Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau

Age Group: Middle
Genre: Fantasy
Publishing Date: March 17, 2015 by Harry N Abrams

Summary: Runt Higgins is a werewolf at Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions(DCSM) a school for minions in training. Unlike most of the kids at the school, Runt has lived at the school since he was little, when his wolf pack dropped him off there. Now he is a third year, in the Junior Henchman Training Program, and feels like he is cursed. After a video went viral about how bad the school is, the school starts to go downhill. Most of the new monsters are not the brightest and one of the new students, Pismo, keeps on getting him in trouble. To make matters worse, the principal becomes delusional, there is an explosion, only 5 of the 27 students selected for the Junior Henchman training Program, and Runt keeps on getting in a lot of trouble, mostly because of Pismo. Now it is up to Runt to figure out who caused all the misfortune to the school, make it into the Program, and stop getting and trouble. Along the way he finds out a lot of information, but the worst one is, he may not be a werewolf after all.

What I Liked: The author, Shelia Grau, put an unoriginal idea and changed it. Lately, I have seen a lot of books about a school for evil or a school for heroes. What Grau did is she used that idea, but instead of doing a school for evil she did a school for evil henchman, who you don't think about very often. Another thing I like is that throughout most of the book everything did not go Runt's way. In most books everything goes the protagonist's way, but in this book it did not go his way at all, in fact, almost nothing went his way.

What I Didn't Like: While I liked the idea of a school for minions, it still used the idea of a school for heroes or supervillians, which is being very overused nowadays. I also didn't like how Grau immediately put Runt in the third class. I prefer it when they start off in the first class and go up, or at least put a little bit of background at the beginning.

Rating on 'the scale': 8.5 out of 10


Saturday, August 20, 2016

I NEED YOUR HELP

Hello Internet World!

So with school starting and whatnot (at least for me), I feel the need to make another attempt to get your opinion on things. Who knows why, but I always ask you guys for your input on what content should be made, but I get nothing. It's only during random points of the year when people are suddenly begging for something. So I made a strawpoll where you can vote as much as you want, and it'd help me get an ideal of what you guys like.

Oh, and there's another video up, if you wanted to check it out


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to not Growing Up by Tommy Greenwald

Genre: Realistic/Middle School Fiction
Age Group: Middle Grade (8-12)
Publishing Date: August 9th by Roaring Book Press:

Summary: The time has come for Charlie Joe to graduate middle school. On his birthday no less, which means that he calls the shots on any event that happens. You'd think it'd be the most fantastic day of his life right? Nope. Charlie Joe just doesn't want to grow up, and he gets this overwhelming sense of middle school sickness (kind of like homesickness but worse) where he just doesn't want to leave. As a result, he attempts to pull off as many different stunts and antics as he can. First at Jake's end of summer barbecue, then the WORLD (or at least all of Eastport). he defies rules, destroys books (and some feelings), and yet, everyone punishes him because a young MAN should not be acting like this, which angers Charlie Joe, for people treating him like the "man" he clearly isn't and doesn't want to be, and he will do what it takes to prove that he has not grown up yet.

What I Liked: So one specific thing I'd really like to point out are the little flashbacks that happen. These sorts of things explain in pretty good detail exactly how these inside things/jokes go down. Like why Charlie Joe hates reading, enough to pay Timmy McGibney is Ice Cream sandwiches. They're really enjoyable and funny, and unlike in other books, I did not feel as if they were tedious nor did I ever want to skip them. Speaking of humor, I found the whole book really funny and humorous, which you can always expect when you read a book from Tommy Greenwald.

What I didn't like: Other than the fact that it was the LAST FREAKIN BOOK WHYYYYYYY, my only complaint is that it seriously couldn't hurt for Charlie Joe and Katie to I don't know make some movement. Like it seemed as if they hadn't got any closer since they'd gotten together, and it kinda upset me but it wasn't as bad the fact that it was the LAST FREAKING BOOK.

Final Thoughts: Jeff Kinney, JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, Stuart Gibbs, whoever, this series will give you a run for a money. No seriously. Stop laughing.

Rating on 'the scale': Hmm this is tough. 9.6 out of ten.

Why?: Funny? Check. Eloquent in capping off an amazing series? Check. People? Check. It's got the three things people, this book is amazing!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Crossover Fanfic: THE FINALE

Normally I don't go these sort of intros anymore to my fanfic, but since it's the final part, I'd like to mention some people I owe a huge debt to (which would make this sound like any normal book)


  • Stuart Gibbs, for everything, creating these characters for me to play with in my head
  • Bill Gates, for making Microsoft word 2007 for me to type this whole mini-book
  • The duo at Google who founded the site and eventually blogger for me to post my work
  • Anyone I've come in contact with, because they taught me to talk...I guess
That last one refers to all you readers! Thanks for making what was supposed to be a small blog go a little viral! I owe it all to you guys! Hope you enjoy, and PS PLEASE FOLLOW THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL: JUSTINTALKSBOOKS There's going to be some projects on there that will be BETTER than this fanfic, trust me.


