Sunday, May 15, 2016

Secret Coders Book Review

Title: Secret Coders
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator: Mike Holmes
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1626720756


96 pp.


ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley


Secret Coders is exactly the kind of book I love to booktalk, especially when promoting Summer Reading Club. It has a mystery, it has a diverse cast, it has basketball, it has a friendship theme, and it has STEM. And best of all, it's a graphic novel.

Graphic novels are my go-to booktalk because they appeal to kids who say they don't like to read. These kids may have reading difficulties, they may be English learners, or maybe they just haven't found the right book yet. But a graphic novel, especially one like Secret Coders, has the visual appeal to grab their interest and keep them turning pages. Mike Holmes delivers a lively and cartoony style. His artwork during the coding explanations are clear and accessible.

Secret Coders is the first in a series about Hopper, a new kid at school who wants to join the basketball team and who notices weird things going on at Stately Academy. After a bad start at making friends, she joins forces with Eni to figure out what's going at the school.

Tons of fun here and I'd recommend Secret Coders to readers who liked Cece Bell's El Deafo or Raina Telgemeier's Sisters.

Secret Coders Bonus Video:


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Undertow Book Review

Title: Undertow
Author: Michael Buckley
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0544348257

384 pp.


ARC provided by publisher


Undertow by Michael Buckley is a Romeo/Juliet story about a human girl named Lyric and a sea prince named Fathom set in modern day New York.

It's not subtle in its parallels to current immigration fears as the sea folk known as Alphas arrive on Coney Island and are immediately vilified, segregated, and threatened with violence.

Lyric is forced to befriend Fathom at school and, of course, sparks fly. There's lots of conflict, lots of tortured feelings, lots of high stakes as Lyric finds out THE TERRIBLE AND COMPLETELY OBVIOUS TRUTH about her family.

Undertow isn't particularly groundbreaking, but it is a fun, fast read for paranormal romance fans.

I'd recommend Undertow to readers who enjoyed Of Poseidon by Anna Banks or The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Reluctant Assassin Audiobook Review

Title: The Reluctant Assassin
Author: Eoin Colfer
Narrated by: Maxwell Caulfield
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0804123358


Listening copy via Sync


Eoin Colfer is most well known for the Artemis Fowl series, a series I tried and never really got into.  But since the good people at Sync offered The Reluctant Assassin, I thought I'd give this series a go.

The Reluctant Assassin in question is Riley, a Victorian orphan who's raised by a former magician. Alfred Garrick has turned his sleight-of-hand skills into becoming a master assassin and he expects Riley to complete his apprenticeship by committing his first murder. But what they don't know is that their intended target is a 21st century time traveler and things go from bad to worse when Riley ends up in modern day London.

Riley meets Chevron Savano, a 17 year old FBI agent, an orphan herself who was brought into the FBI for a secret assignment. Riley and Chevron team up to take on Garrick, who was transformed by time travel quantum mechanics and goes back to Victorian times to change history.

Sounds convoluted? It is a little bit, but complicated plotting keeps the action at a non-stop pace. There's a fair amount of deadly violence, which might be too intense for younger readers. But older readers looking for a rollicking adventure will find that here.

A nice dynamic grows between Riley and Chevron since each has their own special skill sets. Maxwell Caulfield does a fine job with Riley and Garrick, but his Chevron doesn't quite work. I don't know if he has trouble with women characters, American characters, or both, but Chevron comes off as stiff and stilted. Chevron is a Native American character, but she grew up in Malibu, so she sound like a normal American teen.


The Reluctant Assassin Book Trailer:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Random Cat Videos IV


Happy New Year!

Those two fine looking cats are Elwood and Jake. Litter mates, trouble makers, and cutie pies.

And what better way to celebrate the New Year than with some random cat videos!

First, there's Cat + Monkey:


 
Next, there's Dogs Annoying Cats with Their Friendship:




Finally, some solid reasons on why You Should Get a Second Cat:


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine Book Review

Title: Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Author: Stephanie Tromly
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0525428404


336 pp.


ARC provided by publisher


There are hi-jinks aplenty in this screwball mystery by Stephanie Tromly. Zoe is the new kid at school when she meets Digby, a weird, smart, completely impossible boy who drags her into an investigation of a missing girl. An investigation that may be linked to Digby's sister, who also went missing years before.

The dialog snaps, crackles, and pops as Zoe becomes Digby's somewhat willing accomplice in break-ins, drug deals, and fictional class assignments ... all in the name of finding the truth.

The action is over the top, from a mysterious cult next door to a Gatsby themed winter formal where nothing goes right. It reads like a television pilot that's been turned into a YA novel, because while one mystery is wrapped up, another is remains, sending up for a sequel. And there's nothing wrong with that if it's done well. Fortunately, Stephanie Tromly has created eccentric-yet-believable characters who you, like Zoe, couldn't resist following on another adventure.

I'd recommend Trouble Is a Friend of Mine to readers who enjoyed Dangerous by Shannon Hale or Save the Enemy by Arin Greenwood.

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