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review 2017-03-02 18:47
Scary: Dr Fell's Playground of Doom | Audiobook Review
Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom - David Neilsen,David Neilsen

A mysteriously creepy MG Fantasy

 

When the mysterious Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house that had once been the neighborhood kids' hangout, he immediately builds a playground to win them over. But as the ever-changing play space becomes bigger and more elaborate, the children and their parents fall deeper under the doctor's spell.

 

Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to the lure of his extravagant wonderland. And they alone notice that when the injuries begin to pile up on the jungle gym, somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed. Now the three children must find a way to uncover the doctor's secret power without being captivated by his trickery.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

 

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I received this book for free from the author. My opinions are my own.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen, read by the author, published by Listening Library (2016) / Length: 5hrs 23min

 

SUMMARY:

I think the scariest part of this book is how alone these children are in their efforts to figure out what is happening. It is a common theme in MG & YA books that the adults are somehow not there (or the kid's fail to consult them). In this book they are there, but (for reasons I won't reveal) are of no help whatsoever. That seems worse to me somehow.

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review 2016-10-22 16:47
I Couldn't Forget it: The City of Ember | Review
The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau,Wendy Dillon,Listening Library

A Post-Apocalyptic MG book that refused to disappear into the back of my brain.

 

Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

 

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


BOOK DETAILS:

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, read by Wendy Dillon, published by Listening Library (2004) / Length: 7 hrs 6 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #1 in the completed "Book of Ember" trilogy, all of which are available on audio.

 

SUMMARY:

The first time I listened to this book, I enjoyed it but wasn't really that impressed. I did not add it to the list of books I was considering buying. However, after the second time I re-borrowed it from the library and listened again, I realized that there was just something about the characters and their story that appealed to me. The next time a deal was available, I snapped it up.

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review 2016-09-24 07:01
A Prophecy Fulfilled: The Bronze Key | Review
The Bronze Key: The Magisterium, Book 3 - Holly Black,Cassandra Clare,Paul Boehmer,Listening Library

The camaraderie really clicks in this MG Contemporary Fantasy installment - just in time for things to really go sideways.

 

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world. But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer...and risk their own lives in the process.

 

As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm - unless it is stopped in time.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I borrowed this book from the library and have added it to my Wishlist.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Bronze Key by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, read by Paul Boehmer, published by Listening Library (2016) / Length: 8 hrs 30 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is book #3 of the "Magisterium" series. There are expected to be five in total, with #4 & #5 (currently titled The SIlver Mask & The Enemy of Death) to be published in 2017 & 2018 respectively.

 

**This review contains spoilers for the previous book(s).**

 

SUMMARY:

This series is just getting stronger; and, although I continue to wish for more development of the side characters, Call is a current favorite protagonist.

 

This is a really fast read, with excellent pacing. And while I had correctly guessed who the spy was long ago, there was another secret revealed that completely surprised me.

 

As was revealed in various summaries, there are some deaths in this book; and while I was sad, the ending really left me excited for the next one.

 

CHARACTERS:

Callum Hunt: He starts the book in a really good place. He has accepted himself and no longer feels the need to evaluate his every action for potential evil overlordness.

 

That's not to say that everything is perfect in his life. He still feels insecure in his friendships, although they have moved beyond the conflict of the previous books. Even Jasper has ceased to be his nemesis and is officially labeled "frenemy."

 

WORLDBUILDING:

We only visit one new major setting in this book - the Collegium (where the students move on to after the Magisterium). But we also see some new places in the Magisterium and learn a bit more about the magical society, which is still a bit dystopian if you ask me.

 

PLOT:

I loved the beginning. Aaron is staying with Call this summer and it sounds like they really had a lot of fun. We get a bit of Tamara via phone. The catch-up/reminder stuff is well integrated. Call is a thinker and it was done via his thoughts, in a very natural way.