TEDDY: They were gone so fast, I almost laughed, but then I remembered I was in a life or death situation.

I was just amazed. I looked at them picking at the lock, turned toward Ben, who's eyes suddenly grew, glanced back at them, and they were gone.

It didn't take a genius what to do next.

We ran like heck, first around the warehouse and then zig zagged throughout the yard even though we didn't hear gunfire. I honestly through we were going to try and stop them, but of course, Ben had taken charge and told me that we needed to get to safety, but frankly the kid had les muscle than me and I never believed he had supposedly "saved the world" thrice. Behind a tree we came up with out plan.

"What do we do? Repel to the top. Use suction-cups to get around the side? Climb this tree and zip-line through the window?" I asked, eager for some excitement but nervous at the same time.

"No" Ben replied "We're going to sneak through the front door"

"But won't they see us?"

"How else do you think we're going to get in, huh? Do you have a grappling hook or a zip line? Can you climb a rusty, flat-walled warehouse? We can't all be Erica you know!" he hissed at me in a whisper, to which I responded by raising my hands.

"Sheesh, I'm sorry, new to this whole Spy thing you know"

"It's fine, just follow my lead and come in"

We waited a minute, to which Ben had been tapping his watch every second just to see what time it was. This kid had more jitters than me. At some seemingly random time, we ran to the doors we'd tried to pick, and to our luck, they were unlocked. Slowly, we opened the door which squeaked ever so slightly. We paused and looked around for them.

Thankfully this wasn't like a video game where every room is dark and a jump-scare was just waiting around the corner. It was an open warehouse with the lights on, although considering that they were bounded and gagged on chairs in a circle placed in the middle of the warehouse, there was still that video-game feel to it.

"This is weird" Ben whispered, who'd crouched down in the corner.

"How?" I asked "I saw a similar scene in some spy move"

"Exactly. SPYDER never plays by the unofficial spy-movie rules"

"What do you think they're planning?"

"I don't know, just walk under the rafters and see if we can get near them without being seen"
We lasted approximately three seconds. I didn't know that by tip-toeing, you're placing a lot of weight on one tiny toe. Ben had spread his weight out evenly through his whole foot, quietly walking near the wall. I stepped on a loose plate and exposed us.

"Come out Ripley and company, we've known you're there" someone from the center of the circle announced. "Hands up if you don't want to be knocked out"

With our hands placed above our heads, we walked out of the shadows into the light, where I finally took in this whole hostage scenario. It was... abnormal. Only Cyrus, Alexander, Summer, and Erica were gagged. JJ was holding a contract in one hand, and a pen in the other. True he was still tied to the chair, but he could talk.

"So I guess we're going to have to kill you after this, but I guess you at least want to know what's going on. Hi, I'm Joshua Hallal" the man said, at which point I almost expected him to stick a hand out for me to shake.

"Care to explain...this?" I asked, seemingly waving a hand at the hostage scene.
"I think Ben's figured it out, care to explain Ben?"

Ben sighed and started talking. "So Josh is a head member of SPYDER who's pretty much immortal. He's taken the dolphins to distract us from stopping them from taking JJ, who they could ransom in exchange for the profits of the park, to sum up"

Joshua laughed. "Are you kidding we're not that stupid"

Ben thought for a second and then looked at the contract. "You never wanted to kidnap JJ, you just wanted to make a deal with him"

"Exactly. See I knew what a business man JJ was, and that he'd rather die than give up his billion dollar park"

"So that's why he was never around" Ben said "All those meeting were with members of SPYDER in an attempt to get his signature. You were going to transfer it onto a document that would look like JJ had signed over the profits of the park to you"

"See" Joshua sneered "We can be non-violent we want to. You just had to get involved, so we had to kidnap JJ, but only for a little while, just until we could convince him to sign to any deal, which he refused."

Joshua raised his gun "This time there's no waiting Ben" he said, when all of a sudden, a flying grappling hook knocked it out of his hand.

"What?!?" I exclaimed, before the showdown began.


BEN: I timed it perfectly. Outside when Teddy had though I was anxious to start, I was really sending Morse code to Zoe via a network on our watches that even SPYDER couldn't intercept. The grappling hook was something I "taught" her during my first year, a scene I still reminisce over year old marshmallows in spoiled hot chocolate by a broken fireplace at Spy School.

