Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Dreamseeker

Dreamseeker

Here’s the problem. I Love CS Friedman. One of my all time favorite science fiction and dark fantasy writers. Not dark fantasy as in sparkly vampires, love triangles, or secret desires. Dark fantasy about demons that eat children, and magicians that use blood magic. And she does fantastic global politicking bad guys who deal in shades of grey.

This is the second in a series that has elements of “when Darkness Falls” and a bit of a new trend in alternate worlds and alternate reality. I liked book one a lot. It had action, and story progression. This story is well written, but the story treads water. I do not like the trend of dragging out a story to enhance book sales, but I guess as long as publishers are willing to sell books and we keep buying them it will be a tend that doesn’t go away soon.

We start back on our Earth (Terra Colonna, one moon, iPod, kindle, tech obsessed) and our cast of characters gets a little trimming. Jessica needs to fix her Mom and the only ones who can are Flesh carvers (their gift is molding bodies). So back to Morgana and her web of Seers on Virginia Prime (magic using, guilds and magic tech that doesn’t value untalented people.) But the only other person she takes is a newly found Rita still sporting a fantastic collection of bruises from the Gate explosion.

The action hops and stutters from dream to reality and the only thread that connects them is Jessica’s dreaming. I love that this is not a love triangle teen fiction. I love that the politics is trademark Friedman with betrayals, layers, and games…in other words smart and not basic. What I didn’t like is that I felt the book felt more like a short novella, or several chapters rather than a complete novel. Will I read the next one? Yes. If you liked book one, definitely read this, but maybe wait until book three comes out so the set up of this story can pan out in the next.

Parental note:
For this age range, not much. There is graphic torture death of a secondary character. And some nasty descriptions of death of animals and other kids. However, this is a teen fiction and not as bad as many books out there.

Time Warp in a Box

The Keepers: book1

 

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly
by Ted Sanders (Author), Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator)
549 pages
HarperCollins (March 3, 2015)
Grades 4-6

This is a story I picked up after passing on it several times. The book cover and description sound interesting, but I just wasn’t sure I wanted to begin another long possibly protracted series for young readers. However, the school year is upon us and I decided to pick it up on the off chance that one of our students might request it.

Horace is a middle schooler in Chicago with an inability to keep track of his house keys. So when he stumbles upon a sign that seems to have his name on it, but in reality has “house of answers” on the sign he can’t resist and has to get a look inside. What he finds is more questions and lots of bins with labels like “unbinnable” or “sorted” and a ledger that writes in colored ink. When Horace discoveres a box that fits in his hand and feels like it belongs there, he is launched into an adventure against two groups: the Keepers and the Makers, of remarkable seemingly magical objects that possess the power to do amazing things. He and another young initiate Chloe must figure out what their artifacts do, and what side they are on quickly, before someone else makes that decision for them.

First the good. It is a fun junior fiction tale that has a secret society, magical/science artifacts, a big bad, and a boy/girl team. The bad, the first book is one ginormous set up. Oh yes, there is some action, and some pretty impressive world building, but I just didn’t think there was any character development or story progression. In the end, our characters ended right back where they started, just with more knowledge and no bad guy defeated. Oh, and I am not a big fan of scientific exposition within what is billed as a fantasy. These long discussions stalled the story and made for uneven reading. Because so little was accomplished I am thinking this series is slated to be a big one. For a young boy or girl who is a fan of action adventure stories with a dash of science, this is a great novel.

Parental Note: I really didn’t like the Chloe’ abusive drunken father or the solution/explanation of he’s ok it’s just the alcohol/artifact/situation…. There were some pretty distressing emotional reasons given for Chloe’ fathers depression that just don’t justify his behavior. Sorry, abuse is abuse. And to imply that it is ok to treat your children this way because their Mother walked out is inexcusable. It is also inexcusable to say living in filth is alright if he is good deep down inside. I really wanted to say don’t rescue him, let the bastard rot, but that is not how it is done in Junior Fiction stories.

