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Search tags: Chris-Grabenstein
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review 2018-04-14 14:41
Robot Revolution Review
Robot Revolution! - James Patterson,Juliana Neufeld,Chris Grabenstein

Source: Library

 

Robot Revolution is another great entry into one of my favorite fiction series for kids. I love House of Robots series for so many reasons. First off, it’s an accessible science fiction series for middle graders. Then there’s the fact that it features a family that is diverse both in race and disability. And then, of course, one can’t forget the house full of robots. I can’t forget the fact that the mom is the brilliant scientist and the dad is the artist in the family.  But House of Robots has something going for it that I just don’t see in other middle-grade books. That is: The Hayes-Rodriguez family is tight. They love and support each other, and you know that no matter what goes wrong, they’re going to be together.

 

This book is where we see Sammy really show some frustration with his situation. He’s expressed it before in previous books, but this one feels like where he’s pushed to his limits.  Sammy has it easy in a lot of ways, but he’s still just a kid in a family where he is not the priority. Maddie is. It’s perfectly understandable that she tends to take precedence at times, but no one can blame Sammy for the frustration that arises in Robot Revolution. Everyone needs time and attention, whether you be a young boy or a neglected robot. And the robots are definitely feeling neglected too.

 

Chris Grabenstein and James Patterson do a great job of relaying the frantic chaos of the Hayes-Rodriguez house. All the characters (including the robots) in Robot Revolution are unique and memorable. The new ‘villain’ (well, school bully) is one that it’s quite easy to loathe. It’s nice to see him get his comeuppance at the end.  But the best thing that happens in Robot Revolution is one you’ll have to read to find out. I totally wasn’t expecting it, and it definitely made me happy to read. (I can only imagine the expression on my kiddo’s face when she finishes the last few chapters at bedtime tomorrow.)

 

House of Robots is a series you need to get for your kids. It deals with various issues that lots of kids can relate to. The illustrations are perfect. The dialogue, pacing, and action can’t be beat. It really is one of the best sci-fi novel series for kids on the market today.

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review 2017-10-17 02:38
Amusing Audiobook about a murder at an amusement park
Tilt a Whirl - Chris Grabenstein

Danny Boyle grew up in Sea Haven, NJ -- a tourist trap of a town on the Jersey Shore. He likes the life -- hanging out with the friends he's had since high school, goofing around, eating and drinking more than he should. He's got a nice Summer gig -- working as a Part-Time police officer. The downside is his partner -- John Ceepak, an Iraq War vet and former MP. He's so by the book, he might as well have written it. The Sea Haven chief served with Ceepak and offered him a job when he was done with the Army. After an incident (IED-related), Ceepak can't drive anymore -- which is where Danny comes in.

 

It's not an ideal working relationship, but Danny can put up with Ceepak's eccentricities well enough. Until one day their pre-shift breakfast is interrupted by a girl covered in blood, standing in the middle of the street screaming. Ceepak jumps into action, and Danny tries to keep up. The girl takes them to the local amusement park, to the Tilt-a-Whirl ride, where her father lies shot dead. They'd snuck in before the place opened and had been held up by some junkie hiding near the ride. Or so she reports later. Her father owns half the real-estate in NY and NJ (or so it seems), sort of a would-be Trump, so his murder is big, big news.

 

Ceepak and Danny have to deal with media attention, annoying lawyers, gang members possibly trying to go straight, local politics, a Crime Scene Investigator that's more of a hindrance than a help, and Danny's inexperience if they're going to solve this murder and let Sea Haven get back to what it does best in the summer -- taking in every tourist dollar that it can.

 

The book is told with a light touch -- Danny's a smart-aleck and is (truthfully) too immature for his job; which is bad for the populace of Sea Haven, good for the reader/listener. But the lightness never gets in the way of the seriousness of the initial murder, and the crimes that follow.

 

Woodman is exactly the narrator that this book needed -- he's able to sound the right age for Danny, the right attitude, everything (apparently, he does a lot of YA Audiobook work, that makes sense to me). Until I heard Woodman, I hadn't thought what a challenge it might be to get just the right narrator for this. Thankfully, I noted that with a strong sense of relief, because man...he was so good.

