Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ryan Quinn and The Rebel's Escape by Ron McGee

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Action/Thriller
Publishing Date: October 25th, 2016 by HarperCollins

 Ryan Quinn hopes his traveling days are over. The son of a United Nations worker, he’s grown up in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa—everywhere but home. He’s finally settled at a great school in New York and is making friends when, suddenly, his world is turned upside down.

Ryan is blindsided when his father disappears and his mother is abducted. Left with nothing but questions, he soon discovers his parents have been leading a double life. They actually work with the Emergency Rescue Committee, an underground organization that has performed dangerous rescue missions since World War II, and they’ve been secretly training Ryan to follow in their footsteps.

With his parents’ lives in the balance and more at stake than he knows, Ryan dives into a mission of international intrigue that sends him around the globe. To survive, he must trust his training and perform his own daring rescue mission in a thrilling race for freedom

What I Liked: Okay, so if you haven't read Stuart Gibbs (or are new to the blog), then you won't understand the reference, and if you don't understand the reference, then you won't understand how much I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Anyway, I'm going to make the reference and compare this book to Spy School. I really haven't seen a book that I've enjoyed so much except by yours truly, Stuart Gibbs. It had what I was looking for, it turned kind of a dry plot (Kid chases around the world to save parents) into something truly magical. It's hard to describe what exactly is going on in my mind, but you're going to have to trust me, the plot was moving, there was a fair amount of plot twists, it was a really good book.

What I Didn't Like: The things I don't like about this book can be summarized in two words: Danny and Kasey (you grammar Nazis better not call me out on using three words there). Literally, I hated these characters so much, I wanted to rip the book apart (on the serious note, stop book abuse #BookLivesMatter) Like honestly though, they are literally 13 and they're trying to help some dude across the world stop some evil crime organization. And they're so useless it is funny, and they come up with the worst ideas, and they distract from the plot, and AHHH I hate them. It's kind of like that one person who kind of buts into your conversation with one of your friends. At first, it's like "Cool, a new opinion" but then you realize their opinion is super lame and undeveloped and you want to kick them out but they're already in too deep so you bust your head against the wall until the conversation is over. Super weird analogy, but I can't begin to explain my hate for Kasey and Danny.

Rating: 9.4 Out of ten.

Why? Danny and Kasey gone, this is a 9.8 any day of the week.

Ryan Quinn and the Rebel's Escape (Ryan Quinn #1)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Variant by Robinson Wells

So for you MMGM visitors, this is a YA book, yeah I know I'm supposed to be doing MG, but give me a break. I'm just letting you know to...prepare yourselves (I tried to keep my review PG, but this book is YA for a reason)

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Action/Thriller
Publishing Date: October 4th 2011 by Harper Teen

Summary: Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible

What I liked: I especially liked the part of how Benson is just in his own world. He just does what he does (weird way of explaining things) and it all adds to the intense plot. Speaking of the plot, it is well crafted. It races your heartbeat before giving you a chance to calm down, before racing it again. It's kind of like a roller coaster, but in a book. It also has the normal aspects of a good book, such as well-developed characters, and a well crafted surprise at the end.

What I didn't like: This one isn't as hard as some of the other ones I do. First of all, the grotesque detail when they get hurt. I, mean, it is a YA book, but I have to speak from a MG transtioner's point of view. Robinson Wells (Author) kind of went a little bit too in detail (I've never said that before) and I couldn't help but pause to get the horror images out of my head. I guess this is because I grow up in an environment where I can only watch PG and G movies and TV shows, so this is new to me. I also don't like the school. Yep, I just said I hate the reason there is conflict at all, but it just doesn't make sense to me, and the things they do to the kids is just a bit crazy.

Rating on 'the scale'- 8 out of 10

Why?-  Pretty solid book not going to lie, but uhm, pretty weird at times.

Variant (Variant, #1)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Warning: So yeah, this book has been known to be banned in schools because of its language. If you aren't okay with reading racial slurs and all, this probably isn't the book for you.

Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historic Fiction
Publishing Date: JB Lippincott & Co. July 11th, 1960

Summary: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

What I Liked: So yeah, I really felt like I needed to review a classic, and I just finished this for school, so why not talk about it. I feel like this is one of those timeless books that seemingly can be put in any time era. The argument of prejudice just never seems to end these days. Another thing I'd like to mention is how much I actually liked each of the "good guy" characters. Usually, I find some sort of flaw in the characters, but either I didn't understand the book correctly, or I genuinely liked each of the characters. They are all so unique and enhance the book quite well. I mean, this book didn't win a gazillion awards for nothing.

What I Didn't Like: Other than the parts mentioned in the "warning" section, one thing I will point out is Part 1. Boy, this slow start trumps all slow start. Imagine a prologue that extends 11 chapters or half the book. That's part 1. Sure, a lot of people argue this helps "set the scene", or that it's "beautifully symbolic", yeah I get that, but I was literally dozing off through parts of part 1. It's just, ugh, could Harper Lee not have thrown in maybe when the sexual assault scene actually happened and everyone's flipping out chapter or something? Just saying.

Rating: 8 out of ten.

Why? Amazing book for you literary geeks (Hey, I'm one too so no one get too mad), but wouldn't recommend for your daily reader.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic (ish) Fiction
Publishing Date: January 27th 2015 by Scholastic Press

Summary: In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier--even if it's the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

What I Liked: Like the last book I just recently covered, Full of Beans, even though it was definitely unintentional, for some reason the book had a sort of nostalgia feel. Like the book really wasn't trying to get any where, it was just trying to tell a story, which it did very well, but it did so as if it were your grandparents telling it to you. Of course, (shocker), I've never actually had my grandparents tell me a story, but the story was told in a way in which I think a grandparent would tell it. Sort of laid back, mood not that intense just sort of bleh, and at the end of the story you feel satisfied...but that's it It was a very revealing, capturing, all of those good adjective-type-of-story and I really felt moved. This seriously was a good book, although again, you actual middle-graders may not like it because again, it is bleh.

What I Didn't Like: For the same reasons I liked it, I didn't like that it was a sort of bleh retelling. Not that it was bad, just different, however, I was craving some sort of insane action scene where he's trying to fight up the mountain and he won't give up. While I can't spoil it, all I will say is that it wasn't what I expected (not saying it's the exact opposite, but just not 100 percent my prediction). Again, those parents will love nostalgia, because it brings you back to the old days of books and storytelling. Too bad I'm not a parent; I mean, would it have hurt to break the whole down-to-Earth feel and throw in a James Bond scene or something once in a while (probably, now that I think about it, but of course, you get my point)

Rating: 9.2 out of ten

Why? In my eyes, it's sort of like Full of Beans but at Mount Rainier, not bad, just different.
The Honest Truth

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: August 30th, 2016 by Random House Books

Summary:  Goodreads ~ Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise is beloved by readers, and now they can return to this wonderful world through the eyes of Turtle’s cousin Beans.

Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself.


“As a storyteller, Holm is superb.”— School Library Journal

“Holm impressively wraps pathos with comedy.”— Booklist

“Anyone interested in learning to write crowd-pleasing historical fiction for elementary school readers would be wise to study Holm’s work.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Sweet, funny and superb.”— Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

What I Liked: See, this is one of those books that "adults" like. I don't really mean that with any disrespect, just that, it isn't a book filled with too much superhero-action or anything like that. However, that doesn't mean the book was bland. It's sort of hard to explain why I liked this book. If anything it was holistically (overall). A good comparison, in my opinion, is that this book is sort of like To Kill a Mockingbird. Pretty bold statement I know, but not only was the setting and time accurate but just how everything played out. I'm really referring to only part 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird however, so if you know how that goes, you have an idea of the style of action, sort of mild but still interesting.

What I Didn't Like: Alright, I'm going to be honest, I'm going to "roast" To Kill a Mockingbird for a second (see even book bloggers can use slang too. It's not weird...I hope). To Kill a Mockingbird sort of lost me, and for my teenage mind that needed some mental stimulus from an action scene, I was, at times bored. Same with this book. I felt like at times it was, well, yawn-worthy. I didn't feel like it kept me going through the whole book. But who knows, maybe different age groups react differently to this book.

