Review: This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

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What if, instead of dead actually being forever, there was a possibility of bringing your loved ones back to life?  Instead of losing those closest to you forever, you had the power to undo their death?  That’s exactly the premise in this chillingly semi-futuristic story.

In one instant, Lake’s world is shattered.  A tragic car accident takes the lives of both her best friend and her boyfriend.  Miraculously she survives.  But she’s left with an unimaginable dilemma.  You see,  technology has given people the ability to be resurrected.  Not just randomly and at will, mind you.  Instead, every person receives one resurrection on their eighteenth birthday to be used on whoever they choose.  That’s one resurrection, though.  And Lake can’t imagine making that choice.

To make matters even more difficult, her resurrection choice has already been promised to her older brother who was tragically paralyzed years earlier.  She’s not even close to her brother anymore, so she surely can’t imagine wasting this precious gift on him. Especially when the love of her life and her best friend have died.

Things aren’t always what they seem, of course.  As Lake struggles to come to terms with the accident, while also recovering from her own injuries, she discoveries that nobody is who they seem to be.  And then, of course, there’s a new guy to complicate matters.

This story is a lot of things.  It’s science fiction, for now at least.  It’s a romance.  It’s a teen drama.  And it’s a mystery with one heck of a twist at the end that I sure didn’t see coming.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This is Not the End

 

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Review: Gregor the Underland Chronicles

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As a teacher, I’m often asked for kids’ book recommendations.  And I’m always looking for great books to offer to kids.  One series that always gets top mention is the Gregor Chronicles.

Written by Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame, this is a milder, gentler series for younger readers not quite ready for that world.  With Gregor as our hero, we are taken to a world hidden deep beneath the streets of New York City.  His adventures bring him into contact with giant rats, bats, and roaches among others.  There are legends to be followed, and destinies to be realized.

It’s not without violence, however, as there are deaths along the way.  However, I was able to read and recommend this series to second graders with no hesitation. And older readers have no fear. This is still one of my favorites to read MYSELF.

The boxed set makes an excellent gift and truly should only be bought that way as eager eyes are sure to zip through the first volume and immediately look for the next.  Happy reading!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Gregor the Underland Chronicles

Review: Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

01 aclo This has to be the one of the most unique books I have ever read. Unique in the sense that I’ve never read Steampunk before. All the talk of gears and ray guns and such was just wild for me. Now toss in vampires, werewolves and ghosts and you have the making a crazy story. Not to mention romance, cuz of course I need romance in my stories. This was just plain fantastic.

When Lucy decided to visit her cousin, Kate, she thought she was there to merely help her get well. She had no idea that she was about to get sucked into such drama. From pushy relatives to ghost hauntings, she has more on her plate than she ever thought possible. Last thing she wants is to deal with a mean, yet handsome, man who seems to be everywhere she looks. I liked Lucy. She had spunk. She wasn’t going to let anything scare her off until she figured out what was making her cousin sick. Not even the big bad beast could move her along.

Miles was fun to watch. Yes, he had is secrets. Yes, he was brash. But he cared for his family and was trying to do the best for them. In the ways of the “beast” it was sweet to see him fall for Lucy, even though he didn’t want to. He tried to protect her and push her away, but she wasn’t taking any of his crap. These two were too stubborn to not connect with each other.

The best part of this book is that it’s clean. As with all Proper Romances, this story has nothing to hide. Teens to adult can enjoy this story without worrying about sexy scenes. I look forward to letting my daughter read this when she’s ready.

I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was getting myself into here. I have no idea what’s “traditional” steampunk and what isn’t. I still don’t know. But what I do know is that I completely enjoyed this story. And if all steampunks are like this one, then I know I found another genre to add to my TBR.

~Melpomene

Buy Beauty and the Clockwork Beast HERE.

Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

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I love it when authors put their own unique twist on classic stories and fairytales.  Bonus points if their version is even more dark and twisted than the original.  This is what you get with the latest from Lisa Maxwell.

We all know the story of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.  The story from my childhood places Peter in the role of hero, saving all who are lost.  And the Neverland I remember was a magical place full of swashbuckling fun with a dash of danger thrown in.

This is not the story we grew up with.  This Neverland is full of deadly secrets at every turn.  There are more beasts than you can keep track of.  And death is a regular occurrence.  Oh and Peter?  He may not be what you remember.  This Peter is more sinister and conniving. And then there’s Captain Hook.  Because what would a Peter Pan story be without a bad guy?  But maybe Hook isn’t really the bad guy.  Or maybe he is.

This is what Gwendolyn has to decide for herself.  Her entire life has been spent moving from place to place.  Just as soon as she gets settled, her mom uproots them yet again.  She has a good reason.  They are running from monsters, after all.  To Gwen, this is just more of her mom’s eccentric behavior.  So when they end up in London, she doesn’t take any of the warnings seriously.  Keep the windows closed, don’t turn off the lights…

And when she doesn’t heed these warnings, bad things happen.  In the form of dark shadowy creatures who swoop in and capture Gwen along with her friend Olivia.  When Gwen wakes up, she finds herself on the ship of the infamous Captain Hook.  She knows the story, so she knows he’s not the good guy.  So she escapes and is rescued by Peter Pan.

Here’s where the story takes even more twists and turns.  Gwen quickly realizes that Pan may not be what he seems.   And it would appear that she holds the key to saving herself and Olivia.  Maybe her mom wasn’t so crazy after all…

This was such a fun book to read.  The author has a way with words and is able to create magical worlds that transport the reader.  While staying close to the original storyline, she still gives us a fantastical alternate version.  Add this one to your list!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Unhooked

Review: Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood

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Before your eyes glaze over at the word “apocalyptic” just wait.  It’s good. Really.  Yes, I know the genre has been way overdone the last several years. And I myself have strategically avoided many books described as such because I was just that burnt out on end of the world stories.  But this one caught my attention.

A virus has wiped out most of the population.  Only a handful (relatively speaking) of survivors remain, trying to forge their way in a new world.  But there’s no scavenging to be had in this story.  You see, humankind was wiped out so quickly that unlimited resources remain for the survivors.  Grocery stores are fully stocked, gas tanks are full, houses and cars are available for the taking.  But there’s one thing that isn’t as easy to come by…

“Sugar” is nineteen, without family, and a loner at heart.  So a world without people suits her just fine.  As a diabetic, however, a world without the insulin she needs to survive is a death sentence.  There’s enough for the immediate future, but what about after that?  So she sets out on a journey to save herself.  And she’ll need the help of others along the way.

Parts of this story, heck most of this story, were so unbelievable.  But isn’t that what fiction is?  If I’m being completely honest, the main character wasn’t even particularly likable due to her lack of emotion.  For some reason, though, I kept reading.  And at the end of the book I realized that it really was a pretty good story.

So go ahead, suspend your disbelief and your sense of rationality for the duration of this story.  It’s just different enough to be enjoyable.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Sugar Scars

Review: Star Wars Little Golden Books

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So you may’ve heard about this movie that came out last Friday.  Not a big deal, really. Just a sequel to a little sci fi series…

Combine the epic saga that is Star Wars along with possibly the most nostalgic book medium of many of our childhoods and you get this.  The creators of Little Golden Books, those of The Poky  Little Puppy fame, have put together the perfect gift for Star Wars fans.

This little gem of a set condenses each of the six movies into one neat little golden-spined package.  Each story is accompanied by outstanding retro illustrations, and the scary scenes & violence have been nicely toned down as much as possible without losing the story.

These books will appeal to kids of all ages. Older readers will enjoy the memories from their childhood while at the same time adding another element to their no doubt very large Star Wars collection. And, as I’ve tested these on some very willing seven year olds, I can promise younger readers will devour them as just good books. Guaranteed to become favorites!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:STAR WARS LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS

 

 

Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

51gCLikAH0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_As another school year winds down, one of the things I’ve been working on is a list of possible books for my kiddos to read over the summer. And no, it’s not a required reading list. Most of you probably know how I feel about those. Instead, it’s a suggested list of titles that I know were good for me, so I can guess that they’ll probably appeal to younger readers as well. And no compilation of such books would be complete for me without The Overlander Chronicles series written by none other than Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games.

Gregor is an unlikely hero, a young boy of just eleven. But when his young sister crawls into an air vent in the laundry room of their New York City apartment building, he doesn’t hesitate before going in after her. So begins their journey into the Underland, a mystical magical land right under the feet of New Yorkers. As magical as the Underland is, however, it’s also a land on the brink of war. And it appears that Gregor is exactly the hero mentioned in the prophecy that guides the Underlanders as they ready themselves for battle.

Oh, and did I mention the giant cockroaches? Yes, that’s right. Cockroaches. Giant ones. And giant bats and rats and spiders. Here’s where some of the story’s deeper messages come into play, as there’s a definite hierarchy in the Underland as well as a lot of prejudices and stereotypes. There are also moral decisions to be made, and there are consequences to some of the choices made by the characters. While some of the books in the series are definitely better than the others, none in the series rated less than four stars out of five for me.

So if you’re thinking about checking out right about now, reasoning that a book of this sort couldn’t possibly appeal to you for whatever reason, please don’t. First and foremost, this is a story that will appeal to readers of all ages. Older readers will appreciate the simplicity and innocence of the story as well as the unbelievable world created by the author. Younger readers will fall into a fantasy world that’s rich in visual imagery and descriptions. And kids who aren’t yet ready to read this one on their own will gladly snuggle up with a grownup for this amazing bedtime story. And fear not, Gregor’s world is nowhere near as scary or as graphic as the one in The Hunger Games. So start with book one, jump right in. And be prepared to move on to the rest in the series one after the other.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)