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review 2018-03-18 03:42
Moving Target
Moving Target - Christina Diaz Gonzalez

There should have been some sort of warning.

- First Sentence


"Everything is part of the same painting," as my dad liked to say. "But we are each the artist of our own life. We choose what colors to use."

- Chapter 1



Cassie is an eighth grader living with her father in Rome, having an ordinary, boring life (except for the fact that she is an American girl living in Rome). One day, Cassie's father comes to school and yanks her into the car, speeding through the city, blabbering about how much he loves her, how he is going to fix things, and how he should have told her when she was younger. He finally tells Cassie that the Hastati are after her. Cassie has no idea what that means and she thinks he might be crazy, but then a motorcycle pulls up and the rider starts shooting at them. When her dad gets shot, Cassie takes him to the hospital, but he insists she must run to find Brother Gregorio for help. Cassie is terrified and runs to the only place she thinks might be safe, her friend Simone's house. But when the danger follows her even there, Cassie and Simone must find Brother Gregorio and find out what all of this means.


 In her dad's notebook, Cassie finds this message:

The Guardian will be bound for life once the spearhead is used.

It turns out the Hastati are a two thousand year old organization entrusted with one important duty - protect the spear (The Spear of Destiny). The spear can shape destiny, but only certain people can use the power - and Cassie is the last of that bloodline.

I was just an average girl. Things like this were not supposed to happen to people like me. The palette of my life's painting was gray or maybe a boring variety of beige, not psychedelic neon.


Well, this book starts off running and doesn't slow down. Cassie is constantly trying to figure out who to trust and how to keep Simone and herself safe. They are racing to find the spear, but they aren't the only ones. They must figure out baffling clues at every turn and stay ahead of the two factions fighting each other for control of the spear.


This is an edge of your seat adventure that will keep readers guessing until the end. I highly recommend it to kids in grades 4-8 who enjoy mysterious adventure stories with strong female heroines.


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review 2018-03-18 01:33
Quest to the Uncharted Lands
The Quest to the Uncharted Lands - Jaleigh Johnson

When the Iron Glory's engines rumbled to life for its journey to the uncharted lands, it marked a new future for the world of Solace.

- First Sentence


This book is a fantastic companion to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. It isn't a sequel, it takes place in the same world with different characters. 


Stella Glass is the daughter of two scientists who are traveling on the Iron Glory to explore the uncharted lands of Solace. No one has ever explored this far west beyond the mountains. The Dragonfly Territories and Merrow Kingdom have finally reached an uneasy peace. They worked together on this ship and representatives from both countries are onboard. 


Stella is not permitted to go, but she has planned for months to stow away because she is terrified her parents won't come back. On the first night, Stella finds out she isn't the only stowaway. No children are allowed on the ship, but she sees a boy outside the engine room with his hands on the wall. His hands begin to glow, and then his eyes. Stella isn't sure who he is or what he is up to, but when he passes out, she drags him to her hiding place in the cargo hold. Someone doesn't want this voyage to succeed, but who and how can they be stopped?


So, in The Mark of the Dragonfly, we met Piper (a girl who connects to machines in an almost magical way), and Gee (a boy who can transform into a dragon). This book continues in the same fantasy steampunk world and the story is in the same heroic adventure vein. Again, I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 -8. It is just as good as the first.

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review 2018-03-11 01:41
Worth the $4.60 I paid for it? Debatable.
Night Watch: A Long Lost Adventure In Which Sherlock Holmes Meets FatherBrown - Stephen Kendrick

When I saw this book on the shelf at BAM it was the most exciting thing I'd found there all day. I even broke a self-imposed book buying ban to get it. (I figured, hey, it's less than $5, why not?) Oh boy was I wrong.


On principal, a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown is possibly the most exciting thing I've found since I discovered Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman in the 12th grade. This book didn't live up to its lofty promise.


First of all, Father Brown wasn't really in it. He acts as translator to an Italian cardinal and doesn't make more than six appearances in 258 pages. Secondly, Stephen Kendrick wasn't very nice to him. His descriptions make poor Father Brown sound like he has the Innsmouth look about him.


And this doesn't even touch one of the biggest problems with the book: consistency. Watson is constantly calling Holmes "Sherlock" and then "Holmes" all withing a few paragraphs. For some reason people keep forgetting that Watson is a doctor and calling him "Mr Watson" and forgetting that Father Brown is a priest and calling him "Mr Brown."


And now onto the real problem: the plot. It's all about a conference of faiths that's interrupted by a brutal and unusual murder that Holmes must solve before dawn or risk an international incident. Everything is flat. The characters are flat, the murder is flat, the motives are flat. It starts with a completely unrelated case that doesn't really tie into the main plot of the book.


Then the timeline started bouncing. First Holmes and Watson are enjoying Christmas day at their shared flat in Baker Street, then it's Christmas Eve and they're in Oxford at a Christmas party hosted by one of Holmes' professors, and then it's Christmas day again. It continues to bounce around until about halfway through the book when it inexplicably stops. If the author had continued to use the twisting timeline throughout the whole book it would have at least been justifiable, but stopping it halfway through just made it confusing.



PLOT - 3/5

PROSE - 3/5


OVERALL - 2.5/5

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review 2018-03-10 22:42
Everlost by Neal Shusterman - audiobook review
Everlost - Neal Shusterman


Nick & Allie were in a fatal car accident and ended up caught in Everlost, a sort of limbo for kids who don't make it where they are going when they die. Everlost is a magical place for things and places that no longer survive in the living world (ex. the Twin Towers). But Everlost is also full of dangers (if the kids stay in one place for too long, they sink to the center of the earth), and monsters (the Magill, the Haunter). When Nick and Allie make it to the Twin Towers, they find Mary, who calls herself the queen of lost children. But while Nick feels at home with Mary, Allie suspects Mary is hiding something.


This is a fun young adult story with plenty of excitement and danger. The narrator did an excellent job and didn't distract from the story at all. This is an interesting look at what could happen to souls whose journey is interrupted. Many of the kids have been around for hundreds of years, including Mary, who has written books on how to survive in Everlost. The kids all cross over in whatever they were wearing, which makes for some interesting wardrobes and nicknames for those who may have died on Halloween or during a day at the beach (think Speedo). Nick even dies with chocolate on his face. However, if the kids don't think about things, they tend to forget them, such as their name and their physical appearance.


Bottom line: This is an engrossing start to the trilogy, that I will be happily continuing. The world building is remarkable and the ending suggests more peril and exploits for the characters that survive. Recommended to grades 6 & up. No serious violence and no sex, only cute crushes. Most of the kids we meet are under 16.

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review 2018-03-08 09:45
Hard Road by J.B. Turner
Hard Road - J.B. Turner

*** copy provided by publisher through NetGalley ***

I'm quite a fan of suspense/thriller novels (even without the romance aspect) if they're written well. Unfortunately this one wasn't.

The premise was good and at first it did look promising, but the overly descriptive narrative style ruined it. It was all about what the characters wore, what they ate, what roads they took...On and on and on it went until it got so bothersome it overshadowed the story.

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