Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Book Review: The Revenge of Magic by James Riley

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.
A vacation day visit to Washington, DC by Fort Fitzgerald and his father ends tragically with his father's kidnapping by a monstrous creature who breaks through the earth. 

Fort struggles to make sense of his father's disappearance and vows to avenge his father's death. Six months later, a man named Dr. Opps shows up to his aunt's house and invites him to the Oppenheimer School to learn magic. Fort jumps at the chance with visions of Hogwarts running through his mind. He quickly discovers the school is a government run military school and nothing like Hogwarts with guards everywhere.

The school is full of secrets and Fort wants to solve the mysteries laid at his feet, like why everyone thinks he's trying to destroy the school and who the girl he sees when he sleeps that seems to take over his mind. The only problem is that Fort is given three days to master three spells in three days or he will be sent home. He learns it's nearly an impossible task but is he up to it? Will he be able to find out what's hiding within his new school before attacks? And what is with the books of magic discovered around the world next to bones of dragons? Who will have the power to use the magic and will Fort's friends, Jia, Rachel and Cyrus be able to help Fort?

While the idea of military magic academy is an intriguing take, the book lacks the magic of a strong protagonist that we see in the Harry Potter novels. Since the novel mentions Hogwarts, it's fair to compare the two and the reader will probably not connect as much to Fort as they do Harry. However, older middle grade readers who don't mind wading through the length of the novel, will find some fascinating tidbits of magical information.


Publishing Information

Publisher: Aladdin (March 5, 2019)
ISBN: 978148148577
Ages: 8-12
Pages: 416

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Order of the Majestic by Matt Myklusch: Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.
Joey Kopecky didn't expect his test scores would cause an uproar at his school and home. Nobody suspected he would test at a genius level. At twelve-years-old, all Joey wants to do is escape into his comic books, not be sent to a special school where they don't even break for summer. However, his parents convince him he must jump at the opportunity for a full scholarship at the school for budding intellectuals.

His visit to the school requires one last test. To Joey's surprise, he lands mysteriously into an old theater where he meets Redondo the Magnificent, a magician from earlier decades whose last act included the disappearance of a child and a fire at the theater. Joey finds himself finding the truth means he must fight to keep magic alive. However, the dark forces of the Invisible Hand who want to use magic for evil try to thwart him.

What starts out as a gripping middle grade novel into the magic forces of good and evil gets bogged down in places by the length of the novel. However, the novel will strike a chord for Harry Houdini and magic fans for those who are patient enough to make it through.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publishing Information

Publisher: Aladdin (May 7, 2019)
Ages 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-534-42487-6

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Book Review: Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.

Charlie Hernández can't seem to catch a break. First his house burns down then his parents go missing. If that isn't bad enough, he grows horns and feathers. It goes from bizarre to creepy when he moves in with Mrs. Wilson and has to stare at her unusually odd doll collection.

A quick search of the lost and found gives Charlie a hilarious jacket to hide his new feathers. He can't seem to hide from Violet Rey, the girl he has a crush on. She discovers his secret and they become partners in mystery solving. Their first task leads them to a cemetery and introduces them to a shadowy world of Hispanic myths, full of mythical creatures like La Calaca and El Cadejo.

The Hispanic myths and adventure combine for a thrilling tale with strong characters that will have the reader glued to the pages. A whole new world opens up for those not acquainted with the Hispanic culture. Hispanic and Latin children can stand proud at the thrilling look inside their mythical world.
Rating ★★★★★

Publishing Information

Publisher: Aladdin (Oct. 23, 2018)
Ages: 10-14
ISBN: 9781534426580

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Book Review: Rising Water by Marc Aronson

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.

In June and July 2018, the world sat riveted to their television screens, grasping at every bit of news of the twelve members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach trapped deep inside the Tham Luang Cave Complex. Families and strangers wept and cheered when news reached them that the boys had been found alive.

Author, Marc Aronson, puts the emotion aside to bring the engrossing back story about the initial cave exploration of the soccer team and the ensuing rescue. Detailed accounts of the rescue teams from different countries show just how well the international community worked together to save the lives of team. From the top cave divers who were flown in from around the world to the brave Thai Navy Seal who lost his life placing oxygen tanks along the way, the reader gets a glimpse into just how dangerous the rescue mission really was. The account of the three day rescue is truly spine chilling. Aronson's attention to detail from press releases, interviews, press conferences, and television from sources of many countries involved in the rescue, gives a complete and accurate account of the near disastrous rescue mission. 

Rising Water keeps the reader engrossed in what feels like a new story all over again. Kudos to Aronson for highlighting social issues of the stateless team members. A definite must read for those who love real life adventure.


Publishing Information:

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (March 19, 2019)
ISBN: 9781534444133
Ages: 10-14