book review MG fiction

Revenge of the Enginerds

This is the sequel to the aptly titled: Enginerds. Shocking, I know. The kids in the first story defeated all but one robot, and in this book, most of them are unconcerned with the remaining bot, except Ken, who is mystified at their disinterest. I liked that the nerds are all about including Mikaela Harrington ( a girl!) and the side plot of Ken being a little jealous. I think that’s typical at this age as friend groups start morphing into smaller side groups.

It’s a great read-aloud for a family or group as the humor transcends all age groups and the action is pretty much non stop. The chapters are short, which is perfect for readers graduating from Magic Treehouse type books and definitely funny enough to keep kids reading until the end.

I hope Jarrett got a three-book deal as this one ends on a total cliffhanger!

Please note that I received a free advance E ARC of this book from NetGalley without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

Revenge of the Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner

February 19,2019

book review YA fiction


Is this fiction? Or a peek at the future of California? The most riveting YA book I’ve read all year. Scary in the way that plausible situations are. Frightening in the way that magic and monsters are not because humans are the most terrifying and most unpredictable creatures on Earth.

The “Tap Out” begins quietly, one day there isn’t water. We get to see how this plays out through the different characters’ point of view. It’s the kind of slow horror building that Stephen King excels at creating. On day one the family hops into the car assuming they’ll buy bottled water at Costco- I was already thinking- “Well, that’s not gonna work out.” The thing about a crisis is that by the time you wrap your mind around the next step everyone else is there with you.

There are, of course, good people in this story, but as in real life, it is hard to tell anyone’s true intentions. Just when I thought the plot was somewhat predictable, it wasn’t.

“The worst part about doing something inexcusable is that you can never take it back. It’s like breaking a glass. It can’t unbreak. The best you can do it sweep it up, and hope you don’t step on the slivers you left behind.” 
Neal Shusterman, Dry

After you read this book and become sufficiently freaked out, head over to Ready.Gov and check your supplies against their list. That’s what I did, after I swigged a giant glass of water. (Also, this is not a beach read)

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarred Shusterman

book review MG fiction

The End of the World and Beyond

This story is a sequel to The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of My Follies, Fortune, and Fate. Side note- is that the longest title you’ve ever seen? Me too. Please read that book first, but Avi gives you a quick synopsis at the start of the book in case you can’t get your hands on it. I reviewed it here.

This book starts right where the last left off and Oliver is about to be sent to the colonies for the crime of stealing. Many of the other characters sentenced to be slaves in the colonies committed crimes that would result in community service today. The age of the convicts ranges from 6-80! Most (like Oliver) broke the law purely out of survival instincts. But, such is the reality of the 1700s. England needed labor in the Colonies, and this was an excellent way to supply the farmers with the workforce they needed.

I like this series of historical fiction; it sounds like you are reading dinkens if his language was modernized. It is a cold, cruel world where mistakes can be deadly and it was every man for himself.

Like all of Avi’s books this immerses you in what it must have been like to live at that time. It isn’t sensationalized but it is an honest look into societal norms. This is the kind of books where it takes me forever to read it aloud, because we keep stopping to discuss the events, or to Google a map or law. So, really the best kind of read aloud.

Homeschool Note: I’m adding both books on to my historical fiction list for American History. I was planning on an American centered year in 9th grade, but have just started tweaking the plan so that we can move it up to next Fall. I think it’ll fit better and free up more time in high school for something else. I’ll work on my book list for that and get it up on my Amazon page soon.

Please note that I received a free advance E ARC of this book from the publisher without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

The End of the World and Beyond by Avi

January 2019

book review MG fiction

The Book of Boy

The story begins in France around 1350; the plague has swept through the area and Boy is on his own. He lives and works for a knight of the local manor. He does an excellent job of tending the goats in spite of his hunchback. He seems to understand the goats’ behavior better than most people and is generally content with his life.

Boy then meets a pilgrim named Secondus who is on a quest to locate seven relics that are hidden somewhere in France and Rome. After a little while, we realize that he is ill and then find out that he hopes to gain entry to Paradise based on the quest and not on his behavior throughout his life. He hopes to be reunited with his wife and son and so is pretty manic about completing his self-proclaimed quest.

The boy hopes that St Peter will cure his hump and that he will be a “real boy,” and although Secondus is pretty sketchy, Buying your way into Heaven after a life spent sinning is a tricky business. Boy stays the course and sticks with him.

I’m not confident that the theology of this book is accurate, but it does give readers a glimpse into feudal life of the Middle Ages. Maybe one of my kind readers could let me know about the theology as I am wondering if these were the prevailing beliefs at the time?

After I finished this book all I could think of was how I was going to squeeze it into our school reading. Technically we are well past the Middle Ages so I’ll probably just shelf it for now, but it is perfect for any Logic Stage (roughly 5th through 8th grade) or high school students that are studying that period. It’s just the right length at under 300 pages, and the hardcover even has deckle-edged pages which in combination with the high quality paper makes it seem like you are reading an epic ancient quest. (I’m a sucker for the deckle edge)

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

book review

Marilla of Green Gables

Going back to Green Gables was lovely. That is the only word that comes to mind. The descriptions of a place I’ve never been to shouldn’t seem as familiar as they do- but here we are.

Marilla Cuthbert, as a grown-up was on the surface, stern with no time for nonsense. Underneath all that, Marilla was a great Mom to Anne, and I loved getting to know her as a teen girl. Marilla goes from child to young adult almost overnight when her Mother dies in childbirth. Both Marilla and Matthew are written true to character and never once did I feel any bumpiness or disjointedness that could have easily been present with two authors. After all, we have no idea what the entire backstory would have been if Lucy Maud Montgomery had written this prequel.

I’ll admit to wondering what on Earth had happened between Marilla and John Blythe in the original Anne book and this story more than answered that question. Watching Matthew and Anne stumble their way through their respectful relationships made me wince and want to hug both of them and then sit down and talk it out over tea. They did the best they could (in this imagined version), and as we know, it did all turn out okay.

I must mention the abolitionist/Underground Railway subplot. I read some other reviews that didn’t like it. I felt it was plausible. Marilla being a person of high moral standards would, of course, want to help if she could. The entire concept for this novel is one of fan fiction, and to be a complete story unto itself I felt like it needed this subplot, else it would be just a fling back to Avonlea and not being a novel unto itself. KWIM?

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy