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SciFi Book Review: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

Synopsis:
Doreen Green, age fourteen, is a little too busy wiping out crime in her suburban New Jersey neighborhood to focus on her overdue homework. That’s because she also happens to be Squirrel Girl, a bushy-tailed, squirrel-powered Super Hero! After foiling the nefarious plot of an amateur Super Villain, Squirrel Girl is finally finding her groove–and group texting with the Avengers, like, all the time. Doreen, on the other hand, is still trying to navigate friendships, evil teachers, and all the pitfalls that come with middle school. (Seriously, it’s complicated.)

An announcement goes out that sends waves of excitement through the community: There’s a new mall opening on the border of Shady Oaks and neighboring town Listless Pines, and they all get to vote on the mall’s mascot! Everyone goes wild over the election . . . a little too wild, if you ask Squirrel Girl and her BHFF (Best Human Friend Forever), Ana Sofia. Soon the two towns are at war–even the trusty Squirrel Scouts are going berserk. Is there something sinister at work in Shady Oaks? Something that has less to do with quality shopping choices and more to do with world domination? And will Squirrel Girl be able to unleash the furry paws of justice in time to save the day?

Review:
Doreen, AKA Squirrel Girl, picks up not long after the last novel – she now has a best friend and even groupies. But she has a teacher who seems to hate her for some reason. And the new mall coming in seems nefarious. It even has a logo that looks suspiciously like a hydra.

This latest Squirrel Girl story is just as fun and exciting as before. The story is told from multiple points of view – Squirrel Girl, Ana Sofia, and even Tippy Toe the squirrel. The highlight is always the conversations that Squirrel Girl has with the Avengers via text and also the random chatroom rants. Squirrel Girl is incredibly powerful, but she’s also the sweetest and most innocent superhero. This story is full of humor, mystery, adventure, and crazy characters. I love the quirky, Squirrel Girl comics, and these novels make for a perfect series for middle readers on up.

SciFi Book Review: The Final Six

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Synopsis:
When Leo and Naomi are drafted, along with twenty-two of the world’s brightest teenagers, into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever changed. Overnight, they become global celebrities in contention for one of the six slots to travel to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—and establish a new colony, leaving their planet forever. With Earth irreparably damaged, the future of the human race rests on their shoulders.

For Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, this kind of purpose is a reason to go on after losing his family. But Naomi, an Iranian-American science genius, is suspicious of the ISTC and the fact that a similar mission failed under mysterious circumstances, killing the astronauts onboard. She fears something equally sinister awaiting the Final Six beneath Europa’s surface.

Review:
Leo is alone in the world after the death of his family. In fact, he has nothing else to live for, when suddenly he is chosen to compete for a chance at heading to the stars. Meanwhile, Naomi has a wonderful family that doesn’t want to leave, especially with what she knows about the chances of the Final Six who will be chosen.

The Final Six is an exciting, science fiction novel for young adults. The story is told from both Leo and Naomi’s view points, alternating chapters. The characters are well-developed and the pacing is solid. The majority of the story is the competition at NASA to narrow down the young adults to the best choices to represent humanity – with thrilling challenges a possible psychopath bent on sabotage. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel – with plenty of intrigue, danger, suspense, and a bit of romance. Events build to a surprising finale and a big cliffhanger as the kids head to space. This sequel can’t come soon enough. And it’s no wonder that it’s been optioned for film already.

SciFi Book Review: Thunderhead

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Synopsis:
The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Review:
Rowan has become a vigilante, ending Scythes who are corrupt and abuse their power. Whereas Scythe Anastasia (formerly Citra) has become a force for good from within the Scythedom. But someone is not happy with her ideals and sympathetic ways. The Thunderhead, the almost-omniscient AI, knows about the danger threatening Scythe Anastasia, but since it can’t directly interfere – it must become creative.

Thunderhead is the second installment in the Arc of a Scythe series. Once again, the strengths of this story is the incredible characters and fantastic worldbuilding. The different points of view paired with intense suspense, pulls the reader right into the story. This sequel is a much different story, yet just as dramatic and exciting. It’s unpredictable and builds to a cliffhanger ending this time. These novels have impressed me so much that I’m definitely going to read more from this author. And the next in this series can’t come soon enough.

Fantasy Book Review: Wizard for Hire

Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Synopsis:
Fourteen-year-old Ozzy lives near Portland, Oregon, and is desperate for help. His scientist parents have been kidnapped after discovering a formula that enables mind control. Their work was so top secret Ozzy is afraid to go to the police, but without help, he fears he’ll never find his parents. Then he stumbles across a classified ad in the local newspaper that says “Wizard for Hire. Call 555-SPEL.” Ozzy has read about wizards in books like Harry Potter, but wizards couldn’t actually exist today, could they? After Ozzy meets the wizard Labyrinth–aka Rin–he’s even more skeptical.

