Sunday, October 23, 2016

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2; The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)My name is Magnus, and I'm dead. My soul was sent to Valhalla, and now I'm a warrior with an amazing sword named Jack. Thor has lost his hammer, again, and giants will invade Midgard  unless he gets it back. Now, it gets complicated. Loki, the god of mischief, is trying to force his daughter, and my friend, Sam to marry a giant in order to get the hammer back. However, we're supposed to give the giant a devastating sword that will kill everything it cuts, before the giant will give us the hammer. Loki is in the middle of all this, so I know he has some devious plan in mind. He never does anything to help others, and he has no positive feelings for Thor. Sam's sister/brother Alex (it's hard to explain) wants to help, but I'm afraid Loki has an irresistible control over her.

You should probably read the first book in the series. This book is similar to the Percy Jackson books, but it has stranger humor. Jack is a deadly weapon that has the hots for other cute weapons. There's a dwarf with a keen fashion sense. All of the warriors in Valhalla practice killing each other every day (by actually killing each other) but are back in the cafeteria by dinner time. There's a god who likes to take selfies, and Thor plays air hockey in his man cave. A new character is Alex and he/she can change into other creatures. She/he also changes from girl to boy, and back, without knowing when it might happen. Charming characters for an adventurous plot. The conflict has huge consequences with the invasion of giants looming, but Loki's trickery is always on your mind. An entertaining book for lovers of mythological adventure stories.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Amos Daragon #1 by Bryan Perro

Porteur de masques (Amos Daragon, #1)My name is Amos, and I am a mask wearer. I didn't even know what that meant until recently. A dying mermaid gave me her trident and told me to give this small stone to  a queen of the fairies. I helped my parents flee the control of a cruel king only to find ourselves in the kingdom of another. I guess I'm a pretty clever boy, but Yaune the Purifier didn't appreciate being tricked out of executing Beorf, the humanimal. Most of the humanimals had been slaughtered, but I admired Beorf's ability to become a bear and accepted him as friend. Karmakas, and his army of gorgons, has now taken over the castle, and he's trying to find a pendant stolen by Yaune. He will use the pendant to destroy all humans. I don't know what a boy and a humanimal can do, but Beorf and I are willing to forfeit our lives to stop him.

I seem to be finding some hidden gems recently. Another young savior is nothing new, but I found Amos's honor, loyalty, and cunningness very admirable and entertaining. He managed to trick two kings without being killed, and he was willing to give up his life to save Beorf. The plot contains a good amount of action and adventure, as Amos traveled to different villages and faced dangerous enemies. The gorgons easily turned all of the soldiers to stone, so how was one boy supposed to stop them? Beorf's character was admirable too, as he joined Amos in his quest. Humanimals had no reason to trust humans, but Beorf was willing to put his faith in Amos. He understood Amos's strength was his ability to think and resolve problems without fighting. He knew Amos had a good heart. This book is the first in a series, but I haven't been able to figure out how many are in it. Everything I've seen on Goodreads has been written in French, and I haven't found more than the first two books in the Central Ohio library system.

Monsterville by Sarah S. Reida

Monsterville: A Lissa Black ProductionMy name is Lissa, and there's a goblin living behind my new home in the country. He seemed harmless enough when Adam and I first found him, but we've since discovered the terrible truth of Down Below. This goblin used to be a little boy who disappeared last year, and he escaped from the monster world under the earth. The goblin is terrified of a creature called Atticus, and more kids around the world are kidnapped by him every Halloween. They have all become monsters. I'm afraid my little sister is in danger, and Halloween is coming soon. I have a strange feeling that Monsterville, a board game I found in the basement, is the key to stopping these creatures.

I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this book! On the surface, my review may not seem overly impressive, but the author managed to creatively develop an entertaining plot. It never seemed to settle into a rut with uneventful moments. Lissa didn't like the move to a new house, she found a cutish goblin in the woods, she learned the truth about monsters and Blue's secret, then had to work to save her sister. I felt sympathy for a goblin. What I didn't like? I don't like that this book begins a new series. I don't know what's going to come in the sequel, but I would have been very satisfied to have had this conflict resolved and ended the story. Now, I'm curious about the sequel and will probably check it out! This book is not a classic, but Monsterville is entertaining and fun to read.

Jerry's Mystery by W.W. Rowe

Jerry's MysteryMy name is Jerry, and this Fox is a problem. Fox is a new kid from France, and he's got all the girls thinking he's so special. Suzie and I are a thing, but even she is always hanging around him at recess. Wilcox is always telling me to be the best person I can be and to listen to my inner self. I guess I've let my anger get the best of me, and I may have done some mean things to Fox. Wilcox has told me to be careful around him, and I think he's trying to kill me. I mean it! He tried to push me off the top of a dangerous hill! Now, I've been told he has a plan that will hurt Suzie, but I will not let that happen.

