Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Hadley Academy For The Improbably Gifted by Conor Grennan


I received The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted as a preview copy, all opinions are my own.

Jack Carlson's best friend, Freddy, is always coming up with new conspiracy theories, and today is no different. Freddy believes there is a secret school for training people with abnormal abilities. As per usual, no one including Jack believes him until later that day Jack gets kidnapped and taken to The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted, the same place Freddy had described earlier. Now a few people at the academy think Jack is the foretold chosen one and he is under immense pressure to save everyone from the old enemy who has reappeared and is wreaking havoc.

I really enjoyed this book because the story was so different from what I'm used to reading. The characters were very well designed. This is the first book, maybe a stand alone, but I could also see it becoming a series. The twists and turns in the story definitely kept me guessing.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid by Marcus Emerson


Ben Braver is back for his second year at super hero school. After recently defeating Abigail Cutters, the evil lady who tried to take over the world with clones of people made of dirt, everyone wants him to be the hero of the school. Ben doesn't want to be the hero because, besides the take down of Abigail which was a fluke, he also doesn't have a power. Now mysteries appear and new badges reveal themselves. Everyone looks to Ben to save them once again. Will Ben discover a hidden power   to help fight the brand new villains?

This was actually the second book in the series. I want to read the first one though. The plot though didn't really rely on the first book's plot. I thought all of the different powers were cool but the limitations were funny, like how Noah's fire power was crazy awesome, but it only worked when he ate beef jerky. I loved the classic theme but with a new spin.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Wade Watts is a teenage kid in the year of 2044. The whole earth is in chaos and people escape their lives via an online virtual reality experience called the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, passes away, his will puts out a challenge that whoever can find the OASIS's secret Easter egg will inherit his fortune. Wade decides to dedicate his whole life to finding the egg. Years pass, no one finds anything, and most people quit the hunt until one day Wade stumbles upon the first key. This causes all of the OASIS to erupt in chaos with Wade right in the middle. Now with the pressure on, Wade must join up with friends and fight with enemies to be the first to find the secret or the future of the OASIS will be doomed.

This booked surprised me with how original it was. Most books have at least a few traits like other books, but this story was something I had never seen before. The story was filled with action, comedy, and heart. There were some more serious moments, but it didn't prevent the story from progressing. This is one of my top five favorite books of all time.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black


Callum Hunt, or Call, has been raised all his life to hate magic and the institution where it is taught, the Magisterium. His Dad has even prepared him to purposely fail the entrance exam to the Magisterium. Call ends up gettting the worst score, but the top master, Master Rufus, chooses him as an apprentice anyhow. Now he must learn how to use magic while overcoming bullies who think he doesn't belong, a friend who turns out to be the chosen one, and his own lack of skill.

I really liked this book! The story was so enthralling and vivid, it made me feel as if I was right beside Call as he went through the Magesterium. The story represented a regular story with a new spin. The different plot twists and cliff hangers kept the story moving and there was a never a dull moment.

The Iron Trial is the first book in the five book Magisterium series, I'm looking forward to the rest of them.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Level 13 by Gordon Korman


Cameron Boxer, the ultimate slacker, has finally found something worth his attention. Playing a special version of an old video game that has a secret level is attracting millions of people to watch his streaming channel. Along with Elvis the beaver, he will try to make something of himself online and keep the originally fake club, the PAG, going strong. While everyone looks at him to be a leader, all he really wants to do is slack off.

This is the sequel to the book, Slacker, another book I really enjoyed (review here).  I love how the author made Cameron interact with Elvis the beaver and how the streaming channel is starting to get bigger because of him. The story is very good and the ending has such a big surprise you wouldn't believe.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Illegal by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin


My favorite book of last year was not a typical choice for me. Rather than a novel, my favorite book this year was both historical fiction and a graphic novel--Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin.

Illegal is about a boy named Ebo, who journeys across the land of Ghana and through the sea. His goal is to reach the Europe to escape the war in his home country. His parents are dead, so he and his brother travel the entire way together, hoping to meet with their sister who escaped years before. Their journey takes them through Africa and to the Mediterranean, all in the hopes of finding their sister.


When most people think about graphic novels, they think about an adventure that is often fun or exciting. This book was different. Illegal still is an adventure, but it explains what is happening in Africa and the struggle people have to go through to even have a chance of escaping. Even though so many attempted the journey to Europe, only a few actually survived.