Sure, Rin dresses like a wizard, but the short robe and high-top tennis shoes seem unorthodox, as does Rin’s habit of writing notes on his shoes and eating breakfast for every meal. Plus, Rin doesn’t even cast any magic spells, which means that the unexplained coincidences that start happening around Ozzy are just that–coincidences.

With the help of a robotic-talking raven invented by Ozzy’s father, a kind and curious girl at school who decides to help Ozzy, and, of course, a self-proclaimed wizard who may or may not have a magical wand, Ozzy begins an unforgettable quest that will lead him closer to the answers he desperately seeks about his missing parents.

Review:
Ozzy has lived alone in his home in the woods for years, after his parents were kidnapped. When he sees and ad for a Wizard for Hire, Ozzy seeks the wizard’s help in finding what happened to his parents. Rin doesn’t act or look like the wizards Ozzy has read about, but he’s the one person Ozzy can trust.

Wizard for Hire isn’t exactly a fantasy story, as there isn’t really any magic – other than an intelligent, mechanical bird. This middle grade novel has some wonderfully, colorful characters. While the story starts out a bit slow, as Ozzy grows up on his own and tries to go to school, there is a lot of fantastic character development. And there is still plenty of humor, mystery, adventure, and suspense as the story continues. I thoroughly enjoyed this start to a new series. And I appreciated that there wasn’t a cliffhanger ending and that the story seemed mostly wrapped up. But these characters are a lot of fun, which readers will love to read more about.

Book Giveaway: Burning Magic

Courtesy of Disney Hyperion, I have an extra early copy of Burning Magic, by Joshua Khan for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 20. I’ll draw a name on April 21, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Burning Magic

Fantasy Book Review: The Dragon’s Curse

The Dragon’s Curse by Bethany Wiggins

Synopsis:
Six months ago, Princess Sorrowlynn stood beside Prince Golmarr to defeat the glass dragon. But when the prince almost killed her after inheriting the dragon’s curse of hatred, he went into hiding to keep Sorrow safe . . . from himself.

Now the princess has been training to become a great warrior, with the hope of finding Golmarr. But her search proves difficult when she discovers she has been wed to the prince of an enemy kingdom. Desperate to end her forced marriage and be reunited with her true love, Sorrow must find a way to escape her captor husband. But there’s just one more dangerous obstacle in her way. A two-headed dragon is hunting her and will stop at nothing until she is dead.

Can Sorrow summon the courage to wield the only sword that can defeat the beast and save her world from the destruction of the dragon’s curse?

Review:
Princess Sorrowlynn has been living and training with her betrothed’s family while he tries to overcome the emotions from the dragon he killed. But Sorrowlynn faces another obstacle with the man that she loves, when she discovers that her father has married her off to another prince instead. Her father thinks the marriage was for political reasons, but this new prince knows about her new magical abilities. Meanwhile, a two-headed dragon is hunting Sorrowlynn and she begins having visions of a young woman asking for her help.

The Dragon’s Curse is the second installment in an exciting, fantasy trilogy. Sorrowlynn is now a stronger person, with the bravery and fortitude that I was hoping she’d gain. This latest story is well-paced, with plenty of action, drama, mystery, and a bit of romance. There is no middle book slump here. The characters are engaging and the plot is unpredictable. The suspense builds to a surprising finale – that left me wanting more and impatient for the final book in the series.

SciFi Book Review: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Synopsis:
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review:
Citra and Rowan are confident and determined young adults who stand up for what they believe. Because of this, they are both chosen to be an apprentice to a scythe. Neither of them wants to kill, but it will keep their families safe from “gleaning” (death).

Scythe is the first in a fantastic, dystopian series for teens. The subject matter may be hard and a bit dark for some. But this has to be some of the best worldbuilding and character development I’ve ever read. To keep the Earth’s population under control, scythes kill without prejudice. And despite having their own governing body, the scythes each have their own philosophy and way of gleaning. Some are much more brutal than others. Citra and Rowan have to make some hard choices and are forced into some heart-wrenching situations. With plenty of plot twists along the way, this story is engaging, thought-provoking, and intense until the very end. I can’t wait to jump into the next installment.

Book Giveaway: Isle of Blood and Stone

Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers, I have an extra early review copy of Isle of Blood and Stone, by Makiia Lucier for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 13. I’ll draw a name on April 14, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Isle of Blood and Stone