They'd been on the roof, and after a perfect knock out, they flew down on ropes, Bond-style. Well, all of them but Nefarious, who kind of slid but ended up belly flopping and flattening an enemy agent.
Suddenly, the seven other SPYDER agents came out of the house to challenge us. Ashley, Murray, some of my old teachers and another agent I didn't know sprung and were ready. Chip had been carrying a pocket knife and quickly slid Erica and company out of their gags. They popped up and we attacked SPYDER.

The fight lasted thirty seconds. I don't know why people like a good 'ol classic karate fight (or in Ashley's case gymnastic-karate duo) but why do all that work when you have chloroform on your side. We kicked them all in the land down under, uppercut the ones who weren't completely sprawled on the ground and hit them with a chloroform rag, which would leave them out for around an hour. Joshua, had sadly left, but it didn't matter. We called the CIA to get these guys, took JJ, group hugged for half a second, and realized we were in big trouble.

JJ would be dead in an hour if we didn't get those dolphins back to FunJungle and put on a show. Not by SPYDER, but the VIP crowd, some of whom paid 5 figures for their prime tickets.

Finding the dolphins was hard but manageable. It helped that we'd got a tip from a man at a truck stop who'd remembered the license plate of the strange truck with the tank on it's trunk.

Dolphins in...our control, we booked it back to FunJungle turning a thirty minute drive into a fifteen minute drive. As soon as we got back to FunJungle, what crowd left their suddenly saw JJ had flipped on him.

There was lots of profanity, lots of confusion, lots of throwing stuff and everyone asking the same question: What in the heck just happened?

We'd gotten a mic and JJ stood on the roof of our car. "PEOPLE" his voiced bellowed "WE ALL WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME! MY PR GUY PETE WILL SCHEDULE A PRESS CONFERENCE TOMORROW, BUT FOR KNOW, LET'S GET THOSE DOLPHINS TO THEIR STAGE"

It took a while, and after a thirty minute delay to not only wrangle the dolphins, but to wrangle the people who'd left right after JJ's kidnapping, the show started, with a surprise.

JJ reached into his pocket and whipped out four tickets "Here, these are some of my extra seats, I would use them, but I'm a mess" He handed them to Summer and told her to pick three other people, which was the easiest pick of her life. Then, something better happened. JJ had installed this special seating in the roof of the dome where the show was, and once we got up there, it was just us four: Teddy, Summer, Erica (who looked sad, yet relieved) and me, all alone. In a seating area for twenty.
Summer smiled at me, and I swear a flash of jealousy went across Erica's face, who suddenly reached for my...

CRAZY ENDING RIGHT?!? 

"But wait Justin, what does Erica reach for? His hand? His face so they kiss? TELL ME" I will crazed fan. I have written the epilogue to this story. If this posts reached a hundred views in a week, the epilogue will be released. This challenge is going to be tough, but these posts normally get ten or twenty unique people to read. So just tell five or ten of your friends! Anyways, that's all for me, and go subscribe to my YouTube channel, because my next project is looking to be even better than this 8 month story!

What FanFiction/Stories would you like to see me do next? I plan on finishing the Erica POV story, but after that, I want to write more. Leave your suggestions down below!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Group: MG
Publishing Date: June 2, 2015

Quote:
"Negativity has never been a friend to anyone."

Summary:
Emily is moving again: to San Francisco, the home of her idol Garrison Griswold. Griswold created Book Scavenger, a game online where books are hid and, using clues, found. Soon Emily learns that Griswold was attacked soon before an announcement about his next big game, which no one knows anything about. When she and her friend James find a book hidden at the same train station that Griswold was attacked, they think that it can be no coincidence. However, when people start to follow them and inquire about the book that they found, Emily and James have to speed up their sleuthing to solve the puzzles before the person who attacked Griswold catches up to them.

What I Liked:
I like how this book talked about books. This may sound odd, but it’s true. I learned more about Edgar Allan Poe and his books. I’ve never read Poe, so this was informative to me. It also mentions Jack Kerouac more than a couple times.
This book reminded me of geocaching. In fact, the Bertman mentioned geocaching as one of her inspirations for Book Scavenger in the Author’s Note along with Letterboxing (Geocaching with stamps) and Book Crossing (a site where you can hide and find books). Anyways, my sister and I were interested in Geocaching once, and it piques my interest every now and then.
Another thing that interested me in this book were the ciphers. At their school there is a cipher contest, and a lot of the Book Scavenger clues are in a cipher. I took a math class once that mentioned ciphers, and my sister took a course on ciphers once, so I’m interested in them.

