Monday, June 30, 2014

Maleficent adapted by Elizabeth Rudnick

MaleficentThis book tells the story of the 2014 Disney film, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. You probably know the story of Sleeping Beauty, but this plot takes some unexpected twists and turns. Maleficent's faerie parents are killed by humans, but she still grows up with a kind heart and a love for nature. Her life takes a terrible turn when a young boy breaks her heart and later becomes king. She casts a sleeping spell on the king's daughter, Aurora, and later regrets this decision. Even she is not able to break the curse. The anger and evil have taken over, and only true love's kiss can bring about a happy ending.

This story shows Maleficent as a kind, trusting character whose happiness is ruined by the greed of others. However, even at her worst moments, the seed of kindness still lives within her. She does some terrible, mean things, but she sees bits of herself within Aurora. This creates an internal conflict that Maleficent battles throughout the book. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I enjoyed this version of the classic fairy tale.

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

The Eighth DayThis book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Jax is living with an eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley, and he soon discovers the world is much different than he thought. Most people live with seven days in the week, but some people only live during an eighth day. The eighth day was created by Merlin to control the evil magic that arose hundreds of years ago. Riley is a descendant of King Arthur, and Jax and he are able to exist during all eight days of the week. Riley doesn't tell Jax everything he needs to know, so Jax makes some huge mistakes. He doesn't fully understand the importance of the girl living next door and how the survival of all "normals" depends on her. There are men who want to use her powers to free the evil magic trapped in the eighth day. Jax finally discovers this plot, but it may be too late.

The idea of an eighth day is similar to the ideas shared in The Midnighters trilogy by Scott Westerfield, without the strange creatures. The plot took a little while to get going as Jax was left to learn about the eighth day on his own. However, once the action got going, it really got going. Everyone who lived during the eighth day had a special power; Jax could make people answer his questions. I found it strange that most people in the eighth day were able to resist his power. Riley and the girl next door were more powerful, and their abilities were more useful.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Joshua Dredd: The Dominion Key by Lee Bacon

Joshua Dread: The Dominion Key (Joshua Dread, #3)This book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Josh is a superhero, although his fame is dropping. His Gyft, or special power, is the ability to create fire, and two of his friends have super strength and the power to see things before they happen. His best friend, Milton, does not have a Gyft, but he's still part of the Alliance of the Impossible. The gang is attacked by super villains, so they head to Alabaster Academy, a school for kids with Gyfts, to hide out. Josh discovers Phineas Vex, a teenage villain, plans to steal four items that will allow him to rule the world, and his goons are heading to the academy. After the first three items are stolen, the kids realize they must find the last item and destroy it. It's a race to the finish!

This book is the third in the Joshua Dread series. The author added a couple of interesting twists to the characters. Milton has some insecurities hiding in a school full of kids with superpowers. Although Josh is a superhero, his parents happen to be famous super villains. Sophie, his friend with super strength, happens to be the daughter of the most popular superhero in the world. She's having trouble dealing with her father dating another superhero. The plot includes some common, and some uncommon, superpowers, and Professor Fleming really enjoys teaching the kids about dangerous weapons. His first lesson gives the kids five minutes to defuse a time bomb! Overall, the book is not classic literature, but it's entertaining.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White

The Thickety: A Path BeginsThis book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Kara's mother is put to death for being a witch, and the townspeople fear Kara is a witch too. Kara passes their test for witchcraft, but they still tease and humiliate her family. Grace, a popular girl and daughter of the town's leader, is especially vicious. Kara's life changes quickly when she finds a book in The Thickety. It's actually a grimoire and gives her the power to cast spells. The power becomes addictive, and Kara can't stop herself from using magic. If she uses the last page in the book to cast a spell, she will be a prisoner to the evil forever. And things get even worse when Grace finds out about the book.

I enjoyed Kara's internal conflicts about her mother and the use of magic. Her external conflicts with the town, its leaders, and Grace increased the suspense. The beginning of the book moved a little too slowly for me, but things got moving when Kara found the grimoire. The climax and resolution were VERY surprising, and a sequel will be coming soon.

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Mark of the DragonflyThis book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Piper lives in a town where the people make money by scavenging around craters after meteor storms. She sees a huge meteor smash into a trade caravan and rescues a small girl, Anna, from the wreckage. Anna has a tattoo on her arm, the mark of the dragonfly, which means she's under the king's protection. However, Anna can't remember anything about the tattoo or her past, but she's terribly afraid when another survivor from the caravan shows up at Piper's door. The girls climb aboard a cargo train and head to the capital city, hoping to find Anna's family. They don't realize that Gee, head of train security, is also the green creature they've seen flying in the sky. Trouble is on the way when Doloman, the king's head mechanic, discovers the girls are on the train. Secrets about Piper and Anna will be revealed, but will the secrets lead them to disaster or to their freedom?

I really enjoyed Anna and Piper. The author dropped hints about Piper's power over machines, and Anna was too wise for a small girl. The setting was mostly on the train, which is rather unusual for middle-grade fiction. The plot mixed in periods of action and adventure, but questions surrounding Anna's past gave it the feel of a mystery.

The Copernicus Legacy #1: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy, #1)This book was released in 2014, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. It is the first book in a new series. Wade, Darrell, Lily, and Becca travel the world in search of a relic hidden by Copernicus. Actually, there are twelve hidden relics, and together they create a machine that could change the history of the world. Literally. An evil group of murderers, led by a ruthless young woman, wants to get its hands on the invention and chases the kids across the planet. The adventure takes them to Germany, Italy, and eventually Guam, and the kids must do everything they can to guard the relics, and to stay alive.

Although the machine provides the science fiction/ fantasy for the book, the plot reads more like an adventure story. The kids are innocently drawn into the danger when they attend the funeral of an "uncle". Each kid has a talent, and they work together to solve the mysteries. It's always unbelievable to me how a few kids can travel the world battling professional killers, and win, but it's always fun to read.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

The Luck UgliesThus book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Rye lives in the village of Downing, and strange things are happening. There are rumors that viscous Bog Goblins have returned to the area and will slaughter the people and destroy the village. The Luck Uglies saved them the last time these creatures attacked, but they haven't been seen in ten years. It seems the king may have broken his treaty with them, so they've left the village to defend itself. Rye's mom has also been sneaking out at night, and Rye discovers her with a strange, hooded man in the village tavern. Rye hears terrible sounds coming from the forest, the cat is acting weird, and Rye finds her life saved by the mysterious, hooded man. The things Rye soon discovers make her realize that she is the only person who can possibly save all of the people in Downing.

The plot isn't uncommon with the rumor of monsters coming, and the small girl ending up being the one who must face them. The story surrounding her situation is more unusual, as she discovers the truth about the Luck Uglies. There is a nice mixture of interesting characters and exciting action that held my interest. I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty certain there will be a sequel coming.