 

The Ceepak books were one of those series I fully enjoyed, and had forgotten how much I had liked them since I (apparently) finished the series. This audiobook helped me remember how much I missed reading them. If you haven't gotten around to them, you should -- either as an audiobook or text -- Ceepak and Boyle are some of the most entertaining police officers around.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/10/16/tilt-a-whirl-audiobook-by-chris-grabenstein-jeff-woodman
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review 2017-04-06 20:57
The Island of Dr Libris
The Island of Dr. Libris - Chris Grabenstein

This book was very easy to read and I was very bored at the time which are the only reasons I finished it. A couple of our children's librarians told me Grabenstein was rude to them when he visited our library for an author's talk (there was some miscommunication about the equipment he needed and he made some comment about not us being in Silicon Valley but not having the set up he wanted... I'm paraphrasing).

 

So that story does color my opinion of Grabenstein. I enjoyed his Mr Lemoncello books, but this one just didn't have the same magic/fun to it.

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review 2017-02-16 04:52
Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein
Welcome to Wonderland #1: Home Sweet Motel - Chris Grabenstein

As soon as I opened this book, I knew it was going to be super entertaining to read. Brooke Allen is a wonderful illustrator! All of the drawings absolutely cracked me up. Imagine a boy riding an alligator back to where it came from after he's lasso'd it with some bed sheets from a hotel. Pretty funny in your head, right? It's even better to see. I'd show some of the artwork but since it said that the art may not be final, I'm going to exclude it for now.

P.T. Wilkie is hilarious. Above all else, he's imaginative. Spinning stories much to his classmates' delight, even some of the teachers, (except for grumpy old Mr. Frumpkes) and getting himself out of trouble on multiple occasions. The book does have some sad parts that deal with P.T. Wilkie's father, but it's made up for in non-stop funny shennanigans that him and his friend new friend Gloria get into.

We follow P.T., Gloria, and occasionally P.T.'s grandpa on hilarious antics in order to save their beloved motel from the hands of some horrid businessmen. Before they know it, they're caught up in a years old mystery surrounding a bank heist two robbers had pulled off. Now, the robbers are out of jail and snooping around the motel looking for their loot. P.T. and Gloria must find the jewels before they do and before Spring Break is over to keep the Wonderland Motel up and running and out of the grasp of people who don't deserve the motel.

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review 2016-08-25 19:32
Book 65/100: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library - Chris Grabenstein
I'm not really the ideal audience for this book. Even when I was younger I didn't like these "wish-fulfillment" type stories -- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Candymakers, The Mysterious Benedict Society ... none of them did anything for me.

If you're wondering about the "type" of book I'm referencing, I mean books that are set in a realistic setting that include some element of the plot that fulfills a kid's, "Wouldn't that be cool if ...?" sort of fantasy that would most likely never happen in the real world. The plot also usually involves some sort of puzzle/mystery and the chosen kids are "special" in some way (and also pretty one-dimensional -- you've got the overachieving kid, the rich kid, etc., and usually the "regular kid" who is a stand in for the reader and the main protagonist.)

I like realistic books, and I like fantasy/sci-fi, but I don't like this in-between stuff.

This book falls in line with the genre's typical tropes as listed above. The kids are locked in a library and challenged to find a way out by a famous gamemaker, and the winner will become the spokesperson for his brand. If you're a book nerd who happens to like this kind of book, then you'll have a lot of fun with this one. Even without being keen on the genre, I really enjoyed all the book references thrown in, both explicitly (the kids had to find a certain book) and obliquely (someone would slip a book title into dialogue without mentioning that it was a book, such as, "Due to this series of unfortunate events ...") It's clear that a true lover of children's literature wrote this, and it pays lovely homage to the books like this that have gone before it. If I liked this sort of thing, this book would have been excellent.

As it stands, my enjoyment came purely from references. The rest was sort of boring and a little borderline creepy. (Am I the only one who finds these types of books creepy? The benevolent adult who sets the adventure up always strikes me as a tad bit predator-ish.)
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