You know, the books in this series teach important lessons about living life the right way. We must be true to ourselves and have compassion for others. Don't let anger control our behavior. Despite that, it felt like Jerry gave in to his anger more frequently in this book and didn't pass up chances to embarrass Fox. Wilcox lived down by the dump but provided spiritual advice to Jerry. Jerry regretted some of his decisions and was still learning to meditate to control his emotions. Jealousy seemed to be a larger emotion for him, although for some reason, he was reluctant to officially say Suzie was his girlfriend. The dialogue was geared for upper elementary kids, and the books are quick-reads. Considering I normally read more adventurous plots, I've found this series to be very refreshing and enjoyable.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Ministry of SUITS by Paul Gamble

The Ministry of S.U.I.T.SMy name is Jack, and I've just started a job at SUITs that may kill me. Think of all the strange and unusual things you can; they're all true. Dinosaurs, not extinct. Werewolves, exist. Actually, there are werehamsters too, but they're not so bad. Tooth Fairy is a huge, mean six foot, six inch dude. I got into this job, because I suspect unpopular kids are being kidnapped from schools. I'm afraid my best friend David is in danger. A company has become my school's partner, but I don't understand the changes they're making. New polyester uniforms the same as our old ones? Carpet in the hallways, wind turbines, and modular classes? I've also discovered Trudy, a bully at my school, also works at SUITs, and she's my new partner. We've uncovered secrets leading us to hundreds of missing kids, but why have they been kidnapped? The truth is another strange and unusual thing.

I have a pretty high tolerance for weird plots, and this book fits that description. The strange events mentioned above are a tiny taste of the absurdity. Jerry and Trudy gain The Speed by thinking about depressing thoughts. Live animals in museums don't move only because they're playing musical chairs, so people only think they're dead. Actually, the animals remain still, because there's no music playing. The plot and craziness are actually fun to read if that kind of thing doesn't bug you. However, the footnotes and informational pages from the Ministry of S.U.I.TS handbook are too much. I found them a distraction (every chapter has at least one of them), so I skipped over them after a couple chapters. I'm sure they were funny, but they interrupted the flow of the plot. I still found the overall book amusing and fun to read. I like absurdity!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jerry's Madness by W.W. Rowe

Jerry's MadnessMy name is Jerry, and I have The Look. I can make people do things by staring into their eyes, although my mom might disagree. I wish I could stop myself from feeling so angry, but Wilcox is helping. Some people think he's just a crazy old man living by the dump, but he has magical powers. It's going to take something strong to keep me from exploding on the school bullies. They're making fun of Suzie, my girlfriend, and Monty can't help it when he lisps. Also, I'm still a little worried about the bald man who tried to kidnap me. He knocked me out and tied me up, but I used The Look on him and sent him walking south for the next three weeks. Or did I? A man came by the next day saying he was the guy's twin brother, and he said this brother needs mental help. Wilcox says they're the same person, but that can't be. Right?!

This book is pretty spiritual, especially considering the plot is fairly straight-forward. This homeless man, Wilcox, is like Jerry's guru or life coach, as he provides advice and guidance. He talks about karma, staying true, and listening to his inner self. They meditate together. It might provide a tool for kids to deal with their own anger and other emotions. However, I question whether kids at this age will appreciate it. I'm impressed with Jerry's character, as he stands up for poor Monty and finds ways to handle the bullies. He's human, because he feels anger, embarrassment, and has the urge to lie. Wilcox helps Jerry reflect on his decisions to determine if they're pure; he must always try to stay true to his inner self and keep a positive karma. Too heavy? I'm amazed at Jerry's ability to stay positive amid negative surroundings and his sense of right and wrong. Anyhow, the books are easy to read, and they're all under 100 pages in length. Give it a shot.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Youngest Templar #1: Keeper of the Grail by Michael P. Spradlin

Keeper of the Grail (The Youngest Templar, #1)
My name is Tristan, and I am holding the greatest religious artifact in history, the Holy Grail. Sir Thomas found me in St. Alban's monastery and asked me to become his squire. Being an orphan with dreams of adventure, I decided to join the troop of Templars. Sir Hugh, leader of the men, has chosen to hate me for some reason and has pummeled me on more than one occasion. The king, Richard the Lionhearted, has vowed to drive the Saracens from Jerusalem, so we have joined other soldiers in retaking the town of Acre first. However, the enemy regrouped with thousands of reinforcements surrounding the city, and they are now laying siege on us. Sir Thomas has drawn the Holy Grail from hiding and is entrusting me to escape the city and get the grail safely to Scotland. Friends and foes alike will do anything to get their hands on it, but I will give up my life before letting Sir Thomas down.

This book read mostly like realistic fiction, except that the grail seemed to have some kind of power. Tristan heard a hum emanating from it whenever he was in mortal danger, although what the grail might have been doing was unclear. Tristan was kind, brave, and loyal, so he was an admirable character. Most of the other characters liked him and respected him, so Sir Hugh's hatred was hard to understand. However, it's clear it stems from Tristan's birth parents, even though his past was never fully explained in this book. There were numerous battles and fights that will satisfy lovers of action, and the mysteries of Tristan and the grail will appeal to lovers of adventure. This book ended with Tristan unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea, so I'm anxious to start the next book before he drowns!