July 16, 2012

Review: Little Brother

I remember the hoopla when Cory Doctrow released his book Little Brother online for free. At the time, I wasn't reading young adult novels, so I skipped it.  BIG mistake. I think this book should be required reading in high schools. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen due to some adult content int he book. Of course, that would make it more attractive to teens, but objectionable to many parents.

This is the story of Marcus, an average 17 year old with an above average knowledge of the internet and gadgets. When skipping school to play an alternate reality game one day, he and some friends are caught outside during a terrorist attack on San Francisco. Thinking he might be a suspect, Marcus is abducted by Homeland Security and interrogated and tortured in a secret government facility. Marcus takes various measures to ensure his freedom in a world where freedoms are being taken away left and right and everyone is considered a potential terrorist. He becomes a folk hero and a target of the Department of Homeland Security.

The book was suspenseful and full of history and computer science worded in easy to understand English. I highly recommend this book for all teen readers and above. Regardless of your politics, it sends a strong message about freedom and civil liberties.

This review is based on a freely downloaded copy available on Cory Doctrow's website.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

July 13, 2012

Review: Ordinary Magic

Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway 
Imagine if you were the only "normal" person in a world filled with magic. That's the story in Ordinary Magic, where Abigail is an Ord, someone who cannot work magic even though everyone else in the world has magical ability. Unlike other families, Abby's chooses to keep her rather than sell her or disown her.  Her family sends her off to a school for Ords where her sister acts as a liaison to the king and she learns how to protect herself and function without magic. Once at the school, she must face Ord eating Redcaps, and adventurers who want to make them into slaves.
I recommend this book to all fans of the fantasy genre, as this one turns it on it's head. The book was funny and exciting at the same time and kept you reading. I wanted to read more about Abby when I had finished the book, and it's perfectly set up for a sequel (it ends in a cliffhanger). Be careful as there are some slightly scary scenes in the book.
This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.
Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading! 

July 11, 2012

Review: Zita the Space Girl

Zita the Spacegirl, written and illustrated by Ben Hatke

I'm writing this review for two reasons. One is my new found love for graphic novels. For so long graphic novels were for young adults and above.  It's very refreshing to find them appropriate for elementary aged children. Secondly, I have a review copy of the second book and feel that I need to read this one first. So here we go!

This graphic novel tells the story of Zita, a girl who discovers a meteoroid with her friend Joseph. Inside they find a small box with a big red button on it. Would YOU push the button? Of course you would! Joseph disappears into a portal, and Zita is left to decide whether to follow him or not. Bravely she does and finds herself on an alien world full of, well, aliens. Zita sets off on a quest to rescue Joseph, meeting strange creatures and robots along the way. She makes friends of many of them and finds that she has only a very short amount of time before an asteroid will destroy the planet she's on.

The characters are well developed and distinct and the images are very colorful and full of soft lines. This was a great read that left me wanting more. Fortunately, I won't be dissatisfied because the next book is already done!

This review is based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading! 

July 9, 2012

Review: A Secret Keeps

A Secret Keeps by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Heather Solomon

A little boy goes to visit his Grandpa's for the weekend. His grandfather tells him that there is a secret waiting for him. All Grandpa will tell him is "Finder's keepers," and "A Secret if for keeping." After wandering around looking, he eventually does find the secret and the things his Grandpa says makes sense. This sweet story is a nice, quiet story that conveys the little boy's delight and his family's closeness. A great picture book for young children.

This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading! 

July 6, 2012

Review: Sidekicks

Sidekicks by Dan Santat

I didn't intend to, but it looks like I'm working my way through the books named Sidekicks (two down, one to go now!).  Fluffy the hamster, Roscoe the dog, and Shifty the chameleon are all trying to become the new sidekick for their master Harry who is actually the superhero Captain Amazing. The story part of this graphic novel is a bit disjointed, but the pictures are very engaging. A very good graphic novel that left me wishing for more.

This review is based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Just a quick note to wish everyone in the US a happy and safe Independence Day.

Bon Voyage!

July 2, 2012

Review: Fall Mixed Up

Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

Okay, I know it's summer, but I have written this review about four times and accidentally deleted it every time. I want to get it posted before I lose it again!

Every page of this picture book has many fall mix ups that readers will need to look carefully at and even re-read to spot them all. For example, it begins, "Every Septober, Every Octember, Fall fills my senses with scenes to remember." This was a fun, quick read (even spotting the errors was quick and easy) that younger children will enjoy, especially if they are fans of I Spy or other books to find things. Raczka's illustrations bring to life the mixed up world his words paint. I recommend this picture book for all readers.

This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!