 

The end is definitely a cliffhanger that will leave you desperate for the next one.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • Robot wars.
  • They discourage a potential new roommate.
  • Call's disability continues to be acknowledged. Sometimes magic helps, but other times he has to let his friends do what he can't.

 

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: The angsty "dating" & relationship stuff. It has never felt necessary to me. / Algae tea

 

NARRATION:

Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes. His voice is very deep, so the voices don't sound at all feminine but aren't falsetto or annoying. / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good. He continues to really capture the feeling of Call's story. / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, read by Paul Boehmer, published by Listening Library (2016) / Length: 8 hrs 30 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • Who's your favorite snarky but not mean Middle Grade protagonist?
  • What's your opinion on romance & love triangles in MG fiction?

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review 2016-08-20 07:01
Spooky but not Scary: The Poe Estate | Review
The Poe Estate - Polly Shulman,Jorjeana Marie,Listening Library

An MG Contemporary Fantasy that wasn't too much for this non-horror fan.

 

Sukie's been lonely since the death of her big sister, Kitty - but Kitty's ghost is still with her. At first that was comforting, but now Kitty's terrifying anyone who gets too close. Things get even weirder when Sukie moves into her family's ancestral home, and an older, less familiar ghost challenges her to find a treasure. Her classmate, Cole, is also experiencing apparitions. Fortunately an antique broom's at hand to fly Sukie and Cole to the New York Circulating Material Repository's spooky Poe Annex. As they search for clues and untangle ancient secrets, they discover their histories intertwine and are as full of stories of love, revenge, and pirate hijinks as some of the most famous fiction.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Poe Estate by Polly Shulman, read by Jorjeana Marie, published by Listening Library (2015) / Length: 6 hrs 46 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is book #3 in the "The Grimm Legacy" trilogy (also known as "The Repository" series). The books can be read as standalones, but some characters do carry over. The author is not currently planning to write any additional books in this series.

 

SUMMARY:

I almost didn't read this book, which would have been a shame. I hadn't liked the previous book in this series and am decidedly not a horror fan; but I did like the first one, and was able to get this one from the library, so I gave it a chance. Turns out that it's my favorite one of the three.

 

While there are some spooky parts, and they learn about the murder of  a young child in the past, the book didn't strike me as scary at all (and I'm a wimp).

 

Aside from the story itself, I love the whole cast of characters. We get some from the first book and some great new ones.

 

 

CHARACTERS:

Sukie: A seemingly typical bookish middle schooler, openly set apart by her grief at the death of her sister and further isolated by the felt, but not understood, presence of the sister's ghost watching over her.

 

Her family has had to move in with an elderly cousin due to financial difficulties after her sister's long illness and a downturn in the economy. She understands that her parents are doing their best, but still just wants to go home. Her family is close, and although her parents don't know about the ghosts and other strange stuff, the cousin does and is a great support for Sukie & Cole.

 

Cole: In the past, he teased Elizabeth; but now he's being helpful. Too bad, Kitty's not big on forgiveness.

 

Elizabeth (the main character from Book #1) is now all grown up and working at The Repository full time. And Andre (Mark's little brother) is now a page. They make a great working pair, and it is fun that he still calls her Libbet (he couldn't pronounce her name when he met her as a small child).

 

WORLDBUILDING:

This series posits a world where the lines between fiction & reality are seriously blurred. There is fiction written about real magical objects and real objects whose origins are in fiction. This particular book focuses on the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edger Allen Poe, and other classic horror writers. There are haunted houses, ghosts, witches brooms, etc.

 

PLOT:

The beginning skillfully introduced Sukie & her family and the changes that have taken place in their lives.

 

The ending was emotionally satisfying regarding the current book. Knowing it was the final book in the series, however, I would have liked to know about more about some of the other previous characters.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • The scene where Sukie first meets Andre & Elizabeth.
  • I like the concept that Sukie is continuing to grow & change but Kitty isn't, so Sukie is outgrowing her.
  • The resolution of Sukie & Kitty's relationship.

 

NARRATION:

Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes / Accents good = no one seemed to have one, not even the New Yorkers - although they were in Manhattan so maybe they weren't supposed to / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = Slow. I listened on 1.5 speed, rather than my usual 1.25, and it  was just a touch fast

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Poe Estate (The Grimm Legacy #3) by Polly Shulman, read by Jorjeana Marie, published by Listening Library (2015) / Length: 6 hrs 46 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • What's your favorite non scary ghost book/series?
  • Do you ever give a series a second chance? Has it paid off for you?

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review 2016-05-28 18:50
Not Just Another Harry Potter: The Iron Trial | Review
The Iron Trial - Paul Boehmer,Listening Library,Cassandra Clare,Holly Black

A MG Contemporary Fantasy that rises above the obvious comparisons to Harry Potter.

 

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased this book myself Audible.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, read by Paul Boehmer, published by Listening Library (2014) / Length: 10 hrs 37 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #1 of 2 (so far) in "The Magisterium" series. Book #3, The Bronze Key, is currently scheduled to be released on 8/30/16.

 

SUMMARY:

There has been some controversy surrounding this series. With detractors calling it out as a Harry Potter rip-off and it's supporters touting the many differences. I have to say that I definitely see the similarities (beyond just the "kids in a magic school fighting a bad guy," which frankly JK Rowling did not invent) and consider it to be firmly "inspired by." That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

 

There are many differences; and with the twist at the end, the authors take this in a totally different and intriguing direction. So, controversy aside, I really like it and am eagerly awaiting the next book.

 

Note: I am adding a "Diversity" tag to this, as Callum has a physical disability in the form of a lame leg.

 

 

CHARACTERS:

Callum Hunt: Not a "bad kid" yet is often in trouble (usually for rescuing animals). He is being raised by an eccentric single father, who has taught him to hate & fear magic and the Magisterium. He has been picked on and excluded because of his disability. He has a tendency to say obnoxious things when feeling defensive or uncomfortable.

 

Tamara & Aaron: The other two members of our trio. We don't get to know them indepth in this book, but will be learning more in the next.

 

Master Rufus: I have some serious concerns about his teaching methods, especially considering the young age of his students.

 

WORLDBUILDING:

The majority of this book takes place inside the Magisterium, which is located underground in a series of caverns. Each student has their own room, which makes hiding things and sneaking out easier (as a very light sleeper, I always wondered why Ron & Harry's dorm mates did wake up). Getting lost and/or running into something dangerous is sometimes a possibility. And there is no way for the students to leave without help.

 

PLOT:

This books starts out on the dark side for MG, with a slaughter of innocents being discovered. Another darkish thing is that, once Callum is selected, he has no choice about going and is taken from his father by force (hopefully not a spoiler, since the whole point of the book is that he has to go when he doesn't want to). Children who aren't selected, or who fail their first year, have their magic sealed and their memories altered; this leaves them forever feeling as if they are missing something.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • Havoc - a magical pet
  • Glowing walls while traveling in a boat (sounds beautiful)
  • The social room where they eat treats and watch magically projected movies
  • The fact that certain important things happen to someone other than Callum.

 

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Celia. Am I jaded if I find her oblivious cheerfulness a bit annoying? And aren't they a little young to start with crushes

 

NARRATION:

The narrator has a fairly deep voice, so don't expect the dialog to sound like actual 12 year olds. / The speed was good, I was able to listen on regular speed (rather than my usual 1.25 speed) / He did a good job capturing Call's attitude and sarcasm, and with general emoting & pacing.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Iron Trial (The Magisterium #1) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, read by Paul Boehmer, published by Listening Library (2014) / Length: 10 hrs 37 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • What's your favorite (non-Harry Potter) Middle Grade Fantasy series?
  • Do you refuse to read books if the author(s) were obviously inspired by a famous work?

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  • If you are a first time visitor, how did you discover my blog?
  • I recently debuted my redesigned blog. What do you think?

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