Saturday, July 22, 2017

ARC Review: The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo! by Stephen Bramucci

The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo!
Author: Stephen Bramucci, illustrated by Arree Chung
Series: Danger Gang (Book 1)
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (August 1, 2017)

Description: Ronald Zupan is a daring master adventurer! But he actually hasn't experienced any grand adventures . . . YET! When his world-traveling parents are kidnapped on his twelfth birthday, Ronald seizes the chance to prove himself with a dazzling, danger-defying rescue operation.

Teaming up with his trusty butler Jeeves, his quick-witted fencing nemesis Julianne Sato, and his pet cobra Carter, Ronald sets course for the jungle of Borneo where his parents were last sighted. If they can crash-land a plane and outrun a hungry snow leopard, surely they can find the secret lair of Zeetan Z, the world's most ruthless pirate! But as their adventure becomes more and more dangerous, can Ronald and his companions muster enough courage to see this adventure through?

My Thoughts: Ronald Zupan is primed and ready to be a master adventurer like his famous parents. He has a pet Cobra named Carter and a dashing, and very realistic, mustache. On the morning of his eleventh birthday, he wakes to find that his parents, who promised to return to help him celebrate, are not there.

Ronald, his pet cobra, his reluctant butler Jeeves and his fencing rival Julianne Sato are off to find them. During their adventures they fly and crash land an airplane, deal with a giant, outwit poop slinging orangutans and their trainer Three-fingered Jack, and chase down the dreaded pirate Zeetan Z. Each page is filled with outrageous adventure told by Ronald who is quick to make himself an extraordinary hero. At the end of each chapter, Jeeves, who is really Tom Halladay, adds some notes about errors in Ronald's telling of the story.

I enjoyed this story and think it will be a hit with upper elementary and middle grade students. They will enjoy getting to know Ronald and watching him grow and change through the course of this story. 

This book will be illustrated though my advanced reader copy has only sketches of what is to come. The illustrations look like they will enhance the story and the adventure.

Favorite Quote:
"Who do you think kidnapped your parents?" Julianne asked as I tried to pry Carter off her shoulder.

"A soulless villain," I said. "A dastardly dog, a spineless rogue, a --"

"So, no idea then?"
I received this one for review from Bloomsbury. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Memes: The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo! by Stephen Bramucci

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Hello Friend,

Are you ready for a dazzling tale of grand adventure? A tale of swordfights and disguises? Of pirates and stolen relics?
Friday 56:
"Elexander," I began, "how long has this spectacular research station been here?"

The mechanic grabbed the base of the lightbulb and angled it so it cast a warm glow on the map.
This week I am reading The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo! by Stephen Bramucci, illustrated by Arree Chung. I got this ARC from Bloomsbury. Here is the description from Amazon:
Ronald Zupan is a daring master adventurer! But he actually hasn't experienced any grand adventures . . . YET! When his world-traveling parents are kidnapped on his twelfth birthday, Ronald seizes the chance to prove himself with a dazzling, danger-defying rescue operation.

Teaming up with his trusty butler Jeeves, his quick-witted fencing nemesis Julianne Sato, and his pet cobra Carter, Ronald sets course for the jungle of Borneo where his parents were last sighted. If they can crash-land a plane and outrun a hungry snow leopard, surely they can find the secret lair of Zeetan Z, the world's most ruthless pirate! But as their adventure becomes more and more dangerous, can Ronald and his companions muster enough courage to see this adventure through?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

ARC Review: The Emperor of Mars by Patrick Samphire

The Emperor of Mars
Author: Patrick Samphire
Series: Secrets of the Dragon Tomb (Book 2)
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (July 18, 2017)

Description: A missing Martian. A sinister plot. A Napoleonic spy. . . Boundless adventures await in Book 2 of The Secrets of the Dragon Tomb middle grade sci-fi series!

If Edward thought life was going to be easy in Lunae City, he was very, very wrong. The moment he intercepts a thief escaping from Lady Harleston’s town house, he is caught in a terrible scheme that threatens all of Mars. Soon he’s fighting off vicious sea serpents, battling a small army of heavily armored thugs, and trying to unpick an impossible mystery. Edward doesn’t know whom he can trust. Will he make the right choice? Or will his family―and his entire planet―fall victim to the treacherous Emperor of Mars?

My Thoughts: In the second book of the Secrets of the Dragon's Tomb series, Edward has given up being the protector for his family since he has finally realized that they can take care of themselves. However, this leaves him at rather loose ends as he tries to decided what he should do with himself instead.

He soon finds himself involved in another mystery when he spots a young thief slipping from a neighbors house and is soon accused of the crime himself. He and his genius younger sister Putty are also on the case of a missing Martian and find themselves facing their old nemesis Dr. Blood who has his own sinister plot in mind.

This story is filled with adventure, steampunk gadgets, dangerous Martian wildlife, and a large assortment of villains all after Edward and his family. Edward feels that he is the only non-genius in his distinguished and eccentric family but he is underestimating himself. He is brave and bold and cares very much for doing the right thing.

Fans of adventure with a science fiction and alternate history twist will enjoy this exciting middle grade series.

