Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth (Volume 1) by Judd Winick

26209632This Review was Written by: B and C
Received: Publisher
Publication Date of Book: September 2015
Pages: 193
Stars: 5/5

Official Summary:
Introducing HILO -- a funny, action-packed, full-color new middle-grade graphic novel series that Bone creator Jeff Smith calls "delightful."

D. J. and his friend Gina are totally normal kids.  But that was before a mysterious boy came crashing down from the sky!  Hilo doesn't know where he came from, or what he's doing on Earth.  (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a bad idea!) . . . But what if Hilo wasn't the only thing to fall to our planet?  Can the trio unlock the secrets of his past?  Can Hilo survive a day at school?  And are D. J. and Gina ready to save the world?

HILO is Calvin and Hobbes meets Big Nate and is just right for fans of Bone and comic books as well as laugh-out-loud school adventures like Jedi Academy and Wimpy Kid!

Our Thoughts:
HILO is hands down the most enjoyable middle grade graphic novel that we have ever read!  It's laugh out loud material dripping with adventure, friendship, and originality.  The entire time while reading it, we were chuckling and smiling to ourselves like there was no tomorrow, and this book is nothing short of "OUTSTANDING!"  The fast-paced tale will fly by, even though you'll desperately want it to last longer.  No one should pass up the chance to read this gem.

HILO is an extremely quirky character but in the best possible way, which includes silver underpants, robotic powers, and all.  There's something about him that's simply and undeniably lovable.  Perhaps it's his uncanny ability to love everything he encounters, even if it's just rice and milk.  Maybe it's his personality that so strongly takes charge, especially when his friends are in danger.  His uniqueness is obvious due to his creation and abilities.  D. J. on the other hand is a different kind of character.  He doesn't think he's special, even though everyone else in his family is.  They each dabble in something different, like ballet, tennis, and chemistry.  D. J. isn't like them, he thinks that he is utterly useless.  He isn't strong in any one area.  He considers himself "average," but what he doesn't understand is that no one can be defined as average.

Judd Winick does a fantastic job of showing his audience that people don't have to be able to fly, be a super genius, or human extraordinaire to be special.  Talents are great, and they define you, but everyone has their own talent, even if no one else sees it.  Everyday bravery, being a good friend, or caring about someone else can make you special.  If you look hard enough, even the ordinary can be extraordinary.  It's all about perspective, and no one is ever average.      

What's truly great about this series is that there are so many diverse characters who come from different ethnic backgrounds.  We love to see that there is a book like this out there in the world with a great message and a fabulous group of characters.  On top of that, we strongly believe that HILO has something for everyone.  There's no doubt in our minds that middle graders will eat this book up, and read it again and again, but at the same time, teens and adults can easily join in the fun.  Both C and I have read countless book forms, such as novels, graphic novels, manga, and comics.  We've also read for countless ages, like children, juvenile, MG, YA, and adult.  In all honesty, HILO has been one of our favorite books of the year.  (Hopefully that doesn't have to do with our maturity! . . . Um, that was a joke.)  We can easily imagine the whole family gathering around and reading the book together and enjoying it.  

So, if you're looking for a family book or just a darn good read with a mix of humor, adventure, camaraderie, and excellent, hilarious illustrations, look no further!  HILO is here, a series that is sure to be a hit!  The full-colored pages capture the eye and the imagination.  You just have to turn to the front page and start reading.

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23310721    22718678    389627


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson

24612691This review was written by: F
Received: Publisher
Publication Date of Book: August 2015
Pages: 176
Stars: 4/5

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson is a middle school contemporary novel about a middle school student (Zack Delacruz) who is a quiet and shy individual. One day, he stands up for a classmate who is being bullied, and everyone is in shock. Zack’s timid personality is suddenly contradicted by this bold move, especially because he has always kept to himself. Later, Zack and his classmate, Jose Soto, are put in charge of selling chocolate bars to raise money for a dance.

Disaster strikes when one of Zack’s classmates named Janie Bustamante eats the entire box of candy bars instead of selling them. Zack eventually finds out that she has an obsession. He decides to help her by setting up a meeting with her and all of his classmates. Zack soon becomes a leader. Since Janie ate the candy and not enough money was raised for the dance, Zack decides to initiate a fundraiser. He and his friends have a car wash at Zack’s Dad’s workplace. Zack took matters into his own hands, and gains the respect of his Dad and teachers.

This book demonstrates how you can be a leader and a hero. It lets kids know that they can stand up for what they believe in and that not all heroes are always super human. Heroes can be ordinary people who do ordinary things. You should stand up for what you believe in because it shows others that you are not afraid of differing opinions. You should always do what you think is right and you should always help those who are being bullied.  

