Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Dark Gravity Sequence #2: Island of the Sun by Matthew J. Kirby

Island of the Sun (Dark Gravity Sequence, #2)My name is Eleanor, and the G.E.T. is searching for us all across the planet. I was able to destroy the Concentrator in Alaska and stopped it from sucking away the earth's energy and sending it to a rogue planet. However, we believe there are more Concentrators located around the world that must be shut down. These alien machines have caused another Ice Age that is slowly consuming the earth. The G.E.T. and UN have kept all this information secret from the public, and we're treated like terrorists. We've arrived in South America, but my mother is concerned about my connection to the Concentrators and the rogue planet. I don't understand how, but I'm able to sense, feel, and hear them. The G.E.T. has people everywhere, and they've captured Finn's father and brother. The rest of us are trapped under an island mountain, but we must trust the technology of an ancient culture to escape. How can our small group possibly succeed in saving the planet?

You need to read The Arctic Code before reading this one. It's nice to see the setting move to a warmer climate, as the characters don't need to wear all the heavy clothing from book one. G.E.T. is an energy company that plans to control the Concentrators and selectively decide which humans will survive, the Preservation Protocol. G.E.T. presents a formidable antagonist, and some "innocent" characters are manipulated into helping it. This situation makes readers question the motivations of new characters entering the plot. With fears of climate change in our world, this book creates a reflection of an alternative prediction for our future. It makes you think about treating nature with more respect and wondering if all the cultures in the world can unite to save it. It was clear in book one that Eleanor was different from other characters, and the mystery isn't cleared up in this book. She has a connection to alien technology, but it's not clear why or how. We also learn in this book that there are others in the world with similar connections. This book's resolution separates the protagonists once again, but I assume everyone will be happily reunited in The Rogue World, the last book in the trilogy.

The Sunken Kingdom #1: Ghost Ship by Kim Wilkins

Ghost Ship (The Sunken Kingdom, #1)
My name is Asa, and my brother Rollo and I must constantly be on the lookout for Emperor Flood's spies and patrols. He's already killed our parents, the king and queen, but we just found out our baby sister Una is still alive! Flood's sister hates him more than she hates us, and she secretly took Una away. A former jailer has given us supplies and a ghost ship called Northseeker to help us find our sister. In addition, we've been enchanted with some magic that allows me to fly and my brother to breathe underwater. The quest will be dangerous, but we must rescue Una!

This book is very short, about forty pages including pictures. I read an ebook version and didn't realize it was so short when I started. However, the plot moved quickly and had some interesting aspects to it. I think it would have been much better if it had been more fully developed. The kids didn't really use their powers for anything meaningful, so I assume their magic will be a bigger factor in the sequel. Despite the dangers, the kids found their sister fairly easily. It would have been more entertaining if they had done more than hide from Flood's patrols and spies. Let the kids use their powers, their intelligence, or their determination to escape danger. In addition, it was difficult to develop the personalities of the characters while developing a plot in only forty pages. It would have been nice to be able to get to know the kids. My review is short as was the book. This story was good, but it could have been so so much better.

The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby

The Lost KingdomMy name is Billy, and Benjamin Franklin has welcomed me to join my father and others as a member of the Philosophical Society. I didn't even know they existed, but these scientists secretly act as protectors of the colonies. The Society fears a war between France and England is looming, and the colonies will be the battleground. We're following legends and heading west on a flying ship to find the lost Welsh kingdom of Prince Madoc, and we hope to convince the kingdom to become our allies. I've seen people hiding in the shadows spying on us, we need to avoid French forces searching for us, there is a traitor among our group, and our leader is missing. My father has taken over, but I'm doubting his judgment. I once thought I wanted to be just like him, but I now find myself openly questioning his prejudice and leadership.

It seems I like the author's writing style, since this is the third book I've read that was written by Matthew Kirby. The other books were more science fictiony, while this one is based more on historical fiction. A major issue in the plot dealt with prejudice. Billy's father didn't trust any Indians and felt they were all untrustworthy savages. John's feelings were stressed to their limits when a half-Indian joined the group as a guide. Billy liked Andrew and didn't understand why his father distrusted the man. Many of his father's decisions were based on preconceived thoughts, and John ignored the opinions and ideas from others. John and Andrew presented a great contrast in characters, as the half-Indian did his best to ignore the accusations and bravely help the group survive. The author was able to evoke some contempt toward Billy's father which created an emotional connection to the story. A lesson learned in the end was "To err is human, to forgive divine." The plot built to an unexpected battle during the climax, a secret about Madoc's party was revealed, and the success of the mission was debated. It's been awhile since I've read a book that wasn't part of series, and this book was a surprising pleasure.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Dark Gravity Sequence #1: The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby

The Arctic Code (Dark Gravity Sequence, #1)My name is Luke, and I had no idea why a twelve-year-old girl would want to stowaway in my plane headed for Barrow, Alaska. The temperatures drop to 200 degrees below zero, and your lungs can freeze while trying to breathe. Once we arrived, I found out Eleanor's mother works for G.E.T. and went missing while searching for sources of energy. I don't trust the company, and I'm surprised to find the owner up here in this land of ice. He was the one who predicted the arrival of this Ice Age, but his company's all about making money. I'm not sure how seriously they're searching for Eleanor's mother, and Dr. Skinner has been pressuring the girl to turn over her Sync. It's the only connection she has to her mother, and I know she's lying to Skinner about it. I suspect she's keeping more secrets, and she's reckless enough to try something crazy. I've already saved her life once, but I may not be there next time.