This book helps you gain insight about the migrant issues around the world. Even though this book is a fictional account of the migrant journey to Europe, stories like Ebo’s are still happening today.

This book connected with me. It showed me what happened to people and the struggle they endured. Historical fiction is usually not my favorite genre, but this book was definitely an exception.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs


Teddy Fitzroy is not a normal kid. Unless you think normal is living in a tent in Congo for the first decade of your life. When wars in Congo force his family to leave, both of his parents are hired by a billionaire to work at his animal theme park, where Teddy becomes an unlikely friend to the billionaire's daughter, Summer.

When trouble breaks out with a murdered hippo, Teddy's keen senses from growing up in the wild may be to his advantage.  Thrown into a mystery, Teddy will face dangers and challenges as he tries to turn in the murderer before he gets taken out.

This is the first book in the growing Fun Jungle series, currently at five titles. I enjoy how even though it is a mystery, there is nothing gory or disturbing.  I also enjoy how Teddy never has anything to do with the crimes in the series, but always ends up in the middle of things. I love the friendship that blossoms between Teddy and Summer through this book and the rest of the series.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Restart by Gordon Korman


Chase Ambrose wasn't an everyday kid, even before his accident.

He was the football captain, winning championships, and the ring leader of a group of bullies. One day, for some unknown reason, he was on the roof and fell off. He ends up with a concussion and some scrapes, but the worst part is he has amnesia and can't remember any of his life before the accident.

Now that he has a fresh start, his new friends are trying to turn him into a better person before he regains the memories of his past life and turns back into the old Chase.

I really enjoyed this book. It's empowering to see how Chase finds his true self when he no longer can remember who he was.  I feel like this is a powerful book for kids to read, to understand why it is important to be true to yourself.  Restart is a book that shows who you were in the past doesn't reflect who you are today.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Unwanteds By Lisa McMann


In the town of Quil, there is an unusual tradition where, on kids' thirteenth birthdays, they participate in the "Purge". The leaders judge the kids and separate them into three groups. The Wanted remain in Quil to train to be warriors. The Necessaries also stay, but only to do farm work and manual labor. The last group is the Unwanted--the group of kids who have shown too much creativity. They are sentenced to death.

When Alex Stowe's thirteenth birthday arrives, he isn't excited. He already knows that he will be an Unwanted because of all his infractions. When the Purge comes and he is sentenced to death, he assumes it is his death date. When he gets to the Lake of Boiling Oil, the place where the Unwanteds are sent to be killed, a strange man arrives and offers them a second chance.

Instead of punishing the Unwanteds, he wants to bring them into Artime, harness their creativity, and use it to give them magic. But being discovered by Quil and its inhabitants might ruin Artime forever.

I got this book as a prize after finishing the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge. I don't usually enjoy fantasy books, but I loved this one and am glad I ended up choosing it! I really enjoyed the concept of the story and loved all of the creative characters. This is the first book in a series of seven and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of them.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Dog Man Series by Dav Pilkey


Dog Man, a new series by Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame, begins with a brief introduction about how Dog Man was created, when a dog's head was sewn onto a policeman's body to keep them both from dying.  It then jumps into the story. The most frequently occurring villain that Dog Man has to fight is Petey the Cat. Petey's constant schemes are what causes most of the other problems and villains to appear.


In the first book, Dog Man stops the evil plot of Petey the Cat. He also discovers an evil fish named Flippy. One day, someone accidentally knocks smart pellets into Flippy's bowl. Flippy grows so smart he gets psychic powers and is out to destroy everyone.

In the second book, Flippy is back and stronger than ever. His dead body was pieced back together with some robot parts. And now he wants revenge on Dog Man for killing him. If that's not enough, Petey is here again too and he wants to end Dog Man once and for all.


I really like this series. I decided to read them because they were by one of my favorite childhood authors.  Even though they are very easy reads, they are very humorous. It was really funny how the concept worked. I loved the fact that, even though main character had a humans body, he still had lots of dog qualities.