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Cover Reveal

Miranda’s Rights (Paranormal Detectives Book Two)
by Lily Luchesi

 The dead don’t always rest easy...
Retired detective Danny Mancini is haunted by nightmares after he found out that paranormal creatures exist. All he wants is to forget them…especially a certain half-vampire. When cursed werewolves show up trying to kill him, he is forced to go back to the Paranormal Investigative Division for help against a powerful old enemy. What he was not expecting was a dead ex showing back up after twenty-six years.

Coming on January 8th, 2016 from Vamptasy Publishing
Cover art by Rue Volley

Catch up on the first book in the Paranormal Detectives Series, Stake-Out.


In a city overrun with the undead, an ex-cop is given a chance to get revenge...

Danny Mancini is on a case, following a murder suspect. When he catches him, he finds out that the perp isn't even human: he's a 200 year old rogue vampire!
The department doesn't believe him, and puts him on early retirement, despite his many years of service to the Chicago Police Department, which sends him into a downward spiral.
Two years later, Danny gets an invitation from the beautiful, young and very attractive Detective Angelica Cross to join a secret branch of the FBI to help her track down Vincent, the wayward vamp.
But renegade werewolves, meddling immortal witches and Danny's strange visions of a life lived a century ago with Angelica make things more difficult than it should be.


About Lily:

Lily Luchesi is a young author/poet born in Chicago, Illinois, now residing in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things "dark". At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle by the time she was twelve, and, as her family has always been what they now call "Gothic", she doesn't believe she shall ever change. She is also a hopeless romantic and avid music-lover who will always associate vampires with love, blood, and rock and roll.
Her interest in poetry came around the same time as when she was given a book of Edgar Allan Poe's complete work. She then realized that she had been writing her own poetry since she could hold a pen, and just had not known the correct terms. She finished her first manuscript at the age of fourteen, and now, at twenty-one, has two contributing credits in anthologies and her debut novel, Stake-Out (Paranormal Detectives Series Book One), was published by Vamptasy Publishing on May 19th, 2015. Book two, Miranda's Rights, will be released on January 8th, 2016.
She has a short story, "Undead Ever After" in the Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly anthology Love Sucks (released on June 13th, 2015). Her first erotic short story, "Have No Fears", was published in the Hot Ink Press anthology Naughty Bedtime Stories: In Three Words on October 10th. She will also have a short erotic horror story, "The Devil's Dozen", in the upcoming Hot Ink Press anthology Death, Love, Lust, which will be released in February of 2016. (page) (friend)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Doctor Who: Royal Blood (The Glamour Chronicles #1) by Una McCormack


This review was written by: B
Received: Blogging for Books
Publication Date of Book: September 2015
Pages: 240 
Stars: 4.5/5

Official Summary (Paperback Edition)
"The Grail is a story.  A myth!  It didn't exist on your world!  It can't exist here!"

The city-state of Varuz is failing.  The capital is crumbling, and his enemies are poised to invade. Duke Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle.  So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war.

But all is not what it seems.  The city-guard have lasers for swords, and the halls are lit by electric candlelight.  Aurelian's wife and his trusted knight seem to be plotting to overthrow their Duke, and Clara finds herself drawn into their intrigue . . . 

Will the Doctor stop Aurelian from going to war? Will Clara's involvement in the plot be discovered? Why is the enemy's ambassador so nervous?  And who are the ancient and weary knights claiming to be on a quest for the Holy Grail . . . ?

My Thoughts:
Doctor Who is an amazing force that has swept into thousands of people's hearts worldwide.  To be honest, Doctor Who, in both its show and its novel mediums, is fairly new to me, but I have been curious about this adventurous, galaxy traveling man for some time.  One of my sisters has a deep love for this show and eventually convinced me to give it a try.  Now, I have seen several episodes but honestly wanted to try Doctor Who out in book form.  So . . . here I am!  Royal Blood seemed extremely fascinating because of its given premise and high-tech medieval atmosphere, and I decided to start here.  The setting and delicate details of Varuz were as breath-taking as they were despairing. Even though this majestic land was only words on a page, I felt as if I was witnessing Varuz's strange, warped city-state for myself right alongside the Doctor.  The idea alone of a decaying, ancient civilization riddled with advanced technology was enough to keep me going.