You immediately know this science fiction book will be different due to subzero temperatures in Arizona and the Ice Cap now covering most of the country. Eleanor gets secret information from her mother, and that becomes the basis for the whole plot. You're never totally sure what it's all about, but you know it could affect the whole world. The author's inclusion of missing cultures makes the plot interesting. There are characters from the distant past and technology that far exceeds what we should have on Earth. In addition, Eleanor's father is unknown; her mother always blames her questionable behavior on the Donor. Books with adopted kids or mysterious parents always leave open the possibility of unexpected surprises. Although Eleanor's parentage is never revealed, it's clear that her father's heredity is having a huge impact on the events. Eleanor mostly acted alone in this book, with some help along the way, but I'm going to assume there will be more of a team effort in the sequel. I'm curious to find out what happens next, so I've already checked out the next two books in the series. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Five Elements #2: The Shadow City by Dan Jolley

The Shadow City (Five Elements #2)My name is Gabe, and I have the power to control fire. The Eternal Dawn once again is trying to open a gate to Arcadia and bring back Jonathan Thorn. He wants to unite Arcadia, a magical shadow city of San Francisco, with our world and unleash the poison and deadly creatures into our world. My friends and I barely defeated a leviathan sent to destroy us, and we were forced to face it again on our way to Alcatraz. However, we unwittingly leaped into a trap! Now, I find myself lying atop a table, with a knife looming over my chest during a sacrificial ceremony. I don't know if Brett, Lily, Kaz, and Jackson will be able to help me. Brett's been behaving strangely, and he's ready to come to blows with Jackson. Those guys really seem to hate each other. But if they can't save me and stop the Eternal Dawn, who will?

I suggest you read the first book to understand how the five main characters came together. The tensions with Jackson continued in this book, but the author revealed more about Jackson's past to help Lily understand his behavior. The other characters had their own complications too. Brett's the leader of the group, and his behavior has been off. His decisions were questionable, and the conflicts with Jackson became extreme. Kaz had the most "normal" family situation, and his parents' concerns added an unexpected twist to the plot. It was understandable, but it wasn't necessary. Jackson's character became more prominent in this plot, while Kaz seemed to take a lesser role. What will you like about this book? You'll enjoy the battles with strange monsters, and the conflict between the kids and the Eternal Dawn. Thorn is nuts, and that's not a good thing for a powerful leader of a cult. Part of the setting moved to Arcadia, just like in the first book, and that world is pretty strange. I'm still not totally sure how things work there. Characters were affected by the magick, but it wasn't equal. Steve was affected physically but not mentally, while Aria didn't change as much physically but was mentally gone. Overall, it's an entertaining series, and I think you'll enjoy it if my description appeals to you at all.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wandmaker #1 by Ed Masessa

Wandmaker (Wandmaker #1)My name is Henry, and Coralis says it should take years of apprenticeship to screw up as badly as I've done. You've heard of the power of seventh sons, right? Well, my mother and father are sevenths, so Coralis say that gives me extra special powers. I've accidentally changed my annoying sister Brianna into a blue hedgehog, left a gold nugget absorbing negative energy in my house, and captured evil moonbeams in my aura. My parents seemed to be having a fight before abandoning us, and I'm starting to wonder if my father is evil. Now, Coralis is the greatest Wand Maker in the world, and he says he needs my help. We've traveled to land of my ancestors where we've discovered a plot to spread evil across the earth, with catastrophic results.

As you can tell, this is another book with a young hero discovering new powers. Similar to the Harry Potter books and the Magisterium series, we have a protagonist with evil inside that may arise in the future. It leaves a lingering problem that could explode at any time. Henry was ready to believe in his magical ability, although I'm not sure why his little sister wasn't more upset about becoming a hedgehog. She easily transformed into his sidekick. I found it interesting how the characters used different wands for different purposes, since I'm used to a wizard owning one, special wand. Some wands were disposable and could only be used once. The author also slipped in moments of humor to enhance the action. Henry's sister became a blue hedgehog, Coralis was annoyed with modern society, and the two main antagonists had issues with each other and the call of Mother Nature (if you know what I mean). I don't feel like this book is a must-read, but it's entertaining. 

Wandmaker #2: Wandmaker's Apprentice by Ed Masessa

Wandmaker's Apprentice (Wandmaker #2)My name is Brianna, and my brother Henry is leader of the apprentices. Coralis has collected four other boys and girls who are mastering the four elements. Henry is mastering all of them, and I'm being trained as an Enhancer with the ability to strengthen the apprentices' powers. Unfortunately, Coralis neglected his duties to guard the earth, so Malachai's powers have grown. He's gotten his hands on the Pangaea Particle and plans to unleash unspeakable creatures into the world. The particle seems to have a mind of its own and is driving Malachai even crazier. I don't know how this might affect his mental connection to my father, and I don't know if our apprentice training will be enough to stop him. However, I do know we are the only ones with a chance.

You need to read Wandmaker first. I enjoyed this sequel more due to the addition of the other apprentices. One of them had anger issues and had difficulty getting along, and the addition of a boy brought out Henry's jealousy and competitiveness. It would have been easy for Brianna to become an extra character, but her enhancement ability gave her a connection to everyone. It was a huge contrast to her role as a blue hedgehog in book one. She had an additional ability to communicate with rodents, and a couple other characters could talk to birds. Henry's character was the most dynamic even though he had the most experience. He was unsure of his role among the apprentices, and he became less certain when he became leader. As the plot unfolded, the variety of his abilities became evident, and his determination and compassion for others were key. The author did a great job of describing Malachai's ever-increasing insanity, and it created a more complicated conflict. You should enjoy the adventure, action, and magic of the story, and the whole book is based on nature. The apprentices are able to summon water, earth, air, and fire, and heck, even Earth Mother Gaia is a character. It's a shame that I'll need to wait another year until book three comes out.