I can't wait to continue writing about the rest of the series.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Master Minds by Gordon Korman


13 year old Eli Frieden lives in Serenity, a perfect town that seems to have been crafted just that way. When his best friend gets sent away after an accident just outside of town, he is disappointed to lose him. Eli finds a note from his friend telling him that his parents lied to Eli about where he is going. Something mysterious is going on, so Eli leads a team of friends on a mission to find out who they really are. They are starting to figure out Serenity isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I loved the mystery in this book and how it unfolded by giving you clues to what would happen. I liked how some of the kids who joined the mission were wary at the start but some didn't give it a second thought. I really all of the different characters and the rolls they played throughout the story. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy. Gordon Korman's books never disappoint.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Jedi Academy: A New Class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka


This is a continuation of the original Jedi Academy series from a different author. Victor Starspeeder is a kid who has been dreaming of going to Jedi academy for all his life. He is very excited when he finds out he has been accepted to it. His sister Christina on the other hand is the exact opposite. She is worried that her little brother might embarrass her in front of her friends.

Meanwhile Victor isn't fitting in to well and is letting loose his anger causing him to get detention. In detention he talks with master Yoda who tells him to join drama club so he can learn to channel his emotions. Also the teachers and some of the kids are sensing a dark force amongst them. Will Christina get embarrassed. Will Victor survive drama club. And will the dark force be caught.


I really liked this book. It took one of my favorite series and incorporated some new characters and some old characters all in the same setting as before. The best part is that even the story line is different. I am so happy that Jarrett J. Krosoczka continued a series that I thought I was over.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Max Einstein The Genius Experiment By James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein


12 year old Maxine Einstein isn't a normal kid. She is a child genius who is also an orphan. Instead of being in a foster home or orphanage, she is squatting over horse stables with other homeless people. She has tons of great ideas but can never put them to work due to lack of resources. One day, she gets the opportunity of a life time. Max has been invited by the Change Makers Institute to compete with other kid geniuses to be their next member and help change the world.

The story takes the from Max's original home to all the places around the globe she travels to while competing. Will she win the competition or will the trouble that follows her everywhere ruin her chances?

I really enjoyed this book it took a science-y story and made it a fun adventure. Max Einstein's mysterious past made this book not only an adventure but also a mystery.  This is the first book in a new series with the next one coming out soon.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Code Talkers by Jospeh Bruchac


Code Talkers by Jospeh Bruchac was the final book I read for school this past year.  After reading the book, I researched the real Navajo Code Talkers for a project and learned more about their role in World War 2.

Code Talkers begins with a grandfather talking to his grandchildren about how his medal had a whole story to tell. Kii Yâzhí, or Ned Begay by his American name, was a Navajo Indian. He entered the Marine Corps expecting to just fight for his native land but ended up being one of the biggest parts of the war as a code talker.  The Navajo code talkers were a regular group of Marines, secretly trained to use a nearly impossible to break code based on their language.

The story follows Ned on his journey through battle, loss, and friendship. After boot camp and code school, Ned is ready to go into battle around the world to transmit life saving messages. Everywhere he fought, he was constantly making new friends and meeting up with old ones. Though he is proud of fighting for his country, Ned is still scared from the war and devastation and missing home.

Code Talkers is a good historical fiction novel. The author described a lot of events and other things that happened very close to how they really were, just from the perspective of the fictional Ned Begay. The author did skip a few things that happened with the real Code Talkers, but I believe that the things that were skipped just made the story flow better for a novel. Overall, I think the author did a very thorough job of describing the lives of the Code Talkers.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Spaceheadz Series by John Scieszka

When Michael K. moves to a new town he never expected to meet three real live aliens disguised as a class hamster and students. The aliens are on a mission to collect 3.14 million and one braincells by getting kids to pledge to be Spaceheadz or else Earth gets turned off (whatever that means). They aren't like stereotypical aliens--they talk like T.V. commercials, eat pencils and travel on channels instead of spaceships. In a cheesy commercial, Bob and Jennifer (aka the aliens) saw Michael K. saying he could do anything and they believe he is the only one who can save Earth.


This is another really great series by John Scieszka, featuring a total of 4 books. I loved the crazy adventures that had all sorts of plot twist in them. It is crazy how, even though he believes in the aliens, Michael K. has a hard time getting anybody else to believe it too. I liked all the different views of the story and thought it made the book even more hilarious knowing what everybody was doing and how it effected the events.

You can even become a Spaceheadz yourself at their website.