Una McCormack had a rich writing style that pleasantly surprised me.  The beginning of Royal Blood made me feel as if I was reading a poetic work, and McCormack clearly has the capability of taking on sentences as if they each have a beauty of their own.  On top of that, what really made this novel unique was the split narrative.  One moment I was reading in third person about Clara or the Doctor, and the next I was reading from the perspective of Bernhardt, a trusted friend and knight of Duke Aurelian.  I feel as though this gave the story a much needed element of diversity so that the audience was kept interested.  The length of this novel also worked as an advantage, even though it would have been nice if certain elements were slightly fleshed out in greater detail.  The short length is able to keep younger readers interested, while a slightly older audience will feel as if they still read a worthy story.   

As a newcomer to the Doctor Who world, I feel as though I have learned quite a bit.  The characters were fairly developed, and I love the relationship between Clara and the Doctor himself.  Hardcore fans of Doctor Who, especially the twelfth Doctor, are sure to devour this story while new ones will have the chance to fall in love with this crazy and clever duo for the first time.  Even if you're not a huge fan of this series, I would definitely give this book I try.  It unexpectedly exceeded all of my expectations, and left me desperately wanting to watch more of the television series!

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

August and September: YA Dysptopian Novels

YA Dystopian Novels

August and September's Topic of the Month is officially YA Dystopian!  To kick it off, we have posted a few YA dystopian based books that may interest you.  If you have any suggestions let us know!  Hope you enjoy!  (Click on the covers to go to the books' GoodReads pages!)


Read by: H, C, and B
GoodReads Summary:

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness, and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories.  Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy.  With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newberry Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society.  Gradually, Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

The Giver is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopia and gradually appears more and more dystopic, so could therefore be considered anti-utopian.  Jonas' society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness," a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives.  Jonas is to store all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make.  As Jonas receives the memories from his predecessor -- the "Giver" -- he discovers how shallow his community's life has become.

Other book(s) in the series:

12936    12930    13324841

Read by: C and B
GoodReads summary:

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them.

Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker.  Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs.  Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion.  Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance.  If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

Other book(s) in the series:

13545075    17334446    17950614    25551332


Read by: B
GoodReads Summary:

Recruitment Day is here . . . if you fail, a loved one will die . . . 

For Lucian "Lucky" Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force.  Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level.  Those who fail must choose an "Incentive" - a family member - to be brutally killed.  If Lucky fails, he'll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.

Lucky will do anything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits' loved ones.  What Lucky isn't prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho.  While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows.  But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous.  As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly . . . 

Other book(s) in the series:



Read by: H and B
GoodReads Summary:

Luke has never been to school.  He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight.  In fact, Luke has never had a friend.  

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police.  He's living his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside. 

Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live.  Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself.  Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan?  Can he afford not to?

Several other books in the series:

303472    303460    298730


GoodReads Summary:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Isn't that what they say?  But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland.  The future belongs to the next generation's chosen few who must rebuild it.  But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing -- their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth.  But on the eve of her departure, her father's advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies -- trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance?  Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing.  To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Other book(s) in the series:

17165932    18222699


Read by: H and C
GoodReads Summary:

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts.  Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of the annual televised event known as the Hunger Games.  In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games.  The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss's younger sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place.  She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives.  She sees it as a death sentence.  But Katniss has been close to death before.  For her, survival is second nature.

Other Book(s) in the Series:

6148028    7260188


Read by: B
GoodReads Summary:

In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears.  Gone.  Except for the young.

There are teens, but not one single adult.  Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television.  No way to get help.  And no way to figure out what's happened.

Hunger threatens.  Bullies rule.  A sinister creature lurks.  Animals are mutating.  And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents -- unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers -- that grow stronger by the day.  It's a terrifying new world.  Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids.  Bullies against the weak.  Powerful against powerless.  And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else . . . 

Other Book(s) in the Series:

5047880    6686092    6686101


GoodReads Summary:

Knox was born into one of the City's wealthiest families.  A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want -- the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments.  When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten.  When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks.  When Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy.  His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox's.  Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess.  So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee.  Yet Knox's father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy.  The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys' resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay.  Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

Other Book(s) in the Series:



GoodReads Summary:

In Sloane's world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is the Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone.  With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment.  Sloane's parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they'll do anything to keep her alive.  She also knows that everyone who's been through The Program returns as a blank slate.  Because their depression is gone -- but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can.  The only person Sloane can be herself with is James.  He's promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything.  But despite the promises they made to each other, it's getting harder to hide the truth.  They are both growing weaker.  Depression is setting in.  And The Program is coming for them.

Other Book(s) in the Series:

17948607    22449285


Read by: C
GoodReads Summary:

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world.  Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.  When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless in the street.  After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival.  Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco  where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Other Book(s) in the Series:

17849112     18500665