Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mouseheart by Lisa Fielder

MouseheartThis book is the 2014 start of a new series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Hopper is a small, pet store mouse, and he escapes into the tunnels under New York City. He's found by a rat prince named Zucker, and they return to the palace to meet Zucker's father. Hopper is shown a refugee camp for stray rodents, but Zucker seems uneasy when talking about it. The king makes Hopper nervous, and the mouse doesn't understand why the prince lies to his father about the leader of a rebel mouse force. Hopper notices the circle in the fur around his right eye resembles a picture drawn on the tunnel walls, and some rats and mice treat him strangely when they see it. A horrible secret is about to be revealed, and the little mouse is the key figure in bringing it to an end.

Comments on the book cover compare this series to Redwall. This book is a much quicker read than books in that series, but it has the same adventure and action. Hopper is the seemingly weak underdog, facing overwhelming odds, that readers love in their books. I liked how his character grew to face the challenges, and he surprised his doubters, including himself. The resolution of the plot leaves some interesting questions for book two.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Michael Vey #3: Battle of the Ampere by Richard Paul Evans

Battle of the Ampere (Michael Vey, #3)This book is the third in the series, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. After destroying the Starxource powerplant in book two, Michael now awakens in the middle of the jungle. He's rescued by an endangered tribe of natives and meets another electric child, Tessa, who is able to make Micheal's charge even more powerful. The other members of the Electroclan are arrested by the Peruvian army and may be put to death. Despite the overwhelming odds against him, Michael is still determined to save them. He's going to need their help to stop Hatch, who has now taken full control of the Elgen. Hatch takes over a fortress of ships and has already built a new powerplant on some small islands in the Pacific Ocean. The location of these islands will allow him to take control of China, Australia, Japan, and Hawaii. With all of the citizens of Peru, the police, the Peruvian Army, and the Elgen forces hunting for Michael and the Electroclan, the kids are going to need more than luck to survive.

You'll want to read the other books in the series first, so type Michael Vey in the search box at the top left of this screen. I like how the Electroclan works as a team; each member of the team uses his or her power when it's needed. Michael can control electricity, Taylor can control minds, and Ian can see things happening that are thousands of feet away. Even Ostin, a kid without special powers, helps the Electroclan with his intelligence. The character relationships add internal conflicts to the story, and one of the team members doesn't survive. The plot of the book reads like an adventure story; it has lots of action and impossible situations. I'm really loving the series.

Troubletwisters #4: The Missing by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

The Missing (Troubletwisters, #4)An unusual artifact is found below Jack and Jaida's neighbor's home, and it's actually a missing portal. When The Evil tries to pass through this gateway between worlds, the twins discover Grandma X's sister, Lottie, is alive, but trapped, along with The Evil. Second Gifts start to appear in the twins; Jaida can control lightning, like her father, and Jack can mentally  travel through the dirt, rocks, and plants. One of the Wardens has a plan called Project Thunderclap that will permanently seal all portals, but it will also imprison Lottie. Then, Jack is sucked up by a vortex that dumps him into the evil world too. Grandma X has told the other wardens she won't try to rescue her sister, but can that be true? A rescue would open a door for The Evil, but there's no other way to save Jack and Lottie. A rescue attempt would probably result in disaster for the entire planet. But what else can they do?

Jack and Jaida, the troubletwisters, seem to have more control over their Gifts in this book, but the unexpected results of their powers created unusual twists in the earlier books. Understanding The Evil takes some reader imagination, and Lottie's suggestion to treat it like an endangered animal was a strange twist. I liked how the troubletwisters and their "normal" friends worked together, but I didn't think adding Stefano's character added much to the story. Maybe he'll be more important in the future.

The Last Apprentice #13: Fury of the Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney

This book is the final chapter in the series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Tom Ward is close to destroying the Fiend once and for all, but things start to go wrong. His friend, Alice, thinks she has found a way to defeat the Fiend without sacrificing her own life, but she may totally turn to the Dark in the process. The Fiend's followers are reuniting his head with his body, so he can come back to life. A powerful mage has arisen, and his magic may be too much for Tom to handle. The Spook is old and not as strong as in the past, and Grimalkin, the witch assassin, is near death herself. If things weren't bad enough, Alice informs Tom that a more terrible foe will ravage the land if the Fiend is somehow defeated. Tom turns to the vicious Boggart, Kratch, in a desperate moment, but feeding it some of his blood may prove to be his downfall.

You will need to read the other books in the series before reading this finale; you can search for the other books by typing Delaney or Last Apprentice in the box at the top left of this screen. The entire plot leads up to an epic battle between the spooks' forces and the Fiend's followers. Tom's character has a lot of internal conflict. He wants to defeat the Fiend, but he may be forced to battle his best friend to achieve it. He keeps important secrets from the Spook even though he doesn't want to. Tom's relationship with Kratch is a new twist to the plot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bloodwitch by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Bloodwitch (The Maeve’ra Trilogy, #1)The book is a 2014 release and the first episode in a new trilogy. Vance lives in a greenhouse amid among a bunch of vampires. He is a shapeshifter and has the ability to change into a quetzal, a type of bird. He does different chores for the vampires, and he's told many times that he's not a slave and is free to leave. So why does he feel like a slave? Vance is told that he's a bloodwitch and possesses great power that the vampires want to control. He's always felt comfortable living with the vampires, but another shapeshifter makes him start to question things. He sees a friend commit suicide, he's punished by the vampire ruler for making a mistake, and he sees more dying from an illness. Vance doesn't truly understand his own power, and he's not sure if he should trust the vampire empire or the shapeshifters who hate him for being a traitor.

The plot took a little while to develop. I kept trying to figure out the main conflict in the story and where the events were leading. Vance had conflicts with the vampires and shapeshifters, but he was free to leave at any time. I couldn't see where the plot was headed. The idea of Vance's importance to the vampires was creative. My experience has been that vampire characters care more about themselves and don't need others. Vance has a great internal conflict as he tries to understand his place in the world.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Blood Guard by Carter Roy

The Blood GuardThis book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Ronan is rushed away from school by his mother, who races through the streets like a crazy woman. He realizes he doesn't know her very well when she pulls out a glowing sword and deflects bullets from their attackers' guns. She is a member of the Blood Guard, and their mission is to protect the thirty-six Pure people in world. Ronan hops aboard a train and meets the daughter of an FBI agent and another member of the Blood Guard. The kids end up alone, in the middle of nowhere, running from their attackers. When one of the attackers uses his powers to stop river water from flowing, Ronan again realizes things are really messed up. It looks like the attackers really want to get their hands on Ronan, but why? The kids can't trust anyone, and they don't know where to turn for help.

The action starts on the first page of this book and never stops. The bad guys continually pop up and barely give the kids any time to rest. The plot mostly reads like an adventure story, but the weapons and characters' powers push it into fantasy. There are characters doing impossible things, and there's even a character who's lost his head, literally. It was a very entertaining book, and I can't wait for the second book in the series.