was much more focused on Blue.  While the reader still gets scenes from her, it's much more about Ronan, his struggles and his history.  This book was about Ronan's part in the story.  The others are still there, and still important, but Ronan is central.  Because of this focus on him, this book is a little darker than The Raven Boys.

This series is great about the characters having real-life struggles intertwined with their fantastical journey.  Ronan has issues with his brothers, they all deal with keeping up with homework and school, the difference lives between the rich and the poor, and even teens trying to figure out who they really like or don't like.  If that is not enough, then add all the struggles with Cabeswater and dreaming and everything else.  This makes the story believable, despite all the fantastic elements.

Overall, really good book.  Beautiful writing, inventive and original.  While not quite what I expected, still interesting and great book.  Highly recommend the series!  Now I have to wait another year or more for the next book...  No fair!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Limit

The Limit
by Kristen Landon
304 pages
Elementary-Middle School

A girl was taken from Matt's school today.  Taken to go to a workhouse until her family got back under the debt limit.  But Matt doesn't have to worry about anything: his dad is successful and about to sign the biggest deal in his life.   Money has never been a concern for his family.

Then at the grocery store, it happens.  His mother's credit card is rejected?!?!  How can that be?  Frantic, his mother drags him and his younger sisters out of the store.  They try to call his dad, but get no answer.  By the time they get home, a long black car is already there, waiting to take Matt away to work off the family debt.  Although he rights, he has no choice but to go with "Honey Lady," the obnoxiously sweet manager of his new home, a workhouse for children.

Once there, Matt is scared and alone.  Tomorrow's test will determine what level he works on, how much he will make for his family, and what kind of conditions he will live in.  Will it be kids crammed together like level 4?  Or the super posh level 1 with all the perks?  But more important, why won't his family answer his emails?  And above all, why are all the kids getting headaches?  That can't be good for their work...

This book could be a great introduction into dystopian novels for boys.  It's not too frightening or violent, so fairly suitable for late elementary and middle school students. 

I like Matt's character and how he reacts to things.  He seems fairly typical for the age, even if a little more proactive about things.  I know lots of kids that might not necessarily like a situation, but being willing to break tons of rules and think outside the box to accomplish things seems a little unusual.  But, if he was really as smart as portrayed, then I could see him doing these types of things. 

Another thing that I enjoyed is the fairly realistic situations: boys playing basketball, brother and sister not getting along, boys getting into mischief, and stuff like that.  While some of Matt's actions seemed a little outside the norm, the daily interactions seemed normal and believable.

Overall, pretty good book.  If you have a kid that wants to read Hunger Games or The Maze Runner but isn't quite old enough, give this one a try!

Friday, October 4, 2013


by Jennifer Bradbury
320 pages
Middle-High School

Agnes Wilkins, from London, is really not looking forward toward her Presentation. Instead of being interested in dresses and curls, she wants to discover Egyptian artifacts and travel the world.  While looking forward to being a little more independent, she's not sure if she is ready to marry, especially to the very promising bachelor.  After receiving not just an invitation to his mummy unwrapping, but place of honor as on of the first to slice at the bandages, she is feeling the pressure of his attention.

Then things start happening at the mummy party.  As Agnes is unwrapping the mummy, she finds something interesting: an artifact with a hidden note.  But when the host admits to a mistake and asks for all artifacts to be returned, she tucks it into her bodice, hiding it and taking it home.

This simple act envelops Agnes in intrigue, history and politics.  From secret messages sent from Napoleon's army to spies hiding in London to mythical artifacts with rumored powers, Agnes is drawn into the middle of it.  Can she decode the message in time to save the world from being conquered?

First of all, I like that the author put a note in the back about the "historical accuracy" of the book.  While most of the book had roots in history, Bradbury took liberties with certain things.  She mixed trends or events several time periods together, because it works for the story.  With a book like this, that historical accuracy doesn't matter, I'm fine with it.  In fact, as long as the book doesn't claim to be fact, I'm fine with authors changing or rearranging history to suit their needs.  Makes life fun!

Anyways, I enjoyed this book, and had fun with it.  I liked the Victorian London setting, the supernatural bend, plus the strong willed woman element.  Made for a fun story, interesting scenarios, and fun times.  This would be a great step before Jane Austen, or other romances or Victorian based novels. Another good stepping stone book would be A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee.

Although I enjoyed this book, there were a few things that could have been improved.  Agnes, while different than the "normal" girl of the age, was still a little flat and didn't really change very much.  A fun little story, but not necessarily tons of depth.

Overall, fun book if you just want something light and not completely historically accurate.  I enjoyed it a lot, and would be a good stepping stone between levels.  Another book with a tie to mythology, this time Egyptian.  Good book, I liked it a lot!