Rating: 8.6 out of ten,

Full of Beans

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kid Owner by Tim Green

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Sports Fiction/ Mystery
Publishing Date: September 29th, 2015 by HarperCollins

Summary: From New York Times bestselling author and former NFL player Tim Green comes a riveting new stand-alone football novel.

When Ryan's estranged father unexpectedly dies, Ryan learns that he has inherited the Dallas Cowboys. With his new role as owner of this NFL team, Ryan has high hopes that he can be more than just a middle-school misfit. Maybe he can even get off the bench and into the starting lineup of his own football team.

With the help of his friends Jackson and Izzy, Ryan takes advantage of his newfound stardom. He convinces his coach to use a tricky passing offense that plays to Ryan's strengths.

But just when things are looking up, Ryan's nasty stepmother makes a legal play to make her own son the Cowboys' kid owner. With drama heating up both on and off the field, Ryan quickly realizes he may lose much more than just the Dallas Cowboys.

What I Liked: The book was well indeed very interesting. As a somewhat Cowboys fan, I have to admit I did like how much time and effort was put into the book to, for example, get some of the exact school names as the book takes place in the North Texas area. One main thing I loved is that it isn't a cliched ending, but you are still happy with the result. Of course, I don't want to spoil it, but I really liked it, because again, there was a twist, but I still ended up liking it.

What I Didn't Like: If there was something for me to nitpick about this book, it's the fact that there are two conflicts. It's not that they didn't work; Tim Green uses two conflicts in its books all the time, so I was use to it, but it was sort of like he tried to blend them but they didn't really fit. It's not as bad as you think, but the book almost got confusing at times. Throw in the drama between Ryan and Izzy as well as the friendship struggles between Ryan and Jackson, and at times it was just like you had to actually concentrate instead of just let loose and read.

Final Thoughts: 9.2 out of ten.

Why? Really good book, bonus points for sticking to North Texas, but not my favorite Tim Green book. 

Kid Owner

Also, if you made it this far, thanks to being a big enough fan to not click away. As you've guys have noticed, I tend to not post twice or even once a week anymore. It's because we're currently hitting standardized testing week and finals are just around the corner. Hang with me if I don't post as often, it'll come back in the summer.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Middle School: Escape to Australia

Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Comedy
Publishing Date: March 6th, 2017 by Jimmy Patterson

Summary: Goodreads~ In the newest installment of James Patterson's bestselling Middle School series, everyone's favorite underdog hero Rafe Khatchadorian is headed to the dangerous wilds of Australia! 

Rafe isn't exactly considered a winner in Hills Village Middle School to say the least, but everything's about to change: he's won a school-wide art competition, and the fabulous prize is getting to jet-set off to Australia for a whirlwind adventure! But Rafe soon finds that living in the Land Down Under is harder than he could've ever imagined--his host-siblings are anything but welcoming, the burning temperatures are torturous, and poisonous critters are ready to sting or eat him at every step. So with the help of some new misfit friends, Rafe sets out to show everyone what he does best: create utter mayhem! 

What I Liked: Out of all the amazing things about this book, one of my favorite parts was when Rafe stumbled upon this random group of kids that were just his cup of tea. The way it was portrayed, I really enjoyed the adventures that they went through, and even though it only lasted for a couple days (if that), it seemed like they made a lifetime's worth of memories (kind of cheesy, but you get the point). For example, Rafe and these kids made bonding time over creating chaos at an art showing. I mean how much better can you get? I really liked the newfound friendship in this novel.

What I Didn't Like: If I had to say something about what I didn't like, I found myself flipping through the parts where his host-siblings play pranks on him. I mean, it's okay if they mess with Rafe once or twice, but I will warn you, James Patterson (and company), really works and stretches to whole host-siblings-mess-with-Rafe idea, and it got kind of annoying to me.

Rating: 9 out of ten.

Why? Sadly, not my favorite book in this series, mostly because of the tedious flipping.]

Middle School: Escape to Australia (Middle School, #9)