Favorite Quote:
There is a particular kind of exhaustion that comes over you when you realize that every one of your siblings is a genius and you are not. Especially when the sister you've always thought was empty-headed and silly solves a problem that has stumped generations of scholars.
I received this one for review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Memes: The Emperor of Mars by Patrick Samphire

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Mars, 1817

I was twenty feet underground, surrounded by glowing blue sandfish crystals, with my head jammed in a beetle-vine warren, when I realized that vine-mining wasn't for me.
Friday 56:
"Parthenia will do no such thing while in my charge," Miss Wilkins said coldly. She was sitting as straight as a rod opposite Putty. "She might have been allowed to run wild while under the care of others, but I am quite a different proposition."
This week I am reading The Emperor of Mars by Patrick Samphire. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description from Amazon:
A missing Martian. A sinister plot. A Napoleonic spy. . . Boundless adventures await in Book 2 of The Secrets of the Dragon Tomb middle grade sci-fi series!

If Edward thought life was going to be easy in Lunae City, he was very, very wrong. The moment he intercepts a thief escaping from Lady Harleston’s town house, he is caught in a terrible scheme that threatens all of Mars. Soon he’s fighting off vicious sea serpents, battling a small army of heavily armored thugs, and trying to unpick an impossible mystery. Edward doesn’t know whom he can trust. Will he make the right choice? Or will his family―and his entire planet―fall victim to the treacherous Emperor of Mars?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

ARC Review: Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener

Amid Stars and Darkness
Author: Chani Lynn Feener
Series: The Xenith Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication: Swoon Reads (July 18, 2017)

Description: A high-stakes space opera that combines science fiction and romance, this debut novel features plenty of action and a heroine whose unique brand of humor and tenacity make her easy to root for.

Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess’ head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.

No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan―the princess’ terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets―and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Chani Lynn Feener’s debut novel Amid Stars and Darkness is a thrilling space adventure complete with perfectly detailed alien planets and a super sexy secret romance.

My Thoughts: This book was an old-fashioned science fiction romance. Here's the scenario: a teen is kidnapped by aliens because she looks like their missing princess. She's brought back to the alien planet where she needs to keep impersonating the missing princess to keep two countries from going to war and incidentally conquering Earth.

Delaney isn't a big fan of the aliens who visit Earth unlike her roommate who is something of an alien groupie. One night she accompanies her roommate to a dance club where she can meet an alien she'd been talking to online. Just before Delaney decides to leave she runs into a girl who zaps her with an alien invention that turns her into a duplicate of the missing princess.

When the princess's bodyguard spots her, he captures her and takes her to his alien spaceship determined to bring her back home so that she can do her duty, pledge herself to her betrothed, and keep the countries from going to war. Delaney can't convince Ruckus that she is not the girl they are looking for.

So Delaney finds herself dropped into an alien world with a fiance she doesn't like and who really doesn't like her and the target of assassination attempts because neither of their countries want the two to marry either. Her only source of strength and information is Ruckus who she falls in love with. But once the real princess is found, Delaney will be returned to Earth and will have to leave Ruckus behind.

I liked Delaney who was a smart-mouthed, independent character who has a real problem with authority. She hid her very real fears behind a mask of bravado. I liked Ruckus too. He had guarded his princess out of duty because she wasn't really a likeable person but he falls in love with Delaney too. I even liked the princess's fiance Trystan despite the fact the he wanted her dead and was a really scary guy.

I can't wait to read the next book to find out what happens next.

Favorite Quote:
She thought about whether her own mother would make that choice, if she'd sell her to the highest bidder if it meant keeping their town together. What if an outside threat came and wanted to destroy it all and all the people she'd grown up with? What would she do?
I received this one for review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
"Being our Lissa, Olena knew when she left that staying on Earth was never really an option for her, but she'd convinced her parents to allow her to take the right anyway. Last week marked the end of her denzeration, and she was supposed to meet me and come back home."

"Let me guess," she said, stopping him. "She never showed."
This week I am reading Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description from Amazon:
A high-stakes space opera that combines science fiction and romance, this debut novel features plenty of action and a heroine whose unique brand of humor and tenacity make her easy to root for.

Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess’ head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.

No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan―the princess’ terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets―and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Chani Lynn Feener’s debut novel Amid Stars and Darkness is a thrilling space adventure complete with perfectly detailed alien planets and a super sexy secret romance.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

ARC Review: What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy

What Goes Up
Author: Katie Kennedy
Publication: Bloomsbury (July 18, 2017)

Description: Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA's mysterious Interworlds Agency. They're not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents' legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go--he's certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.

And then something happens that even NASA's scientists couldn't predict . . .

From the author of the acclaimed Learning to Swear in America comes another high-stakes adventure that's absolutely out of this world.

My Thoughts: WHAT GOES UP was an exciting science fiction story filled with great characters and lots of adventure. NASA is looking for the best and the brightest high school juniors to become part of an Interworlds Agency team. They start with 200 but will be weeding it down to 2.

The main characters in this story are Rosa who is the child of scientists and who feels she needs to live up to their accomplishments; Eddie who was raised by his physicist grandmother while his violent father has been in prison; Theo who is the son of medical professionals; and Brad whose father can buy or sell NASA and thinks he deserves special privileges because of it.

After a series of tests both normal and abstract, the two hundred are narrowed down to Rosa, Eddie, Theo and Brad. They are being mentored by Reg who is recovering from a plane crash. Barely into training, something happens that puts them right on the front line when aliens appear.

I enjoyed the all the characters but my favorite was definitely Eddie. He was smart but dealing with lots of difficulties in his life. He was used to being distrusted just because of who is father is. He also is essentially on his own and aware of his own loneliness.

Fans of adventure and science fiction will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"What am I hearing?" Reg demanded. "Are you kissing? Damn it, we have two more ships to scuttle."

"In the movies, romantic scenes have a better soundtrack," Eddie said. It came out a little muffled, because she was still attached to his lower lip.
I received this one for review from Bloomsbury. You can buy your copy here.