What I Didn't Like:
Some of the things that happened to the characters in the book didn’t seem realistic to me. I mean, it could have happened, but it would’ve been a long shot. It’s called realistic FICTION for a reason.
At times Emily could be selfish, but everyone has their flaws and that helped the plot. Also, James had a cowlick named Steve. To me, these characters didn’t really seem like they were twelve. They could have been younger. Some kids I know who are eleven are more mature than the characters seemed in this book.

Rating: 8.2:

Why?:
I think that this is a really interesting idea for a book, and the author wrote it well. I enjoyed it and it was engaging.

Related:
This book reminded me of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabbenstein, a book about a bunch of kids who have to find their way out of a library using what is around them. It’s another MG book about books in which the kids have to find clues for more clues for more clues.

Booktube Videos, School Year, and More

What's up everybody?

So this is going to be an update-type post because I'm knee-deep into editing random videos I've compiled and blog posts will be coming up so this is an in-betweener post.

First off: I've been just out of everything the past week because...I went to DC! I'm in the process of compiling this mini vlog thing that hopefully won't bore you guys.

In the mean time, here's a video I posted just now, showing off the swag Ive gotten from the North Texas Teen Book Festival (NTTBF)


(I Also added channel art and a profile pic, tell me what you think of it!)

I promise, this blog won't turn into "Go subscribe to my YouTube Channel!" posts, but I feel like it needs to get off the ground on a good note.

Book Reviews: I've got a book review coming out tomorrow on The North Hollywood Detective Club by Mike Mains


And sometime in the future, The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles


I owe a huge debt to these two authors, because I was sent these books FOR FREE to review. Look out for these books in the future.

Anyways, about school, so pretty much once the school year starts for me (2nd to Last Week of August) Expect posts to turn into weekly posts, mostly because grades come first. Same goes for the YouTube channel. And if I take a Winter Hiatus as I usually do, just know that I'm not dead, but that at least in my school, those winter months are crunch time, and I need to focus.

Anyways, that's all for today, don't forget to subscribe to my booktube channel, and spread the word about me!



Monday, August 1, 2016

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

(Ok so this is just my Justin's- mini note. Anyways, the month of June has flown by! Daily
Posts didn't quite happen, but I hope you enjoyed my content, new and old, and today is a feature on Fablehaven!)

Summary:
Image result for fablehaven seriesKendra and Seth Soreson are sent to the house of their mysterious grandparents when their parents decide to go on a cruise by themselves.  Kendra and Seth are left with their mysterious grandparents, who they've never seen before.  But when they reach the house of their grandparents, they find the sight shocking: Butterflies fluttering over the large, vibrant and healthy flowers, birds singing in the nearby forest, and a grand house, filled with antique and beautiful items.  But when Kendra finds a note saying "Drink the milk" she finds that her life is changed forever; expanded.  The milk opens Kendra and Seth's eyes to a world of mythical creatures.  They find out that their grandpa and grandma are caretakers of a secret preserve that holds many creatures, good and evil.  Kendra and Seth are excited to learn this, but when things go wrong on a festival night, when all the monsters come out of the forest to "play", Kendra and Seth find it their responsibility to save their grandparents, and the entire reserve.

What I Liked:
I am a lover of fantasy, and so this was really a great book for me.  It has practically every fantasy creature in it, and incorporates just about every other fantasy element.  It has a witch, satyrs, trolls, demons, fairies, imps, goblins and a whole lot of other fantastical stuff.  For a lover of fantasy, this is heavily recommended.  For a hater of fantasy *cough* Justin *cough*, don't read this.  Other than the fantasy elements this story is also very unique and I don't know much stories like this one.  I also liked the diversity of the characters.  Seth was very reckless and brave, while Kendra is more cautious and also smarter.

What I Didn't Like:
This book isn't exactly the best story I've read, and it wouldn't make it into my top 20 favorite books, but the story doesn't have much bad stuff either.  The story was somewhat slow at the beginning but it got much more exciting later.  There were a few parts where the author would describe their surroundings a lot, I somewhat got bored of those parts, although they still helped me visualize the scene better.

Rating:
8.0

A solid 8.  Not too bad, not the best.  I gave it this rating because it fully satisfied my desire for fantasy, but didn't fulfill my desire for Middle Grade romance, which for some reason gets me all jittery.  It was still really good, had an original plot and the book is quite long around 350 pages.
Other Books related to the Fablehaven Series:
Rise of the Evening Star(Fablehaven #2)
Grip of the Shadow Plague(Fablehaven #3)
Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary(Fablehaven #4)
Keys to Demon Prison(Fablehaven #5)
DragonWatch(DragonWatch #1)(Sequel Series)

Review by Joseph