Fuzzy Mud

Louis Sachar' Fuzzy Mud
Louis Sachar’ Fuzzy Mud

Fuzzy Mud
By Louis Sacher
Print Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 4, 2015)
Grades: 3-7

What a great story. Holes is one of my favorite Junior Fiction stories so I jumped at the chance to review a new book by the same author.  I read this book months ago and have been waiting for it to finally be released so I can publish this review.  Thank You Netgalley and Delacort for giving me an EGalley free in exchange for an honest review.

I am having a hard time putting into words what I felt: amazed, thrilled, awe… This has been one of the best books I have read in a while for this age group. I love the three main characters. Tamaya the Ernest young girl who just wants to be accepted. Marshall an older neighbor kid who walks Tamaya to school every day and doesn’t want to be afraid anymore. And Chad, a popular new kid at school who decides to use Marshall as his own personal punching bag. There are spooky woods which you Do Not Enter. There are secret senate hearings, and testimony from various agencies. A mysterious fuzzy mud that might just be the most dangerous thing on the planet. Petri dishes and math problems, and a giant land tortoise. Follow these three kids as they uncover a deadly outbreak, and discover that it takes courage to find and be a friend.

Fuzzy mud is suspenseful, funny, a little bit action, and a whole lot of fun. Under this science fiction horror story runs a touching human drama that will leave you smiling.

I can’t tell you more without revealing the plot, and it is such an enjoyable one. Parents, apart from some suspenseful reveals, and a description of a nasty rash, there is nothing that should not be ok for anyone in this age group. The time jumping of the senate hearings, and the actual main story can be a little disorienting, but honestly the main story is so fantastic I don’t think anyone is going to care. This one will be on my list of books to read this summer for our kids and I can’t wait to introduce our students to Tamaya, Marshall, and Chad.

Gameknight999

Invasion of the Overworld

Book One in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unoffical Minecrafter’s Adventure

Gameknight999

by Mark Cheverton

Sky Pony Press, 208 pages * Paperback

Browsing through some publishers’ blurbs this afternoon, I came across a review posted by SkyHorse Publishers which I thought would really switch on a light bulb for some of our readers in the 8 to 12 bracket.

Confession from your librarian: I have two suitcases on the bed waiting to be packed, gifts to buy, and appointments to go to, so I am going to cheat and submit a perfectly wonderful review written by someone from SyFyGames.com on 5/30/15:

“The more the gaming landscape shifts and churns, the more it stays the same. Everything is different, but everything is exactly the same, too. Specifically, kids still love to gobble up whatever supplemental merchandise and stories are available outside their favorite games . . . The first story in this Minecraft-inspired literary universe, Invasion of the Overworld, is sure to capture the hearts and imaginations of young Minecraft fanatics. It’s every bit as goofy and fun as the game-related books I grew up with, though it does contain serious lessons about online bullying, griefing, and other problems that were nonexistent when gaming was a mostly-solitary activity . . . If it’s not obvious, Invasion of the Overworld is written with a young audience in mind–and there’s an interesting focus on players who get a small thrill out of cheating and bullying whenever they become small gods in Mojang’s digital world. In our reality, Gameknight999 is a frustrated boy with few friends and average grades. In Minecraft, he’s a king, and he knows it . . . More importantly, by the story’s climax, Gameknight learns the importance of being kind and decent to his fellow players. This lesson is actually inspired by Cheverton’s son, the real Gameknight999, whose server was invaded and mucked up by griefers.

 

The writing in Invasion of the Overworld is simplistic and easy for young readers to follow. Minecraft fans will definitely get a kick out of the characters building and using traps to stymie mobs, and the action flows well. One scene where Gameknight and a friend hide underground from marauding mobs is surprisingly intense. There are still moments of silliness, particularly when Cheverton hand-waves the process of transferring game mechanics onto a plane of reality. Don’t ask how Gameknight’s inventory works. It just does. All told, it’s not hard to see why The Gameknight 999 books are as popular as they are. Invasion of the Overworld‘s action, adventure, and relatability make it an easy recommendation for pre-teen Minecraft fans. And if you’re an older Minecraft fan with a young enthusiast at home, you won’t do much better for a bedtime story.”

This sounds so compelling, and I can’t wait to get a copy for you!  Thank you SyFyGames for the review.